Thursday, April 22, 2010


We have a tree on our property that is most unusual. It is just a small hemlock tree, but its peculiar appearance speaks to its most recent history. The strong winds of the December 2007 storm blew down a number of trees, some of which crashed down across our pond and onto the brush and trees below. That small hemlock lay hidden under its broad and weightier cousins for months. It was only after I began to move those downed trees that I discovered it and was then able to rescue it. I wondered whether the 25-foot tall tree would survive--it had been brought to the ground by all of the weight--but it bounced back up. Once released, it continued to grow in its awkward position, trying its best to regain its vertical bearing. Over a period of months it found its way. If you look at it now you can still see how it was once bent over, but now it has compensated for that misdirection with another bend towards the sun.

Jesus invites the "heavy-laden" to come to Him. He alone can lift the sin burden from our souls. The sin debt that weighed us down was "nailed to the cross" (Colossians 2:14). Through His work on the cross the believer has been relieved of sin's burden and released from sin's power.

Matthew 11:28-29, "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest."

Over time that little tree reoriented itself to a heavenward direction. An innate force redirected the tree top to reach for the sky. The Holy Spirit works in the believer to orient him in a Christward direction. He is always and patiently working to do that. "Earthly pleasures vainly call us," still He directs us Christward. Trials and troubles threaten us, still He directs us Christward. Sin failures discourage us, still He directs us Christward. We are burdened by a myriad of infirmities--He pulls us up, props us up, and points us towards Christ.

And sometimes God uses fellow believers to assist burden-laden souls. We are exhorted to "bear one another burdens" (Galatians 6:2). The burdens of life--sin failures, injuries, sickness, death, and sorrow--can weigh us down. Too often we see a discouraged soul only to ignore them or condemn them in their plight. How much better it is to do all that we can to help. God privileges us to come alongside a discouraged brother to give comfort and encouragement. True encouragement is the kind that looks to Christ as the ultimate source of help.

Galatians 6:2, "Bear one another burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ."

That little tree has a profound lesson for us. In spite of its history it has reoriented itself to stand straight and tall. It has joined its cousins in their upward climb to the sun. Likewise we are all "to reach for the Son." Encumbrances work to weigh us down and sin works to entangle us, but by faith we are to be "fixing our eyes on Jesus," that we may "not grow weary and lose heart" (Hebrews 12:1-3).

We all bear evidence of past storms that have burdened our souls. Praise God for Christ's work on the cross that has saved us. Praise God for how He continually works to redirect us to Himself. Past triumphs over sin burdens speak to the majesty of God's amazing grace.

Pastor Jerry

Friday, April 16, 2010


The following account is from Randy Alcorn's book "If God is Good" p. 436-437:

"Graham Staines left his home in Australia to minister to lepers in India for 34 years. He and his wife, Gladys, served Christ by serving the poorest of poor.

At midnight on January 23, 1999 a mob of militant Hindus murdered Graham and his two sons, Phillip, age 11, and Timothy, age 6. The killers invaded a Christian camp in the jungle, were Graham had ministered, and set fire to the Jeep in which Graham and his sons slept. When the fire finally cooled, believers found the charred body of Graham Stines with his arms wrapped around the bodies of his sons.

In the most appalling way, Gladys and Esther (their only remaining child) found themselves alone. Their response to the tragedy appeared on the front page of every newspaper in India. "I have only one message for the people of India," Gladys said, "I'm not bitter. Neither am I angry. But I have one great desire: That each citizen of this country should establish a personal relationship with Jesus Christ who gave his life for their sins...Let us burn hatred and spread the flame of Christ's love."

When asked about how she felt about the murder of her dad, 13 year old Esther said, "I praise the Lord that He found my father worthy to die for Him."

Gladys then stunned the nation by saying that God had called her and Esther to stay in India for that season. "My husband and my children have sacrificed their lives for this nation; India is my home. I hope to be here and continue to serve the needy."

At the funeral, masses of people filled the streets--Hindus, Muslims, and Christians. They came to show respect for the Staines family and demonstrate solidarity against the killers."

What a great example of forgiveness! God only knows how far reaching were the effects of Glady's forgiving response.

Pastor Jerry

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Here is a link to the recent Easter Cantata: