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Archive for July, 2020

On September 27th I will become 89 years old – that is, should I still be hanging around on planet earth. At a time of God’s choosing I will be moving to my new home in that “eternal city, in the heavens, not made by hands.” I thank God for every day of my life thus far. I will serve Him every day that I have left.

Like other senior adults I have learned that it is easier to forget things now than when I was younger – names, faces, places, dates, etc. Senior adults forgetting things are called “senior moments.” They can embarrass you. They can also create problems. Some of them can even be humorous. And who doesn’t like humor?

I recently read the book by Karen O’Conner entitled, HELP, LORD! I’M HAVING A SENIOR MOMENT! It contains brief stories of senior moments that various people have had. One story that I particularly liked was entitled, “She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not.” It involved an elderly widow and widower who lived in a mobile home park in Florida a few years ago. They had known each other for several years and had become good friends. Both of them had a senior moment that nearly broke up their budding romance.

One evening during a community supper in the park’s activity center they were seated across from each other at the same table. During the course of the meal, the widower cast a few admiring glances at the widow. She returned his attention with shy smiles. Finally he gathered enough courage to ask her a very important question. With a big smile on his face he said, “Will you marry me?”

After a few seconds of thoughtful consideration she responded by saying, “Yes, yes, I will.” The meal ended with more pleasant exchanges. They said good night to each other and went home.

The next morning the man awakened feeling troubled. He couldn’t remember if she had said “yes”, or if she had said “no.” He simply couldn’t recall. He didn’t have the foggiest memory of what her answer had been. Embarrassed, he reached for the telephone and dialed her number. She answered and he quickly explained that he could no longer remember things as well as he could when he was younger. He hoped she would understand and be patient with him. “I enjoyed our time together at the dinner last night,” he explained, “but did you say ‘yes’ or did you say ‘no’ when I asked if you would marry me?”

She replied, “My answer was “Yes, I will marry you, and I meant it with all my heart.” She paused, then said, “I am so glad you called because I couldn’t remember who had asked me.” Double senior moments!

This senior adult love story is not fiction — it happened. As I mentioned earlier, I sometimes have senior moments too. And if you have lived long enough to be a senior adult, you have probably had occasions when have had senior moments also. Some of them may have caused you some uneasiness. Others were perhaps embarrassing. And some may have even been humorous.

Senior adults are not immune to having senior moments. But all senior moments are not caused by being forgetful. For example: (1) It is God’s will for every Christian to share his or her faith with persons who do not know Him as Savior and Lord; and (2) He calls each of us to meet the spiritual and other kinds of needs that others have, for this will glorify Him. Every time we become God’s ambassador in these ways will be for us a different and special kind of senior moment. God blesses those who experience these senior moments.

How do I know this to be true? Hebrews 6:10 assures us that “God is not unjust; He will not forget our work and the love we have shown Him as we have helped His people and continue to help them.”

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I recently read the story of a woman who had a surprising experience while she was driving home one evening after having been out with friends for dinner at a local restaurant.  It happened to be a beautiful starry night.  Suddenly in the path of her headlights she spotted two huddled figures off to the side of the road.

She stopped her car and saw a woman and a man looking for something in the grass beside the road.  The woman explained that they had been seeing friends off.  As their friends’ car moved away, the woman had thrust out her arm to wave goodbye.  As she did so her wedding ring slipped from her finger and rolled into the grass.  “We have looked and looked,” she said wistfully, “and we can’t find it.”

The woman who had stopped said, “What you need is a flashlight.”  She took one from her car’s dashboard pocket and began to look with them.  After a few minutes they found the ring some distance away.  “Oh, thank you,” said the woman, overcome with joy and gratitude, then added, “God bless you!”

In a recent article I mentioned that during my lifetime I had seen two UFO’s in the sky.  Suppose a chance visitor in a flying saucer from a planet in outer space had landed nearby.  He or she (or “it”) might have thought they were making a lot of fuss over a tiny round band, though it was made of gold.  The wedding ring had value well beyond its original price.  And why is this true?  It was a symbol of something very special.

The ancient Romans used a thin iron ring as a sign of betrothal.  By the fifth century A.D. the gold ring came into use.  It enjoyed the sanction of the Christian church and has been given and received at weddings since that day.  Come to think of it, symbols play an important role in our lives.  The German philosopher, George Hegel put it this way: “We live by materialized significance.”  It was his scholarly way of saying that we live by tangible things which we can see and handle, but which have hidden and important meanings.

This is because what is said best cannot always be said by using words.  Words themselves, of course, are symbols.  But sometimes they do not and cannot give the proper weight of meaning.  When that is true we are compelled to use a symbol.  It then becomes a question, “What kind of symbol do we use?”  When a symbol is used great care should be employed that it does not take the place of the reality it represents.

In Christian churches around the world candles are burned on the altar during times of corporate worship.  Candles represent the Son of God whom Christians call “The Light of the World.”  The two candles on a church altar represent the humanity and divinity of Christ.  Jesus said of Himself, “I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  (John 8:12).

Also on the altar in our churches, and even on many church steeples, you will see a cross.  The cross is the ultimate Christian symbol, but it is infinitely more than a symbol.  It was on a Roman cross that Jesus died, taking upon Himself the penalty for our sin, which is death (see Romans 6:23).  The best loved and probably the most quoted verse in the Bible is John 3:16 – “For 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.”

If we gave up symbols we would have to give up shaking hands, kissing a child, saluting our country’s flag, even having a flag at all.  We would take the cross off church altars and steeples.  Every time you see a cross I hope you will see it as the symbol of how much God loves you, and how much He loves every man, woman and child in the entire world – black, white, brown, or yellow; rich or poor; educated or uneducated.

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It is the most desolate word in any language. It plays no favorites, ignores all rules of courtesy, yields no mercy, holds the clock in utter contempt, and cannot be bribed. Crowds only make it worse, and activity only drives it deeper. The word is loneliness.

One of the last things the King of Rock ‘N Roll, Elvis Pressley, ever wrote was a note that he crumpled up and threw away. An Elvis aide saw the note and picked it up. It read: “I feel so alone sometimes. The night is quiet for me. I’d love to be able to sleep. I am glad that everyone is gone now. I’ll probably not rest. I have no need for all this. Help me, Lord.” You may remember his song entitled, “Are you lonesome tonight?”

Even our nation’s most famous and intelligent people complain of being lonely. The great physicist, Albert Einstein once wrote, “It is strange to be known so universally and yet to be lonely.”

There is no other anguish like the consuming anguish of loneliness. Ask any inmate in prison, or the soldier in uniform thousands of miles away from home … or the couple whose arms ache to hold their child who had died … or the elderly man or woman whose mate, after well over fifty years of happy married life, has gone home to be with the Lord.

Several years ago an ad appeared in a Kansas newspaper that said, “I will listen to you talk for 30 minutes without comment for $5.00.” It sounds like a hoax, but the person who had installed the ad was very serious. Did anybody call? Absolutely! It wasn’t long before the man who had installed the ad in the newspaper was receiving ten to twenty calls a day. The pang of loneliness was so strong that they were willing to try anything for a half hour of companionship.

Many people are lonely because they build walls, not bridges. If you are among the multitudes of people who are lonely, hear this: God knows your need. He cares for you – individually and personally. He not only knows and cares, but He understands. He is touched by your need. He will enter into every pulse of your anguish. He will sustain and deliver you. He is even now waiting to enter the front door of your heart.

How do I know that this is true? In the strangling grip of Golgotha, our Savior experienced the maximum impact of loneliness. Ten of His disciples had forsaken Him for fear that they also could be arrested and crucified. The twelfth disciple, Judas, had betrayed Him. And even His Father turned away from Him while He was bearing in His body the sins of the world.

In the bottomless agony of that moment our Lord literally screamed aloud. “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:45-46). The loneliness of those dark moments cannot be adequately expressed on paper. Entering into the drama of that moment it should make it easy for us to see how He is both prepared and willing to enter into the loneliness of any person.

When we are lonely, we need an understanding friend. Jesus Christ is the One who “sticks closer than a brother.” Once you have entered into a relationship with Him you will never be alone again. Loneliness can be conquered by taking our eyes off ourselves and focusing them on Jesus Christ (see Hebrews 12:1-3). No one has to dwell permanently in the place called ‘Lonesome Valley.” Why is this true? Jesus makes this promise to those who believe: “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20).

You have His word on it! You can take it to the bank!

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Wars, terrorism, natural disasters, rioting, and a politically very-divided nation – times are hard. As if these realities were not enough, along comes a pandemic caused by the super virus known as COVID-19. But the old-timers of today know that hard times are nothing new. Flip through your old photo albums or history books, and you will see hard times throughout history.

In today’s troubled world there is a great need to find and experience peace. There are few things more talked about and experienced less. We can identify with the people in the prophet Jeremiah’s day when they were crying out, “Peace, peace, when there is no peace” (Jer. 6:14). Our cities are among the most modern in the world, yet our streets are unsafe. Our communication technology is unsurpassed, but there is widespread misunderstanding. People live close together who are in many ways a million miles apart. So, where can we find lasting and fulfilling peace? The lasting source of peace can only be found in God.

The Bible talks about two kinds of peace, and the first is to have a spiritual relationship with God. The apostle Paul, in writing to the church in Rome said, “Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1). That is the foundation, the bottom line. We have to have peace with God before we can genuinely have any other kind of peace.

The second kind of peace is emotional in nature which, in reality, is an extension of a person’s spiritual relationship with God. Those who know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord can go through any problem and face death without fear when they have the peace of God in their heart. Paul wrote these words: “Don’t worry about anything, but in everything through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God which surpasses every thought will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

Once we have God’s peace, the important question is this: How can it be maintained?

First, we must obey God’s Word. As simple as it sounds, we must do what the Bible says. The Psalmist said: “Abundant peace belongs to those who love God’s instruction; nothing makes them stumble . . . I obey your decrees and love them greatly” (Psalm 119:165,167). God’s Word is our owner’s manual for life. Peace can be possessed by those who live in harmony with God – and who do what He tells them to do.

Second, we must focus on God’s presence. We must never forget that God is with us. The prophet Isaiah said that God will “keep in perfect peace the mind of the person who is dependent on Him” (Isaiah 26:3). If you look at the world or within yourself you will be depressed; if you look at Christ you will be at rest.

Third, we must trust God’s purpose. Even when things don’t make sense, we must trust God’s purpose. In other words, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Fourth, we need to ask for it. Again, Paul tells us, “Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, and present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7).

Notice the order – first prayer, then peace. There is a cause and effect relationship here. Prayer is the cause; peace is the effect. If you are praying, you will likely not worry. Worry is the opposite of peace.

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The Continental Congress of the United Colonies met in Philadelphia in 1776 to ponder a mighty issue – that issue was INDEPENDENCE! A long, lanky, 33-year-old Virginian, Thomas Jefferson by name, was appointed to frame a document which, when read even today, sends chills up and down the spine. Many notables were at the gathering – among them John Hancock, who led off with his signature, writing it so boldly that King George II would be able to read it without putting on his specs.

The old bell ringer, who had been told to be on hand to start ringing as soon as word reached him that the Declaration of Independence had been adopted, was pessimistic, and said, “They’ll never do it! They’ll never do it!” Then, suddenly a boy appeared, running and shouting, “Ring! Ring! Ring!” And the event was history!

We who live today would do well to dedicate ourselves to the task of keeping that Liberty Bell ringing. Our New England forebears might have been quaint, gruff, and austere men, lacking somewhat in humor, but, judged by the legacy of freedom and worth they left behind, they were men of honor and integrity, and a people with a great compulsion. They would have agreed with these words from Psalm 127:1: “Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain.”

Every time we sing, “Faith of our Fathers,” we should pause to ask ourselves these questions, “Does that faith still live? Is it alive in me?” And, if so, “To what degree does it live in me?” Perhaps it is good for us to canvass a few aspects of the faith of our fathers, and allow the past to sit in judgment on the present.

At the center of that faith stood a living and almighty God who was sovereign in the affairs of men and of nations. Benjamin Franklin said, “I have lived, sir, a long time; and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth, that God governs in the affairs of men.” It was because of that conviction, and because of a desire to worship God in freedom, that our forefathers migrated to these shores. They were willing to stake their lives on their faith – and this is the price that many of them did pay in the Revolutionary War that followed.

The wishy-washiness of much of our modern faith bears little resemblance to that which was held by those who formed and signed the Declaration of Independence. Examine the lives of many people today, both inside and outside the church, and you will often see some very shallow conceptions of God, and a shallow commitment to God. We say we love God, but we give so little of our time, energy, and material means. We accept His blessings but refuse His cross. We pledge allegiance to Him, but we do not seek His counsel. We ask Him for forgiveness but do not change our ways.

America’s earliest colleges were begun by the influence of the truth revealed in God’s Word. The Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights, and other national documents of importance were fashioned to a large degree as a result of concepts found in the Bible. The Bible must again be read, and taught, by mothers and fathers in America’s homes to their children if we are to be worthy of our heritage. Those who don’t read their Bible have no advantage over those who cannot read it.

Our forefathers were also a people who believed in worship – not all of them, of course, but those who laid our nation’s foundation on a solid foundation did. They could be found repenting of their sins. They built a legacy of freedom at great cost to themselves. John Quincy Adams said, “Posterity! You will never know how much it cost the present generation to preserve your freedom! I hope you will make good use of it! If you do not, I shall repent it in heaven that I took the pains to preserve it.”

May we never forget the truth found in Psalm 33:12: “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.”

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