Archive for the ‘Freedom’ Category

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

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