Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

Accept No Substitutes

Because the colder weather has kept us indoors, I started a project that I’ve been trying to avoid. There will soon be new flooring in the master bathroom, something my spouse has been wanting done for a long time.

We were entertained this week by a few thousand geese that spent a couple of days and nights enjoying the open water on the Lake Ericson. I never tire of seeing them come in to land, with their wings cupped like flaps-down on an aircraft, and their feet as landing gear. The ones that come in a little too high, will tip sideways to quickly lose altitude, while others need to make another circle while waiting their turn to land.

Attacks on the people of God seem to be a recurring theme in our day. Everywhere we turn there are attacks on Christians and their faith. It is amazing the number of people who claim knowledge of the Bible and the teaching of Jesus, and have little or no such knowledge. It is a challenge for the genuine Christian to have a voice that will be heard in the public square. As I see it, there are many, many people who would rather believe some Hollywood theologian, than a true Bible scholar.

As the apostle Paul, and his fellow missionary Silas visited Berea, and Paul preached, scripture records this: “Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true” (Acts 17:10-11). We need to be like those Bereans and examine the scriptures to see if what is being taught is true.

There is an old advertising slogan that says, “Accept No Substitutes”, an appropriate phrase to keep in mind when listening to those who falsely quote the Bible. I have a printer in my office. It is an HP brand. Recently, I bought a remanufactured color cartridge, but it does not recognize it as authentic HP, and will not work with that cartridge installed.

Be like my printer. It knows when a substitute cartridge is installed, and it refuses to accept it. Christians need to know the scriptures and refuse to accept any substitute. Don’t take anyone’s word for it, open the book and see for yourself what it says.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

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

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

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

The Season Begins

Hello friends,
Already it is December. Soon we’ll be trying to learn a new number to write on our checks, that is if anyone writes checks anymore. Here at our place we have experienced our second winter storm of the season, and winter hasn’t officially arrived. We are well protected from the wind here, so I doubt we had as much drifting as in other places. Also, I think the total snowfall here was less than forecast, and I’m okay with that.

It is the season of Advent for the Christian church. We celebrate the first coming of our Lord, and look forward to his promised return. As I observe people, it seems most don’t understand the significance of Christmas, let alone any thought of Christ returning again. There are colored lights and evergreen trees with all kinds of decorations, including a herald angel at the top. Presents under the tree, and displays of shepherds and wise men meeting at the nativity with gifts for baby Jesus.

But, may I suggest that if you asked most people to explain the meaning of Christmas, they would probably be hard pressed to give a clear presentation of the reason for the season. Jesus came to pay the penalty for sin, he lives in the hearts of those who believe, and he is coming again at some future time.

Here is the problem, as I see it. Most have a pretty good grasp on the idea of Jesus’ first coming, and will understand that he was raised from the dead, and is in heaven with the Father. The downside is they live as though he is ‘out there’ somewhere, while failing to understand his presence in the world. Their lives are lived no different from those who claim no knowledge of Jesus or God.

After Jesus ascended to heaven, his disciples were told, “This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise… He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

I found this appropriate quote from William Barclay, a Scottish theologian: “The best way to prepare for the coming of Christ is never to forget the presence of Christ.”

Waiting for His appearing,
Pastor Jerry

Defend Life

Some of you will receive this before the election on Tuesday. To you, I say get out and vote. It is your responsibility as a citizen to do so. To those of you reading this after the election, I hope you did vote, but remember, if you didn’t vote you, have no grounds to complain at the results.

For ‘retired’ people, we seem to be almost as busy as ever. I remember thinking my mother spent a lot of time keeping doctor’s appointments and now that I’m in that age group, I’m doing the same thing. In addition, in the past week I had a speaking engagement at a sister church, and we attended a bluegrass music concert at the Golden Husk Theater in Ord, which by the way was well worth the price of admission.

As I observe the activities of many in our culture who claim to be Christians, I wonder what Christ they follow, or if they have ever read their Bibles? Case in point: There was a news article in which a group of folks described as ‘clergy’, were gathered to ask God to bless an abortion facility. How is it that anyone could actually think that the Creator of life could be asked to bless, or condone something that can only be described as the taking of an innocent human life?

I believe God’s word is quite specific concerning this topic, and even though it has become a highly partisan issue, it is at its core a denial of God’s sovereignty over his creation.

I will let the Bible speak for itself. First of all, God is the creator of life: Genesis 1:27… “So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female he created them.” As for babies, it is God who is responsible for their existence. “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb” (Psalm 139:13). God commanded, “You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13). God condemned Israel for getting involved with child sacrifice. “They built high places for Baal… to sacrifice their sons and daughters to Molech, though I never commanded, nor did it enter my mind, that they should do such a detestable thing and so make Judah sin” (Jeremiah 32:35).

May we repent of this sin, and God forgive us.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry