Archive for the ‘Christian Living’ Category

Stewardship 101

Hello friends,
Our warm spell has ended for a time. We are now back to daytime high temps below the freezing point. I guess our ‘January thaw’ is over. On a positive note, it has been warm enough to melt much of our snow, although many drifts remain.

As I was reading some news headlines this week, I noticed a plea for volunteers to knit or crochet ‘nests’ for animals affected by the wildfires in Australia. Another headline referred to the need to remove all restrictions to the abortion of human babies. Does anyone see a problem here?

God created man to care for all of His creation. I take this to mean the earth and all creatures, including other humans, no matter their age or stage of development. It is a sad commentary on the brokenness of this world, when animal life takes precedence over the lives of human beings.

This is not a political issue, it is an issue of morality, and the sanctity of human life as the Creator intended. I am as much an animal lover as anyone, but in God’s creation plan, humans are stewards of the earth, its resources and all life. It should be obvious to anyone with even a minimal reading of God’s Word, that humans are responsible first of all, for human beings, and all other forms of life are subject to that stewardship. To place any other creature in a place over a human being is totally in opposition to our stewardship responsibility as God planned it, and as He outlined it in His Word.

“So God created them in his own image, in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it’” (Genesis 1:27-28). “Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from Him” (Psalm 127:3).

The sixth commandment; “Do not murder”, specifically prohibits murder, that is, any unauthorized killing of an individual. Abortion is also prohibited by this commandment, as the Bible clearly states that an unborn baby is a person.

The third Sunday of January is Right to Life Sunday. Join me in praying our country will turn back to God and respect all of His creation, especially those made in His image, at all stages of life.

Simply His,
Pastor Jerry

Prepare Him Room

Hello friends,
We awoke this Sunday morning to several inches of new snow on the ground. We drove to Niobrara Saturday, to meet and have lunch with Alex, and except for being a bit chilly, it was a nice day. Last week, we made a trip to Grand Island to get a redo on a tire repair. We had it fixed a couple of weeks ago, but it was still losing air pressure. When the tire was fixed, the shop manager handed me the tire tester that I had left on the hood. The Lord looks out for the forgetful, too!

Speaking of the Lord’s provision for mankind, we are rapidly approaching Christmas Day, when we celebrate the arrival of the Lord Jesus to a little town called Bethlehem. You recall the story… Joseph and Mary arrived in Bethlehem, only to find there was no place to stay, but in a stable (Luke 2:1-7). The inn-keeper has gotten a lot of negative publicity over the years for turning them away, but God was working out his plan for the Messiah to be born in humble surroundings.

We have no record of the conversation between the inn-keeper and Joseph. What if he had known who he was turning away, would he somehow make room for them? Sadly, today there are millions who are turning the Savior away, because they can find no room in their hearts for Jesus. Many Christians, I fear, sometimes get so caught up in the commercial aspect of the holiday, they forget the Reason for the season.

Years ago, there was a book written called, “My Heart, Christ’s Home.” In it the writer likened his heart to a home where Jesus wanted to live. The man went room-to-room through his “home”, and asked himself whether each one was fit for Jesus to visit. He found many things he needed to clean out before it was a proper dwelling for the Lord.

It is a sad fact that many today have no room for a Savior in their hearts, but I suspect most Christian hearts need a proper housecleaning from time to time. Do you remember the lyrics to the old Christmas carol? “Joy to the world, the Lord has come. Let earth receive her King. Let every heart prepare Him Room.”

It is not too late to make room for Him.

Celebrating His coming,
Pastor Jerry

It's His Call

Dear friends,
Our Christmas lights and decorations are up and functioning, at least for now. We are slowly weeding out the old strings of lights that “were working when we put them away.” I am so grateful for the new LED lights that keep working year after year. We no longer put up a large tree in the house, just a small table-top version. In retrospect, it may have been easier to have a simple tree in the house, than to put up all the outdoor lights. Maybe it is my age, but there are times I yearn for the ‘old’ days.

Speaking of aging; many years ago, in a church service, the officiating pastor walked slowly to the front of the church using a walker. I wondered why he just didn’t give it up. Now that I am older, I can appreciate his determination. I also realize it is not an easy decision to step away from ministry. When God calls a man to preach, He dictates the terms. It is His call, after all. In doing God’s work, full retirement comes when He takes us to heaven. The apostle Paul said, “I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:16).

Here are some instructions to Christian workers, and I believe to all who claim the name of Jesus.
The words of Jesus; “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation” (Mark 16:5).
Paul’s instructions to Timothy were, “Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching” (1Timothy 4:13). Also, Paul to Timothy; “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and instruction” (2 Timothy 4:2).

This doesn’t apply just to preachers and pastors. In the parable of the ten minas, Jesus told of a nobleman who gave his servants some coins and told them, ‘Engage in business until I come back’ (Luke 19:14). Jesus’ instructions to the twelve disciples in Matthew 28 were “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, and teach teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you until the end of the age.”

Until He returns,
Pastor Jerry

A Gentle Word

Dear friends,
We have certainly had a variety of weather conditions, lately. Our Thanksgiving plans were canceled in favor of staying home to wait for a better day. As of now, it seems it might wait until Christmas. Milrae and I spent a quiet day at home, but still enjoyed a meal of turkey, stuffing, potatoes, gravy, cranberries, etc. I saw a meme on Facebook that said, “Don’t blame the holidays, you were fat in August”, so there goes that excuse.

The Christmas lights are up at the lake, and are turned on each evening until just after Christmas. A stop at Lake Ericson should be on everyone’s agenda. There is always something new to see.

Something I would pray for this Christmas season, is some genuine civility in our cultural conversation. The angry woman exchanging insults with a white cat is somewhat amusing, but in reality, this is a picture of what is wrong with our discussion with those of differing opinions. No one appears willing to engage in uplifting conversation. God’s word contains many references to the importance of civil discourse.

Here are a few of note:
“Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be” (James 3:10).
“He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity” (Proverbs 21:23).
“A wise man’s heart guides his mouth, and his lips promote instruction” (Proverbs 16:23)
“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1).
“My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:19).
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouth, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29).
“But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander and filthy language from your lips” (Colossians 3:8).
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourself. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4)

Perhaps this should be our prayer at the beginning of any conversation: “Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord, keep watch over the door of my lips” (Psalm 141:3).

Just thinking,
Pastor Jerry

Wisdom Spots

We seem to have settled into a mild weather pattern for early November. I looked up the date for the first official day of winter, and we have until December 21st for the start of that season. How great would it be if our current weathers conditions would hold for that length of time?

I visited the dermatologist last week. She always refers to some areas of my skin as ‘wisdom spots’. I think she just doesn’t want to remind me that they are a result of old age. The Bible refers to gray hair as a sign of wisdom, so I’m going with that definition as long as I have hair.

“The glory of young men is their strength, gray hair the splendor of the old (Proverbs 20:29). “Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding” (Job 12:12)?

Here are words of encouragement for those getting along in years; “The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, “The Lord is upright; he Is my rock, and there is no wickedness in him” (Psalm 92:14). Keep in mind that the righteous person in one who is in complete obedience to God, especially in relationship to salvation through faith in Jesus Christ and his resurrection. It is not a promise to the unsaved.

Here are some other thoughts on wisdom from both the Old and New Testaments. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise (Psalm 113:10). “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. For through me your days will be many, and years will be added to your life” (Proverbs 9:10-11).

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him… the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere” (James 1:5, 3:17).

Could it be our world is in its present state because we have failed to ask God for wisdom?

Just thinking,
Pastor Jerry

Go and Tell

Hello friends,
A new week begins, and it is time for another of our visits. As I mentioned last week, I did attend our Kansas-Nebraska SBC annual meeting. It was good to reconnect with old friends, and to hear some inspirational preaching. Wednesday, we made a quick trip to Albion. Friday, we went to Grand Island to pick up some supplies for a plumbing project. I am finding that I totally misunderstood what retirement involves.

This world we live in is filled with heartache and sorrow. Many people are dealing with tragedy in their lives. Broken marriages and dysfunctional relationships are everywhere. Human life is devalued to the extent that murder and violence to others is epidemic. All of this is the result of sin in the world. The good news is this; there is a remedy for our brokenness and hopelessness, and that is to turn to God, admit our own sinfulness, and place our faith in Jesus Christ as Savior.

Christians have a message for the world, but there is a problem. The problem is highlighted in an illustration from one of our convention speakers; instead of looking to the harvest, as Christ commanded, we are busy polishing the combine while the harvest is rotting in the field. We are commanded to go into the world and spread the good news of Jesus Christ.

I believe there is another problem. Many who call themselves Christian spend little or no time in fellowship with other Christians, no time in bible study or in prayer. Consequently, they have no more influence with the world than those who never leave the church building.

Jesus, speaking to his disciples: “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation” (Mark 16:15). “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 28:19). The command is to go, not stay and “polish the combine.”

The writer of Hebrews had this to say, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another…” (Hebrews 10:25).

Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Christians, we have the answer to the hopelessness in the world. Let us Go and Tell!

For Him,
Pastor Jerry

A Changed Life

Hello friends,

Deadlines loom large occasionally. It is Sunday evening as I write this, we just came from meeting old friends for a few hours, and tomorrow I leave for two days. Therefore, this has to be written before I head to bed. Regarding the meeting with our friends, the Bible reminds us of the value of good friends, in Psalm 18: 24. I quote; “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother.” A little sign in our house reads, “Friends are the family you choose.” Now, I have nothing against family, but it is true, there are friends who are closer than family members. I believe this applies especially to Christian friends. For those friends, I give thanks to the Lord.

Tomorrow begins our two state Southern Baptist annual meeting. This year it is being held in Lexington, and I am looking forward to being there. It does involve some business items for the convention, but there will be inspirational worship times, along with some quality preaching and teaching. Catching up with friends old and new will be a highlight for me, also.

This week I preached at Grace Bible Church, as they continue to search for just the right person to become their full-time pastor. We looked at the apostle Paul’s testimony concerning his life, and how it changed after meeting the Savior on the road to Damascus. In his testimony, Paul told what his life was like before encountering Jesus, the circumstances of his meeting Jesus, and how his life was changed as a result. Paul went from being a persecutor of Christians, to an outspoken follower of Christ.

We are reminded that every Christian has a witness that includes these three elements: My life before Jesus, how I met Jesus, and how he changed my life.

The question that comes to mind, then, is this; How has Jesus changed your life? Every believer should be able to give an answer. “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).

Again, the question: How has Jesus changed your life, or has he? If not, have you asked him?

In His hands,

Pastor Jerry