64!

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Yesterday was my 64th birthday and it was a day rich in joy!  My grandson, Gio, thought I surely needed a 3D Spiderman birthday card.  I’m wearing the ‘cool’ 3D glasses that were included.

As the day closed, I thought back – a slideshow of mental images of places and faces from the years. I am beyond grateful for those who taught me, loved me, and worked with me.  I remembered 4 decades of life shared with my beautiful Bev, our ministry together, loving four great kids together. My own parents showed up in my reverie, remembering how they passed me the baton of faith, teaching me the ‘awe and respect of the Lord.’  I thought about those I knew only through books – Ray Stedman, who wrote a little book called “Authentic Christianity,” challenged me to think hard about integrating faith into every part of my life; Richard Foster who showed me a kind of discipleship that shapes me today in his book  “Celebration of Discipline.”  There were hundreds of friends that came into my life, a few for decades, some for a short season – but each one leaving some mark on my life.

Surely the Proverb is worthy of remembering – “Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of one’s friend springs from his earnest counsel.” (Proverbs 27:9, NIV) “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17, NIV)

In some ways, I am living exactly the life I planned – serving God in pastoral work, loving His people, with the privilege of sharing His Word. It’s been nearly 50 years since I answered His call and there are no regrets.

Then, too, life has been full of unexpected twists! I never dreamed I would be without my loving wife at this age. Oh yes, I knew death would eventually separate us, but the idea she would leave me for heaven so young just did not exist.  As I grow older there is great comfort in affirming, using the ancient words of Job – “He knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” (Job 23:10, NIV)

What have the years taught me?  Among other things …

Laugh often!
Don’t take yourself too seriously. Jesus wisely cautions us about the cares of life. “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” He asks. (Matthew 6:27)

Love deeply.
It’s the only thing that will really matter in the end.

Keep Heaven in sight.
An eternal perspective will help you to avoid costly detours and give you hope in the darkest of days. 

Know Jesus as the Center. 
Paul says, “Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant.”  (Philippians 3:8) It is so true.

The word from the Word comes from his final days. They were written to a younger man to encourage him to faithfulness. He was full of confidence as he looked back, thankful for the opportunity to serve the Lord.  Are you living so that you, too, can look back without regret?

“As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near. I have fought a good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness that the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that great day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his glorious return.” (2 Timothy 4:6-8, NLT)

Thanks for the all the birthday wishes!  Onward to 65!

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