Archive for the ‘Great Commission’ Category

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

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Go and Tell

Dear friends,
Time marches on. I was looking at the paper calendar recently, and noticed how few pages are left before the end of the year. It is hard to see those pages on a smart phone.

The leaves on the trees are beginning to get their fall colors, the sumac foliage is turning bright red, and fall wildflowers are blooming profusely. Hunting seasons are opening up. According to the calendar, Autumn begins the 22nd of September, so it is at hand.

We are to tell people everywhere the story of Jesus, his gospel, and God’s saving grace. How are we doing? How many of us are “secret service” Christians? I have heard a quote attributed to a specific person that says, “Preach the Gospel always, use words if you have to.” May I submit that above all, we must use words.

Some would say our life is our witness, but there are lot of people who live a good life, but who are going to hell because they have not acknowledged Christ as Savior and Lord.

The Bible is specific; we are saved through the hearing of the word. This is a lengthy passage, but of vital importance to the issue of salvation: “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? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news?… Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:13-17).

Jesus did not say go into all the world, and live good lives. In his Great Commission, he told his disciples to go and make disciples; baptizing them, and teaching them to obey his commandments. In Mark 16:15, Jesus said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.” How do we teach and preach? With words.

If you are saved, you have a story. Stories are for telling and for hearing. The gospel of the good news of Jesus Christ is for sharing. Share your testimony, both in words and in deeds.

Pressing on,
Pastor Jerry

Stand or Fall

Dear friends,
I drove to Topeka, Kansas last week for a meeting of Southern Baptist leaders from Kansas and Nebraska. As I traveled from the Sandhills of Nebraska to the Flint Hills of Kansas, I saw green. Usually, by mid-September, the pastures and crops are beginning to show traces of brown. Not so this year. Obviously, the Lord has blessed this whole section of the country with timely rains, although some of those rains have been excessive in certain areas.

Part of the discussion at our meeting centered on the Great Commission, that is Jesus’ command to go into all the nations and make disciples. More specifically, there was information on what the Kansas-Nebraska Convention is doing to take the gospel to rural America. If you know me, you know my heart is for reaching those in our part of the world with the good news of Jesus Christ. The need for people to hear and respond to God’s message of salvation is not limited to metropolitan areas and foreign countries.

On another somewhat related topic, Christians are facing challenges we have not seen in this generation. The world is abandoning any thought of God, and those who claim allegiance to the God of the Bible are being marginalized and shouted down at every turn. It isn’t going to go away anytime soon. The question is, will we stay true to the gospel and the truths of the Bible? Will we take the Great Commission seriously, and continue to share Christ with those we meet, or will we sit quietly and let the secular world-view prevail.

Know this, if we take a stand for God and his Word, we will face adversity, trials, and even persecution. We are told in the Scriptures to expect these things. Those same scriptures also remind us of the danger of failing to confess Christ as our Lord.

These are the words of Jesus: “I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him… I tell you, whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God…” (Luke 12:4-9).

In Truth,
PJ

Hear and Obey

The lake community was a busy place this past weekend. From turtle racing, football watching, and the annual Labor Day auction, there were plenty of things to do.

From my vantage point, I have the opportunity to observe many things. Some are amusing, some not so much, and some give me ideas for these articles. Just watching how people operate their vehicles sometimes will illustrate some spiritual truth.

Here is the thought for the week: You can turn the steering wheel in any direction you want, but if you’re not moving, you do not change directions. Intentions have to be followed by action. You may say, I want to go over there, and point your wheels in that direction, but until you engage the transmission and press the accelerator pedal, you aren’t going anywhere.

In the days before power steering, one could only turn the wheel with some effort. It was easier to steer the vehicle (or tractor) when moving forward. These days, you can turn the steering wheel effortlessly while sitting still, but there is still no change of direction unless you are moving.

It’s the same way with prayer, changing habits or lifestyle, or with following Jesus. Good intentions lead nowhere without a commitment to action. The commands of the Lord require action on the part of the one who is commanded. Here are a few of those commands:

Leave, and/or go. “The Lord had said to Abram, ‘Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you” (Genesis 12:1). What happened next? “So Abram left, as the Lord had told him” (verse 4).

Follow: Mark 1:17… “Come, follow me, Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” The command to follow usually preceded by the command to come. That is, to come to Jesus, and then to follow him. One cannot follow him without first coming to him in faith.

Give: Believers are to give to the poor. This command follows the command to sell our possessions in order to have resources to give.

Commands are meant to be obeyed. Intentions mean nothing if not followed by actions. It’s been said before, but God cannot direct your steps unless you are moving. “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says” (James 1:22).

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Post Only These Things

Dear friends,
The month of January has had its ups and downs. I think this would describe the temperature fluctuations we have experienced. I, personally, am glad for the warm-up of recent days. In news from the remodeling at the lake house, the kitchen project is winding down, and work is progressing on the sunroom that started out as a deck. I hope to get the walls up and the roof on it before it rains or snows again. Prayers appreciated.

For our devotional thought this week, I would like to address an issue that concerns me. It is the quality of some of the things Christian people post on social media. I am not opposed to social media. In fact, most of you get these articles by way of email, Facebook, or a link to one of my blogs. Even the newspaper version is sent weekly by email. If God’s people are to be light and salt to the world, and if we are to live in a way that reflects the holiness of God, why would we post these most profane and innuendo laden memes, comments, and photos for the whole world to see?

Not everyone does these things, but I see enough of it to be concerned. Is it any wonder so many people don’t see a reason to invite Jesus into their life? If Christian behavior isn’t any different from the rest of the world, why join them?

Here are some scriptures that just might cause us to think twice about those things we put out there on social media.

“Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did” (1 John 2:6).

“But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander and filthy language from your lips (and Facebook pages) (Colossians 3:8).

“But among you, there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality or of any kind of impurity…because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place…” (Ephesians 5:3-4).

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—post these things” (Philippians 4:8 Pastor Jerry’s version).

It would benefit all of us to consider these things before posting anything.

In Christ’s love,
Pastor Jerry

Rescue the Perishing

It is a pretty morning here. I’m looking out at the lake, and it is just like a mirror—no wind, and the reflection of the trees in the water is perfect. The house move is slowly progressing. We now have running water, electricity, and the septic system is functional. Heating and air-conditioning are expected to be ready soon.

This thought came to me this morning: If we were as dedicated rescuing lost souls, as we are to rescuing every abandoned pet and endangered wild animal, the world would be changed. What if we were as concerned with seeing people saved from the fires of hell as we are with saving whales and snails?

The apostle Paul had that kind of heart for his fellow Jews. Listen to his words: “I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying, my conscience confirms it in the Holy Spirit—I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, the people of Israel” (Romans 9:3).

Further on in Romans, we read: “Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved” (Romans 10:1).

“For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13). Then, Paul asks the question—“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? And how can they preach unless they are sent? (verses 14-15).

Jesus’ final words to his disciples (and to us) are these: Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20).

I may have used this quote before, but it is still relevant: “If every person in the world had adequate food, housing, income; if all men were equal and every possible social evil and injustice were done away with, men would still need one thing: Jesus Christ!”  [J. W. Hyde]

People are dying daily without Christ. Does that bother us? It should.

Just thinking,
Pastor Jerry

Who Will Go?

In news from home, changes are taking place again in our lives. I suppose over the next few weeks, I’ll be able to share a little more information with you. Lest anyone worry, it is all for good. If there is anything I’m learning, it is that change comes to everyone, and it is of little use to try to deny or avoid it.
I was in Topeka, Kansas on Friday for a meeting. Some of the discussion centered on the real need for pastors in rural areas. The problem is, much time and money is being spent in urban settings, at the expense of rural ministry.
I arrived at the realization that I needed a Savior through the ministry of a small rural church. I pastor a small church, and even though it is in a town with a population of 92, it is considered a rural church. I personally can relate to the prophet Isaiah, who heard God ask, “Who will go?” and Isaiah said, “Here am I, send me” (Isaiah 6:8).  In my case, I could answer “send me”, because I could be bi-vocational, but there are little churches in communities and villages where there are no opportunities for work. Those places need a pastor who is supported by other folks who have the means to enable him to answer God’s call to ministry.
There are people in these areas who desperately need the Lord, and the scripture asks the question, “How will they call on Him they have not believed in? And how can they believe without hearing about Him? And how can they hear without a preacher? And how can they preach unless they are sent?” (Romans 10:14-15).
There are people in heaven today, who are there through the ministry of a tiny church in the middle of nowhere, but there are many others who may die without Jesus because there was no one where they lived to tell them about Him. The need is real, what can you do to help? The rest of the quote from Romans 10 reads, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
This is not an appeal for funding or commitment to become a preacher, but if you feel God is calling, you need to know He doesn’t dial any wrong numbers!
Serving Him,
Pastor Jerry