Archive for the ‘Christian Living’ Category

What is Hope?

Dear friends,
There has been some spring planting going on here at our little slice of heaven. So far, we have enlarged one flower bed, planted some new shrubs, some flowers, and put a few tomato plants in the garden area. This is not my favorite kind of work, but it’s worth it to see the smile on my bride’s face when it is done. There are still some seeds to be planted in the raised beds, mostly beans and cucumbers. I did consent to one zucchini plant, which is a first for me. On a personal note, we also have one eggplant.

There seems to be an epidemic of hopelessness in our country. I don’t know if it is related to the stresses of the Covid19 pandemic, or a combination of causes, but I believe there is a solution to this attitude of hopelessness. Some might argue that there is no one answer to the problem, and they would probably be right. I can tell you from experience that placing one’s faith in the Lord Jesus Christ will go far toward combating the hopelessness that sometimes overwhelms our minds and bodies.

The idea of hope is often presented as a feeling that what is wanted will happen. True hope, as presented in the Bible, is a settled fact that something promised will come to pass. It can be described as trustful expectation, particularly with reference to the fulfillment of God’s promises.

Christians live in hope for two basic reasons. The first is because of what God has done in 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). The second reason is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children” (Romans 8:16).

Given the assurance of hope, Christians live in the present with confidence and face the future with courage. Christian hope is the gift of God. “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure” (Hebrews 6:19).

From my own experience, I can testify to the truth of this hope we have in Christ Jesus. Christ is the answer to hopelessness, but sadly many people, particularly the young, haven’t heard of him. If you are feeling hopeless today, come to Jesus.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Preparing for Battle

Dear friends,
It continues to be an unpredictable kind of spring. We go from nice warm days to frosty mornings. There have been periods of rain, snow and sunshine—all within a few minutes. The big project of the week was installing a new washing machine in the house. These things take longer than when we were younger, but still, it is satisfying to know it can be done. While we were in Grand Island picking up the washer we made a garden center stop, now there are things to plant in the yard. I attended our church association meeting Sunday. It was good to connect with other church leaders and encourage one another in our ministries.

Every day I am reminded that we are in a spiritual battle. It is a battle between good and evil; the people of God versus the forces loyal to Satan. The Bible tells us we have been provided with a full suit of armor with which to defend ourselves from Satan’s attacks. We read of this in Ephesians 6:10-20. Verse 11 says, “Put on the full armor of God so you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.”

These are the items of armor as listed in this passage: The belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

They are described this way; Truth counters the devils lies. We need to know the truth of the Bible. Righteousness is like armor on our chests, not self-righteousness but Christ’s righteousness given to us when we are saved. It will keep the devil’s forces from defeating us spiritually.
Peace is the peace of God that comes from trusting Him.
Faith allows us to deflect the temptations that come at us.
Salvation, described as a helmet gives us power to live as those who are delivered from the power and penalty of sin.
The word of God is the Bible, seen as a weapon designed for hand-to-hand combat. It is the word of God spoken, made effective by the Holy Spirit, to cut through the devil’s lies.

Clothing ourselves each day with this armor and connecting it all together with prayer gives the Christian the means by which we defeat our enemy. Pray also for other believers.

In Christ,
Pastor Jerry

Choose to Love

Dear friends,

Another April week has begun. There were showers this week that according to the old saying, should result in May flowers. But if the weather forecast is correct, those flowers may be delayed. My mom used to say, “spring has sprung, the grass has riz, I wonder where the flowers is?” The answer this year may be “They were Frozen!”

On Saturday, the lake community volunteers came together for the annual spring cleanup day. The efforts of all who participated were very much appreciated. One result of their labor is that the lake is now full. If you missed out on the fun and want to contribute, there are still some projects to do. Contact any board member for information.

It seems the news this past week has all been about people killing other people. We are tempted to ask, what is going on with people? I don’t have any wisdom on my own, but I do know from the Bible that it starts with what has become total disregard for the value of human life. All people are made in God’s image, according to His word. The Bible uses those exact words; “So God created man in His own image; He created him in the image of God; He created them male and female” (Genesis 1:27).

Later, when God gave the Ten Commandments, he said simply, “Do not murder” (Exodus 20:13). Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said to our ancestors, do not murder, and whoever murders will be subject to judgment” (Matthew 5:21).

Paul reminds us of these commands in Romans 13; “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not covet,” and whatever other commandment there may be are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law” (Romans 13:9-10).

It begins with understanding that all are created in the image of God, therefore every life has value. No one is to take the life of another human being, the exception being capital punishment, but that is not relevant to this conversation.

One other point is this; in addition to disregard for life, there is little or no respect for the property of others. Read the other commands listed above. This is where we must begin. Love one another.

In Him,

Pastor Jerry

Go and Tell

Dear friends,
April is moving along as usual, bringing to mind the saying “Time waits for no man.” For instance, I had hoped to wait a few days to mow the lawn, but the grass had a different time schedule. We have not only mowed the first time this year, but flower beds have been cleaned and other preparations for summer are in the works.

The camper has been taken to the repair shop for some minor issues, and we hope to begin the new season soon. I was told we had to get the camping out of the way before time to start caring for the garden. Since I enjoy the produce as much as anyone, this sounds like a reasonable approach.

In case you have been wondering about our cat; be assured she has taken over our lives. She has learned to let us know when she wants to come in and when she wants out, and her dish never has enough food in it. As I write this, she is sleeping beside my chair.

As I observe the things going on in our world, I am continually reminded that many people have no concept of God or of his Word. The world is seeking answers for mankind’s problems in all the wrong places. Rather than finding out what God really says about the human condition, the world prefers to listen to false teachers and to follow ungodly leaders who deny the very existence of a Creator God.

I believe we are at the place Paul describes in his instructions to Timothy: “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry” (2 Timothy 4:3-4).

As we live in our world, may we be witnesses to God’s power and majesty, as we tell others of His love and his saving gospel. To Him be glory and praise forever!

For Him,
Pastor Jerry

Preserve Life

Hello friends,
The sun has been shining of late and the wind has been a bit excessive, but signs of spring are appearing. Some of the lake residents have been cleaning out flower beds to make room for the anticipated blooms. Many times these early preparations are hindered by a late freeze, but those folks with green thumbs are an optimistic bunch!

Almost every day, we are seeing a disregard for human life in our country and in the world. The news is filled with words that are all too common in our everyday conversation. Words like murder, human trafficking, abortion, and child abuse are always before us. It seems we have reached a point where no one knows or cares that human life is valuable from conception to natural death.

Our Creator God, in his perfect plan has told us that he values every life, without reservation. Starting in Genesis, we see first that He created mankind. “So God created man in his own image; he created him in the image of God; he created them male and female” (Genesis 1:27). Later, when God gave the Law to Moses, He stressed the importance of human life with this command; You shall not murder.

Being made in God’s image gives every human being value, or worth. There is no difference based on a person’s race, sex, age, or condition. God has a plan and purpose for each one. It is not for us to decide which lives are more important than others. It is for us to defend life at all stages, leaving the rest to God’s plan and purpose for each individual.

I fear if we don’t return to those biblical values that preserve the dignity and sanctity of human life, we are inviting the judgment of God, and it won’t be a pretty thing. In Jeremiah 7:9-11, we read, “Will you steal and murder, commit adultery and perjury, burn incense to Baal and follow other gods you have not known, and then come and stand before me in this house, which bears my Name, and say, “We are safe”—safe to do all these detestable things? – “But I have been watching! declares the Lord.”

We need to understand that the taking of any life is basically wrong, and except perhaps in self-defense, it puts us at risk of God’s judgment. Pray that it stops.

In Truth,
Pastor Jerry

A Good Word

Dear friends,
We have certainly seen a change in the weather. As I write this Sunday evening, we are showing 2.60 in the rain gauge, with more in the forecast. The wind has been gusting up to around 50 mph, and there was a power outage in the area this morning. Ah, springtime in Nebraska!

In recent days, I have been reminded of the uncertainties of life. It is in those times I turn to the Word of God for encouragement and hope. We have all experienced times when life takes unexpected turns, and we are left wondering why? It might be an economic downturn, a broken relationship or maybe an unforeseen illness. We are prone to ask where did that come from? Or, why did that happen to me?

There are times when there are just no clear answers to why things happen. Life is full of unknowns, but that is just life. Sometimes we feel like the title of a song I have referenced before; “Life Ain’t Fair, and the World is Mean.” In spite of this, there is One who knows the struggles we go through. God in His perfect plan has placed each of us in our circumstances for His glory. When we finally understand this truth, we can trust Him even though we do not know the reason for our situation.

These verses from Romans give encouragement to all who believe on the Lord Jesus. “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to His purpose… What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us?… Christ Jesus is the one who died, but even more has been raised; he is also at the right hand of God and intercedes for us. Who can separate us from the love of Christ? Can affliction or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?… No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:28-39 CSB).

In His grip,
Pastor Jerry

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