Archive for the ‘Christian Living’ Category

Basics

There’s not a lot of news from our house this week, we are mostly staying indoors and enjoying our retirement. One benefit of being home alone with each other is so far, we have escaped the illnesses making their rounds in the area. Some of our time is spent trying out new recipes that appear on our Facebook page. I wonder if the folks who share all those wonderful pictures of food, have tried them all?

My wife has done the cooking in our house since the beginning. Our menu was somewhat limited in the early years, but improvement came quickly. As I join her in the kitchen, one thing I have learned, is the best results come from following the recipe.

Living the Christian life is much the same. For the best results we need to stay within the bounds of the Basic Recipe, God’s Word. In a day when some are calling the Bible outdated and unnecessary, and as one preacher has promoted the idea of ‘unhitching’ from the Old Testament, we need to stop and take a look at what we might call the basic recipe for living as God intended.

The Ten Commandments and the commands of Jesus. They are not unrelated, in fact, they are forever connected through Jesus Christ. He said, “I have not come to abolish the Law, I have come to fulfill the Law.”

The first four of the Ten Commandments pertain to the relationship of the Israelites with God, and the other six deal with social relationships within the community of God’s people. In the New testament Jesus taught, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.’ This was followed by, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Mark 12:29-31).

In another place, Jesus gives his disciples a new command, that they were to love one another, just as he had loved them. (John 13:34). The Ten Commandments of the Old Testament are not divorced from the New Testament teaching, in fact, they are connected through the work of Christ on the cross, as he fulfilled the Law and continued its basic thought of first giving God his due worship, and having a right relationship with his children.

Borrowed quote: “God’s Word: Still the final authority, opinions don’t matter”; whether in the New or Old Testaments.

In Truth,
Pastor Jerry

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Our Hope

After a very cold and windy entrance to the new year, we have enjoyed some spring-like weather. This is good and helps us envision the end of winter. The lights and other Christmas decorations are all back in their totes, the tree has been taken down, and the nativity carefully stored away to wait for another Christmas season. We hope the gifts and toys have endured the first few weeks of use.

A new congress has been sworn in, and the political circus begins a new year. The liberal, secular culture is increasingly anti-Christian, the public discourse is more and more confrontational. And yet, the words of the Lord are true and lasting. How does a Christian maintain a positive outlook in times like these?

Read with me, this passage from the Psalms:
Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth take their stand, and the rulers conspire together
against the Lord and his Anointed One:
“Let’s tear off their chains and throw their ropes off of us.”

The one enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord ridicules them.
Then He speaks in His anger and terrifies them in his wrath:
“I have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain….”

So now, kings, be wise; receive instruction, you judges of the earth.
Serve the Lord with reverential awe and rejoice with trembling.
Pay homage to the Son or he will be angry and you will perish in your rebellion,
for his anger may ignite at any moment.
All who take refuge in him are happy. (Psalm 2:2-6, 10-12

The following is the prophecy in Isaiah that we read at every Christmas season: For a child will be born for us, a son will be given to us, and the government will be on his shoulders. He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
The dominion will be vast, and its prosperity will never end. He will reign on the throne of David and over his kingdom to establish and sustain it with justice and righteousness from now and forever. (Isaiah 9:6-7).

I have read the book, and I know how the story ends. Jesus Christ and his true followers win. Evil will be defeated and we will reign with Christ forever and ever. As my friend says, can I get an amen?

Pastor Jerry

A New Year

Hello friends,
Christmas Day is behind us, and I pray we as a people, will not forget the reason for the holiday we just enjoyed. Our own celebration was pretty quiet. We attended our church Christmas Eve service, then came home to our favorite chairs and listened to some Christmas music. Tuesday was warm enough by noon to fire up the pellet grill, so we were able to enjoy steak and hash browns for lunch. We had plenty of time later to reflect on the Savior whose birth we were celebrating.

As we enter the new year, may I suggest, if you haven’t, that you take the time to consider what your own eternal destination might be. There are many ideas and theories concerning eternal issues. The one that has withstood the test of time comes from the Bible. If you believe this book to be God’s Word, written by men, inspired by His Holy Spirit, then you need look no further to find the truth.

According to the Bible, Jesus Christ, was and is, God in human form. He came to earth with the express purpose of dying on a cross, as payment for the sins of humanity. By faith in that one selfless act, we, in turn can be assured of spending eternity in the presence of God and Jesus.

Christianity is not an exclusive religion. The invitation to receive God’s gift is open to all. However, not everyone will choose to accept the gift. God does not force anyone to believe. He has given evidence of the truth of His salvation, it is up to each individual to accept or reject.

The following Bible verses are not new, nor have they been hidden from view. I have quoted them many time in these articles, but some have not seen or responded to them. I pray they will do so today.

Romans 10:9-10… “the word of faith we are proclaiming: That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
Ephesians 2:8… “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.”

We can do nothing to earn our salvation. The gift is free. Our only responsibility is to accept it. Think about it.

Happy New Year!
Pastor Jerry

Good New Year

Dear friends,
Ready or not, 2019 is knocking at the door. As we contemplate the new year, one thing I have noticed, is there are always a few people who say that the previous year was bad, and they are hoping the upcoming year will be better. I have always considered myself somewhat of an optimist. Some would call me a dreamer, and they would be entitled to their opinion. But to me, being positive is more productive than looking at the negative.

In thinking about the good year/bad year question, I wonder how we should describe a bad year, as opposed to a good year? Do we dwell on the bad things that happened, or do we look for some good in that experience? If 2018 has been a “bad” year for you, what would make 2019 a “good” year. We plan for what we would like to happen, but ultimately God is in charge of the future.

When we lost everything in the agricultural depression of the eighties, it was a bad experience at the time, but we learned valuable lessons that helped us immensely in the years that followed. In the bigger picture, it brought about positive results.

Of course, bad things happen in our lives, but to label a whole year as bad is probably an overstatement. If we would step back and look at the previous 365 days, I suspect the good days will outnumber the bad. The apostle Paul, in his letter to the Christians in Rome, insisted that for believers, those who love God, and are called according to his purpose, all things work for good in some way. (Romans 8:28).

We may certainly use those trials in our lives to give testimony to God’s faithfulness in each and every situation. We can focus on the negative, or we can turn a bad experience into a good one. For the Christian, every situation, whether seen as good or not, can be used to give glory and praise to God.

Here is a verse from the Bible that may be helpful. In the Old Testament, Joseph, who was sold into slavery by his brothers, had this to say to them; “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done…” (Genesis 50:20). Who can say God isn’t doing the same today?

Moving on,
Pastor Jerry

A Christmas Story

Dear friends,
As I begin writing, the sun is shining. This is a welcome sight, since for most of the last week, it has been cloudy and cold. The snow of last weekend is still hanging around, and with the snowy background, the Christmas lights at the lake have taken on a new look.

As the Christmas holiday approaches, so also, we see the beginning of what might be called ‘insanity season.’ Christmas is being banned in the public square, Christmas music is suddenly not politically correct, and right here in mid-America, a misinformed school official has banned candy canes. However, instead of commenting on these, I want to share a real Christmas story this week.

Back in the days of old (1980’s), a young ranch couple were struggling through some financial hard-times. It seemed there might not be funds to purchase Christmas gifts for the couple’s two children. In a conversation with his pastor, the young dad mentioned their dilemma, because he needed to share his thoughts with someone.

About a week before Christmas, there came a phone call from the pastor, inviting the couple to stop in later that evening. They went to the parsonage, and after some small talk, the pastor said, “my wife and I have a little money saved up, and we want to give your something to buy gifts for your boys.” He handed the dad a check for one hundred dollars. Suddenly, the Christmas season seemed much brighter for the little family. Needless to say, there were tears of joy and gratitude in that house.

Years have passed, and the now much older young rancher has never forgotten that Christmas gift. May you have opportunities to brighten the holidays for some less fortunate family this Christmas season.

The Lord Jesus came to earth as God’s gift to mankind. The apostle Paul describes God’s grace and His salvation as His indescribable gift. It is this gift we celebrate, as we give to others in this giving time of the year.

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). As the psalmist said, “Praise be to his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory. Amen and Amen” (Psalm 72:19).

Christmas blessings,
Pastor Jerry

Landmarks

Hello friends,
I trust your Thanksgiving celebration was enjoyable, and you were able to count great numbers of blessings from the past year. We made a couple of road trips, traveling to South Dakota on Wednesday, to help Alex as he moves into a different house closer to school and work. Thursday, we joined with some other folks for a Thanksgiving meal and great fellowship, then on Friday to Neligh to celebrate with Ryan and the three grandsons.

We all have them; those places that we use to mark roads, or to remind us of some event in the past. As we traveled highway 281 north of O’Neill last Wednesday, we passed what is known locally as the “stone windmill.” I remarked that it was falling down with the passage of time. I thought of other landmarks I have known. Most have disappeared, but they seem to be always replaced with another name, or another object. Those places and events of life, seem to require some sort of marker for those who pass their way.

Growing up, where our county road connected to the major highway, there was a stone house. Everyone told people unfamiliar with the area to turn at the ‘stone house.’ Eventually, the old house was torn down, and being eight miles from town, the intersection became the eight-mile road.

In another place, three large cottonwood trees marked a t-intersection. Travelers were instructed to turn at the three-tree corner. After the road department cut those trees down, three more volunteer cottonwoods were allowed to grow up in their place. It is still the three-tree corner.

Other, more familiar landmarks have stood for many years, but show the wear and tear of erosion and other changes. I’m reminded of Chimney Rock in western Nebraska, among others. Landmarks may disappear, but we find replacements. In this age of GPS, people still need those landmarks to keep them on the right road.

The Bible can be compared to a landmark. Its purpose being to show the lost the way to salvation, and for helping to keep God’s people on the right path.

If I may paraphrase Isaiah 40:8, “The grass withers and the flowers fall, landmarks disappear, but the word of God stands forever.” As the old song says, “The Bible stands, like a rock, undaunted.” When all other landmarks are gone, the Bible stands.

Standing on the promises,
Pastor Jerry

Give Thanks Daily

Happy Thanksgiving! It’s the time of year to give thanks for all our blessings. It is no coincidence, I believe, that the holiday coincides with the end of harvest. If we can’t count our blessing during this time of the year, when can we? In spite of the fact the Bible encourages thankfulness from God’s people, over the years I have noted that it seems easier to go to the Lord with a list of wants, instead of thanking him for blessings received.

Things we are thankful for in our house this week: Friends and family. A great place to live and enjoy our retirement. Our church family. God’s creation. Each new day. Good health, and the list goes on…

Speaking of the need to give thanks, here are some Old Testament commands of God to his people:
1 Chronicles 16:8… Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done. Also, verse 34… Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.

In 1 Chronicles 23:30; in a description of the duties of the Levites serving in the temple, we read: They were also to stand every morning to thank and praise the Lord. They were to do the same in the evening.

Then there is the witness of his people: “I will give thanks to the Lord because of his righteousness and will sing praise to the name of the Lord most high” (Psalm 7:17). “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name” (Psalm 100:4).
“Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done” (Psalm 105:1).

“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Let’s not just be thankful at Thanksgiving; may we start and end every day with an attitude of gratitude. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Praising Him,
Pastor Jerry