Archive for the ‘Culture’ 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

A Word to the Nations

Hello friends,
Well, that was certainly some snow storm! I trust you were kept safe and warm while the snow and wind did their thing outdoors. My best estimate of snowfall here at beautiful Lake Ericson was 12 inches. With a wind gusting near 40 mph, there were some impressive drifts in the neighborhood. After the storm passed, we have had warmer temperatures with much melting of the snow. May it continue!

The world seems to move rapidly from one crisis to the next. One wonders, what will be the next thing to occupy the attention of mainstream and social media? We must not forget, in the midst of all the crises, that God is still on His throne and His perfect plan is still in place.

The world seeks solutions to all its problems in secular thinking and philosophy. The Christian knows the answer lies in trusting God and his Word. Here are words of warning and encouragement from Psalm 2.

Why do the nations conspire and the people plot in vain?
The rulers of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One.
“Let us break their chains”, they say, “and throw off their fetters.”
The one enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them.
Then he rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying, “I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill.”
I will proclaim the decree of the Lord: He said to me, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father.
Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession.
You will rule them with an iron scepter; you will dash them to pieces like pottery.”
Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son, lest he be angry and you be destroyed in your way, for his wrath can flare up in a moment.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

The message for the nations, and for individuals is very clear; serve the Lord with fear (respect and awe). Rejoice in his salvation. Give Jesus his proper place in your life, an all who trust (take refuge or shelter) in him will be blessed.

Standing on His promises,
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

Our Broken World

Dear readers,
One word about the weather. Rain! In other news, it appears we have completed another landscaping project. There has been a ditch along the north side of our property, and it was a bit difficult to mow due to the steep banks. Recently, son Ryan installed a long culvert in that spot, covered it with dirt and leveled it off. We have planted grass seed, and if the rain doesn’t wash it all away mowing will be much easier next summer.

Sometimes, when I see the heartache and hurting in our world, it is almost too much. I know I am not alone in feeling this way. We who live in rural America have by and large been insulated from the problems of the big cities and population centers. This is not the case anymore.

There is enough blame to go around, and I could name a lot of reasons for the mess we are in, but from a Christian point of view, the one-word explanation would be sin. Our world has been broken since Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden. When people reject God, and go their own way, evil takes over. There is no moral compass, and there are no guidelines for proper living. When people reject God, they turn to other things seeking fulfilment. Drugs, alcohol, sex, power, money, fancy cars, big houses; none of these bring lasting satisfaction.

There is, however, a solution to this dilemma; “This is what the Lord Almighty says: Return to me, declares the Lord Almighty, and I will return to you, says the Lord Almighty” (Zechariah 1:3). Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29).

It has been said there is within each of us a God shaped void. It can only be filled satisfactorily by the Holy Spirit of God. Nothing else will do. Jesus alone can overcome our sin nature. Paul wrote, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:1-2).

His truth will set you free.
Pastor Jerry

Blessed and Thankful

You may have noticed my weekly news and commentary missing last week. There is a reason for that, and I will explain. I had started that week off feeling a bit under the weather and twice visited the emergency room at a local hospital. At the second visit, it was determined I had contracted pneumonia. There were early deadlines for the newspaper edition of this column, and I just didn’t feel up to sitting at the computer and writing, so I just took a week off. I am feeling much better now, thanks to good care, IV antibiotics and some supplemental oxygen, along with plenty of prayers from my friends.

Let me say here, I am thankful for those who have dedicated themselves to serve in the medical profession. You have my utmost respect and appreciation!

As we celebrated our country’s founding and declaration of independence this week, I found myself reflecting on the many blessings we have as Americans. In a time when it seems many of our freedoms are under attack, let us commit to protecting what we have. Remember, also, that although these freedoms are guaranteed by our Constitution, they are given to us by God, not by the government. In response to this, let us give thanks to the Lord every day for those things he has provided.

God has provided freedom from the bondage of sin through faith in Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul reminds us of this: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1). “You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love” (Galatians 5:13).

Outside of the spiritual context, God has provided us with governments and governing bodies to protect our freedoms. Some will obviously misuse their power and position, but as a general rule, we are to respect their leadership, remembering that all of this is under His control. “For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things and in him all things hold together (Colossians 1:16-17).

Praising His name,
Pastor Jerry