I want to open a conversation about the “R” word ... retirement. And I want to speak to Gen X’ers and Millennials, as well as boomers and current retirees. We see in scripture that God’s plan is for us to live life abundantly. What does such flourishing look like in life’s later years?
The American dream and our culture tells us that we can retire to a life of leisure. But Ron Blue, founder of Kingdom Advisors, says, “You’re not finished with God’s work until he takes you home, therefore let’s talk about ‘rehirement’ instead of retirement.” My friend Dr. Charlie Self, who led us last year during our Festival of Faith, likes to use the word “reassignment” instead of retirement.
Retirement viewed as a long term vacation may not fit the biblical narrative as God’s intent for His people, nor might unending occupational labor be our destiny. Rather the challenge is to live life with a balance of work, rest and service. It is important that we understand that work is all moral and meaningful activity, other than rest and leisure. A term that more closely honors the season in life that many seniors find themselves might be ‘elder’. This term reflects the accumulation of knowledge, experience and wisdom, with the ability to contribute as a mentor.
God’s calling for us is not something from which we retire. Christ’s command for us is to be in the world and not of the world. He calls us to be counter cultural when needed. Regardless of what season you are in now, pray that you use all the days God gives you, for His greater glory.
Published on Thursday, October 17, 2019 @ 3:54 PM EDT
My daughter has been reading through the book of Revelation and calling me often to ask me what certain chapters, symbols and such means in the book. Of course, I have the whole thing figured out. Well maybe not the whole thing; but most of it. Actually, she has made me reread Revelation and think about a few things.
One of the main things is Revelation 5. It is a future picture of all God’s people worshipping together, a gathering of every language, ethnicity, culture, and nationality. The barriers that divide us will be gone, but it seems that the skin colors and speech that distinguish us will still be evident. That’s kind of strange. The diversity that causes us so much trouble now will be a notable part of our combined worship that brings so much glory to God.
Diversity worshipping together bringing glory to God? HMMM! What if that glorious future reality were to happen right here, right now? Can you imagine violent neighborhoods being a place of shalom? Can you imagine slums and “projects” lush and beautiful? Can you imagine war-torn areas as places of peace and human flourishing? No refugees, no bigotry, no question of “whose lives matter,” no republicans or democrats, no progressives or traditionalists.
As I read Revelation 5, it seems to me that we have not experienced all that God has for us as a redeemed and reconciled community of believers. Theologian Leroy Barber says, “Revelation 5 only eludes us because we aren’t willing to go the distance with people who are different form us.” God’s full blessing cannot be fully achieved until we put Christ’s kingdom first, ahead of our prejudices, our comfort, and our culture.
Is our country in the midst of a lot of divisiveness? Our current way of living and relating is only going to lead to destruction. What is our hope? Our hope is in acknowledging that we are all God’s creation and we are not called to just love our own family, our own little tribe or fraternity. We are called to love those that are vastly different from us and build relationships with them that won’t just last a lifetime; but will find us gathered around the throne of God singing His praises for eternity. Go the distance with someone vastly different from you.
Geaux Tigers Barry
Published on Thursday, October 10, 2019 @ 3:35 PM EDT
You will want to mark your calendars. November is National Family Caregivers Month and on November 1st, First-Centenary’s Congregational Care Ministry, United Methodist Women, volunteers from Positive Christian Singles and others will host our annual 70 Plus luncheon. Formerly planned by the Adult Ministry, there will be lots of surprises during an inclusive birthday party for all attendees.
We have had a vast number of funerals and memorial services often referred to as a “Celebration of Life” and thought it appropriate to truly celebrate and honor those who are still living their best lives. Two of our oldest members, Gladys Riddings (Alabama) and Carl Arnold are 106 and 102 years of age, respectively. What a major blessing for these two and others who are able to share from an abundance of life-fulfilled memories.
Plan to be with us as an honoree, servant or guest on this very special day. Our theme, “It’s Your Birthday…” should remind each of us of the joy we feel upon thinking about birthdays past. If you don’t have special birthday party memories, this should help change all that. When a TV news reporter in Anchorage, Alaska, asked me years ago, “What do you think about birthdays?” I responded, “Birthdays are Special – Everybody should have one!”
– Linda McDaniel
Published on Thursday, October 3, 2019 @ 2:52 PM EDT
One of my favorite books to read is Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I try to read it it every year because each time I read it I am challenged and pushed in my spiritual life. When I was reading through it a few weeks ago a specific section called “The Ministry of Helpfulness” spoke to me and challenged me. Bonhoeffer said, “We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interpreted by God. God will constantly be crossing our paths and canceling our plans by sending people with claims and petitions. We may pass them by, preoccupied with our more important tasks, as the priest passed by the man who had fallen among thieves, perhaps - reading the Bible. When we do that we pass by the visible sign of the Cross raised athwart our path to show us that, not our way, but God’s way must be done.” (p 99)
Bonhoeffer’s classic work on faith and community has many challenging sections and deep spiritual truths but this one seemed apropos for our modern society. My guess is there has always been a drive for more and push for success. But with modern advances in technology and communication, I know that personally, and I believe that I am not alone in this, it is easy for me to get pulled into the busyness and business of life so much so that I miss the opportunities that God has right before me to be busy for the Kingdom of God.
Let’s keep our eyes, hearts, and minds open this week for how God might interrupt our busyness with the work of the Kingdom.
In Christ, Will
Published on Thursday, September 26, 2019 @ 4:18 PM EDT
The other morning I went to get breakfast at Chick-Fil-A. Our daughter Kylie’s dog, Finn, was with me. Kylie is very strict about the food he is supposed to get. However, every once in a while I will sneak him out to Chick-Fil-A for four chicken nuggets. Finn absolutely loves them; me not so much.
I was listening to the radio and the song came on “Can’t Buy Me Love.” I looked over at Finn and I thought to myself, “Yeah right!” I was going to pull up to the drive-thru, order four nuggets and buy his love. The way to Finn’s heart is through his stomach.
A seminary professor of mine said; “God has a secret stairway to everyone’s heart.” God offers love to us in so many different ways. God is continually reminding us that we are special and that we matter to God!
We can choose to be kind, more patient and understanding. Choose to be less judgmental, less critical and mean spirited. We can choose to serve others and help those in need.
The song was still playing on the radio and while it may be true that we “can’t buy love,” we can sure show love to those around us.
This week reflect on 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NRSV. “Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
Published on Thursday, September 19, 2019 @ 3:15 PM EDT