Feeling Confident In Life – Part Five

We have seen that to feel confident and appear confident in relationships and in life in general we need to:

1> Establish your worth according to God’s value system.

2> Focus on God and not on our situation

A> Confidence is not the result of an absence of problems.

B> Confidence is a result of trusting God in our problems.

C> Victories yesterday give more confidence for today.

3> Develop friendships with confident people

4> Put a few wins under your belt

5> Quit comparing yourself with others

6> Find something you’re good at and then specialize until you are special.

It could be a sport, a task, a natural ability, or a personally developed talent and ability. Use that strength as much as you can to build your level of assurance and specialization. As you do a confidence will arise inside you. A successful person will play to their strengths and not focus on their weaknesses. And this is true when building solid, long-term relationships as well. Confidence comes from knowing what you are designed and wired to do and doing it to the best of your ability. 

6> Begin to develop a knowledge of people. 

Here is a humorous old story which points out the importance of knowing who you’re dealing with. A Baptist deacon had advertised a cow for sale. “How much are you asking for it?” Inquired a prospective purchaser.

“One hundred and fifty dollars,” said the advertiser.

“And how much milk does she give?”

“Four gallons a day,” the deacon replied.

“But how do I know that she will actually give that amount?” Asked the purchaser.

“Oh, you can trust me,” assured the advertiser. “I’m a Baptist deacon.”

“I’ll buy it,” replied the other. “I’ll take the cow home and bring you the money later. You can trust me. I’m a Presbyterian elder.”

When the deacon arrived home, he asked his wife, “What’s a Presbyterian elder?”

“Oh,” she explained, “ a Presbyterian elder is about the same as a Baptist deacon.”

“Oh, dear,,” groaned the deacon, “I have lost my cow.”

The deacon knew his product; he knew his cow. But his lack of people knowledge defeated him. To have confidence you will need to take the time to study people (be a people watcher), learn necessary relational skills, and develop a well-rounded personality so that you can confidently enter into any relationship within your season of life. 

So, you have developed confidence – what do you do with it now? Now that you have all this confidence, what should you do with it? Keep refuelling it! Confidence is not a constant; it fluctuates according to your success / failure ratio in life. We all have defeats and failures which occasionally and temporarily lower our level of confidence. If you accept the fact that you will not be outstanding in everything you attempt nor in every relationship you work to establish, you will not be devastated when your best is not good enough.

You will also find your confidence has a contagious quality. It will spread throughout your sphere of influence. The Bible provides some interesting examples of “confidence contagion” which we will look at next time. 

Feeling Confident In Life – Part One

Have you ever noticed that some people simply stand out in a crowd? What is it about them that sets them apart and that draws them to your attention? 

    • Their sense of direction — the assurance that they know where they are going?
    • Is it an awareness that they have certain abilities?
    • Maybe it’s because they have good people skills?
    • Is it their sincerity?
    • Their past successes?
    • Their ability to use eye contact and body language?

What do they have that draws people to them and that people appreciate, apparently feel comfortable around, and even want?

I believe it is “confidence!” Self-confidence carries a conviction, a strength, and it draws others to you. It allows you to stand out in a crowd. And, it helps people to feel comfortable around you. But most importantly, confidence allows you to feel comfortable and even relaxed around others. You know who you are. You understand your purpose at this stage in your life. You are good at what you do – having sharpened your talent and learned important skills. You feel strong and secure, self-confident. The result: you live with conviction and as a result others will feel comfortable around you. 

A story I read back in September, 1989 goes like this:

A five-year-old boy was intently working with his crayons at the kitchen table when his mother walked in and questioned what he was doing. Her son replied, “I’m drawing a picture of God.”

“But honey,” she responded, “no one knows what God looks like.”

With great confidence the boy boldly stated, “They will when I’m done.”

I like that sense of self-confidence, boldness, and positiveness. And, believe me, this confidence is powerful. And, confidence is also contagious. 

The writer of Hebrews recognized the value of confidence:

“Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward” (Hebrews 10:35)

The author of Hebrews is letting us know that confidence is not set in cement; it’s possible to lose it. And one of the key elements that removes confidence from the way we live life is those that we hang out with. Most people fall into two categories: confidence builders and confidence shakers. If you are unsure of yourself, a confidence shaker can do you in. 

The following story provides a great example of confidence breakdown.

A man lived by the side of the road and sold hot dogs. He was hard of hearing, so he had no radio. He had trouble with his eyes, so he read no newspapers. But he sold good hot dogs.

This man put up signs on the highway advertising his wonderful hot dogs. He stood on the side of the road and cried, “Buy a hot dog, mister?” And people bought his hot dogs. He increased his meat and bun orders, and he bought a bigger stove to take care of his trade. He made enough money to put his son through college.

Unfortunately, the son came home from college an educated pessimist. He said, “Father, haven’t you been listening to the radio? Haven’t you been reading the newspaper? There’s a big recession on. The European situation is terrible, and the domestic situation is worse.”

Whereupon the father thought, “Well, my son’s been to college. He reads papers and he listens to the radio; he ought to know.” So the father cut down his meat and bun orders, took down his signs and no longer bothered to stand out on the highways to sell his hot dogs.

Of course, his sales fell overnight. “You’re right, son,” the father said to the boy. “We certainly are in the middle of a big recession.”

Confidence shakers see the negative side of everything. When they get you to buy into it, the very thing that was helping you be successful becomes your downfall. 

Unfortunately, this negative process can and too often does happen in the lives of Christians. We all go through periods of testing, wondering if God really can meet our every need. With a little discouragement from a good confidence shaker, we begin to doubt His ability and our own. This can begin a downward spiral which ends in the pit of failure and frustration. Our confidence has not only been shaken but uprooted.

The positive message from Hebrews 10:35 is that our confidence has a great reward. If we keep and build on it, we will be more than recompensed. Confidence in oneself is the cornerstone to inter-personal success ad healthy relationships that last. It is difficult for those who do not believe in themselves to have much faith in anyone else. Self-confidence breeds confidence in others.

 

Sometimes I Lose My Spiritual Center

https://rhm.podbean.com/e/sometimes-i-loose-my-spiritual-center/

 

I want to talk about finding and keeping a “spiritual center” in your life

We are going to look at: 

The art of heaven-based thinking. 

You could also call it:

The practice of the presence of God.

Our Scripture passage:

Colossians 3:1-4 “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”

TPT “Christ’s resurrection is your resurrection too. This is why we are to yearn for all that is above, for that’s where Christ sits enthroned at the place of all power, honour, and authority! Yes, feast on all the treasures of the heavenly realm and fill your thoughts with heavenly realities, and not with the distractions of the natural realm. Your crucifixion with Christ has severed the tie to this life, and now your true life is hidden away in God in Christ. And as Christ himself is seen for who he really is, who you really are will also be revealed, for you are now one with him in his glory! Read more

Building Healthy Relationships – Part Five

Within the realm of healthy relationships we have see:

1> You want others to encourage you

2> You want others to appreciate you. 

3> You want others to forgive you

4> You want others to listen to you and respond

5> You want others to understand and accept you

How do you feel when you are misunderstood? What kinds of feelings well up inside you? Loneliness? Frustration?  Disappointment? Resentment? Rejection? These are common feelings when we have been misunderstood.

Peter Drucker, often called the “Father of American Management,” claims that 60 percent of all management problems are a result of faulty communications. A leading marriage counsellor says that at least half of all divorces result from faulty communication between spouses. And criminologists tell us that upwards of 90 percent of all criminals have difficulty communicating with other people. Communicating is fundamental to understanding and acceptance. 

And unless a person truly listens and understands you, you never reach the stage of feeling accepted. Without feeling accepted you will not continue to feel free to share because it will seem to you that others are judging, criticizing, and rejecting you. 

A side note:

When someone shares a feeling you should never say “You shouldn’t feel that way.” That is actually rejecting the person’s feelings and thus rejecting them because the feeling is them at the moment. You may not agree with the feeling or the reason behind the feeling – but it is their feeling. It is neither good or bad as feelings are just feelings. What you do with them and about them determines good or bad. So, when someone is sharing a feeling you should work to accept how they are feeling, and let them know that you accept not only the feeling but them having the feeling. 

In the last week in this series of blogs we have discovered that in relationships you want others to:

      • Encourage you
      • Appreciate you
      • Forgive you
      • Listen to you
      • Understand you

As you think about these qualities, consider how they apply to your own life. Perhaps this short course in human relations can help each of us develop qualities that we admire in others:

  • The least important word: I (gets the least amount done)
  • The most important word: We (gets the most amount done) — relationships
  • The two most important words: Thank you — appreciation
  • The three most important words: All is forgiven — forgiveness
  • The four most important words: What is your opinion? — listening
  • The five most important words: You did a good job — encouragement
  • The six most important words: I want to know you better — understanding. 

In life, you are either going to see people as your adversaries or as your assets. If they are adversaries, you will be continually sparring with them, trying to defend your position. If you see people as assets, you will help them see their potential, and you will become allies in making the most of each other. The happiest day of your life will be the day when you realize “we” really is the most important word in the English language. 

Building Healthy Relationships – Part Four

We are looking at what makes for a healthy relationship within the family, with friends, and at work. Of course, not everyone will be your BFF in real life but we all need to be involved in a number of healthy relationships so we can continue to grow and mature and become all that God wants us to be. God created us to be social creatures. We need other people. 

Within the realm of relationships we have seen:

1> You want others to encourage you

2> You want others to appreciate you. 

3> You want others to forgive you

4> You want others to listen to you and respond

I spend a lot of time listening to people and responding to what they are saying. That is not only part of my ministry but it is also what people must do if they want to have healthy and vibrant relationships. I was recently sitting in a coffee shop reading and there was a man siting there talking to a younger lady across the small coffee table that separated them. Recognizing me he said, “Pastor, we are having a great conversation. I have been telling her my story.” I realized at that point how important it was to him that she was listening attentively and showed interest in what he had to say. It made him feel that he had value.

There is a difference between hearing people and listening to them. Listening is wanting to hear. As believers we are to love people as God loves us. And because we love people we should want to hear from them. We need to learn to listen with our heart and not just our head. People will respond in a very positive way to that kind of loving and visible, real caring.

As people people gain more authority, they often develop a lack of patience in listening to those under them. A deaf ear is the first indication of a closed mind. The higher people go in management and the more authority they wield, the less they are forced to listen. The same is true in the church and in ministry. Yet their need to listen is greater than ever. The farther they get from the firing line, the more they need to depend on others for correct information. If they have not formed the habit of truly listening and actually hearing what is being said – listening carefully and intelligently – they aren’t going to get the facts they need, and the people will resent their decisions.

I saw a television sketch which, in some variations, might seem familiar in many households. A husband is watching television and his wife is trying to engage him in conversation:

Wife: Dear, the plumber didn’t come to fix the leak behind the water heater today.

Husband: Uh-huh.

Wife: The pipe burst today and flooded the basement.

Husband: Quiet. It’s third down and goal to go.

Wife: Some of the wiring got wet and almost electrocuted Fluffy.

Husband: Darn it! Touchdown.

Wife: The vet says he’ll be better in a week.

Husband: Can you get me a coke?

Wife: The plumber told me that he was happy that our pipe broke because now he can afford to go on vacation.

Husband: Aren’t you listening? I said I could use a Coke!

Wife: And Stanley, I’m leaving you. The plumber and I are flying to Acapulco in the morning.

Husband: Can’t you please stop all the yakking and get me a coke? The trouble around here is that nobody ever listens to me. 

A couple of side notes:

When someone shares with you it is good to respond to what they are sharing. Let them share, listen thoughtfully, and then dialogue with them about what they have trusted you with. Tell them what you are thinking and feeling about what they have shared. Otherwise, you may say you care and that you are listening, but there is no real proof that that is a fact. Your silence can be read as not caring and not interested.

When someone shares something that seems important to them, don’t use it to jump off into something you want to share. Keep the focus on them and don’t use what they have shared to turn the focus onto yourself.

When someone shares – they are wanting you to listen and care. They are not looking for you to fix it. Most people know what to do to fix a problem or get out of the situation they are in. What they want to know is that you are really listening and that you care. Yes, maybe you can help and ‘fix it’ but that will be later. Caring before fixing.

Remember, most of us are very poor listeners. You will need to learn how to listen with your heart and not just your head. 

Building Healthy Relationships – Part Three

We are looking at what makes for a healthy relationship within the family, with friends, and at work. Of course, not everyone will be your BFF in real life but we all need to be involved in a number of healthy relationships so we can continue to grow and mature and become all that God wants us to be. God created us to be social creatures. We need other people. 

Within the realm of relationships we have seen:

1> You want others to encourage you

2> You want others to appreciate you. 

3> You want others to forgive you

Almost all emotional problems and stress come from unresolved conflicts, failure to have developed right relationships with people. Because of this, many people have a deep desire for total forgiveness. A forgiving spirit is the one basic, necessary ingredient for a solid relationship. Forgiveness frees us from guilt and allows us to interact positively with other people.  

Earnest Hemingway, in his short story, “The Capital of the World,” tells the story about a father and his teenage son who lived in Spain. Their relationship became strained, eventually shattered, and the son ran away from home. The father began a long journey in search of the lost and rebellious son, finally putting an ad in the Madrid newspaper as a last resort. His son’s name was Paco, a very common name in Spain. The ad simply read: “Dear Paco, meet me in front of the Madrid newspaper office tomorrow at noon. All is forgiven. I love you.” As Hemingway writes, the next day at noon in front of the newspaper office there were 800 “Pacos” all seeking forgiveness.

There are countless Pacos in the world who want more than anything else to be forgiven. The two great marks of a Christian are that they are giving and forgiving. Show me a person who walks with God, and I’ll show you a person who has a giving heart and is forgiving of others.

The unfortunate truth is that many of us, instead of offering total forgiveness, pray something like this Irish Prayer:

May those who love us, love us;

And those who don’t love us

May God turn their hearts;

And if He doesn’t turn their hearts,

My He turn their ankles,

So we’ll know them by their limping.

People who find it difficult to forgive don’t see themselves realistically. They are either terribly arrogant or tremendously insecure. Though hanging onto a grudge gives some people a feeling of satisfaction, the truth is people who do not forgive are hurting themselves much more than they’re hurting others. A person who possesses this characteristic and keeps score in relationships is a person who is emotionally and sometimes physically under stress. We just are not wired to carry all the stress that goes with carrying grudges.

Too often people wait too long to forgive other people. Forgiveness should be given as quickly and as totally as possible. Do it now. It does not get easier over time, so the sooner you go and deal with the issues and become reconciled through offering forgiveness, the better off you will be. 

Over my years in ministry there have been a number of times when I’ve experienced strained relationships. I have had people swear at me, tell me where to go, how to get there, and offer their assistance. But I have never knowingly let them walk out the door without telling them I love them. I don’t hold any grudges or carry any resentment against anyone. I cannot stress this enough: if you don’t have peace, it isn’t because someone took it from you; you gave it away. You cannot always control what happens to you, but you can control what happens in you. 

A side note or two: 

Many years ago I learned a truth from a book I was reading: “Unforgiveness is like you drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” The only person unforgiveness really hurts is you.

Sometimes when we are in a long term relationship – a deep friendship or a marriage – and something goes wrong we see the other person go “historical.” Not hysterical but historical. They throw back in your face all the things that you did wrong over the  last number of years. This is a sure sign of unforgiveness. 

Often, like the story of Paco and his dad, there is a need to make things right with a parent. Trust me, it is far easier to do that while they are alive than after they die. I became a believer a number of years after my father had died and there were some outstanding issues that had never been dealt with. As a believer I still needed to deal with them but, of course, without being able to talk to my father. Much easier to deal with issues while a parent is still living.

Building Healthy Relationships – Part Two

In building a healthy relationship we want to relate to others who will encourage us (see Part One – July 5, 2021).

Secondly, you want others to appreciate you. So, when looking to build a healthy relationship (marriage, friendship) you are looking to connect with people who appreciate who you are and not just appreciate what you can do. 

William James said, “The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.”

Have you heard the story about the young politician’s first campaign speech? He was very eager to make an impression on his audience, but when he arrived at the auditorium, he found only one man sitting there. He waited, hoping more people would show up, but none did. Finally he said to the one man in the audience, “Look, I’m just a young politician starting out. Do you think I ought to deliver this speech or dismiss the meeting?”

The man thought for a moment and replied, “Sir, I’m just a cowhand. All I know is cows. Of course, I do know that if I took a load of hay down to the pasture and only one cow came up, I’d feed it.”

Principle: We cannot underestimate the value of a single person

With the advice from the cowhand, the politician began his speech and talked on and on for two hours as the cowhand sat expressionless. Finally he stopped and asked the cowhand if the speech was all right.

The man said, “Sir, I am just a cowhand and all I know is cows. Of course, I do know that if I took a load of hay down to the pasture and only one cow came up, I surely wouldn’t dump the whole load on him.”

Principle: Don’t take advantage of people 

Surveys have found that the principle causes of unrest among workers were the following, listed in order of their importance:

      • Failure to give credit for suggestions
      • Failure to correct grievances
      • Failure to encourage
      • Criticizing employees in front of other people
      • Failure to ask employees their opinions
      • Failure to inform employees of their progress
      • Favouritism

Notice that every single item has to do with not appreciating others and the failure to recognize the importance of the individual person (employee). We are talking about people needing to be appreciated. I try to do this every time I meet a person. Within the first few minutes of a conversation, I try to say something that shows I appreciate and affirm the person. It sets the tone of the rest of our time together. Even a quick affirmation will give people a sense of value and that you appreciate who they are.

Treat others as you want them to treat you. Treat them as if they are important; they will respond according to the way that you perceive them. Most of us think wonderful things about people, but they never know it. Too many of us tend to be tight-fisted with our praise and appreciation. It’s of no value if all you do is think it; it becomes valuable when you speak it and impart your thoughts and feelings to the person you are building relationally with. 

A side note or two:

What you share does not need to be something deep or amazing. Just something that says you noticed them and appreciate them. I was shopping for a few groceries the other day. At the checkout counter I noticed that the young man who was about to help me was named Dmitriy. As that is a common name in a number of countries where I work I asked him if he was born in Russia or Central Asia. As we chatted I got to know him a little and I also thanked him for his help and for the conversation. He felt appreciated. It is as simple as that. 

You want to be appreciated first for who you are and not just what you do and what you are good at. It is the person you want to appreciate, not the skill or ability, the profession or achievements connected to who they are. Many times people appreciate what I do when I minister to them. That is good and it is always encouraging. But what really helps is when someone wants to get to know me as a person (separate from what I do in ministry). I want to be appreciated for who I am and not just what I can do. That’s ‘person’ and not just ‘profession’. 

We can appreciate a person for who they are and recognize that they are important but still not develop a long term relationship with them. Every individual is important. Not every individual should be a friend or close associate. 

Building Healthy Relationships – Part One

I am a people person and I am an introvert. That may sound like a contradiction but really it is not. As an introvert I need personal time and personal space. I need to be away from others so that I can think, feel, and process. However, I like being with people simply because I enjoy relating and realize that I cannot journey successfully through life – and especially as a believer – alone. But, as an introvert I prefer one-on-one relationships and simply don’t do well in a crowd. 

The basis of life is people and how we relate to one another. Our sense of fulfilment and happiness depends on our ability to relate to others effectively. So, believing that, I have worked at developing the character and the personal characteristics that others are drawn to. I did this by studying the people who I am attracted or drawn to and determining what it was about them that encouraged me to come to know them and relate to them. In other words, I determined the qualities that I found attractive in others and set about to develop those qualities in my own life.

So, we are going to look at the qualities that we need to develop in our lives so that we can relate to others in a healthy and mutually beneficial manner in the process of building lasting, healthy, long-term relationships. 

What is the key to relating to others? It is putting yourself in someone else’s place instead of putting them in their place. Jesus gave us the perfect rule for establishing quality relationships. We call it the Golden Rule, a name it got sometime around the seventeenth century. Near the end of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus summed up a series of profound thoughts on human conduct by saying, “Therefore whatever you want others to do for you, do so for them.”               (Matthew 7:12). 

In this brief command, Jesus taught us a couple of things about developing relationships with others. We need to decide how we want to be treated. Then we need to begin treating others in that manner. It is not complicated. The qualities that make for good relationships aren’t complicated at all. Everyone of us needs, likes, and responds to five qualities that touch our hearts and help bond us to others relationally.

1> You want others to encourage you

There is no better exercise for strengthening the heart than reaching down and lifting people up. Think about it: most of your best friends are those who encourage you in one way or another. And, you don’t have very many strong relationships with people who don’t take the time to encourage you for whatever reason. And you certainly do not bother to build relationally with someone who puts you down. In fact, you avoid these people and seek out those who believe in you and lift you up. 

The happiest people are those who have invested their time in others. The unhappiest people are those who wonder how the world is going to make them happy. Karl Menninger, the great psychiatrist, was asked what a lonely, unhappy person should do. He said, “Lock the door behind you, go across the street, find someone who is hurting, and help them.” Forget about yourself to help others. 

A side note: Why is it that people you would like a decent and in-depth relationship with don’t encourage you? 

Well, maybe they never learned how to do that and so simply don’t know how to encourage. This could be the result of the fact that they were never in a relationship growing up that was encouraging. So, they have never had an example to follow. 

Another reason might be that they simply don’t value relationships in the same way that you do and so are not willing to invest the time and the emotional energy that it takes to encourage another person and thus build a healthy relationship. They simply don’t care to even try.

And, a third reason could be that they have simply decided that the relationship with you is not valuable or important enough to respond to you in a way that would encourage you. They like what you do for them but they are not willing to respond on the same level. You think that the relationship could be valuable so your encourage them but they don’t share that outlook and so they don’t encourage you in return. They simply make a decision not to encourage by not responding to what you share and not sharing their thoughts and feelings on a regular basis. 

Of course, it could be a combination of all three reasons. But the bottom line is they are not willing to learn and to try. They are not willing to invest in the relationship at a meaningful level. They are not willing to put the needed effort into having a healthy relationship even after you express to them what you are looking for and needing from the relationship. 

If this is the case then you need to either limit your time with that person knowing it is never going to improve or simply end the relationship. Of course, you communicate with them as you think through your decision and resulting actions. Why? Because you still value them as a [person even if the relationship never becomes what it could have been.   

Two books that are helpful in this regard:

“Never Go Back – Ten Things You’ll Never Do Again” by Dr. Henry Cloud

“Necessary Endings” by Dr. Henry Cloud

SOMETIMES THE FIRE DIES

Sometimes The Fire Dies

 

The Scriptures frequently comment on living the Christian faith with passion

It is very clear that as believers we cannot be passive

We must embrace the truth and engage with the world for that truth

Jude 3b “I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.” 

TPT “(I) felt the need … to challenge you to vigorously defend and contend for the beliefs that we cherish. For God, through the apostles, has once for all entrusted these truths to his holy believers.”

“vigorously defend and contend…”

My personal favourite Scripture regarding living the faith with passion – serving Jesus with my heart and soul 

God spoke it to me … planted it deeply in my heart in July of 2007

Romans 12:11 “Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord” Read more

Retire? You Must Be Joking! – Part Two

We are to run the race and cross the finish line. The key to running the race well, to finishing well: Don’t finish. Always be looking forward to what the Lord has for you next.

It doesn’t take a deep dive into secular history or the Bible to discover that many great things are accomplished by people past the age of retirement.

Pianist-comedian Victor Borge, “the Clown Prince of Denmark,” continued to delight huge audiences until his death at age ninety-one. Tony Bennett, singer and performer, was still singing at ninety-three and left his heart not only in San Francisco but also in many other cities where he performed.

At ninety years old master cellist Pablo Casals was asked why he kept practicing eight hours a day. He replied, “I think I’m improving.”

The apostle Paul was over sixty when he made his gruelling voyage to Rome, where he preached, wrote, and taught until his execution four years later. He had no intention of slowing down, much less retiring to rest on his laurels. At his miraculous conversion thirty years earlier, Paul had found his life’s passion. He was doing exactly what he was called to do, what he loved to do, and it absorbed him completely.

Pearl Buck, the famous writer and the daughter of missionaries to China, said, “I have reached an honourable position in life because I am old and no longer young. I am a far more useful person than I was fifty years ago, or forty years ago, or thirty, twenty, or even ten. I have learned so much since I was seventy.”

So, don’t give up on yourself too early. Don’t deprive yourself of the many blessings God wants to bestow upon you in what the world would call your post-retirement years. Change what you do if you must, but don’t stop serving the Lord. 

Nine times in the Bible (ESV) we find the words old and advanced in years. I’ve always thought this phrase was an illustration of unnecessary redundancy. If you say someone is old, you shouldn’t have to add the words advanced in years. That seems like piling on.

But every word in the Bible is important, and one day I noticed something fascinating. Many of the times when that redundant phrase appears in the Bible, it’s a description of a person who is about to experience something astonishing. For example:

      • Abraham (100 years old) and Sarah (90 years old) were “old, well advanced in age” as they  are about to become the parents of Isaac (Genesis 18:11).
      • Zacharias and Elizabeth were “old and advanced in years” before they gave birth to John the Baptist (Luke 1:18).
      • Joshua is also described this way before he received his marching orders to enter the land of God’s promise: “Now Joshua was old, advanced in years. And the Lord said to him: ‘You are old, advanced in years, and there remains very much yet to be possessed’” (Joshua 13:1).

Here are some verses to encourage you to keep on keeping on. They were given to us by our gracious God to keep us faithful throughout our lives. These verses show us: “If you’re not dead, you’re not done!”

      • Psalm 92:12-14 (NCV) “But good people will grow like palm trees; they will be tall like the cedars of Lebanon. Like trees planted in the Temple of the LORD, they will grow strong in the courtyards of our God. When they are old, they will still produce fruit; they will be healthy and fresh.”
      • Isaiah 46:4 (NKJ) “Even to your old age, I am He, And even to gray hairs I will carry you! I have made, and I will bear; Even I will carry, and will deliver you.”
      • Psalm 71:18 (NKJ) “ Now also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, do not forsake me, Until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to everyone who is to come.”