Archive for the ‘Freedom’ Category

Seeing Clearly

Dear friends,
We had a great weekend, grandson Alex and his fiancé and her little girl akibg with our grandson Ethan visited Saturday evening. Sunday morning, we traveled back “home” to Sybrant Community Church, then spent the afternoon with dear friends. Good times!

On a recent morning, I awoke to heavy fog over the lake. As the sun rose, and the fog began to lift, I was able to slowly see the trees and buildings more clearly. It reminded me of the process of coming to faith in God and his salvation.

When the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ begins to shine in our hearts, we get a glimpse of who He is, and why he came. It may be just a spark at first, but as we begin to respond to that spark the light will become brighter.

As the fog lifts and the sun breaks through, we see clearly what was hidden. It is much the same when we begin to realize that we need Jesus. Sin has blinded us to the presence of God, but when the fog of disbelief begins to lift, we are able to clearly see the light of Christ.

When Jesus healed a blind man as recorded in Mark’s gospel, he healed the man in two stages. After he had put saliva on the man’s eyes, he asked him what do you see? ” He answered, “I see people, they look like trees walking around.” Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes… then his eyes were opened and he saw everything clearly” (Mark 8:23-25). It was a process of learning to see clearly as his faith grew. Sight was there, but it was not complete.

In the words of the song writer,
“Just like a blind man, I wandered along.
Worries and fears I claimed for my own.
Then like the blind man that God gave back his sight,
Praise the Lord, I saw the light.”

As the fog lifts and the sun breaks through, we see clearly what was hidden. It is much the same when we begin to realize that we need Jesus. Sin has blinded us to the presence of God, but when the fog of disbelief begins to lift, we are able to clearly see the light of Christ. Have you seen the light?

In His light,
Pastor Jerry

Freedom

Dear readers,
Camping at our grandson’s last week was uneventful, and we enjoyed our time with him. The excitement happened on the way home. First of all, the temperature was nearing 100 degrees when we left Mitchell Wednesday morning. We had a head-wind that was probably 25-30 mph, with higher gusts. Needless to say, we could almost see the fuel gauge in free-fall. After a late lunch in O’Neill, we fueled up and continued our trip home. At one point, I looked in the mirror and realized that a window had blown out of the camper. We were going down the road with a mini-blind sticking out of the opening. That window had issues when we bought the camper, and in hindsight I should have repaired it long ago.

Some folks will read this on July 4th, but others not until later in the week. I want to just reflect on the significance of the holiday, and what we celebrate. Our country is a republic; this means we have a representative government, as opposed to a monarchy, or a dictatorship. In this, we have freedoms that people in many other countries do not have.

One thing often forgotten is that with freedom comes responsibilities. Freedom is not the ability to do whatever one desires. As residents of a free country, we are to obey the laws, respect other people and their property, and be productive members of society.

As we speak of freedom in the context of a nation, we also look to the Bible for the freedom we have in Jesus Christ as our Savior. Faith in Jesus brings freedom from the penalty of sin and freedom from guilt. Paul writes of this in Romans 8:1-2, when he says, “Therefore no condemnation exists for those in Christ, because the Spirit’s law of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death.”

Beyond freedom from the penalty of sin, Paul also speaks of freedom from the power of sin. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we have the ability to resist habitual disobedience. “For sin will not rule over you, because you are not under the law but under grace.

Jesus said, “He (God the Father) has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, to release the oppressed” (Luke 4:18b).

Free in Him,
Pastor Jerry

Elections Matter

Dear friends,
Isn’t it amazing how a little rain transforms the landscape and gives people a better outlook on life? Grass is growing, the flowering trees are in bloom, even the dandelions are a welcome sight after a long dry winter. Those recent rains were definitely an answer to many prayers. Let’s continue to thank the Lord for the blessing of rain.

Don’t forget to vote this Tuesday, May 10. It is our right as citizens to go to the polls and elect those who would represent us in the government. Pray that God would allow those in office who will stand for truth, and for biblical principles. Also, that those who do not know Him would see the light of His salvation, and be changed. Scripture commands us to pray for everyone. Paul wrote to Timothy, “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings (governors and presidents included), that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:1-4).

Christians are called to acknowledge those in authority as sent by God. The apostle Paul wrote these words: Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment upon themselves. (Romans 13:1-2).

Those who lead will also be held accountable. “Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One.
“Let us break their chains,” they say, “and throw off their fetters.”
The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them.
Then he rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying,
“I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill…”
I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession…
Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth.
Serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling” (Psalm 2:1-6, 8, 10-11).

For Him,
Pastor Jerry

Some Good News

Hello friends,

I am recovering from my bout with Covid. The return to normal is testing my patience, but I am feeling better daily. The biggest hurdle has been a lack of energy; my want to and my can do are miles apart. It is still a challenge to make my mind focus on writing, and I may revert to a previous article this week, instead of coming up with an original thought. After twenty-some years of this, there should be something in the archives that will apply to today. After all, God’s word is unchanging and endures forever.

Many times we get discouraged when we see evil running rampant in the world. A passage from the prophet Malachi is appropriate for us to consider in our present context. At the end of Malachi in the Old Testament, God speaks of coming judgment through the words of the prophet: “Surely the day is coming, it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and that day that is coming will set them on fire. Not a root or a branch will be left to them. But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall” (Malachi 4:1-2).

If you have ever been around calves that have been in a small pen for any length of time, and have seen them released into a larger pen or pasture, you can relate to the picture this brings to mind. They are so happy to be released, that they run in large circles with their tails in the air, leaping and kicking with obvious joy. What a picture of God’s children when they are freed from the cares of this sinful, corrupt world system!

Whoever said the Bible doesn’t relate to people in the Sandhills, and to ranchers and cowboys? It’s not all about sheep and shepherds!

I pray you keep this picture in mind as you are experiencing the everyday trials that come upon us. There is coming a day when those who are faithful to God will rejoice as calves that have been released from their stalls. What a day that will be!

Looking for His return,

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

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

Standing on the Rock of Ages

Hello friends,
Summer is officially here. Independence Day has been celebrated, and we look forward to what the future holds. On a personal note, I will be having a procedure on Tuesday (the 7th), to repair an aneurysm on my aorta. I have known about it for almost five years, and the doctor says it is time to get it done. I should be back home on Wednesday, if all goes well. Prayers will be appreciated.

The residents of Lake Ericson and all its visitors were treated to a grand fireworks display July 3rd. Some of the family displays were impressive, as well. Thanks to all who contributed.

As I think of the ways in which people are responding to the Covid-19 pandemic, I am reminded of 1999, when all the news was about Y2K. There were all kinds of rumors about computers shutting down, expected shortages of all kinds of services, due to predicted issues with communications and utility interruptions. People were stockpiling all kinds of goods (toilet paper was one). Many of you still remember those days.

At one point in discussing the situation with the leaders of our little church at home, I made this observation; It is okay to be aware of the situation, but doesn’t the Bible indicate that the Lord will provide for His people? Over and over, He tells us not to worry, to cast our cares on Him, and most importantly, that his people will live by faith.

Here are some words of encouragement from the Lord:
“I life up my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:1-2).
“He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart” (Psalm 91:4).
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5).
“You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.
Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord, is the rock eternal” (Isaiah 26:3-4).

In this time of uncertainty, let’s not throw caution to the wind, but be sensible, trusting in the Lord and His promises. And, wouldn’t this be a great time to share Jesus with friends and family? Be encouraged. He lives!

Blessings,
Pastor Jerry

United, We Stand

Hello friends,
As promised, half of 2020 is almost behind us, and Independence Day is upon us. If you live in the area, don’t forget to attend the big annual fireworks display July 3rd, at The Lake Ericson!

We took the camper on a short trial run last week. Everything worked as expected, and the exciting parts were a result of my memory lapse, or my poor preparations. First, as we were smack dab in the literal middle of nowhere, the low fuel light came on in the pickup. Oops! Forgot to look at the fuel gauge before leaving civilization. With an estimated 24 miles of fuel, and the nearest c-store 12 miles away, we made it with 13 miles to spare. The second crisis came because I assumed there was enough water in the fresh water tank, and didn’t top it off at home. The tank ran dry at a most inconvenient time; I won’t elaborate here, but lesson learned.

I was able to be back in the pulpit this weekend, spending time with the nice folks at Grace Bible Church in Loup City. Perhaps the topic of the sermon will give us food for thought in the days to come. It was called Seven Reasons Satan Seeks to Create Division. The original article dealt with division in the church, but I believe it applies to our current national crisis.

Those seven points are:
Division turns citizens against citizens.
Division causes us to lose sight of our purpose.
Division harms our testimony to the rest of the world, as a people who should be united.
Division is often tied to people being concerned with self, rather than the well-being of others.
Division demoralizes our leaders, and those concerned with keeping the peace.
Division affects the way the young see our country.
Division gives our enemies a victory. When we turn against each other, no one wins. It is supposed to be the United States of America.

Jesus prayed that His followers would be united in their faith, their mission and their message (John 17:20-23). In the church, supernatural unity is a witness of the work of the Holy Spirit, division is an evidence of the work of the enemy, that is, the devil.

A divided nation is also evidence of an enemy. We need to pray the Lord will intervene and bring us back together.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Remembering

Dear friends,
It is still spring; summer comes in June. Spring weather is my favorite season, followed by fall. Summer is okay, winter, not so much. We are enjoying getting out in the yard. Mowing isn’t a chore yet, and planting flowers and garden are good therapy. Speaking of therapy, I found out that pushing a lawn mower may be good cardiac exercise. Just a little of it increased my heart rate to 114 bpm. Update: We experienced wind and rain Saturday night, resulting in more than an inch of rain and some pretty impressive straight winds.

I’m writing this on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, meditating on the observation of Memorial Day. We remember those who have given their lives in defense of our country and our freedoms. For many of us, it is also a time to remember family and friends who have gone on before.

It can be a time to reflect on the kinds of memories we well leave for those who will survive us. What kind of life did we live? What values will we pass on to our children and grandchildren? The writer of Hebrews mentions a great cloud of witnesses, those who died believing on the Lord Jesus Christ. Will we be counted in that group of saints?

Here is the passage from Hebrews: Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangle, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart (Hebrews 12:1-3).

Our Lord left us an example to follow in the life he lived, and a memorial to his life in the Lord’s Supper, which we celebrate in our Christian fellowships. His words after breaking the bread were and are, “Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, do this… in remembrance of me” (1 Corinthians 11:24-25).

Lest we forget.

Blessings to all,
Pastor Jerry

Reaching Out

Dear friends,
I trust everyone is looking forward to the time we can begin some semblance of the life we once knew. I know I am. I’m sure there is light at the end of this tunnel, but at this point it is rather dim. Sunday church services held on Facebook, or by way of Zoom and other electronic media is okay, but there is nothing like worshiping together in person. Period.

“Reaching Out” is one of the culture’s new catch-phrases. Originally, it seems to have been used as the description for extending a helping hand to someone in need. Today, it is used more often to describe trying to get something from someone, as in, “Our reporter tried to reach out to the attorney, but her calls were not returned.”

In this season of trial that is known as the Covid19 pandemic, I would like us to consider this idea of reaching out, from a biblical perspective. In the Old Testament, the prophet Ezekiel was given this message from God; “I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign Lord. I will search for the lost and bring back the strays” (Ezekiel 34:15-16a).

In the New Testament, we have the words of Jesus; “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” (Luke 19:10). This is God, through the Lord Jesus Christ, reaching out to all who are lost in sin with a message of salvation. The Lord is reaching out to lost people today. This is his invitation from Matthew 11:28… “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

If, in this stressful time, you are feeling helpless, burdened down with your troubles, and in bondage to sin, you can reach for his outstretched hand and he will lift you up into his loving arms. I’m drawn to a verse from the pen of David, “This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles” (Psalm 34:10). Here is another, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty” (Psalm 91:1).

I leave you with this thought; For peace of mind in these troubled times, reach out to Jesus, He is reaching out to you.

In His amazing grace,
Pastor Jerry