Archive for the ‘Persecution’ Category

Look to Jesus

Dear friends,

My trusty laptop has decided to take a vacation this week. I will be taking it to the repair shop Monday, but for now I’m using an older one that doesn’t have all the perks I’m used to. This will be a re-learning experience, I am sure. We managed to get a little rain last week. As usual, we didn’t get the amount we thought we needed, but we are thankful for every drop.

This month, I will have the blessing of sharing God’s word with three different churches. In light of the ongoing news from Afghanistan, I believe it is proper to share a thought or two from the message I am preaching.

It is no secret that the Taliban there in Afghanistan, and other places around the world, are bent on destroying Christianity. It is in their teaching that followers of Jesus Christ are to be killed, as well as anyone who doesn’t submit to their religion. The persecution of Christians in that part of the world is real, and it is going on now. However, the Bible tells us God is just and righteous, and He will have the final say.

The apostle Paul wrote this to the persecuted church in Thessalonica, “All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering, God is just. He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you.

With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling… We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him” (2 Thessalonians 1:5-12).

Look to Jesus,

Pastor Jerry

Stand With Israel

Hello friends and family,

This past week has been pleasant. We didn’t see any of those extremely hot days, and it has cooled nicely at night. We could certainly use a nice rain or two, but since we aren’t in control of that, we’ll have to ask the One who is to send us some.

I hurt my shoulder in a strange way last week. It happened as I was lying down for my afternoon nap. I’m chalking it up to the fragility of old age, but whatever the cause it was painful. After a trip to the chiropractor on Monday, it is much better, thank you.

As we watch and listen to the changing culture, I am reminded of a statement I heard many years ago relating to the question of why America isn’t mentioned in Bible prophecy. The answer given was this; America will cease to be a force for Christianity. It certainly appears that we are headed in that direction today. It is a fact that Christianity is growing rapidly in many areas of the world, while the western world becomes more secularized. Here in our country, Christian voices are being shut down, while the godless become more and more vocal.

We know from Scripture that Israel will be restored to fellowship with God as His chosen people. The Gentile world is warned that disregard for Israel will be judged and punished. It is also clear that a set number of Gentiles (non-Jews) will become followers of God before Jesus returns.

God said to Abram (later named Abraham), “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless you and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:2-3). As I see some in our government calling for boycotting Israel, I want to say, “you don’t know what you are getting yourselves into.”

God withdrew His blessing from Israel because of their disobedience, and gave Gentile believers the responsibility for sharing God’s plan of salvation, but He will restore the Jews to their intended position as His chosen. We must be faithful to stand for the truth of the gospel, and to defend Israel until the Lord returns to take us all to glory.

For His glory,

Pastor Jerry

Stay the Course

Hello friends,
We’ve had our share of cloudy weather lately, but Saturday got back to some sunshine. The weekends are getting busier, as people begin to enjoy summer at the lake. We are seeing increasing numbers of campers, and camping spaces may be already reserved for some weekends.

The garden is doing well after a few frosty mornings. The seeds that were planted have sprouted, and are breaking through the soil. After having the one zucchini damaged a bit by frost, we have three new ones to supplement it. If they all do well, we may be leaving squash in cars and on doorsteps. I will be attempting to set up an automatic watering system for the garden, so that we can take time for some short camping trips.

As I read and listen to my media sources, it is becoming more evident that there is increasing animosity toward those who would claim belief in the God of the Bible. We are shouted down in the public square, on social media, and even in some so-called religious circles. I believe we are seeing the fulfillment of the words of Jesus, as he told of a time when Christians would be persecuted and even killed for their faith. Persecution for God’s people is not new. It has been around for centuries, but in increasing measure as far as we in America are concerned.

Jesus spoke these words to His followers; “Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also… They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me” (John 15:20-21).

Paul’s words to Timothy apply to Christians today: “Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and imposters will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you have learned it” (2 Timothy 3:12-14).

May we be able to say with Paul on the day of judgment, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7). And finally, to hear the Savior say, “Well done, good and faithful servant (Matthew 25:21)!

For Him,
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

Our Message

Dear friends,
First, a few words about the weather. Warmer. Not much snow. Spring is near. The realization came to me this week that Alex graduates from High School in just a couple of months. It makes me wonder where the time went.

In our current culture, and on a larger scale, the world in general is becoming more anti-Christian. There is no concept of sin, or of a holy God who will judge the world. To the modern way of thinking, there is no sin, it is just that mistakes are made.

In all the talk about the problems of our world, there is little to no talk of a sin problem, which is the root cause of many of the headline stories in the news. Where are the ones will proclaim the truth? There is a great need for the gospel to be preached in every corner of the world, starting with wherever we may find people without hope, without a future, without a reason for living. Usually, in your own family, or neighborhood you will find them.

Here is my challenge to my fellow believers: We may know people who need the Lord, but we don’t know what to say, or how to say it. Consider this; if we are really thinking about what we say, any conversation can lead to a discussion of spiritual matters. The conversation of the Christian should be with a view to lead people to examine the moral and spiritual truths of the Bible.

I believe too many Christians are trying to find a way to get along with those of other religions, or of no religion, rather than showing them the true and living Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

These are our instructions: “Therefore go and make disciples” (Matthew 28:19). “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season” (1 Timothy 4:2).

This is our message. Jesus died for the sins of all (John 3:16). Salvation is found in no one else (Acts 4:12). By grace through faith we are saved (Ephesians 2:8). He is God; “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30). Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8).

Finally, always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. 1 Peter 3:15).

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Memorial Stones

Dear Readers,
The cool weather continues for us. Along with it came some beneficial rains, for which we are very thankful. My bout with shingles is winding down. For this I am thankful also. Next time someone mentions getting a preventive inoculation, I will be first in line! I will be posting this early Monday morning, so any comments I might have concerning the solar eclipse will wait until next week.
I’ve been thinking about those who seem bent on removing anything that would remind Americans of their national identity and inheritance. There are several lines of conversation, or commentary that come from this behavior.
One truth from the lessons of history is that if a people wanted to conquer a civilization, they would remove all the landmarks and other reminders of their history and culture. In our day, we have seen ISIS destroying Christian landmarks, and in our country currently, there is a movement to remove reminders of our past.
When the children of Israel were entering the Promised Land, when the priests, who were carrying the ark of the covenant, stepped into the Jordan river, the water stopped flowing, so that they could cross on dry ground. After reaching the other side, they were instructed to set up stones as a memorial. Joshua told the people that they were setting up the stones as a permanent memorial, so that when their children asked the question, “What are these stones”, they could answer with a lesson from Israel’s history.
These are the words of the Lord, given through Joshua to the people: “In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cutoff before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever” (Joshua 4:6-7).
Sadly, after Joshua passed from the scene, Israel forgot her past, and began to be influenced by her pagan neighbors. The result of this was that God judged Israel and sent her into exile for seventy years. I fear America may be on a similar path. We who care about the rich history of our country need to pray fervently that God would intervene and put her back on the straight way.
Praying for America,
Pastor Jerry

Rough Water

I had a new experience this week. I made a short journey down the Cedar River by kayak. I’m pretty sure I won’t be repeating that journey for a while. I now know that mode of river travel is for the young, as it obviously takes a bit more conditioning than I have. I don’t plan to abandon the kayak altogether, but I will definitely stay on the calm, still water for now.

Thinking about this experience reminds me of life. It is much easier going when things are calm and still, than dealing with strong currents and storms. There is another lesson here, and it is this; It is the storms that help us find our weaknesses and give us insight into changes we need to make.

God uses those storms for his good purpose in our lives. Paul, as he wrote to the believers in Rome, said this: “And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering brings perseverance, perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Romans 5:2-4).

James wrote, “the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:3-4).

Here is a reminder; if anyone should tell you that placing your faith in Jesus Christ will end all your problems, don’t believe it! It is a lie from the devil. The believer will encounter trials. It is part of being a follower of Jesus. He said to his disciples, “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).

As we persevere through those storms, and finally finish the race He has marked out for us, we will hear these comforting words; “Well done, good and faithful servant!”

Keep paddling, wear your life jacket, and don’t be afraid of a little rough water!
Pastor Jerry

Persecution: A Blessing?

Sunday, I had the pleasure of preaching at two small rural churches. I was helping out a fellow pastor, who recently had surgery. The churches are about a 40-minute drive from each other. It is good to see small congregations in out-of-the-way places contending for the faith (Jude 3).

This week, as we contemplate the events leading up to the death, burial, resurrection of our Lord, here are some thoughts related to our time.

“The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons” (1 Timothy 4:1). “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great numbers of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear” (2 Timothy 4:3).

In our day, it seems anytime Christians speak or act in a way that reflects Jesus Christ, they are criticized by many. Such as, when the Vice President of the U.S. makes a commitment to never be alone with any woman other than his wife, and is verbally attacked by the liberal media. Anyone who points out that God calls sexual immorality sin, is labeled intolerant, or judgmental. If anyone holds to biblical values and morality, they are shouted down or persecuted in some way. If we say Jesus is the only way to a relationship with God, we are called narrow minded and intolerant.

These are the words of Jesus. “All men will hate you because of me” (Matthew 10:22; Mark 13:13). “Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their fathers treated the prophets” (Luke 6:23).

There is good news! Godless men may accuse and abuse us, but victory is ours through the power of God, who raised Jesus from the dead! Recall the words of Peter and John, when commanded not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus: “Judge for yourself whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:19-20).

Truth,
Pastor Jerry

Standing Firm

I am the eternal optimist, and I don’t want to be seen as a doomsday prophet, but the world is becoming more and more hostile to Christian beliefs and thinking. We are not to be surprised, because the Bible tells us this will happen. The world hates Christians, just as it hated Christ. It is happening today.

Every day, I am reminded of the words of Jesus in John, chapter 15, where Jesus speaks to his disciples, warning them of trials to come: “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world…that is why the world hates you” (John 15:18-19).

The culture would suppress Christian thought and belief, and demand we not voice our views in public. Here is a recent quote from Dr. Albert Mohler: “These are days that will require courage, conviction, and clarity of vision. We are in a fight for the most basic liberties God has given humanity, every single one of us, made in his image. Religious liberty is being redefined as mere freedom of worship, but it will not long survive if it is reduced to a private sphere with no public voice. The very freedom to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ is at stake, and thus so is the liberty of every American. Human rights and human dignity are temporary abstractions if they are severed from their reality as gifts of the Creator. The eclipse of Christian truth will lead inevitably to a tragic loss of human dignity. If we lose religious liberty, all other liberties will be lost, one by one.”

The time has come to take a stand for Christ. Silence is not an option for the true believer.

Standing on the Word,
Pastor Jerry

No Middle Ground

Those little showers keep coming, the grass keeps growing, and we mow. This time of the year, I begin to eagerly anticipate putting the lawn mower in storage for winter.

Now for some commentary on the time in which we live. Much of what I read and hear these days from Christian leaders is this; Our nation and the culture in general is becoming more and more secular. As Christian values and beliefs are being pushed into the background, believers must prepare to take a stand for Christ and the Bible. There can be no compromise, there will be no middle ground.

The Bible speaks plainly about the times in which we live: “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such things come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron… Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourselves to be godly” (1 Timothy 4:1-7).

“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love… lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God…” (2 Timothy 3:1-5).

What are we to do? “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:23-25).

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ” (Colossians 2:6-8).

This is something I read this week. “What we need above all in the church today is for each Christian to have a profound personal knowledge and experience of God himself and a deep knowledge of the Scriptures as his authoritative Word.” (Impossible People by Os Guinness).

Stand firm,
Pastor Jerry