Posts Tagged ‘Truth’

The Real Thing

Dear friends,
I continue to regain the strength I lost during my hospital stay. Recent days have reminded me that summer is almost over. In recognition of that, we will be taking the camper out for a couple of days.

Today, I want to share a devotional thought from the dusty archives of my journal. I call it the dusty archives, because I had to wipe the dust off the binder it is in.

I like to drink grapefruit juice for breakfast. At times, I will buy a small bottle at the convenience store, instead of a soda. There was a time I thought grapefruit juice was grapefruit juice; that is until I picked up a half-gallon of it at the local discount store.
I noticed that the label on the bottle was very similar to the label on the name-brand I had been purchasing. However, when I poured myself a glass the next morning and tasted it, I soon found out there was no comparison. The “real stuff” was much better tasting than the bargain brand in spite of the similarity in labels.

How do we apply this to spiritual matters? In our search for meaning in life, we try many things and seek answers in many places. We need to beware of imitation labels and false promises. The answer is to find the truth, so that we can easily spot the counterfeits and the “wannabes.” If we will be grounded in God’s Word; that is if we will read, study, and learn from the Bible what it says about Jesus Christ and the way to eternal life, we won’t be led astray by false teaching and popular thoughts and ideas. We must be able to distinguish between the authentic and the look-alikes.

In his letter to Titus, the apostle Paul give advice that should apply to us all. “He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it” (Titus 1:9). To the Ephesians, he wrote that we are to be mature in our faith so that, “We will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves and blown here and there by every wind of teaching (doctrine) and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming” (Ephesians 4:14).

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

The Offense of the Gospel

Dear friends,
First, an update. I am regaining my strength daily. Of course, it is slower than I would like, but I’m okay with that. Yesterday (Sunday), I returned to the pulpit for the first time, and it was good to be there. My thanks to those in the church who have stepped up to help with the services. I appreciate you.
Today, I will share some thoughts from Sunday’s message: It is difficult in today’s culture to initiate a conversation about sin and its consequences. People are offended when we speak of sin, and more often than not, we will be accused of being judgmental. It seems, though that what is even more offensive to many, is the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
To most people outside the Christian worldview, the idea of a God who created everything, and who desires our total allegiance or face judgment is offensive. The gospel’s offense begins with the first words of the Bible. “In the beginning God…”
A few words about God. God is absolutely pure, and there is nothing wrong in Him. Everything God is and everything God does is right. God is good. His goodness is expressed in his justice. God is a perfect judge. His goodness shows in His grace. He is compassionate and patient, wanting all people everywhere to know and enjoy His kindness, mercy and love.
So, the most offensive claim in Christianity is that God is the Creator, Owner, and Judge of every person on the planet. Every one of us stands before Him guilty of sin, and the only way to be reconciled to Him is through faith in Jesus, the crucified Savior and risen King. All who trust in His love will experience everlasting life while all who turn from His lordship will suffer everlasting death.
In light of this, we who believe the gospel, should be moved to take a stand for the truth of the Bible. But, as we take our stand, let us do so with conviction, compassion, and courage.
It will not be easy. Jesus tells His followers not to be afraid of those who oppose them. “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).
In Him,
Pastor Jerry

On Making Plans

Hello everyone,
It is good to be back writing again. I am feeling much better, and improving daily. It is definitely slower than I would like, but progress is evident.

A benefit, I suppose, of forced inactivity is that I have had a lot of time to think on important matters. As I reflect on our tendency as humans to plan our days, weeks, and years, I am drawn back to the Psalms. There, God reminds us who is really in charge of personal and world events. We think we are in control of our lives on a personal level, while governments and government officials carry on business as if they are the ones in charge of history. This morning, I want to give God’s perspective on all our plans and dreams for the future.

Psalm 2:1-11…”Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One. “Let us break their chains,” they say, “and throw off their fetters.” The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them….Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling.”

To the leaders of nations, who deny Him, Psalm 33:10-11 gives a reminder: “The Lord foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples. But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.” In light of this, it would be wise for the leaders of the nations to consult God’s Word before making their plans.

It is no different in the lives of individuals. Read with me these words from Proverbs: “To man belong the plans of the heart, but from the Lord comes the reply of the tongue. All a man’s ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the Lord. Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed…In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps” (Proverbs 16:1-9).

As it was made very clear to me that Sunday night, our plans can change in an instant. Would it not be wise to have included God in those plans? I believe it is so.

In His unchanging love,
Pastor Jerry

Life Flight Thoughts

Hello all,
We all know life takes unexpected turns. At this time last week I found myself In the ICU at Good Samaritan Hospital in Kearney. After a week of reflection, and I don’t think this will be the end of it, I have some new perspectives. And I feel the need to share some of those. For a little background, I had some symptoms that concerned me, we called the ambulance, and I was taken to the Ord Hospital. From there, I got a direct flight on a helicopter to Kearney, and was sent straight to the operating room. The doctor determined at that time, I didn’t need immediate surgery, and admitted me.

My condition is called an “aortic dissection”, which means there is a separation between the walls of the aorta. It is a serious condition, and can be fatal. The good news is it can be treated with medication. For once, I noticed something about myself that wasn’t quite right and acted upon it.

During the short flight (23 minutes) to Kearney, I had time for some conversation with God. Was I concerned? Yes, but in the midst of that was a peace. I told the Lord if this is going to be the end of my earthly journey, I was okay with it. I was ready to go to glory if that was his will. This, I believe is what Paul speaks of in Philippians 4. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present you requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7). I experienced that peace there on that Life Flight helicopter in the darkness last Sunday night.

I pray each one who reads this already knows the peace that faith in Jesus Christ gives. I believe He took me to the edge, to show me I need not fear the unknown when I know Him as my Savior and Lord.

If you are unsure of your salvation, if you cannot confidently call heaven your home, I pray you will trust Jesus today. Because, as I was so clearly shown in the events of last Sunday, we are not guaranteed tomorrow. Today is the day of salvation. If you have questions email me at lakecitynews@gmail.com.

Blessings to all,
Pastor Jerry

Repentance: The Missing Ingredient

As I read and observe comments made on social media and other sources, it occurs to me that in the conversation there are a couple of words that are missing. As people debate the issues of the day, the underlying theme seems to be that everyone wants things their own way. We excuse sinful behavior by calling it many other things, but the word sin never makes it to the top.
Another missing ingredient, if you will, is the idea of the need for repentance. My Bible Dictionary defines repentance as: “Change of mind; also can refer to regret or remorse accompanying a realization that wrong has been done…”
In the biblical sense, repentance refers to a deep seated and thorough turning from self to God. Much of what is presented from pulpits today is far removed from any idea of a change of life, or repentance from sin. It comes down to “believe and be saved, continue in your sinful lifestyle because Jesus loves you and wants you to be happy.” This is far from the truth.
John the Baptist began his ministry with these words: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near” (Matthew 3:2). Jesus said, “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news”, and, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32). He said to some who were questioning Him, “Unless you repent, you will all perish” (Luke 13:3).
There are enough New Testament references to repentance that it should be clear it is of great importance. In response to God’s call on one’s life, there must be repentance, that is, to turn from a life of sin and self-rule to a life ruled by God and lived in His righteousness. In other words, the call to repent means we must abandon sinful lifestyles and express sorrow for our sins.
Christians and churches are not exempt. We must be constantly involved in self-examination, allowing the Holy Spirit to point out areas where change is needed. To continue living in sin, with no thought of changing (repenting) can only lead to judgment.
In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Reasons or Excuses?

Okay, here are the answers to some of the questions regarding our plans for the future, the change I’ve been talking about. No, we are not retiring from ministry or leaving Ericson. The Lord has not indicated to me that we are to stop doing what we are doing. What it does mean is that we are insuring that we have a place to live and call our own. We can live at Lake George as long as we want, but wisdom tells us to find a place a little less remote, and closer to the services we may need in the future. Lake Ericson is not exactly big city, but it is a lot closer to one. After living here for almost 14 years, this is home. You might pray for us, because all this is a bit overwhelming at times.

For a long time, I’ve noticed that when I talk to people, and they learn that I’m a pastor, they begin to make excuses for not being faithful in going to church. I want to say “tell those to the Lord, he’s the one to whom you will have to answer.” I’m not saying there are not legitimate reasons for missing a worship service, or a weekly Bible study. Many times circumstances just won’t let us be where we want to be. I do, however, have questions when the first response is some shallow excuse. Jesus told a story about a man who invited people to a banquet, and we read, “But they all alike began to make excuses.” (Luke 14:18). It is a picture of people excusing themselves from an invitation to follow Jesus.

Concerning those who refused to believe in Him, Jesus said this, “If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin, Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin” (John 15:22).

The devil prompts us to make excuses for our disobedience, while Scripture tells us to give the reason for our hope. “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. 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).

It would seem to make sense that we should give legitimate reasons for our behavior, instead of just manufacturing excuses.

Just thinking,

Pastor Jerry