Archive for the ‘New Year’ Category

Tune-up or Overhaul?

Dear readers,
I always struggle with what kind of salutation is best to open these weekly conversations. Sadly, there are not many original greetings available to me. Perhaps I should just use ‘to whom it may concern.’ I guess this is just another challenge to a weekly writer.

In a previous time, I did a bit of mechanic work for myself and a few neighbors. Some of the vehicles that came into the shop needed a minor tune-up to be restored to working order. There were others, however, that needed a complete overhaul in order to perform correctly.

These days, as the effects of age begin to be more noticeable, we wonder at times if we, too, are in need of a tune-up, or a complete overhaul? In this new year, there may be a few people still committed to exercise and diet, as means to tune-up their bodies.

What about your spiritual well-being? Are you looking for a new year makeover? Will you be needing an overhaul or tune-up? Maybe a new you?

Here are a few suggestions from the Bible, beginning with our basic spiritual condition as defined by God. Romans 3:23 tells us, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Other scriptures point out the fact that because of Adam, we all are born in sin, needing an overhaul, if you will.

Jesus said the remedy for this condition is a new birth. In His words; “Truly I tell you, unless someone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God… Truly I tell you, unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3, 5). This would be a complete overhaul, a new beginning. In fact, a new creation, according to scripture.

When Jesus was washing his disciples’ feet in the upper room, Peter objected, insisting he needed a bath. Jesus answered him, “One who has bathed doesn’t need to wash anything except his feet, but he is completely clean” (John 13:9). One who is saved, need only be cleansed from recent sins. John refers to this in his first letter, written to believers; “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. This, too, could be likened to a tune-up.

Renewed in Him,
Pastor Jerry

Our Hope

After a very cold and windy entrance to the new year, we have enjoyed some spring-like weather. This is good and helps us envision the end of winter. The lights and other Christmas decorations are all back in their totes, the tree has been taken down, and the nativity carefully stored away to wait for another Christmas season. We hope the gifts and toys have endured the first few weeks of use.

A new congress has been sworn in, and the political circus begins a new year. The liberal, secular culture is increasingly anti-Christian, the public discourse is more and more confrontational. And yet, the words of the Lord are true and lasting. How does a Christian maintain a positive outlook in times like these?

Read with me, this passage from the Psalms:
Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth take their stand, and the rulers conspire together
against the Lord and his Anointed One:
“Let’s tear off their chains and throw their ropes off of us.”

The one enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord ridicules them.
Then He speaks in His anger and terrifies them in his wrath:
“I have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain….”

So now, kings, be wise; receive instruction, you judges of the earth.
Serve the Lord with reverential awe and rejoice with trembling.
Pay homage to the Son or he will be angry and you will perish in your rebellion,
for his anger may ignite at any moment.
All who take refuge in him are happy. (Psalm 2:2-6, 10-12

The following is the prophecy in Isaiah that we read at every Christmas season: For a child will be born for us, a son will be given to us, and the government will be on his shoulders. He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
The dominion will be vast, and its prosperity will never end. He will reign on the throne of David and over his kingdom to establish and sustain it with justice and righteousness from now and forever. (Isaiah 9:6-7).

I have read the book, and I know how the story ends. Jesus Christ and his true followers win. Evil will be defeated and we will reign with Christ forever and ever. As my friend says, can I get an amen?

Pastor Jerry

A New Year

Hello friends,
Christmas Day is behind us, and I pray we as a people, will not forget the reason for the holiday we just enjoyed. Our own celebration was pretty quiet. We attended our church Christmas Eve service, then came home to our favorite chairs and listened to some Christmas music. Tuesday was warm enough by noon to fire up the pellet grill, so we were able to enjoy steak and hash browns for lunch. We had plenty of time later to reflect on the Savior whose birth we were celebrating.

As we enter the new year, may I suggest, if you haven’t, that you take the time to consider what your own eternal destination might be. There are many ideas and theories concerning eternal issues. The one that has withstood the test of time comes from the Bible. If you believe this book to be God’s Word, written by men, inspired by His Holy Spirit, then you need look no further to find the truth.

According to the Bible, Jesus Christ, was and is, God in human form. He came to earth with the express purpose of dying on a cross, as payment for the sins of humanity. By faith in that one selfless act, we, in turn can be assured of spending eternity in the presence of God and Jesus.

Christianity is not an exclusive religion. The invitation to receive God’s gift is open to all. However, not everyone will choose to accept the gift. God does not force anyone to believe. He has given evidence of the truth of His salvation, it is up to each individual to accept or reject.

The following Bible verses are not new, nor have they been hidden from view. I have quoted them many time in these articles, but some have not seen or responded to them. I pray they will do so today.

Romans 10:9-10… “the word of faith we are proclaiming: That 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.”
Ephesians 2:8… “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.”

We can do nothing to earn our salvation. The gift is free. Our only responsibility is to accept it. Think about it.

Happy New Year!
Pastor Jerry

Good New Year

Dear friends,
Ready or not, 2019 is knocking at the door. As we contemplate the new year, one thing I have noticed, is there are always a few people who say that the previous year was bad, and they are hoping the upcoming year will be better. I have always considered myself somewhat of an optimist. Some would call me a dreamer, and they would be entitled to their opinion. But to me, being positive is more productive than looking at the negative.

In thinking about the good year/bad year question, I wonder how we should describe a bad year, as opposed to a good year? Do we dwell on the bad things that happened, or do we look for some good in that experience? If 2018 has been a “bad” year for you, what would make 2019 a “good” year. We plan for what we would like to happen, but ultimately God is in charge of the future.

When we lost everything in the agricultural depression of the eighties, it was a bad experience at the time, but we learned valuable lessons that helped us immensely in the years that followed. In the bigger picture, it brought about positive results.

Of course, bad things happen in our lives, but to label a whole year as bad is probably an overstatement. If we would step back and look at the previous 365 days, I suspect the good days will outnumber the bad. The apostle Paul, in his letter to the Christians in Rome, insisted that for believers, those who love God, and are called according to his purpose, all things work for good in some way. (Romans 8:28).

We may certainly use those trials in our lives to give testimony to God’s faithfulness in each and every situation. We can focus on the negative, or we can turn a bad experience into a good one. For the Christian, every situation, whether seen as good or not, can be used to give glory and praise to God.

Here is a verse from the Bible that may be helpful. In the Old Testament, Joseph, who was sold into slavery by his brothers, had this to say to them; “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done…” (Genesis 50:20). Who can say God isn’t doing the same today?

Moving on,
Pastor Jerry

2018 Begins

Once again, we say goodbye to the old year, and prepare to welcome another. I wonder, if there was no calendar, would we notice the transition? Probably not, and this says to me there probably won’t be much difference between December 31 and January 1.

As the year 2017 comes to an end, and as I contemplate the events of the past 12 months, I am reminded of something a friend told me. He said, “the world has gone mad!” It has been several years since he said it, but it is even more true today.

Another statement I heard from an ‘old guy’ back in the early 70’s still holds true today: “Someday, the Lord will come again, and straighten out this mess!”

However, in spite of all the discord and strife we see happening, along with the disappearing morals and self-worship that is evident, there is truth, and there is hope.

First, there is a God in heaven, and he is still on his throne. Nothing is happening that is going to surprise him.
Secondly, His word is true, and he promises to come and judge all the unrighteousness in the world.
Thirdly, and not the least, is the fact that he has provided a means to escape the coming judgment.

The promised Savior of the world, whose incarnation we just celebrated, died for our sins. And as we confess our sins, and believe on his name, we will be saved.

Knowing this, I can wish all of you a very Happy and Blessed New Year!
Pastor Jerry

Cold Memories

A week ago, it was 25 below zero. It has been some time since it was that cold. I remember, just before Christmas in 1983, we had a cold spell that stayed well into January. On top of that, we had a lot of snow that drifted almost every day. It was a test for men, machines and livestock. I’m glad I don’t have to face that again, and I pray for those who do.

This sticks in my mind, partly because of what happened on that Christmas eve. Our neighbors had gone Christmas shopping with their young kids, and made it back to the school house, which was about a half-mile west of our place. It was 20 below zero with a vicious wind-chill. I don’t remember exactly how, but I was able to get in touch by phone with them and offered to bring them to our house. I took the tractor and snow-blower and went to get them. The wind was filling our tracks with snow as fast as we made them, but we made it safely. Our two families then spent all night together.

At 1:00 AM, I woke to find the power had gone off, and went to the shop to get a tractor to power our generator, only to find the tractor’s alternator had a bad bearing. Neighbor Dave held the light and I changed that bearing in record time. Did I mention it was very cold that night? We did get the stand-by generator connected and stayed warm the rest of the night. It was definitely a Christmas to remember. Others have their own memories of that winter.

In those years on the ranch, as I look back, there were many times things worked for good in the middle of some really stressful times. Each one was a reminder of God’s faithfulness to his people, even when they don’t immediately recognize it.

The Psalms speak much of the faithfulness of God. Here are some verses:
“I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations (Psalm 89:1). The heavens praise your wonders, O Lord, your faithfulness too, in the assembly of the holy ones (Psalm 89:5).

“For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations (Psalm 100:5).

Happy New Year,
Pastor Jerry

Thoughts On a New Year

The New Year is upon us. Everyone always asks, where did the time go? The answer is, it moved along as it always does. Time doesn’t stop or slow down, it is steady and constant. We all get 24 hours in a day, seven days a week, and so on.
The problem is that most of us don’t use our time wisely. I would not volunteer the information that I am a time waster, but sadly, it is the truth. Having said that, I will promote the idea that we should all commit to better use of our time in the coming year.
Our prayer should be the same as the psalmist: “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12). Wisdom comes from God and His Word. Most of us have to work to make a living, but outside of work and even sometimes in our work, we waste time. If we could just identify the time-wasters in our lives and turn those times to the study of God’s word, how much wiser we would be.
Again, in the Psalms, we are reminded, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding” (Psalm 111:10). And in Proverbs 9:10—“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”
Wisdom is a dominate theme in the Book of Proverbs. Here are a few examples. “For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding” (Proverbs 2:10). “Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men, from men whose words are perverse” (Prov. 2:12). “Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding” (Prov. 3:13). One more from Proverbs, “Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or swerve from them” (Prov. 4:5).
A favorite passage of mine is this: “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:1-2).
Can we put our wasted time to better use? How about beginning a daily time of Bible reading this year?
Happy New Year,
Pastor Jerry