Archive for the ‘Faith’ Category

Where Will You Be?

Hello friends,
Summer is still here, as evidenced by the temperature forecast for this week. It was a busy weekend at the lake; the campgrounds were full and the river was crowded with tanks, kayaks, and other floating devices. The swimming area was busy, as is usual on sunny days. We are beginning to enjoy some produce from the garden. We wait for this season with anticipation, and have never been disappointed. It has occurred to me that the Labor Day holiday is a mere six weekends away. Where has the summer gone?

Every week, I search for a topic for these articles. There is no shortage of things to catch my attention, but which ones to comment on? From the Christian point of view, it seems more and more there is an anti-God mentality. At every point, the culture is downplaying the existence of God, and the need to follow His teaching. Jesus Christ is seen as nothing more than an ordinary human being, who lived a good life, or even a good teacher, and His followers are painted as being out of step with the times.

The following statement is a quote from Dr. Albert Mohler, president of Southern Theological Seminary: “I think convictional conservative Christians are in the predicament of being considered by the world, to be what we are not accustomed to experiencing and that is, they’re looking at us as people on the wrong side of history, people on the wrong side of morality, people on the wrong side of all the revolutions that are running their course these days.” (World Magazine, 7/16/21).

I believe that the One in charge of history will eventually show the world the true side of history. He will prove that He is who He says He is. And everyone who ever lived will bow at His feet and acknowledge His lordship. Those who know Him will be rewarded, and those who rejected Him will be judged. This doesn’t mean life for His followers will be easy, but that they will be on the right side at the end.

“For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. It is written:
“’As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me;
every tongue will confess to God’’’.
“So, then each of us will give an account of himself to God” (Romans 14:10c-12).

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

The Word of the Lord

Hello friends,
It’s time for another of our weekly conversations. Things have been going well here, we had a little rain and the temperatures have been tolerable. The garden plants are beginning to give us hope of some fresh veggies in the near future. We have had one small zucchini, and more are coming along. Beans are ready to pick and we have had a few green onions. Did I mention cucumbers? We will be enjoying them soon, also. Sunday, we attended church at Grace Bible Church, and enjoyed a fellowship meal afterward. We found some new roads on our way back home, but this is not unusual for us!

Regarding spiritual matters, I have been seeing articles referencing a trend in which high profile Christians have announced they are leaving the traditional evangelical church. The term being used is ‘exvangelical.’ The Scriptures long ago identified this trend, where people would follow false teachers and be led astray by false doctrine.

Many of these people started out believing God’s word as it was given to us. Then when the culture started to insist that marriage could be something other than between a man and a woman, and all kinds of other sinful behaviors were okay, it wasn’t popular to hold to those beliefs. Rather than stand on the Word, they said “God really didn’t mean what he said, that book is outdated, and we have to get with the new way of looking at these things.”

Hear the Word of the Lord!
“But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves” (2 Peter 2:1).
“I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them” (Romans 16:17).

“Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:16-17).
“God is not a man, that he might lie, or a son of man that he might change his mind. Does he speak and not act, or promise and not fulfill?” (Numbers 23:19).

Count on it: God’s Word is true.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

The Price of Freedom

Dear friends,
It was a busy week for us. We finished up our short camping trip on Wednesday, arriving home mid-afternoon. Thursday was spent catching up on mowing and other yard work. Friday there was decorating for the Fourth of July observance and baking for the Lake Ericson bake sale. Friday evening, I attended the rehearsal for a wedding I was to perform on Saturday. Ericson Lake Corporation’s annual meeting was Saturday morning, with the wedding taking place at 4 PM an hour away. It was a fun wedding (aren’t they all?), and I made it back home in plenty of time for the annual fireworks display at the lake. Sunday morning, our church provided a free pancake, sausage and egg breakfast to all who could come. Retirement is busy, not boring!

As I thought of the Independence Day celebration, I was reminded again that the freedoms we have in our country are often taken for granted by a large part of the population. We forget the sacrifices that many have made, so that we can be a free people.

There is another freedom that is available to us, and that is freedom from the penalty of sin. Born sinners, we owe a debt we cannot pay. Jesus, going to the cross of Calvary paid our sin debt once for all. It was for all who would believe in Him, those who do not believe will not escape the penalty they deserve. God, in His grace and mercy provided the Lord Jesus as the perfect payment, but only by believing in his death and resurrection can we be saved.

If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9).
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. (Ephesians 2:8).
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (John 1:12).
Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, he gave the right to become children of God. (1 John 1:9)
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).

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Thirsty?

Dear readers,
I’m writing this week from a little RV park in Lynch, Nebraska. There are no trains, and almost no vehicle traffic here. It is about as peaceful as you can get. I have been invited to be musical entertainment for a church event not far from here, and camping here means we won’t have to drive home late at night. Monday, we will move to Fort Randall and North Point recreation area, then drive to Mitchell to visit Alex. We will be home Wednesday in time to prepare for the busy Fourth of July weekend. I’m tired just thinking about it.

The church supper we attended Sunday night was well attended, and it was good to be there. The church family there had prayed for rain in their morning service, and the Lord provided that during the evening. This part of Nebraska was, and is needing rain. It is close to an area where there were lightning-caused fires last week.

As we think of a dry and thirsty land, I am taken to the Psalms. Written by David when he was in the desert of Judah, Psalm 63 is encouraging to us in those times when we need relief from physical and spiritual thirst.

O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you,
in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
I have seen you in the sanctuary
and beheld your power and your glory.
Because your love is better than life, I will glorify you.
I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.
My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing my lips will praise you.
On my bed I remember you;
I think of you through the watches of the night.
Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.
My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.
They who seek my life will be destroyed;
they will go down to the depths of the earth.
They will be given over to the sword
and become food for the jackals.
But the king will rejoice in God;
All who swear by God’s name will praise him,
while the mouths of liars will be silenced.

Praise the Lord,
Pastor Jerry

A Secure Promise

Dear friends,
It has been a pleasant week, although a bit warmer than I would have liked. Some folks around the area received rain, but we were left high and dry, so to speak. The end of the week was nice, but I see warmer days in the forecast.

As I prepared to send out my article last Monday, I had a computer malfunction and almost lost the whole thing. As it turned out, I had emailed the article to the newspapers first, so I retrieved it from my sent email file, then copied and pasted it to email and my blogs. I will be taking my laptop to the computer repair place this week. Isn’t it interesting how computer dependent we have become?

I spoke at Grace Bible Church again Sunday, and thought I would share a portion of my message here. In our current time, it is good to be reminded that God is our help and strength. Psalm 90 is the basis for this devotional thought.

In verse one of the Psalm, we see that God alone is a place of divine shelter and protection for all those who take refuge in Him because He alone is eternal. “Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations” (Psalm 90:1).

In contrast to God, who has no beginning and no end, man is frail and fragile. They are like grass, which withers and dies. We are under God’s wrath because of sin, and life is hard because of Adam’s curse (verses 7-11).

Verses 12-17 consist of a prayer asking the Lord to help us live in the light of his mercy and grace. Asking him to teach us how to live wisely and to use the days he has given us for his glory, so that we may be glad and joyful all our days. In doing so, we will be going about the work he has established for us.

In the hymn “O God, Our Help in Ages Past”, the hymn writer penned these words;

“O God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come,
our shelter from the stormy blast, and our eternal home;
Under the shadow of your throne, your saints have dwelt secure,
Sufficient is your arm alone, and our defense is sure.”

In a time of uncertainty, may we take shelter in His everlasting arms.

Blessings,
Pastor Jerry

Remembering

Hello all,
It’s been a busy Memorial Day weekend here at Lake Ericson, with camping, cooking outdoors, and families enjoying each other’s company. The boulevard was lined with U.S. flags as is the custom for important holidays. Thanks to those who helped with placing the flags this year.

I had the privilege of speaking at Grace Bible Church in Loup City on Sunday. I always enjoy my visits there. Here are some thoughts from my message Sunday morning concerning our need for times of remembering. Memorials were important to God as he addressed His people Israel. We think of the rainbow He set in the sky to remind them that he would never again send a devastating flood on the whole earth (Genesis 9:13). There were the twelve stones from the Jordan River that would remind Israel of the time they crossed on dry ground as they entered the Promised Land (Joshua 4:7).

In the New Testament the Lord’s Supper serves as a reminder of Christ’s sacrificial death and an encouragement of His future coming (1 Corinthians 11:25-26). All these memorials serve to proclaim the good news of what God has done.

Regarding our observance of Memorial Day, it is a day set aside to remember those who have died in service to their country. It is because of them that we have the freedoms we enjoy today. Many Americans observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries or memorial services. Others spend the weekend at the lake or golf course, or partying with friends. However one spends the day, it is to be a somber recollection of the sacrifice of many to provide freedom for many others.

Over the years, I have stressed the need for Christian parents to leave a legacy of faith in God and faith in Jesus Christ for their salvation. No one should have to wonder if Mom or Dad knew the Lord at their passing. What comfort to know for sure that your parent is with the Lord!

One way to leave a memorial, or remembrance is to record our Christian witness. Share your salvation experience with your children. Teach them the way of salvation, and leave a written record of your journey to faith in God and in Jesus Christ. The best memorial you can leave your family is your testimony of God’s salvation and His work in your personal life.

in Him,
Pastor Jerry

Stay the Course

Hello friends,
We’ve had our share of cloudy weather lately, but Saturday got back to some sunshine. The weekends are getting busier, as people begin to enjoy summer at the lake. We are seeing increasing numbers of campers, and camping spaces may be already reserved for some weekends.

The garden is doing well after a few frosty mornings. The seeds that were planted have sprouted, and are breaking through the soil. After having the one zucchini damaged a bit by frost, we have three new ones to supplement it. If they all do well, we may be leaving squash in cars and on doorsteps. I will be attempting to set up an automatic watering system for the garden, so that we can take time for some short camping trips.

As I read and listen to my media sources, it is becoming more evident that there is increasing animosity toward those who would claim belief in the God of the Bible. We are shouted down in the public square, on social media, and even in some so-called religious circles. I believe we are seeing the fulfillment of the words of Jesus, as he told of a time when Christians would be persecuted and even killed for their faith. Persecution for God’s people is not new. It has been around for centuries, but in increasing measure as far as we in America are concerned.

Jesus spoke these words to His followers; “Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also… They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me” (John 15:20-21).

Paul’s words to Timothy apply to Christians today: “Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and imposters will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you have learned it” (2 Timothy 3:12-14).

May we be able to say with Paul on the day of judgment, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7). And finally, to hear the Savior say, “Well done, good and faithful servant (Matthew 25:21)!

For Him,
Pastor Jerry

Priority

Dear readers,
I believe the planting is done for this season, but that is not the final word. We had a few frosty mornings, but almost all the plants survived. The only possible casualty is the zucchini, but I will allow it to be replaced if necessary (insert smiley face). The Lord has seen fit to provide some needed moisture, and we will trust him to send more as needed.

I actually spent some time fishing last week. It has been awhile, and I realized this when I tried to open one of my tackle boxes. It sat on a shelf in the garage so long that it practically disintegrated at my touch! As far as catching any fish, I caught one small bass below the dam, and another slightly larger one in the lake proper. Both were released to bite/fight again another day.

Here is an observation I made a couple of weeks ago that reminds me of the need for parents to examine their priorities. Actually, the word should be priority since the word indicates there can really be only one, not multiples. So, what should be our one priority? According to scripture, it is to teach our children about God, the Bible, and their need for a Savior.

Recently on the news, I noticed parents were rushing to get their kids vaccinated for Covid19. It occurred to me they were in a hurry to protect them from something they might not have to deal with until they are older. At the same time, many of these parents are willing to let their children wait to make a decision on their salvation until they can decide for themselves. Where is the sense in that?

God’s instruction to parents, concerning his commands is this: “Teach them (His words) to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (Deuteronomy 11:19). Paul’s instruction to fathers is this; “Bring them (children) up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).

Our priority is always to secure our family members’ salvation by leading them to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Then, whatever happens, whether by some virus, an accident or any other means, at death their destination is heaven.

A final thought; Put first things first, always.

Because of Him,
Pastor Jerry

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