Archive for the ‘Salt and Light’ Category

Hot or Cold?

The seasons continue to be in transition. Warmer days have returned for a while, but leaves are turning and beginning to fall. Some of the birds are starting to gather in larger flocks, in preparation for the fall migration.

Maybe it was a senior moment, or just absent-mindedness, but after I turned on the tap and stood waiting for hot water, I soon realized the water was taking a lot longer to arrive at the faucet than normal. It was then I saw that I had turned on the cold tap, instead of the hot. The lesson here is, no matter how long you wait, hot water will not flow through a cold water faucet.

If you are expecting hot water, cold will just not do. If you pick up a salt shaker and get sugar, the results are not the same. Here are some Bible references that illustrate the same basic truth, but in a spiritual context.

James, speaking of the need to control our tongues, had this to say: With the tongue we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water. (James 3:9-12).

In a different illustration, Jesus referred to false teachers in this way: By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit…. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. (Matthew 7:16-20).

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17).

The lesson for us as Christians is this; If we claim the name of Christ, Christlikeness should flow from us naturally. It follows that our words and actions will be in direct contrast with those who are not genuine Christians.

As Christians, are we hot or cold? That is the question.

Blessings,
Pastor Jerry

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Little Towns on Back Roads

Happy Labor Day. It was just four years ago that we moved our house to Lake Ericson. How time flies, it seems like yesterday.

Last Monday, we drove home from our weekend in Hershey, Nebraska. We traveled down Highway 30, instead of the Interstate. It was kind of a relaxing drive compared to good old I-80. As I mentioned last week, we had a great time meeting new friends and sharing the music and message. On our return trip, we drove through some towns that don’t get much traffic anymore, but people are living there who need to hear about Jesus.

According to the signs, and the billboards, every one of those little towns has one or more churches. I know that some of those churches are proclaiming God’s word as it is written, but I am also convinced that some are preaching a gospel that is not related to the saving gospel message of Jesus Christ.

Sadly, the gospel being preached in many places, both large and small, has very little to do with salvation from sin and its penalty. It seems I keep returning to this topic much more than I would prefer, but I know I will be held responsible to God for failing to proclaim His truth. James had this to say to those who would teach. “Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly” (James 3:1).

I return to the letter written by Jude, to believers in one or more churches. He writes this: Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord” (Jude 3-4).

Look around. Read that last sentence from Jude again. How many ‘churches’ do you know, whose leaders are leading in that direction? There are still godly men and women who are standing firm on the Word of God. Follow them, not the wolves in sheep’s clothing.

Contending for the faith,
Pastor Jerry

Stand for the Truth

Last week it seemed somehow we skipped fall, and went right into winter. Those balmy Indian Summer days evaporated into cold and snow. I know, we haven’t had any great amount of snow, but really, I had hoped for a longer time of nice weather. One thing is for sure, I am not in control of the weather!

We got to go back to our old neighborhood church this past Sunday. I was invited to preach in the absence of their regular pulpit supply person. If you are so inclined, you might pray that little congregation could soon get a new pastor. There is much talk about reaching rural America with the gospel, and that church goes beyond most folks’ concept of what is rural. Sybrant Community Church is soon to celebrate its 100th year as a church. That this church is still in existence,qq is a testament to the faithfulness of God to His people. It is a gospel witness in that community.

Teachers of another gospel, one that is completely different from that of Jesus and His apostles, have been around since the beginning of Christianity. Now, it seems to me that we are witnessing these false teachers in increasing numbers. As many contemporary churches are trying to accommodate all the unbiblical ideas and even heretical teaching, in an attempt to “reach more people”, the gospel is being watered down and even ignored. Many people are being led away from the truth by these people.

The apostle Paul had harsh words for the church in Galatia. He wrote, “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—which is really no gospel at all” (Galatians 1:6-7).

“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). “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine…. They will turn their ears from the truth and turn aside to myths” (2 Timothy 2:2-4).

Folks, that time is here. Pray for, and join with those who proclaim the truth of God’s Word. Spiritual warfare is real.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

A Turning Point

Dear friends,
Are you excited about the New Year? To me, it is good to think of a new year as an opportunity to make some course corrections, and to reevaluate where I am headed. However, I think at this point I am more motivated by the thought that spring is coming. I’m just not dealing with the cold this winter, and yes, I know this hasn’t been a particularly hard winter.
In our Sunday school lesson this week, it was suggested that an encounter with Jesus Christ is a turning point; a new beginning. When a person becomes a Christian, he or she has a change in priorities. In fact, a true conversion experience creates change.
In the passage of scripture known as the Beatitudes, Jesus clearly identified the characteristics He expects His followers to exhibit. They are not options; they are Jesus’ expectations for all His followers.
There are eight of these characteristics, and they are found in Matthew 5:1-16.
The poor in spirit: True happiness comes when we realize we are spiritually bankrupt and must rely on God’s strength. Those who mourn: refers to those who have true sorrow for our sins, which leads to repentance. The gentle: This implies humility and trust in God rather than a self-centered attitude. Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness: Those who yearn for true justice, personal righteousness, and salvation.
The merciful: The word merciful implies generosity, compassion, and forgiveness. It is second nature for those who have experienced God’s mercy to show the same mercy to others. The pure in heart: Purity of heart is single-minded devotion to God. The pure will see God and experience intimate fellowship with Him. The peacemakers: Peace describes a state of wholeness and completeness in our relationship with God and all others. Those who seek to make peace do the work of God and will be called sons of God.
Finally, the persecuted: It is an inevitable fact of life that true followers of Christ will be persecuted. Those who are persecuted because they serve Christ can rejoice, because their reward is great in heaven.
Those who possess a genuine Christian character are going to make a difference in the world. As salt, which both flavors and preserves, and as lights shining from a hilltop, they will have an impact on the culture in which they live.
Blessings,
Pastor Jerry

Going Home

I’m writing this morning from Livermore, Colorado. We have had a good visit with friends, and later today, we will visit my brother and sister-in-law further down the road. We hope to return to Ericson Tuesday or Wednesday. That will depend on the weather, and it sounds as if Tuesday might be the day to head back home.

Thinking of going home, early this morning I was remembering a time several years ago when a cow of ours somehow got across the fence, and into an adjoining pasture. I didn’t know she was gone until the next morning when she was standing on the wrong side of the fence, wanting to get back into her home territory.

Knowing a little about bovine behavior, I figured she wasn’t welcome in the other group of cows, and she decided home wasn’t too bad. (I’m not too sure cows make too many conscious decisions, but who knows?)

Scripture reminds us Christians that we are aliens and strangers in a foreign land. One version of the Bible calls us strangers and temporary residents. We are in this world, but our true home is heaven. Many times, we don’t feel welcome in our world, and long for our heavenly home. The difference between us and a stray cow is that we are placed in this world by the Lord, and he expects us to remain here and influence our world on his behalf until he calls us home.

The apostle Paul, in his letter to the Philippians, told of his desire to go to be with the Lord. He wrote, “I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body” (Philippians 1:23-24). His desire was to be in heaven, but he also knew the Lord wanted him to stay in this world until his work for the Lord was completed.

At times the world around us seems to be moving further away from any notion of a sovereign God, and we, like Paul, sometimes desire to be at home with the Lord, but again, he has left us here to be salt and light to a dark world. And, when our work here is done, rest assured, he will take us to that home he has promised us.

Blessings,
Pastor Jerry