Archive for the ‘Christian Living’ Category

Finding Blessings

Dear friends,
Are we ready for some warmer weather? I’m ready, and I am sure you are, too. I know of no one who actually likes it this cold outdoors. As promised, here is an update on the cat’s visit to the vet last week. Since I brought her home it has been so cold we have kept her indoors, but for an ex-alley cat this is almost unacceptable. She has learned to use a litter box, but only when her pleas to go outside have been ignored. I’m sure she will be glad for some warmer weather.

In other news, after having gone several years without satellite television, we have decided to get one of those newfangled smart TVs. It remains to be seen which is smarter, the TV set, or the operator. It has a larger screen; the reasoning is that with a bigger screen we can read the captions easier. After all, our eyesight isn’t what it once was. In fact, the hearing isn’t that great, either.

With the cold and snow, along with taking precautions against getting some virus, I still find things to be thankful for. There would be a long list if I would start writing them all down, but I’ll share a few. I’m thankful for a warm home, friends that keep in touch, church family that we see in person those Sundays we meet together, and for the technology that allows us to meet via our small screen devices.

I’m thankful for our God, who knows all about us, and who cares for each of His children. For His salvation, that ensures we will spend eternity in His presence. For the forgiveness of the sin debt that was paid on Calvary. For the Bible, His written word, that by it we come to know all about Him, who He is, and His plan for each of us.

Praise the Lord.
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens.
Praise him for his acts of power;
praise him for his surpassing greatness.
Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
praise him with the harp and lyre,
praise him with tambourine and dancing,
praise him with the strings and flute,
praise him with the clash of cymbals,
praise him with resounding cymbals.
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Praise the LORD. (Psalm 150)

For His glory,
Pastor Jerry

Our Rock and Salvation

Hello friends,
Winter has returned to the area. This means snow and more snow, with very cold temperatures. For most of you this is not news; for the rest, enjoy the weather you are experiencing. Monday morning, I will be taking our alley cat to the vet for some surgery. This is the cat who adopted us last summer. She had kittens in our carport, and she wouldn’t take no for an answer when I told her to take them elsewhere. The kittens are gone, and now she has taken up residence in the house. I’ll let you know how it goes.

After last week’s column, I had several well-meaning, and encouraging suggestions for continuing to share my thoughts with you. I will keep writing, as long as the Lord gives me the strength and inspiration to do so. Thanks to all who take the time to read these articles each week.

The cultural and political landscape continues to be of concern for God’s people. There is much that gives us cause to wonder what next? Rather than allow all that to negatively affect our view of the current time, along with worrying what the future might bring, we need to focus on the Lord. There are two Psalms that have encouraged me through difficult times in the past. I would like to share parts of them with you this week.

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.
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 (Psalm 62:1-2, 5-7).

I will extoll the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.
My soul will boast in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together.
I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.
This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles (Psalm 34:1-6).

Because of Him,
Pastor Jerry

Angry Words

Merry Christmas!
I know, for those who get this on Monday it’s a bit premature, but we’ve been saying it since Thanksgiving, and will for a few more days.

As I sift through the many Facebook posts I see every day, I try not to read the comments. One reason is this; if I start reading all of them, my blood pressure begins to rise. Pretty soon, I am as angry as those who are posting. It doesn’t take too long to see that this is not good. It is best for me to resist the urge to get involved in the conversation.

I copied the following paragraph from a devotional I receive each week. I thought it would be a good introduction for this week’s commentary, since we are celebrating the birth of the Prince of Peace.

Quote: “I was on Facebook, arguing. Bad move. What made me think I was obligated to “correct” a stranger on a hot topic—especially a divisive one? The results were heated words, hurt feelings (on my part anyway), and a broken opportunity to witness well for Jesus. That’s the sum outcome of “internet anger.” It’s the term for the harsh words flung daily across the blogosphere. As one ethics expert explained, people wrongly conclude that rage “is how public ideas are talked about.” End of quote.

Paul’s wise advice to Timothy gave the same caution. “Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone” (2 Timothy 2:23-24).

Romans 12: 17-18; Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If It is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

Here are two verses we memorized as a church many years ago: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers” (Galatians 6:9-10).

I pray we can all have a joyous and peaceful celebration of the Savior’s birth. As my mama would have written it…

Merrie Christmas to all,
Pastor Jerry

Our Calling

Dear friends,
The garage project has progressed to the point we can close the doors and keep the snow out. It isn’t done, but we like it so far. At this point, we are waiting for material to finish the project. After the winds of the last few days, I believe it has passed the test.

How is this for a song title? Life Ain’t Fair and the World is Mean! I didn’t make this up; there is a song with that title being played on the bluegrass channel from satellite radio. After the election, there are those who can relate. In any situation there are those who are happy and others who are disappointed. It is true; life isn’t fair, and the world is mean. Trouble comes, and life isn’t fair. Elections are about competing world-views, someone wins, and someone loses. What is fair to one doesn’t seem fair to another.

The world is mean, especially to Christians. Nowhere does the Bible indicate the Christian is going to be loved and accepted by the world. Jesus, speaking to his disciples said this; “If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why it hates you.” (John 15:19b). Also, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

Here is something I read this week. These are wise words for us; “With election day behind us, we Christians need to remember our primary calling has not changed. Let your faith be encouraged in the fact that God reigns. Continue going out into the world proclaiming the Good News. Stand firm, keep fighting for justice. And love your neighbor.”

Peter reminds us to “Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king” (2 Peter 2:16).

Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer each person” (Colossians 4:6). As Christians, we remember that God has placed here to be witnesses for the Lord Jesus.

Because of Him,
Pastor Jerry

Making Plans

Hello friends,
Well, we certainly had an extreme weather change. As I write this Sunday afternoon, we have had a good dose of snow and cold. I’m looking forward to the middle of the week, when we are supposed to warm up considerably. I came up with a project to enclose our open-ended carport/garage, and install doors, but now I have to wait for better weather before I can start. One thing about the delay is that I have time to engineer the details. I have done doors before, but in a more conventional setting. I think the delay will be a good thing. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Speaking of making plans, the Lord has quite a bit to say about the plans of men and their success or failure. Something to think about as we set goals and go about making plans for our lives. We have all made plans for how we think our lives will play out, but how many plans actually come out the way we imagined?

With the general election next week, people are making plans for the future. Some of those may be good and others may turn out to be not so good. God’s word doesn’t discourage planning, but he does expect to be a part of the process. Let’s look at some scriptures that speak to this subject.

Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed. (Proverbs 16:3). In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps. (Prov. 16:9). Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. (Prov. 19:21).
May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed. (Psalm 20:4).

Here is a longer passage from the epistle of James in the New Testament: Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that” (James 4:13-15).

Do you have plans for your future? Have you included the Lord in those plans?

Just thinking,
Pastor Jerry

Good Words

Dear friends,
It was a pleasant weather week here. Not too hot, nor too cold but the forecast is for cooler temperatures ahead, with perhaps a little moisture. Corn harvest has begun, but I don’t believe anyone would argue for continued dry conditions.

As the election draws near, let not forget to pray for our country. Pray for godly leaders to be chosen and for decisions to be made that would honor God. Pray also for a spirit of cooperation to return to our cultural conversation.

On the topic of conversation, I have spent some time studying in Ephesians where the apostle cautions us to watch our speech so as to exhibit Christ-like character to those around us. To be frank, I am appalled at many words that are used in both verbal and written communication these days. It is not just in the outhouse; it goes all the way to the White House. When did it become acceptable to use words in public that most people would not use in any context in days gone by?

From God’s Word in the Old Testament: “A gentle answer turns away anger, but a harsh word stirs up wrath” (Proverbs 15:1). “A word spoken at the right time is like gold apples in silver settings” (Proverbs 25:11).

And from the New Testament: “No foul language should come from your mouth, but only what is good for building up someone in need, so that it gives grace to those who hear… Obscene and foolish talking or crude joking is not suitable” (Ephesians 4:29; 5:4).

“Blessing and cursing come out of the same mouth. My brothers and sisters, these things should not be this way. Does a spring pour out sweet and bitter water from the same opening?” (James 3:10-11).

“But now, put away all the following: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and filthy language from your mouth” (Colossians 3:8). “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer each person” (Colossians 4:6). “My dear brothers and sisters, understand this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger, for human anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness” (James 1:19).

Instead of throwing insults and indulging in name-calling, why not use words that build up others and shine the light of Christ into a world that desperately needs it.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Signs of Change

Hello friends,
Our latest camping trip is over. We had an enjoyable time with Alex and Amy, then drove to Pickstown, SD, where we spent three nights at North Point Recreation Area. Our campsite was almost at the edge of the lake. This was our first visit to the area, and we were impressed with the view. We may return in a couple of weeks, weather permitting.

As we traveled, we could see the signs of the changing seasons. Crops are drying down, in preparation for harvest, the leaves are changing to fall colors, and some trees are losing leaves. I have mentioned in previous writings that fall is right at the top of my favorite seasons. Sure, winter comes after autumn, but following that is spring, with all the signs of new life.

Turning this discussion to spiritual matters, the Bible tells us people who have accepted the Lord Jesus as their Savior, will show signs of new life.

A Pharisee named Nicodemus, asked Jesus a question regarding God’s kingdom. Jesus answered in this way: “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” Nicodemus was shocked at this statement and asked, “how can a man be born when he is old?” Jesus’ answer was basically this; The new birth speaks of being spiritually reborn. This rebirth is possible only through the power of God’s Holy Spirit. (John 3:3-8). “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3).

A favorite verse of mine is 2 Corinthians 5:17; “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” We are told to “put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:22-23).

Have you experienced the new birth? Are there signs of new life in your thoughts and actions?

In His love,
Pastor Jerry

Body of Believers

Dear friends,
Cooler weather came last week, along with ¾ inch of rain. The rain was especially welcome. A warming trend is forecast for this week. We are planning another camping adventure for next weekend, and on into the week. We will be visiting Alex for a couple of days, then stopping at Niobrara State Park for two nights, further plans will probably be made on the spur of the moment. We’ll see how it plays out.

As the summer wears on, we are still hearing conflicting ideas concerning the Covid-i9 virus. Masks versus no masks, social distancing, large groups are not okay, small groups are suspicious. Mobs of protestors and rioters are okay, but you can’t gather as a church, even in a small group. A vaccine is coming soon; no, wait, it may not be ready until the end of 2021. Only God knows when and how it will end.

Our responsibility as Christian is to be faithful witnesses and ambassadors for the Lord Jesus Christ. He is Lord, there is no other. His people have a mission. Every believer in Christ has a responsibility to share the good news. “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy… Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us” (1 Peter 2:9-12).

In light of the pandemic, and even with some insisting we not gather for worship, we cannot stop gathering as the body of Christ. The church is most effective when all members are involved and working as a unit.

“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).

Stay faithful my friends,
Pastor Jerry

On Being Neighbors

Dear friends,
Well, the last official summer holiday is here. Labor Day weekend is always very busy here at beautiful Lake Ericson; this year was no exception. Many families were seen enjoying all the lake has to offer. The weather for the long weekend was perfect, with much sunshine and slightly cooler temps than expected. The mid-week forecast is for temperatures to resemble late fall, and comes with the promise of rain.

If we weren’t aware of how blessed we are living in this part of the world, we must certainly realize it in our current environment. As I look out of the window facing the lake and the street, I see a way of life that most of the world would die for. There are no rioters, just families and friends. No confrontations over politics or ideas, just a peaceful community of ordinary people. We stop in the street and ask about each other’s’ families, our health, our plans, just everyday conversations, and caring for each other. I believe this is how God intended for us to live; in harmony with our neighbors and acquaintances.

In the scriptures that follow, the Bible speaks to believers in Christ, but I believe if everyone lived by the principles stated, this world would be a nicer place. Obviously, not all will take this to heart, but what a difference might it make if a few more people would take note?

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load” (Galatians 6:2-5).

Something must be laid aside, if one is to be a burden-bearer and that is conceit, an attitude that breeds intolerance of error in others and causes one to think he is above failure. [The Bible Knowledge Commentary].

The apostle Paul wrote this: “For by the grace given 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” (Romans 12:3).

Remember the commandment; Love your neighbor as yourself! Good words from God’s Word,

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Pray for America

Dear readers,
The weather word for the day? Windy! If it blows up a rain, it will be a positive thing. We are in need of some moisture, so we will pray for it to happen. Saturday, we drove to South Dakota to have lunch with Alex and his friend, Amy. It was a beautiful day for a drive, and an enjoyable time. We drove around the campground at Niobrara State Park, and decided it would be our next camping destination.

The unrest in the country continues to take up much of our attention. God’s people need to be earnestly praying for an end to the division, and a return to civil discourse. Also, for wisdom for federal, state, and local authorities as they seek answers for how to proceed in the future. In addition, we must pray for the upcoming general election, that godly men and women would put in office.

There are many scriptures that command God’s people to be involved in these things. We are to pray for leaders, that they would lead well, and be brought to salvation. These are Paul’s words to Timothy: “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:1-4). We could insert presidents, governors and all elected officials, in place of kings, etc.

Paul also gave this instruction to Titus: “Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men” (Titus 3:1-2).

Finally, these instructions from Peter: “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right… Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king” (1 Peter 1:13-17).

Pray for America,
Pastor Jerry