Archive for the ‘Worship’ Category

Blessed and Thankful

You may have noticed my weekly news and commentary missing last week. There is a reason for that, and I will explain. I had started that week off feeling a bit under the weather and twice visited the emergency room at a local hospital. At the second visit, it was determined I had contracted pneumonia. There were early deadlines for the newspaper edition of this column, and I just didn’t feel up to sitting at the computer and writing, so I just took a week off. I am feeling much better now, thanks to good care, IV antibiotics and some supplemental oxygen, along with plenty of prayers from my friends.

Let me say here, I am thankful for those who have dedicated themselves to serve in the medical profession. You have my utmost respect and appreciation!

As we celebrated our country’s founding and declaration of independence this week, I found myself reflecting on the many blessings we have as Americans. In a time when it seems many of our freedoms are under attack, let us commit to protecting what we have. Remember, also, that although these freedoms are guaranteed by our Constitution, they are given to us by God, not by the government. In response to this, let us give thanks to the Lord every day for those things he has provided.

God has provided freedom from the bondage of sin through faith in Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul reminds us of this: “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). “You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love” (Galatians 5:13).

Outside of the spiritual context, God has provided us with governments and governing bodies to protect our freedoms. Some will obviously misuse their power and position, but as a general rule, we are to respect their leadership, remembering that all of this is under His control. “For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things and in him all things hold together (Colossians 1:16-17).

Praising His name,
Pastor Jerry

Remembering

First a short update on my lip surgery. Healing is taking place, but I must admit, I am just a bit impatient with the progress. Unless there is a change, there will be no further updates on this. My commentary will be shorter this week, but I trust it will make a difference in some small way.

It is Monday as I write this. It is Memorial Day on the calendar. I trust you had an enjoyable weekend, and that sometime in the midst of your celebrating the beginning of the summer season, you took some time to reflect on the true meaning of the day. In my corner of the world, it is a day of remembering those who have given their lives for our country. In some other areas of our great country, I suspect the meaning of Memorial Day has been put aside for scenes of partying, cookouts, camping, and many other pleasant diversions.

Along with many other reminders of our past, the somber truth of how we got to this place has been forgotten. Thousands of brave Americans have sacrificed their lives for the freedom we enjoy, but at some point, we have cheapened the value of that sacrifice. One thing that concerns me, is that as a people, we are traveling down some of the same paths that led to previous conflicts. Perhaps it is time to look around and see if we might want to change direction. A command from God to the people of Israel comes to mind. They had the command, but refused to obey it. Will we do the same thing?

This is what the Lord says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls” (Jeremiah 6:16),

God bless you, and God bless America!
In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Small Blessings

Up and down go the daily temperatures. Now the weather-guessers are saying cool and rainy for several days. Through all kinds of weather; What if the sky should fall? Just as long as we’re together it doesn’t matter at all. Wait, I think that’s a song lyric from an earlier time! Can you name the song?

In other news, we made the trip to Omaha and back safely. Of course, there was the expected trip down a self-imposed detour, also known as the ‘scenic’ route. If I didn’t miss a turn and use some less traveled road, it wouldn’t be normal. The dermatologist assured me she removed all the cancer cells in my lip, so all in all, it was a good trip and a successful surgery. Thanks to everyone for the prayers and encouragement.

When I get away from our little corner of the world, and people ask where we are from, my answer is always, Ericson. They invariably ask, where is that? I think this is a good thing. After being in the big city for just a few hours, I appreciate even more the solitude we have out here in the “hills.” It is a good thing that only a few know the answer to “where is Ericson?”

In light of the blessings of the past week, here are some appropriate passages from God’s Word:
I lift up my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, The maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord watches over you—the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night (Psalm 121:1-6).

Praise the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens.
Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness.
Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre,
Praise him with tambourine and dancing, praise him with the strings and flute,
Praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals.
Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD (Psalm 150:1-6).

He is worthy of praise,
Pastor Jerry

Thoughts of Spring and Other Things

Dear friends,
It was a good week weather-wise, for a change. Pleasant temperatures with some sunshine and a few showers, should be bringing all the things we look forward to at this time of the year. The flowering trees and wild plums are in bloom, along with tulips and other spring flowers. The sounds of lawn mowers are heard now and then, and the aroma of steaks and burgers on the grill, occasionally fills the air. Ah spring!

In other news, I made the semi-annual trip to my dermatologist last Monday. She found a couple of suspicious areas, so now I’m waiting on biopsy results. The best report would be the samples are benign, but experience tells me there may be a little more surgery required. Years of sun exposure exacts a price, so take care of yourselves this summer when out in the sun.

It seems the world is becoming more anti-Christian, although this is nothing new. We are not promised an easy time in life as a result of our faith in God and Jesus Christ. Jesus said we would have trouble in this life. From John’s gospel, we read, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

These words of Psalm 92 can encourage us in these times. I have left out a few verses due to space limitations, but you can look up the complete text.

It is good to praise the LORD and make music to your name, O Most High, to proclaim your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night, for you make me glad by your deeds, O LORD;
I sing for joy at the works of your hands.
How great are your works, O LORD, how profound your thoughts!
The senseless man does not know, fools do not understand,
But you, O LORD, are exalted forever.
The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon;
planted in the house of the LORD, they will flourish in the courts of our God.
They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green,
proclaiming, “The LORD is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.” (Psalm 92:1-15).

In His great grace,
Pastor Jerry

God’s Plan

Hello all,
I trust everyone had a blessed Easter Sunday. I took a trip into the heart of the Nebraska Sandhills, to fill in for a pastor who was taking a well-deserved and much needed break. Highway 20 across the northern part of our state holds many (mostly good) memories for me, and it is nice to go back now and then.

A long drive through what is called God’s Country, gives one time to reflect on God’s creative genius, but also to realize what a privilege it is to live here. I’m sure there are some who would see this as anything but an ideal situation, and I definitely would not want to live in their little corner of the world either. It is obvious that God has made something for everyone in that respect.

The observance of what we call Easter, rightly described as Resurrection Day, gives us pause to reflect on God’s eternal plan to provide payment for our sin debt. As the Bible explains, creation was in God’s own words ‘good’ and ‘very good’. Along comes Satan disguised as a serpent, to tempt Adam and Eve to disobey God’s specific instructions. As a result, all mankind was, and is born with a sin nature, and God’s perfect creation is damaged. Because God knows all things, he also knew this would happen. In his eternal wisdom, He also provided the means to pay the penalty for sin. No person could ever pay their own sin debt, much less the sins of anyone else.

In the book of Romans, it is written “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” It also states, the “wages of sin is death.” In light of this, God planned to provide a sacrifice that would satisfy His demand of payment for sin. This sacrifice would be in the person of his only Son, Jesus Christ.

“For God so loved the world (you and me), that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead proves God’s power over death, and fulfills his promise of eternal life to all who will believe.

He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life (1 John 5:12).

In His grace,
Pastor Jerry

Old Songs

Another week, another weather roller coaster. We have gone from a balmy, sunny early week, to a howling blizzard on Thursday. I just know spring is out there somewhere! As I look out my window this morning (Friday), I see bright blue skies and the brilliant whiteness of the sun shining on a snowy landscape. As I look at the forecast for the days ahead, the predictions for moisture contain the word rain, instead of snow. Can this be the beginning of the end of winter? I pray it is so.

We continue to pray for those most affected by the flooding, and other local disasters. It is beyond anyone’s imagination what those folks are experiencing.

Lately, I have been listening to music from days gone by. Maybe it is my age, or my stage in life, but I enjoy hearing the old songs. With the help of YouTube, and satellite radio, I am able to listen to the music of my youth. These old songs with their simple lyrics, bring back sweet memories of simpler times, when life was much less complicated. I wonder if today’s music will at some future time mean as much to its hearers as the songs I remember?

Music is a gift from God, but I wonder if he really intended it to be used as it is today? As I read scripture, music has always been a part of the worship of God. From the first mention of the tabernacle of the Lord, music has been involved.

“All these men were under the supervision of their fathers for the music of the temple of the Lord, with cymbals, lyres and harps for the ministry at the house of God” (1 Chronicles 25:6). Later, at the dedication of the rebuilt wall of Jerusalem, we read, “the Levites were sought out from where they lived… to celebrate joyfully the dedication with songs of thanksgiving… “(Nehemiah 12:27).

Many of the Psalms mention music as part of worship. “Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; make music to our God on the harp” (Psalm 147:7). Finally, from the New Testament, “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:19).

One final thought; with the return of spring, we will again hear the singing of the birds. Praise God!

In His love,
Pastor Jerry

New View

Well… it looks as if March may be going out on a mild note, although the current forecast calls for a little snow toward the end of the week. One thing is certain, if it snows, the stuff will not stay long. I think most of us would be okay with some sunshine and some drying out of the soil. Our roads and streets are, to put it mildly, A MESS! I’m all for the four seasons, but it is time for a quick transition to the next one. After traveling to a sister church to preach Sunday morning, I would even welcome some road construction if it would mean smoother travel.

Flood cleanup continues across our state and in some neighboring states. Let’s continue to pray for the victims, also for those workers who are helping with the recovery. It is not too late to volunteer, and more volunteers would be welcome, I’m sure. Also, if you are in a position to do so, monetary donations would be greatly appreciated.

After being bombarded with the destruction and death of the flooding and storms of recent days, perhaps it is time for a refocus. As I anticipate the return of warmer weather and spring, my thoughts always seem to turn to renewal and rebirth. Spring brings baby calves, foals, lambs, green grass, flowers, and warm sunshine. As the celebration of Easter, and the resurrection of the Lord Jesus draws near, those thoughts turn to spiritual rebirth and renewal. What follows are some of my favorite spring-time verses.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth… and God saw all that he had made, and it was very good (Genesis 1:1-30).
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands (Psalm 19:1).
The prophet Malachi spoke of the coming day of the Lord in this way: “But for you who revere my name… you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall (Malachi 4:2). Now there’s a picture of a spring day!

As we contemplate this theme of new birth and renewal, hear words of the Lord. “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again” (John 3:3). “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Praise be to God,
Pastor Jerry