Archive for the ‘Christian Living’ Category

High Water

Dear friends,
It is obvious the rains have not stopped for some of our friends in other places. As I read of roads made impassable by heavy rains, and people marooned on their property, surrounded by water, I pray this will pass soon. The 2019 spring and summer seasons have tried the patience and perseverance of many. Having experienced some abnormally wet seasons on the ranch, I understand. It is not a fun situation by any measure. It reminds us of the fact that as much as mankind has learned, we still do not know how to control the weather.

In times of excessive rain there are always those who suggest the need to build an ark, as in the Old Testament story of Noah and the command of God to build one. The flood that God was going to bring upon the earth was judgment for the rampant sin and ungodliness of the time. Only Noah and his family would be spared. Just as God said, when the ark was completed, and the animals and Noah’s family were safely on board, the earth was flooded, and all remaining life destroyed. After the waters had receded, God made a covenant with Noah.

“This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life” (Genesis 9:12-15).

We are living in a time when sin and ungodliness seem to increase daily. Peter reminds us that God will again judge the earth, but not with a flood. “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything will be laid bare.” Then the question; Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be?” And, the answer; “You ought to live holy and godly lives” (2 Peter 3:10-11).

Standing on His promises,
Pastor Jerry

The Gospel

Hello friends,

I trust you are enjoying the cooler weather. We are glad the rains have stopped here. I don’t remember ever having a summer when we did not need to water the lawn.

In a time of reminiscing, I realized that November of this year will mark the 20th year I have been writing these weekly thoughts. What began as a means to share with a few people what God was doing in my life, has become something I could not have imagined back then. I am grateful to God for all who have encouraged me in this endeavor over the years.

I was recently asked this question; “What is the gospel? You speak and write of sharing the gospel, but how many people understand what that is?” I had never really thought about the need to define what the word means, so I will try to explain it in this week’s devotional thought.

I know that sometimes we Christians use words that only have meaning to us. It is called speaking in ‘Christianese’. We forget there are those who haven’t had the opportunity to read the Bible, or hear someone preach from it.

The word gospel, in fact, means good news. What is that good news? Simply put, the Christian gospel is the good news that Jesus Christ came to save us from our sin. Here is what the apostle Paul wrote to the church in Corinth: “Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.
For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures…” (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).
Paul again; “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: First for the Jew, then for the Gentile.” (Romans 1:16-17).

It is the responsibility of every believer in Christ to tell this gospel, or good news to all who will listen, so that those who hear have an opportunity to believe. Have you heard?

For Him,
Pastor Jerry

Priorities

Hello friends,
September is here, and the weather word is cooler. Cool nights and days are signs of things to come, I suppose. Before we know it, the seasons will change again. The big national weather news is the hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean. Prayers are in order for the folks in the path of this storm.

Now for the devotional thought of the week. Maybe it should be called ‘Why are traditions so hard to give up?”
Why are traditions so hard to give up? It seems like a fair question, and one I had to deal with recently. I have consistently held the view that change is not a bad thing, yet when it becomes personal, I have second thoughts. We hold on to traditions and possessions, as if they hold some special value. If someone comes in and wants to make changes to our comfortable surroundings, we resist their efforts even if they are well-intentioned and make perfect sense. We easily forget that in light of eternity, nothing of this earth matters.

Our old friend King Solomon had something to say about this. Speaking of all the things he had acquired, he wrote, “I must leave them to the one who comes after me. And who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool” (Ecclesiastes 2:18-19)?

Jesus said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matthew 6:19-20).

To the religious leaders of his time, Jesus said, “You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men… You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions” (Mark 78-9)!

When earthly possessions and those traditions we hold dear begin to become our focus, rather than our mission as followers of Jesus Christ, we are in danger of idolatry. To paraphrase a message I heard many years ago, when we begin to focus on the things of earth, we have taken our eyes off the cross, and the One who died for us.

Remember, as Christians, we have a greater inheritance waiting in heaven (1 Peter 1:3-5).

Just thinking,
Pastor Jerry

The Unchanging Word

This week, I read an article by a Christian writer who was commenting on the topic of filtering our words. The point being, we need to really pay attention to the things we say and the words we post on social media. He made reference to the number of words he had written over the years.

This started me thinking about my own articles, and I wondered what my word count would be. Here is what I found; I aim for 400 words per article. They are written once a week and I have been doing this for about 20 years. I came up with a total of something like 416,000 words. I had no idea!

On an entirely different subject, since I’m ‘retired’, I have begun spending time in the kitchen doing some of the cooking. When we were on the ranch, Milrae was faithful to have meals ready when I came in from work, and I now have time to return the favor. Generally, I follow a tried and true recipe, but now and then, I like to experiment. These experiments do not always end well. For the best results, I have found it is better to ‘go by the book,’ so to speak.

There are a significant number of people these days who try to make up their own recipe for living life. They may claim some knowledge of God’s plan for life, as is found in the Bible, but they want to experiment by choosing the parts they like, along with adding bits and pieces of other religions or philosophies. These efforts are doomed to failure. Call it ‘cafeteria Christianity’ or whatever you may, God’s word is complete in itself. It needs no editing or added ingredients.

Here are some verses for our consideration and mediation. “As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless (2 Samuel 22:31, also Psalm 18:30).
“For the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does” (Psalm 33:4). Over and over in scripture, we read “hear the word of the Lord!”

Peter quoted Isaiah in his first letter; “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 1:24-25).

In truth,
Pastor Jerry

The Tune-up

The pleasant weather continues. We did receive some rain on Friday, but not as much as some folks to the south and west. The garden continues to do well, as do the flowers. We have had our first (small) tomato, and a few cucumbers, in addition to the green beans that we have been enjoying.

Now for the weekly devotional thought. Sunday, as I was driving to a sister church for a speaking engagement, I remembered that a couple of months ago, our pickup was running poorly, and the fuel mileage wasn’t what I expected it to be. Now, in the past, I would have run it into the shop and changed the sparkplugs, points, and condenser, probably fixing the problem. In today’s world, some of those parts don’t exist, so there was no use for me to even start.

After a visit to the dealer’s shop, and a computer diagnosis, it was determined that it did in fact need new spark plugs and something called a “fuel system flush.” Who knew fuel system flush was even a thing? It now performs as good as new.

As I thought about this, I was reminded that the Christian sometimes needs a tune-up. The remedy for this is to get back in touch with our maker through his word, and let him put us back in working order. When we neglect meeting with Him in prayer, through the study of His word, and fellowship with other believers, we get distracted by life leading to poor performance in our Christian walk.

A time of prayer and fellowship with God is important for a healthy Christian life. “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen” (Matthew 6:6).

Spending time reading and studying the Scripture is also important. “How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word” (Psalm 119:9).

Finally, spend time with other Christians regularly. “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…” (Hebrews 10:24-25).

If you feel your relationship with the Lord isn’t hitting on all cylinders, these verses are a good place to start that tune-up.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

The Gospel

Summer is here, according to the calendar. The temperatures of the last few days would indicate otherwise. We actually started our furnace a couple of times, just to take the chill off the house. Also, we have not been lacking in the rain department, yet we haven’t experienced the excesses of some areas. In other news, concerning my recent surgery, I had a follow-up visit to my dermatologist, and all is well. Good news

For my devotional thought this week, I want to share a piece from Pastor Greg Laurie, entitled “I Have Some Good News and Some Bad News.” This message cannot be repeated enough. Now to Pastor Laurie’s article.

“The literal definition of gospel is good news. And before we can fully appreciate the good news of the gospel, we have to know the bad news. That means telling people they are sinners. Of course, people don’t like to hear that. I’m a what? I’m not a sinner! I’m a good person!

We have to define what it means to be a sinner, because the Bible says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Yet there are preachers today who don’t want to tell people they’re sinners. They claim that most people know they’re doing wrong. But do they? I think a lot of people believe everything is fine as long as they try to live a good life.

We have to break the bad news: “I’m sorry to tell you this, friend, but you’re a sinner. You’ve broken God’s commands. You’ve fallen short of His standards, and there is nothing you can do to make this right. But God loved you so much that He sent Jesus to die on the cross for you, and if you will turn from that sin and put your faith in Christ, you can be forgiven.”

The bad news helps us fully appreciate the good news. Anything less than this is a false gospel that will give false assurance. That is why Paul wrote, “I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God. . .. You are following a different way that pretends to be the Good News but is not the Good News at all” (Galatians 1:6–7).
We must be careful to preach the real gospel.”

Wise words. May we take them to heart,
Pastor Jerry

Confession, Not Celebration

It was a good week here at the lake. The lake is nearly full, after some hardy souls got the logs and trees out of the gates at the dam. We can now maintain a proper water flow through the spillway, and keep the lake level steady. It is good to see people enjoying what Lake Ericson has to offer.

Now for some devotional thoughts. This is not an easy topic, but I believe it is the responsibility of Christians to point people to God and His Word. Whether the message is well received or not, it must be told. I have had to ask, how is it that we got to the point of celebrating flagrant sin against a holy God? Sin is to be confessed, not celebrated.

Our culture is celebrating behaviors that God has described in His Word as abominable (or detestable). According to dictionary.com, the definition of abomination is, “anything greatly disliked or abhorred; intense aversion or loathing; a vile, shameful, or detestable action, condition, habit, etc. Things like homosexuality, murder (abortion), adultery, and same sex marriage would be included. Sin, in other words.

These are the words of the Lord in His Word, the Bible: Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming (Colossians 3:5-6).

The first chapter of Romans speaks plainly to this issue. “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness… For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened… Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them” (Romans 1:18-32).

Rather than celebrate the sin, let us instead pray that those caught up in these sinful behaviors would come to the saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, who can free them from their bonds of sin.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

In Truth,
Pastor Jerry