Wednesday, February 24, 2016


GUEST POST February 23, 2016
(Whatever your youth or age...even mine at 90...I suggest there is something here to inspire us. Living life to the max for God into one's advancing years has been the theme of my blog THE REST OF THE WAY and specifically of my most recent book, STILL MORE! FLOURISHING ON MY SUMMIT: Living Our Vintage Season). 
 Article by JOHN PIPER Topic: The Unwasted Life
At 70, I am energized to dream great things, because this year Hillary turns 69, Bernie turns 75, and Donald turns 70. My rising energy has nothing to do with their policies or character. It has to do with the incredible fact that all of them want to spend their seventies doing the hardest job in the world.

This is wonderfully counter-cultural. I doubt that it’s motivated by a passion to magnify the greatness of Jesus. But that makes it all the more inspiring for me, because nothing gets me more excited than spending my seventies spreading a passion for the glory of Christ and his word. Paul is still my hero when he says, “My eager expectation and hope is that Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death” (Philippians 1:20).

So if Hillary and Bernie and Donald want to bear the weight of the world for the next four to eight years out of man-centered, philanthropic motives, I find my seventy-something zeal for Jesus heating up. They only get to be president of a tiny territory called the U.S.A. I get to be an ambassador of the Sovereign of the universe. They only get to change the way some people live for a few decades. I get to change the way some people live forever — with a lot of good spill-over for this world in the process.

But this is not an article mainly about me. It’s about the 70 million Baby Boomers coming behind me. I’m the oldest (born in 1946; the youngest born in 1964). Ten thousand Americans turn 70 every day. And they will continue to do so for about nineteen years. Billions of dollars are spent every year trying to get us to waste the last chapter of our lives on leisure. I’m spending one afternoon to plead with the rising seventy-somethings: Don’t waste it.

A History of Impact over Seventy

Hillary, Bernie, and Donald are not unique. Let them — and all the others — inspire you.

Five of the eight current Supreme Court justices are over 65, and three are over 75. Ronald Reagan served as president from age 70 to 78. He was shot at age 70 and recovered. Then at 76, he stood against the U.S.S.R. in West Berlin and said to Mikhail Gorbachev, “Tear down this wall!”

Winston Churchill became the prime minister of the United Kingdom in 1940 at the age of 66. He wielded his mighty eloquence against the Nazis till he was 70. Six years later, he was reelected and served till he was 81. At 82, he wrote A History of the English-Speaking Peoples.

Theologian Charles Hodge (1797–1878) lived to be 80. His biographer, Paul Gutjahr, wrote, “His last years were among his most productive . . . wielding his favorite pen to compose literally thousands of manuscript pages, which would eventually become his monumental Systematic Theology and his incisive What Is Darwinism?.”

At 70, Benjamin Franklin helped draft the Declaration of Independence. John Glenn became the oldest person to go into space at age 77. At the same age, Grandma Moses started painting. Started! At 82, Goethe finished writing his famous Faust. At 89, Albert Schweitzer ran a hospital in Africa. At 93, Strom Thurmond won reelection after promising not to run again at age 99. He lived to be 100. At 93, P.G. Wodehouse worked on his 97th novel, got knighted, and then died.
“Make no mistake. The Bible believes in retirement. It’s called heaven.”

I heard J. Oswald Sanders lecture when he was 89. He said, “I have written a book a year since I was 70.” So I have just arrived at the beginning of this writing life. The beginning! What a thrilling example!

Ralph Winter, the great missions visionary and activist was thinking and writing and strategizing for world evangelization until he died at 84. He was passionate about non-retirement. He wrote,
Most men don’t die of old age, they die of retirement. I read somewhere that half the men retiring in the state of New York die within two years. Save your life and you’ll lose it. Just like other drugs, other psychological addictions, retirement is a virulent disease, not a blessing. . . . Where in the Bible do they see that? Did Moses retire? Did Paul retire? Peter? John? Do military officers retire in the middle of a war?
Whether in Weakness or Strength
I am not unaware — my body makes me aware — that not everyone has the wonderful privilege of health and resources in old age. Over four million people over 65 live in poverty. Millions more suffer from the dreaded woes of aging — heart disease, arthritis, cancer, lung disease, Alzheimer’s, osteoporosis. Not to mention the typical loss of hearing and eyesight and energy.

I do not want to add a burden to those who would love to dream with me, but can’t act on their dreams. You have your calling to live where you are, with all your weaknesses, for the glory of Christ. And, yes, he does get glory in our weaknesses (2 Corinthians 12:9–10). God has great promises for those of you who trust your precious and ever-present Savior, Jesus Christ: “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 46:4).

Rather, I am writing to the 25 million Americans over 65 who are healthy and have resources — and to the seven thousand Boomers who turn 70 every day with health and wealth. I am inviting you to look around you. Look at Hillary and Bernie and Donald, and thousands of others, who are dreaming their dreams. Whatever their motives are, what are yours?

Without Excuse

“Jesus gave himself for us to purify for himself a people who are zealous for good works” (Titus 2:14). No age limit. Zealous. Passionate. To the end. For good works. Works that he has gifted you to do. He has given you a lifetime of experience and wisdom and resources. You have a decade of freedom in front of you. This is a trust. All your previous life was designed for this season of fruitfulness. What is your dream?
“Most men don’t die of old age, they die of retirement.”

“The righteous . . . still bear fruit in old age . . . to declare that the Lord is upright” (Psalm 92:12–15). Why would God tell us that? Because he wants us to dream that. He wants us to pray for that.
Not everyone gets the privilege. Some die young. Some must bear the burden of immobilizing pain. But millions of you are free. If you do not dream a joyful dream of productive service for Christ in your seventies, what will you say to the Savior? Your only excuse will be that you listened to the voice of this age rather than to God’s. It will not be a good excuse.

Redefine Retirement

The apostle Paul was on his way to evangelize Spain when he died in his sixties (Romans 15:23–28). He called himself an “old man” (Philemon 1:9). But as an “old man,” he planned, while he had breath, to do all he could for Christ and his kingdom. Spending the last season of his life playing games in a perishing world was not in his plan. It should not be in yours.

Join the happy psalmist: “My mouth is filled with your praise, and with your glory all the day. Do not cast me off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength is spent” (Psalm 71:8–9). We have good reason to believe God will answer that prayer for Christ’s sake.

Break free from the spirit of this age. See the world — see your life — the way God sees it. In his reckoning, sweet soul-rest begins when you are born again (Hebrews 4:3, 10), and rest from our labor — true retirement — begins when you die.

Make no mistake. The Bible believes in retirement. It’s called heaven. Then the new earth. It lasts forever. Compared to it, this life is a vapor’s breath. All our trials here are “a light and momentary affliction” that are preparing for us an “eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:17). Keep your eyes on this prize. Such a rest the world has never dreamed of.
“Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord . . . that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!” (Revelation 14:13). Be up and doing. Joyfully. For Christ. Full of hope!

Related Articles
  • Boomers’ Bodies — And Yours | All of the 10,000 people in America who turn 65 each day have wrinkles. For Christians, God takes the deep creases of our bondage to corruption and turns them into the dignity of spiritual beauty.
  • Resolutions on Growing Old with God | For those who do not want to be a grumpy old man or woman, here are eight resolutions for an aging saint.
  • The Books Boomers Will Never Read | The older we get, it becomes clearer that many unread books will not be read in this life. For Christians, life, learning, and reading never end.
Thumb author john piper
John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016


I dug around in the mine of 1 Peter 5:7 to find the gold and discovered valuable, shiny nuggets which seriously challenged me spiritually. 

“Casting all your care upon Him for He cares for you” was my launching pad. Various translations of that verse unpacked the meaning more clearly.

“Casting” in some versions by definition means throwing, and hurling. Not a gentle handing over of something reluctantly or with a repeatable action. More like violently heaving a stone into a river not expecting to ever retrieve it.

“Casting” is also an action when fishing with a pole. A line with bait on a hook is swung from over one's shoulder as far into the river or lake as possible. The fisherman expects to reel it back in and repeatedly cast it until a fish bites on the hook.

Applying it as the Scriptures do to our cares or burdens or worries or anxieties, I'm usually guilty of casting in the second fishing fashion. Casting my cares on Him as He wants me to in the first definition? Not so much. I'm inclined to reel back some worry or care I may have tentatively given to God to take care of—and then hug the care or anxiety to myself again, trying to solve a problem or carry a burden alone—an impossible task. This despite His promise to care for me, to sustain me, to hold me up, to deliver me, to provide for me.

Saint Peter, the disciple-then-apostle to whom Jesus committed the keys of the Kingdom wrote this promise in his letter in his mature years with ample experience of God's faithfulness. He spells out clearly that I must “cast,” intentionally hurl, throw with no taking back “all” my cares, worries, problems, anxieties. Where? On God. Trust in God is indispensable. No half-way action. Like the rock thrown into the river.

The Psalmist, King David, gave us the same promise. “Cast your burden upon the Lord, and He will sustain you. He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.” (Psalm 55:22)

A wise and mature believer of the past century wrote: “Cast all your care" –ALL means ALL your personal cares, family cares, cares for the present, and cares for the future, for ourselves, for others, for the church, on God. These are burdensome when they arise from our unbelief and lack of trust in Him. Our cares weigh us down. Anxieties torture and distract our mind, make us unfit for our duties, and hinder our delight in living and serving the Lord. When we cast our care upon God, refer all to His disposal, and leave every event to His wise and gracious working, with the firm belief that the Divine will and counsels are right, our restless spirit will be calmed. Truly those who would be godly too often forget this, and fret themselves to no purpose. The gold mines of all spiritual comfort and good are wholly His. Will He not provide what is fit for us, if we humbly wait on Him? In His wisdom and love will He not responsibly care for us?”

I confess that I do need more casting practice—but not with a fishing pole. With hurling the rocks of my anxieties, problems, concerns, and cares of this world that weigh me down, Not casting them into some river, but to Jesus who invited me to come unto Him with my heavy burdens and He will take care of them. They are too heavy for me, but Jesus said that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. Isn't that a great exchange?

P.S. I suggest we give a name to each of those burdens we are casting on Him. Let's be intentional and specific: "I cast the uncertainty of my financial provision on Him. I cast my fear of the future on Him. I cast my worry about my medical prognosis on Him. I cast my concern for a family member on Him. I cast the anxiety of losing my job on Him..."  No matter how heavy the burden, Jesus will carry it for me!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016


Several times in a Virginia winter, God applies on our woodland landscape a coat of lustrous, sheeny ice. He chooses a time between a snow day and freezing rain—beautiful, spectacular, but treacherous to navigate with two feet or four moving tires. 

Such a day is today, misty and fog-shrouded but splendid when the sun tries to peek out of the murky clouds. 

I sit cozy and content indoors viewing God's handiwork with awe through my picture window across the valley toward the distant mountain before it begins to drip and disappear.

Leona Choy

Glistening crystal icicles
adorn the oaks and shrubs and evergreens
stiffening tiny twigs to their fingertips
coating naked branches
painting bark on barren trees
with glass and gloss from ground to crown.

Stark silence shrouds my woodland haven
punctuated by sudden eerie cracks
of heavy limbs falling in slow motion
piercing the crusted snow carpet
that stretches from road to pond.

My muted world stands motionless
except for frenzied snow birds
competing with bold gray squirrels
for each sunflower seed
in my ice-glazed bird feeder.

Dusk descends on slippered feet
chill deepens over the frozen scene
a shivering cold moon rises to cast
silver light on the sparkling woodland splendor
as I thrill at the awesome scene
of my private Iceland wonderland
after a Shenandoah Valley Virginia ice storm.

Thursday, February 4, 2016


"BE CAREFUL!" we are told. Many TV ads attempt to alert us to the easy theft of our identities.

A little scrap of paper with our credit card number or address or bank information might be the trail someone could follow to steal our entire bank account. An unscrupulous person can secretly assume our name and abscond with our possessions.

Of course no one can actually steal our identity. Each of us is who we have always been: irreplaceable and unduplicatable. No one can exactly match our fingerprints or our genetic makeup.

Nevertheless, at times we may feel that we've lost our identity when we are swallowed up by an anonymous crowd. Or when we lose the job that gave us career identity. Or we retire and no one remembers “who we were before.” It seems that we are not anybody anymore. We don't have amnesia, but we have suffered a painful loss of our identity. 

Not so! Each of us is a unique individual and Jesus calls us by name!


There is a bursting in my spirit
to find my identity.
The world pressures me,
advocating conformity,
debasing my personality,
championing uniformity.

I abhor the abnormality
of my struggle for individuality
as I stumble around to see
whether I have any destiny.
I feel swallowed up in the futility
of being just a facsimile
of humanity.

*Jesus knows my name!

I'm not a nonentity.
Before I was born
God predestined me
and designed Calvary
to set me free
from Satan's captivity
and break me out
of the mold of anonymity.

I'm not consigned to the monotony
of mankind's homogeneity.
In Jesus, I'm not a generality.
What a discovery!
I'm not nobody!
I'm not generic
and I'm really me
*because Jesus knows my name!

* “...and He calls His own sheep by name...”
John 10:3b

Wednesday, February 3, 2016


I admit that not always in my summit season or in any of the seasons of my life have I felt like singing. I've “hung my harp on a willow tree” and no song crossed my lips.

Like the captured people of God who were carried away to Babylon in ancient days, I have sometimes asked how God could expect me to sing when I'm going through an adversity. 

Sometimes I've been impatient, frustrated, and even a bit rebellious. Inside, where no one sees, I may have stamped my feet like a pouting child. I admit that I don't always sing a happy song while walking through some dark and fearsome valley or through a fiery trial or while nearly drowning in some circumstantial flood. 

Sometimes I've been confused when God is silent to my prayers and seems to overlook what I consider my urgent needs, when His hand doesn't seem to be moving on my behalf even when I've called out to Him in desperation. Or when I've been experiencing diminishing strength, been laid aside by illness, or have felt helpless and imprisoned by my circumstances. 

Nevertheless, through a lifetime of experience, I perceive that God doesn't blow trumpets to announce His plans in advance for the life agenda of His children. He promised once for all that His plans for me are good and not evil, to give me a future and a hope. Without fanfare His plans simply unfold like the petals of a beautiful flower, silently and fragrantly and according to His perfect timing. With the patience of His eternal Fatherhood, Abba God has put up with me throughout the long life He is generously granting me. He comforts and assures me with His eternal, unchanging, unconditional love when I misunderstand His guidance. 

Hindsight is always revealing. It is as if I had been blindfolded and yet walking on the Upward Way with my hand in God's hand, trusting Him to guide me over the rough places, to keep me from falling and getting bruised when I stumble. He has helped me to avoid the detours, and has drawn me on toward His predestined goal. This despite my reluctance in my later calendar years to keep walking uphill; it is too exhausting. I huff and I puff; my feet drag and my energy flags.

I've even suggested to the Lord that it might be time for me to stop on the side of life's road and let the faster traffic go by. Like retire from serving You, please, Lord? But His loving silence seems to remind me that "retire" is not on my life signpost. What He lovingly points to is rather a sign that says "reach higher!" He encourages me to press on with Him on the Upward Way, to desire more, to stretch my aging spirit, and seek to walk closer to Him.

Looking in life's rear view mirror now, I'm beginning to understand how all the experiences the Lord brought me through were meant to position me step by step into the very place and circumstances in which I find myself now in the summit season of my life. I would never have dreamed where God's guidance has taken me—but it has all been good! 

A hymn familiar to me from my youthful years by the famous songwriter of a past century, Fanny J. Crosby, expresses it well:

“All the way my Savior leads me; What have I to ask beside? Can I doubt His tender mercy, Who through life has been my Guide? Heavenly peace, divinest comfort, here by faith in Him to dwell! For I know whate’er befall me, Jesus doeth all things well....This my song through endless ages: Jesus led me all the way!”

"...through endless ages...? That covers all the decades of my long life, whatever my age, all the way to my present age and beyond into Eternity!

When I first sang that song as a teenager, dreaming down the misty and idealistic corridors of time to seemingly endless years of unknown adventures, I could not have imagined what “all the way” and “whate’er befall me” would involve. With youthful trust I simply held on to the hand of Jesus letting Him “lead me all the way.” 

God has been faithful! He has never forsaken or failed me. Now at the summit of life with the hopefully more mature trust of years, I let Him hold my hand to “lead me the rest of the way.” 

And that is a good reason to "take my harp off the willow tree" and play a praise song and do a sing-a-long!

Monday, February 1, 2016


I sat reading a popular women's magazine as I waited my turn to have my hair done recently. I always pick up some useful trivia there in addition to new recipes that I will probably never try. I came upon the following gem: "Researchers claim that singing is a stress reducer. Because it uses both sides of your brain, it literally takes your mind off your worries. You also get a shot of energy because crooning boosts oxygen and blood flow." There are lots of perks to singing.

Well, thanks but no thanks for the reminder of one of the losses of the senior stage of life! I find it especially difficult to accept the loss of my singing voice. I still have a fair measure of my speaking voice, but it too is somewhat raspy and fluctuates in pitch.

I happily sang all through childhood. I didn't have the talent nor discipline to play an instrument although I longed to do so. But I could sing. I sang my way throughout high school and college participating in choruses and operettas and church choirs. I traveled with the Women's Glee Club all four of my college years performing in concerts throughout the country during seasonal school breaks. Then lung cancer surgery and the aging factor put me at a disadvantage with diminished lung capacity. Allergies also plague me, and since I wear hearing aids, my own singing voice sounds unfamiliar to me.

Ah, so many things to learn in one's late calendar years! So many changes to adjust to in my body's natural declining condition! Saint Paul, who more than likely was quite advanced in years when he wrote his letter to the Philippians and coping with his own growing limitations, addressed the issue of changing situations and conditions. Even he had to learn to be content in whatever circumstances the Lord placed him. Nevertheless, he concluded his testimony in chapter four not with a whine or complaint on a sad note but with the challenging testimony, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." 

Since I can't sing as a performer in church or in public, I can "sing unto the Lord" in private no matter how hoarse or scratchy my tonal quality. I can even sing at the top of my lungs, if no one else is around! If I can't sing aloud, I can “make melody in my heart." Since I sing for an audience of One, Jesus, He may even applaud my efforts and I'm more than happy to comply with an encore. I'm determined to keep singing for Him and make the invisible "hills come alive with music." 

After all, the loss of my singing voice is just a temporary condition for this mortal segment of my life. By and by, in the not too distant future, I may have the opportunity to sing with an angelic chorus. Surely there is enough room in the vast universe for many choirs to praise God, and the acoustics must be spectacular! I might not even have to audition since my voice will be perfect then. The music Up There must be fantastic and no health conditions or shortness of breath will need to be factored in. 

I wouldn't be surprised if Handel or Mozart or Mendelssohn were still composing and conducting. For sure Beethoven is no longer deaf and he is finally hearing his own compositions!