Friday, August 12, 2016

The Death Of A Saint: We Really Never Say Goodbye, Only See You Later!

I attended a funeral at our church on Wednesday.(8/10/16) One of our Deacons, John, lost his mom to cancer. Maria, a member of Red Mills Baptist Church, was a beautiful Saint who always had a smile on her face, even with a disheartening diagnosis of cancer some months ago.
This was my first "True" Christian Funeral, and I still overwhelmed by the dignity in mourning, not as the World mourns
(1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)over the death of a saint.

Pastor James Harrison's Biblical and Gospel-centered remarks and sermon not only honored Maria, but the One True God Who gives, sustains, saves, and ultimately ends the Earthly life of all human beings, for His Glory.

Deacon John spoke with heartfelt emotion and loving eloquence about his mother's very full and well lived life. He wanted to find a way to say "Goodbye" to his mother. But, when a Saint dies, they may leave us and this Earth, but they are not gone. Those of us who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and His resurrection, will meet again in Heaven. Maria had encountered the true meaning of life, and real joy when she became a Christian a number of years ago. She found her identity in Jesus Christ through repentance and faith in Him alone.
She saw the change in her son John after he became a follower of Christ some time before, and she wanted Jesus to save her too. And He did! There is no goodbye, only see you later.

She was baptized by Pastor Harrison in the very same sanctuary where her coffin was positioned for the funeral service. What beautiful imagery, a coffin reposing near the position where the deceased had once entered the waters of Baptism, to publically proclaim her faith, and identify herself with the life, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.
It was simply amazing, like no other funeral I ever attended.
Pastor Harrison became even more profound to me that day. He is someone I truly want to emulate, and follow as he follows Jesus Christ.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

"The Gift"

Today, April 25th is my Veronika’s Birthday. For the past couple of weeks, we have been trying to figure out what to do to celebrate it properly. We talked about a trip to Quebec City, Canada, but figured we would wait until the weather grew a bit warmer later in the season.

We saw that Ukrainian boxer Wladimir Klitschko was fighting on April 25th in New York City, at Madison Square Garden against American Bryant Jennings for the World Heavy Weight Boxing Championship.
Believe me, we are not boxing devotees by any stretch of the imagination, but we feel a certain affinity with Klitschko being from Ukraine, as is my wife. Having been there with her a couple of times, the country of my wife’s birth has become very special to my heart. We tend to love those things which have “given” us our greatest joys. Out of Ukraine, my beloved Veronika came.

So we went online to see how much a ticket for the ‘Big Event’ was going for. $250.00 for the least expensive seats quickly turned our thought to alternatives. Could we purchase Pay-Per-View, Would there be some sports bar around offering a “Dinner & Fight Night Special?” We decided to play it by ear, and make a decision closer to the fight.

Veronika works for a wonderful husband and wife, caring for their little girl of almost 3 years old. They have been such a blessing to Veronika and I, and their daughter is the most precious little girl you will ever see.

When Veronika arrived to work on Thursday morning (April 23rd ) they asked if she had “Big” plans for her birthday weekend. She shared with them our inquiry into the fight, and our choice of viewing options. They must have thought we were a bit odd, not being fight fans, and still wanting to experience such an event.
Friday morning I receive a phone call from Veronika at 7:37 AM. That’s odd I thought, as she just arrived at work for a 7:30 shift. After saying hello, she told me that the decision was made to where we would watch the fight. Of course I’m thinking a sports bar in New York City was recommended, and maybe reservations were made. She then proceeded to tell me that when she arrived at work, her employers had an envelope for her. They told her to open it, she did and found two tickets:

World Championship Boxing
Wladimir Klitschko
VS
Bryant Jennings
Madison Square Garden
Saturday APR 25, 2015 7:00PM

To say we were floored by their generosity is a great understatement. What a very unnecessary, but most appreciated act of kindness they have lavished upon Veronika and me.
So tonight we will celebrate Veronika’s Birthday by going to the fights,
at the “Mecca of Boxing”, “The World’s Most Famous Arena” Madison Square Garden.

It’s more than just a boxing match. It’s celebrating a God given heritage. It’s recognizing an accomplishment of someone from an underdog nation becoming a world champion. It’s experiencing the kindness and generosity of God through the events and people He selects to be a blessing to others.
We are very grateful to my wife’s employers, but we know that:

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.”
James 1:17 (NKJV)

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

"Down She Goes"

Wretched is Moving...Todd Friel just sent a picture entitled “Down She Goes”(excuse me while I pick up that name I just dropped) It is bitter-sweet for me to see them leave this set that has been so comforting, and well, so Wretched for me. I know Todd and the entire Wretched Crew are excited about their new digs...Can't wait to see the new studio, and see what God will do with and through this amazing ministry. Praise God for Todd Friel, Joel Anderson, James Braaten, Tony Verkinnes, Adrian Rink, Won Jang, Blake Ashworth, Joe Selness, Trish Ramos, Bruce Dorman, and any other Wretches I may have missed. Whether or not you guys know it, you are instruments beautifully played with the Master’s own hands that bring the saving Gospel of our Lord and King Jesus Christ to a world of false converts, and straight out lost souls. We thank you for all your hard work, labor, and dedication to Jesus. Thank you for the sense of anticipation we get from the very first note of the theme song, or the glimpse of Todd’s tall frame standing in front of the elevator greeting us with a funny quip, or a profound thought just before he hits the button to start the show. Thank you 554 W. Main Street, you have served all very well, but now is the time to move on,the time to say farewell.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

The Super Bowl Of Life

So Friends, got any big plans for this weekend? Have you been procrastinating something all week or longer and now you have no choice but to do it this weekend?

You’re probably thinking to yourself, “Boy, Al has really lost it, it’s Super Bowl Sunday and what could be more important than that?” I know for some it is an extremely significant event. Other’s (like me) have no dog in the hunt, (Or should I say no dolphin in the tank) as I am a lifelong Miami Dolphins fan.
Even people who are not football fans watch just for the multi-million dollar commercials. Imagine that, we feel compelled to watch the premier of these commercials that at first or maybe even a few times at best will cause us laugh, think, or even cry. But inevitably, ad nauseam bombardment of the airwaves will most likely cause us to change the channel at the first flicker of its unmistakable light, the very first syllable of dialogue, or that oh so familiar first note of the soundtrack we all (like robots) uncontrollably hum from a remote cubbyhole in our vast and remarkable unconscious mind we forgot even existed.

I hope even with the “Big Game” looming on Sunday, you will take plenty of time for family, and maybe call that old friend you haven’t spoken to in too long a time. Remember that those we have in our lives are divinely there for a precise reason and purpose. Sadly life is as transient as a vapor in the wind, and the world spins more rapidly these days it seems with all life’s demands for our time and attention. In all the hoopla of Super Bowl Sunday make a game plan, don’t punt away the opportunity to reconnect with friends and loved ones. March down field methodically (one down at a time) towards the goal line that waits ahead. In this life there are plenty of incomplete passes, and we will find ourselves in many 4th and long situations. Huddle with those that matter, complete the pass and then go for the extra points. Unlike the outcome of the Super Bowl, when we are connected and engaged in the game, everybody wins, with no penalty flags thrown, for all offences can be forgiven… but only upon further review.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Autumn

The daylight just doesn’t seem to have that same strength to stretch as far into the summer evenings as it did. In the North East, there is a chill in the morning air, with welcome warmth as we make our way to the midday. Further north, apple pickers are enjoying the beginnings of color changes in foliage along the landscapes. This is a beautiful season, when all the fall colors are on display like a prized handmade quilt for us all to enjoy. I hope where you are, there are changes happening around you. Things that help you see the ebb and flow of life, and help you to appreciate the seasons and unique gifts they bring. I encourage you to go out apple picking, or grab that pumpkin for a great pie or two. Smell the air, listen to the birds, and hear the children laugh and giggle as they run through the orchard abandoning all fear. But most of all, just feel alive today, feel grateful for all you have, and the ones you love, and somehow love you back…
Enjoy!
-Al

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Baptism Testimony

This is a transcript of my testimony before I was baptised at First Baptist Church of Tarrytown in New York. Sunday September 8, 2013

Good Morning,

My name is Al Yerks. My wife Veronika and I have been attending First Baptist Church since June of this year. We are so pleased to be here today to make a public profession of faith through the waters of baptism. We are also anticipating exciting times ahead as a church here at First Baptist.
Jesus tells us in Luke 5:32; “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

27 years ago I asked “Jesus into my heart” at a meeting of Christian Businessmen. I was told that as a result of MY decision to follow Jesus, life would be perfect and smooth sailing. (I believed them because I wanted it to be so) As many of you sitting here this morning can attest, life is never perfect, or a smooth sail. But our God is perfect, and the winds and waves are subject to His command.

Over the years I did everything that was outwardly Christian, I was a Youth Pastor, a Deacon, A Small Group Home Fellowship Pastor, even a drummer in a praise band. But I was not truly a Christian. I did all the right things, said all the right words, listened exclusively to Christian music, attended church every Sunday, and even Wednesday night services because that was the right thing to do. But I had never repented of my sins, and learned to trust Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. With all that ministry involvement, still I was not honoring God’s Kingdom.

In July of 2012, my dear Uncle Frank was dying and I had no real words of encouragement, and nothing to share with him (or anyone) about Jesus or our eternal souls. The well was dry! Sure, I could have told him that God loved him, but I had no internal prompting to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ because it was not my own, no Holy Spirit living inside of me to testify of God’s Good News of hope, reconciliation, salvation and eternal life.

After my Uncle’s death, I began a search to find the truth. I happened upon a Christian TV show called “Wretched” named after the line in the hymn ‘Amazing Grace’. “Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.” I began to watch the show every day, it was practical, humorous, and it would so often hit me right between the eyes and in my very heart with the Gospel of Jesus Christ that had somehow eluded me all these years. I checked out the Wretched website to get more information about the ministry and of this interesting man, who was sometimes funny, but life and death serious when it came to salvation and sharing of The Gospel.

On the website was a teaching by the host Todd Friel, called “Are You Really A Christian?” I listened, and it convicted me that I had never repented of my sins, or trusted Jesus as I would a parachute to save my life in an emergency jump. I had formed a god into my own image to justify, and suit my lifestyle. I continued to willfully sin all those years as a so called Christian, never “wrestling” with sin because I was not truly regenerated. Using the 10 commandments as a mirror showed me God’s standard, and how on my own, I failed and fell miserably short of His glory. So, to truthfully answer the question: “Are You Really A Christian” I had to say no, I was not!

July 11, 2012 is the day I finally came to the end of myself, tear filled and on my face before a Holy and Just God. I repented (by turning from my sins, and turned to the amazing Savior Jesus Christ) for it is by Grace alone, through Faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone that I humbly stand before you today a Christian, wretched and sinful, yet saved by God’s amazing grace.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Who Are You?


It’s so amazing to listen to music from thirty or forty years ago on a modern contraption like an iPod. The sound quality is so amazing. Lately I have been on a really huge “Who Kick” while working out at the gym. How mind blowing is that, remembering all the bad behavior back in the day listening to The Who and now on an elliptical machine making up for all that bad behavior. It sort of redeems The Who for encouraging all the rebellion and anger, bringing them into the present to assist in my wellness plan. The fire in their music remains as powerful as ever, just positively harnessed this time around. A rebellion against the bulge, and an anger at myself for allowing the horizontal spread.

I am enjoying the musical trip down memory lane. Remembering the people, the hanging out, and the hard learned lessons. I see now that all the good as well as the bad experiences are the life builders that contributed to who I am today.

Music held such an integral part of my early years. I was exposed to so many different genres. I was able to appreciate most and allowed them to permeate and echo throughout my very being. I am fascinated by the brains memory system that can totally recall the sights, smells, sensations, and the people that were in your world when you heard a particularly meaningful song for the first time, or at a critical period of your life.

Today music still plays a major role in my life. Very rarely do I drive anywhere without music playing. I’m surprised I haven’t deployed the air bag banging on my drum set steering wheel as hard as I do. I even have a cymbal hanging from the sun visor, one of those fundraising paper poppy’s the VFW makes and sells around Memorial Day.

Music can change your mood or refocus us to the things in life that are important. Country music has gotten a bad reputation over the years as being just about drinking, cheating, loosing spouses, dogs, respect, hair or even your truck. There may be some of that, but mostly it’s about family and hometown life. A simpler place, and a welcome respite from time to time. Or maybe your thing is to crank up some Kaskade, Deadmau5, or Lady GaGa and do a little club dancing. Sometimes I get in the mood for classical music to whisk all my stress away. A little jazz on a hot summer day has been known to cause a cooling effect, bringing the mind to a cooler more peaceful place.

It’s all good as they say, depending on the mood you’re in or where you want to go. What you’re listening to is a reflection of who you are on the inside right now.

So...who are you?