Friday, January 26, 2007

One Year on the Blog

It has been one year since we started this blog. We, being myself and my wife Judi with the help of our son Andrew the 1st, have spent some time looking back and assessing where we’ve been and where we are at. We realize that time is short in everyone’s busy life so I’m going to work on making the blogs a little shorter. We will try to have a blog up by the end of each week. People have asked if I could blog twice a week. I would like to do that but some weeks I just don’t have the time. We will strive to post more blogs, not just to achieve numbers but to make this site worth your effort of searching it out. Thank you for your interest and concern.

We thank you for your comments. Please comment, it lets us know if people are reading and being challenged by the blog; let us know if you disagree. I need to be held accountable for the truth.

We plan on adding other writers, younger writers. We will update when this happens. It will bring different insight into the blog. Variety is the spice of life.

We have also added my speaking schedule so people will know what I’m doing and where I am at. Stop by and surprise us sometime.

I had not been at our home church for quite awhile. Last Sunday a man asked me, “Jerry, what do you find in common with all the churches where you preach?” An interesting and good question. My response was that I see hurting people everywhere. We need to be there for one another. I don’t know how well we do at being brothers and sisters in the Lord.

My battle with prostate cancer is going well. I’m going in for tests during the 3rd week of February. Pray for me. Thank you in advance.

To whomever you are, wherever you are, take this blessing with you…

May God bless you and keep you. May the roads rise up to meet you, may the prairie winds be always at your back, may the sun shine warmly upon your face, and the rains and snow fall gently upon your fields. Until we meet again…May the Lord hold you in the palm of His hand and May He keep your hand steady till the setting of the golden sun as we wait with expectation for Christ’s glorious return. Amen. Amen.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Always Living at the Wrong Time

I was the last of four children. When you’re the last in the family, you become labeled with a name we “last ones” do not like; it’s “the baby of the family.” I was 56 years old and my older sister Mary Ann, still called me the baby of the family.

Being the baby has its problems. I was four when my older sister went off to school. Oh, how I wanted to go to school. Two years later I was in kindergarten only to find out when you’re in kindergarten you’re the low man on the totem pole. Oh, I longed to be in 1st grade. First grade was great for awhile but then I decided the best position would be 6th grade since that is the highest grade. I found out it’s cool to be a sixth grader but I’m not in junior high. Junior high came; it was great but I couldn’t wait to be a senior. My goal was to graduate, get into the real world, see what the world had to offer and not be some small town senior.

After graduation I went into the Air Force; I couldn’t wait to get out of basic training. In basic training, I was lowest of the low; I knew it and so did everyone else. I wanted to be in Air Force Tech School. I got into Air Force Tech School, the school of my choice. I just wanted to finish school, to use my gifts and talents. I got out of tech school. I got into the Air Force unit I chose, had a great time, traveled a lot, worked hard, learned a lot, grew up but I just wanted to get back state side. When I got back state side, I couldn’t wait to get out of the Air Force so I could go to college. I got out, went to college, and wanted to get out of college so I could get a “real” job.

Along the way, I fell in love with a beautiful girl. We worked hard. We couldn’t wait to have kids. We had kids, two of them, what a joy. Mom didn’t really want them to go to school but they had to and they began to grow. Before we know it, they were 18 and walking out the door to college.

The house became quiet. They finished college, got jobs, grew up and now we wish they would get married and we could have grandkids. Then they…and then after that…and then later…and then what??

I sat alone on a beautiful winter night contemplating and wondered if other people go through life seeming to live in the wrong time. By wrong time I mean always looking ahead and seldom, if ever, enjoying today

Today is the day of salvation. Today may be the last day of our life. I thought I’d never say this but: live for today, live wildly, live radically today. Live for Christ today. None of us are promised tomorrow. When we are always concerned with tomorrow, we don’t live and enjoy today.

James 4:13-15 (The Message) says: “And now I have a word for you who brashly announce, "Today - at the latest, tomorrow - we're off to such and such a city for the year. We're going to start a business and make a lot of money. You don't know the first thing about tomorrow. You're nothing but a wisp of fog, catching a brief bit of sun before disappearing. Instead, make it a habit to say, "If the Master wills it and we're still alive, we'll do this or that."

Friday, January 12, 2007

Vision Statement Written or Vision Lived Out

Mission and vision statements bug me. Once the darlings of the corporate world, they have now been mainstreamed into the church. When a church has to write a mission statement, it usually tells me they don’t like the one God gave them, namely, when Jesus says “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20 NIV)

Last Sunday, I saw vision lived out. We were invited to Bunde Christian Reformed Church in Bunde, Minnesota (don’t look on the map, it’s too small!) for a praise service in their new 420 seat sanctuary. In the world’s wisdom, you do not erect a 420 seat sanctuary in the middle of the prairie in a town of 30 people. You just don’t do that; but they did. Why?? They have vision and they are obedient. Bunde CRC did this during the 3 years they were without a pastor. They have been obedient when I’m sure people said “you’re nuts!”

Oswald Chambers said this in his little book His Utmost for His Highest, a daily devotional (well worth buying) on page 64: “It is easier to serve God without a vision, easier to work for God without a call, because then you are not bothered by what God requires; common sense is your guide, veneered over with Christian sentiment. You will be more prosperous and successful, more leisure-hearted, if you never realize the call of God. But if once you receive a commission from Jesus Christ, the memory of what God wants will always come like a goad; you will no longer be able to work for Him on the common-sense basis.” Acts 20:24 says: “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.”

No, Bunde CRC’s 420 seat sanctuary on the prairie does not make “common sense,” but God has HIS ways and they are not our ways.

People were standing around afterwards talking, people not from the local area who said, “I would drive 30 miles to attend church here.” Why? Not because they have a new building but in the words of one man, “Someone here has a vision, someone had the guts to obey and move forward.” Remember this, people are not attracted to new buildings, they are attracted to a vision.

I agree with Chambers, it is easier to serve God without a vision. You see, then we’re not challenged, we just sit and become self-righteous, pious back-slappers, feeling good about our good deeds while the world around us goes to hell. It’s time to go to work. Let’s GO like Christ said. We do not need to take Christ to the hurting world, He’s already here. We need to get up and see what He is doing. Let’s live the vision not just write about it or think about it while sitting in our overstuffed chairs. God help us. With new vision and purpose, may we all go forth in faith because He promises that He will be with us always. Remember we are not our own but we are His. Let’s be obedient and go to work. Amen.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Keeping Our Vows

It was the first snow in the area last Sunday morning; roads were icy. Attendance was down at the church where I preached. An interesting fact: we had four people in wheel chairs in attendance. Of all the people, these people or their caregivers responded most to my message.

I spoke from Psalm 112:7, “He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.” We talked about trials and tribulations and God’s sovereign rule. We discussed how we do not like God’s sovereign hand sometimes; we also talked about (Psalm 73:16, 17, 21-22) how when we try to understand God’s plan, it can be oppressive, sometimes making us bitter and angry towards God.

She stood next to the handicap elevator. She stood behind her husband’s wheelchair. He has a brain tumor; and depending on the day, one day interacting and communicating, the next day, totally silent. It was a silent day. She is in her 60’s, still beautiful with a pretty smile. She graduated from high school with my brother. I remembered her and her husband; rock-solid farming stock; Dutch; resolute; determined.

She shared with me her everyday battle. She was not complaining in the least bit but I believe she needed to talk. And oh, did she teach me something!

She said her social worker encouraged her to put Bill in the nursing home so she could rest and “do what she wanted to do.” She told me she got angry and told the social worker, “Forty five years ago, at the altar where we married, I committed myself to him and God. I promised I would be there in sickness and health and I intend to carry that out now, out to the end, Good Lord willing.” As she told me this, tears rolled down her face.

Her life is not easy. On certain days she feels so alone, tired, hopeless, and frustrated but she loves her man and she intends to keep her promise no matter what!

Last Sunday, I humbly stood in the presence of a true hero. A faithful wife, mother, caregiver and Christian woman who is willingly sacrificing her self for the love of her husband—a Christ-like example in these times. We prayed and tears rolled down my face.