Friday, May 28, 2010


I didn’t know quite what to think of Helen Leigh when I first came to pastor here. Helen had been at the church from its beginning. She was best friends with the pianist, Harriet Pollard. They had been close friends for years. Back in the late 50s the two of them were out on a walk. As they passed by the seed barn that was then located here on Seppa Road, Helen said, "Can't you just see this as a church?" They went inside and looked around. Helen remarked, "The pulpit would go over here." And so the seed of a thought of a building for the newly formed church was planted. Helen and her first husband, Arvo, deeded the seed barn to the church. That seed barn was then remodeled and became the meeting place for the church for quite a few years.

I didn’t know all of that when I first came to the church, I only knew what I saw. Helen seemed to me to be kind of stern and aloof. I wondered to myself if she had been a part of the undercurrent of discontent that had troubled the church for so many years. So when she invited me, the new Pastor, to her house for lunch, I was a little bit nervous.

Helen and Harold (her second husband) lived in the house across the road and to the west of the church. It was a quick walk to their home. I was warmly greeted by the both of them and we enjoyed lunch together, then she got down to business. She wanted to know what I was made of. I don’t remember all of the questions that she asked, but there were quite a few. Her interview was not to determine whether or not I would come to Pastor, that had already been decided. Her interview of me was to impress upon me some matters of importance.

She asked me what I thought was the most important virtue for a Pastor to possess. What a great question! I suppose that there are several possible answers, but I answered, “humility,” and went on to explain why. My thinking was that Pastors can sometimes be prone to be prideful and that pride works against spiritual dependence on the Lord, spiritual growth, and is contrary to Christlikeness. She appreciated my response, but suggested that integrity was the most important virtue. I thought that to be keen insight on her part. Her response no doubt arose from the practical experience of pastors who had failed to show integrity in the past. Integrity is an essential virtue for pastors and leaders--without integrity how can there be any trust? We ended our time together and I walked away with a new appreciation for the depths of Helen’s wisdom.

Sometimes first impressions are all wrong. My first impressions were that she was stern and aloof, the reality was that she was wary and needed some time to find out what the new Pastor was like. There had been too many failed situations in the past. Trust would have to be earned over time--which it was. You know what I found out about Helen Leigh?--she was an incredibly wise, caring, and delightful person. She so much enjoyed playing together with Harriet--Helen on the organ and Harriet on the piano. They did that for many many years. She was a retired school teacher and knew something about teaching--she paid attention to what was being taught. She looked after Laura and I. She bought Vitamin C tablets for me when I got a cold. She invited us to go out to dinner with her and Harold--they paid for dinner and for the babysitter also! She cared about us. She was a big help and became a good friend. But that was not my first impression.

I didn’t know it when I first came to the church, but Helen’s first husband, Arvo Seppa, had played a role in my ultimate calling to pastor the church. My uncle Bob had visited the church in the early 1970s. He had come to the church purposefully wearing his dirtiest clothes anticipating that the people would treat him poorly. It was Arvo who walked up to Bob and told him, “So glad to see you here, this is just where you need to be.” Arvo’s warm reception was in keeping with God’s invitation to Bob to trust in Christ--which he ultimately did. Bob was saved. He later prayed for me and I was saved. I was eventually prepared for ministry and called to pastor the church. Arvo greeted my uncle Bob as a visitor to the church, Helen would later welcome me as its Pastor. Her family had played a key role in the salvation of my uncle Bob, and later in my own. Sometimes there is more to a matter than what we see in our first impression.

Pastor Jerry

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


When I first came to Lewis and Clark Bible Church the building and yards were in a pretty sad state. The parsonage had been used and abused--with little upkeep and no improvements done--for many years. There was cat urine stains in the ceiling, worn carpet in the rooms, and holes in the walls. The parsonage bedroom had a unique 1970s decor--red felt patterned wallpaper and thick pile hot pink carpeting. Needless to say, there was much need for improvements. The church building also had its problems. The upstairs bathrooms were not finished and were not usable. Lights hung from the ceiling in the play room. The kitchen was not finished--there were unfinished projects everywhere. The yards were none better. The front parking lot was a gravel/grass/muddle puddle mix. There were a few rhododendrons and roses in the front yard--but most of it was unkempt. Curiously, there was a big mound of dirt in the front yard, not far south of the mailboxes.

I asked about that mound of dirt. I asked Jim, Vic, and Larry Peterson about that dirt pile (Jim and Vic were our two Deacons at the time, Larry was one of the trustees). One of them told me it covered buried treasure. It would be some time before I found out what was really buried there.

There were also some buried secrets in the past of the church. It didn’t take much investigation on my part to find out about them. There had been a major church split back in the early 1980s. It had been one of those tragic church situations that you hear about from time to time. Issues with the Pastor had led to a vote of confidence. The church was evenly divided as to what to do. The situation was not well resolved. Many ended up leaving. Bitterness and hard feelings continued on. In my early days as Pastor I would often run into people who had once gone to Lewis and Clark Bible Church, but had since left. They had moved onto other churches in the community (or, in some cases, had stopped going to church altogether). Their fond memories of the church were clouded by the bitter wars that had ended in division and loss. I met regularly with the church treasurer, Harriet Pollard, she refrained from saying too much about those days, except to say to me that I would not have believed some of the things that had gone on.

How do you build on that? How can a church be rescued from a terrible reputation? That was the task to which God had called me. It would not have happened apart from the prayers of two men. They had witnessed the destruction, they turned to God for help in the rebuilding. Jim continually reminded me during those early days that it was going to take some time. We were determined. Oftentimes there were only a couple of us at prayer meeting--we prayed. Church services were not particularly well attended--we preached the Word. Our first month’s budget was only $600--we trusted God to provide. We believed that in order for the church to succeed it would need to focus on Christ and the preaching of His Word. We committed doing that. We brought a new “Bible-oriented” approach to the ministry. That led to the institution of an “elder-led” form of church government (the church had been congregational rule). We, Jim and Vic and I, determined to submit our decisions to the Lord and to His Word. Many tough decisions were made that way. God honored that.

There were some at the time who were afraid to attend quarterly meetings. They had experienced some real “Donnybrooks” in the past. Our meetings were not like that. We almost always had unanimous consent to any votes that were taken--a condition that exists to this day. We have held to the belief that it is Christ who builds His church. It is left to us then to believe in His ability to do that and our willingness to follow His instructions. Such an approach has served us well over the years. We continue to believe and affirm that the church is to be founded on the principles of God’s Word--and God will take care of the rest. If that means numerical growth--so be it. But the church must be careful to avoid man-centered approaches to doing that which God alone is capable of doing--”Building HIS Church.”

What about that mound of dirt? Some months after I arrived, Larry Peterson and I started work on some improvements to the landscaping in the front of the church. Larry borrowed a tractor from the dairy to do some excavating. We moved a lot of dirt around and we tackled that mound of dirt. What treasure would we find? Some buried Pastors from previous church wars? As he began to dig he hit something solid. I grabbed a shovel to uncover whatever it was. It was the buried pieces of the sidewalk from the old church building. Instead of disposing of them elsewhere, they had been piled up in the front yard and covered over with dirt. We found a better place to dispose of them.

God alone can deal with our past. Any church is made up of imperfect people and is therefore imperfect itself--but Our Lord is perfect. Buried secrets in our past are “open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do” (Hebrews 4:13). But the God who knows us, loves us. He has proven His love in the willing sacrifice of His own Son for our sins (1 John 3:16). He died to save us--to forgive us, transform us, and bring us safely home to heaven one day. Where there is pain, bitterness, and loss--He is able to bring comfort, restoration, and joy. He gives “a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting, so that they will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified” (Isaiah 61:3). The transformation of His people and His church is all to the praise of the glory of His grace! Praise the Lord!

Pastor Jerry

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


June 1st will mark my 20th year of ministry here at LCBC. I am so thankful that God has privileged me to serve in this place for these years! I thought I’d use my blog to share some stories from the past in celebration of this day.

Not everyone was in favor of my coming here to Lewis & Clark Bible Church. My co-workers thought I was extremely foolish to leave my good-paying job at Trojan Nuclear Plant. A family member wondered how I was going to be able to provide for the needs of my family. But the most surprising voice of opposition was that of a local Pastor. Soon after my first visit he called me and arranged for us to have lunch together. I traveled down from our home in Columbia City to meet him for lunch at a restaurant in Knappa.

He explained that he wanted to meet with me to warn me of what I would find at the church. The church had reputation for “eating up” Pastors. They had had a number of Pastors in the previous decade and they all had left under difficult circumstances. His thought was that I should carefully consider whether or not it was wise to take my family to such a place.

Needless to say—I was surprised. My response?—I told him that I was wholly committed to doing God’s will in the matter, whatever that was. “God’s will—nothing more, nothing less, nothing else” is an apt description of where my heart lie in the matter. I also told him that if God called me to Pastor the church then He would take care of us in whatever way He saw fit.

Obviously, I did not heed the Pastor’s advice-and God has provided. And though, I may have been bitten a few times, I have not been “eaten up.” To the contrary, God has blessed us with a wonderful Church family that loves the Lord and loves to serve.

I am reminded by that experience of the counsel given by one of the elderly ladies, Ethel Gustafson, to the congregation. She wrote from the experience of a church member of a church that could not retain a Pastor of the need to take good care of their Pastor. Her message was ultimately published in the Voice Magazine. This is what she wrote for my August 1st Installation Service…

1. We have a challenge to overcome how we are regarded by those in the area:

a. Bad attitudes.

b. We’re a church that gobbles up pastors.

2. We can change if we:

a. Examine our own hearts.

b. Resolve differences as soon as possible.

c. Do not quibble over trivial matters.

d. Work together as a team with pastor, deacons, trustees, and others.

e. Remember our pastor is human (he’ll make mistakes, get tired, and be overworked).

g. Remember no good pastor is good at everything.

h. Remember he has physical needs, financial problems, family needs just like we do.

i. Remember he needs a living wage.

j. Remember he needs time to be left alone for devotions and Bible study and prayer.

k. Remember his children are no better or worse than ours.

l. Remember his wife has as many needs as any wife and can’t be expected to be at every meeting much less be in charge of all of them.

m. Remember he is a special target of Satan and needs our daily prayers.

n. Remember each of us needs to be available to do something and make it known we are.

3. Remember to get things into perspective and ask ourselves, “Why do we exist?”

a. To improve our own spiritual lives.

b. To worship together.

c. To be a corporate witness of Lewis and Clark Bible Church to the area (one bad apple will spoil the whole box).

d. We are a support group each for all and all for each.

Praise the Lord for Ethel's wise counsel to the church family!

Praise the Lord for 20 years of opportunity to serve!

Pastor Jerry

Monday, May 24, 2010


Saw on the news the story of a school text book that had taken the liberty to rewrite the preamble to the Declaration of Independence. I'm not sure what gives them the right to do that, but this is what they changed:


We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.


We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed...with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

I'm not sure who or what DOT DOT DOT is, but I'm not sure that we can count on him (or it) to see to the preservation of these rights. Far better to trust in the Creator of all things, than the DOT DOT DOT the secular humanists have created to take His place. Beyond that--they can delete the reference to Him from a school text book, that does not eliminate Him--"And there is no creature bidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do" (Hebrews 4:13).

Pastor Jerry

Friday, May 21, 2010


This is from the conclusion of one of Spurgeon's sermons: "When, last Friday, I had the honour of preaching to many thousand persons in the open air, such an assembly as I never dreamed of seeing and such a vast number as I could scarcely have fancied would have met for any religious purpose, I noticed a most singularly powerful echo, constantly taking up the last words of my sentences and sending them back, as if some great giant voice had spoken to confirm what I had said. When I had repeated the words, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved," echo said, "Saved!" and when I proceeded, "He that believeth not shall be damned," I heard the echo gently say "Damned!" Methinks this morning I hear that echo: "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved;" and the saints above cry, "Saved!" Hark! how they sing before the throne! Hark! how your glorified parents and your immortalized relatives, cry, "Saved!" Hear ye not the echo, as it echoes from the blue sky of heavens—"Saved!" And, oh! doleful thought, when I utter those words, "He that believeth not shall be damned," there comes up that dread word—"Damned!" from the place where there are "hollow groans, and sullen moans, and shrieks of tortured ghosts." God grant that you may never know what it is to be damned! God give you to believe now; for, "today, if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts."


On the aluminum cap atop the Washington Monument in Washington, DC are two words: Laus Deo. No one can see these words. In fact ... most visitors to the monument have no idea they are even there and ... for that matter ...probably could care less!

But there they are ... 555 feet, 5.125 inches high ... perched atop the monument to the father of our nation. Overlooking the 69 square miles which comprise the District of Columbia. capital of the United States of America.

Laus Deo! Two seemingly insignificant, unnoticed words ... out of sight and, one might think, out of mind ... but very meaningfully placed at the highest point over what is the most powerful city in the world.

And what might those two words ... comprised of just four syllables and only seven letters ... mean? Very simply ... "Praise be to God!"

Though construction of this giant obelisk began in 1848 when James Polk was President of the United States, it was not until 1888 that the monument was inaugurated and opened to the public. It took twenty-five years to finally cap the memorial with the tribute Laus Deo! "Praise be to God!"

From atop this magnificent granite and marble structure ... a visitor can take in the beautiful panoramic view of the city with its division into four major segments. And from that vantage point one can also easily see the original plan of the designer, Pierre Charles l'Enfant ... a perfect cross imposed upon the landscape ... with the White House to the North. the Jefferson Memorial to the South ... the Capitol to the East ... and the Lincoln Memorial to the West. A cross ... you say?

How interesting! And ... no doubt ... intended to carry a meaning for those who bother to notice. "Praise be to God!"

(Note: Some have argued that this couldn't have happened by Pierre's intent because he proposed the original design in 1791, which was long before it was decided that the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials would be built and where (1911 and 1934). But it could have happened by the sovereign design of Another).

Within the monument itself are 898 steps and 50 landings. As one climbs the steps and pauses at the landings the memorial stones share a message. On the 12th Landing is a prayer offered by the City of Baltimore; on the 20th is a memorial presented by some Chinese Christians; on the 24th a presentation made by Sunday School children from New York and Philadelphia. It says "A preached Gospel" and "A free press" then closes with "Washington, we revere his memory." The inscriptions include the Bible reference Proverbs 10:7. "Praise be to God!"

When the cornerstone of the Washington Monument was laid on July 4th, 1848 deposited within it were many items including the Holy Bible presented by the Bible Society. Praise be to God! Such was the discipline, the moral direction, the spiritual mood given by the founder and first President of our unique democracy ... "one nation, under God."

I am awed by Washington's prayer for America. Have you never read it? Well, now is your opportunity ... read on!

"Almighty God; We make our earnest prayer that Thou wilt keep the United States in Thy holy protection; that Thou wilt incline the hearts of the citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to government; and entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another and for their fellow citizens of the United states at large." "And finally that Thou wilt most graciously be pleased to dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that charity, humility, and pacific temper of mind which were the characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed religion, and without a humble imitation of whose example in these things we can never hope to be a happy nation. Grant our supplication, we beseech Thee, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."

Laus Deo!

It is clear when one studies the history of our great nation that Washington's America was one of the few countries in all the world established under the guidance, direction and banner of Almighty God, to whom was given all praise, honor and worship by the great men who formed and fashioned her pivotal foundations. And when one stops to observe the inscriptions found in public places all over our nation's capitol ... one will easily find the signature of God. Laus Deo! "Praise be to God!" Author Unknown

Pastor Jerry (I added a few comments)

Thursday, May 20, 2010


This is a wonderful easy-reading biography of one of the most influential Pastors in the 1700s--a man who played a large role in the Great Awakening that transformed the American colonies.

The life of George Whitefield was anything but typical. While at Oxford and attending "The Holy Club" under the influence John Wesley, Whitefield was convinced by a book that he was not born again. Fearful of being eternally lost he determined to find his way. Over a period of months he fasted, prayed, and humbled himself before God. His studies and his health suffered. He became so weak that a physician confined him to bed for seven weeks. When there was nothing else that he could do, God revealed Himself in grace and granted to Whitefield that which he could not earn. He was born again.

Having first preached some in England, in December of 1737 Whitefield boarded a vessel bound for Georgia to preach the gospel. His visit to Georgia impressed upon him the need to provide for an Orphan house for the numerous orphans of settlers who had died. He returned to England to secure a charter and money for that purpose. His efforts to minister to the orphans continued for the rest of his life.

Because of the nature of his preaching Whitefield was shut out of many churches in England. His preaching was unique, from that found in many of the established churches, in that he spoke of the need to be born again through faith in Christ. He spoke plainly and simply such that the common people could understand. He possessed a voice of unusual clarity. Through the influence of another man he began "Open Air" meetings. During one period he was holding 30 some meetings a week. These meetings drew huge crowds. It was not unusual for him to speak to six or seven thousand and on some occasions tens of thousands. On one occasion following his return to America, Benjamin Franklin--a friend of Whitefields--measured the distance at which Whitefield’s voice could be heard, and stated, "I computed he might well be heard by more than thirty thousand."

Though he had been influenced much by John Wesley, doctrinal divisions worked to separate the two. Whitefield favored Predestination, Wesley opposed it and even preached a sermon against Whitefield’s view. Wesley’s evangelistic work was sometimes accompanied by "convulsion-like attacks," Whitefield expressed his dislike of that. Wesley began to declare his doctrine of "Christian Perfection," Whitefield argued against it. He summed up his attitude in saying, "Every grace that is in the blessed Jesus is to be transplanted into our hearts; we are to be delivered by the power of sin but not from the indwelling and being of sin in this life. HEREAFTER we are to be preserved blameless, without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing."

In 1740 Whitefield again visited America. He preached repeatedly throughout the thirteen colonies. This period, the Great Awakening, was undoubtedly the richest time of spiritual blessing in the nation’s history. His presence was not without controversy. He wrote a letter condemning the harsh treatment of slaves. In those days it was frequently asked, "Does the Negro have a soul?" and Whitefield gave the first widely heard positive reply that the black man was basically no different than the white man. Notably, his preaching to the blacks also led to the creation of the "Negro Spiritual." These matters, combined with his supposed "un-Anglican" actions led an Anglican leader to attempt to expel him from the ministry.

Whitefield and other Pastors in England determined to take the gospel message to the "Mobs." These were the "wildest and most brutal of men" unreached by the "Religious Societies" of the day. The Mob responded to preaching of the gospel with fists and clubs and beating of Pastors, but still the ministers of the gospel returned. Whitefield himself experienced some of that kind of treatment. The efforts of Whitefield and others bore fruit over time as many ultimately trusted in Christ for salvation.

He continued his ministry in England, Scotland, and America with fruitfulness. He literally preached himself to death. On one occasion he was warned by a doctor to allow himself a period of rest. His reply? "I intend to preach till I drop." On September 29, 1770 Whitefield preached a final sermon. It was given with such clearness and eloquence that many hearers stated it was the greatest sermon they had ever heard from him. It was from the text, "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith." One gentleman wrote of the occasion, "Mr. Whitefield rose and stood erect, and his appearance alone was a powerful sermon. He remained several minutes unable to speak, and then said, "I will wait for the gracious assistance of god..." "I go," he cried, "I go to a rest prepared; my sun has arisen and by aid from Heaven has given light to many. It is now about to set--no, it is about to rise to the zenith of eternal glory. Many may outlive me on earth, but they cannot outlive me in Heaven. Oh thought divine! I shall soon be in a world where time, age, pain, and sorrow are unknown. My body fails, my spirit expands. How willingly would I live to preach Christ! But I die to be with Him!" George Whitefield died the next morning.

George Whitefield preached some 30,000 sermons. He preached to the poor and uneducated and to English aristocrats and American statesmen. He was considered in his day to be "the most brilliant and popular preacher the modern world has ever known." You will be encouraged and inspired by this book.

Pastor Jerry

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Quote from "Worship Matters," by Bob Kauflin...

"Because of our sin and negligence, we lose sight of the glories of Calvary. That's why pastors and worship leaders must make sure Calvary is always in our view. One of the most important aspects of biblical worship we desperately need to recover today is passionate, scripturally informed exaltation of Jesus Christ and His redemptive work. Every time we step up to lead our congregation, we should present a clear picture of "the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" (2 Cor. 4:6). We come together to retell, remember, and respond to the gospel and all it has accomplished. We have been saved to trust in, love, desire, and obey the matchless One who is the only Savior of the world and the radiance of the Father's glory..."