A few years ago I remembered Dr. David Jeremiah speaking about the “Signs of Life” in a Christian and I truly believe that as Christians we should project those signs, not in a bragging manner as the Scribes and Pharisees, but in a way that the world will know what a Christian looks like by his/her walk, talk, and service.

Some of the material in this post comes from Dr. Jeremiah; a large portion comes from my thoughts and as I prepared this material, I was challenged to walk more Christ-like each day. I trust that you, as a believer, would be willing to improve in your own Christian witness. After all, our personal connection with Jesus Christ should be obvious to the world.

So let’s look at four signs that should be evident in the Christian Life.


First sign: “Dusty Shoes”

You should ask yourself, “how do I become relevant?” Your walk or your behavior sends a message to the world. To live and broadcast the truth causes one to constantly rediscover their relationship with God and I fear that too many in our Christian community may have lost their evangelistic voice. What is needed is get our feet dusty in the streets of our church and surrounding communities as we broadcast the message of our Savior.

Luke 14:23 compels us to be salt and light. “Go out into the highways and hedges and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.” Dusty Shoes i.e. Evangelism – That sure looks like a sign of life to me!

Second sign: “Worn-out Knees”

Worn-out knees is a wonderful sign as everything we do for Christ should begin with prayer. We received the Lord’s direction through prayer, and one of the reasons that we are so worn out from life is that our knees are not worn out.

The starting point for a revival of our nation is prayer and revival begins when each christian prays earnestly for “revival” to begin in his/her life.  Then an amazing thing will begin, revival will spread throughout our churches, communities, nation and world. We need to pray with purpose and pray often. Let’s wear out our knees!

Third sign:  ”Rolled Up Sleeves”

Matthew 25:40 challenges us as Christians to assume the spirit of humility of service as we minister to people. “Rolled up sleeves” is a great example of when a Christian ask him/herself, “how can I become real?”  Read through the Gospels and you will meet an unconventional Savior who came to save us all, and yet He taught, He preached, and He provided etc. Whatever the need, He “Rolled Up His Sleeves” and met the need.

For us the possibilities are endless in the areas of service; whether it is in our church, our community, city, state, Long Island or Uganda, when God calls you, “Roll Up Your Sleeves” and respond. Your responses will indicate to a lost world that, “They will know we are Christians by our Love.” Roll those sleeves up and follow the Master’s example.


Last sign:  ”Out Stretched Arms”

This next Christian sign is the last we will cover, “Out Stretched Arms.” One way to think of this is to face the question, “How do I become more compassionate to meet the needs of people?” The first step in coming to someone’s aid is noticing that they have a need and simply reach out to them. It is not easy to open your arms to someone who desperately tries to conceal that they have a need or are in distress.

Compassion sometimes comes with risk. However, to be used by God to be a healer, forgiver, peacemaker, and caregiver you must get close to that person. We must remember that in spite of their quirks and emotional barbed wire, Jesus found a way to use “Out Stretched Arms” to minister to those who were hurting and in need. If you feel that you are in over your head, find resources that can help. If God calls you to open your arms to someone, He and His Word will help you seize the moment by opening up your arms, words, and tears. I want to remind you that in giving a blessing you also receive blessings. You will be graced as you are gracious.

I leave you with this last thought, “Every day that you demonstrate the usage of one or more of these signs, you will create incriminating evidence that you are a Christian!” IT IS JUST A FACT!

 

 

 

Until I go or until He comes, your servant Lou.

Having a purpose by demonstrating signs of life.

A few years ago I was approached by Donna Shiflett and Ellen Udovich, who serve in ministry at the Baptist Convention of MD/DE, in regards to writing a blog directed towards Older Adults and Older Adult ministry.  Since that day I have enjoyed writing Redd Alert for a number of reasons.

Signs of life

God has been faithful to walk me through many years of life experiences.  Sharing these experiences in order to help encourage both the older adult and churches ministering to the older adult has been very rewarding. However, I have found an extra joy in writing Redd Alert and that joy has come from a surprising source – one I quite frankly wasn’t expecting.

“So what is that source?” It has been acquiring a young readership who have not only taken an interest in learning about older adults, but have reacted to my words and point of view in a positive way.

I am thankful for this interaction and glad that I did not take the advice from some to never put my name or email address in the blog.  If I would have listened, I would not have been able to connect and associate with so many new friends who are eager to minister.

“Why are you still  fired up at your age?”

I never could have imagined how many of Redd Alert readers have reacted positively to the last blog titled Reboot Your Life. Many have expressed, through calls and emails, that they and their church are busy doing missions and that Reboot Your Life has been instrumental in encouraging both men and women to actively become more involved in their church’s missional work. For this I praise God for using my writing to inspire and encourage His people to continue to serve and broaden His Kingdom efforts.

A popular question that I often receive is, “Why are you still fired up in serving at your age? ” My response and the reason why I continue (I’m now 79) is basic and simple.  The reality is that no matter what your age is you can still serve in ministry.  This gives life purpose, excitement, and fulfillment.

Throughout my many years on this earth, I have tried to live my life in God’s will based upon His Word and its teachings.  Recently I was reading a book titled “The Message of The Living God” published by Intervarsity Press where author Peter Lewis spoke the same words that have been a lifelong challenge to me. Those words are, “For me, God has always been the living God. In my childhood I knew Him as Father and friend and then as Redeemer and savior.”  These words have always moved me to the joys and challenges of servanthood. And as I have pastored throughout my years, God has blessed my witness because He was, is, and shall continue to be in charge of my life.

There is no retirement from God’s Word

You may slow down physically. You may be beat up physically, but God can use you somewhere and in some capacity. There is no retirement from God’s Word.

This past year I experienced several physical challenges that placed me in hospitals and rehabilitation centers. While in these places, God used me to witness and share His good news to the medical staff and fellow patients surrounding me.  Yes, even as a patient, restricted to a bed and wrapped in bandages, God can use us to be His co-pilot.  All we have to do is accept His call and leadership.

The next time we meet together we will continue with Having Purpose Pt 2Further Signs of Life.

Just a thought:  There is no failure except in no longer trying.

God Bless!

Lou

 

Welcome to a new year!  

This is the year that our Lord has made, and we need to rejoice in it.

Today may be like any other in your mind as the sun comes up and goes down. Time clicks along at its usual speed, yet, with my calendar in mind, today marks a new beginning. It is January, 2013, and I have a chance to reboot my life just like I reboot my computer.

The Lord of New Beginnings and the King of Fresh Hope

In His grace God gives us a new day every 24 hours, and a new year every 365 days. He is the Lord of new beginnings and the King of fresh hope.

Without Christ we are like passengers on a doomed ship sailing into the night, fearing the storms ahead, hoping that there is enough entertainment on board to distract the choppy waters. With Christ we sail with the Captain of our salvation who steadily stands at the helm where you can be assured that this year will be a great voyage even if there are choppy waters along the way.

Reboot Your Life To Serve

For those who know the Lord Jesus, I ask you to look in the mirror and instead of making a New Years resolution, reboot the service areas in your life. After all, your church is ready to have you serve and help in ministry efforts.

In our last blog we acknowledged that the church is becoming more user-friendly towards older adults in its programming and facilities. Now you, and new Christians alike, need to be ready to go and work in the Kingdom. Let us begin by lighting the flame of the true Christian life so others can see the fire within you.  Ignite the flame of leadership that you once held so that new Christians can see the life of Christ roaring within you.

Dr. David Jeremiah made me aware of the “Signs of Life” in a Christian and helped me plant, water, and cultivate the seeds of relevance, surrender, authenticity, generosity, and compassion, both in myself and others. Though I have had struggles in my life both physical and spiritual, the evil one has never gained a hold on me.  The “Signs of Life” continue to ignite.

The next time we come together we are going to see how we can work on our “Signs of Life.” They are life actions and are developed as we desire to serve others.

Let us close this session by looking at the list of the “Signs of Life.”

  1. My words and actions are evidence of Christ’s indwelling.
  2. My faith is expressed through works.
  3. I am a source of light in a dark world.
  4. Every moment of my life is a living moment with God.
  5. I am conscious of influencing those around me.
  6. Those who witness my life see Jesus.
  7. My walk supports my Christian talk.
  8. Opportunities to share Christ are Devine appointments.
Until the next time –  journey well
Lou

 

 

 

 

 

In the past few months we have looked at how the church can, and has in many cases, improved its programing as far as older adults are concerned.  We have discussed how church leadership can make provisions in developing a more boomer user friendly ministry in area’s such as creating an older adult evangelism minsitry and making the church building older adult friendly.

Yet in many cases despite all of the improvements, many activities, or ministries of the church towards older adults, may not be supported as they once were.  So what may be the cause for this?

Let It Begin With Me

One of the attitudes that we have to guard ourselves against is, “let someone else do it because  - of my age – I done my time of service – I am retired.”  I gently want to remind each of us that there is no retirement from God’s work in His Word. So with that being said, let us go back to an experience when we believed that God’s call was forever in our lives. Let us begin with our own personal history when God called us to be a partner in His Kingdom work. The time when we became a child of God.

For the sake of exercise, I shall use my salvation history as an example.

I was physically born on February 26, 1934 and spiritually born on August 30, 1945. On that August day I did not know what plan or plans God had for me.  But what I did know was that I was excited to be in the Lord’s Army. I did not know about a call, a potential, or witnessing. All I knew was the part about being saved by grace which has now sustained me for 78 years.  I would later learn through Sunday School, and the Training Union that I had been called to Godly living which was a lifetime commitment of my total mind, will, emotions, and personality to be turned over to the Lord for His control.

One of the first persons that I studied in the Bible was the apostle Paul. In Acts 20: 16-24 he pointed out that he was consumed by a passion that was greater than life or the horrors of suffering. He had a ministry to fulfill and a message of salvation to deliver.

No matter what age I am or what situation I am in, this remains my goal in life. I was saved because of the Lord’s graciousness and I want to introduce everyone to Him. Whether I am on a street corner, in a home, a gym, in a hospital or rehab, I want to proclaim His Holy name.

I learned at a young age the understanding of the word grace.  How it is the love of grace that sustains me and that grace is a greater motivation than the law. When we realize that God calls us to do something for Him we have already received His acceptance and we accomplish the call because of His grace. He will energize us if we are obedient in our service to His call.

Requirements of Servanthood

The story of Zaccheus is a great indication to the requirements of servanthood in our Christian life and we are never to stop utilizing these requirements no matter our age. We are saved to serve for life. In Luke 19:1-9  Jesus give us three requirements:

  1. Awareness:  Although surrounded by a crowd, Jesus stopped and took notice of one particular man perched in a tree. Zaccheus was hated and rejected because he was a tax collector. Though he was rich, there was something missing in his life and Jesus recognized this. Perhaps, there is a person in your church that needs you as to point them to Christ as Zaccheus did Jesus.
  2. Availability:  Jesus was heading toward Jerusalem to carry out the most important act in human history – our redemption. Yet, he stopped to have a meal with a spiritually needy man. Suppose you are no longer as faithful as you once were and a person is looking for you to help him with a problem and you are not there.
  3. Acceptance:  Although Zaccheus was a sinner hated because he cheated people, Jesus did not say “clean up your act, and I will come to your house.” The seeker in your church may turn away from an opportunity to know Jesus because you have drifted from your call.

Regarding our Kingdom Call

Now let us see where we stand in regard to our Kingdom call. Our churches have listened to the Lord and have made improvements to their member friendly older adult programming as well as making their building older adult friendly. In fact, the leadership has recognized that they need to step up and organize their “boomers.” They have been working hard and may now feel that they can let up in their call and sit back to relax – NO WAY –  NO WAY – NO WAY – THIS IS A LIFETIME CALL.

Regarding our Kingdom Call

How Can You Support Your Church?

One of the greatest purposes of a Bible study is the application of an evaluation of ourselves with that study. Let us return to when we fully supported our Lord and His church. Begin to think of how you can support your church both in attendance and service.

Once Called We are Always to Serve.

Throughout our life we are shaped and reshaped for service. Years ago in one of my pastorates we gave each man a book entitled, Man In The Mirror. What a difference it made in our church! Many of our males began to man up in their churches and families lives.

I ask you to evaluate your attendance and service and not sit idle.  Begin to strengthen your churches and their missions. Look in the mirror and determine to follow the great and most wonderful challenge of your life as found in Philippians 2:5. “Let this mind be in you which was always in Jesus Christ.” God called you and that is forever.

Next time we shall look at your reshaping and see someways you can better serve your churches and your communities. We are going to look at your signs of life as we provide ways for you to serve with dusty shoes, worn out knees, rolled up sleeves, open hands, and outstretched arms.

It is just a thought:  You miss 100% of the shots you never take.

God Bless

Lou

 

 

 

In our last session, we ended with how the new older adult looks at the second half of his/her life as a time for work (perhaps part time) study, service, and play.  Yes, new older adults have a new view of aging.  They will not be reached through the old senior programs and activities of most churches.

Change is necessary if we are to reach the Middle Adult.

Change is a six letter word that sometimes we hate to see, but it’s inevitable if we are going to keep our older adults and reach new unchurched older adults with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Our church needs to have a new priority in its ministry. Today we need to hear, “Do not let my older people go!

Meet the Middle Adult.

A second change in the older adult demographic landscape is the emergence of a new generational group called Middle Adults.  Whereas new older adults are easily identified by their attitudes, middle adults are identified by their age.  Men and women in this group are approximately 50 – 69 years old. They are often retired or partially retired and they are usually healthy and happy with their stage in life. They qualify for, by virtue of their age, many church older adult activities, however middle adults do not consider themselves as seniors.

In her book New Passages, Gail Sheehy discusses the middle adult generation and observes;

  • “American society is only in its infancy of this adult revolution…the territory of the mid-fifties, sixties, and beyond is changing so fundamentally it now opens up a whole new passage and stage of life.”

In other words, there is such a difference in the worldview of middle adults (50 – 69 years) and older adults (70+ years) that it is creating a generation gap as distinct as any other in America.

The Five Life Stages of Adulthood.

There are five life stages of adulthood:

  1. Emerging adults (18 –  29)
  2. Young adults (30 – 49)
  3. Middle adult ( 50 – 69)
  4. Older adults (70 – 79)
  5. Elderly adults (80+)

People at each stage have unique goals, challenges and priorities. Some creative churches are restructuring their adult education ministry around these five life stages and are targeting each stage for outreach.

7 Why’s a Church May Not be Attracting Middle Adults.

Many churches find their existing senior adult group does not attract middle adults and it probably never will, why?

  1. Middle adults do not perceive themselves as being a senior.  In my own church, some seniors that were in my age group (70 – 79) did not want to be called seniors. As a result, our Young At Heart ministry fell under the umbrella as older adults. In the case of middle adults, anything that resembles an activity for “those old people” repels them. In our activity schedule for the new year, we are going to step up middle adult activities.
  2. Most older groups are saturated. That means the group has difficulty adding new members. A group becomes saturated after two years of being together, their history, their traditions, and relationship of members in the group have become so strong that they inadvertently keep newcomers out.
  3. Most older adult groups do not prioritize outreach to prospective new members. In a recent survey of 500 churches, the leaders and members of older adult groups rated outreach as the least effective of all activities. The natural tendency for established groups is to turn inward. Yet, older adult groups are one of the largest unchurched groups.

The last two parts of this segment is to briefly look at the characteristics of middle adults and then look at middle adults as new ministry opportunities.

Seven Characteristics of the Middle Adult.

Seven characteristics stick out foremost in my mind. Many of these characteristics are issues to many middle adults.

  1. They are at their peak of influence and possess considerable energy.
  2. Their children have moved out or soon will and they are facing an empty nest.
  3. They are anticipating, if not experiencing, the transition into retirement.
  4. They are spending more time in leisure activities.
  5. Their self image is changing and are experiencing a decline in physical activity.
  6. They are facing the aging of parents and other responsibilities.
  7. Women in the later stages of middle adulthood face the prospect of being widowed or alone.
Church Opportunity.

Lastly, we face a new opportunity in our churches.  It is perhaps a new venture for your church, but it is a magnificent opportunity for the church to minister.

what is the church all about? Ephesian 5:29 – 30 specifies that believers are the body and Jesus is the head of the fellowship. God’s design for this sacred gathering involves worship, instruction, encouragement, evangelism, and ministry to those in need both within the fellowship and outside its walls.

In myy next blog we shall review briefly the church’s obligation and then begin to look into how can older adults serve the church.

It is just a thought:  The best cure for a sluggish mind is to disturb its routine.

Lou

 

 

 

 

As we discussed myths in our last blog, several people indicated to me that their church does not feel that they need to change anything in their programming in regards to older adults. After all, in the minds of many church leaders, youth are the future of the church. With birth rates being low, it may be time to reconsider that thought.

Neutral to Overdrive

I am not advocating that the church lose sight of the responsibility of youth ministry, but the reality is that middle and older adults are the here and now in terms of being the largest population group which, I might add, is increasing in longevity. We must make use of their experience and renewed vigor. The church has failed to notice in many cases this renewed and experienced group. Therefore, church leaders should get out of neutral and put it in overdrive in order to serve older adults.

“Why?” 

The why is found in several ways; one is mentioned in the previous paragraph, increased longevity.  As a result of being the largest population group the older adult for the most part has renewed vigor and renewed vision and purpose.

Preparing for the Age Wave

The age wave is the rising tide of older adults and their numbers are increasing every year.  The church must recognize that a creative resource bank can involve all ages of adults.  And in addition of young people within the church, its services, and the surrounding community, everyone of any age can be part of the church’s mission for world redemption.

As the age wave moves towards the church, it increases in size and power and can be a powerful resource to tap into if only the church would embrace it.  Think of the possibilities of how outreach ministries could grow if the church would utilize the willing and able group of older adults. Ministries such as, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, Vacation Bible Schools, and mission trips just to mention a few.

Hardly Homogeneous

As we think as church leaders about the implications of the age wave, we must realize that previous generations of older adults had been fairly homogeneous in their lives. Churches for the most part offered one or two classes in Sunday School for the older adult and most were satisfied. However, as life expectancy has extended the age range this group is hardly homogeneous.

Many of today’s older adults are far removed from the stereotypical senior citizen of yesterday. Their attitudes and behavior are different.   US News & World Report once reported, “What is important about this generation (older adults) is its improvement in energy and vitality and outlook.”

Unfortunately many churches operate on traditional assumptions that older adults are inactive, inert, and ineffectual. Those churches may have problems in reaching the growing number of unchurched older adults.  Make your church the place that older adults want to be. Offer them opportunities to serve.  Include them and tap into their vast experience, vitality and outlook.

Goal Seekers

New older adults have goals they want to accomplish. Some of these goals are self-centered, others are altruistic. Programs and activities that just pass time will not attract older adults, remember, they feel younger than their chronological age.

New older adults look forward to the future thinking that their best days are ahead and they would rather serve than to be served. Giving of one’s self is far more rewarding than seeking. In other words, the new older adult does not consider retirement as a time to sit in a chair all of the time, rather it is a time for study, service, volunteerism, and play.

Next time we will continue our look at leadership of the church’s responsibility to the various older adult groups.

Just a thought:  Why not go out on a limb…isn’t that where the fruit is?

Lou

Approximately one out of every five Americans is 65 years of age or older, the numbers are growing.

As the years and quality of life are lengthened, old age is being redefined. For example, some sociologists are extending middle age up to 65.  People from 66 to 75 are referred to as the young old.  Those from 76 to 85 are considered old and if you are 86 and above you may be called the frail elderly.

We spend one-forth of our lives growing up, and three-fourths of our lives growing old.

Although our society spends time and money helping older people understand teenagers, very little time and money is spent helping younger people understand those who are older.  In fact, there is a tendency on the part of younger people to isolate older people away from their activities.  Perhaps this is a way that some of the younger generations deals with their fear of death.

Confronting Myths

We need to confront the ignorance and myths of society’s understanding of aging and older people by providing accurate information.  In fact, interview some old people and you may get a surprise.  Let us briefly look at some of these myths.

  • Myth:  A majority of those over 65 are senile.
  • Fact:  Only two to three percent of those over 65 are in some form of an institution.
  • Myth:  A large percentage of the aged are living in facilities for long-term care.
  • Fact:  Less than five percent of those over 65 and less that 10 percent over 75 live in long-term care facilities.
  • Myth:  Aged drivers have more accidents than younger drivers.
  • Fact:  Drivers over 65 have 24 percent fewer accidents than younger drivers under 65.
  • Myth:  It is almost impossible for older people to learn new things.
  • Fact:  Over 70 percent of older people go back to school, take courses, or obtain a degree each year.
  • Myth:  In general, most older people are alike.
  • Fact:  Older adults maintain their uniqueness as individuals at any age.

There are many instances that we could cite where older adults are not much different than younger people.  There are care ministries that older individuals are called to begin or be part of. Vacations with a purpose (my name for mission trips) are a part of some seniors’ lives.

Ministry is not restricted to someone above the age of 21 or below the age of 55.  

The Holy Spirit calls all people to spread the Word.

To you older adults, do not accept society’s misconceptions about your capabilities and worth. Begin or join a ministry in your church.

You, as a person that reads this blog regardless of your age can, through your bulletin or church newsletter, make your congregation aware of these myths.

If the older adult (50 plus) group or any individual are a part of a special ministry, I would like to know about that blessing that you are part of.  Please email me at singergosp@aol.com or by standard mail at, Lou Redd, 8720 Ridge Rd. Apt 110, Ellicott, City, MD 21043.  I would like to feature you in a future blog.

Next Time

My next post shall deal with the churchs’ responsibility to older adults. We shall consider special ministries for, Older Adults, Older Adults and Respect,and how to retain older Adults in churches.

An Invitation to “Ports of Call” – An Older Adult retreat

May I take the opportunity to invite you to our second annual older adult retreat.

Date:  May 21-23, 2012.

Location:  Skycroft Conference Center, Middletown MD

Theme:  “Ports of Call.”  Imagine you are cruising with us as we enjoy three days of fun, learning, singing, and a day-long excursion doing hands-on mission work.

This is a perfect retreat for individuals, church groups, or clubs.

Keynote Speaker:  Rev. Len Strozier, pastor of Woodbury Baptist Church in Woodbury, GA.  Worship Leader:  Ken Tipton of Calvary Baptist Church.

The Cost:  $75.00 per person (includes motel room, all meals, and all activities).

To register online visit, www.bcmd.org/ports or by phone at, 800-536-6759.

More details of this event is listed on the Upcoming Event section.  You can access it at the top of this page.

Just a Thought

“The man who starts out going nowhere generally gets there!”

God Bless!

Lou

 

Time to reboot and let the Holy Spirit recalculate our spiritual lives.

Happy New Year to each and everyone of you!  2011 was a year filled with great opportunities for service involving family, friends and our community.

As we look for opportunities in 2012, let us align ourselves with Christ as He came down to earth to seek and save those who are lost.  Let us remember that He came to serve others upon this earth and taught His followers how to minister His lessons.  Lessons that are sound and meaningful today.

Everyone that Jesus spoke to felt His love and compassion.

Let us go and touch the lives of others who need to meet Him or need to revive their relationship with Him.  Let us not worry about the world’s political correctness but rather worry only about our spiritual correctness.

It does not matter what age you are as any age can provide a true witness.

A number of people have asked about the age range I am trying to reach with my blog.  Though my calling in ministry is with older adults, I try to call attention towards Godly principles and how one may be of service with his or her fellow man or woman regardless of age.  I write for all ages and churches by providing facts that can be used in their ministry strategies with regards to builders, boomers, and those in generation X.

  • Builders – born prior to 1946
  • Boomers – born from 1946-1964
  • Generation X – born from 1965-1980

*   *   *   *

Current affairs.

As I am writing this blog,  I read that the Baltimore Sun newspaper headline is, “A big to do list in Annapolis.”  The Maryland State General Assembly began its session on January 11, and has a large number of issues to deal.   To be specific, Gender Identity and Same-sex marriage.

Spiritual point of view.

My concern, from a spiritual point of view, is the growing support for same-sex marriage.  We as Christians need to stand up and support the Biblical view in regards to homosexuality and God’s view on same-sex marriage.  God provided marriage as one man one woman.

Prayer.

I would like to ask you to pray, as God leads, pertaining to these vital issues facing our State.

Perhaps you could or need to organize a group from your church to be part of a rally that is going to Annapolis to let our legislators know how we feel about this sinful practice.  Perhaps you could draw up a petition for your members of your church to sign.

All it takes for sin and evil to thrive is for God’s people to do nothing.

Do not be ashamed to be the salt of the earth as proclaimed in Matthew 5:13.  Take action against the evil of this world!

“Graying” of the church.

Next time we shall review some statistics in regard to the graying of the church.  In the meantime, may I suggest to you of the encore generation the new Billy Graham book, “Nearing Home.”

I have provided a preview link of Nearing Home located at the bottom of the page.  Enjoy.

Lou

 

 

 

Nearing Home: Life, Faith, and Finishing Well – by Bill Graham

But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.  -Acts 20:24 (ESV)

Growing old has been the greatest surprise of my life,” says Billy Graham, known by many as God’s Ambassador. “I would have never guessed what God had in store for me, and I know that as I am nearing home, He will not forsake me the last mile of the way.”

In Nearing Home this man of faith-now in his nineties-explores the challenges of aging while gleaning foundational truths from Scripture. Billy Graham invites us to journey with him as he considers the golden years while anticipating the hope of being reunited with his wife, Ruth, in his heavenly home that eclipses this world. ”When granted many years of life, growing old in age is natural, but growing old with grace is a choice,” says the author. “Growing older with grace is possible for all who will set their hearts and minds on the Giver of grace, the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Join Billy Graham as he shares the challenges of fading strength but still standing strong in his commitment to finishing life well.

“Explore with me not only the realities of life as we grow older but also the hope and fulfillment and even joy that can be ours once we learn to look at these years from God’s point of view and discover His strength to sustain us every day.”

-BILLY GRAHAM

Click here to read a preview of “Nearing Home.”


 

I have been away from the diner for a long time, and it is great to see you all again after my vacation at Howard Hospital and Holy Cross Rehabilitation Center.

Our last discussion involved transformation of a person as he gives himself totally to the Father and His Son.

We covered the concern that some of us have that we have become lost in the world’s culture and therefore have lost our voice.

We learned that some are willing to send money for global ministries, but when it comes to glocal (local) ministries some are afraid that they will be politically incorrect if they speak of our Master to someone.

Personally, I want to be spiritually correct.

The questions are not how many people come to the 9:30 service as opposed to the 11:00 service or is the music the type we appreciate, but rather how can we find our evangelistic voice?

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Finding our Evangelistic Voice

You see, Jesus proclaimed that we are to be “salt” and “light” in our world and I fear that some Christians are flickering lights.  We need to be salt in our character before we can be effective as light.

The image of salt and light speaks of the eagerness to get out the message of Jesus Christ.  Transformation means we are to recapture the salt and light concept that Jesus lived.  We need to mirror Jesus in how we live.  The question is how does the church (people) fit into glocal evangelism?

Is the church the only true vessel for the kingdom of God?

No, but it is the local practical expression of it and it is the most underutilized vehicle for expanding the kingdom.

Instead of attempting to change society by more religious workers, we ought to focus on utilizing and transforming people who are already on the inside sitting in our pews.  If we are to truly be kingdom centered and truly transformed, we would not be fearful of sharing our faith within a perverse world.  We are to have faith not fear.  We need to overhaul our evangelistic life.

Can following Jesus ever be private?

No!  We as the Christian community must make a connection with the outside world.  For the most part community means different people.  The world itself means common unity.

I think the church today has confused community with socialization.  We come together for worship and let ourselves be a community.  The idea to me is to take that message and proclaim it to the surrounding community.

Connection is crucial

Connection is crucial to using your evangelistic voice in your glocal church (your Jerusalem).   Hebrews 12:1-3 indicates that the gospel proclamation is personal not private; it is a picture of connection.  Connection helps us with our call as Christians and that reflects the kingdom.

Glocal missionaries cause Glocal Impact

Glocal impact is where we challenge every member to serve the community locally and glocally.

Therefore the church is to be ready to serve God as the glocal missionary in order to have a glocal impact.  The Church (community unity) can have everyone be part of the action.

Is Transformation Possible?

Transformation is possible because we are in an interactive relationship with God,  accountable with other believers, and responding to ministry opportunities.

If we were all transformed, perhaps the church could turn the world right side up.

Next time we shall look at Renewed and Revived.

In His

Lou

Transformation:  More Than Turning Over a New Leaf

Glad we are back in the diner where it is nice and cool.

At the conclusion of our last get together, I had left us with the thought of how the Boomer and the Builder generations could have an impact on tomorrow’s church. One thought is being “transformational in the church.”

Transformational = Transformed

In January, I along with other pastors, studied a book and attended a conference entitled “Transformational Church.”  I found both the book and conference interesting, and in my opinion very thought provoking.

I began to think about churches that I had belonged to and ones that I had pastored.  I thought of how many of them were not transformational and now sadly realized that in turn we/people were not transformed.

Stepping Up our Glocal Efforts

We need to find our voice as stated by Bob Roberts Jr. in his book Transformation;  “Not only, in my estimation, do we need to remain global in our evangelism but we need to step up our glocal efforts.”

What would our churches look like if the entire body of people like me would be mobilized and touch the people we come in contact with the message of Christ?

So how did we lose the evangelistic voice that we once had?


FirstWe became lost in modern thought within the world.

We began to think that individuality, reason, science, and optimism would build a church rapidly.  True, the church did produced results and momentum,which in return caused results to reign supreme.  The church then began to look at the results and quoted God in creation, “It is good.”

The truth of the matter was we needed to examine the results that we were getting.

In other words, the church unwittingly merged with the same operating principles of governments and corporations but with only different products.

Secondly: The church became lost in consumerism.

We became lost in consumerism as the church began to think that the services that it provided had to be entertaining in order to make the gospel palatable to all.

This may have had increased the numbers of attendance, but did it increase the spiritual level of the church?

The church may have increased in size, buildings, budget, and yet we may not have succeeded in transforming lives.

Thirdly: We became lost in mega-mania.

Surely there are other factors that have affected the church, but I believe that in our church culture we think size proves success.

If you look at the Great Awakenings in America, the evangelistic movement did not, for the most part, consist of massive crusades but rather through small churches that touched their communities.

I feel that many churches today have lost their voice for their communities and according to Bob Roberts Jr:  “The question is not should churches grow, but why should they grow?”

I wished I had more time here at the diner, but let me leave you with some thoughts that I gleamed from my study of the “Transformational Church,” by Ed Stetzer and Thom S. Rainer.

  1. The apostle Paul had an evangelistic voice.  He did not travel to places on his missionary journeys – he traveled to people.
  2. Real transformation or change starts with a new life not a new leaf.
  3. Real transformation or change is a process not a destination.  It is an encounter to mirror Jesus.
  4. Real transformation or change is letting go and grabbing hold.

Let us think about going glocal as well as global by letting ourselves be transformational and regain our evangelistic voice.

Have a great week and next time we will have new menus with new selections at the diner.

Lou

 

 

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