Orlando…

Orlando Police officers direct family members away from a fatal shooting at Pulse Orlando nightclub in Orlando, Fla., Sunday, June 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
(AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

I turned on the television Sunday morning and was greeted by horrific news. In the wee hours of the morning, a gunman had killed 50 people at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Another 53 were injured, and many of them may not make it.
Pulse is advertised as the hottest gay club in Orlando, and it appears that the motive for the killing may have been homophobia in addition to a devotion to ISIS. The combination led to the senseless loss of lives. Continue reading Orlando…

Broken, But Beautiful

imageIt was the last day of our mini-vacation. As my wife, Lanette, climbed the stairs into our motor home I heard a clatter and then a groan. My wife’s iPhone 6 Plus had fallen right onto the concrete driveway. I’m not sure if you are aware of the effect of gravity and concrete on a cell phone, but let it suffice to say that it does not have a happy ending. Lanette’s screen was shattered, and the phone was almost unusable. Sure, she could have kept using it, but trying to look through the labyrinth of cracks and miniature glass shards would have certainly driven her crazy. If you have been married any length of time you know that crazy is passed on from wives to husbands.
Since our cell phones have become almost as necessary to our lives as oxygen, the phone had to be fixed. I found Tyler in Brawley and he made an appointment to fix the shattered screen. He met Lanette at a coffee house and while they talked he replaced the destroyed screen, and just like that, Lanette’s phone was good as new. The phone went from unusable to as good as new in just a few minutes. You can’t even tell anything ever happened to the phone. Well, except for a small blemish right where the phone hit the concrete. The small mark in the metal will always be there as a subtle reminder that it may be good as new, but someone had to fix it to make it that way.
The Japanese have a practice called “kintsugi.” Kintsugi is the practice of joining broken pottery with lacquer resin made to look like gold. The finished project is even more beautiful, not despite of the repairs, but because of them. Instead of hiding the scars of brokenness, kintsugi highlights them, showing the beauty of being broken.
In our lives, all of us have moments of brokenness. Very few of us grew up in perfect homes. Our teen years can be a mish-mash of uncertainty and insecurity. As we moved into adulthood we found new opportunities to be hurt. And through it all, we have been chipped, broken and often felt destroyed.
Into our pain and brokenness comes a savior who is willing to mend us and make us better than new. Just like kintsugi, as we are repaired by God’s love, become even more beautiful because of all that we have been through. Every scar, every ding, every chip is another opportunity for us to be made more beautiful through God’s grace.
Jesus knows all about brokenness. Matthew 26:26-28 says, “During the meal, Jesus took and blessed the bread, broke it, and gave it to his disciples: Take, eat. This is my body. Taking the cup and thanking God, he gave it to them: Drink this, all of you. This is my blood, God’s new covenant poured out for many people for the forgiveness of sins.” Jesus understood that he had to be broken in order to accomplish God’s work in us. Without Jesus’s death on the cross we could not have salvation. Once again, brokenness leads to grace and beauty.
So what about you? Are you ready to let God have your pain and hurt so he can make you something beautiful? Sitting right where you are, you can begin the process of letting God begin repairing, beautifying and making your life whole, all you need to do is reach out to him. Your words don’t have to be fancy, they don’t even have to be the “right” words. Just tell him you are ready. Ready to give him your hurt, your pain, and everything you are. Like Japanese pottery, you will be even more beautiful once you are repaired.
Glad for repaired hearts… Jerry

The Bible And Church Potlucks

imageThe sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and it is a beautiful day for a church potluck. I see Mrs. Smith has brought her world-famous, make Colonel Sanders weep, fried chicken.
Somebody else has brought peach cobbler. Oh, I will definitely have some of that after the chicken. On second thought, I might as well eat dessert first, you never know, a meteor could fall and wipe out civilization before I get to it. I don’t want to be stuck scanning the sky for falling space rocks while I eat my fried chicken. Yep, peach cobbler is definitely first.
As I walk down the table full of bountiful delights, a couple of things stick out. Some do-gooder brought a kale salad. Who brings kale salad to a church potluck? I guarantee you that they are going home with almost the same amount of kale salad as they came with. Broccoli! Not broccoli casserole with cheese and ham, not even broccoli in cheese sauce. It’s not even the raw broccoli that you can dip in ranch dressing to give it taste. It’s just, broccoli, steamed and green and lifeless there in a bowl. Blecch. Continue reading The Bible And Church Potlucks

Ellie, the Playland and Grasshoppers

grasshopper-1527351If, for some inexplicable reason, I go to hell, I imagine it will look a lot like the Atwater McDonald’s Playland I spent a week in last Wednesday. The only thing the Playland was missing was flames. There was plenty of weeping and gnashing of teeth, mostly by me.

At one point my granddaughter, Ellie, looked at the highest tower of hell, I mean the top of the Playland and said, “It’s too high for me to go up there. I’m too small.” Continue reading Ellie, the Playland and Grasshoppers

Election Year Survival Guide

imageWell, like tornado season, or the inevitable time period where Imperial Valley residents can make a local call to hell, election time is upon us. Just as annoying as summer heat, and just like the hot weather, election time will go away in the late fall.
As a service to my loyal readers (both of you, you know who you are), here is Uncle Jer’s Election Year Survival Guide. That last sentence would be a lot more impressive if you imagined a deep, booming voice delivering it. Try it, it’s fun…

  • Try this fun tip. Every time the Democrats compare Republicans to Nazis, or Republicans compare Democrats to Communists, put a dime in a jar. You’ll have that new car saved up for in no time.
    Every time a Republican mentions Ronald Reagan, put a quarter in the jar. Every time a Democrat mentions Bill Clinton, put a quarter in the jar. That new house you want is closer than you think.
  • I like to think of politician promises a lot like the chocolate I made one year that was stuffed with tuna. Yes, I really did that. You can find the story on my website. Anyway, their promises remind me of that chocolate. It was beautiful on the outside, then when my brother Greg bit into it, it was disgusting, disappointing and pretty infuriating. Yep, that pretty well sums up the promises of politicians.
  • I’m honestly not sure which would be worse: four years of Donald Trump’s hair, or four years of Hilary’s voice. Either one is a truly frightening proposition.
  • Please don’t vote for anyone simply because they say they are a Christian, or they believe in God. As I’ve stated before, the oath of office for president precludes anyone from running America as a Christian nation. Vote your conscience, pray before you cast your ballot for God to help guide you, but don’t take the politician’s words for it. They are a lot like tuna chocolates…
  • If your car has a bumper sticker that says, “Jesus for president in 2016” please remove it. Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, why would he lower himself to be simply president?
  • Do your very best to avoid posting pictures on Facebook that are just going to incite your friends. You are going to have to look these people in the eyes when this election season is over. It will be a lot easier if you don’t post something saying they are atheistic, god-hating, booger-eating morons, or if you don’t act like they are racist homophobes because they simply don’t agree with your viewpoints. Remember: “I disagree with you” is not the same as “I hate you.” To quote the great philosopher Rodney King, “Can’t we all just get along?”
  • Have an opinion. Vote. Heck, even put one of those signs up in your yard, just be civil.
  • Pastors, please don’t disrespect and cheapen your pulpit and the calling God has given you by preaching politics. Preach Jesus and let him change the hearts of people.
  • Finally, remember that God is in control of this whole thing. We may not understand it, we may not agree with what he is doing, but he is in control. Pray for our nation, and let God move on the hearts of people. Reach out to your neighbors in Christ’s love and see what happens in them. America is due for a revival, but no politician is going to bring it. God’s people will usher it in as they remember they are God’s people, not Republicans or Democrats.

Some of you might be pretty mad at me right now. If it’s any consolation, you should see the stuff I left out, that would really send you over the edge.

Trying to change America one person at a time … Jerry

Sermon Audio: Changing the Rules

rulesThis is my latest message in the Remnant series, “Walk The Line” a series on grace in the Book of Romans.

This message is titled, “Changing the Rules” and it talks about God’s grace in our lives, and what it means to live in grace.

Take a listen, and pass it on to someone who needs to experience God’s grace.

The Christmas Birds

gooses-1523997On a cold, snowy midwest Christmas Eve…

I can’t believe my wife is getting dressed for church. Church! It’s snowing outside, the fire is going and it is nice and warm in here. What is she thinking?

Knowing I am better off not to even try, I say “Babe, I know you like going to church, and hey, I’m not usually against it, but tonight? It’s Christmas Eve, and it is freezing out there. Can’t you skip church tonight?” Continue reading The Christmas Birds

Uncle Jer’s Christmas Decoration Guide

fruitcakeWell, it’s that time of year again. As the Thanksgiving turkey was still digesting, Christmas decorations were popping up all over town. Frosty the Snowman made an appearance or two. You see a lot of elves, and Santa is stinking everywhere! For an old fat guy, the dude sure gets around. Being an old fat guy myself, I kind of admire his spunk… Continue reading Uncle Jer’s Christmas Decoration Guide