Following Jesus

Hello all,
After a few warm and windy days, it appears the lake ice will be leaving soon. Ice fishing has been very popular for several weeks, but a new season is coming quickly. We will transition to daylight saving time this weekend, so there will be a longer period of daylight at the end of the workday (unless you are an agriculture person, and nothing will really change).
I attended a session of Sandhills Christian Leadership Center on Saturday. It is a course of study for those who wish to be further involved in ministry in their local churches, and who may feel led into pastoral ministry. It is sponsored by our local Baptist Church association. This was the third of four class sessions that began last October.
One of the topics of the day was “Making Disciples”, from Pastor John Shields. I will share some of his thoughts.
Marks of a disciple, or follower of Jesus Christ:
1. Disciples develop a lifelong commitment to learn and live God’s Word. To those Jews who had believed Him, Jesus said, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of mine…” (John 8:31).
They believe God’s Word is His clearest authority and revelation for life.
They believe God’s Word transforms those who respond in faith
2. Disciples increasingly live like servants, not owners. These are his words: “So, then, none of you can be my disciple who does not give up all his own possessions” (Luke 14:33).
The cost of really following Jesus is everything you have. Wealth and worry keep many from following Jesus.
3. Disciples have a deepening love for Jesus. We are called to love Him more than parents or other family, even more than ourselves. Luke 14:26.
This will cause relational tension with those who don’t know Him. This tension may be with family, friends, or co-workers.
These tensions can distract some from following Jesus.
4. Disciples deepen their love for other Christians. “By this all men will know you are my disciples” (John 13:35).
5. Disciples embrace Jesus’ mission as their own, and His mission was to glorify God.
“My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples” (John 15:8).
The bottom line? If you want to follow Jesus, you have to follow Jesus, and no one else.
In His grip,
Pastor Jerry
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Our Message

Dear friends,
First, a few words about the weather. Warmer. Not much snow. Spring is near. The realization came to me this week that Alex graduates from High School in just a couple of months. It makes me wonder where the time went.

In our current culture, and on a larger scale, the world in general is becoming more anti-Christian. There is no concept of sin, or of a holy God who will judge the world. To the modern way of thinking, there is no sin, it is just that mistakes are made.

In all the talk about the problems of our world, there is little to no talk of a sin problem, which is the root cause of many of the headline stories in the news. Where are the ones will proclaim the truth? There is a great need for the gospel to be preached in every corner of the world, starting with wherever we may find people without hope, without a future, without a reason for living. Usually, in your own family, or neighborhood you will find them.

Here is my challenge to my fellow believers: We may know people who need the Lord, but we don’t know what to say, or how to say it. Consider this; if we are really thinking about what we say, any conversation can lead to a discussion of spiritual matters. The conversation of the Christian should be with a view to lead people to examine the moral and spiritual truths of the Bible.

I believe too many Christians are trying to find a way to get along with those of other religions, or of no religion, rather than showing them the true and living Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

These are our instructions: “Therefore go and make disciples” (Matthew 28:19). “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season” (1 Timothy 4:2).

This is our message. Jesus died for the sins of all (John 3:16). Salvation is found in no one else (Acts 4:12). By grace through faith we are saved (Ephesians 2:8). He is God; “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30). Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8).

Finally, always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. 1 Peter 3:15).

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Tri-Faith?

Hello friends,
It is good to look at the calendar and realize that spring is finally coming into view. The overnight temperatures are keeping the ice in great shape for those who are dedicated to winter-time fishing. As for me, I will wait for those warm spring days to get in the fishing mode. Now, on to today’s defense of the gospel.

Here is a headline: New York Minister Named First Executive Director of Omaha’s ‘Bold’ Tri-Faith Initiative.

Now, this should get our attention as Christians. Reading on, we find that on this organization’s property, there is a mosque, and a synagogue, with a church under construction. The executive director, we read, is from a liberal denomination in New York. He believes these diverse groups can work to bring about peace. Obviously, those promoting this, and who claim to be Christians, have no concept of God’s word. This is a line of thinking today that says we should just give equal legitimacy to every religion. This is not from God.

Scripture clearly instructs God’s people not to be involved with false religions. There are both Old Testament and New Testament commands for God’s people to be separate from all other faiths.

Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is here between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God… Therefore, come out from them and be separate, says the Lord (2 Corinthians 6:14-17).

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” To those who disputed his claim to deity, he said, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now am here. I have not come on my own; but he sent me.” (John 8:42).

Regarding the gospel message, John had this to say: If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take him into your house and welcome him. Anyone who welcome him shares in his wicked work (2 John 1:10-11).

Jews do not recognize Jesus Christ as Messiah, and Islam sees as enemies both Christians and Jews. Do not be deceived.

Contending for the faith,
Pastor Jerry

For the Faith

It was a little warmer Sunday, although the temperature early was several degrees below zero. A little warm-up in the afternoon was welcome. There were several families and individuals enjoying some ice fishing on the lake. I am beginning to hear rumblings that people are tired of winter, but someone reminded me today that winter actually got a late start here. Temperatures were well above normal all the way up into November.

I keep reading of those who claim to be Christians promoting views of the Bible, of God and Jesus, that are nothing short of the devil’s lies. Many of these people are in positions of authority in churches, but they preach a different gospel than that given to the writers of Scripture. There are many warnings in the Bible dealing with those who would twist God’s word something he never intended. They claim to speak for Him, but are far from Him.

Here is a warning from the prophet Isaiah: “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness, who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. Woe to those who are wise in their own opinion and clever in their own sight.
Isaiah 5:20-12

Their reward, as seen here, is woe. Used here, the word woe, refers to judgment. Jude, in the New Testament wrote about these false teachers. “For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord. (Jude 4).

Jude, with a sense of urgency, encouraged his readers to, “contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints” (Jude 3). The apostle Paul: “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!” (Galatians 1).

A number of these false teachers started well, and have attracted large numbers of followers. Now, they have drifted far from the path of righteousness, and those who listen to their teaching do not even know it. Be very careful who you listen to, and to the message they are presenting. All teaching should be measured up against Scripture.

Contending for the faith,
Pastor Jerry

What Can You Give?

It has been a good week for us. There were trips to Grand Island, Albion, and Ord. Doctor’s appointments, shopping at Menards and working together on some little projects around the house. Last Sunday, I spoke at a church in Chambers, Nebraska, then made it back home in time for a carry-in dinner and annual business meeting at our church. Next week, I’m off to Loup City to speak at Grace Bible Church, filling in for a friend. I was told recently by another friend; “You ain’t retired.” This was just affirmation of the fact that if you make yourself available to the Lord, he will keep you busy doing his work.

Speaking of doing the Lord’s work, I came across these verses in my daily Bible reading this week. In Exodus, when the tabernacle was being built, Moses had instructed the people to bring offerings of materials for construction. We read this: All the Israelite men and women who were willing brought to the Lord freewill offerings for all the work the Lord through Moses had commanded them to do. At one point, the workers came to Moses and said, “The people are bringing more than enough for doing the work the Lord commanded to be done.” Then Moses gave an order and they sent this word throughout the camp: “No man or woman is to make anything else as an offering for the sanctuary.” And so the people were restrained from bringing more, because what they already had was more than enough to do all the work. (Exodus 36:5-7)

Now, I know of no preacher who has ever said to his congregation, “Don’t bring anything else as an offering to the Lord’s work, we already have more than enough.” There are never enough resources for doing the Lord’s work, whether financial giving, or gifts of time and talent. There are never enough people willing to teach Sunday school, lead Bible studies, or evangelize their neighbors, their family members and acquaintances.

Jesus emphasized that we use our gifts until he returns (Luke 19:13). Can you even imagine how Christ’s church would grow, if there were more than enough resources and people to do the work? It would be amazing, I am sure! In what way are you helping grow the kingdom?

Just thinking,
Pastor Jerry

Know Where You’re Going

Update: Last week, I mentioned some surgery on my arm. The lab report came back okay. Praise God for that!

I have been sorting and printing hard copies of my past articles and commentaries. Such a trip down memory lane! One thing frustrates me, though. Some of the files are missing, and some I found are on a CD that my computer won’t open. The missing ones are from 2004, I suppose I’ll find a way to access them eventually.

I don’t know if I have mentioned it, but I enjoy listening to bluegrass music. One recent song title caught my attention, and I thought, isn’t this just the way the world is these days?

The song is, “We Don’t Know Where We’re Going, But We Sure Are Making Good Time.” I don’t even know all the words to the song, but the title says it well. People without the Lord, and without any assurance of spending eternity in heaven with him, are just going through life with no direction and no meaning. They try to add meaning to life with all kinds of things, but in the end, they are just making good time on a journey to nowhere. To quote Solomon, “I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind” (Ecclesiastes 1:14).

More from Solomon: Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless. (Ecclesiastes 5:10).

Then he then sums it all up at the end of chapter 12: “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every good thing, whether it is good or evil.”

What is my point? “Seek first his (God’s) kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). Life is not meaningless if you are living for Jesus. You will not have to wonder about your final destination. Heaven will be your final home.

Enjoy the journey,
Pastor Jerry

Don’t Wait

Hello friends,
Finally, we have seen some warmer weather. It was followed by a really big storm. Chalk up one for the weather man.

A couple of weeks ago, I saw my dermatologist for a 6-month checkup. She thought a spot on my arm needed attention, and a biopsy showed some cancer cells. This week, I returned for surgery to remove more tissue. Now I’m wearing stitches in my arm. Hopefully this is the end of it.

Much of what we see in the news provides material for commentary. In fact, I could probably write more than one article a week, if I so desired. This week has been no different.

A week ago now, there was a false alarm in Hawaii about a missile attack. We can glean at least two important lessons from this incident.

First, we are reminded that our lives could end without warning, or at least on short notice. I’m sure we have been reminded of this many times, but how often do we actually think about the possibility? What preparations have we made for our families to continue on after we’re gone?

The second point, is that millions of people have disregarded the most important warning of all. That warning has eternal significance for all people. Jesus is going to return and judge the world. Those who know him as Savior and Lord will go with him to glory, and those who have rejected him go to eternal damnation. I know there were times in my own life, when God gave me another opportunity to trust in Jesus Christ for my salvation. In His grace, I eventually made the right choice.

I know of at least two instances recently, where individuals have been close to death, and recovered. To my knowledge, neither one has any personal relationship with the Lord, nor have they shown any inclination to place their faith in the Lord Jesus. This is sad.

Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except by me.” Scripture also reminds us that it is appointed to man, once to die, and after that the judgment. We are also told, “today is the day of salvation.” This is not a false alarm. It is truth. Tomorrow may not come. Today is the day of salvation. Do not wait.

In His love,
Pastor Jerry