Archive for the ‘Witness’ Category

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

Reflecting on the Journey

Hello friends,
I have come to the realization that as I compose and send these articles out each week, I am using both old and new methods of communication. On the one hand there is the magic of the internet, but on the other is the time tested print media. When this thing called Lake City News began, it was a simple way to connect with a few family and friends. Email was the chosen method in the beginning, but eventually, it became a weekly column in three local newspapers under the title of “Pastor’s Corner”.

Today, in addition to those emails and newspapers, there is a blog called ‘sandhillspastor.com’, with links to Facebook and Twitter. To this day, I am amazed at the platform God has given me to share His good news with all who read these articles, wherever they appear. Also, thanks to all who have encouraged me to continue. As mentioned in another article, this month marks the twentieth anniversary of this ministry.

Most of us entered adulthood with some idea of how our lives would play out. I am reminded of these words; “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” {Proverbs 16:9). As I look back, I see that God had a plan for me unlike anything I envisioned. I grew up on a ranch, and when I finished high school, I informed my dad there had to be a better way to make a living. Guess what? God took me in a big circle that involved working on ranches around the Sandhills, ending up in 1972 back at the home place. We were there 40 years, until we retired from ranching.

In 1982, after a few years of attending a little church down the road from our place, God impressed upon me the need for Jesus in my life. On a Sunday morning in March of that year, I asked Jesus into my heart. If you knew all the details, you would probably ask how this cowboy/rancher ended up to be the pastor of a little church in the Sandhills?

The simple answer is this; it can only be the Holy Spirit of God working in the heart of a man. As someone has said, no one knows what God can do with a man who will commit to follow His leading.

For His glory,
Pastor Jerry

Go and Tell

Hello friends,
A new week begins, and it is time for another of our visits. As I mentioned last week, I did attend our Kansas-Nebraska SBC annual meeting. It was good to reconnect with old friends, and to hear some inspirational preaching. Wednesday, we made a quick trip to Albion. Friday, we went to Grand Island to pick up some supplies for a plumbing project. I am finding that I totally misunderstood what retirement involves.

This world we live in is filled with heartache and sorrow. Many people are dealing with tragedy in their lives. Broken marriages and dysfunctional relationships are everywhere. Human life is devalued to the extent that murder and violence to others is epidemic. All of this is the result of sin in the world. The good news is this; there is a remedy for our brokenness and hopelessness, and that is to turn to God, admit our own sinfulness, and place our faith in Jesus Christ as Savior.

Christians have a message for the world, but there is a problem. The problem is highlighted in an illustration from one of our convention speakers; instead of looking to the harvest, as Christ commanded, we are busy polishing the combine while the harvest is rotting in the field. We are commanded to go into the world and spread the good news of Jesus Christ.

I believe there is another problem. Many who call themselves Christian spend little or no time in fellowship with other Christians, no time in bible study or in prayer. Consequently, they have no more influence with the world than those who never leave the church building.

Jesus, speaking to his disciples: “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation” (Mark 16:15). “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” (Matthew 28:19). The command is to go, not stay and “polish the combine.”

The writer of Hebrews had this to say, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another…” (Hebrews 10:25).

Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Christians, we have the answer to the hopelessness in the world. Let us Go and Tell!

For Him,
Pastor Jerry

Go and Tell

Hello friends,
July is about to give way to August. School will be starting soon, and I wonder where the summer has gone? My theory is that summer got a late start due to an over-long winter and spring. Could it be that autumn will be longer than normal, and winter will be shortened? One can only dream!

I have traveled a number of miles this summer preaching at churches in small towns and rural areas. What I have seen is a need for pastoral leadership in these out-of-the-way places. I doubt there are many seminary graduates seeking ministry opportunities in rural America. So, what might be the solution?

This is a question that has been on my mind, and in the thoughts of several of my friends in ministry. We believe the answer is for men in these churches to have the opportunity to learn ministry skills that would allow for them to be pastors or leaders in their local churches. Then those congregations would not be dependent on “professional” clergy.

There is a one day Rural Christian Workers Conference coming up in early September that will provide this kind of training, and the best part is that it is free. Even the lunch is provided free of charge. The conference is designed to “encourage and train Pastors and Church leaders that serve in rural and small town churches.” If this is something you, or someone you know might be interested in, email me at lakecitynews@gmail.com for specific information.

The Bible says people come to faith in Christ through hearing the Word of God. Many will not hear this good news, because of the shortage of ministers of the gospel in our rural and small-town churches. The apostle Paul, in Romans had this to say. “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’… faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:13-15).

Might you be one of those bringing the Good News?

Blessings,
Pastor Jerry

Thoughts on Aging

It seems another Monday has rolled around, and time for me to share some thoughts from the past week. Weather-wise, we have experienced some more summer like temperatures, with a nice rain on Saturday night. Lawns are requiring frequent mowing, and the flowers and veggie plants are doing well. This is what we have been waiting for!

Recently, I have been thinking about the passing of the years, and things I have learned. I know, this is pretty deep stuff, but if there is no wisdom accumulated as we age, we haven’t been paying attention.

First, as I have previously noted, this past Friday marked the 55th anniversary of marriage for Milrae and myself… to each other. Lesson learned include: You will never see eye to eye on every subject. Neither of you is right every time. Patience goes a long way to making a long marriage. There are no perfect couples, ever. Learning to say “I’m sorry”, and “I was wrong”, are important phrases to remember.

Getting older is not as easy as one might think. I’m finding out I have much less energy than just a few years ago, and the things I can do take a lot longer than before. In the past, I could work from sun-up to sun-down, get eight hours of sleep and do it all over again the next day. Now, if I work a couple of hours, I need numerous naps over three days to recover. Ah, the pleasures of old age.

I did have a bit of encouragement this afternoon; our son called and asked a gardening question. I suggested he look in up on Google, and his response was, “You are my Google!”

I’m reminded of some scriptures relating to the topic of aging. Here are a few of my favorites.
“Our lives last seventy years or, if we are strong, eighty years. Even the best of them are struggle and sorrow; indeed, they pass quickly and we fly away… Teach us to number our days carefully so that we may develop wisdom in our hearts” (Psalm 90:10, 12 CSB).
“The glory of young men lies in their strength, gray hair the splendor of the old” (Proverbs 20:29).

One more thought: This journey is meaningless, if we fail to include the Lord in our life. This I know. Do you know Him?

Blessings to all,
Pastor Jerry

On Marriage

Dear readers,
We have arrived at the month of June! Official summer is just a few weeks away, and we are so ready. June is traditionally the month of weddings. I’m not sure why this is so, but outdoor weddings obviously wouldn’t be nearly as practical in winter months.

The Memorial Day weekend was busy here at beautiful Lake Ericson, and busy weekends will be the norm until Labor Day. The lake level has been down, due to some trees and other debris in the tree guard at the spillway, but those will soon be removed and the lake filled to its normal level. If you get a chance this summer, stop by the lake and see the beauty of this place. You may be pleasantly surprised.

Back to the topic of weddings, this past Saturday Milrae and I attended the wedding of a young man we’ve known for many years. What a God-honoring celebration it was. This young man and young lady are committed Christians, and their lives reflect that commitment. The ceremony was a testimony to the blessing that come from two people following God’s plan and purpose.

In case we need reminded, God’s plan for marriage is clearly stated early in the Bible. After God made Adam, He said, “It is not good for the man to be alone, I will make a helper suitable for him…” So the Lord God took one of the man’s ribs, then He made a woman and brought her to the man. The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman, for she was taken out of man”.
For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will be one flesh (Genesis 2:18-24).

On a personal note, somewhat related to this, at the end of this week, we will celebrate our 55th year of marriage. Those vows we made then mean so much more to me, than they did on that day so long ago.

Duane and Jessica, if you happen to read this, I pray you have a long and happy marriage. And know this, you have begun your journey in the best possible way.

Blessings to all,
Pastor Jerry