Archive for the ‘Witness’ Category

Just the Facts

Dear friends,
And the Covid19 saga continues. As I begin this writing project, it is Thursday afternoon. What else is one to do when all other entertainment options are exhausted, and outside is freezing mist? This morning, the feral cat fell down when it came to the steps on our deck. Can you say icy? Note: 60 degrees on Sunday.

After much discussion with myself and with others, I have decided to pause my cardiac rehab program for the immediate future. I have made much progress, but wisdom says don’t take chances with this virus. So, for the time being, we will be limiting our travel to getting the mail each day.

A recent devotional from Pastor Rick Warren reminded me of the importance of watching our words and speaking the truth. Pastor Rick says not everything we hear is true. He quotes Proverbs 14:15… “The gullible believe anything they’re told; the prudent sift and weigh every word” (The Message). I would like to expand on his thoughts.

Much of what is presented as truth on the various media platforms is very far from the truth. Scripture reminds us over and over of the importance of speaking and writing the truth. I see well-meaning people, many of them Christians, who share things they see on the internet without taking the time to find out whether or not they are true.

Jesus said, “Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one” (Matthew 5:37). James said this to his fellow believers, “Above all my brothers and sisters, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. But let your “yes” mean “yes,” and your “no” mean “no,” so that you won’t fall under judgment” (James 5:12). I quote a character in a radio drama from many years ago, “Just the facts, Ma’am.”

All that is asked of us is that we stick to the facts, and be discerning in what we read, hear, and share. As Rick Warren says, “As disciples of Jesus, we should be people of facts.” He goes on; “God has given you everything you need to be wise and prudent in a crisis. You have his Word, and the Holy Spirit to give you discernment.” Watch what you post and share. Seek truth; speak truth.

Love in Christ,
Pastor Jerry

Fear Not

Hello friends,
It has been an interesting week, to say the least. On a personal note, I saw the cardiac surgeon for a checkup. He says everything looks good, and to continue rehab. The weather continues to follow the pattern we have come to expect for the month of March.

Our topic for the week will be the Covid19 virus. A lot of people have written on this topic, but all have different platforms and different readers. So, here are my thoughts on the virus pandemic, and what our response should be from a biblical perspective.

As Christians, our view of this should be one of dependence on God’s word and His promises. Along with that, we must point people to Jesus. In the face of uncertainty, our message is that He is the One in whom we trust, not just for here and now, but for eternity.

Jesus had these words for those concerned with the future as recorded in Luke’s gospel. “I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has the power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him” (Luke 12:4-5). He has more to say beginning in verse 22; “Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear… Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?” (verses 22-26).

The promise of God is that those who trust Jesus for their eternal salvation will never be taken from Him. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?… “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels or demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, (including viruses), will be able separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35-39). Salvation is found in no one else, not governments, scientists, or political leaders.

Trusting Him completely,
Pastor Jerry

Trusting Him

Dear friends,
My computer lost several of your email addresses last week, so if you did not receive the weekly newsletter, I apologize. I discovered this after sending out last week’s article. I have since restored those and they are in a separate file, in case it happens again. If you fail to receive the emails, they are always available on Facebook and at sandhillspastor.com.

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned having some medical tests. The results are in, and I will be having what is called CABG, better known as bypass surgery. After having a heart cath last Tuesday, my cardiologist said stents were not an option. This procedure will take place Monday, February 10. Prayers will be appreciated. I hesitate to share the following, but you who read these weekly messages are like family to me, so here goes…

In all the testing, which included much poking, prodding, ultra-sounding, CT scanning, etc., I have been given a new appreciation for Psalm 139:13-14; “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful; I know that full well.” I have gotten a glimpse into the wonder of God’s creation, and it is a wonderful thing.

I am also thankful He has equipped other wonderfully created persons to repair our wonderfully created bodies as needed. I have complete trust in my doctors, but most importantly, I have complete faith and trust in the One who saved me through His Son Jesus Christ.

My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him
He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will never be shaken. (Psalm 62:1-2)

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. (Habakkuk 3:17-18)

That’s all for this week. God willing, I will be back next week. Until then I am…

In His grip,
Pastor Jerry

Age Discrimination?

Hello friends,
Another week has rolled around; time for another bit of news and views from our corner of the world. The weather continues to be an ever-changing topic of discussion, with each day bringing something different. Last week we had rain, snow, ice and wind in varying degrees, but little to no actual sunshine. On a personal note, the ultrasound of my leg showed nothing that would interfere with surgery on my foot. The stress test apparently showed areas of concern, but I didn’t get to see the cardio doctor yet. My Wednesday appointment last week was canceled by guess what; icy road conditions! It has been rescheduled for this Wednesday. More on that next week.

Here is a headline that caught my attention this last week; “Church asks older members to go away.” What? It seems a church in Minnesota has decided to close and restructure, in an attempt to counter a decline in membership. It will open again with an emphasis on drawing in a younger congregation. Current members are being asked to “wait 15 to 18 months before returning to worship there.”

Who, then, will teach the new group of attenders the truths of scripture, and how to apply the gospel to life? In his letter to Titus, a young pastor, the apostle Paul stresses the importance of older Christians in the church body.

“You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine. Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.
Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.
Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. in everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned…” (Titus 2:1-8).

The church needs people of all ages, working together as a witness to a lost world, as they “contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.”

For Truth,
Pastor Jerry

Prepare Him Room

Hello friends,
We awoke this Sunday morning to several inches of new snow on the ground. We drove to Niobrara Saturday, to meet and have lunch with Alex, and except for being a bit chilly, it was a nice day. Last week, we made a trip to Grand Island to get a redo on a tire repair. We had it fixed a couple of weeks ago, but it was still losing air pressure. When the tire was fixed, the shop manager handed me the tire tester that I had left on the hood. The Lord looks out for the forgetful, too!

Speaking of the Lord’s provision for mankind, we are rapidly approaching Christmas Day, when we celebrate the arrival of the Lord Jesus to a little town called Bethlehem. You recall the story… Joseph and Mary arrived in Bethlehem, only to find there was no place to stay, but in a stable (Luke 2:1-7). The inn-keeper has gotten a lot of negative publicity over the years for turning them away, but God was working out his plan for the Messiah to be born in humble surroundings.

We have no record of the conversation between the inn-keeper and Joseph. What if he had known who he was turning away, would he somehow make room for them? Sadly, today there are millions who are turning the Savior away, because they can find no room in their hearts for Jesus. Many Christians, I fear, sometimes get so caught up in the commercial aspect of the holiday, they forget the Reason for the season.

Years ago, there was a book written called, “My Heart, Christ’s Home.” In it the writer likened his heart to a home where Jesus wanted to live. The man went room-to-room through his “home”, and asked himself whether each one was fit for Jesus to visit. He found many things he needed to clean out before it was a proper dwelling for the Lord.

It is a sad fact that many today have no room for a Savior in their hearts, but I suspect most Christian hearts need a proper housecleaning from time to time. Do you remember the lyrics to the old Christmas carol? “Joy to the world, the Lord has come. Let earth receive her King. Let every heart prepare Him Room.”

It is not too late to make room for Him.

Celebrating His coming,
Pastor Jerry

It’s His Call

Dear friends,
Our Christmas lights and decorations are up and functioning, at least for now. We are slowly weeding out the old strings of lights that “were working when we put them away.” I am so grateful for the new LED lights that keep working year after year. We no longer put up a large tree in the house, just a small table-top version. In retrospect, it may have been easier to have a simple tree in the house, than to put up all the outdoor lights. Maybe it is my age, but there are times I yearn for the ‘old’ days.

Speaking of aging; many years ago, in a church service, the officiating pastor walked slowly to the front of the church using a walker. I wondered why he just didn’t give it up. Now that I am older, I can appreciate his determination. I also realize it is not an easy decision to step away from ministry. When God calls a man to preach, He dictates the terms. It is His call, after all. In doing God’s work, full retirement comes when He takes us to heaven. The apostle Paul said, “I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:16).

Here are some instructions to Christian workers, and I believe to all who claim the name of Jesus.
The words of Jesus; “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation” (Mark 16:5).
Paul’s instructions to Timothy were, “Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching” (1Timothy 4:13). Also, Paul to Timothy; “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and instruction” (2 Timothy 4:2).

This doesn’t apply just to preachers and pastors. In the parable of the ten minas, Jesus told of a nobleman who gave his servants some coins and told them, ‘Engage in business until I come back’ (Luke 19:14). Jesus’ instructions to the twelve disciples in Matthew 28 were “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you until the end of the age.”

Until He returns,
Pastor Jerry

A Gentle Word

Dear friends,
We have certainly had a variety of weather conditions, lately. Our Thanksgiving plans were canceled in favor of staying home to wait for a better day. As of now, it seems it might wait until Christmas. Milrae and I spent a quiet day at home, but still enjoyed a meal of turkey, stuffing, potatoes, gravy, cranberries, etc. I saw a meme on Facebook that said, “Don’t blame the holidays, you were fat in August”, so there goes that excuse.

The Christmas lights are up at the lake, and are turned on each evening until just after Christmas. A stop at Lake Ericson should be on everyone’s agenda. There is always something new to see.

Something I would pray for this Christmas season, is some genuine civility in our cultural conversation. The angry woman exchanging insults with a white cat is somewhat amusing, but in reality, this is a picture of what is wrong with our discussion with those of differing opinions. No one appears willing to engage in uplifting conversation. God’s word contains many references to the importance of civil discourse.

Here are a few of note:
“Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be” (James 3:10).
“He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity” (Proverbs 21:23).
“A wise man’s heart guides his mouth, and his lips promote instruction” (Proverbs 16:23)
“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1).
“My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:19).
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouth, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29).
“But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander and filthy language from your lips” (Colossians 3:8).
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourself. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4)

Perhaps this should be our prayer at the beginning of any conversation: “Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord, keep watch over the door of my lips” (Psalm 141:3).

Just thinking,
Pastor Jerry