Archive for the ‘Fellowship’ Category

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

Thoughts From the Sandhills

Dear friends,
We have taken a few days to get away and see some different scenery.

Our weekend was spent in Valentine at Old West Days. We heard some great music, some original cowboy poetry and some really funny stories; all part of the efforts of a few people committed to preserving our western heritage.

As we drove to Valentine Thursday afternoon, we came to a spot in the road that brought back a memory from 53 years ago as plain as yesterday. It was the day before our wedding. My fiancé, her bridesmaids, and I were on a mission to pick up a couple of dresses. At that particular spot on the highway, at about 85 mph, we encountered water on the highway, and the old ’58 Ford four door hydroplaned. We stayed on the road while fishtailing from one side of the road to the other. No one was injured, only scared half to death. The wedding took place the next day, and I have never forgotten that spot.

Friday afternoon, we took a side trip to Merritt reservoir, just to look around and try to find the places we camped, back when our boys were small. A lot has changed there in the intervening years, but we found familiar places nonetheless.

Saturday morning, I participated in a Christian Leadership Conference. I had to leave early, but was able to connect briefly with long-time friends and Christian leaders from all over our beloved Sandhills. The purpose of this training is to equip believers to share the good news of Jesus Christ with our friends and neighbors. The Sandhills of Nebraska has been called, ‘God’s Own Cow Country’, but I fear we have left Him out of our conversation far too long.

There is much talk in Christian circles about foreign missions, but I am and always will be convinced, there is a huge mission field right here in our corner of the world. There a thousands of good people living here, who do not have a real, personal relationship with Christ.

“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
How then can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them” (Romans 10:13-14)?

Pray,
Pastor Jerry