Reality Check

The calendar tells me it is April Fool’s Day. Actually, the weather has been fooling with us for weeks now. One day this week, it was above 70 degrees. Friday we received several inches of snow. I don’t think we want to ask the question, ‘what next?’ If nothing else, it seems our patience has been well tested. How are you doing with the test?

Now that the month of March is behind us, maybe we will start seeing some real signs of spring. I am thinking grass and flowers for starters.

Have you noticed the number of Facebook posts concerned with the welfare of animals? How about those concerned with the welfare of unborn humans? Yeah, me too. I am all for taking care of animals, my whole life was spent caring for livestock, but it seems to me there is more energy given to protecting animal life, than there is to human life. Maybe if we gave as much negative press to abortion clinics as we do to puppy mills, something more would be done about them, too.

God fully intended for man to care for all of his creation, as it is recorded in Genesis. “Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground” (Genesis 1:26).

“Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed… The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and take care of it” (Genesis 2:8, 15).

If God gave mankind the task of caring for, and stewarding the livestock and the animal kingdom, would he not expect the same, or even greater dedication to the health and well-being of the children, from conception until adulthood? This idea being circulated among liberal minds that people are not human until they are born is nothing but insanity.

I pray to God that we will come to our senses, before God brings his judgment upon us. In Jeremiah’s time, God told him, concerning Israel’s disobedience, “Do not pray for this people…, for I will not listen to you.”

In Him,
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

He Is Still Lord

Wow! When I wrote last week, that we were going from frozen to flooding, I had no idea what was in store for us. Most of what I wrote then would apply to today, as well. However, with so much destruction from the flooding and the snow storm, we need to go back to the scripture for perspective. I believe God is still sovereign and He knows everything we have gone through and the things we are experiencing now.

We can look at the life of Job, and learn from his response to personal disaster. After losing his family and possessions, Job was still able to say, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised’ (Job 1:21). Even in the middle of disaster, he could praise his Lord.

In Isaiah 43:2, we read this; “I will be with your when you pass through the waters, and when you pass through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you.” These words were written to Israel, but can be seen as a metaphor of God’s protection and help for his people as they pass through times of difficulty.

From the Psalms we read: He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. (Psalm 91:1-5).

The book of Hebrews lists many people of faith who lost much, some even losing their lives for their faith in the Lord. After listing those faithful servants of the Lord, we are told, “These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised.

It has been said we should hold loosely the things of this world, then it won’t be as painful when they are taken from us. From my own perspective, I have come to believe if the Lord takes something from us, he has something better in mind. I also believe that better thing might not come in this life, but is reserved for us in heaven.

Keep looking up,
Pastor Jerry

Responding to Adversity

What can I say about our weather? It is definitely not predictable to any level of success. It appears we will be going from frozen to flooding, if we get the rain that is forecast for the middle of this week.

Have you noticed that sometimes life gets in the way of living? Several of our friends or their family members have experienced major trials over the last several weeks. Everyone goes through these things eventually, no one is exempt from them. The Bible clearly states, in this life, there will be trouble. One thing I have noticed, is those who have a close relationship with the Lord are, in general, better able to deal with these setbacks than are those without Him. This is not to say it is easy, no trial can be said to be easy.

How we respond to adversity has much to say about our where our life is anchored. If our life is tied to “things”, we are bound to be disappointed. If our hope is in people, they will ultimately disappoint us. I could give other examples, but you get my drift. However, if our life and our hope are anchored in Jesus
Christ, there is nothing in the world that can move us.

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:37-39).

The psalmist wrote, “The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”

These words from the Old Testament prophet Habakkuk, have been an encouragement to me. I pray they will encourage you, also.

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).

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

True Word

And…. the deep freeze continues. When I awoke before dawn Sunday morning, the house was making some strange noises. I believe they were cold induced.

I am privileged to have been asked to officiate at a wedding later this year. Some of my most cherished ministry memories involve weddings. I am thankful there are still those who understand the meaning of marriage. How refreshing!

In light of the current redefinition of marriage, I wonder how can you read the Bible, and not see that marriage is designed for a man and a woman? Yet there are those who insist otherwise. Here is the problem as I see it. The debate over most of the issues of our day centers around one thing: It is first and foremost about whether you believe the Bible and the One who inspired it. When we stand for the truth of God’s Word, we are accused of being unloving, along with other charges.

Love is being misunderstood, also. We need to love people enough to lead them to Jesus and let Him show them the error of their ways. It is not loving to let people keep living in sin without change. The loving response to sin is to make the sinner aware of their sin, and lead them to the One who died to pay the penalty for that sin.

Jesus said, “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me.” I take this to mean we are to obey all his commands. The apostle John wrote, “We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands.”

In his letter, Jude urged his reader to ‘contend for the faith’ (verse 3), followed by these words… “In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.” These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit.
But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Spirit. Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.
Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh. (Jude 18-22).

For Truth,
Pastor Jerry

God, Our Refuge

As I begin writing this, we’re in the middle of an old-fashioned blizzard! Snow is coming down, and the wind is picking up quickly. Update: Actually, the storm didn’t last long, but it was a reminder of what can happen this time of the year.

Every time one of these storms blows through, I am glad I don’t have to deal with them up close and personal anymore. At the same time, I can relate to what livestock men and women are experiencing. I have many memories of taking care of cows and calves in bad weather.

I have learned over the years, to appreciate the instincts that the Creator provided to the livestock. Given the opportunity, the cows seem to always find protection from the storm. One of the things I learned, was not to go out in the middle of a storm and try to “help” the cows. Experience taught me to wait until the storm passed, because moving them just caused more problems in the end.

We can apply this thought to our own lives, as we encounter the storms of life. When we are in a difficult place, instead of asking God to take us out of the storm, we could ask him to get us through the storm. It could be that he has allowed the storm to strengthen our faith. If we did not experience the storm, we would not learn to trust Him.

Isaiah, praising God said, “You have been a refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat…” (Isaiah 25:4).

Forty-three verses, just in the Psalms, speak of God as a refuge. Here are a few:
The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. (Psalm 9:9). Keep me safe, O God, for in you I take refuge (16:1). Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him (34:8).

I’m reminded of the chorus of an old hymn entitled, Til the Storm Passes By;
“Til the storm passes over, till the thunder sounds no more,
Til the clouds roll forever from the sky.
Hold me fast, let me stand in the hollow of Thy hand.
Keep me safe till the storm passes by.”

In His hands,
Pastor Jerry

One Way

Well, here we go again with another round of snow and cold. Don’t get me wrong, I am a fan of the four seasons, but I’m ready for a change!

Nebraska, it’s not for everyone; so the new state slogan says. Some are born here and had no choice in the beginning, but sooner or later you make a choice to live in this place, or choose some other place to live.

In comparison, Christianity is available to all people, and at some point each one has to make a choice. One major difference is that no one is born a Christian. A choice has to be made. Christianity is for everyone. Jesus died for all humanity, but we all have to accept his sacrifice on a personal basis.

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 (John 3:16). Did you get that? It is for whoever believes in him. Those who do not believe do not have eternal life.

For those who might say there are many paths to salvation, this is what Jesus says: “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). “For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:40).

This does not seem to indicate more than one way. At the beginning of his gospel, John, speaking of Jesus Christ wrote this: “He (Jesus) was in the world, and though the world was made by him, the world did not recognize him. He came to his own, but his own did not recognize him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believe in his name, he gave the right to become children of God (John 1:10-12).

Every person is born with a sin nature, causing him or her to be separated from God. God has provided a way for that relationship to be restored. That way is Jesus Christ and his finished work on the cross. There is no middle ground, we must all choose to either accept him or reject him. God said it, that settles it for me. How about you?

In His love,
Pastor Jerry