Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Importance of Preparation

Since 1911 the world has known Boy Scouts. The famous motto of that organization is "Be Prepared". The scouting program teaches the young men in its ranks to prepare themselves for adulthood. The merit badges the Scouts earn, indicate proficiency in various areas of their lives. The scouts learn skills that can help them throughout their lives.

Being prepared is an important concept for all of us.

We all make preparations for important upcoming events in our lives - birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas, etc. We make preparations when the weather forecast calls for catastrophic storms, or hard freezes. Our federal government tries to remain prepared in light of potential homeland security breaches and heightened teror alerts. My years as an insurance agent were spent in helping folks become financially prepared for lost or damaged property, health, and even life. I have never ceased to be amazed at how quickly people will seek to insure their homes, automobiles, boats, and even their lives - and yet have no assurance about their never dying souls.

As a minister's kid, I have visited countless funeral homes, and as a pastor, myself, for nearly four decades, I have officiated in many funeral services - several hundred, I am sure. Over the past 6 1/2 years alone, I have done 72 funeral or memorial services. While probably not anywhere near a record, that is still an awful lot of funerals. A number of the individuals I have eulogized have made pre arrangements with the funeral home. Those pre need details cover every aspect of the funeral service, from purchase of cemetery plots and property, all the way down from the casket, to the details of who will preach, sing, and and pray. But this in not the type of preparation I am talking about. I'm making reference to being prepared for what happens next. The saddest services of all are for those who have not made preparation in this life, for where they will be in the next.

The deceased may be a wonderful person, a caring parent or grandparent, a dear friend, or a great neighbor, but the "300 pound gorilla" in the room is always the question, "Was he (or she) ready to meet their maker?"

We know that death is inevitable. Why then do some face it unprepared? If God's word is to be believed (and it is!) we are reminded that "It is appointed unto man once to die, but after this, the judgement." As Lonnie O'Neal used to tell me, "We'll never get out of this world alive!" Knowing that, shouldn't one be prepared?

Simply "believing in God" is not enough. The Bible says "The Devil believes, and trembles!" What DOES make the eternal difference, is having a relationship with God. A relationship that can only come through Jesus Christ. God's plan of salvation is truly a simple one. As we often say, it is as simple as A,B,C.

A - Acknowledge your sinfulness before a Holy God.

B- Believe that Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty for your sins

C- Confess Him (Jesus) as your Savior and Lord.

I like to add that fourth letter -

D - Do it now!

The Bible tells us "Now is the time. Now is the day of salvation". Yet something seems to keep some folks from making those eternal preparations. The preparations are often put off (for any number of reasons) and sadly in many cases, the loved one passes before preparations could be made. This is the saddest thing we ministers have to deal with.

I urge anyone reading this post, to be prepared. Time is passing quickly. If you haven't made those preparations, do it now!

Christians are not perfect and sinless. But they are forgiven by the grace of God through Jesus Christ our Savior. By faith they have become members of the family of God. Those who are not prepared, face an eternity away from God and His church.

Are you prepared?

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