Monday, May 19, 2014
One Sunday morning I was reading the paper and relaxing with a really good cup of coffee when Carol asked, "Are you ready?" Ready for what, I thought as I turned a page on the Op-Ed section. Then I realized it. Church! I had only five minutes to get ready for church! Good thing I only was attending the service, not leading it.
Are you ready? To answer you also must ask, "Ready for what?" Carol and I recently attended a luncheon with a speaker on "Preparedness." He wanted to know if we were prepared - for a weather crisis, an earthquake, a terrorist attack or an event that would take away our electricity. He said it was amazing that so few people are prepared with food and water for even three days, 72 hours, should a catastrophe occur.
Carol and I are updating our Wills and setting up a Trust so that we will be ready for when we're no longer here, so our heirs will not be troubled with so many legal possibilities. It feels good to be prepared.
We get prepared for so many things. A young woman has just completed her residency for a career as a medical doctor. A few weeks ago several hundred Lutheran pastors and teachers were ready to assume the tasks of their first assignments. We start getting ready very young. Mom and Dad may ask, "Are you dressed yet?" But they really are asking if the child is getting ready to go.
Getting ready for some is a constant thing. I work on my sermons weeks ahead of time. I've always done that and it's a good habit that's hard to break. Some people wait until the last minute with many things. One pastor told me he works better under pressure, preparing at the last minute. Perhaps he does, but maybe he has done it for so many years that he has become an expert at it.
Thankfully, our loving God didn't wait until the last minute to prepare His plan of salvation for us. The Bible tells us that our salvation has been prepared ahead of time. From the beginning, God already had a plan to correct the evils of Sin. After the fall, God took the time to prepare the world for the One who would deliver them.
We know Him as Jesus of Nazareth, "who was delivered up for our offenses, but raised again for our justification." (Romans 4:25) In Jesus Christ, God the Father was ready with a plan for our salvation. Are we ready to meet Him? Are we prepared by faith to receive the blessings He has for us?
Are you ready?
Monday, May 12, 2014
It's 6:45 AM the day after Mother's Day, and I'm shoveling snow. About eight inches of fluffy stuff have fallen since yesterday and some tree branches are sagging dangerously. I've already done the "Snowy Tree Broom Dance" in my back yard several times to keep branches from breaking and so far it's been successful. Now to clean off some driveways.
I get to work with the "Colorado Supershovel" I made about ten years ago out of two eighteen inch snow shovels bolted side-by-side. It can push a lot of fluffy snow in one sweep. I can't use it on heavy stuff, but it's just right for this morning's snow on our sloping driveway. I should have patented it.
How do they do it, those weather people? They told us this was coming four days ago, and their forecasted temps and snow amounts were spot on. It's hard to believe they are going to be that accurate when the two days leading up to it are sunny and in the seventies.
It's an hour later and I've shoveled off the six driveways in our cul de sac. Tire tracks show some have already left for work. I'm older than the other folks here, but it's a good way to get useful exercise. Makes for good neighbors, too. Wasn't it poet Robert Frost who wrote, "Good fences (deeds?) makes good neighbors?" His is an ironic name for this kind of weather.
Late spring snows come to Colorado every year. Thirteen years ago, May 10, 2001, the day after we moved into this home, a heavy snow broke half of a big cottonwood onto my roof. Two years later another spring snow knocked the other half onto my neighbor's yard, just missing a window.
This isn't climate change, it's just Colorado. I sure hope it won't freeze all the leaves. They're just emerging and some might not make it. That would mean some dead-looking trees till late June when new leaves come back, a lot thinner though.
The snow started yesterday morning after a nice Mother's Day church service and lunch at Mimi's. The boys went together on flowers and a huge Mother's Day card for Carol with pictures and words that brought a lump to her throat. Mine, too. That afternoon I read through the lessons for July 13 when I'll be preaching at our congregation. The Old Testament lesson is from Isaiah 55:
"For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it."
Great words, but I sure hope it doesn't snow that day.
Thursday, May 8, 2014
An old farmer was stopped by a stranger who drove up in a new car. He wanted to know if the old barn by the road was for sale. The farmer said he was crazy for wanting that old thing, but the man was from the city with nice clothes and clean hands. He said when he saw that old barn by the road last week he thought it was a thing of beauty and wanted to buy it.
The old farmer said he had a funny idea of beauty. Sure the old barn was a handsome building in its day, but a lot of winters had passed with their snow and ice and wind. The sun had beaten down on it until all its paint was gone and the wood had turned a silver grey. Now it leaned quite a little because its walls were weak and its roof leaked. The old barn looked just plain tired, yet the rich man called it beautiful.
The farmer named his price and the rich man paid it. The man said he planned to take the barn down and use the lumber to line the walls of his den in a new home he was building down the road. He remarked that you can't buy paint that beautiful. Only years of standing in the weather, bearing the storms and scorching sun could produce beautiful barn wood like that.
Later that day the old farmer thought maybe some people are like that. When we age we get to looking rough on the outside, but it's what's on the inside that is a person's true beauty. Most of us eventually turn a silver grey too, and lean a lot more than we used to when we were young and full of sap.
You see, the Good Lord knows what He's doing. As the years pass He uses the hard weather of our lives, the dry spells and the stormy seasons, to beautify our souls like nothing else can. And yet today folks complain that life should be easy - no struggles, no mean people, no insults, no poverty or sickness or even skinned knees. But that's foolish to think. A life without hardships makes a person soft and unable to withstand anything. A life without hardships can lead us to depend only on ourselves.
Jesus once said, "In My Fathers House are many rooms, and I go there to prepare a place for you." (John 14:2) A week later they took down the farmer's old barn and hauled it away in pieces to beautify a rich man's home. The old farmer smiled as he saw it go.
One day all believers in Christ will be taken down and hauled away to heaven to do whatever chores the Good Lord has for us there. You can bet we'll be more beautiful there due to the harsh seasons we've been through here on earth. And God willing, we'll add a bit of beauty to our Father's House.
A person often thinks of such things as he gets older.