Archive for the ‘Fellowship’ Category

Body of Believers

Dear friends,
Cooler weather came last week, along with ¾ inch of rain. The rain was especially welcome. A warming trend is forecast for this week. We are planning another camping adventure for next weekend, and on into the week. We will be visiting Alex for a couple of days, then stopping at Niobrara State Park for two nights, further plans will probably be made on the spur of the moment. We’ll see how it plays out.

As the summer wears on, we are still hearing conflicting ideas concerning the Covid-i9 virus. Masks versus no masks, social distancing, large groups are not okay, small groups are suspicious. Mobs of protestors and rioters are okay, but you can’t gather as a church, even in a small group. A vaccine is coming soon; no, wait, it may not be ready until the end of 2021. Only God knows when and how it will end.

Our responsibility as Christian is to be faithful witnesses and ambassadors for the Lord Jesus Christ. He is Lord, there is no other. His people have a mission. Every believer in Christ has a responsibility to share the good news. “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy… Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us” (1 Peter 2:9-12).

In light of the pandemic, and even with some insisting we not gather for worship, we cannot stop gathering as the body of Christ. The church is most effective when all members are involved and working as a unit.

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:23-25).

Stay faithful my friends,
Pastor Jerry

On Being Neighbors

Dear friends,
Well, the last official summer holiday is here. Labor Day weekend is always very busy here at beautiful Lake Ericson; this year was no exception. Many families were seen enjoying all the lake has to offer. The weather for the long weekend was perfect, with much sunshine and slightly cooler temps than expected. The mid-week forecast is for temperatures to resemble late fall, and comes with the promise of rain.

If we weren’t aware of how blessed we are living in this part of the world, we must certainly realize it in our current environment. As I look out of the window facing the lake and the street, I see a way of life that most of the world would die for. There are no rioters, just families and friends. No confrontations over politics or ideas, just a peaceful community of ordinary people. We stop in the street and ask about each other’s’ families, our health, our plans, just everyday conversations, and caring for each other. I believe this is how God intended for us to live; in harmony with our neighbors and acquaintances.

In the scriptures that follow, the Bible speaks to believers in Christ, but I believe if everyone lived by the principles stated, this world would be a nicer place. Obviously, not all will take this to heart, but what a difference might it make if a few more people would take note?

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load” (Galatians 6:2-5).

Something must be laid aside, if one is to be a burden-bearer and that is conceit, an attitude that breeds intolerance of error in others and causes one to think he is above failure. [The Bible Knowledge Commentary].

The apostle Paul wrote this: “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you” (Romans 12:3).

Remember the commandment; Love your neighbor as yourself! Good words from God’s Word,

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Church in Our Time

Dear friends,
Another week has gone by. We are still staying home most of the time. There was a trip to the grocery store and the pharmacy last Wednesday, but otherwise we were home doing yard work, etc. There is an advantage to living where we do; it is not hard to practice social distancing.

Our church family will decide this week how we might transition back to corporate worship at the church property. We may begin by meeting outdoors for a few Sundays, weather permitting. Time will tell. The Zoom app has been good, but there is no substitute for being there in person.

The Bible tell us the first century Christians met together in each other’s homes, and I suppose in other small group settings. They had no “church” building, nor did they hold title to any property on which to erect a building. From Acts, chapter two, we read; They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer… Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people (verses 42-47).

We may be unable to meet in person due to the pandemic of Covid19, but thanks to the current technology, we can have virtual fellowship in a way that the first Christians could not have imagined. Instead of feeling deprived, perhaps we should count our many blessings.

Even with the inconveniences we are experiencing in our current situation, we should take a lesson from the apostle Paul, who wrote “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4-7).

Then, this from Paul, “for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances… I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, … I can do everything through Him who gives me strength” (verses 11-13).

We may have some inconvenience, but it’s nothing God can’t get us through.

Leaning on the Everlasting Arms,
Pastor Jerry

Jesus is Lord

Hello friends,
The weather is in the news again. We reached 70+ degrees one day last week, then were greeted with snow and wind on Easter Sunday. Spring is out there somewhere, I am sure. The other big news item remains the Covid-19 virus. Lord willing, we will get past this pandemic and begin a return to life as we would want it to be.

On one of those nice days last week, I decided it was a good day to wash the windows on our sun porch. While gathering a bucket and some tools from the garage, I tripped and experienced one of those slow motion falls. You know what I mean; you know you are going down, but have a little time to plan your landing. After it was over, I had only a scuff mark and bruise above my left knee, and a little laceration on one finger. I was truly thanking the Lord it wasn’t worse. After the windows were clean, it all seemed worthwhile.

On Sunday, we celebrated the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. For most of us, it was an Easter unlike any we had ever seen. In our church, we met through Zoom. It was a small group of people, but we were able to read and study the pertinent Bible passages, and listen to the preaching of our pastor. We saw each other’s faces, but missing was the personal interaction, the handshakes, and hugs.

In and through all this, here is the important thing to remember; in the midst of all the insecurity and all the unknowns of the day, Jesus Christ is Lord! He has a handle on all the things that are going on in the world. He has defeated death, sin, and the devil and he proved it on the day He rose from the tomb.

Read the following passages with me: When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. (Colossians 2:13-15). For more, read the whole chapter.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

A Changed Life

Hello friends,

Deadlines loom large occasionally. It is Sunday evening as I write this, we just came from meeting old friends for a few hours, and tomorrow I leave for two days. Therefore, this has to be written before I head to bed. Regarding the meeting with our friends, the Bible reminds us of the value of good friends, in Psalm 18: 24. I quote; “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother.” A little sign in our house reads, “Friends are the family you choose.” Now, I have nothing against family, but it is true, there are friends who are closer than family members. I believe this applies especially to Christian friends. For those friends, I give thanks to the Lord.

Tomorrow begins our two state Southern Baptist annual meeting. This year it is being held in Lexington, and I am looking forward to being there. It does involve some business items for the convention, but there will be inspirational worship times, along with some quality preaching and teaching. Catching up with friends old and new will be a highlight for me, also.

This week I preached at Grace Bible Church, as they continue to search for just the right person to become their full-time pastor. We looked at the apostle Paul’s testimony concerning his life, and how it changed after meeting the Savior on the road to Damascus. In his testimony, Paul told what his life was like before encountering Jesus, the circumstances of his meeting Jesus, and how his life was changed as a result. Paul went from being a persecutor of Christians, to an outspoken follower of Christ.

We are reminded that every Christian has a witness that includes these three elements: My life before Jesus, how I met Jesus, and how he changed my life.

The question that comes to mind, then, is this; How has Jesus changed your life? Every believer should be able to give an answer. “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).

Again, the question: How has Jesus changed your life, or has he? If not, have you asked him?

In His hands,

Pastor Jerry

The Tune-up

The pleasant weather continues. We did receive some rain on Friday, but not as much as some folks to the south and west. The garden continues to do well, as do the flowers. We have had our first (small) tomato, and a few cucumbers, in addition to the green beans that we have been enjoying.

Now for the weekly devotional thought. Sunday, as I was driving to a sister church for a speaking engagement, I remembered that a couple of months ago, our pickup was running poorly, and the fuel mileage wasn’t what I expected it to be. Now, in the past, I would have run it into the shop and changed the sparkplugs, points, and condenser, probably fixing the problem. In today’s world, some of those parts don’t exist, so there was no use for me to even start.

After a visit to the dealer’s shop, and a computer diagnosis, it was determined that it did in fact need new spark plugs and something called a “fuel system flush.” Who knew fuel system flush was even a thing? It now performs as good as new.

As I thought about this, I was reminded that the Christian sometimes needs a tune-up. The remedy for this is to get back in touch with our maker through his word, and let him put us back in working order. When we neglect meeting with Him in prayer, through the study of His word, and fellowship with other believers, we get distracted by life leading to poor performance in our Christian walk.

A time of prayer and fellowship with God is important for a healthy Christian life. “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen” (Matthew 6:6).

Spending time reading and studying the Scripture is also important. “How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word” (Psalm 119:9).

Finally, spend time with other Christians regularly. “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another…” (Hebrews 10:24-25).

If you feel your relationship with the Lord isn’t hitting on all cylinders, these verses are a good place to start that tune-up.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Friends

Last week we took a little trip. This was the first we’ve had the camper out this year, and it was the first we have tried out the remodeling that was done earlier in the year. The twin bed set-up is way better than the old queen size, and we now have a shower curtain in place of the glass wall and door, allowing a little more room in the shower. The only real trial came when we found out the shower head wasn’t properly drained last fall and its handle had split from freezing. A little black electricians tape made it work until we got a replacement.

Our trip took us first to Mitchell, SD, where Alex is working, and will be attending school this fall. He is living in an apartment in the country south of Alexandria, SD. We spent two nights in Mitchell at the local KOA.

After leaving there, we took the “scenic route” to Wagner, SD. This was caused by poking the screen on my phone without looking, and changing our route on Google Maps. We found some roads that were somewhat less than the road less traveled. After a late lunch in Wagner, our next stop was in Atkinson, NE. Atkinson was our town for several years right after we were married, so it is familiar territory. We overnighted there in a really nice little out of the way park.

The next leg of the journey took us to the ranch home of our very long time friends. I hesitate to use the phrase “old friends.” We spent the evening, and into the early morning hours reminiscing about old times, and catching up with them and another couple with whom we’ve spent countless hours. After leaving there, we headed home, reaching Lake Ericson and home in the early evening on Thursday.

If I came away with a thought for the week, it would be this: We should relish those friendships that God has allowed us to develop over the years. There is something special about friends that know us as well as we know ourselves.

“Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another (1 John 4:11).

And, one more thing, your wife’s advice is more to be heeded, than any direction finding app on your smart phone!

Have a blessed week,
Pastor Jerry

Church Etiquette

It is time once again for news and views from our house. As always, the weather is a common conversation topic. It’s interesting to note, temperatures that seem rather chilly in the fall seem almost balmy these days. Anything over fifty degrees sends me outdoors in my shirtsleeves.

I have had discussions concerning the tendency these days for people to dress casual for about every event or activity. What used to be jacket and tie at the very least, is now athletic shoes, denim jeans and tee-shirts. Many times these discussions come around to what to wear to church.

Along that line of thought, there was a post on Facebook this week resisting the trend to casual. The sign at the church door read: “It’s all about love. PLEASE, no food or drink, no cell phones, lots of love allowed.”

Here are my thoughts on the clothing issue. As far as God is concerned, it is not so much about our appearance as it is about the condition of our heart. I don’t believe this is an excuse to dress shoddily, or be uncaring about our appearance as we gather to worship. Christ doesn’t require us to clean up our act before he accepts us. He does expect to see change in us, as a result of making Him Lord of our lives.

As for the food and drink issue, here is the comment that accompanied the sign at the church door: “Why are some churches so fearful of food, drinks and cell phones? I’ve never seen a food or drink or a cell phone walk into a sanctuary by themselves. Generally speaking, there is a person attached. And churches need people more than clean carpet or quiet sanctuaries.”

Of course, we should welcome all to enter our church buildings, regardless of dress, food or drink, or whatever. But we are to love them enough to point them to the Savior, praying that the Gospel will touch their hearts, and bring them to salvation.

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost. (Luke 19:10). Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28). If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9).

Just thinking,
Pastor Jerry

Stand for the Truth

Last week it seemed somehow we skipped fall, and went right into winter. Those balmy Indian Summer days evaporated into cold and snow. I know, we haven’t had any great amount of snow, but really, I had hoped for a longer time of nice weather. One thing is for sure, I am not in control of the weather!

We got to go back to our old neighborhood church this past Sunday. I was invited to preach in the absence of their regular pulpit supply person. If you are so inclined, you might pray that little congregation could soon get a new pastor. There is much talk about reaching rural America with the gospel, and that church goes beyond most folks’ concept of what is rural. Sybrant Community Church is soon to celebrate its 100th year as a church. That this church is still in existence,qq is a testament to the faithfulness of God to His people. It is a gospel witness in that community.

Teachers of another gospel, one that is completely different from that of Jesus and His apostles, have been around since the beginning of Christianity. Now, it seems to me that we are witnessing these false teachers in increasing numbers. As many contemporary churches are trying to accommodate all the unbiblical ideas and even heretical teaching, in an attempt to “reach more people”, the gospel is being watered down and even ignored. Many people are being led away from the truth by these people.

The apostle Paul had harsh words for the church in Galatia. He wrote, “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—which is really no gospel at all” (Galatians 1:6-7).

“The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons” (1 Timothy 4:1). “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine…. They will turn their ears from the truth and turn aside to myths” (2 Timothy 2:2-4).

Folks, that time is here. Pray for, and join with those who proclaim the truth of God’s Word. Spiritual warfare is real.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

The Call: Part Two

The great fall weather continues. I don’t really remember seeing the colors as bright as they are this year. Every day the sunrise is more beautiful than the day before. I hesitate to post to many photos of our morning view, for fear you will be bored by them. A friend of mine wrote this week that God must be a Nebraskan, for all the beauty He has given us. Amen!

Now, on to our devotional thought for the week: As we saw last time, God calls us to salvation. That call is followed by God’s call to serve Him. Without answering the call to salvation, there can be no call to serve.

There are many ways to serve God. I suppose the first thing that comes to many people’s minds when I speak of serving the Lord, would be missionaries, or pastors. However, these are not the only ways Christians can serve the Lord. Here are several more:

Testimony… Live lives worthy of your calling (Ephesians 4:1)
Fellowship… Do not forsake meeting together. (Hebrews 10:25).
Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. (Romans 12:13)
Meeting the needs of people. “Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you will; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it” (James 2:15-16)?

Service to the Lord shows in many ways, but the object of all service is to bring him praise and glory, along with introducing lost people to the Lord Jesus Christ.

We are not called to warm the church pews for one hour a week, then go silently back into the world. Every believer is to be obedient to the Great Commission in Matthew 28. “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them, …and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:18-20).

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:8-10).

Go into all the world. Go and tell. Your salvation is shown by your obedience to God’s commands.

His Words,
Pastor Jerry