Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

Getting or Giving?

Hello friends,
We have endured another week of very mild temperatures. Somehow, I feel we will pay for these at some point. It has been good for putting up those remaining outdoor Christmas decorations, though.

I’m doing something different this week. Since Black Friday and all the other special shopping days are past, I thought it might be helpful to think about the following article from the “Babylon Bee”, a satirical news site that pokes fun at current culture.

Headline: Nation Repents of Thanksgiving with Day of Violent Pillaging
U.S.—Unable to fake contentment and thankfulness for one more second, citizens across the nation awoke Friday and immediately set out on a frenzied mission to violently pillage and strip bare all nearby retail locations, determined to acquire any discounted goods they desired, by any means necessary, numerous reports confirmed.

Pillagers beat each other with various weapons and instruments, wrestled on the floor like animals, and even exchanged gunfire in some locations, all in the name of taking hold of material goods they desired.
Sources confirmed that the unfettered violence occurred less than 24 hours after these same people sat around tables with family and friends, over large meals, and gave thanks for the many blessings in their lives.

“12 hours of gratefulness annually is way too much for the majority of humankind to stomach,” experts revealed amidst the day’s chaos. “What we see on Black Friday is just human nature’s standard, guttural reaction to the annual tradition of acting like the world does not revolve around them for one whole day.”

Here is what Jesus said about this kind of behavior: Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” Luke 12:15
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:4).
“And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after such things, and you Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well” (Luke 12:29-31).

Perhaps this might give us pause, as we consider the real meaning of Christmas in the days ahead.

Just thinking,
Pastor Jerry

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Anger Management

We’ve had some really wide swings in weather conditions this past week. We’ve had balmy days with no wind, and some really windy (think gale force) days. There have been temperatures in the 70’s for daytime, and below freezing nights. In all this, there has been no moisture of any kind. We had planned another short camping trip, but Saturday morning I found ice in the water lines, so camping will resume in the spring.

I wrote the following paragraph recently during a recent devotional time. A few days later I received a very timely email on the subject.

I’m angry today. I can’t exactly put my finger on the reason. I’m angry at people who have no respect for human life, whether it be abortion, the killing of infants and toddlers, or people of any age. I’m angry because of liberal politicians and others who promote intolerance in the name of tolerance. But, today, I’m just plain angry. The Bible tells us God is angered by sin, and His anger is righteous. But it also indicates that there is a place for righteous anger on our part. Jesus said misplaced anger is sin, and I believe it. So, I want to be able to sort out sinful anger from justifiable anger. God will be the judge in the end.

In a recent episode of the Break Point radio program, there was a commentary by Eric Metaxas, titled “Anger Mismanagement”, which spoke directly to me. I’ll quote parts of it here: He starts out by saying that Americans are an increasingly angry lot. And the sad fact is, too often we Christians are rolling around in the muck with the rest of the nation. The following points are made: 1) We sin with anger because we lack faith in God’s ability to provide for or protect us. 2) We sin with anger because we lack hope. Is it possible we are expecting too much from this world and too little from the next? 3) We sin in the realm of anger because we lack love. Paul in 1 Corinthians 13 says, “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast…” “Speaking as a sinner to other sinners, we all can do our part to address America’s anger mismanagement crisis. And for us Christians, it starts with a little more faith, hope, and love.”

Convicted,
Pastor Jerry

God is Lord of All

Here are some early October observations: Nebraska scenery is unbeatable. We left Valentine last Sunday afternoon, drove to Keller Park WMA, and spent 2 nights. What a great place to get away. Here at Lake Ericson, it is definitely autumn. The leaves are falling, the nights are cooler, and the view is spectacular. I can’t think of any place I would rather be. On those days the world seems to be spinning out of control, there is everything to be said for living in America’s heartland.

In a totally different thought line, as I scroll through the posts on Face Book, I am seeing a number of articles promoting the consulting of mediums, and various other superstitions. I thought it might be beneficial to see what the Bible says about such things. Exactly what does the Bible say about these?

Let’s start with this: “I, even I, am the Lord, and apart from me there is no savior” (Isaiah 43:11). Our God wants first place in our lives. He is in control of the events of our lives. No angel, or any other created thing, including mediums, fortune tellers, etc., can take his place.

To Israel, he said, “Let no one be found among you… who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or cast spells, or who is a medium or spiritists or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord” (Deuteronomy 18:10-12).

We are cautioned against putting angels in the place of God. “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ… Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things… Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize” (Colossians 2:1-2; 18).

The apostle Paul stressed the fact that God has made himself known to man (Romans 1:20). Then this indictment; speaking of those who deny Him. “Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and reptiles” (verses 22-23). Included in the list of the acts of the sinful nature are these: Idolatry and witchcraft (Galatians 5:19).

I know, many of the things mentioned seem harmless, but let us be sure we are not putting the ungodly in place of God.

Food for thought,
Pastor Jerry

Go and Tell

Dear friends,
Time marches on. I was looking at the paper calendar recently, and noticed how few pages are left before the end of the year. It is hard to see those pages on a smart phone.

The leaves on the trees are beginning to get their fall colors, the sumac foliage is turning bright red, and fall wildflowers are blooming profusely. Hunting seasons are opening up. According to the calendar, Autumn begins the 22nd of September, so it is at hand.

We are to tell people everywhere the story of Jesus, his gospel, and God’s saving grace. How are we doing? How many of us are “secret service” Christians? I have heard a quote attributed to a specific person that says, “Preach the Gospel always, use words if you have to.” May I submit that above all, we must use words.

Some would say our life is our witness, but there are lot of people who live a good life, but who are going to hell because they have not acknowledged Christ as Savior and Lord.

The Bible is specific; we are saved through the hearing of the word. This is a lengthy passage, but of vital importance to the issue of salvation: “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news?… Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:13-17).

Jesus did not say go into all the world, and live good lives. In his Great Commission, he told his disciples to go and make disciples; baptizing them, and teaching them to obey his commandments. In Mark 16:15, Jesus said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.” How do we teach and preach? With words.

If you are saved, you have a story. Stories are for telling and for hearing. The gospel of the good news of Jesus Christ is for sharing. Share your testimony, both in words and in deeds.

Pressing on,
Pastor Jerry

Seasons

I’m beginning to see faint signs of the change of seasons. Labor Day weekend signals a change, because it takes us from the busyness of summer to the more structured time of school-days and the shorter days that signal the transition from summer to fall.

Some bemoan the fact that summer is ending, not wanting the season to end, but this would eventually become tiresome, and lead to a yearning for change. I believe that those seasonal changes are designed by the Creator to provide times of birth, growth, harvest and rest.

There are seasons in our lives, just as there are seasons evident in creation. Who wants to be forever a baby, or a toddler, or even a teen-ager? Those are all seasons of life. Time marches on, and the seasons change. The important thing, is this; are you embracing the seasons of your life? We learn different things in each season of our lives. We get to the end of one chapter, and we take what we have learned into the next. Have I mentioned seasons?

Oh, I know, sometimes we would like to return to a previous time, but this is a physical impossibility. For our own well-being, we really cannot live in the past. To be healthy, we must move on, knowing God has a plan for us. Regarding living the Christian life, Paul says, “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal… (Philippians 3:13-14).

One difference in the seasons of life, compared to the seasons of nature, is that in our lives, there will most likely be more than four seasons. Birth, growth, harvest and rest, will all come over and over until we reach that final rest.

Solomon, that wisest of men, summed it up with these words: There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven. He went on to list those activities. They include birth and death, planting and harvest, weeping and laughing, mourning and dancing, war and peace (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8).

What season of life are you in? Enjoy where you are, and anticipate the future with the confidence that God is in charge.

Blessings,
Pastor Jerry

Making Music

The Gospel Music Jam under the carousel at Lake Ericson is history. The weather was ideal, the music was uplifting, and a good time was had by everyone. I think everyone agrees that we need to do it again. As Willie Nelson sang, “the life I love is making music with my friends.”

We are in prayer for the people of Texas this week, especially the Huston area, as they deal with epic flooding. There are areas not too far from us, where it is a bit wet, but we have never seen flooding like this, and I can’t even imagine that kind of destruction. Those of you whose hay harvest has been delayed for a time because of wet meadows, count your blessings. It could be worse.

Labor Day weekend is almost here. For most, it is the last weekend of the summer season. After living here at the lake for just a few summers, we know the really busy time is coming to a close. It is good to see all the families enjoying the lake and its activities, but the quiet season is something we look forward to, also.

Back to the gospel music we all enjoyed this weekend; someone remarked how good it was to just spend the afternoon listening to God’s gift of music, seated in the midst of His creation, and for a time forgetting the cares of the world.

Scripture is filled with references to music as worship and praise. Here are a few of them:
“Praise the Lord with the harp; make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre” (Psalm 33:2).
“It is good to praise the Lord and make music to your name, O Most High” (Psalm 92:1).
“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music” (Psalm 98:4).
“Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; make music to our God on the harp” (Psalm 147:7).
And from the New Testament: “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:19).

If you can’t sing, there are these from the English Standard Version:
“Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!”
(Psalm 95:1)
“Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!” (Psalm 100:1)

Praising Him,
Pastor Jerry

Memorial Stones

Dear Readers,
The cool weather continues for us. Along with it came some beneficial rains, for which we are very thankful. My bout with shingles is winding down. For this I am thankful also. Next time someone mentions getting a preventive inoculation, I will be first in line! I will be posting this early Monday morning, so any comments I might have concerning the solar eclipse will wait until next week.
I’ve been thinking about those who seem bent on removing anything that would remind Americans of their national identity and inheritance. There are several lines of conversation, or commentary that come from this behavior.
One truth from the lessons of history is that if a people wanted to conquer a civilization, they would remove all the landmarks and other reminders of their history and culture. In our day, we have seen ISIS destroying Christian landmarks, and in our country currently, there is a movement to remove reminders of our past.
When the children of Israel were entering the Promised Land, when the priests, who were carrying the ark of the covenant, stepped into the Jordan river, the water stopped flowing, so that they could cross on dry ground. After reaching the other side, they were instructed to set up stones as a memorial. Joshua told the people that they were setting up the stones as a permanent memorial, so that when their children asked the question, “What are these stones”, they could answer with a lesson from Israel’s history.
These are the words of the Lord, given through Joshua to the people: “In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cutoff before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever” (Joshua 4:6-7).
Sadly, after Joshua passed from the scene, Israel forgot her past, and began to be influenced by her pagan neighbors. The result of this was that God judged Israel and sent her into exile for seventy years. I fear America may be on a similar path. We who care about the rich history of our country need to pray fervently that God would intervene and put her back on the straight way.
Praying for America,
Pastor Jerry