Growing Older Gracefully Archives 2014
Home2. Be Gentle3. Replace Anxiety With Prayer4. Control Thoughts5. Care for Others6. Be Content7. Know God Supplies All of Our NeedsArchives

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  • Growing Older by Margaret Head
  • A Heart of Love (poem) by Margaret Head
  • Our Eternal Hope Founded on Resurrection of Christ by Margaret Head
  • Sweet Tomorrows (poem) by Margaret Head
  • Carefully Staying Within the Safety Net of God's Grace by Magaret Head
  • Staying Within the Network of God's Grace by Margaret Head
  • My Sister (poem) by Margaret Head
  • Serving While Accepting Care From Others  by Margaret Head
  • Our God of Love (poem) by Margaret Head
  • Growing Older Gracefully by Margaret Head
  • God Give Us Strength (poem) by Margaret Head
  • Serving Others Who Have Lost a Loved One by Margaret Head
  • Our Plan (poem) by Margaret Head

 

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Growing Older

Margaret Head

At age 87, I find every day must count, and be examined as a spiritual and emotional learning process. Some days, the acquired knowledge is quite evident. Other days, knowledge growth is most subtle, causing me to scrutinize these hours to determine if they were wasted, worthless, and discarded without the realization of their value. But no...learning is never absent. From those days, I learn that being unproductive causes me to feel emotionally and spiritually dull, while productivity causes me to feel fulfilled and contented. However, productivity must be qualified and quantified; sometimes one very small act of kindness brings great rewards while some greater deed, in my sight, may go unnoticed. Those that go unnoticed, however, eventually carry the greatest rewards as they become precious to me, knowing they are shared, alone, with God.

The recognition provided with good deeds here on earth carry immediate feelings of pride, and are sometimes almost euphoric. But these rewards are passing, and most often rendered entirely useless in God's sight if they were done primarily for recognition. Pride is ever-present, waiting to rear its ugly head; it causes me to be far less than God desires of his children. When all the hoopla is over, a great feeling of emptiness may follow. What is left for me at that point? The emotional high is over and soon to be remembered by no one other than myself. The great, priceless lesson to be learned, and perhaps relearned, if pride has its way: do nothing to be seen of men, and if it is seen of men, don't gloat over it. we can do nothing without God! The truly unselfish, pride-less acts of kindness I can do, I must seek after like precious jewels. I must learn to recognize the acts carrying immediate rewards as being of less value to me spiritually, if there is any spiritual value to them at all. I must seek to avoid acclaim but instead seek diligence.

The LORD is my Shepherd; I shall not want. So then, with my eyes on the goal of seeing God as the rewarder and finisher of my faith, I can see more clearly what God is teaching me each    day of my life.

Days of pleasure and happiness that result from being His servant are to be embraced and received with deep gratitude as tokens of love from God. Days of emotional pain I must learn to appreciate, even if I may not enjoy them, as they teach me to depend on Him without reservation. Those days of physical pain I must view as needful, to teach me sympathy for others in pain, and to express more gratitude for the days that I can function normally, if that time is allotted to me.

And so, advanced in years but wiser, I have learned great and needful lessons about what pride has caused me to do and to be at times in my life. Pride must be seen as a devastating tool of the Devil. God's way is above my way; it always has been, and always will be. God is GOOD, PERFECT and HE is LOVE. What a privilege it is to be in God's family and to be His servant. I have learned to appreciate much more fully what Christ's sacrifice means to me, personally. Oh, what a gift with which nothing compares! Nothing more could I ask!

I thank my God for this privilege, now and forevermore.

The Heart of Love

With loving hands our Father formed us,
Breathed into us the breath of life.
With those same loving hands He also feeds us.
Breaks unto us each day the bread of life.

Can we not see God in every mountain,
Gently feel His touch in each drop of rain,
Know He fills each flowing fountain?
He cares about our grief and pain.

If that's not love, we'll never know it,
We'll never grasp what love's about.
God's unmerited grace for us is perfect,
Leaving us assured, no room to doubt!

That same love gave Christ to be our Savior,
In Go alone our hearts can trust.
Our lot? To show OUR love to friend and neighbor,
While thanking Him, OUR GOD, for loving us.

-Margaret Head-

 

 

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 Our “Eternal Hope” Founded Upon the Resurrection of Christ

Margaret Head 

"I have learned to appreciate much more fully what Christ's sacrifice means to me, personally. Oh, what a gift with which nothing compares! 

 

Above are the closing lines of the last writing I submitted for publication. As I continued to dwell on Christ's sacrifice it caused me to focus on His resurrection. So, I have chosen to use this time to reconsider the blessed hope and the many promises that are embedded in the scriptures concerning these “long ago prophesied” events. The Holy Spirit has carefully revealed the mind of God to us as He undertakes to reassure us of not only forgiveness of sins through the crucifixion, but also concerning our own resurrection and destination thereafter. These scriptures may seem more comforting to those of us who are growing older, but are important to young and old alike.

As Matthew, guided by the Holy Spirit, begins to unfold the account of the crucifixion to us we may be thinking, 'How can this mortal man be described as gentle and righteous and having salvation as He faces a cruel, undeserved, and degrading death on a cross?' Say to the Daughter of Zion, See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. (Matthew 21:5)  Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your King comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. (Zechariah 9:9) And the next question: 'Could we, like Him, be described in this way if we knew we were facing  desertion by our most loyal companions, hateful ridicule, and brutal beatings before being crucified?' The answer to both questions is that our Lord's unfailing faith was firmly grounded in the knowledge that His promised final destination after His resurrection was the heavenly Jerusalem. We can also enjoy this kind of faith and close relationship with God, but only if we are willing to wholly submit to God's will as He did. The price Christ was willing to pay to return to His Father in heaven should shout to us 'Heaven is worth it all!' Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2) Praise God for the joy that is set before us that we too can experience in our sometimes very difficult service to God.

 

If in our hearts we humbly stand beneath His cross beside Mary, His mother, we can almost hear our Savior's cry of deepest pain and anguish as He calls to His Father, My God, My God, why have You  forsaken me?  (Matthew 27:46) (A quote from Psalm 22:1, a Messianic Psalm of final triumph.)  Had His Father forsaken Him? Never! In answer, God allowed Him to die and to be freed from that incomprehensible kind of pain that we may never have to understand.

 

What the Holy Spirit records for us next is that God again made His incomparable power known to men by tearing the temple veil in two from top to bottom. (From top to bottom?  It is truly significant that the power came from above). At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, and the rocks split. The tombs broke open; and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus' resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people. (Matthew 27:51-53) Without doubt, God had not forsaken Him. And what is His promise to us? Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you. So we say with confidence, The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? (Hebrews 13:5-6) What blessed assurance!

And now, let us allow the Holy Spirit to continue to lead us as we consider more closely the prophesied gift of the “promised” resurrection of His Holy Son. Long before this time King David praised God for this promise: I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. I have set the Lord always before me. Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the grave. Nor will you let your Holy One see decay. (Psalm 16:7-10) (We must be careful to allow God to counsel us through His revealed Word.)

There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, Do not be afraid, for I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; He has risen, just as He said. Come and see the place where He lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples; He is risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see Him. Now I have told you. (Matthew 28:2-7)

 

Through the revealed Word of God, the Holy Spirit leads our hearts to rejoice in the triumph of Christ over the grave. He was resurrected once and for all, to sit at the right hand of His Father. Jesus' resurrection is blessed assurance that our loving God will do the same for us. And, as He did for His own Son, He will also take His faithful servants to the new Jerusalem, the promised place of indescribable peace, joy and comfort where He dwells. For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in Him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. (John 6:40) Again, our blessed assurance.

 

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away; and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven, from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying, or pain for the old order of things has passed away. (Revelation 21:1-4 )

 

Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of His purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, He confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for our soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek. (Hebrews 6:17-20)

 

May we praise God daily for the many fulfilled prophesies concerning His Son and His resurrection from the dead. Christ's resurrection points to our own resurrection and our place of eternal praise and rejoicing, the “New Jerusalem.” Before our Savior left His disciples to return to heaven, He said to them, This is what I told you while I was still with you. Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms. (Luke 24:44) As Jesus indicated, we can be assured all prophesies concerning His crucifixion and resurrection were fulfilled.

 

Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13-14)

 (All scriptures are taken from the New International Version of the Bible).

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Sweet Tomorrows

I can hear the songs they're singing on that everlasting shore,

Oh, I want to be there with them! Sing to God forevermore.

Hear their voices blend so sweetly as they praise their God on high,

There to dwell with Him securely, nevermore to say goodbye.

 

I can know the wondrous beauty of that home prepared for me,

And I'll look upon the faces that I long so much to see!

Yes! That happy day is coming if my God I'll serve while here,

And I can cross that final valley without knowing any fear.

 

What a joy that He loves us! That for us He really cares,

And that He'll be there to greet us when we climb those golden stairs.

We can hear Him softly calling, “Take your cross and follow on!

Just be patient 'till tomorrow, when that final day shall dawn!

 

~ Margaret Head ~  

 

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Carefully Staying Within The Safety Net

of God's Grace

 

Margaret Head 

 

Last month's article  firmly established the crucifixion and the resurrection of Christ are the fulfillment of multiple prophecies that lead us heavenward. However, that prize is not automatically ours, but is attainable only due to, and through the grace of God. It remains in our control to accept or refuse His offer of salvation. God's grace could be compared to a life preserver He is extending to mankind that must be gratefully grasped through obedience and “hung onto” with faith until death. The Devil cannot snatch us from God's lovingly outstretched hand that holds the life preserver, but he lures and deceives us as he has mankind throughout the ages. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of My hand. My Father who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. I and my Father are one. John 10:27-29.

 

The Devil desires to have us so he is offering the world and its evil temptations to us in exchange for heaven. Christ was tempted as we are, but wisely chose to decline the Devil's offers. We can also  reject the Devil's plan to destroy our present happiness, and even more devastating, our future eternal happiness.  God freely gives us the right to choose a peaceful eternity with Him or a painful eternity in the Devil's hell, suffering, while regretting the bad choices we made that put us there. Remember the rich man. He was lifting up his eyes in hell where he was in torment because of the bad choices he had made in his life while on this earth. Luke 16:22-24.

 

Since heaven is our goal, as we look at this in black and white, doesn't it look like our choices would always be easy to make? Then why do we so often allow ourselves to fall from grace knowing we are putting Satan in charge? We cannot claim that God forsook us so we must accept the consequences of our thoughtless, poor decisions. You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. James 4:4.

 

This month, I am addressing a subject I fervently wish I had no need to discuss, but sadly this is not the case. A very precious sister in Christ who is deeply concerned about the immodesty that is being flaunted in the name of fashion (the devil's workshop) has requested the following study. This post is directed toward no one, but is meant to stir up ALL of our pure minds so that we can make enlightened decisions and more carefully assess what we can do to improve this blight on the Lord's name. Immodesty is a blatant problem, not only on the streets and beaches, but has also become a blight in our places of worship. There is no doubt the Devil is making progress in this area, causing multitudes of souls, young and old alike, to lose sight of the goal of heaven. We are rightfully disturbed and embarrassed by what the Devil has managed to place on our televisions, computers, movies and electronic devices that our young people are being continuously exposed to. But let's think seriously about it. Are we becoming callous to the point of ignoring this problem that is spreading like a virus?

 

Giving diligent thought to the following may help us avoid allowing the Devil to deceive us as he did Eve. First let us consider; if we are saved through repentance, confession and baptism, (Acts 2:38, Romans 10:9-10) then we are clothed with Christ. You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourself with Christ. Gal:3:27. Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins man commits are outside the body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body. 1 Corinthians 6:18-20. 

 

 Are we quenching the Spirit by ignoring immodesty? Do not put out the Spirit's fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold onto the good. Avoid every kind of evil.  1Thessalonians 5:19-22.  Knowing this, how ought we to dress? I also want women to dress modestly, (not extreme) with decency (proper and fitting) and propriety (correct, suitable, respectable) not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God. 1 Timothy 2:9-10. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. 1 Peter 3:3-4.

 

Since we are to honor God with our bodies we must dress as we believe God would dress us. This would automatically take the focus from fashion and expensive clothing to our hearts. Are we willing to forgo the desire to be pleasing to men, but rather desire to be pleasing to our creator? When we dress ourselves are we choosing clothing that we would want to wear before God in Judgment? If we were standing before God would we be grabbing the front of our dress or blouse to pull it up higher to cover the cleavage that we bared to please men? And why else would we choose the low cut necklines? And may I say, not all men are pleased to see that part of our body. Women's breasts create sexual desire in men. One Bible class teacher made this statement; “Ladies please cover that part of your body UP.” And he is no longer a young man. Both young and older men are tempted alike. Godly men do not want to be caused to lust.

 

If you think your blouse, pants or dress might just be alright, stand before a mirror and bend over to see what is showing. You may want to change your mind about that piece of clothing. Is your skirt too tight, too short? Again, bend over in front of a mirror to see what you look like from the back. What do we show when we sit down? Do we as women sometimes inaccurately believe that modesty is a choice for us alone, and think the way we dress affects us alone? Caution; that is a worldly view that Satan has created and is a lie just like the one he invented to deceive Eve. Men's minds can go from seeing a woman in tight clothing such as jeans or yoga pants to undressing her. This is being very blunt, but we desperately need to understand that we are causing a huge problem for the male Christians we come in contact with. And now we can ask ourselves if we want to be responsible for causing men to sin.  Consider the following:

 

In a world where camisoles are worn as outerwear, the subjects of modesty, propriety, shamefastness, discretion, and chastity all sound kind of old-fashioned. Many have forgotten that the original and primary function of clothing is to cover one's nakedness (Gen. 3:7-11, 21), not to accentuate it. Yet much of the clothing being produced, pushed, and purchased for public viewing is designed to emphasize, enhance, and increase one's sex appeal.

 

Clothing is a means of communication. Garments which expose the breasts show more than mammary glands. The wearing of these garments reveals attitudes that range from naive to flaunting to seductive, regarding a part of the body whose erogenous (sexually stimulating) nature is well attested to in Scripture (Prov. 5:19; Song of Sol. 1:13, 4:5, 7:3,7,8; Ezek. 23:3,21; Hos. 2:2). Conversely, the modestly adorned woman communicates meekness, respect, and good works (1 Tim. 2:9,10; 1 Pet. 3:2-4) and will be noticed and appreciated by honorable men.

 

Come on, ladies and sisters in Christ, teach the younger women (your daughters first and foremost) to be discreet and chaste (Titus 2:5); and lead them by example. Communicate propriety, godliness, and purity in your adornment. Your brothers in Christ would appreciate the help in the battle between flesh and spirit. ANDY DIESTELKAMP (preacher of the gospel).  

 

And another: "As a Christian guy, modesty is SO attractive. I do not mean attractive in a lustful way, but that to see a girl living out God's standards in her life is really beautiful. And you have no idea how much you would be helping your Christian brothers by being modest" (Age 16)

 

Is it possible for me to leave you with an exact standard as to what is too short, too tight, too low cut, too showy, too expensive or too sexually alluring? Such information is not possible as some of this depends on women's bodies. What might not be too tight on a  small frame might be sinfully tight on someone with a fuller figure.  However, the fitting answer to what is and what is not appropriate is to let our hearts make that decision according to the knowledge and wisdom found in God's word. If in doubt, we should choose the safe decision and wear something we can be sure God is pleased with. Therefore, I urge you brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-this is your spiritual act of worship. Romans 12:1 

 

And this is my prayer; that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the honor and praise of God. Philippians 1:9-11.

Please use any or all of the above article to accomplish the following:

Older women are to train the young women to be self-controlled and pure. Titus 2:4-5.  The American Standard uses the word chaste and the NIV uses pure. Chaste in the Greek is hagnos which means, according to Strong's, "properly clean, that is, (figuratively) innocent, modest, perfect - chaste, clean, pure."    

 

Parents and Immodesty

She went into the streets one night,

Her jeans were OH! so very tight.

She felt no shame, her spirits high.

But she didn't see the man nearby.

 

But he saw her with lustful eyes,

And then he took her by surprise!

Another virgin is no more,

Resulting from the clothes she wore.

 

But when our daughters dress that way

Do we just turn our heads and say,

It's fashion! Surely it is not a sin!

But are we the guardians we should have been?

 

Margaret Head

 

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"Staying Within The Network of God's Grace" (continued)

Margaret Head 

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable (easy to be entreated ASV), full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. (James 3:17, NASV).

As we consider the wisdom from above, as older women, are we allowing the Devil to whisper in our ears that we are too old to be of meaningful service to our Master? That our memory is not as good as it used to be; we have become too slow; we have done our job so let the younger ones take over, etc? As we recall 1 Peter 5:8, The Devil is like a roaring lion, seeking those he may devour, we also remember Genesis 4:7, Sin is couching at your door;it desires to have you, but you must master it. We must master temptations, such as the temptation to neglect doing what is still within our capability to do. Ecclesiastes 9:10, Whatever your hands find to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where we are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.

II Samuel 22:33, It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. If our God provides us with strength, then it follows that He expects us to use it as His servants. What an honor it is to serve our all powerful, all knowing God! As older women we serve, while also remembering the widow's two mites, worth a fraction of a penny. Mark 14:42. Jesus praised her highly for giving all that she had, even though it was such a tiny bit. May we continue to serve our God even though we may not have as much to give as we formerly had. God expects the best we have to offer, but no more. He is a loving and just God.

The following quote is from Joann Thomas: "Sometimes the best helping hand you can get is a good firm push." This may come in the form of an example, a sermon, a scripture or scriptures, a kind reminder, or even an unkind criticism. However it comes, it can be helpful in saving our souls from being lost, and we can and should be most grateful for it. Proverbs 15:31, He who listens to a life-giving rebuke will be at home among the wise.

So now that we have determined there is still valuable work left for us to do as long as God grants us life and capability, let us evaluate our remaining God-given talents. Of course, evaluating is very personal and varies from person to person, according to our abilities and our situation, since that is how we will be judged. And, let us pause here to say that God warns us to not try to help with His judging. Matthew 7:1-2, Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. He judged his servants righteously in the parable of the talents. Matthew 25:14-30. Since judging belongs to the one and only righteous judge we must continuously remind ourselves that it is so easy for us to quickly judge others' decisions and circumstances when we need to be more carefully watching our own. I am reminded of Rom 14:13, Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put a stumbling block or obstacle in your brother's way.

Since God has not yet asked us for our talents they are still worthy of gain, are they not? But only, of course, if we are willing to use them. We might consider being good examples to those younger than ourselves as a talent (something of value to them), thus not putting an obstacle in our brother's way. That may sound easy enough to do, when in reality it can become very difficult when we are in pain or feeling unloved or unappreciated. Something we need to keep in mind is that as we age, if we are required to suffer, pain naturally causes us to focus on ourselves. This means, at some point, we can become very self-centered (not a good example) unless we continually guard against it. To quote Jason Moore, "Self-pity brings God no profit." I might add that it is a debit to our love account. We must also be understanding that there may be a time when someone reaches a point in their suffering when they can no longer think of anyone but themselves and their intense suffering. And then it is our job to see that they are properly cared for, spiritually and bodily, without criticism or neglect.

If we ourselves are ill, focusing our thoughts and attention on others can help eliminate the problem of self-pity. I once helped care for a sister in Christ who lived with great physical pain, however she continually focused her thoughts on the needs of others. She was a nurse and even as she was dying in a hospital emergency room she asked to be able to go to the patient in the cubicle next to her to comfort her in her pain. We, too, need to be that kind of example to others who are watching to see if our faith sustains us as our health declines and trials arise. This kind of service reminds me of the song, "None of self, and all of Thee". We CAN do it because we are God's children, just as Christ suffered to please His Father.

This very special time in our life will require continual renewal of our spiritual strength. God has granted us the privilege of direct communication with Him. Just as Christ prayed to Him and was heard, we can also pray knowing He hears us. We can also depend on scriptures to lead us to better see the "light at the end of this tunnel of suffering." We have the privilege of listening to the scriptures from a CD or we may need to ask someone to read them to us. Please do not hesitate to have someone read them to you if the that need arises. We do not want to rob a brother or sister of that privilege of serving God by serving us.

Special consideration of a scripture that will comfort us and keep us from becoming self-centered could be Isaiah 46:4. Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He who will sustain you. I have made you; I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. Comforting scriptures are legion but personally, when I find I am becoming stressed my mind automatically takes me to Psalms 23. There I feel the wonderful consolation of God melt away the stress as I picture myself being led by the quiet waters by my Master, the loving Shepherd! Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me;your rod and your staff they comfort me, Psalm 23:4. Can our minds grasp the meaning and the magnitude of this gift? What comforting and blessed assurance. God's gift of love. My cup runneth over!

There are many other considerations for us to pursue in the coming months, but may I leave you with the following scriptures: Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. As you know we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job's perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy. James 5:10-11.


                              My Sister
I observe the tides as they come and go          
In her Christian life as she struggles so.
And I've watched her gait beome Oh, so slow,
And the pain she endures we cannot know. 
Though suffering, a smile adorns her face, 
To cry or complain would be "out of place."
The chair that holds her, as though in chains
Does little to help assuage her pain.
Yet, her prayers are only of thankfulness, 
And petitions for others who are in distress.
Her God, her Maker will sustain,
And His will for her, she sees as plain;
To encourage others, an example be!
Of a Christian woman for all to see.
Not a haughty person, filled with pride,
But a gentle woman in whom God abides!
 
This was written while caring for a former patient, 
Masel Smith was a true servant of God.
 
                        Margaret Head 
 
 

 

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Staying Within the Network of God's Grace

~ Serving While Accepting Care From Others ~

Margaret Head 

 

Continuing the thought of being useful "OLDER" servants...

While this is not wholly a happy, "feel-good" article, if we can help ourselves or some loved one to receive better care or accept care in a better way by showing patience and gratitude, we will have served well. The time will probably come when I will need to be reading this every day!

If we are disabled to the point of requiring the help of others, family or otherwise, we can strive to be good examples of selflessness. Even when we feel we have become prisoners in our own home because of our frailties, we still need to be prudent, considerate and unselfish in our expectations of others. And, perhaps one of the first things we need to acknowledge is that we should not criticize others or be angry with them if we feel they are failing in their responsibility toward us. A man's wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense. Proverbs 19:11. If we have not yet learned patience, frailties of old age are great teachers, but only if we allow them to be. I have been a slow learner!

Being considerate and unselfish may be very hard at times, but let us think of ourselves as having a resilient spirit that is indomitable and cannot be conquered by our Satan or our pain. What,then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all--how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things? Romans 8:31. By remaining resilient and relying on God we can remain active and self-sufficient much longer than the patient who gives in to their pain and weakness and their desire to be served.  

Love for our family and friends should cause us to want to do all we can for ourselves by ourselves, and their love for us can motivate them to be sure we receive all the care we need. This is God's way, and His ways are perfect.

Another attribute of love is that it keeps no record of wrongs. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking. It is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. (Now, keeping no record of wrongs is a BIG one, but that is exactly what we would like for Christ to do for us, isn't it? We would choose for Him to keep no record of our wrongs.) May we always cling to forgiving others as we should, and persevere in our service to our God and Master.

Although it may be very hard for us to accept, there may be a time when we will have no choice but to receive total care from others and we will need to be gracefully and gratefully accepting of those who administer that care. We can certainly tell them very kindly if they are hurting us in some way, physically or emotional, that can be avoided or made less painful, while we recall the loving attitude Jesus maintained during the time He suffered. Following that with a word of gratitude for their tender care would be most appropriate. Having been a nurse, I have observed that the patients who maintain "Christ-like" attitudes receive the most ungrudging care. Paul's admonishment in Colossians 3:12, Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. If we clothe ourselves with compassion and kindness we will be CLAD in it; fully covered! We will find it very hard to be unkind to our caregivers if we are clothed in kindness. As someone has said, we can either become bitter or better. Gary Henry offers this thought: "If suffering bathes our heart in humility and reminds us to lean on God it has done us a significant favor." Leaning on God is our answer to suffering! "I can do everything through Him who gives me strength." Phillipians 4:13.

If we are well enough to find ourselves taking on the role of caregiver, we can be seen as good examples in that role. My first thought, when I hear the word caregiver, is of Jesus lovingly leaving His precious mother in the care of the apostle, John. What a blessing for both Mary and for John! We too, are blessed if we are also given that duty. May we ever keep that in mind as we lovingly administer care as much as we are able. If our patient is home-bound, we have a great opportunity to sit and quietly listen to them tell us their concerns, their needs, and their desires. They may have a problem with someone that they feel needs to be worked out. This can prove to be very comforting to our patient if we can facilitate that happening.

As God's older servants we can offer loving, helpful assistance to others if we are still able to do so. But we must first make that call to them to let them know we are available and desire to help in whatever way we can.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade ˗̶ kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith ˗̶ of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire ˗̶ may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 1Peter 1:3-7. (Though the Holy Spirit, through the apostle Peter, may not be speaking to us here of physical illness, we can rejoice in the testing of our faith that may be proved genuine)!

Here in the maddening maze of times when tossed by storm and flood, to one fixed ground my spirit clings, I KNOW that God is good.・ Louis O. Caldwell

 

                Our GOD of LOVE

The rustling of brilliant, sunlit leaves,
The lovely gifts of birds and bees,
The gentle nodding of tree and flower;
Are all reminders of God's great power.
Sunlight streams from heaven above,
A daily reminder of God's precious love.
A bank of clouds build in the west,
And soon with rain, the earth He'll bless! 
 
Who can fathom the love of God
Who gave us the beauty of goldenrod,
The soothing patter of gentle rain,
And birds that warble a sweet refrain? 
 
His love unselfishly mingles down,
Overcoming all barriers in which men drown.
JOY and PEACE are borne of Him,
Our source of comfort, when hope grows dim. 
 
And when the valley of death we near,
If saved, a reassuring voice we'll hear,
"Oh, come to Me, you who are so blessed!
And find 'MY HOUSE' a place of rest!" 

                -Margaret Head

 

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Growing Old Gracefully

 

Margaret Head 

 

As we continue the thought of caring for others as God would have us to do, there may be especially troubling issues we are faced with. To cover all these facets of continuous care is an impossible task. However, it is my hope that we can attempt to apply Biblical principles to these areas and gain the peace through that insight that is needed to carry on, remembering God is our helper. The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul. Psalm 23:1-2

 

If the person we are caring for is not a believer in God, our task may be doubly difficult. Keeping in mind that we are not responsible for their actions or their happiness just because we are responsible for their care will allow us to make better decisions about their care. It is not in our power to control their emotions, so happiness, sadness, bitterness, ingratitude or anger is their choice. We just have to be careful that OUR choices are acceptable to God as we deal with these problems. Problems such as anger caused by dementia may rightly cause you to seek medical help or place the patient in a home that is designed to care for this type of patient.

 

Setting loving, Bible-based boundaries is a tool that can help prevent many problems. Doing this at the outset of any unacceptable behavior is probably the best time to do it, if possible. However, it may be better late than not at all.

 

Our boundaries should allow us to protect ourselves with acceptable limits as we also allow others to apply the same rules for themselves. God has never asked us to “control others”. To counsel others? Definitely, Yes! I will praise the Lord who counsels me, even at night my heart instructs me. Ps 16:7, But the counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. John 14:26,  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another. Col 3:16 The mouth of the righteous brings forth wisdom, but a perverse tongue will be cut off.  Proverbs 10:31.

 

Even though our boundaries should not allow us to seek to “control” others. they do allow us to say NO! If our patient, sister in Christ, a friend or others are demanding more time than they really need, or whatever is unreasonable or unacceptable, our boundary is set when we gently, but firmly say, “NO.” This does not mean that we should neglect personal time with our patient, such as reading the Bible to them if they are unable to do that. But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus..." 2 Cor 7:6 (You don't necessarily have to SAY anything to bring comfort to someone. Job's friends sat down with him for seven days before they even spoke a word (Job 2:13). Sometimes our presence is the best comfort we can offer.) It does mean we have the right to protect ourselves from being “overspent” physically and/or emotionally so that we become resentful of the one we are trying to help. This means patient, friend or otherwise. Jesus counsels us in Matthew 5:17 to let our “Yes” be “Yes” and our “No”, “No”. Anything beyond this comes from the evil one. Have we not heard arguments led by young and old, after being told “no” concerning something they want, that have led to a hurtful exchange of words and ended with hard feelings? God expects His “no” to always mean “NO”, and the earlier we learn boundaries from Him the easier and better our lives will be.  And so it is with our patient and others. NO is not negotiable unless we find we are in the wrong for having said it. Only then do we need to apologize.

 

What belongs to us is our responsibility, but if we assume the responsibility for someone else in ways that are harmful to them or to us, we are making a huge mistake. This might be in the form of doing things for them they can and should be doing for themselves. It is good for all of us to remain as independent as possible.  As God's servants, we should be doing for others as long as we are able, but we must be careful to remain true to God as we protect our boundaries. When we get up in the morning we can consciously dedicate our day to God and avoid many of the pitfalls the Devil places in our paths.

 

I like Herman Cain's philosophy; “negatives always go up,” meaning if we are negative it can cause others to follow in our footsteps. (This is one reason gossip can be so deadly in congregations of the Lord's church. Most of the time, gossip carries a negative aspect with it in one form or another. It takes discipline to control our tongues, but doing so avoids polluting our soul.) If our boundaries put another person in a “negative” frame of mind, it becomes their problem, but we may have to work to keep from falling into their same unacceptable frame of mind. But may the righteous be glad and rejoice before God;may they be happy and joyful. Psalm 68:3  May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

 

Kindness is a behavior that flows from God's love. It is behavior that is gentle, pure and totally rooted in good, and for the good of another person... kindness is a loving behavior that is gentle and mellow.

Kindness, however, is not weak or wimpish. It does not compromise with truth or back down during time of spiritual warfare. It never gives in to evil, nor stops speaking about the goodness of God. Kindness is a manner of speaking and acting ... an attitude and quality of behavior  Anonymous

 

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith, goodness, and to goodness, knowledge, and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance, and to perseverance, godliness;and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

And for each of you that is bearing the burden of caring for someone, and for you who are carrying a heavy load, emotionally, my prayer for you is: Eph 3:14-20 ~ For this reason I kneel before the Father…I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit … that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.  Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus…

 

               God Gives Us Strength

 

God gives us strength from day unto day,

Perhaps through a friend we pass on the way,

Or a brother or sister who sees our need,

And brightens our day with some kind deed.

God sends His sunshine, perhaps through a smile,

Or a friend who comes to visit awhile.

Yes! God gives us strength from day unto day,

So let's be “that friend” others pass on the way!

 

                             by Margaret Head 


"But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus..." 2 Cor 7:6 You don't necessarily have to SAY anything to bring comfort to someone. Job's friends sat down with him for seven days before they even spoke a word (Job 2:13). Sometimes our presence is the best comfort we can offer.
 

 

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Serving Others Who Have Lost a Loved One

by Margaret Head 

 

We have been considering our roles as older servants and what we may still be able to accomplish in keeping with God's Holy commands.

 

My first thought concerning continuing to serve, even though we may have a disability or have experienced a deep emotional loss, is of the apostle Paul. Although God chose not to remove his “thorn in the flesh”  2 Corinthians 12:7-9, telling him, “My grace is sufficient for you,” we continue to see Paul diligently carrying on the Lord's work. His love for God did not diminish, nor did his thorn cause him to grumble or complain about it, but instead his dedication to God continued to flourish and cause him to finish the laborious, life sacrificing service he had set out to do. His life speaks volumes to us in this regard. Even though we may have been given our own “thorn in the flesh,” we can can continue to reflect the “living sacrifice” we are admonished to live (Romans 12:1), as Paul so lovingly and courageously did.

 

Paul was beaten seven times and was often hungry and thirsty (2 Corinthians 11:24-27). Paul was called to be an apostle (Romans 1:1) and we are called to be saints (Romans 1:6-7). That call gives us the privilege of also serving God even when the going is TOUGH! Christ was beaten, His flesh torn, His life slowly drained from Him as he hung on the cruel cross of Calvary. Yet. His desire was sharply focused on pleasing God, His Father and OURS.  I love the Father and I do exactly what my Father has commanded me, John 14:31. How can we ever consider blaming our God for any suffering we are called upon to do? Instead, we should thank Him that we are found worthy to suffer. The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name, Acts 5:41.

 

Perhaps we do not fully understand what suffering does for us. In answer to that we can consider: Therefore since Christ suffered in His body, arm yourselves with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God, 1Peter 4:1.  Now if we are children, then we are HEIRS -heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory, Romans 8:17. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weakness, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong, 2 Corinthians 12:10.  The times I have suffered have proved to be invaluable teachers, causing me to grow spiritually, so that I am a more humble and productive servant. May God be praised!

 

Perhaps our “thorn” is, or will be, picking ourselves up and serving God faithfully after the death of our husband or our wife, the loving, helpful companion God gave us to enjoy during our time on earth (Genesis 2:18 -24).  We cannot expect anyone to fully understand widowhood except those who have experienced it. Are we able to understand what eternal life is like? Or do we understand what marriage is like before the ceremony? The answer is, no! And, we cannot understand the impact of widowhood as it is just as foreign to the human mind as eternity. Nevertheless, if we try to consider the depth of pain related to this kind of loss our brother, sister or friend is experiencing, we can be better prepared to comfort and console. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted, Matthew 5:4. God expects US to be part of that comforting process. Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the father of compassion and the God of all comfort; Who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we  ourselves have received from God, 2 Corinthians 1:3-4. 

 

When we are given the opportunity to help comfort someone who is grieving we may first want to ask ourselves what steps we would be taking if this person that needs our comfort was a fleshly brother or sister. Then, should not our efforts be just as great or greater for our brother or sister in Christ? That thought process will guide us so that we are not negligent about giving our time to make the calls, write the sympathy cards, invite them for a meal or take food to them. Staying to eat with them may be one of the most comforting things we could do. It is always best to ask permission to eat with them as they may have other plans or needs. Consider calling ahead to ask if bringing food and staying to eat with them would be comforting to them, and if so, what food restrictions they have, if any. Also, they may appreciate help with thank you notes or helping secure copies of the death certificate, or changing beneficiaries on insurance policies, etc. These things are better handled by family members in most cases, but there are those who do not have that blessing.

 

We must remember, the grieving is not over in a week, or a month or even a year. The widow is missing the one who helped make the difficult decisions, the one she enjoyed meals with, the one who comforted and consoled her. For men it may be an even bigger problem if they have not learned to cook, etc.. There is a great need for support under these circumstances. Freezing food for him to eat later is often very much appreciated.

 

Evenings are lonely. May we remember our obligation to make those calls, to offer our time and our comfort. However, true happiness will eventually be regained by the grieving only by serving others as God requires, and just as Paul did. Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, James 1:12. Looking outward and not inward is healing. We can do volunteer work at a hospital or nursing home, etc. that will renew our strength so we can “soar as eagles.” 

 

Young women who have become widows may require even more help, especially if they have young children.  At this point in the childrens' lives they are probably needing support both spiritually and physically. Their mother is hurting so much emotionally it may be impossible for her to provide the support they need. What a blessing we could be if we are able to help a child see Christ in us as we help him/her toward reaching sound spiritual maturity. We can read Bible stories to them or help them with their Bible lessons and of great value also, we can take them for a day or just for a walk, allowing them the opportunity to talk. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up, Deuteronomy 6:6-7. Following is a quote from an unknown source: "A child is a blank page upon which we write with a permanent marker." Grandparents and friends are included.

 

It is my prayer that as we consider these thoughts and search the scriptures together we can more clearly see our roles as servants of the most Holy God who loves and serves His children. And may we delight in the law of the LORD as we serve Him. Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his DELIGHT is in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night, Psalm 1:1-2. REJOICE in following Your statutes as one rejoices in great riches. I will meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. I DELIGHT in your decrees;I will not neglect Your Word, Psalm 119:14.

 

The following was written by the father of a young son who has inoperable brain cancer. This family's trust in God is of value far above rubies or gold! Praise God for their example of complete faith in Him. “It's sad to see the hopelessness of the people of the world. But we have HOPE through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We have plenty of work to do. So let's get busy......”

 
Our Plan
 
Dear Lord, we think we can't survive
Without some "loved one" in our lives.
Please be so kind as to help us see,
We are trying to plan our lives, not Thee!
 
Help us accept your firm advice
To let Your peace dwell in our lives,
And may we accept our burdens here
By knowing You are ever near.
 
Our bodies are not ours, but Thine!
So we ask for strength for each trying time,
And when we present our lives to Thee,
Dear God, may we have lived acceptably!
 
-Margaret Head