Archive for the ‘Worship’ Category

In His Image

Dear friends,
The camper has been winterized, and there will be no camping adventures to report until spring. The nice weather of the past few days is being replaced with much cooler temps. Up to an inch of snow was forecast for Saturday night, but we arose to a good four inches Sunday morning. If the snow forecast misses like this all winter, it might get deep!

The first snow has a way of accenting the beauty of God’s creation. Those who claim to dislike snow seem to appreciate its artistry. It is just one more way that the creation proclaims the glory of God. I really believe we could make this a better world if we would see more of the beauty, not only in nature, but in other people. After all, the Bible tells us that man was created in the image of God.

Ugliness is certainly part of a fallen world, but if all of us would make an effort, perhaps we could reclaim some of what has been corrupted by sin. Obviously, this world cannot be restored to its original state by human effort; however, if each individual would show a bit of compassion and empathy toward all of God’s creation, it could be improved.

We can begin by getting to know God better. A large part of the problem is that people do not know God. How can we appreciate creation, if we don’t first get to know the Creator? Romans 1:20 tells us there is ample evidence of God’s existence: “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For those who fail to see Him in creation, he has also provided his written word, the Bible. We only get to know someone if we spend time with them. Open his word, and learn who He is.

God loves his creation, and proved it by sending his Son to die for the sins of all people. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:16-17).

In His service,
Pastor Jerry

Awesome God

Dear friends,
I’m writing this week from the shores of Lake Francis Case, on the Missouri River. I’ll not go into detail about how we arrived here. We stayed with Alex Saturday, then drove here Sunday afternoon. I know, I told you we were staying at Niobrara State Park, but plans change. We have now found our new favorite place. I’m sure we will return to Niobrara another time, after all, we need to stop in Verdigre for kolaches occasionally. However, Lake Ericson is still our number one place to be long term.

As we travel, even in our relatively small part of the world, I am awed by all aspects of God’s creation. We first read of God’s creation in Genesis, the very first book of the Bible. Read with me as I share some highlights:

Day one; God separated the light from the darkness. Morning and night.
Day two; He made the sky separate from the water. He then made the seas and the land.
Following that, on day three, he made the trees and plants, along with their seeds and fruit.
Day four, he made the sun, moon and stars.
On the fifth day, he made the creatures of the sea and all the birds of the air.
Finally, on the sixth day, he made all the animals, that is, wild animals and domestic livestock, followed by creating man and woman in His image.

Over and over, I am reminded of those praise psalms that we find in the Old Testament.
“O, Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens” (Psalm 8:1).
“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands” (Psalm 19:1).
“Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; make music to our God on the harp.
He covers the sky with clouds; he supplies the earth with rain and makes the grass grow on the hills.
He provides food for the cattle and for the young ravens when they call” (Psalm 147:7-9).

Paul speaks of the fact of creation, and man’s responsibility to acknowledge God in this way: “Since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse (Romans 1:20).

Praising Him daily,
Pastor Jerry

Body of Believers

Dear friends,
Cooler weather came last week, along with ¾ inch of rain. The rain was especially welcome. A warming trend is forecast for this week. We are planning another camping adventure for next weekend, and on into the week. We will be visiting Alex for a couple of days, then stopping at Niobrara State Park for two nights, further plans will probably be made on the spur of the moment. We’ll see how it plays out.

As the summer wears on, we are still hearing conflicting ideas concerning the Covid-i9 virus. Masks versus no masks, social distancing, large groups are not okay, small groups are suspicious. Mobs of protestors and rioters are okay, but you can’t gather as a church, even in a small group. A vaccine is coming soon; no, wait, it may not be ready until the end of 2021. Only God knows when and how it will end.

Our responsibility as Christian is to be faithful witnesses and ambassadors for the Lord Jesus Christ. He is Lord, there is no other. His people have a mission. Every believer in Christ has a responsibility to share the good news. “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy… Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us” (1 Peter 2:9-12).

In light of the pandemic, and even with some insisting we not gather for worship, we cannot stop gathering as the body of Christ. The church is most effective when all members are involved and working as a unit.

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:23-25).

Stay faithful my friends,
Pastor Jerry

Don’t Give Up


It has been three months since my coronary bypass surgery, and I am doing very well, at least from my vantage point. I have certainly noticed a difference in the way I feel.

Weather-wise, in our area, and in others parts of the state, winter-like conditions have reappeared. Cold winds and a couple of nights of frost or freezing temps have us longing for much warmer days and nights. We ventured out Friday for an appointment and to get a few groceries, drove through a fast food place, picked up lunch and came back home. Not much of an adventure, but at least we got out of the house for a few hours.

As I was thinking about my unfinished cardiac rehab, I was reminded of a conversation with my rehab nurse. She commented that without persistence, rehabilitation would not result in a stronger heart muscle and better circulation. I replied, church attendance is like that, as well as Bible reading, and Bible study.

If we, as Christians, start to be negligent in church attendance, reading our Bibles, and studying God’s word, we get weak and ineffective in our walk and in our witness. We know from Hebrews 10:24-25, that meeting together is important for our spiritual well-being. As we study the Scriptures, we learn to discern truth from error. “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But His delight is in the law of the Lord and on His law he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:1-2).

Meditating on God’s word brings many benefits. Some of those are listed in Psalm 119; “Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long… How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!… I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path” (verses 97, 103-105).

These are Paul’s instructions to Timothy; Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come (1 Timothy 4:7-8).

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Church in Our Time

Dear friends,
Another week has gone by. We are still staying home most of the time. There was a trip to the grocery store and the pharmacy last Wednesday, but otherwise we were home doing yard work, etc. There is an advantage to living where we do; it is not hard to practice social distancing.

Our church family will decide this week how we might transition back to corporate worship at the church property. We may begin by meeting outdoors for a few Sundays, weather permitting. Time will tell. The Zoom app has been good, but there is no substitute for being there in person.

The Bible tell us the first century Christians met together in each other’s homes, and I suppose in other small group settings. They had no “church” building, nor did they hold title to any property on which to erect a building. From Acts, chapter two, we read; They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer… Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people (verses 42-47).

We may be unable to meet in person due to the pandemic of Covid19, but thanks to the current technology, we can have virtual fellowship in a way that the first Christians could not have imagined. Instead of feeling deprived, perhaps we should count our many blessings.

Even with the inconveniences we are experiencing in our current situation, we should take a lesson from the apostle Paul, who wrote “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4-7).

Then, this from Paul, “for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances… I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, … I can do everything through Him who gives me strength” (verses 11-13).

We may have some inconvenience, but it’s nothing God can’t get us through.

Leaning on the Everlasting Arms,
Pastor Jerry

Regarding Trials

Hello again,
There is good news this week regarding the pandemic. Some of the health directives are being relaxed a little, beginning May 4. It will be great to gather on Sunday mornings to worship in person with our church families.

The weather has also been a little more encouraging this past week. The mornings have been a bit chilly, but warmer temps in the afternoons have us venturing outdoors a little more. We have mowed the lawn once, and it needs it again. Milrae has been busy planting flower bulbs, and some onion sets. There are plans again for tomatoes, cucumbers and beans in the raised beds. She gets great satisfaction from her effort, and I get to enjoy the fruits of her labor.

I thought in light of these trying times, it might be appropriate to share some scriptures dealing with trials and suffering. Christians, historically, have had a much different view of trials than the rest of the world. The trials we experience in our times are different, but they are trials nonetheless. Our response to the trials we experience should be no different.

No trial or suffering is ever pleasant, but with the Lord Jesus in our life, we have peace, and a hope that is not based on wishful thinking, but on the sure knowledge of eternal life with him when this life is over. Also, through those trials, our faith is strengthened. The apostle James had this to say; “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance” (James 1:2-3).

Paul speaks of rejoicing in our suffering. This is what he says; “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Romans 5:1-4).

“These have come so that your faith… may be proved genuine…” (1 Peter 1:7).

You see, God has a purpose for the trials we endure, whether it be persecution, sickness, financial difficulty, or even a pandemic virus.

To Him be praise and glory,
Pastor Jerry

Jesus is Lord

Hello friends,
The weather is in the news again. We reached 70+ degrees one day last week, then were greeted with snow and wind on Easter Sunday. Spring is out there somewhere, I am sure. The other big news item remains the Covid-19 virus. Lord willing, we will get past this pandemic and begin a return to life as we would want it to be.

On one of those nice days last week, I decided it was a good day to wash the windows on our sun porch. While gathering a bucket and some tools from the garage, I tripped and experienced one of those slow motion falls. You know what I mean; you know you are going down, but have a little time to plan your landing. After it was over, I had only a scuff mark and bruise above my left knee, and a little laceration on one finger. I was truly thanking the Lord it wasn’t worse. After the windows were clean, it all seemed worthwhile.

On Sunday, we celebrated the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. For most of us, it was an Easter unlike any we had ever seen. In our church, we met through Zoom. It was a small group of people, but we were able to read and study the pertinent Bible passages, and listen to the preaching of our pastor. We saw each other’s faces, but missing was the personal interaction, the handshakes, and hugs.

In and through all this, here is the important thing to remember; in the midst of all the insecurity and all the unknowns of the day, Jesus Christ is Lord! He has a handle on all the things that are going on in the world. He has defeated death, sin, and the devil and he proved it on the day He rose from the tomb.

Read the following passages with me: When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. (Colossians 2:13-15). For more, read the whole chapter.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

It Is Well

Hello friends,
I trust this finds everyone well. We are well, although occasionally we get on each other’s nerves a bit. We are all going down a path we’ve never been on, but we have hope this isn’t going to be forever. Still, I have to remind myself to be patient in this. At least we don’t have to entertain small children, as some of you are doing. If that is your situation, hang in there!

As we wait for a return to normal times, I’m reminded of Paul’s letter to the Philippian church. He was writing from prison, and wanted the church to be united in its purpose and to let the focus be on the Lord Jesus. The following verses are not necessarily applicable to our current situation, but there are lessons here for us.

To the church, Paul wrote, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!… Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus…”

Concerning his own situation, he rejoices in the support of the believers, then says this: “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.

Finally, he writes these words to the faithful believers, “And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen” (Philippians 4:4-19).

As we are encouraged by Paul’s word, consider the words of the old hymn;
When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

And as the prophet said, “Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.” (Habakkuk 3:18).

In His loving care,
Pastor Jerry

Be Encouraged

Hello friends,
Another week has passed. We are experiencing typical March weather. It is a time of transition, and nature seems unable to decide. I am sure from past springs, that this will eventually bring about green grass and flowers if we are patient.

The Covid19 saga continues this week. Most of my pastor friends addressed the Christian response to this in their Sunday sermons. Thank God that we have the means to connect through technology, so that churches can meet in spirit, if not in person.

If you spend much time with social media, you will certainly be discouraged. My answer to this confusion is to go to the Word of God for truth and encouragement.

First of all, let us not forget that God is on His throne, He is still in control. “In the beginning God”, is how the Bible story begins. Read Genesis 1:1. In Colossians we are told that Jesus “is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 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 1:15-17).

You may be asking; did God create this virus? Scripture tells us because of Adam’s sin in the garden, the creation has been corrupted. “To Adam, God said, “cursed is the ground because of you. Through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you…” (Genesis 3:17-18). This virus, along with all other plagues and pestilence, and natural disasters is evidence of this curse. Someday God will make it all right.

“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Jesus Christ, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 15:4-5).

The Bible describes a time when God will bring a new heaven and earth; “No longer will there be any curse” (Revelation 22:3ff).

Be encouraged, God’s people have hope.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Worship Together

Hello friends,
Here we are at the beginning of another week! Just a short update on my recovery: It is going well. Last night, I slept in my own little bed all night, instead of in the recliner. There will be a visit with my cardiologist on Wednesday, at which time I expect to receive rehab orders. A week after that, I will be cleared to drive, and then in another week, I will see the heart surgeon for a checkup. I don’t want to make this a huge deal, but people also want to know. I can see the hand of God in every aspect of this portion of the journey. He is with me in this, as He has been in all my life.

It was good to be back in church Sunday morning. There is no better place than in fellowship with other Christians, as we worship and study the Word. These days, we can access any number of church services by way of podcasts, live streaming, television broadcasts, and other media tools. There are those who say they can worship God at the lake, sitting on their deck, out in nature (there’s one I used before I knew Jesus). However, the Bible is rather specific about meeting together in a worship setting. One only has to read a few verses into the book of Acts, before it is clear that there were no Lone Ranger Christians in the early days.

After Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was given, Peter preached and many came to faith in Christ. “Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship and to the breaking of bread and prayer.” Further, we read, “Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and age together with glad and sincere hearts” (Acts 2:42-43; 46.)

The writer of Hebrews spells it out in everyday cowboy language. “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24-25). Meeting together, not texting altogether.

In His love,
Pastor Jerry