You’re Only Old Once

YOure only Old OnceTheodor Geisel—better known as Dr. Seuss—published You’re Only Old Once! in honor of his 82nd birthday on March 2, 1986. It was one of the last books he wrote before his death in 1991.

The subtitle of the book reads: A Book for Obsolete Children. It is a poignant yet humorous examination of aging. The book’s dust jacket asks:

Is this a children’s book? Well . . . not immediately.

You buy a copy for your child now and give it to him on his 70th birthday!

Children of ALL ages will enjoy the book. It provokes both laughter and tears. While turning the pages, Dr. Seuss teaches us some important lessons about growing older.

I will let you define when “old” occurs. Like those warnings on car mirrors, however, it’s closer than it appears! One person told me, “I knew I was going to get old—I just didn’t realize it happened so young!” Inside every old person is a young person wondering what happened!

I’m not sure who first said it, but growing older is NOT for sissies! However, we believe that our Lord is with us in every age and stage of life. Too often we look forward to the future or reminisce about the past rather than living for God in the present. The only time we can serve God is TODAY.

The Bible also challenges older adults to continue a life of fidelity and service. There is no earthly retirement plan for Christians. But the benefits are out of this world!

Psalm 92 declares:

They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming,

‘The Lord is upright; he is my Rock, and there is not wickedness in him.’

I like another version of this Psalm that says the mature person of God is ever full of sap and green! An older man or woman of God is green and sappy—not a bad combination!

We are called to serve God in every age and stage of life. We honor those who are older than us for their wisdom and example. As pioneers of faith, they blaze the path into a future. In turn, we are pioneers for others.

You’re only old once—make the most of it while you can.

 

All In, Part 2

All In 1Our January worship series at Northside United Methodist Church is entitled All In! We are exploring what it means to love God with ALL of our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:28-31).

Consider these questions: What would our lives, families, church, and community look like if we went All In for God? What changes would we have to make in our lives? What would we need to start doing? What would we need to stop doing?

John Wesley believed that God raised up the people called Methodists to spread scriptural holiness throughout the land. He emphasized the call to Christian perfection in each disciple’s life.

To this day, United Methodist clergy are asked the following questions at ordination:

  • Have you faith in Christ?
  • Are you going on to perfection?
  • Do you expect to be made perfect in love in this life?
  • Are you earnestly striving after it?
  • Are you resolved to devote yourself wholly to God and his work?

After thirty-five years of ministry, I must confess my commitment to these standards varies on a regular basis. On my best days, I come close to approximating an affirmative response to Wesley’s questions. On my worst days, I fail abysmally.

I appreciate the apostle John’s words which reflect both the goal and reality of Christian discipleship. He begins by writing: My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. Then the prophet turns pastor as he continues: But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ the Righteous One (1 John 2:1-2).

The goal is to become perfect in loving God and others. The reality is our daily lives. However, the latter never excuses us from pursuing the former with our entire being.

After asking if ordinands were going on to perfection, Bishop William Cannon would pause and add: If you’re not moving towards perfection, then which direction are you headed?

The Holy Spirit woos, calls, nags, and challenges us to go ALL IN for God.

All In, Part 1

All In 1Our January worship series at Northside United Methodist Church is entitled All In! We are exploring what it means to love God with ALL of our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:28-31).

I invite you to consider these questions: What would our lives, families, church, and community look like if we went All In for God? What changes would we have to make in our lives? What would we need to start doing? What would we need to stop doing?

One of the books I read in preparation for the series is entitled All In by Mark Batterson. Mark is the founding pastor of National Community Church in Washington, D. C. The multi-campus congregation reaches tens of thousands weekly at our nation’s capital.

Here are some quotes from All In that have continued to challenge me as a Christian and pastor:

  • When did we start believing that God wants to send us to safe places to do easy things?
  • Jesus didn’t die to keep us safe. He died to make us dangerous.
  • Faithfulness is not holding the fort. It’s storming the gates of hell.
  • The complete surrender of your life to the cause of Christ isn’t radical. It’s normal.
  • It’s time to quit living as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death.
  • It’s time to go all in and all out for the All in All!

In the coming weeks, we will explore what it means to go All In as we Know, Grow, and Go as God’s people. Join us at Northside each Sunday for Traditional Worship at 8:30 and 11:00 in the Sanctuary along with Contemporary Worship at 9:45 in the Faith and Arts Center.

Let’s go All In for Jesus Christ!