Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

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

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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

Rebel or Sinner?

It’s time for another visit. Although I hesitate to open every conversation with a weather report, here goes. We have been enjoying some nicer conditions, after our little taste of winter last week. I am seeing some harvesting machinery in the fields, as it begins to dry out from the recent moisture. With the improved weather comes a reminder to pray for a safe and bountiful harvest season.

Occasionally, my mind wanders way back to my earlier days. The other day, we were discussing the misbehavior of children, and as sometimes is the case, we were being somewhat critical of today’s young people. Suddenly, I was taken way back to my youth, to a time of personal rebellion, and remembered my mother threatening to send me to a military type school, because she was at her wit’s end. Maybe the youth of today aren’t much different than they have ever been.

In fact, if you read the Bible, you soon understand the whole human race is in rebellion against God, and has been almost from the beginning. Early in the book of Genesis, Adam and Eve rebelled against God, and it continues today.

In the time of Noah, God described mankind as being all evil, all the time. “The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time” (Genesis 6:5).

“There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins” (Ecclesiastes 7:20). “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth in not in us” (1 John 1:8).

Praise be to God, for sending Jesus to die for our sins and restore our relationship with Him. “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Sin is a word that isn’t used much these days, but it needs to make a comeback and people need to understand what it means. After all, it is the root cause of all that is wrong with our world. Without an understanding of sin, it is impossible to sort out the good from the bad, the wrong from the right, and finally, to see that the solution to the problem is Jesus Christ.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Words

Does it seem that we have gone directly from summer to winter? I hope this is just a preview, and that we can go back to fall for a while. After all, winter doesn’t officially begin until December 21.

As I read the news and follow conversations on social media, I am appalled at the lack of civil conversation. It seems everyone has a chip on their shoulder and is just going through life waiting to be offended by some other person. The use of profanity and threatening speech is at a level unseen in my life. The Bible has much to say about our speech, and the use of words. It may be that too few people have any knowledge of biblical teaching. If so, here are a few passages to start with.

Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:33-37).

Psalm 19:14… May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.
Psalm 36:1-4; Concerning the speech of the wicked. “The words of his mouth are wicked and deceitful; he has ceased to be wise and to do good.”
Proverbs 15:1, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

Relating to holy living, as is commanded in scripture: But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips… Therefore, as God’s chosen people…, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Colossians 3:8-12).

As James said, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:19).

In Truth,
Pastor Jerry

Little Towns on Back Roads

Happy Labor Day. It was just four years ago that we moved our house to Lake Ericson. How time flies, it seems like yesterday.

Last Monday, we drove home from our weekend in Hershey, Nebraska. We traveled down Highway 30, instead of the Interstate. It was kind of a relaxing drive compared to good old I-80. As I mentioned last week, we had a great time meeting new friends and sharing the music and message. On our return trip, we drove through some towns that don’t get much traffic anymore, but people are living there who need to hear about Jesus.

According to the signs, and the billboards, every one of those little towns has one or more churches. I know that some of those churches are proclaiming God’s word as it is written, but I am also convinced that some are preaching a gospel that is not related to the saving gospel message of Jesus Christ.

Sadly, the gospel being preached in many places, both large and small, has very little to do with salvation from sin and its penalty. It seems I keep returning to this topic much more than I would prefer, but I know I will be held responsible to God for failing to proclaim His truth. James had this to say to those who would teach. “Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly” (James 3:1).

I return to the letter written by Jude, to believers in one or more churches. He writes this: Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord” (Jude 3-4).

Look around. Read that last sentence from Jude again. How many ‘churches’ do you know, whose leaders are leading in that direction? There are still godly men and women who are standing firm on the Word of God. Follow them, not the wolves in sheep’s clothing.

Contending for the faith,
Pastor Jerry

Culture War?

We were in Hershey, Nebraska this weekend for a Cowboy Church service. I had the pleasure of being asked to share some musical numbers and to preach. It was something I hadn’t planned, but it was definitely in God’s plan. It was a great time, and we met some really neat Christians that we can now call our friends. Our God is so good! And, a BIG thank you to Pastor Kevin and the people of Hershey Baptist Church!

The secular culture is on the attack, as they try to eliminate any reference or reminder that there is a God. It is interesting to note they are bent on attacking something, or someone they don’t believe exists!

Spiritual warfare is a fact. The divisiveness and battles we see in our culture are nothing more than war between the forces of good and evil. One only has to spend a short time watching television, listening to the news, or checking social media, (Facebook, Twitter, and others) to see this happening.

Some will say this is nothing new, and they would be right. The truth is, the intensity of the battle appears to be on the increase.

“First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, ‘Where is this coming he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.’ … But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness” (2 Peter 3:3-9).

What are we to do as Christians? “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms… And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” (Ephesians 6:10-18).

Trusting in Him,
Pastor Jerry