Archive for the ‘renewal’ Category

Seasons

I’m beginning to see faint signs of the change of seasons. Labor Day weekend signals a change, because it takes us from the busyness of summer to the more structured time of school-days and the shorter days that signal the transition from summer to fall.

Some bemoan the fact that summer is ending, not wanting the season to end, but this would eventually become tiresome, and lead to a yearning for change. I believe that those seasonal changes are designed by the Creator to provide times of birth, growth, harvest and rest.

There are seasons in our lives, just as there are seasons evident in creation. Who wants to be forever a baby, or a toddler, or even a teen-ager? Those are all seasons of life. Time marches on, and the seasons change. The important thing, is this; are you embracing the seasons of your life? We learn different things in each season of our lives. We get to the end of one chapter, and we take what we have learned into the next. Have I mentioned seasons?

Oh, I know, sometimes we would like to return to a previous time, but this is a physical impossibility. For our own well-being, we really cannot live in the past. To be healthy, we must move on, knowing God has a plan for us. Regarding living the Christian life, Paul says, “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal… (Philippians 3:13-14).

One difference in the seasons of life, compared to the seasons of nature, is that in our lives, there will most likely be more than four seasons. Birth, growth, harvest and rest, will all come over and over until we reach that final rest.

Solomon, that wisest of men, summed it up with these words: There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven. He went on to list those activities. They include birth and death, planting and harvest, weeping and laughing, mourning and dancing, war and peace (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8).

What season of life are you in? Enjoy where you are, and anticipate the future with the confidence that God is in charge.

Blessings,
Pastor Jerry

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On Pure Speech

The cooler temperatures of this past week have been welcomed and appreciated by most folks I know. From crops to livestock, pets to humans, there has been relief from the heat. There are many tasks we all have to do outdoors, and most are more enjoyable with moderate weather conditions.

Milrae’s little garden is doing well. We had our first tomatoes this week, and cucumbers and green beans came along earlier.

Now for a few thoughts on what I see as the proliferation of profanity in the everyday conversations of very many people. I know I have written on this topic before, but I’m going to do it again. I’m reminded of the story the new pastor who preached the same sermon several weeks in a row. When asked why, he said, “I’m going to keep preaching it until the people get it.”

When I hear “grown up” people, even those who claim to be Christian, speaking words in public that were taboo for years, I think, “They still don’t get it.”

The Bible tells us in many places to clean up our speech. I’ll give you some examples, so then we may, “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test” (2 Corinthians 13:5)? “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Philippians 1:27).

Jesus had this to say about our speech, relative to our heart attitude: “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart… For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45).

“But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips” (Colossians 3:8). “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be” (James 3:9-10).

My point in all this is to encourage one and all, to consider the words we speak, and those we post to social media, and ask, are these words beneficial to our hearers and readers?

Let’s work to keep our speech pure.

Blessings,
Pastor Jerry

The Answer

Dear friends,,
The busy 4th of July weekend is coming up. Perhaps we will have the pleasure of seeing some of you at the Lake.

Lately, I have been thinking about all the things going on in our world. It seems all the news is bad news, and people are asking what has gone wrong?

Maybe you have seen or heard this next statement: If Jesus is the answer, what it the question. The question is this: What is the problem with the world? According to God, sin is the reason for all the dysfunction in the world. It started in the Garden of Eden. In Genesis 3, Adam and Eve disobeyed God, and His creation was broken.

Paul reminds his readers, “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” He goes on, “Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit. The poison of vipers is on their lips. Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know. There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Romans 3:10-18). This sounds like our present day and age.

Yesterday, as I sat in church before worship began, I noticed the scripture on the banner above the organ: “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29)! Good News! The perfect, sinless Lamb of God came to be the once for all solution to a sin-sick world.

Did you get that? He is the One who came to take away all the sin of the world. He paid the penalty for every sinner. Don’t forget, however, that only those who receive the gift God offers, are saved. Sin demands payment. No one can save himself. Only Jesus Christ is qualified to be the Savior.

Again from Romans chapter 6, verse 23: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

As it is written in the Book of Acts: “Salvation is found in no one else… there is no other name by which we must be saved.

Praising Him,
Pastor Jerry

Be Wise

After I posted the word monsoon on Facebook this week, one of my friends said they heard I was stockpiling pallets of gopher wood. There is no truth to that rumor. First of all, my name is not Noah, and second, the rainbow promises God will not send another flood (sorry). We did get a fair amount of rain, though, and I’m certain at some point, we will be wanting more. One thing is sure, God will provide for our needs.

Sunday, I was privileged to preach at a church up the road. The drive to and from there was quite enjoyable. It was good to see the hills turning green, and the valleys well-watered. I am always amazed at the way God works. The scripture text for my message this week was Proverbs 4:5; “Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or swerve from them.” When I walked into the church, I picked up the bulletin and across the top were these words: Get Wisdom, Get Understanding. How cool is that?

I may as well share some highlights of that message with you. If you were there for it in person, you may skip this part.

There seems to be a lack of common sense in our world today. The Bible word would be wisdom. I believe one reason for this is that we are looking for wisdom in the wrong place. Secular thinking considers wisdom to be one of two things. One would be that wisdom is simply the art of learning how to succeed in life. The second, is that wisdom is a philosophical study of the essence of life.

Wisdom from the Bible’s perspective involves observation and instruction, but it really begins with God and one’s faith in Him as Lord and Savior. Proverbs 1:7 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” There is no lack of knowledge these days, but precious little wisdom, it seems.

From Proverbs 2:6, we read, “For the Lord gives wisdom, and from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.” And our opening text: “Get wisdom, get understanding… Wisdom is supreme; therefore, get wisdom” (Proverbs 4:5-7).

Finally, a New Testament reference to wisdom: “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5).

Be wise,
Pastor Jerry

Now I See

It is sunny, windy and warm as I write this. This is a drastic turnaround from last week. The snow is gone; the flowers have mostly recovered. The new grass seedlings in our back yard have responded well to all the moisture and the cool temperatures. As of this time, it seems spring is here for real.

Due to some corrective surgery on my eyelids this week, I have a renewed appreciation for sight and good vision. Having spent two-and- a-half days being unable to see, I have a tiny hint of the challenges of not being able to see. First, there is a sudden and complete dependency on others. Someone needs to take your hand and lead you to wherever you are going. And, it is soon discovered that your sense of direction and distance are completely gone.

Try getting up in the middle of the night blind-folded, and find the bathroom on your own. Now there is an eye-opener, so to speak. I was sure I was headed to the bathroom I normally use. As I was feeling my way along the wall, my lovely wife said, “What are you doing?”

“Going to the bathroom”, I answered, somewhat offended. “Well, you are headed into my bathroom,” she said. Sure enough. It turns out I cannot even find the bathroom without sight. I am happy to report that I now have the blinders off, and I can find my own way just fine, thank you!

Spiritual blindness is something that affects many people. The result of this is a loss of direction. The person is stuck in sin, with no sense of the right direction, or even where to turn for help. We are prone to take wrong turns, end up in places we had no intention of being, and our life is just confusion, helplessness, and hopelessness.

There is a story in the Bible of a man born blind and healed by Jesus. We read about it in John 9. The religious leaders did not believe his story. They called him in and asked how he was healed. He said Jesus did it. Disbelieving, they brought him in again, and tried to get him to deny that it was Jesus. His answer was classic. “One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”

To that I can only add, AMEN!
Pastor Jerry

On Springtime

My mom used to recite this little ditty. “Spring has sprung; the grass has riz; I wonder where the flowers is?” The answer to the question this weekend was pretty obvious; they were buried under the snow. On a positive note, if April showers bring May flowers, we should be in for a treat in the coming days.

Here in our area, we have had to deal with some inclement weather over the last few day, but it is in no way as serious or destructive as what the south and southeast has experienced. Those torrential rains and tornadic activity are much more destructive than our rain and snow. Please pray for those who suffered the loss of family members and property.

In times like this, people will question whether God knows or cares what happened. The answer is, yes He knows and cares. The harder question to answer is, why does He allow these things to occur? To answer that question, one has to go all the way back to Genesis Three.

When Adam and Eve sinned in the garden, God’s perfect world was broken. Romans 8:22 tells us, “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.” This is because of the Fall.

The Lord Jesus to expect these things: “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 12:33).

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created; things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible…, all things were created by Him and for Him, and in Him all things hold together (Colossians 1:15).

Let’s remember, even in times of trial and suffering, that He has made all good things. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17).

Storms come, but He also makes the sunshine and flowers. A good thing to remember this week. Give thanks for His goodness.

In His love,
Pastor Jerry

Harnessing the Wind

There is no fishing report this week. I hope to remedy that situation soon. Saturday, the lake community held its annual spring cleanup day. The weather was perfect for the projects that were planned, and if you were paying attention, you could see the Lord’s blessing on the day. I want to personally thank all who were involved. It takes a lot of cooperation and effort from everyone to keep everything nice for residents and visitors.

Sunday afternoon, I took a trip to northeast Holt County for a meeting of our local church association. This is an area with a recently installed wind farm. The approximately 200 wind turbines can be seen from a great distance, and were a reminder to me again, of the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of a Christian.

In the Bible, the Lord Jesus speaks of the Spirit as unseen, like the wind, but working His power in the life of a believer. That power shows up in the changed life of a person who has given his life to Christ as his Savior and Lord. Let’s see what the Bible actually says about this.

First, in relation to salvation, and eternal life. A man named Nicodemus asked about miracles Jesus had been doing. Jesus said to him, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again!”

Nicodemus has another question. “How can a man be born again when he is old?”

Jesus continues; “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit… The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit” (John 3:1-8).

Jesus, as he was about to ascend into heaven, promised to send the Holy Spirit. These are His instructions to his disciples: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised… In a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit… You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be my witnesses…” (Acts 1:4-8).

This same Holy Spirit is given to every believer. His power is our strength, much as the wind powers those wind turbines.

Amen!
Pastor Jerry