Archive for the ‘Freedom’ Category

Our Broken World

Dear readers,
One word about the weather. Rain! In other news, it appears we have completed another landscaping project. There has been a ditch along the north side of our property, and it was a bit difficult to mow due to the steep banks. Recently, son Ryan installed a long culvert in that spot, covered it with dirt and leveled it off. We have planted grass seed, and if the rain doesn’t wash it all away mowing will be much easier next summer.

Sometimes, when I see the heartache and hurting in our world, it is almost too much. I know I am not alone in feeling this way. We who live in rural America have by and large been insulated from the problems of the big cities and population centers. This is not the case anymore.

There is enough blame to go around, and I could name a lot of reasons for the mess we are in, but from a Christian point of view, the one-word explanation would be sin. Our world has been broken since Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden. When people reject God, and go their own way, evil takes over. There is no moral compass, and there are no guidelines for proper living. When people reject God, they turn to other things seeking fulfilment. Drugs, alcohol, sex, power, money, fancy cars, big houses; none of these bring lasting satisfaction.

There is, however, a solution to this dilemma; “This is what the Lord Almighty says: Return to me, declares the Lord Almighty, and I will return to you, says the Lord Almighty” (Zechariah 1:3). Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29).

It has been said there is within each of us a God shaped void. It can only be filled satisfactorily by the Holy Spirit of God. Nothing else will do. Jesus alone can overcome our sin nature. Paul wrote, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:1-2).

His truth will set you free.
Pastor Jerry

Blessed and Thankful

You may have noticed my weekly news and commentary missing last week. There is a reason for that, and I will explain. I had started that week off feeling a bit under the weather and twice visited the emergency room at a local hospital. At the second visit, it was determined I had contracted pneumonia. There were early deadlines for the newspaper edition of this column, and I just didn’t feel up to sitting at the computer and writing, so I just took a week off. I am feeling much better now, thanks to good care, IV antibiotics and some supplemental oxygen, along with plenty of prayers from my friends.

Let me say here, I am thankful for those who have dedicated themselves to serve in the medical profession. You have my utmost respect and appreciation!

As we celebrated our country’s founding and declaration of independence this week, I found myself reflecting on the many blessings we have as Americans. In a time when it seems many of our freedoms are under attack, let us commit to protecting what we have. Remember, also, that although these freedoms are guaranteed by our Constitution, they are given to us by God, not by the government. In response to this, let us give thanks to the Lord every day for those things he has provided.

God has provided freedom from the bondage of sin through faith in Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul reminds us of this: “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). “You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love” (Galatians 5:13).

Outside of the spiritual context, God has provided us with governments and governing bodies to protect our freedoms. Some will obviously misuse their power and position, but as a general rule, we are to respect their leadership, remembering that all of this is under His control. “For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things and in him all things hold together (Colossians 1:16-17).

Praising His name,
Pastor Jerry

Remembering

First a short update on my lip surgery. Healing is taking place, but I must admit, I am just a bit impatient with the progress. Unless there is a change, there will be no further updates on this. My commentary will be shorter this week, but I trust it will make a difference in some small way.

It is Monday as I write this. It is Memorial Day on the calendar. I trust you had an enjoyable weekend, and that sometime in the midst of your celebrating the beginning of the summer season, you took some time to reflect on the true meaning of the day. In my corner of the world, it is a day of remembering those who have given their lives for our country. In some other areas of our great country, I suspect the meaning of Memorial Day has been put aside for scenes of partying, cookouts, camping, and many other pleasant diversions.

Along with many other reminders of our past, the somber truth of how we got to this place has been forgotten. Thousands of brave Americans have sacrificed their lives for the freedom we enjoy, but at some point, we have cheapened the value of that sacrifice. One thing that concerns me, is that as a people, we are traveling down some of the same paths that led to previous conflicts. Perhaps it is time to look around and see if we might want to change direction. A command from God to the people of Israel comes to mind. They had the command, but refused to obey it. Will we do the same thing?

This is what the Lord says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls” (Jeremiah 6:16),

God bless you, and God bless America!
In Him,
Pastor Jerry

God’s Will for You

There was a good hatch of geese here at the lake, and I enjoy watching them out my window. They are quite belligerent when another goose enters their private space, chasing the encroaching one, but then they will run away from a little blackbird defending its nest.

Are you still seeking God’s will for your life? It’s not in the stars or a horoscope. It is not in the cards, and there is no Lady Luck. God’s will for you is found only in the Bible. The following is excerpted from “Found: God’s Will”, by Dr. John MacArthur.

First, it is God’s will that men be saved. “For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life” (John 6:40). God has no reason to reveal to you anything particular about your life, if you have not met qualification number one.

Second, you must be Spirit-filled. That is the teaching of the Word of God. When a person is saved, the moment they receive Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit comes to live within you. There is no Christian who does not possess the Holy Spirit. Christians have everything they need in the Holy Spirit. “For you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you…” (Jesus, in Acts 1:8).

Third, God requires every believer to be sanctified. Another word would be ‘pure’. 1 Thessalonians 4:7 reads, “For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.”

The fourth qualification, is to be submissive. “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake” (1 Peter 2:13). This is the kind of submission that makes you the best possible citizen in the society in which you live.

Number 5, we are called to suffer. “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted… (2 Timothy 3:15). “However, if (or when) you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name” (1 Peter 4:16). Are you willing to suffer for Him who suffered for you? Are you willing to confront the world? That is the will of God.

The final principle: If you are doing all five of the basic things, God is running your life, and anything you want to do will be His will.

In His hands,
Pastor Jerry

On Freedom

The 2018 fireworks display at Lake Ericson was held Saturday evening, and ended in a rain storm. The early date was necessary due to availability of qualified persons. There were a lot of families who enjoyed the weekend at the lake, even though it wasn’t a holiday. Independence Day falls on Wednesday this year, but we should be able to celebrate this country’s independence every day. There are those who criticize her, and want to make harmful changes to our constitution, but America is still the greatest nation on earth, bar none.

Perhaps our greatest responsibility as citizens of this country, is to first of all, thank God for his blessings through the years, followed by prayers for the future of the United States of America. After all, if not for His guidance and protection in the past, this nation might never have been created.

There is another freedom for which we owe God our allegiance. He sent His Son to die for our sins, and in response to his offer of salvation, we are set free from the bondage of sin. True freedom in the spiritual sense means not only are we free from the penalty of sin, we are set free from the guilt that results from disobeying Him.

In him (Jesus) and through faith in him, we may approach God with freedom and confidence (Ephesians 1:12). Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom (2 Corinthians 3:17).

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). You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather serve one another in love (Galatians 5:13).

Finally, in these verses, we find instructions on how to live as citizens in a country, under God’s direction: Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king (president), as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right… Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. (1 Peter 2:13-16).

Happy Independence Day,
Pastor Jerry

On Anger

This past Thursday, we celebrated our 54th wedding anniversary. There was a time, based on family history, when I didn’t think I would live 54 years, now we’ve been married that long! In other news, our community was blessed with another 1.30 inches of rain Wednesday night, into Thursday morning. Some lawns will wait awhile before being mowed again. It is easy to see that school is out and summer is upon us, as many individuals and families are coming to the lake. I’m sure it will be this way until after Labor Day, and it is great to see people enjoying Lake Ericson.

If you ever feel the need to be really frustrated, may I recommend trying to change a lawn mower tire. I mean, take the old one off the rim and put a new tire on. I will never understand why tire manufacturers wrap them up with the sidewalls touching, so that there is no way to get them to inflate! It just seems wrong to put an inner tube in a tubeless tire, but that is what I’m going to do.

After that little rant, I need to pause and reflect on God’s teaching about anger. Let’s take a look at some scripture that will do just that.

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him… Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil (Psalm 37:7-8).
Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth (Psalm 46:10).
In your anger do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent (Psalm 4:4).
A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control (Proverbs 29:11).
Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools (Ecclesiastes 7:9).

Now some New Testament verses dealing with the topic of anger: In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are angry (Ephesians 4:26). Paul goes on: Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice (Ephesians 4:31).

Finally, “for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires” (James 1:20). Good words from God’s Word.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Weather Watcher

Here we are in the sixth month of 2018, already. Can you believe the year is almost half over? The Lord has provided more rain this week, meaning we will have lawns to mow later. There were some weather advisories up for a time Friday evening, prompting the placing of some hail screen over Mama’s tomato plants and cucumbers, and some potted posies were put indoors. I have heard reports, or at least rumors of some severe weather in the area, but none here. The plants are safe, at least for the time being.

While thinking about weather related subjects, I’m reminded of that period in time, when I was starting out running the ranch on my own. In haying season, I was forever trying to outguess the weather. Was it going to rain, or would it be dry for a few days, so we could mow and bale the hay? What did the forecast say? Could I depend on those meteorologists to know what would happen? It seemed I was always on the fence about what to do.

This was about the time I started paying more attention to the Lord, and what he had to say about living life. Once, during my Bible reading time, I came across a few verses that changed my whole outlook on this matter of weather, and it affected what I was doing. Let me share those words with you.

“Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap.
As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things.
Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let not your hands be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well” (Ecclesiastes 11:4-6).

What a wakeup call! Instead of worrying about the weather, I was to plant the seed, mow the hay, put the bulls with the cows on schedule, and trust God with the results. Suddenly, I was free from worrying about things over which I had no control.

I will leave you with this: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5).

Blessings,
Pastor Jerry