Archive for the ‘thanksgiving’ Category

Cold Memories

A week ago, it was 25 below zero. It has been some time since it was that cold. I remember, just before Christmas in 1983, we had a cold spell that stayed well into January. On top of that, we had a lot of snow that drifted almost every day. It was a test for men, machines and livestock. I’m glad I don’t have to face that again, and I pray for those who do.

This sticks in my mind, partly because of what happened on that Christmas eve. Our neighbors had gone Christmas shopping with their young kids, and made it back to the school house, which was about a half-mile west of our place. It was 20 below zero with a vicious wind-chill. I don’t remember exactly how, but I was able to get in touch by phone with them and offered to bring them to our house. I took the tractor and snow-blower and went to get them. The wind was filling our tracks with snow as fast as we made them, but we made it safely. Our two families then spent all night together.

At 1:00 AM, I woke to find the power had gone off, and went to the shop to get a tractor to power our generator, only to find the tractor’s alternator had a bad bearing. Neighbor Dave held the light and I changed that bearing in record time. Did I mention it was very cold that night? We did get the stand-by generator connected and stayed warm the rest of the night. It was definitely a Christmas to remember. Others have their own memories of that winter.

In those years on the ranch, as I look back, there were many times things worked for good in the middle of some really stressful times. Each one was a reminder of God’s faithfulness to his people, even when they don’t immediately recognize it.

The Psalms speak much of the faithfulness of God. Here are some verses:
“I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations (Psalm 89:1). The heavens praise your wonders, O Lord, your faithfulness too, in the assembly of the holy ones (Psalm 89:5).

“For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations (Psalm 100:5).

Happy New Year,
Pastor Jerry

Being Thankful

Rain! Who would have guessed we would have received so much rain in late November? Since I had taken the rain gauges inside for the winter, I don’t have an accurate measurement. All I know, is, I am very glad we didn’t get that much precipitation in the form of snow.

As we celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, let me share some things I am thankful for. First of all, I am thankful for still being here to write these columns. In relation to that, I thank the Lord for bringing me though my medical crisis back in August. I believe I am almost back to normal. I am reminded in writing this that we too often take good health for granted. It only takes a moment for that to change in a big way. I am now more aware of the need to thank God for each new day; another day to be with family, another day to serve Him.

The topic of thanksgiving, I believe, should always turn our thoughts toward God, who provides for our every need. After all, He is our Provider, the Giver of every good gift. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like the shifting shadows” (James 1:17).

“For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving” (1 Timothy 4:4). Regarding our tendency to worry about the future: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6).

The Psalms have much to say concerning being thankful to the Lord. Here are a few verses: “I will praise God’s name in song and glorify Him with thanksgiving” (Psalm 69:30). “Let us come before Him with thanksgiving and extol Him with music and song” (Psalm 100:4). “Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; make music to our God on the harp” (Psalm 147:7).

Finally, the one thing for which we are eternally thankful, the gift of salvation through faith in Christ. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8). “Thanks be to God for His indescribable Gift” (2 Corinthians 9:15)!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone,
Pastor Jerry

On Contentment

After a hot weekend, it has cooled off a bit this morning. With the humidity being a little lower, maybe it will be somewhat more bearable. As usual, we need the warmth for the growing crops, and for the hay to cure. The problem is, everybody wants it perfect for their own pet project.

We could take a lesson from the apostle Paul, who said he had learned to be content in every circumstance. There is a lesson in this for all of us. Let’s look. Paul was thanking the church at Philippi for supporting him in some way. He wrote, “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:11-13).

Paul gave similar instructions to Timothy, speaking to the issue of contentment in this way: “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that” (1 Timothy 6:6-8).

Paul goes further a few verses later in words that could probably apply to everyone in America:

“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and be willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life” (1 Timothy 6:17-19).

The writer of Hebrews has similar advice: “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you’” (Hebrews 13:5).

All our “things” are on loan from God. Let’s be content with what we have.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Real Peace

Here is a brief update from last week. The problem with the pickup was an injector that stuck open. It was a somewhat easy and relatively inexpensive fix. We’re thankful it wasn’t a major breakdown.

Sunday evening, we were at the lake house. I was sitting with a pen and yellow pad, looking out the window and thinking of a topic for this column. There was no wind, and the lake was as smooth as glass. It was just quiet and still, and it made me feel at peace.

Here are a few of my thoughts from this. There is much in the world that is far from peaceful and quiet, but for a short time, in that spot, there seemed to be real peace. In life most people are seeking peace of some kind. It may be that there would be peace between nations, that there would be no more war. Sometimes it is just that we would be at peace in our relationships with other people, or maybe that the battles within ourselves would cease.

Peace, as described in the Bible, begins with the knowledge of God. Isaiah, says of those without God: “The way of peace they do not know” (Isaiah 59:7). Paul quotes this verse in Romans 3, as he describes sinners (Romans 3:10-18).

In his letter to the Philippians, Paul tells those who have placed their trust in Jesus to be anxious about nothing, to bring their concerns and burdens to the Lord, and “The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7).

The peaceful scene at the lake won’t last. Storms will come and the wind will make waves upon the water. We are promised trials and tribulation in this world, but the one who is anchored in the Lord will have peace in the midst of the storm.

As children of God, we can say with confidence, “I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” (Psalm 4:8).

I close this week with these words from 2 Thessalonians 3:16. “Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.”

Held in His hands,
Pastor Jerry

Lesson From a Leper

Dear readers.

Have you enjoyed these warmer days? Me, too. I suspect we had better appreciate them, because it is a long time until spring weather returns.

We’ve been working in the house this past week, getting some new cabinets installed in the kitchen. I’m looking forward to the day I can finally say, “it is finished,” and I can sit down, look out the window and really enjoy the view. Now for some thoughts on Thanks Giving.

In Luke’s gospel, we read a story about ten men with leprosy, who encounter Jesus. They called out to Him, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us.” He told them to go and show themselves to the priests, and as they went, they were healed.

We are told that one of them, when he saw that he was healed, came back, threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked Him. It was noted in the text that he was even a Samaritan.

Jesus then asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? The only one to come and thank me is this foreigner.” Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.” (Luke 17:11-19)

What made the one different? He noticed.

All ten were healed, but this Samaritan noticed. He returned to Jesus to give thanks for his healing. It’s hard not to say something, when something spectacular has happened.

Genuine thanksgiving is spontaneous, even involuntary—you recognize you have been blessed and can’t help but share your joy through thanksgiving.

By returning to Jesus, he is given a second gift. He leaves Jesus not only healed but also blessed in his own recognition of healing, blessed at being drawn into a deeper relationship with the one he thanks, blessed at hearing himself commended for having great faith.

That’s the way thanks-giving always works—in giving thanks for a gift given, we are blessed again.

Be grateful for blessings. That is called gratitude.

Be thankful, that is, give thanks for blessings of all sizes.

Notice your blessings. For those with eyes to see, God’s blessings are all around us. And as we give thanks for them, we notice even more and are blessed over and over.

In this season of Thanksgiving, are you thanking the Lord for His many blessings? After all, He is the giver of every good and perfect gift (James 1:17).

Praise Him,

Pastor Jerry

True Freedom

Vacation is officially over. I have to admit, taking those three
Sundays off from my preaching duties was refreshing. However, the rest
of the time seemed a lot like a normal routine. Even so, we enjoyed
our trip out west, and the opportunity to see some things beyond our
regular circle of vision.

We intend to take some short (two or three day) sight-seeing trips
around the great state of Nebraska. Maybe we’ll even return to some of
the places we missed in my hurry to get back home. Now that we are
somewhat accustomed to traveling together in a relatively small space,
it should be easier, and even more fun!

On Friday, this week, we celebrate our country’s adoption of the
Declaration of Independence 238 years ago. On this day, we should also
thank God for allowing us to be born in a land that gives us the many
freedoms that others in the world can only wish for. Freedom also
brings responsibility. As citizens of the United States of America, we
are free to live pretty much as we want to, within the boundaries of
the law.

Christians should be thankful for their dependence on the Lord. In
giving Him control of our lives, we are provided with freedom from
sin, and the freedom to live our lives without fear for our eternal
future. It has been said that once we place our faith in Jesus for our
salvation and submit to his Lordship, we can do anything we want, as
long as it is within His will.

We are not under the law as given in the Old Testament, Christ died
to fulfill the Law. The Law, then, becomes our guide for living as His
followers. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm,
then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of
slavery” (Galatians 5:1). “Live as free men, but do not use your
freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God” (1 Peter
2:16).

The previous verses apply to Christian living, but it seems to me that
they should apply to citizens of the greatest country in the world,
with respect to her laws.

Let us give thanks, for our country and to our Lord, as we remain
loyal and obedient to both. This, I believe, should be how we live
every day.

Free in Christ,
Pastor Jerry

Windshield Time

Hello everyone,
I’m writing this morning from Livermore, Colorado. We arrived here Sunday afternoon and will spend a few days with our friends Ken and Dorothy. Yes, we are on vacation. We left home Friday with a new (to us) camper, driving into a stiff south breeze. We stayed overnight in Kearney. It was not a long distance from home, but with a late start and a couple of detours, it was the best we could do. I now understand those wind advisories for high profile vehicles.

Saturday, we headed west with a strong south wind at our side. I had increased the air pressure in the rear pickup tires, so the rig wasn’t driving as squirrely as the day before. Later in the day, the wind switched to the northwest at the same velocity. This gave me some variety in the driving experience. What with driving in the wind, and setting up the camper a couple of times in the space of an hour, the vacation began look like work, only with different scenery.

Our second night was spent in Pine Bluffs, Wyoming. I woke up feeling a bit chilly, so I checked the weather report and found it was 36 degrees outside. Now I know the camper furnace works.

Of the two RV parks we’ve stayed in, one was just off the interstate, and the other was about 500 yards from the railroad tracks. I wondered if the trains ran all night, but between the time I went to sleep and 4 AM, I didn’t hear any. It’s just an observation, but I wonder if these parks are located where normal people don’t want to live?I don’t have any great insight into spiritual matters this week, but it is good to get away and view God’s creation from a different window.

I’ll close with these verses from Psalm 96:1-6:
“Sing to the Lord a new song:
sing to the Lord all the earth.
Sing to the Lord, praise His name;
proclaim His salvation day after day.
Declare His glory among the nations.
His marvelous deeds among all peoples.
For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise;
He is to be feared above all gods.
For all the gods of the nations are idols,
But the Lord made the heavens.
Splendor and majesty are before Him;
Strength and glory are in His sanctuary.”
Seeing His glory,
Pastor Jerry