Archive for the ‘renewal’ Category

God’s Plan

Hello all,
I trust everyone had a blessed Easter Sunday. I took a trip into the heart of the Nebraska Sandhills, to fill in for a pastor who was taking a well-deserved and much needed break. Highway 20 across the northern part of our state holds many (mostly good) memories for me, and it is nice to go back now and then.

A long drive through what is called God’s Country, gives one time to reflect on God’s creative genius, but also to realize what a privilege it is to live here. I’m sure there are some who would see this as anything but an ideal situation, and I definitely would not want to live in their little corner of the world either. It is obvious that God has made something for everyone in that respect.

The observance of what we call Easter, rightly described as Resurrection Day, gives us pause to reflect on God’s eternal plan to provide payment for our sin debt. As the Bible explains, creation was in God’s own words ‘good’ and ‘very good’. Along comes Satan disguised as a serpent, to tempt Adam and Eve to disobey God’s specific instructions. As a result, all mankind was, and is born with a sin nature, and God’s perfect creation is damaged. Because God knows all things, he also knew this would happen. In his eternal wisdom, He also provided the means to pay the penalty for sin. No person could ever pay their own sin debt, much less the sins of anyone else.

In the book of Romans, it is written “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” It also states, the “wages of sin is death.” In light of this, God planned to provide a sacrifice that would satisfy His demand of payment for sin. This sacrifice would be in the person of his only Son, Jesus Christ.

“For God so loved the world (you and me), that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead proves God’s power over death, and fulfills his promise of eternal life to all who will believe.

He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life (1 John 5:12).

In His grace,
Pastor Jerry

No Signal

Another week has gone by. That elusive season we call ‘spring’ keeps teasing us with little glimpses of sunshine between the clouds. I just know that someday soon, we will experience the spring season in all its floral beauty.

Have you ever had one of those times when trying to make things right, you end up with a whole other set of problems? Last month, we purchased a new sofa-sleeper for our living room. After somewhat of a struggle, and with the help of a passing neighbor, we got the beast out of the pickup and into the living room. After unpacking it, we discovered a cut in the fabric, right in plain sight. I called the store, anticipating a refund of some sort, only to be told, “we will replace it, just bring it back and pick up another one.” So… last Monday, we returned the damaged one, loaded up the replacement, brought it home and unloaded it. By now, we had a system worked out, and it was much easier. However, I said if this one had any flaws, we were going to keep quiet about it. Enough is enough!

As I sat waiting for the church service to start, I noticed two words at the bottom of the screen at the front of the church: NO SIGNAL, meaning the projector was getting no signal from the computer. Several things came to mind at that moment. The one we can take a lesson from is this; Why is it we sometimes feel we have lost our connection to God? I can see three reasons. First, when our prayer time has been replaced by the cares of the day. Second, when we have unconfessed sin in our lives. And, third, when we fail to spend some part of the day reading and studying God’s Word.

Rather than asking why is there no word from God, the question should be, what am I doing to restore the communication that has been lost. As someone said many years ago, if you feel separated from God, guess who moved? We are told in Romans 12:12, to be persistent in prayer. As for a time alone with God, Jesus tells us to pray to God in private (Matt 6:6). And it goes without saying that God speaks through His word, if we will only read it.

Blessings to all,
Pastor Jerry

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

God’s Family Plan

Dear friends,
Summer is here! When you live near a body of water, large or small, you can be sure there will be people celebrating summer. It is not any different here at Lake Ericson. Lots of people enjoying everything summer. Boats, beverages, bonfires, barbeques, and families playing together. Ah, those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer. The Ericson 4th of July tradition continued this year, with a parade and kid’s rodeo. Some things never change, and that’s good. Thanks to those who make it happen year after year.

Thinking of families, something that has been on my mind recently is the epidemic of fractured families, and the downplaying of the importance of marriage in general. The following commentary is distilled from a recent sermon titled “Families: A Gift from God.”

The Bible is quite clear in presenting God’s plan for the family, and its importance in how His world works. We read, “The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a suitable helper for him’” (Genesis 2:18). In Genesis 1:27-28, we read, “So God created man in His own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”

A mom and a dad are always a woman and a man, no matter what the culture is promoting today. Each partner has responsibilities and gifts that complement the other. Together they are a complete unit. If one is absent, the whole system is unbalanced.

I believe the problem of broken marriages and all that goes with it, can be traced back to the abandonment of belief in God, and the complete rejection of his plan for marriage and families. However, it is not too late. Confession of our sin and repenting of it will bring a restored relationship with the Lord, and a return to his values and the resulting blessings.

Pastor Greg Laurie said this; Think of how different it would be if we just obeyed one of the Ten Commandments: “You shall not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14). It would mean that families would still be together. It would mean that children wouldn’t be conceived out of wedlock and would have a stable father figure in their lives. You can take almost every social ill in our nation and trace it to the breakdown of the family.

Praying for healthy families,
Pastor Jerry

Remembering

I’m writing this in the middle of Memorial Weekend. One item prominently displayed everywhere, is the American flag. As we reflect on the meaning of this holiday, it is appropriate for us to fly the flag. It is by the sacrifice of many Americans, that we continue to have the freedoms we experience every day.

I hope you who are reading this were among those who honored the holiday by attending a Memorial service, where the focus was on the sacrifice made by some on behalf of us all. I know that many took the time to reflect on the meaning of the holiday, but many more spent the weekend in activities that had nothing to do with it. As pastor said yesterday, “Regardless of your opinion of war, thank God for those who have served, and those who are serving to protect freedom.”

On another, yet perhaps related theme, there was a bit of drama at our house this week. Well, maybe not drama, but a good illustration of the result of ignoring signs of impending problems. For a rather long time, I have been hearing our water pump running, even when no water was being used. Being a bit of a procrastinator, I kept putting off searching for the problem. Early last week, I took a quick glance through the crawlspace door, and saw a small lake under the house.

Suddenly, the issue wasn’t that there might be a problem. The problem was real. To shorten the story, there was a leak in the line going to our yard hydrant. After disconnecting the offending pipe, and using a sump pump to remove about six inches of water from the crawl space, we are waiting to the ground to dry out a bit. After that, there will be action taken to prevent this from happening again.

Whether forgetting the reason for a national holiday, failing to deal with personal sin, or even putting off repairing a leaky pipe, there will be a day when action needs to be taken. We can only pray it is not too late to repair the damage.

Let us return to the values of yesterday, and follow God’s plan for mankind as revealed in his Word. It is not too late. If we will confess those sins, nationally and personally, he will restore us to fellowship with himself.

Thinking again,
Pastor Jerry

Milestones

It’s a beautiful Sunday morning as I write this. Across the street, the carousel sits empty, showing no signs of the graduation party held last evening for our grandson Alex, as we celebrated with friends and family from near and far. Thanks to all who helped with set-up and clean-up. Those who brought food, and those who came to partake. It was a fitting end to a wonderful day. The Lord gets the credit for providing a perfect day. Our congratulations to Alex, and to all his classmates on a job well done, with best wishes for the future.

Thus ends another chapter in our lives. It wasn’t a chapter I would have written if I was writing the book, but still, I wouldn’t want it to be any different. That is the neat thing about letting God write your life story. As we look back, we understand he always has the best plan. I’ve always said if you think following God will be boring, you are mistaken. The Christian life lived in obedience to God is nothing less than an exciting adventure. Boring? Not!

Proverbs are wise sayings, not necessarily promises, but here are a few: Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed (Proverbs 16:3); In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps (Prov. 16:9); Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails (Prov. 19:21).

There is also this promise to the those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, and have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). Notice this is for those who love him, it is not a blanket promise to all people.

We will wait to see what the Lord has in store for us, but in the meantime, the camper is waiting, and we plan to spend a little time enjoying some of our state’s attractions. But, as noted, our plans are subject to God’s will and purpose. As it says in James’ little epistle, “You do not even know what will happen tomorrow… Instead you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will do live and do this or that” (James 4:13-15).

Be blessed in all you do,
Pastor Jerry

Changes

On the topic of weather, it seems spring is finally here. I awoke this morning to flashes of light that turned out to be lightning in the east. We received no moisture from this, but even the thought of a spring shower was an improvement from what we experienced just a couple of weeks ago.

On a somber note, we had our little dog put down this week. It was sad for us, but it was a necessary thing. In the years she was part of our life, she taught me much about being faithful and trusting, as she just seemed to enjoy life in spite of her so-called handicaps.

This week will be spent preparing for a reception honoring our grandson as he graduates from high school. At times like this, one wonders where the years have gone. Alex will be moving soon to a summer job and will attend welding school in the fall. It has been an interesting period in our lives, and we’ll miss having him in our house.

As I was speaking of the spring season earlier, one more indicator of the season is the appearance of baby geese here at the lake. I so enjoy seeing them in their downy cuteness, even knowing as they get older they become somewhat of a nuisance. From a spiritual point of view, springtime brings many signs of new life and new beginnings. It always reminds me of the new life we can have as a result of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. As the grass, trees and flowers return from dormancy, we are reminded that through faith in Him, we have new life.

From God’s Word: I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again… I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit (John 3:3, 5). For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16).

Just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life… Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him (Romans 6:5, 8).

Counting our blessings,
Pastor Jerry