Priority

Dear readers,
I believe the planting is done for this season, but that is not the final word. We had a few frosty mornings, but almost all the plants survived. The only possible casualty is the zucchini, but I will allow it to be replaced if necessary (insert smiley face). The Lord has seen fit to provide some needed moisture, and we will trust him to send more as needed.

I actually spent some time fishing last week. It has been awhile, and I realized this when I tried to open one of my tackle boxes. It sat on a shelf in the garage so long that it practically disintegrated at my touch! As far as catching any fish, I caught one small bass below the dam, and another slightly larger one in the lake proper. Both were released to bite/fight again another day.

Here is an observation I made a couple of weeks ago that reminds me of the need for parents to examine their priorities. Actually, the word should be priority since the word indicates there can really be only one, not multiples. So, what should be our one priority? According to scripture, it is to teach our children about God, the Bible, and their need for a Savior.

Recently on the news, I noticed parents were rushing to get their kids vaccinated for Covid19. It occurred to me they were in a hurry to protect them from something they might not have to deal with until they are older. At the same time, many of these parents are willing to let their children wait to make a decision on their salvation until they can decide for themselves. Where is the sense in that?

God’s instruction to parents, concerning his commands is this: “Teach them (His words) to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (Deuteronomy 11:19). Paul’s instruction to fathers is this; “Bring them (children) up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).

Our priority is always to secure our family members’ salvation by leading them to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Then, whatever happens, whether by some virus, an accident or any other means, at death their destination is heaven.

A final thought; Put first things first, always.

Because of Him,
Pastor Jerry

What is Hope?

Dear friends,
There has been some spring planting going on here at our little slice of heaven. So far, we have enlarged one flower bed, planted some new shrubs, some flowers, and put a few tomato plants in the garden area. This is not my favorite kind of work, but it’s worth it to see the smile on my bride’s face when it is done. There are still some seeds to be planted in the raised beds, mostly beans and cucumbers. I did consent to one zucchini plant, which is a first for me. On a personal note, we also have one eggplant.

There seems to be an epidemic of hopelessness in our country. I don’t know if it is related to the stresses of the Covid19 pandemic, or a combination of causes, but I believe there is a solution to this attitude of hopelessness. Some might argue that there is no one answer to the problem, and they would probably be right. I can tell you from experience that placing one’s faith in the Lord Jesus Christ will go far toward combating the hopelessness that sometimes overwhelms our minds and bodies.

The idea of hope is often presented as a feeling that what is wanted will happen. True hope, as presented in the Bible, is a settled fact that something promised will come to pass. It can be described as trustful expectation, particularly with reference to the fulfillment of God’s promises.

Christians live in hope for two basic reasons. The first is because of what God has done in Christ. “In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3). The second reason is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children” (Romans 8:16).

Given the assurance of hope, Christians live in the present with confidence and face the future with courage. Christian hope is the gift of God. “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure” (Hebrews 6:19).

From my own experience, I can testify to the truth of this hope we have in Christ Jesus. Christ is the answer to hopelessness, but sadly many people, particularly the young, haven’t heard of him. If you are feeling hopeless today, come to Jesus.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Creation Speaks… Listen

Dear friends,
Another week has flown by, and it is already May. The weather continues to be variable, moving between hot and cool, calm and windy, dry and damp. In the midst of all this flowers are blooming, as are the ornamental trees and wild plums. And, we are seeing pairs of geese with their newly hatched goslings.

I’m reminded of these verses from the Psalms; “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 grass grow on the hills.
He provides food for the cattle and for the young ravens when they call” (Psalm 147:7-9).

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.
There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard” (Psalm 19:1-3).

There are many people in our world today who do not know God. It has always been so, but it seems those who will not acknowledge him are more antagonistic toward any talk of a righteous and just God. I believe the scriptures speak of this, and have warned us about times such as these. The evidence of a Creator is everywhere, but they refuse to believe their eyes.

I return to the book of Romans and read this; “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 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” (Romans 1:18-20).

The psalmist has written;
The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”
They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.
The Lord looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God.
All have turned aside, they have together become corrupt;
there is no one who does good, not even one (Psalm 14:1-3).

I pray they see the truth, and come to Christ.

For Him,
Pastor Jerry

Preparing for Battle

Dear friends,
It continues to be an unpredictable kind of spring. We go from nice warm days to frosty mornings. There have been periods of rain, snow and sunshine—all within a few minutes. The big project of the week was installing a new washing machine in the house. These things take longer than when we were younger, but still, it is satisfying to know it can be done. While we were in Grand Island picking up the washer we made a garden center stop, now there are things to plant in the yard. I attended our church association meeting Sunday. It was good to connect with other church leaders and encourage one another in our ministries.

Every day I am reminded that we are in a spiritual battle. It is a battle between good and evil; the people of God versus the forces loyal to Satan. The Bible tells us we have been provided with a full suit of armor with which to defend ourselves from Satan’s attacks. We read of this in Ephesians 6:10-20. Verse 11 says, “Put on the full armor of God so you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.”

These are the items of armor as listed in this passage: The belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

They are described this way; Truth counters the devils lies. We need to know the truth of the Bible. Righteousness is like armor on our chests, not self-righteousness but Christ’s righteousness given to us when we are saved. It will keep the devil’s forces from defeating us spiritually.
Peace is the peace of God that comes from trusting Him.
Faith allows us to deflect the temptations that come at us.
Salvation, described as a helmet gives us power to live as those who are delivered from the power and penalty of sin.
The word of God is the Bible, seen as a weapon designed for hand-to-hand combat. It is the word of God spoken, made effective by the Holy Spirit, to cut through the devil’s lies.

Clothing ourselves each day with this armor and connecting it all together with prayer gives the Christian the means by which we defeat our enemy. Pray also for other believers.

In Christ,
Pastor Jerry

Choose to Love

Dear friends,

Another April week has begun. There were showers this week that according to the old saying, should result in May flowers. But if the weather forecast is correct, those flowers may be delayed. My mom used to say, “spring has sprung, the grass has riz, I wonder where the flowers is?” The answer this year may be “They were Frozen!”

On Saturday, the lake community volunteers came together for the annual spring cleanup day. The efforts of all who participated were very much appreciated. One result of their labor is that the lake is now full. If you missed out on the fun and want to contribute, there are still some projects to do. Contact any board member for information.

It seems the news this past week has all been about people killing other people. We are tempted to ask, what is going on with people? I don’t have any wisdom on my own, but I do know from the Bible that it starts with what has become total disregard for the value of human life. All people are made in God’s image, according to His word. The Bible uses those exact words; “So God created man in His own image; He created him in the image of God; He created them male and female” (Genesis 1:27).

Later, when God gave the Ten Commandments, he said simply, “Do not murder” (Exodus 20:13). Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said to our ancestors, do not murder, and whoever murders will be subject to judgment” (Matthew 5:21).

Paul reminds us of these commands in Romans 13; “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not covet,” and whatever other commandment there may be are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law” (Romans 13:9-10).

It begins with understanding that all are created in the image of God, therefore every life has value. No one is to take the life of another human being, the exception being capital punishment, but that is not relevant to this conversation.

One other point is this; in addition to disregard for life, there is little or no respect for the property of others. Read the other commands listed above. This is where we must begin. Love one another.

In Him,

Pastor Jerry

Go and Tell

Dear friends,
April is moving along as usual, bringing to mind the saying “Time waits for no man.” For instance, I had hoped to wait a few days to mow the lawn, but the grass had a different time schedule. We have not only mowed the first time this year, but flower beds have been cleaned and other preparations for summer are in the works.

The camper has been taken to the repair shop for some minor issues, and we hope to begin the new season soon. I was told we had to get the camping out of the way before time to start caring for the garden. Since I enjoy the produce as much as anyone, this sounds like a reasonable approach.

In case you have been wondering about our cat; be assured she has taken over our lives. She has learned to let us know when she wants to come in and when she wants out, and her dish never has enough food in it. As I write this, she is sleeping beside my chair.

As I observe the things going on in our world, I am continually reminded that many people have no concept of God or of his Word. The world is seeking answers for mankind’s problems in all the wrong places. Rather than finding out what God really says about the human condition, the world prefers to listen to false teachers and to follow ungodly leaders who deny the very existence of a Creator God.

I believe we are at the place Paul describes in his instructions to Timothy: “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry” (2 Timothy 4:3-4).

As we live in our world, may we be witnesses to God’s power and majesty, as we tell others of His love and his saving gospel. To Him be glory and praise forever!

For Him,
Pastor Jerry

He Is Risen

Dear friends,
We are enjoying some very spring-like weather. There is talk of a slight cooling ahead, but nothing extreme. Maybe one of these days I will get motivated to do a little fishing. I noticed yesterday the lawn will need mowing soon, so it’s time to get the mower serviced; now if I can just remember where I put those new blades I got last fall!

We celebrated Resurrection Day with our church family. What a blessing to be able to observe this day together with other believers, and to be reminded of Christ’s victory over death. It seems we have dealt with death far too much in the last few weeks. The Bible tells us death has no hold on the Christian, because Jesus overcame death and was raised to life by the power of God. Therefore, although death comes to all people, as believers we need not fear it. Obviously, no one looks forward to the process, but for those who have placed their faith in the Lord, death is not the end, but only the beginning of our life on the other side.

I will leave you with these words from the apostle Paul:
“Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep (or who die), or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:55,57).

For Him,
Pastor Jerry

Amazing Grace

Dear friends,
It is a sunny Sunday afternoon as I write this. The past week was rather cool with some rain. Our forecast is for cool temperatures early in the week, followed by a warming trend. I expect we’ll see more evidence of spring in the days to come. We have both been staying home nursing colds, but we are steadily improving and should return to normal soon. Once again I find, we too often take good health for granted.

This week brings two very important days in the Christian church calendar; Good Friday and Resurrection Day (Easter). Good Friday commemorates the death and burial of the Lord Jesus Christ; the Resurrection celebrates his rising from the tomb. These two events are the basis of our hope in eternal salvation. The Bible clearly states there is no other way to be saved from our sins but by placing our faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross.

I write on this topic often, because to me this is the most important decision a person can make in life. In my own experience, the day I chose to follow Jesus my life was changed in ways I could not have imagined before. So, to this day, like the old song says, “I love to tell the story of Jesus and His love.”

I was cruising along through life, thinking I was doing pretty good, taking my wife and two boys to church on Sunday. Then one day as the pastor was preaching from Romans chapter ten, I heard these words: That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). This was an eye opener for me! Up to this point, I thought I just had to be a little better person than someone else. Now I was learning that my own self-righteousness was worthless in God’s eyes.

Later, I heard these words; For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast’ (Ephesians 2:8-9).

A dear friend passed away this week, and we rejoice that he is now in heaven, because he believed what these verses taught. Amazing grace, how sweet it sounds!

Anchored in Him,
Pastor Jerry

Preserve Life

Hello friends,
The sun has been shining of late and the wind has been a bit excessive, but signs of spring are appearing. Some of the lake residents have been cleaning out flower beds to make room for the anticipated blooms. Many times these early preparations are hindered by a late freeze, but those folks with green thumbs are an optimistic bunch!

Almost every day, we are seeing a disregard for human life in our country and in the world. The news is filled with words that are all too common in our everyday conversation. Words like murder, human trafficking, abortion, and child abuse are always before us. It seems we have reached a point where no one knows or cares that human life is valuable from conception to natural death.

Our Creator God, in his perfect plan has told us that he values every life, without reservation. Starting in Genesis, we see first that He created mankind. “So God created man in his own image; he created him in the image of God; he created them male and female” (Genesis 1:27). Later, when God gave the Law to Moses, He stressed the importance of human life with this command; You shall not murder.

Being made in God’s image gives every human being value, or worth. There is no difference based on a person’s race, sex, age, or condition. God has a plan and purpose for each one. It is not for us to decide which lives are more important than others. It is for us to defend life at all stages, leaving the rest to God’s plan and purpose for each individual.

I fear if we don’t return to those biblical values that preserve the dignity and sanctity of human life, we are inviting the judgment of God, and it won’t be a pretty thing. In Jeremiah 7:9-11, we read, “Will you steal and murder, commit adultery and perjury, burn incense to Baal and follow other gods you have not known, and then come and stand before me in this house, which bears my Name, and say, “We are safe”—safe to do all these detestable things? – “But I have been watching! declares the Lord.”

We need to understand that the taking of any life is basically wrong, and except perhaps in self-defense, it puts us at risk of God’s judgment. Pray that it stops.

In Truth,
Pastor Jerry

A Good Word

Dear friends,
We have certainly seen a change in the weather. As I write this Sunday evening, we are showing 2.60 in the rain gauge, with more in the forecast. The wind has been gusting up to around 50 mph, and there was a power outage in the area this morning. Ah, springtime in Nebraska!

In recent days, I have been reminded of the uncertainties of life. It is in those times I turn to the Word of God for encouragement and hope. We have all experienced times when life takes unexpected turns, and we are left wondering why? It might be an economic downturn, a broken relationship or maybe an unforeseen illness. We are prone to ask where did that come from? Or, why did that happen to me?

There are times when there are just no clear answers to why things happen. Life is full of unknowns, but that is just life. Sometimes we feel like the title of a song I have referenced before; “Life Ain’t Fair, and the World is Mean.” In spite of this, there is One who knows the struggles we go through. God in His perfect plan has placed each of us in our circumstances for His glory. When we finally understand this truth, we can trust Him even though we do not know the reason for our situation.

These verses from Romans give encouragement to all who believe on the Lord Jesus. “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to His purpose… What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us?… Christ Jesus is the one who died, but even more has been raised; he is also at the right hand of God and intercedes for us. Who can separate us from the love of Christ? Can affliction or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?… No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:28-39 CSB).

In His grip,
Pastor Jerry