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

On Being Neighbors

Dear friends,
Well, the last official summer holiday is here. Labor Day weekend is always very busy here at beautiful Lake Ericson; this year was no exception. Many families were seen enjoying all the lake has to offer. The weather for the long weekend was perfect, with much sunshine and slightly cooler temps than expected. The mid-week forecast is for temperatures to resemble late fall, and comes with the promise of rain.

If we weren’t aware of how blessed we are living in this part of the world, we must certainly realize it in our current environment. As I look out of the window facing the lake and the street, I see a way of life that most of the world would die for. There are no rioters, just families and friends. No confrontations over politics or ideas, just a peaceful community of ordinary people. We stop in the street and ask about each other’s’ families, our health, our plans, just everyday conversations, and caring for each other. I believe this is how God intended for us to live; in harmony with our neighbors and acquaintances.

In the scriptures that follow, the Bible speaks to believers in Christ, but I believe if everyone lived by the principles stated, this world would be a nicer place. Obviously, not all will take this to heart, but what a difference might it make if a few more people would take note?

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load” (Galatians 6:2-5).

Something must be laid aside, if one is to be a burden-bearer and that is conceit, an attitude that breeds intolerance of error in others and causes one to think he is above failure. [The Bible Knowledge Commentary].

The apostle Paul wrote this: “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you” (Romans 12:3).

Remember the commandment; Love your neighbor as yourself! Good words from God’s Word,

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Pray for America

Dear readers,
The weather word for the day? Windy! If it blows up a rain, it will be a positive thing. We are in need of some moisture, so we will pray for it to happen. Saturday, we drove to South Dakota to have lunch with Alex and his friend, Amy. It was a beautiful day for a drive, and an enjoyable time. We drove around the campground at Niobrara State Park, and decided it would be our next camping destination.

The unrest in the country continues to take up much of our attention. God’s people need to be earnestly praying for an end to the division, and a return to civil discourse. Also, for wisdom for federal, state, and local authorities as they seek answers for how to proceed in the future. In addition, we must pray for the upcoming general election, that godly men and women would put in office.

There are many scriptures that command God’s people to be involved in these things. We are to pray for leaders, that they would lead well, and be brought to salvation. These are Paul’s words to Timothy: “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:1-4). We could insert presidents, governors and all elected officials, in place of kings, etc.

Paul also gave this instruction to Titus: “Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men” (Titus 3:1-2).

Finally, these instructions from Peter: “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right… Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king” (1 Peter 1:13-17).

Pray for America,
Pastor Jerry

Good Advice

Hello friends,
We are set to enjoy another week of warm temperatures. I see nineties ahead for several days, but cooler later in the week. Maybe the tropical storms in the gulf will send some moisture our way. There are no camping adventures to report this week, although my summer cold of last week has taken up residence with my dear wife. She handles these things much better than I.

I love the Psalms, because when a person is overwhelmed with the world, and who isn’t these days, there is encouragement to be found there. The first eight verses of Psalm 37 would be applicable in our time. This passage was the basis for my message this morning.

1 “Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong;
2 for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away.
3 Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
4 Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.
5 Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this:
6 He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.
7 Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes.
8 Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it only leads to evil.

There are seven words to encourage us in a time when it seems evil is winning. They are these:
Verse 3, Trust: Defined as reliance on the integrity, strength or ability of a person, God in this case.
Verse 4, Delight: To have great pleasure or joy in a thing; in this case God.
Verse 5, Commit: To give in trust for safekeeping, to commit one’s soul to God.
Verse 7, Rest (Be still): Relief or freedom from anything that wearies, troubles or disturbs.
Verse 8, Refrain (Cease): Put a stop to, discontinue. Don’t be angry.
Forsake (Turn from): To give up or renounce a habit or way of life.
Fret not: Stop fretting over what is in God’s control. Place your trust in the Lord and chill!

Be encouraged. God is still on his throne.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

End Times; Who Knows?

Hello friends,
We’re back after spending three nights at one of my favorite places to park the camper. It’s one of those out of the way places that I think a lot of people bypass, because there is no Wi-Fi, and cell service is sketchy at best. It gives one a chance to think about things other than what you see on social media.

If there was a downside to the week, I came down with one of those nasty summer colds. I’ll be the first to admit that when it comes to a head cold, I’m just a wimp! I have dealt with things that others would consider painful, and they didn’t seem to be a big deal for me; not so with cold symptoms. It is Sunday as I write this, so I expect to be almost normal by Tuesday. An old family doctor once told me a cold lasts a week if you treat it, and seven days if you don’t!

I didn’t get any profound inspiration for a column while we were camped in that quiet place. It was good to just relax and enjoy the surroundings, although in the evenings, the mosquitos would drive me indoors.

The world is certainly in a mess these days. People are talking about the end times and wondering if the end of the world is upon us, but for anyone to say this is the beginning of the end is being presumptuous. No one can presume to know what is on God’s mind, or what day the Lord will return. Jesus said no one could know that day, not even the Son of God. It’s God’s plan, and he will bring it to conclusion in his time, and on his terms.

Our responsibility is not to sit around speculating on days and dates, but to be intentionally sharing the gospel with those who don’t know the Lord Jesus Christ.

The apostle Peter said this, “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:8-9).

The end will come. Do you know Jesus? Today is the day of salvation!

In Love,
Pastor Jerry

On Being Happy

Dear friends,
Warmer temps returned late in the week, but there could be a couple of cooler days before it returns to the nineties again mid-week. Ah, summer! We are so thankful that the Lord led us to this place by the lake, where we can live in relative peace and quiet, yet be part of a larger community. This is contentment.

Speaking of contentment, and being happy with your life, I don’t think I have ever seen an unhappy dog here at the lake. Head out the window, tail wagging, and a big old doggy smile on its face. Most of the human residents and visitors seem to have the same attitude.

True contentment and happiness is not about ‘don’t worry, be happy’, because this attitude denies reality. Not everything is a big party, but it is possible to be happy and content. Not every experience in life lends itself to happiness, but contentment is possible through faith in God. The Bible speaks of happiness, blessedness, and contentment as being connected. In various translations, the words happy and blessed are interchangeable, both being an evidence of contentment.

“I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live” (Eccl 3:12).
“A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit” (Proverbs 15:13).
“Taste and see that the Lord is good. How happy (blessed) is the person who takes refuge in him” (Psalm 34:8).
The apostle Paul said, “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances…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” (Philippians 4:11-12).

Last word: Keep yourselves free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).

We can have true peace and joy, even happiness, if we are willing to put our lives in God’s hands, trusting that he has prepared a place in heaven for those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. In the words of Jesus, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest…and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:27-28).

Happy in Him,
Pastor Jerry

Heading Home

Hello friends,
We made it back home from our last camping adventure. I saw the doctor on Monday, and he told me to come back in six months for a scan. If it looks okay, then I will get annual check-ups. We enjoyed the time away, but coming home is sometimes the best part of the journey. Thinking of coming home reminds me that for Christians, we are just passing through this world on our way to heaven, our eternal home.

God’s people, in various scriptures and Bible translations have been called strangers in the world (1 Peter 1:1), temporary residents (Hebrews 11:13), strangers and exiles / aliens and strangers (1 Peter 2:11).

As God’s people, we are traveling through life as strangers in a foreign land. We don’t belong here, because our true home is at the end of the journey. God has placed each one of us where we are, but this is not our final home. The writer of Hebrews likened this life to a race. “Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnare us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us” (Hebrews 12:1). There is a goal in front of us, and we are not to be distracted by the things going on around us, but to focus on the finish line.

I pray we can say with the apostle Paul, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7).

In the last two chapters of Revelation, the apostle John describes what he called the new Jerusalem, along with a new heaven and a new earth. He tried to describe what cannot be described in human terms.

We must not become so familiar with the world and its ways that we lose sight of our heavenly destination. There are blessings along the way as we travel this road, but heaven will be so much more.
Going home to heaven is obviously going to be the best part of our life’s journey!

Just passing through,
Pastor Jerry

Peaceful Sleep

Dear readers,
Here we have another camping fiasco, complete with AC that doesn’t, plans gone awry, and tense moments between the ‘happy’ campers! Oh, this too, shall pass. In the future, the planner will probably plan ahead, that is until the memory of this trip fades in the affected minds. Given the frailty of the aging memory, it will probably happen again somewhere down the road. Every outing becomes a new adventure!

I was scheduled to provide pulpit supply on Sunday, but when we arrived at our intended campsite, we were informed that it wasn’t available, due to a county fair being held there (and, of course, the virus being an issue). We did get to park at friends from the church there, so it worked out for good. As I write this Sunday evening, we are in an RV park near Kearney. I have a doctor’s appointment scheduled for Monday at 1 pm. This is a follow up from my last procedure, and I hope the last for a while.

Sunday’s message was built on the idea that, no matter how crazy the world gets we can depend on God to always be there for us. We are not to worry or to be anxious about anything. Neither are we to be (to use the Christian term for worry), “concerned” with the things we cannot control.

Do you lie awake at night because the wheels of your mind won’t stop turning? Listen to these words from Psalm 16:7-9; “I will bless the Lord who counsels me—even at night when my thoughts trouble me. I will always let the Lord guide me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my whole being rejoices; my body also rests securely.” [CSB (Christian Standard Bible)].

As we rest in God’s protecting arms, we can say as the psalmist, “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence (think virus) that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday” (Psalm 91:4-6).

Final thought; Worry is like riding a stationary bicycle, it gives you something to do, but you never get anywhere!

Trust in God,
Pastor Jerry

On Marriage

Hello friends,
It is a little cooler as I write this week, but it was rather warm earlier in the week. A little rain would be appreciated at this point. As my old dad said many years ago; It always rains when we need it worst!

This week, I feel I need to write on the topic of marriage. God planned for marriage to be a blessed union between a man and a woman. The man was to be the head of the household, with his wife to be a helper, one who made him complete. The two were to become a complete unit, not two separate parties in daily conflict. Sadly, the current sentiment in many relationships is, “it’s all about me”, but that is not what God intended.

Husbands and prospective husbands, I believe, need to hear these words more than the ladies, but they each have responsibilities in the relationship that aren’t talked about much these days. The Bible is quite clear in its description of marriage and the responsibilities that go with it. I will share some verses pertaining to marriage and God’s plan for it.

We begin with Genesis 1:27-31; “So God created man in His own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them… And God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.”
Sadly, Adam and Eve disobeyed God, and brought sin into the world. Even though, God’s perfect plan was disrupted, it is still his plan.

When the Pharisees questioned Jesus about divorce, he answered, “For this reason a man will be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one” (Matthew 19:4-6). In Ephesians, chapter five, the apostle Paul gave specific instructions to husbands and wives. To wives, he said, “submit to your husbands as to the Lord.” He goes on to speak to the man; “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her (verse 25). He continues, “In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who love his wife loves himself” (verse 28).

Finally; “However, each one of you must also love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband” (Ephesians 5:33). Submission follows respect.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Where Are You Headed?

Hello faithful readers,
Last week, I told you I was going to have a procedure to repair a weak spot in my aorta. That has been done, and from all reports, it was successful. I thank you for each and every prayer said on my behalf. God is good, all the time.

It was another busy weekend here at the lake. It is encouraging to see so many families enjoying all that the area has to offer. We did receive nearly two inches of rain this week, some got more, some less, in any event it was very much appreciated.

These are uncertain times for most people. What with the covid19 virus, political unrest, economic worries, or whatever might be on your mind, many are concerned about the future.

As a young man, I didn’t spend a lot of time contemplating the future, well maybe as far ahead as my next meal, or the weekend. Thoughts of spiritual matters were very far from my mind even into my thirties. I tried to be just enough better than others I knew, so that if there was judgment at some point, I would surely be good enough to make it through.

Imagine my surprise to find out that none of my preconceived notions of self-righteousness were going to impress a righteous and just God! As I started attending the little church down the road, I began to learn what the Bible really said about sin and my standing with God. Starting with Adam and Eve, every person is born with a sin nature. We have been separated from God by our sin, and we can do nothing on our own to restore that relationship.

Hear the word of the Lord; As It is written, “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one” (Romans 3: 10-12).
“There is no difference, for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
The answer is Jesus; “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… for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:9-13).

Forever His,
Pastor Jerry