Archive for the ‘Planning’ Category

Landmarks

Hello friends,
I trust your Thanksgiving celebration was enjoyable, and you were able to count great numbers of blessings from the past year. We made a couple of road trips, traveling to South Dakota on Wednesday, to help Alex as he moves into a different house closer to school and work. Thursday, we joined with some other folks for a Thanksgiving meal and great fellowship, then on Friday to Neligh to celebrate with Ryan and the three grandsons.

We all have them; those places that we use to mark roads, or to remind us of some event in the past. As we traveled highway 281 north of O’Neill last Wednesday, we passed what is known locally as the “stone windmill.” I remarked that it was falling down with the passage of time. I thought of other landmarks I have known. Most have disappeared, but they seem to be always replaced with another name, or another object. Those places and events of life, seem to require some sort of marker for those who pass their way.

Growing up, where our county road connected to the major highway, there was a stone house. Everyone told people unfamiliar with the area to turn at the ‘stone house.’ Eventually, the old house was torn down, and being eight miles from town, the intersection became the eight-mile road.

In another place, three large cottonwood trees marked a t-intersection. Travelers were instructed to turn at the three-tree corner. After the road department cut those trees down, three more volunteer cottonwoods were allowed to grow up in their place. It is still the three-tree corner.

Other, more familiar landmarks have stood for many years, but show the wear and tear of erosion and other changes. I’m reminded of Chimney Rock in western Nebraska, among others. Landmarks may disappear, but we find replacements. In this age of GPS, people still need those landmarks to keep them on the right road.

The Bible can be compared to a landmark. Its purpose being to show the lost the way to salvation, and for helping to keep God’s people on the right path.

If I may paraphrase Isaiah 40:8, “The grass withers and the flowers fall, landmarks disappear, but the word of God stands forever.” As the old song says, “The Bible stands, like a rock, undaunted.” When all other landmarks are gone, the Bible stands.

Standing on the promises,
Pastor Jerry

Advertisements

Planning for Eternity

Our week started out rather nice, but by Thursday there was a radical change in the weather. We experienced snow for the second time in recent weeks. Friday morning, the temperature here was 13 degrees, with a stiff northwest breeze. I am definitely not ready for this.

The election is over now, and whether or not you are satisfied with the result, this is still the best place in the world to live, in my humble opinion. We are still a free society, and have freedoms that are not available in many parts of the world. Let us not take those freedoms for granted.

I have a habit of reading the obituary page of the newspaper. One phrase I see now and then, is that a person died unexpectedly. I suppose it is that the person died without warning. No one really expects to die, even though we know it is a part of life.

Knowing that we will pass from this life at some point in time, the question should be, am I ready to die? What preparations have I made for this event? Many people do estate planning, purchase cemetery plots, and make funeral arrangements in advance. But how many stop to consider where they will spend eternity?

There seems to be a general lack of concern for what lies beyond this life. Most people, I believe, just live in the here and now, with little thought of anything beyond. The truth is that there is life after death, and everyone will spend eternity somewhere. The Bible gives two destinations. One is heaven, the other is hell. There are some who believe in heaven, but think they will be allowed in because of their good deeds, and that they are in better standing with God than others they know. Some claim hell will be their destination, after all their friends will be there. Still others believe there will be opportunity to choose, after they die.

The Bible says this: Man is destined to die once, and after that, to face judgment. Salvation is through faith in Christ alone, there is no other name by which we must be saved. Now is the day of salvation.

No one is promised tomorrow. Where will you spend eternity if you should ‘die unexpectedly’? Make those preparations now. Place your faith and trust in the Savior.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Destinations

Hello friends,
We took another trip with the camper this week. As usual, it turned into another adventure on the less traveled road. We left last Sunday afternoon, not knowing for sure where we were going, or which road to take. We headed west out of Ericson, and had not gone far when the decision was made to go west of Taylor to Dunning, then take highway 2 to Thedford, where we stayed the night. Monday morning, it was on the road again, destination Crawford and Fort Robinson. Tuesday and Wednesday were spent just taking in the sights at the fort, with a side trip to check out Chadron State Park. Wednesday morning, we headed east on Highway 20, had lunch in Ainsworth with an old friend, and decided to overnight at Keller Park, northeast of Ainsworth.

Going there, once again I trusted my phone to show me a different route. This was not the road less traveled, it was the road seldom traveled! It became a narrow trail down a section line, leading to nowhere. Here is a tip: Off-road travel with a fifth-wheel camper is not a recommended activity. After abandoning Google Maps, we eventually made it to the highway, and the state park. We enjoyed a quiet evening and night, arriving back home in late afternoon Thursday. I’m sure we’ll be content to stay home for a while.

On a more somber note, we have seen in the last few days and weeks, the passing away of a cousin of Milrae’s, and several old friends and neighbors from home. I am reminded almost daily that we have no guarantee of another day, and of the fact that we need to make plans for eternity.

As the writer of Ecclesiastes said, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die…” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2). At the end of the book we read, “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil” (Eccl. 12:13-14).

Today is the day of salvation. Do not delay. Trust in Jesus Christ for your salvation.

Love in Christ,
Pastor Jerry

Weather Watcher

Here we are in the sixth month of 2018, already. Can you believe the year is almost half over? The Lord has provided more rain this week, meaning we will have lawns to mow later. There were some weather advisories up for a time Friday evening, prompting the placing of some hail screen over Mama’s tomato plants and cucumbers, and some potted posies were put indoors. I have heard reports, or at least rumors of some severe weather in the area, but none here. The plants are safe, at least for the time being.

While thinking about weather related subjects, I’m reminded of that period in time, when I was starting out running the ranch on my own. In haying season, I was forever trying to outguess the weather. Was it going to rain, or would it be dry for a few days, so we could mow and bale the hay? What did the forecast say? Could I depend on those meteorologists to know what would happen? It seemed I was always on the fence about what to do.

This was about the time I started paying more attention to the Lord, and what he had to say about living life. Once, during my Bible reading time, I came across a few verses that changed my whole outlook on this matter of weather, and it affected what I was doing. Let me share those words with you.

“Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap.
As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things.
Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let not your hands be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well” (Ecclesiastes 11:4-6).

What a wakeup call! Instead of worrying about the weather, I was to plant the seed, mow the hay, put the bulls with the cows on schedule, and trust God with the results. Suddenly, I was free from worrying about things over which I had no control.

I will leave you with this: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5).

Blessings,
Pastor Jerry

Milestones

It’s a beautiful Sunday morning as I write this. Across the street, the carousel sits empty, showing no signs of the graduation party held last evening for our grandson Alex, as we celebrated with friends and family from near and far. Thanks to all who helped with set-up and clean-up. Those who brought food, and those who came to partake. It was a fitting end to a wonderful day. The Lord gets the credit for providing a perfect day. Our congratulations to Alex, and to all his classmates on a job well done, with best wishes for the future.

Thus ends another chapter in our lives. It wasn’t a chapter I would have written if I was writing the book, but still, I wouldn’t want it to be any different. That is the neat thing about letting God write your life story. As we look back, we understand he always has the best plan. I’ve always said if you think following God will be boring, you are mistaken. The Christian life lived in obedience to God is nothing less than an exciting adventure. Boring? Not!

Proverbs are wise sayings, not necessarily promises, but here are a few: Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed (Proverbs 16:3); In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps (Prov. 16:9); Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails (Prov. 19:21).

There is also this promise to the those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, and have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). Notice this is for those who love him, it is not a blanket promise to all people.

We will wait to see what the Lord has in store for us, but in the meantime, the camper is waiting, and we plan to spend a little time enjoying some of our state’s attractions. But, as noted, our plans are subject to God’s will and purpose. As it says in James’ little epistle, “You do not even know what will happen tomorrow… Instead you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will do live and do this or that” (James 4:13-15).

Be blessed in all you do,
Pastor Jerry

It’s Not Too Late

Dear friends,
Once again we have celebrated the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus. Once again we have been reminded that God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life, and whoever believes in him is not condemned (John 3:16,18).

This week, I have an appointment with my tax preparer. The deadline is near for filing taxes, in fact, it is just two weeks away. When we were on the ranch, we had to file before March 15, now it is April 15. I have always been a procrastinator when it comes to getting this done. However, procrastination must come to an end. The IRS will not overlook a late response.

One deadline looms for all people. That is the day of our physical death. It is a day when there will be no more opportunity to receive God’s gift of salvation. There will be no opportunity to make the right choice after that time. There are no second chances. If you miss the deadline for file your taxes, it is possible to get an extension. Not so when dealing with your eternal destination. We are reminded in scripture that man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment. (Hebrews 9:27).

Like the IRS, God will not overlook a late response. We must make a choice while we are still living, there will be no second chance, nor will there be an extension. And since no one knows his time, it is better to choose Christ now, as we are not guaranteed tomorrow.
Jesus told of a group of ten young women waiting for a wedding celebration to begin. Five of them had prepared for the party, but the other five left to get oil for their lamps. While they were gone, the bridegroom returned, the party started, and those who were off buying lamp oil missed the celebration (Matthew 25:1-12).

Tomorrow may never come. God, in his grace gives us time and opportunity to believe in the Savior, but there will come a time it is too late. Don’t play with procrastination. Today is the day of salvation. Trust in Him today.

Pray this: Lord Jesus, I confess my sins and ask you to forgive me. Come into my heart and save me today. Amen

In truth and love,
Pastor Jerry

Know Where You’re Going

Update: Last week, I mentioned some surgery on my arm. The lab report came back okay. Praise God for that!

I have been sorting and printing hard copies of my past articles and commentaries. Such a trip down memory lane! One thing frustrates me, though. Some of the files are missing, and some I found are on a CD that my computer won’t open. The missing ones are from 2004, I suppose I’ll find a way to access them eventually.

I don’t know if I have mentioned it, but I enjoy listening to bluegrass music. One recent song title caught my attention, and I thought, isn’t this just the way the world is these days?

The song is, “We Don’t Know Where We’re Going, But We Sure Are Making Good Time.” I don’t even know all the words to the song, but the title says it well. People without the Lord, and without any assurance of spending eternity in heaven with him, are just going through life with no direction and no meaning. They try to add meaning to life with all kinds of things, but in the end, they are just making good time on a journey to nowhere. To quote Solomon, “I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind” (Ecclesiastes 1:14).

More from Solomon: Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless. (Ecclesiastes 5:10).

Then he then sums it all up at the end of chapter 12: “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every good thing, whether it is good or evil.”

What is my point? “Seek first his (God’s) kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). Life is not meaningless if you are living for Jesus. You will not have to wonder about your final destination. Heaven will be your final home.

Enjoy the journey,
Pastor Jerry