Sunday Worship Service 5 pm

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Boomers’ Bodies — And Yours

by John Piper

Boomers’ Bodies — And Yours

All of the 10,000 people in America who turn 65 each day have wrinkles. 

Our skin is more flaccid. 

Our complexion is more mottled. 

Our equilibrium is more tenuous. 

And our hair is more scarce. 

The effect of aging on our appearance and our bearing is universal. 

No one escapes. 

Except by death.

The reason for this is that God has subjected the creation to futility (Romans 8:20). 

It is in bondage to corruption (Romans 8:21). 

Even new creatures in Christ groan, waiting for the redemption of our bodies (Romans 8:23).

In other words, when sin entered the world through Adam and Eve, God established a connection between moral depravity and physical deterioration. 

He intended to make clear that, even if we ignore the dreadfulness of a sinful heart, we will not be able to ignore its witness in the debility of the body.

This is a hard pill for beautiful and robust Boomers to swallow. 

We have been strong. 

We have been pretty. 

Even sexy. 

And now we realize: We will never have it back. 

It is over. 

For good. 

Until death stops the process we will only get weaker, more wrinkled, more mottled.

Some of us cannot let it go. 

We resort to plastic surgery in the hopeless attempt to make the looks of youth last a little longer. 

An article in Psychology Today observes,

Cosmetic surgery is still on the increase throughout developed countries. . . The “looks industry” is alive and well.

But the fix might be more in the head than on the face.

Joshua Zimm, from the University of Toronto and his colleagues published a study in 2013 showing that facial cosmetic surgery does not significantly enhance attractiveness and only reduces perceived age by 3.1 years.

The growth of cosmetic surgery is not a reflection of the increasing ugliness of people but a reflection of our increasing negative self-perception. 

The fact that cosmetic surgery is still increasing in popularity despite showing little positive outcome — objective measure of attractiveness or youth — points again to our desire to become perfect.

Adolescent in Our Thinking

In other words, Boomers don’t look older than previous generations. 

But we are less content with looking older. 

We crave the power and the beauty our bodies once had. 

We are, to a large extent, still adolescent in our thinking about our looks.

Let the Christian Boomers turn this around.

We have found the fountain of youth. 

His name is Jesus Christ. 

“He will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself” (Philippians 3:21). 

Our dying body is like a seed planted in the ground. 

“It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power” (1 Corinthians 15:43).

Aging in Holiness and Grace

Aging Christians don’t stay beautiful and strong in this life. 

But they do become beautiful and strong in the resurrection. 

The implication is: Don’t pour your time and energy and resources into artificial aging inhibitors. 

Pour them into aging with holiness and grace.

“Older men, be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness” (Titus 2:2).

“Older women, be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. Teach what is good, and train the young women” (Titus 2:3–4).

Don’t be part of the tragic millions who desperately try to look and act younger than they are. 

It is usually pathetic to watch. 

A deep Arizona leathery tan does not make wrinkled skin look young.

Because of God’s grace, aging is not only a witness to the fall. 

It is also now a witness to the power of God’s grace. 

For those who trust him, God has turned deterioration into dignity.

Let these markers of aging be your goal.

1. Realism

“Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised” (Proverbs 31:30). 
The real beauty — the real praiseworthiness in life — is not our outward appearance.
It is our reverence for God. 
This is the real beauty of life.

2. Humility

“Your heart was proud because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor” (Ezekiel 28:17).
Physical beauty is not a bad thing. 

But it is a dangerous thing — like wealth (Matt. 19:24). 

Let the loss of it make us humble. 

For humility is a beautiful thing.

3. Legacy

“Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life” (Proverbs 16:31). 
“The glory of young men is their strength, but the splendor of old men is their gray hair” (Proverbs 20:29). 

The point is not that only righteous people get old. 

The point is that when a righteous life is crowned with age, it is a beautiful thing. 

A thing of honor, not shame.

4. Honorable weakness

“You have been borne by me [the Lord] from before your birth, carried from the womb; even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save” (Isaiah 46:3–4). 

God has carried us from the womb. 

We have never been self-sufficient. 

Now in old age we have the honor of making that crystal clear. 

The glory of a human is to be carried by God.

Consumed with Ministry, Not Mirrors

Evelyn Harris Brand grew up in a well-to-do English family. 

She had studied at the London Conservatory of Art and dressed in the finest silks. 

But she went with her husband to minister as missionaries in the Kolli Malai mountain range of India.

After about ten years her husband died at age 44. 

After a year’s recuperation in England, she returned and poured her life into the hill people until she was 95. 

She lived in a portable hut, eight feet square, that could be taken down and moved.

Her son, Paul, commented that “with wrinkles as deep and extensive as any I have ever seen on a human face . . . she was a beautiful woman.” 

But it was not the beauty of the silk and heirlooms of London high society. 

For the last twenty years of her life she refused to have a mirror in her house! 

She was consumed with ministry, not mirrors. 

(See Future Grace, 288-289)

This is what God, by grace, does with our aging. 

He takes the deep creases of our bondage to corruption and turns them in to the dignity of spiritual beauty.

May millions of Christian baby Boomers show the world how the gift of aging is received.

Friday, September 5, 2014

The Antidepressant of Wonder

Jon Bloom

Living in this world tends to make us feel thin. 
We feel, with Bilbo Baggins, “like butter scraped over too much bread.” 
Another beheading, another disease epidemic, another leader’s adultery exposed, another day struggling within and without against unrelenting evil. 
We feel world-weary.

But it’s not really the world we’re weary of; we’re futility-weary, evil-weary. 
We’re weary of the curse under which we groan in hope (Romans 8:20). 
But the world is not only infused with futility, it is also infused with glorious wonders that, if we will look, direct our attention away from evil to the God of hope (Romans 15:13) — who made the world (John 1:3), who rules it (Philippians 2:11), and who is redeeming it (Romans 8:21). 
Yes, evil must be faced and fought. 
But if the devil can, he will keep us focused on evil to tempt us to succumb to all kinds of evil ourselves and drive us into depressive neuroses that make us feel thin on hope and long to escape.

But all around us reality is dense with wonders, layer upon layer. 
These are antidepressants that God has provided in abundance, surrounding us on every side, and they are there for the taking, even in the most mundane things. 
Let me give you an example.

Seeing the Phenomenal with a Football

Autumn is descending on America. 
And when autumn comes, it brings football (the American variety where a foot rarely touches the ball). 
On most afternoons in most neighborhoods after school’s let out you will find in some yard or field a couple boys tossing a football (with their hands). 
Next time you see this, stop and watch for a few minutes. 
If you really look you will see wonders.

In fact, all the glory converging upon you in that moment might be overwhelming! 
There may be a breeze carrying scents of an evening meal sizzling on a grill, the light from a nearby star giving the leaf gold of deciduous trees turning dormant a molten glow as it drops toward the edge of this spinning ball on which you live, the green life bursting from the ground beneath boys’ pounding feet, the miracle of human laughter and language. 
And the mind-blowing phenomenon of a football being thrown — and caught! 
Let’s just think about that for a moment.

“If you really look you will see wonders.”

As you watch these two, say, 11 year-old athletes play, you’re also watching them perform very advanced mathematics and physics equations. 
You hear the boy holding the ball say to the other, “Run a post!” 
The other takes off at full sprint for about ten yards, then angles to his left and looks over his left shoulder. 
Meanwhile, the boy with the ball drops back three or four steps while watching his receiver, stops, cocks his right arm, steps forward and heaves the ball into the air. 
The ball travels about 18 yards. 
It’s a decent spiral but it’s a little high and ahead of his target. 
So the receiver increases his speed, jumps off his left foot, stretches out his right arm, tips the ball into the air with his right hand, lands on his feet off-balance while twisting to his right, still adjusting his speed, and catches the ball with both hands while falling onto the green life that cushions him and rolls over a couple times while maintaining possession. 
You can’t help yourself shout, “Nice catch!”

Nice catch, indeed! 
And so much more! 
It is also incredibly good math — for both boys! 
The first boy, in about three seconds, calculated distance, velocity, thrust, and trajectory in order to hit a moving target. 
His calculations were very close. 
The second boy, in about two seconds, calculated the velocity and trajectory of the approaching object, made split-second recalculations to his original estimate, adjusted his speed, height, and extension and then recalculated again, adding a right-hand rotation, a grasp, a tuck, and a roll.

How did they do that? 
If you were to work out on paper the equations that took these boys five seconds to complete, how long would it take you? 
Could you do it at all? 
I couldn’t. 
Neither could these boys. 
But they did it in their heads nonetheless, all the while imagining themselves as Peyton Manning and Wes Welker.

Or ponder it in a whole different light. 
What was happening anatomically to make those movements possible? 
Or muse on the marvel of the human hand. 
Or contemplate the complex consciousness that processes such math and such imagination at the same time.

Recapture the Wonder

Now draw those wonders up into the question, Who made that mind or those members or that math? 
Take a deep breath, dive into ocean of wonder right where you are and explore new depths of Psalm 92:5–6:
How great are your works, O Lord! Your thoughts are very deep! The stupid man cannot know; the fool cannot understand this.

Read the whole of Psalm 92 and listen to the psalmist glean spiritual truths from natural phenomena. 
“God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). 

And he gave it to us, not to ignore but to imbibe. 
Even in its fallen state the world pulses with hopeful health.

“God’s world is full of wonders and these are wonderful antidepressants.”

So if you’re feeling thin, if that depressive burden of curse-weariness is weighing on you, don’t turn on the TV or pop in a DVD. 

Rarely will you ever find soul-reviving wonder there. 

Take your Bible, a tablet, and pen and go for a walk or sit somewhere and watch. 

Maybe look for a couple of boys throwing a football. 

Watch deeply and prove the truth that G.K. Chesterton wrote,

There is no such thing on earth as an uninteresting subject; the only thing that can exist is an uninterested person. (Heretics, opening sentence of Chapter 3)

God’s world is full of wonders and these are wonderful antidepressants. 

Biblical wonder does not deny the horrors of the world. 

But bumblebees can remind us that there is a gracious power to fear far mightier than ISIS beheadings, sunsets can remind us that there will be a glorious end to sex trafficking, and a football can remind us that there is always more going on than meets the eye and that God’s calculations are perfect.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Power Of A Praying Wife

Religion Moment Eyes Closed Young Woman In Prayer

Have you ever been so mad at your husband that the last thing you wanted to do was pray for him? 

So have I.

It’s hard to pray for someone when you’re angry or he’s hurt you. 

But that’s exactly what God wants us to do.

If He asks us to pray for our enemies, how much more should we be praying for the person with whom we have become one and are supposed to love? 

But how do we get past the unforgiveness and critical attitude?

The first thing to do is be completely honest with God. 

In order to break down the walls in our hearts and smash the barriers that stop communication, we have to be totally up front with the Lord about our feelings.

We don’t have to “pretty it up” for Him. 

He already knows the truth. 

He just wants to see if we’re willing to admit it and confess it as disobedience to His ways. 

If so, He then has a heart with which He can work.

If you’re angry at your husband, tell God. 

Don’t let it become a cancer that grows with each passing day. 

Don’t say, “I’m going to live my life and let him live his.” 

There’s a price to pay when we act entirely independently of one another. 

“Neither is man independent of woman, nor woman independent of
man, in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 11:11).

Instead say:

“Lord, nothing in me wants to pray for this man. 

I confess my anger, hurt, unforgiveness, disappointment, resentment, and hardness of heart toward him. 

Forgive me and create in me a clean heart and right spirit before You. 

Give me a new, positive, joyful, loving, forgiving attitude toward him. 

Where he has erred, reveal it to him and convict his heart about it. 

Lead him through the paths of repentance and deliverance. 

Help me not to hold myself apart from him emotionally, mentally, or physically because of unforgiveness. 

Where either of us needs to ask forgiveness of the other, help us to do so.

“If there is something I’m not seeing that’s adding to this problem, reveal it to me and help me to understand it. 

Remove any wedge of confusion that has created misunderstanding or miscommunication. 

Where there is behavior that needs to change in either of us, I pray You would enable that change to happen. 

As much as I want to hang on to my anger toward him because I feel
it’s justified, I want to do what You want. 

I release all those feelings to You. 

Give me a renewed sense of love for him and words to heal this situation.”

If you feel you’re able, try this little experiment and see what happens. 

Pray for your husband every day for a month. 

Ask God to pour out His blessings on him and fill you both with His love. 

See if your heart doesn’t soften toward him. 

Notice if his attitude toward you doesn’t change as well. 

Observe whether your relationship isn’t running more smoothly.

If you have trouble making that kind of prayer commitment, think of it from the Lord’s perspective. 

Seeing your husband through God’s eyes-not just as your husband, but as God’s child, a son whom the Lord loves - can be a great revelation.

If someone called and asked you to pray for his or her son, you would do it, wouldn’t you? 

Well, God is asking.

There is a time for everything, it says in the Bible. 

And it’s never more true than in marriage, especially when it comes to the words we say. 

There is a time to speak and a time not to speak, and happy is the man whose wife can discern between the two.

Anyone who has been married for any length of time realizes that there are things that are better left unsaid. 

A wife has the ability to hurt her husband more deeply than anyone else can, and he can do the same to her. 

No matter how much apology, the words can not be erased. 

They can only be forgiven and that’s not always easy. 

Sometimes anything we say will only hinder the flow of what God wants to do, so it’s best to, well, shut up and pray.

by Stormie Omartian in her book, “The Power of a Praying Wife”