You know you’re getting older, when…

You know you’re getting older when: -Everything hurts, and what doesn’t hurt, doesn’t work -You feel like the morning after, and you haven’t been anywhere -Your children begin to look middle-aged -You decide to procrastinate but never get around to it -Your knees buckle and your belt won’t -You look forward to a dull evening at home The list could go on and on. It’s easy to make fun of getting older, but growing older is part of life that isn’t always so fun. Physical problems and decline are one thing, but many people feel forgotten and ignored in later life. The world moves fast and discards anyone who can’t keep up. The Bible puts value on aging and the wisdom that can come from a long life. “A gray head is a crown of glory.” (Proverbs 16:31) We are counselled to respect our elders and acknowledge the fruit of their lives. To grow old, or older, in our world is a gift that many people don’t receive. One of the needs I often hear expressed is the need for mentors. Many younger Christians are looking for role models and guides as they navigate work and life. As we grow older, we develop a reservoir of experiences and abilities that help us understand what is essential and important in life. Our example can make a significant impact. If we are open to hearing from one another, both young and old can greatly benefit. It’s time to work more closely together rather than assume someone doesn’t have much to offer. Aging can be hard to accept. Remember God’s promises:I will be your God throughout your lifetime—    until your hair is white with age.I made you, and I will care for you.    I will carry you along and save you. (Isaiah 46:4) 

Making Sure Everyone Is Included

“But I wish everyone were single, just as I am. Yet each person has a special gift from God, of one kind or another.” (1 Corinthians 7:7) Last week I wrote about marriage and mentioned that marriage might not be for everyone. Sometimes, in the church setting, life seems to revolve too much around married couples and families. That’s a pity because the Bible affirms the place of single adults in the church and the role they play. The world often seems conflicted about marriage and single life. Secular society sees marriage as an outdated and unnecessary institution but remains fixated on pairing up and telling stories of finding true love. Many adults, both in the church and outside, will never marry. Some are content with the situation and others long to find that partner. Paul says that it is better to remain single if you can, it’s a gift. He saw an opportunity for single individuals to serve the kingdom with their life. Married people also serve but in a different way. We need both in the church. As church communities, we need to do a better job of making sure that unmarried people feel included in our fellowship. This means being intentional about inviting single adults into our homes and small groups. Checking to make sure they have support when going through times of crisis or challenge. Remembering birthdays and celebrating new jobs or promotions.Great diversity exists among single members. One might be an unmarried man in his twenties or a woman in her fifties caring for aging parents. Some have never married, and others are divorced or widowed.  The church is to be the family of God. Both married and unmarried people are in it. We must see everyone and ensure they feel included in this new family tied together in Jesus. Whether married or single, we are stewards of the relationships that God gives us. We are to care about others more than ourselves. Let’s make sure our circle of care includes those who aren’t just like us.

Value of Marriage

A little shout out to my parents, today they celebrate 59 years of marriage. It’s a great accomplishment in a world that often questions the value of marriage. I always find it funny when I hear comments like ‘marriage is just a piece of paper.’ Those people haven’t really understood the nature and reality of a marriage that stands the test of time. Marriage is so much more than just a piece of paper. When the Pharisees pressed Jesus on the issue of marriage and commitment he replied: “Haven’t you read that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh?’” (Matthew 19:4-5) Christians believe marriage to be a God-created institution that is not only good for individuals, but is also the cornerstone of social stability and family. It is based on promises and life-long commitments, not feelings although feelings are important. Marriage requires a great deal of self-sacrifice and willingness to think about others. I believe it is one way in which we work out our discipleship and learn to bear the fruit of the spirit. We are more fully formed as humans when submitting to one another. It’s a place for intimacy and being known. Finally, marriage illustrates the relationship between Christ and his church. It’s true that marriage can fall below the ideals we hold, and many marriages come to an end for a variety of reasons. God’s grace and mercy is extended to those who face such disappointments and difficulties. Marriage isn’t the path for everyone. The bible also affirms single life. But marriage remains something to be valued and treasured, even if we don’t always like some of the limitations and challenges. It’s so much more than a simple piece of paper. It’s a way of life that changes us and develops us, affecting all those around us. So, for those of you working on your marriage, whether 5 months or 59 years – way to go, keep working at it! Celebrate all the moments along the way, knowing God takes joy in your union. 

Kids are brutally honest

A young father was taking time to teach his son about what a Christian should be like. The kind of character and behavior they should show. The father got a stab that he never forgot when the brief talk was over. The little boy asked, “Dad, have I ever met one of these Christians?” Children have a fantastic way of getting straight to the point, sometimes painfully so. They can see through the illusions that adults so often create. Their use of honest questions can make us uncomfortable. Throughout his ministry, Jesus had a way of elevating people whom the rest of society didn’t usually see, including children. When parents brought their children to him, the disciples – ever concerned with being important – sought to send them away. Jesus took the opportunity to teach the importance of children to the kingdom. “‘Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.”  And he placed his hands on their heads and blessed them before he left.’ (Matthew 19:14-15) It was a simple act. It took only a few minutes but, in that moment, Jesus bestowed incredible value upon children throughout all generations. How often are children considered to be a bother or a problem by adults doing important stuff? Value to God isn’t based on age or productivity. Children aren’t the future of the church; they are a vital part of the church. They are rich gifts, given to remind us that we too are children of our heavenly father. They have much to teach us about simple faith and trust. Sometimes, adults get too busy to acknowledge children. Make it a practice to let them know you see them and care for them. Learn the names of some children in the church or neighborhood. Give thanks for the young lives full of potential. Take a moment to let them know God loves them and so do you. “For the kingdom of heaven belongs to those who are like these children.”