Archive for the ‘Peace’ 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

Small Blessings

Up and down go the daily temperatures. Now the weather-guessers are saying cool and rainy for several days. Through all kinds of weather; What if the sky should fall? Just as long as we’re together it doesn’t matter at all. Wait, I think that’s a song lyric from an earlier time! Can you name the song?

In other news, we made the trip to Omaha and back safely. Of course, there was the expected trip down a self-imposed detour, also known as the ‘scenic’ route. If I didn’t miss a turn and use some less traveled road, it wouldn’t be normal. The dermatologist assured me she removed all the cancer cells in my lip, so all in all, it was a good trip and a successful surgery. Thanks to everyone for the prayers and encouragement.

When I get away from our little corner of the world, and people ask where we are from, my answer is always, Ericson. They invariably ask, where is that? I think this is a good thing. After being in the big city for just a few hours, I appreciate even more the solitude we have out here in the “hills.” It is a good thing that only a few know the answer to “where is Ericson?”

In light of the blessings of the past week, here are some appropriate passages from God’s Word:
I lift up my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, The maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord watches over you—the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night (Psalm 121:1-6).

Praise the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens.
Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness.
Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre,
Praise him with tambourine and dancing, praise him with the strings and flute,
Praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals.
Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD (Psalm 150:1-6).

He is worthy of praise,
Pastor Jerry

Thoughts of Spring and Other Things

Dear friends,
It was a good week weather-wise, for a change. Pleasant temperatures with some sunshine and a few showers, should be bringing all the things we look forward to at this time of the year. The flowering trees and wild plums are in bloom, along with tulips and other spring flowers. The sounds of lawn mowers are heard now and then, and the aroma of steaks and burgers on the grill, occasionally fills the air. Ah spring!

In other news, I made the semi-annual trip to my dermatologist last Monday. She found a couple of suspicious areas, so now I’m waiting on biopsy results. The best report would be the samples are benign, but experience tells me there may be a little more surgery required. Years of sun exposure exacts a price, so take care of yourselves this summer when out in the sun.

It seems the world is becoming more anti-Christian, although this is nothing new. We are not promised an easy time in life as a result of our faith in God and Jesus Christ. Jesus said we would have trouble in this life. From John’s gospel, we read, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

These words of Psalm 92 can encourage us in these times. I have left out a few verses due to space limitations, but you can look up the complete text.

It is good to praise the LORD and make music to your name, O Most High, to proclaim your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night, for you make me glad by your deeds, O LORD;
I sing for joy at the works of your hands.
How great are your works, O LORD, how profound your thoughts!
The senseless man does not know, fools do not understand,
But you, O LORD, are exalted forever.
The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon;
planted in the house of the LORD, they will flourish in the courts of our God.
They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green,
proclaiming, “The LORD is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.” (Psalm 92:1-15).

In His great grace,
Pastor Jerry

New View

Well… it looks as if March may be going out on a mild note, although the current forecast calls for a little snow toward the end of the week. One thing is certain, if it snows, the stuff will not stay long. I think most of us would be okay with some sunshine and some drying out of the soil. Our roads and streets are, to put it mildly, A MESS! I’m all for the four seasons, but it is time for a quick transition to the next one. After traveling to a sister church to preach Sunday morning, I would even welcome some road construction if it would mean smoother travel.

Flood cleanup continues across our state and in some neighboring states. Let’s continue to pray for the victims, also for those workers who are helping with the recovery. It is not too late to volunteer, and more volunteers would be welcome, I’m sure. Also, if you are in a position to do so, monetary donations would be greatly appreciated.

After being bombarded with the destruction and death of the flooding and storms of recent days, perhaps it is time for a refocus. As I anticipate the return of warmer weather and spring, my thoughts always seem to turn to renewal and rebirth. Spring brings baby calves, foals, lambs, green grass, flowers, and warm sunshine. As the celebration of Easter, and the resurrection of the Lord Jesus draws near, those thoughts turn to spiritual rebirth and renewal. What follows are some of my favorite spring-time verses.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth… and God saw all that he had made, and it was very good (Genesis 1:1-30).
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands (Psalm 19:1).
The prophet Malachi spoke of the coming day of the Lord in this way: “But for you who revere my name… you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall (Malachi 4:2). Now there’s a picture of a spring day!

As we contemplate this theme of new birth and renewal, hear words of the Lord. “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again” (John 3:3). “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Praise be to God,
Pastor Jerry

Responding to Adversity

What can I say about our weather? It is definitely not predictable to any level of success. It appears we will be going from frozen to flooding, if we get the rain that is forecast for the middle of this week.

Have you noticed that sometimes life gets in the way of living? Several of our friends or their family members have experienced major trials over the last several weeks. Everyone goes through these things eventually, no one is exempt from them. The Bible clearly states, in this life, there will be trouble. One thing I have noticed, is those who have a close relationship with the Lord are, in general, better able to deal with these setbacks than are those without Him. This is not to say it is easy, no trial can be said to be easy.

How we respond to adversity has much to say about our where our life is anchored. If our life is tied to “things”, we are bound to be disappointed. If our hope is in people, they will ultimately disappoint us. I could give other examples, but you get my drift. However, if our life and our hope are anchored in Jesus
Christ, there is nothing in the world that can move us.

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:37-39).

The psalmist wrote, “The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”

These words from the Old Testament prophet Habakkuk, have been an encouragement to me. I pray they will encourage you, also.

Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior. (Habakkuk 3:17-18).

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

God, Our Refuge

As I begin writing this, we’re in the middle of an old-fashioned blizzard! Snow is coming down, and the wind is picking up quickly. Update: Actually, the storm didn’t last long, but it was a reminder of what can happen this time of the year.

Every time one of these storms blows through, I am glad I don’t have to deal with them up close and personal anymore. At the same time, I can relate to what livestock men and women are experiencing. I have many memories of taking care of cows and calves in bad weather.

I have learned over the years, to appreciate the instincts that the Creator provided to the livestock. Given the opportunity, the cows seem to always find protection from the storm. One of the things I learned, was not to go out in the middle of a storm and try to “help” the cows. Experience taught me to wait until the storm passed, because moving them just caused more problems in the end.

We can apply this thought to our own lives, as we encounter the storms of life. When we are in a difficult place, instead of asking God to take us out of the storm, we could ask him to get us through the storm. It could be that he has allowed the storm to strengthen our faith. If we did not experience the storm, we would not learn to trust Him.

Isaiah, praising God said, “You have been a refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat…” (Isaiah 25:4).

Forty-three verses, just in the Psalms, speak of God as a refuge. Here are a few:
The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. (Psalm 9:9). Keep me safe, O God, for in you I take refuge (16:1). Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him (34:8).

I’m reminded of the chorus of an old hymn entitled, Til the Storm Passes By;
“Til the storm passes over, till the thunder sounds no more,
Til the clouds roll forever from the sky.
Hold me fast, let me stand in the hollow of Thy hand.
Keep me safe till the storm passes by.”

In His hands,
Pastor Jerry

Encouraging Words

Who is ready for sunny, warm days, with grass and flowers? I know, we live in Nebraska where we have four seasons, and soon enough we will see spring. Never mind that, I still complain about the cold weather. When summer comes, it is sure I will complain about the heat. Human nature being what it is, I will not be surprised!

As controversy swirls around concerning the newsworthy things of the day, it is easy to get discouraged, and even depressed with the whole mess. At times like this, I am led to the scriptures for encouragement. There, I find God is in control no matter what the headlines say, and it is to Him I can turn for encouragement and comfort.

There are two of the psalms that come to mind. Psalm 62 was my go to scripture during a difficult time.
“My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him.
He alone is my rock and salvation: He is my fortress, I will never be shaken.
How long will you assault a man?
Would all of you throw him down—this leaning wall, this tottering fence?
They fully intend to topple him from his lofty place; they take delight in lies
With their mouth they bless, but in their hearts they curse.
Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from Him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God; He is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge. (Psalm 62:1-8)

Another is Psalm 34. Space doesn’t permit quoting the complete text here, so I will share the first verses, and you can read the complete Psalm in your Bibles.
“I will extol the Lord at all times; His praise will be on my lips.
My soul will boast in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt His name together.
I sought the Lord and He answered me; he delivered me from all my fears…
This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; He saved him out of all his troubles” (Psalm 34:1-6).

Praise God. He is still on the throne!
In Him,
Pastor Jerry