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Friends

Last week we took a little trip. This was the first we’ve had the camper out this year, and it was the first we have tried out the remodeling that was done earlier in the year. The twin bed set-up is way better than the old queen size, and we now have a shower curtain in place of the glass wall and door, allowing a little more room in the shower. The only real trial came when we found out the shower head wasn’t properly drained last fall and its handle had split from freezing. A little black electricians tape made it work until we got a replacement.

Our trip took us first to Mitchell, SD, where Alex is working, and will be attending school this fall. He is living in an apartment in the country south of Alexandria, SD. We spent two nights in Mitchell at the local KOA.

After leaving there, we took the “scenic route” to Wagner, SD. This was caused by poking the screen on my phone without looking, and changing our route on Google Maps. We found some roads that were somewhat less than the road less traveled. After a late lunch in Wagner, our next stop was in Atkinson, NE. Atkinson was our town for several years right after we were married, so it is familiar territory. We overnighted there in a really nice little out of the way park.

The next leg of the journey took us to the ranch home of our very long time friends. I hesitate to use the phrase “old friends.” We spent the evening, and into the early morning hours reminiscing about old times, and catching up with them and another couple with whom we’ve spent countless hours. After leaving there, we headed home, reaching Lake Ericson and home in the early evening on Thursday.

If I came away with a thought for the week, it would be this: We should relish those friendships that God has allowed us to develop over the years. There is something special about friends that know us as well as we know ourselves.

“Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another (1 John 4:11).

And, one more thing, your wife’s advice is more to be heeded, than any direction finding app on your smart phone!

Have a blessed week,
Pastor Jerry

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On Anger

This past Thursday, we celebrated our 54th wedding anniversary. There was a time, based on family history, when I didn’t think I would live 54 years, now we’ve been married that long! In other news, our community was blessed with another 1.30 inches of rain Wednesday night, into Thursday morning. Some lawns will wait awhile before being mowed again. It is easy to see that school is out and summer is upon us, as many individuals and families are coming to the lake. I’m sure it will be this way until after Labor Day, and it is great to see people enjoying Lake Ericson.

If you ever feel the need to be really frustrated, may I recommend trying to change a lawn mower tire. I mean, take the old one off the rim and put a new tire on. I will never understand why tire manufacturers wrap them up with the sidewalls touching, so that there is no way to get them to inflate! It just seems wrong to put an inner tube in a tubeless tire, but that is what I’m going to do.

After that little rant, I need to pause and reflect on God’s teaching about anger. Let’s take a look at some scripture that will do just that.

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him… Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil (Psalm 37:7-8).
Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth (Psalm 46:10).
In your anger do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent (Psalm 4:4).
A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control (Proverbs 29:11).
Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools (Ecclesiastes 7:9).

Now some New Testament verses dealing with the topic of anger: In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are angry (Ephesians 4:26). Paul goes on: Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice (Ephesians 4:31).

Finally, “for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires” (James 1:20). Good words from God’s Word.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Weather Watcher

Here we are in the sixth month of 2018, already. Can you believe the year is almost half over? The Lord has provided more rain this week, meaning we will have lawns to mow later. There were some weather advisories up for a time Friday evening, prompting the placing of some hail screen over Mama’s tomato plants and cucumbers, and some potted posies were put indoors. I have heard reports, or at least rumors of some severe weather in the area, but none here. The plants are safe, at least for the time being.

While thinking about weather related subjects, I’m reminded of that period in time, when I was starting out running the ranch on my own. In haying season, I was forever trying to outguess the weather. Was it going to rain, or would it be dry for a few days, so we could mow and bale the hay? What did the forecast say? Could I depend on those meteorologists to know what would happen? It seemed I was always on the fence about what to do.

This was about the time I started paying more attention to the Lord, and what he had to say about living life. Once, during my Bible reading time, I came across a few verses that changed my whole outlook on this matter of weather, and it affected what I was doing. Let me share those words with you.

“Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap.
As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things.
Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let not your hands be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well” (Ecclesiastes 11:4-6).

What a wakeup call! Instead of worrying about the weather, I was to plant the seed, mow the hay, put the bulls with the cows on schedule, and trust God with the results. Suddenly, I was free from worrying about things over which I had no control.

I will leave you with this: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5).

Blessings,
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

Read the Book

I guess it is monsoon season again. I’m not sure how many days it has rained lately, but it has been several. Taken together, it amounts to something over three inches. Looking out my window, the scene is almost tropical. There will be no lack of grass to mow when the rain stops, and the sun comes out. An appropriate scripture would be Psalm 147:8; “He covers the sky with clouds; he supplies the earth with rain and makes the grass grow on the hills.”

“I didn’t know that was in the Bible.” I have heard this statement from various people over the years, and I wonder how much time the person has actually spent reading it? In our current culture, there is an almost total lack of knowledge of scripture. I am reminded of an Old Testament passage from the book of Amos. Israel had rejected God’s words to the point they would hear his words no more. These are the words of the prophet, speaking for the Lord: “The days are coming,” declares the Sovereign Lord, “when I will send a famine through the land—not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord. Men will stagger from sea to sea and wander from north to east, searching for the word of the Lord, but they will not find it” (Amos 8:11-12).

I wonder if this is could happen today, or has it already begun? More and more, it seems we are seeing what is described in Paul’s second letter to Timothy: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season… For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead to suit their own desires, the will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths (2 Timothy 4:2-5).

Without faith, it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him (Hebrews 11:66).

I believe it is time to wake up, and get back in touch with God. It’s not too late, but I wonder how much longer he will allow this to continue?

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Contentment

It seems we are trapped in an endless winter. There have been a few days when the temperatures resembled spring, and then we have a week of unseasonable coolness. Actually, as I remember, there have been spring seasons like this in the past. In the “old days”, we drove cattle across country for 20 or so miles to summer pasture. I recollect some of those trips, when we were sure we would either freeze, or come down with pneumonia because of the cold rain. There are few things that make you appreciate a warm, dry place like riding horseback all day in those conditions. On second thought, I have it pretty easy these days, so I’ll quit complaining about the weather.

We have been enjoying life at the lake. The flowering trees and shrubs are in full bloom. The grass is green, and our back yard is populated with all kinds of birds. Some are just passing through, and others will be summer residents. We have several varieties of orioles and finches, and have enjoyed the presence of a pair of ruby-throated hummingbirds. All this brings a renewed appreciation, and sense of thankfulness for God’s creation. On that note, I’ll just share some thoughts from God’s word.

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? (Matthew 6:26).

The apostle Paul had this to say about contentment in life: “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 want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength… And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 11-13, 19).

In other words, God is able to provide for our needs, just as he cares for the birds, if we will only trust him. His storehouse of riches is inexhaustible, but he is not bound to give us everything we want. There is a great difference between want and need, and his promise is to meet our needs.

In His caring hands,
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