Lots of wisdom in three minutes: https://vimeo.com/35598949
While on campus I finally got around to reading the Hays Festschrift.
My favorite chapter was the last one, written by Richard himself along with his wife of over 40 years. It’s called “The Christian Practice of Growing Old: The Witness of Scripture.” The chapter makes several excellent points:
1) Older characters in Scripture are often mentioned for their special wisdom or insight.
2) New Testament elders are worthy of honor and respect if not also special care and attention.
3) Aging “was never seen as a problem by the earliest Christians.”
4) The elderly bear a special responsibility to be models of faithfulness, temperance, and endurance.
5) The New Testament predicts unusual fruitfulness in old age (think Elizabeth and Zechariah).
6) Nowhere in the New Testament are the old said to be pitied or treated with condescension.
7) Like Jesus, we should seek the will of God no matter how old we are or at what age we die. “Consequently, as we grow old, we should seek to discern how to give our lives for others” (p. 660).
8) T. S. Elliot: “Old men ought to be explorers.”
9) “The special responsibility of older Christians is to lead, to teach, to counsel, as their gifts allow and as opportunities arise” (p. 664).
Amen to that! Folks, I realize that aging is not without its mysteries. But when older people choose to serve rather than be served, bless rather than curse, love their enemies rather than fight, truly the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Those who know that they are not much longer for this old world have a heavenly-mindedness that has plenty of earthly good! So — let those of us who are older imitate Jesus. Let’s develop a radical vision of the kingdom. Maybe we could even become out-of-the-box thinkers, given the kind of radical God we serve. Talk about a good reason to grow old! Nothing could be more rewarding than surrendering your gray hair and arthritis to Christ. There’s a choice to made about life, and it is simply this: Will we sacrifice ourselves for others, with whatever resources the Lord has given us? I don’t know about you, but this 62-year old geezer — *creak, creak* — can’t wait to do just that.
HT: David Black
HT: John Fea
The picture above is of our home library. Lots of books and little room left to house them. Pretty inexpensive to build due to free review copies from publishers, used bookstores, garage and library sales.
I am sobered every time I study there because it is a quiet reminder of my great limitations. At 56, there are many I want to read, but time will most likely run out no matter how much of it is left. And then there are all the books I want to reread!
So pay attention. Your reminder of your finitude may not be a library, but there are other things. And pray Ps. 90:12!
Recent article on my dad’s faith:
A few weeks back I preached a sermon on Ecc. 1 and 2 in three consecutive services. The average age was about 65. Departing from my notes, I closed the third service by reminding all of us of the truth in Ecc. 9:4 that it is better to be a “live dog rather than a dead lion.”
You can hear my sermon here:
One of my favorite books is The Life of St. Antony by Athanasius. It is not a long read, but chock-full of fascinating stories. It is hard to know whether all the stories are true, but one thing is clear: there is much wisdom in it.
We modern-day Christians tend to think heretics pose the primary danger to a church’s integrity, but St. Antony added another category: schismatics. These are folks who may be orthodox in doctrine, but divisive and so not committed to “preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Eph. 4:3)
Here is some of St. Antony’s last counsel to fellow monks. By the way, St. Antony was nearly 105 years old!
“Don’t grow idle in your labors. Live as though dying daily. Stay away from heretics like the Arians and stay away from schismatics.”
(The Life of St. Antony by Athanasius)
InterVarsity Press is one publisher who is sensitive to this important, and little talked about ministry. Billy Graham recently said the church prepared him to die, but did not prepare him well for aging.
Three new books by IVP can help us wisely address the unique challenges of aging. I have carefully read the first two, but only perused the third.
Whether you are getting older (whatever number you think that is!) or minister to “older folk,” these books provide sage advice: