Archive for the ‘Christian Living’ Category

Lights in the Darkness

Dear friends,
Have you been enjoying the milder weather? I am content with high thirties and low forties for daytime highs at this time of the year. The snow lingers, but is slowly melting and this is good news. Every nice day means we are closer to spring, however there is plenty of time for more cold and snow. Here at the lake there are still those hardy souls ice fishing. The long nights are maintaining the ice quality needed for safety.

Over the years, I have stressed the need for Christians to be involved in everyday life.

Pastor Greg Laurie shares this: “Commentator G. Campbell Morgan wrote, “Organized Christianity which fails to make a disturbance is dead.” Wherever the apostle Paul went, there was either conversion or a riot. In Thessalonica, religious leaders complained to the city council, “Paul and Silas, who have turned the world upside down have come here, too” (Acts 17:6 CSB).

It seems that there was never a dull moment with the first-century followers of Jesus. They didn’t have modern technology at their disposal. Thomas didn’t tweet. Paul didn’t have a television show. Peter didn’t use social media. Yet, in a relatively brief period of time, these disciples changed their world. They permeated their culture.

Tertullian, a Christian leader who was a contemporary of these early followers of Christ, made this statement about the first-century Church: “We have filled every place among you—cities, islands, fortresses, towns, marketplaces, camps, tribes, town councils, the palace, the senate, the forum; we have left nothing to you but the temples of your gods.” Tertullian was pointing out that the Church had permeated everything, even Caesar’s palace.

Today, we need Christians who will go out and make a difference. We need more Christians involved in the arts, making great films, and creating graphic design. We need Christians in politics, godly men and women in places of authority, because the Bible says that when the righteous rule, the people rejoice (see Proverbs 29:2). We also need Christian doctors, Christian lawyers, and Christian businesspeople.

In the first century, all believers understood that they were called to do their part. So they left their comfort zones and took risks. In the same way, the believers today need to go out and let their light shine in our present culture. We need believers who will turn the present world upside down.”

For Him,
Pastor Jerry

Carry On

Dear readers,
January has been interesting in the weather department. So far, we’ve had rain, sleet, snow, lightning and thunder, all in the same night! We had no issues with power outages here, but some were off for a short time. The volunteers here at the lake were out cleaning off the streets early after the storm, and did a great job. Thanks for your effort, guys.

As we prepare for this year of 2023, I’m prompted to go to God’s Word for some encouragement. Sometimes, the thought of what lies ahead is a bit scary…especially in our current situation and culture. A favorite Bible passage of mine is Psalm 62:1-8.

Psalm 62:1–8… My soul finds rest in God alone;
my salvation comes from him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.
How long will you assault a man?
Would all of you throw him down—
this leaning wall, this tottering fence?
They fully intend to topple him
from his lofty place;
they take delight in lies.
With their mouths they bless,
but in their hearts they curse. Selah
Find rest, O my soul, in God alone;
my hope comes from him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God;
he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your hearts to him,
for God is our refuge.

These are encouraging words in uncertain times, and they have helped me many times in the past. A lot of attention has been focused on congress in recent days, and we pray our leaders will get back to the task of governing. Romans 13:1-. We are to pray for our government officials, that they would come to Jesus, and that they would govern justly. God has placed those in government because he wants them there, but make no mistake, government is not the answer to the mess we are in. God is the only one who can heal our land.

There will come a time when Jesus will set up His kingdom on earth and the prophecy of Isaiah 6:9 will be fulfilled. “For to us a child is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.” Until then, we carry on.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Read the Book

Dear friends,
We’ve been in survival mode this past week. Some nasty bug took hold of us, but after seeking medical counsel, it looks as if we’ll survive! The weather was nicer this week, at least it warmed up a bit. Ice fishing became a thing with the thicker ice, and skaters were enjoying the smooth ice, as well. Ah, to be young again. Our New Year’s Eve was spent at home, waiting for bed-time and the calendar turned a page without our help.

I have been noticing that people these days are confused about a lot of things in life. They are trying to redefine the most basic truths about our existence as a people, and our purpose for life. I want to offer some friendly advice: Just read the book!

The book I’m referring to is God’s Word, the Bible. God is truth, His book is true and no matter how people try to make it say something it does not, it will never change.

It is okay to bring our requests to the Lord, but let us not start to dictate to Him how we will interpret His Word. When Job, who had been attacked by Satan, came to God asking questions about God’s purpose in his situation, God began questioning Job.
“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! (Job 38:4-5). As God goes down the list of questions He has for Job, Job suddenly realizes how insignificant he is in front of God Almighty. Then Job answered the Lord: “I am unworthy—how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth. I spoke once, but I have no answer—twice, but I will say no more.” (Job 40:3-5)
Oh, that those who would reinterpret God’s word, would see Him as Job did. God has the answers; it is our duty to take them as truth.

Are there questions about the definition of marriage? Look in the Book. Are you wondering about how to get to heaven? It’s in the Book. Do you wonder how you can have real peace? Right again. What about racism? Same answer. Parenting and families? The role of government? You get the picture.

The truth can change your opinion, but your opinion will not change the truth.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

The Word of the Lord

Dear readers,

It seems cold weather is here to stay, at least for the next several days. Deer hunting season has arrived, and we are days away from Thanksgiving. Just beyond that is Christmas and the New Year. My, how time flies.

The election is over, and votes are still being counted in some places. There have been winners and losers, as is always the case. Whatever your viewpoint is in all of this, we can still be thankful to live in a country where we can make our choices in these matters. My prayer is that we might become united in our effort to make the United States an even better place to live. Perhaps an appropriate scripture would be Romans 12:3; “For by the grace given to me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.”

The divisiveness in our country these days is concerning. People are taking sides on issues that are in direct opposition to what the Bible says is right and just. Two things come to mind here: Number one, there are untold numbers of people that do not know what is written in God’s Word. There are more Bibles printed than ever before, yet most are on a shelf collecting dust.

The second is this, if those bibles are read, people only want to believe or accept the parts that appeal to them. It is like going into a cafeteria and selecting only the items you like and leaving the ones that you dislike. If we really believe the Bible is God’s unchanging word, then we would know that every word is there for a purpose. It has been said that the Bible will change our opinions, but our opinions will never change the Bible.

I love these words from Isaiah; “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9).

In closing, “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever” (1 Peter 1:34-25).

For Him,

Pastor Jerry

Be Grateful

Dear readers,
With the cooling of the weather pattern lately, I believe I can safely say that winter is coming closer. Not much exciting has happened at our place this week. We attended a party celebrating a 50th wedding anniversary Tuesday evening. There were just a few couples present, but it was a fun evening. There was much conversation and laughter, something we all need more of. An added bonus was the great variety of appetizers to sample. On the topic of lasting marriages, I heard this comment recently. A young man asked his father for some advice on marriage. Dad responded, “When you and your bride have an argument, and you are convinced beyond a shadow of doubt that you are right and she is wrong, just go ahead and be wrong.”

The next big holiday is Thanksgiving. I believe we are to be thankful on a daily basis for what we have. Each day is a gift, and we need to be aware of that fact. I was given a different perspective on this topic recently. It goes like this; What is your answer when people ask how you are? Most will say, “I’m doing okay”, or something similar. The answer as told to me is simply this; I am grateful!

Whether or not we understand it, everything we have is the result of God’s gracious provision. Here are some Bible verses that remind us to be both grateful and thankful for our blessings.

Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done… Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, his love endures forever. (1 Chronicles 16:8, 34). The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song. (Psalm 28:7).

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him (Colossians 3:17). Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

Praise is also a part of thankfulness; “Praise the Lord. Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens… Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord” (Psalm 150).

Blessings,
Pastor Jerry

Your Vote Counts

Hello friends,
Rain! This week, we had a nice gentle rain. My gauge showed .40’ when it was over; not a huge amount, but very much appreciated. This is only the beginning of what we need to get back to normal. Now is not the time to ease up in asking the Lord to bless us with more moisture.

We started a project this week that has been waiting all summer for me to get motivated. When we had the big windstorm last spring, the outside pane on our entry door was broken. This defeats the purpose of an insulated door, so a new one was ordered. It stood on the porch for months, but has been installed just as the weather begins to cool off. Now to get the window replaced that was broken by an unidentified flying object; either a stick or a rock thrown by the mower.

Vehicle repairs were a part of our week, also. First, there was a new alternator in our pickup, then I found the battery was defective as well. I guess a ten-year-old battery has outlived expectations.

November 8 is election day. The most important thing we can do that day is to get out and vote. Much of what we see happening in our country won’t be solved politically, but we can vote for the candidates that hold to traditional Christian values. The real problem in our country is not political, it is spiritual. The citizens of America must turn back to God, and obey His commands.

These are God’s words to the prophet Zechariah, “The Lord was very angry with your forefathers. Therefore, tell the people: This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Return to me,’ declares the Lord Almighty, ‘and I will return to you’, says the Lord Almighty. Do not be like your forefathers, to whom the earlier prophets proclaimed: This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Turn from your evil ways and your evil practices.’ But they would not listen or pay attention to me, declares the Lord….

“Then they repented and said, ‘The Lord Almighty has done to us what our ways and practices deserve, just as he determined to do.” (Zechariah 1:2-6).

Therefore, you kings (presidents, governors, mayors, senators, etc.), be wise; be warned you rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling” (Psalm 2:10-11).

God bless America,
Pastor Jerry

Gone Fishing

Dear friends,

We have been enjoying some cooler temperatures, the only thing missing is a good soaking rain. I believe we will see those rains in due time, but we still need to be persistent in prayer that the Lord will send them. There is not much news on the home front, just a grocery shopping trip now and then.

The annual Lake Ericson fishing derby was held this past Saturday. After signing in, and after a pancake and sausage breakfast, the teams headed out to the lake. As I observed the preparations, I saw an illustration of what the church should look like. I’m speaking of the church as followers of Jesus, sent out into the world. The men and boys who entered the derby had come earlier in the week and spent time finding out where the fish were. On the day of the contest, they were prepared with the right tackle and a fair knowledge of the habits of the fish they intended to catch.

After breakfast, did they sit around talking about fishing? No, they got in their boats and went fishing. Catching fish is the reason they are fishermen. It would be silly to just sit around the table and tell fish stories.

Jesus gave his disciples instructions, using fishing as an illustration of what they were being sent to do.

As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed Him” (Mark 1:16-18).

Before he ascended into heaven, Jesus appeared to his disciples and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…” (Matthew 28:18-19).

Christians are called to go, that is they are sent by their Lord to go out into the world and be his witnesses; to present the good news of salvation to all people, in order to bring them into His “boat”.

It is pointless for Christians to just sit around after church and talk about the need for evangelism. Let us go out and fish for those who need to hear of Jesus.

In Him,

Pastor Jerry

Stand Firm

Dear friends,
It has rained again. Our gauge showed very close to a half-inch, and we are thankful for it. We will not let up in praying for more, trusting the Lord to answer those prayers in His perfect timing. We visited Alex, Breanna and little Maria on Saturday. It was a good day, but we were glad to get back home after helping with some projects in their home. We are reminded again that we don’t have the staying power we used to have.

As we read the news, we are constantly reminded of the fact that the Christian values we grew up with have fallen out of favor with the current culture. Bible based truth is looked upon as outdated, old fashioned, out of step with reality and even man-made or racist.

There is a sharp dividing line between those who would proclaim the truth as seen in God’s word, and those who write it off as irrelevant to today’s society. In the modern mindset, those who stand by God’s word are increasingly on the “wrong side of history.” No matter the topic, if you proclaim God’s word as truth you are seen as being hopelessly out of the mainstream. To the world’s way of thinking, the truth is whatever the individual sees as truth. To them, absolute truth doesn’t exist.

I have shared these verses many times, and they never grow old or out of date: Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). “But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger” (Romans 2:8).

Jesus, praying for his disciples said, “Sanctify them (believers) by the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17). In the Old Testament book of Isaiah, God says, “I the Lord, speak the truth, I declare what is right” (Isaiah 45:29). Also, in Isaiah, “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever’ (40:8).

We Christians must stand for the truth, no matter what the world may perceive as “truth”, even though we may be persecuted for it. In the words of Carl F. H. Henry; the alternatives are clear: either we return to the God of the Bible or perish in the pit of lawlessness.

In Truth,
Pastor Jerry

Chasing the Wind

Dear friends,

We are experiencing some cooler weather for a change. As I write this, we have received a welcome rain shower. I show a mere twenty hundredths, but hey, it’s rain! We will continue to pray the Lord will send beneficial moisture. With the summer season winding down, life here at the lake is taking a more leisurely turn. It has been good to see folks enjoying a taste of lake living, especially the families with children.

Now for some devotional thoughts. This is from a few years back, when we were still watching television, but the message hasn’t changed. One of the newer advertisements on the tube was from an automobile company that will remain unnamed. Their slogan was “Dedicated to life, liberty and the pursuit!”

One of the hallmarks of the culture of today is that many are dedicated to the “pursuit”, and have no vision of what they are pursuing. After all, I wonder, should there not be something to pursue? Most of us have some goal in mind as we go along our life’s journey. It may be only to provide food and shelter for our families, but there is something we are pursuing. The Bible has quite a bit to say about things that are important to pursue and those which are not worth chasing after.

Solomon wrote that many of the things people seek after are just chasing after the wind (Ecclesiastes 1:14). Again he writes, “What does a man get for all the toil and anxious striving with which he labors under the sun? All his work is pain and grief, even at night his mind does not rest. This too is meaningless (2:22-23).

At the end of the book, Solomon sums it up; “Now all has been heard, here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (Eccl. 12:13).

Jesus said, “But seek first His (God’s) kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33). Our slogan could then be “Dedicated to a life of serving God, liberty from the bondage of sin and the pursuit of godliness.”

In summary, God will provide all we need for this life and the next, if we will only put all our faith and trust in Him.

Reflecting on His Word,

Pastor Jerry

Consistency

Dear readers,
We have arrived at the end of another month. Next week is Labor Day and the unofficial end of summer. Football and volleyball seasons have begun, and schools are in session. We are still in need of rain, and continue to ask the Lord to provide. We ask, knowing that he is faithful to answer our prayers in his perfect timing.

Church attendance wanes in the summer. This is a proven fact, and there are many reasons given, but if we were truthful, I think we would have to admit to a degree of complacency. Scripture tells us the early church met daily for fellowship, the breaking of bread and prayer (Acts 2:4-7). The writer of Hebrews says, “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:23-25).

These are Jesus’ words concerning the faithful servant; “His master replied, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things. Come and share your master’s happiness” (Matthew 25:23)!

Today, it seems hard for the people of God to meet together for one hour on Sunday morning. What follows here are some thoughts I copied down many years ago, and I believe they are worth repeating.

Reflections on being a faithful Christian: If your car starts one time out of three, do you consider it reliable? If the paper carrier skips the Monday and Thursday editions, would they be missed? If you fail to come to work two or three times a month, would your boss call you a faithful worker? If your refrigerator quits for a day now and then, do you excuse it and say, “But it works most of the time?” If your water heater greets you with cold water one or two mornings a week, would you understand? If you miss a couple of mortgage payments in a year’s time, would your banker say, “Oh, well, ten out of twelve isn’t bad”?

If we are not consistent in attending corporate worship on the Lord’s Day, can we call ourselves faithful Christians?

Just thinking,
Pastor Jerry