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Thursday, October 22, 2015
Yesterday we passed this young family near New Holland. The Amish don't ride bikes in our area but they ride scooters instead (like many Amish practices, we have no idea why). This mother is hauling her two sons in a special cart behind the scooter!
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"Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding?" (Job 12:12). "Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness" (Titus 2:2). "Give to everyone what you owe them: ... if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor" (Romans 13:7).
Last week we shared a story about Musser and Anna Forry, older friends in our church. Yesterday they celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary. Their youngest son was killed in an accident caused by a drunk driver back in the seventies (story here) so they have known deep heartache and overcoming faith. In that message we also shared a photo of them taken eight years ago. They now live in a senior community and we don't see them as much but were blessed to see them this last Lord's Day. I asked them if I could take their picture and they graciously consented. Although no attempt was made to mimic the photo from eight years ago it's amazing how similar they look in each photo! (See here for that photo.)
Musser and Anna demonstrate a greatly needed characteristic in our time that we will call "spiritual gravitas". It's a characteristic we really appreciate and highly value. In fact, as we see the world getting crazier and crazier with man's rebellion intensifying against God, it's steady, faithful people like the Forrys who provide a godly role model for generations to follow.
Gravitas. Are you familiar with that word? Do you recall when you first heard it? I do. It was during the 2000 political campaign as commentators opined whether certain candidates had gravitas. I had to look the word up and it means "having dignity, seriousness, or solemnity of manner". It was one of the Roman virtues, along with pietas, dignitas and virtus. It may be translated variously as "weight, seriousness and dignity, also importance, and connotes a sense of depth of personality".
If I were to use a Biblical term to describe this concept of gravitas it would be from Titus 2:2. Titus describes how aged men should be, "Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness." I focus on the word "dignified". Other translations render this word, "grave" (KJV), "worthy of respect" (NIV), "serious" (Amplified).
Many years ago I was teaching a senior Sunday School class and an elderly class member shared this perspective, "One of the blessings of being older is having a broadened perspective on the events of life." Indeed many of the elderly in our churches have a deep reservoir of "broadened perspective", which demonstrates an ancient observation made by Job in our daily text. "Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding?"
However that's not the outlook many favor. We observe an increasing tendency in our age of the devaluing of the wisdom of the elderly. In fact I have read articles that describe the glee some young progressives feel when these old folks, whom they see getting in the way of "progress" as they understand it, are removed (perhaps making the exception with their own elderly family members). They feel so smart and wise. (See Romans 1:22)
This is mostly due to the tendency (thank God) of the elderly to generally hold to a more traditional outlook regarding what constitutes morality and Biblical truth, which results in right living. Year by year, as we see these folks pass on, we also see a greater slide into decadence.
There are some other characteristics of what is perceived as being "smart" today. Of course more of the young have a greater amount of formal education than previous generations (which in far too many cases is little more than godless indoctrination). The young also tend to associate being tech savvy with being smart, which is rather amusing on the surface, but painfully sad when we observe the results of such thinking! (There's a lot more to being smart than knowing how to use a smart phone!)
Job asked a question over 4,000 years ago that surely demands an affirmative answer: "Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding?"
Of course not all the aged are wise and many have lived their lives foolishly. Aging is not a guarantee that we will attain wisdom and maturity. It comes over time as we make wise choices, learn from our unwise decisions, and "deny ungodliness and worldly desires and live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age" (Titus 2:12).
My life is enriched as I consider those who have endured the rough knocks of life and steadily matured in their Christian walk as year by year they grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ. They demonstrate spiritual gravitas.
They offer timeless wisdom – similar to that which is seen in the lives of the Bible characters thousands of years ago and every bit as applicable to our lives today. Now at 61 years of age it's increasingly going to be my turn and I sure hope I have the same wise outlook to offer those who follow me, either by example or counsel.
What about you today? If you are my age or younger are you building on the Rock, progressively attaining the true wisdom, to pass along to those that who follow behind? Older readers, today I want you to know that Brooksyne and I, along with many others, greatly value the contributions of your generation to the cause of Christ and the perspective you now offer to those who follow.
It's natural for all of us to seek out those who are similar in age since we find ourselves going through many of the same experiences and interests related to our season of life. But if we fail to regularly interface with older believers we miss the greatly needed perspective they bring to our lives. Spending time with the aged who have experienced so much of the stuff of life that we will eventually face is such an important aspect to the maturing believer. Let us just add that we appreciate those of you much younger than us who regularly read the Daily Encouragement and interface with us. The fact is, we all need each other!
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, we read of those in the Bible from generations long ago who lived upright and godly lives. They were discerning and wise, devoted in their duties such as Anna and Simeon who served in the temple. So many serve as examples of those who walked in Your ways from their youth and remained faithful through their golden years. Some of their choices brought about multiple blessings and other choices brought forth great sacrifice, persecution, or even death. We also read of those who were proud and foolish, thinking only of themselves, such as Samson, Ananias and Sapphira or Demetrius the Silversmith. They also serve as warnings to us. Since we will soon follow in the steps of our elderly friends help us to store up the wisdom, discipline, and overcoming spirit they convey as they deal with the inevitable physical pain, loss of loved ones, and dependency that are a big part of growing old. It's in the name of Jesus that we pray. Amen.
A pastor friend told me about seeing a church sign with this message, "Ultra-contemporary worship for the young crowd". Well, whether or not your tastes are for "ultra-contemporary worship" (whatever that's supposed to mean), it's a sad sign of the times when this is the message a church feels it must communicate to attract "the young crowd".
There are all kinds of ways of holding a church service these days even in the same local church. Many churches have a traditional service and a contemporary service. (A large church we passed in Springfield, MO used the term "classic" for traditional.) My cousin told me in the Kansas City area there is a church that has separate services for traditional, contemporary and ultra-contemporary styles of worship!
But I suppose it would draw a larger crowd than a sign such as "Meet some older folks who can enrich your life with a godly perspective."
George Washington Carver is one of my heroes in history. He wrote: "How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and the strong. Because someday in life you will have been all of these." Several years ago we wrote an article about Carver here.
"Examples Of Spiritual Gravitas"
Today we want to honor some (though there are many, many more) who have blessed us and demonstrate spiritual gravitas. Perhaps reading about them will prompt consideration of similar folks in your life!
Jack and Millie Provard
They have been friends for over 25 years. We met them when Jack served as pastor in a neighboring community and we had fellowship together. They remain very active in their "retirement" years, serving for a season with us as corporate chaplains, in interim pastoral roles in churches and with Teen Challenge. They're a continual source of encouragement to us and to many others.
Jim and Dorothy Schmidt
We met Jim and Dorothy when we lived in New England and had an exhibit for Daily Encouragement at a conference in Boston. They were exhibitor "neighbors" and had a display for "Send International", a mission agency. They have a powerful testimony of marital reconciliation and deliverance from alcohol (Jim). They continue to serve, presently leading Griefshare support groups in New Jersey.
Ed and Gladys Berkey
Ed was our District Supt. when we moved to New England in 1993 and officiated at our installation service. He retired several years later but we have kept in touch through the years and they remain active, now living in Florida.
Ron and Bonnie Hoover
Ron is a businessman who mentors others as a chair of Convene, a forum for business leaders who seek to operate their companies using Scriptural principles. This photo is from their 50th wedding anniversary several years ago. Ron has been very supportive of our chaplaincy ministry and is a source of many connections.
Doc and Anna Mary Paglia
Doc is a "retired" pastor I met shortly after moving to Lancaster County in 2001. But he's still active in ministry and he and Anna Mary serve as chaplains to a cabinet company. We stopped to visit with them yesterday since we had heard he fell and broke his femur. He's using a walker (though he pushed it out of the picture) and he is pressing on! He's of Italian descent and yesterday after praying for him he reminded me of an old song, "I Know The Lord Will Make A Way For Me" and then commenced to sing it in Italian!
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"Heroes of the Faith" Video Legacy Five
"Nothing Less (Great is Thy Faithfulness)" Video Charles Billingsley
"In a Moment" Video Charles Billingsley
"For Future Generations" Video 4Him
"Where There Is Faith" Video 4Him Note: You realize you are getting old when the young groups that were popular when you were in your thirties start to look old!
"When It's All Been Said And Done" Video Robin Mark
When it's all been said and done
There is just one thing that matters
Did I do my best to live for truth
Did I live my life for You?
Brooksyne had her "free" birthday meal yesterday at the Shady Maple and Ester took our photo.
(For any who may be seeing us for the first time, we're the "young" couple in the middle!)
BTW: The Shady Maple is a giant smorgasbord with as much Pennsylvania Dutch food as most people will ever see in one place at the same time. They famously offer a free meal on your birthday with one paying customer. From their website: "The Shady Maple Smorgasbord is a unique dining experience that is built around creating great traditions with friends and families. For one price we offer the largest selection of popular PA Dutch cooking as well as a vast amount more of other fabulous cuisines. We pride ourselves in being the largest buffet on this side of the United states and we are eager to continue to grow. We serve over 1 million people every year and award around 80,000 free birthday meals as well. We hope to see you here!"
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