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Reflections of an Aging Mirror”

There was once an old man who lived by himself. If truth be told, he was a very selfish man, self-centered and even stingy. He was not a happy man and always seem to find someone else to blame his problems on. So it was that he mailed his only mirror in the house back to the company which had made it many years ago and was still in business.

To whom it may concern,” the letter read, “I am returning this mirror because it is obviously flawed. It no longer reflects correctly, making me look much older than I am. The mirror’s reflection has obviously aged more quickly than I. I no longer recognize the face reflected in this mirror. Please send me one which will more accurately reflect what I really look like, and which will not make me look quite so old.”

  1. N. B. Hardeman when asked to speak on this topic...Stated, "I am too young to speak as one should on this subject." Even though he was in his eighties or nineties at the time!
  2. Most young people do not think about "growing old", which is understandable... For they have yet to experience the reality of "growing old" in the sense of declining in one's physical strength and mental capabilities For them getting older has always meant getting better as they draw closer to the peak of their physical maturity
  3. If they talk about "growing old", it is often with disdain for the way many people spend their golden years...
    1. Discontented with life
    2. Set in their ways
    3. Bitter towards many people -- There is often truth in what the young say about the old:  "Some old women and men grow bitter with age. The more their teeth drop out the more biting they get." - George Dennison Prentice
  4. This has prompted many young people to say:  "I will never be like that when I get old!"
    1.  But growing old gracefully does not happen by accident
    2. Unless one understands and applies certain principles while young,  the chances are great that he or she will become like the elderly they are quick to despise
  5. Think carefully about this statement:  "Most men spend the first half of their lives making the second half miserable." - La Bruyere
  6. Shifts in cultural values
	How can we change our cultural values? Can the status of older people be changed?
	Cultural values do change. 
The status of older people can change.
  1. Begin with ourselves
    1. Old” is a loaded word
    2. How do we measure age?
      1. Chronological – years lived
      2. Biological – functional ability
      3. Psychological – mental, emotional growth
      4. Sociological – social development 
  2. View aging positively.
    1. Don't ask, "Am I too old?"
    2. Ask, "Am I old enough?"
    3. Spiritually, are you as old as you should be?
  3. Face aging realistically.
    1. Distinguish between fact and fiction.
    2. Age should not be praised too much.
    3. Old age ought not be valued too little.
  4. Accept aging as a normal, developmental process.
    		Stephen Vincent Benet
    A stone's a stone And a tree's a tree
    But what the sense of aging me?
    It's no improvement That I can see.
  5. Make a conscious effort to grow old gracefully.


    1. Reject the idea that old age is dismal, lonely.


    2. Avoid the pitfalls of old age.


    3. Pray that you will remain reasonably sweet.


  6. Reasons we do not see beauty in older people.


    1. Limited concept of beauty. Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart. (1 Sam. 16:7) With age, we ought to become more beautiful, not less.


    2. Moral and Spiritual Astigmatism. Our true sense of values become distorted. The eyes do not always see. (Matthew 13:16) Our eyes see what our heart guides them

       to see. Beauty is more in the heart than in the eye of the beholder.


  7. Two views concerning old age.


    1. We will gradually disengage from the mainstream of life's activities.


    2. We will remain relatively active as far and as long as possible.


    1. Moses, at the age of 120 (note the vigor of the speeches in Deuteronomy) - Deuteronomy 34:7
    2. Joshua, as he addressed the elders of Israel (note his conviction) - Joshua 24:15
    3. Barzillai, the Gileadite (note his gracious hospitality at age eighty) - 2 Samuel 19:31-38
    4. Dorcas, who helped the poor and widows - Acts 9:36-39
    5. The graceful manner in which Paul faced death - 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18
    6. Peter aged gracefully...
      1. Becoming an elder - 1 Peter 5:1-2
      2. Remaining diligent as death approached - 2 Peter 1:13-15
      3. Forgiving toward those who rightly rebuked him - 2 Peter 3:15; cf. Galatians 2:11
    7. Caleb @ 85 wanted to take the mountain with the giants Joshua 14:10-12

Abraham and Sarah. All passages are from Genesis.

1. 12:4 Abraham - 75 when he left Haran.

2. 12:11 Sarah was too pretty.

3. 12:14 Egyptians, princes, Pharaoh noticed

4. 16:16 86 - when Ishmael was born

5. 17:1 99 - Isaac promised

6. 17:17 100 - years old (round number)

Sarah is 90 years old

7. 17:24 99 - circumcision done

Ishmael - 13 years old

8. 20:5 Abimelech - Still too pretty

9. 21:5 Isaac born - Abraham 100

SUMMARY: Sarah is about 10 years younger than Abraham. She was too pretty when she was 65. Still attractive when she was 90 years old. So pretty that Abraham feared

 someone would kill him to have her.

How pretty will you be at 65? At 90? Was it Oil of Olay? Revlon? Mary Kay? OR: Was it spiritual? Character? Faith in God? Meek and quiet spirit? (1 Peter 3:3-6)

  1. One does not need to go to the Bible to find the only examples of people growing old gracefully
  2. I am sure that we have all known such people
  3. I have been blessed to know a number of such people in my life -- Yes, growing old gracefully is possible! When it occurs, it is beautiful to behold: "When grace is joined with wrinkles, it  is adorable. There is an unspeakable dawn in happy old age." - Victor Hugo
    1. Stated more fully in Galatians 6:7-8, this is true in all areas of life
      1. For example, in the physical realm
        1. Sow corn, you reap corn
        2. Take good care of your body, and you enjoy good health
        3. Disregard healthy habits, and the body will suffer for it
      2. This is especially so in the spiritual realm
      3. "Even as I have seen, Those who plow iniquity And sow trouble reap the same." - Job 4:8 (Eliphaz)
    2. Aging Successfully.
      1. The foundation for a happy old age must be laid in youth.  Ecc. 12:1
      2. A positive and realistic attitude toward aging must be formed. Old age has gains and losses. We must be able to see both.
      3. We need to understand that all older people are not alike. Calendar age or chronological age is a poor basis for grouping people. We are not automatically mature with more birthdays.
      4. The value, dignity and meaning of life must be kept uppermost in our minds. Matthew 16:26.
    3. Much of the bitterness, discontent, and anger which characterizes many older people is the result of "sowing to the flesh"
      1. Note the works of the flesh (the result of sowing to the flesh) - Galatians 5:19-21
      2. Contrast the fruit of those who sow to the Spirit - Galatians 5:22-23
      3. How much better to do as Hosea says:  "Sow with a view to righteousness, Reap in accordance with kindness;" (NASB) - Hosea 10:12
    4. Yet the young often say:  "I want to sow my wild oats while I am still young"
      1. Then what?  Hope for a crop failure? (Don't count on it)
      2. They fail to realize the harvest of trouble they will reap  later in life
        1. Abuse their body with sex and drugs, their health will be  ruined
        2. Engage in sexual immorality...they will ruin their reputation, and make it difficult to have a normal family life and the joy it ought to bring
        3. Consider the sad irony of it all...
          1. Most young people do not realize that the popular lifestyle of "doing your own thing" and "sowing your wild oats" is the very thing that produces the pathetic mental and physical condition found in many older people!
      3. So while they condemn the old for the way they wasted  their lives and the way they turned out, they are headed down the same path of corruption!
    5. "He that would pass the latter part of life with honor and decency must, when he is young, consider that he shall one day be old..." - Samuel Johnson
    1. Quoted by Jesus in Matthew 4:4, let's focus our attention on two words:
      1. Bread - involves more than just dough; includes all things of a material nature
      2. Live - involves more than simple existence; includes living life in its fullest sense, i.e., an abundant life -- We must realize one does not find the good life in seeking and acquiring material things - cf. Luke 12:15
    2. If we don't learn this while young, we will waste much of our life pursuing the wrong things, and hate ourselves for it when we face death's door
      1. Solomon came to this realization - Ecc 2:17-23
      2. Rosseau, the French philosopher, saw the ungraceful way many  old people live out their later years as the result of learning this truth too late:  "Old men grasp more at life than babies, and leave it with a much worse grace than young people.  It is because all their labors having been for this life, they perceive at last their trouble lost."
    3. There is more to life than material things; to grow old gracefully we must realize this and find that which makes life full and abundant!
      1. Fortunately, Jesus came to help us - John 10:10
      2. He is the true and living Way! - John 14:6
    4. And it is the Word of God that shows us the way to Christ - John 5:39
      1. This illustrates the truth of Matthew 4:4
      2. The Word of God reveals Christ to us, who in turn shows us how to really live, for He IS the Life!
    5. What a shame to go through life, only to find at last our labors were of no lasting value - cf. Luke 9:25; 12:15-21
    1. The word blessed means "happy, rich"
    2. Wisdom is insight, understanding, which enables one to make the best use of his or her talents and circumstances, avoiding the mistakes and pitfalls of life
    3. The value of wisdom is:
      1. Beautifully proclaimed in Proverbs 3:13-18
      2. Illustrated in Ephesians 5:15-16
      3. The days are evil (the time is short) - cf. James 4:13-14
    4. Wisdom helps one to utilize to the fullest what little time we have, instead of wasting our precious time
  4. Wisdom can be acquired in two ways:
    1. Personal experience
      1. Which can be very wasteful and time-consuming
      2. You can spend much of your life in trial and error, repeating the same mistakes made by others
      3. While you may finally gain wisdom...
        1. You have not only wasted much time in the trials
        2. You have to bear the consequence of your errors (you reap what you sow)
    2. God and His Word - Proverbs 2:6
      1. What better source, than from He who by wisdom created the universe - Proverbs 3:19-20
      2. With such wisdom, especially at an early age...
      3. Our journey through life will more pleasant and graceful - Proverbs 3:21-26
               b) We can get a head start and soon pass those who learn only through trial and error - cf. Psalm 119:97-100

    1. " an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity." - 1 Timothy 4:12
    2. There is no way you can avoid being an example to others
      1. You will be either be a good example
      2. Or you will be an example of what not to be
    3. Determine to be an example of those who believe, and this will set you on the right track of one who grow old gracefully!
    1. "Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine." - 1 Timothy 4:13
      1. Commit yourself to studying and teaching the Word of God to others
      2. This will assure that you have an open line to God's wisdommothy
      3. So study the Bible daily, and share what you learn with others!
    1. "Do not neglect the gift that is in you..." - 1 Timothy 4:14
    2. The degree to which you reap will be based upon the ability with which you can sow
    3. If you want to reap a large harvest of good in this life, develop your talents!
    1. "Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all.  Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this youwill save both yourself and those who hear you." - 1 Timothy 4:15-16
    2. Growing old gracefully, like many good things, does not happen by accident
    3. It takes concentrated effort, so be diligent and persevere!
    1. Memory can be used to bring joy and vitality to daily living.
      1. A happy moment from your childhood.
      2. A smell, sound or sight from long ago.
      3. Food. Chores. Railroad. Weather. Pet.
      4. Remember your "first" love.
    2. Memory can become harsh, critical, embittered, and our eyes are closed to the beauty around us.
      1. Pain, hurts, losses.
      2. Unresolved conflicts.
      3. Broken promises, relationships, dreams.
    3. Spiritual memories are useful in keeping faith, hope and love alive in our hearts.
      1. Sermons. Songs. Preachers. Elders.
      2. Favorite verse. Favorite Bible story character.
      3. Your baptism. Marriage.
      4. Answered prayers. Providence of God.
      5. Gratitude for those who have had an impression on your life.
    4. Memory and the Bible

The Vantage Point for Vision.

  1. Older people have a vantage point from which they can see the present in the light of the past and at the same time fix their eyes on the future.


  2. A great vision increases hope that is essential to purposeful living and happiness.


  3. A great vision enables the beholder to share it with others, thus becoming a blessing to many people.

How Old Are You?

  1. Why are we afraid to tell our age? Many are age-guarded and age-conscious. Children will tell you their age. The elderly will tell you their age. Somewhere between "I am

     five" and "I am ninety" we become silent about our age.


  2. Our youth-oriented society has decreed that youth is good and old age is bad. Our mind-picture of the typical "old person" is very discouraging.


  3. Many people are afraid of being unnecessarily and unfairly penalized for having lived a certain number of years. Preachers over 55 have three strikes against them finding a

     place to preach.

  1. "To keep the heart unwrinkled, to be hopeful, kindly, cheerful, reverent--that is to triumph over old age." - Thomas Bailey Aldrich
  2. Is it possible to triumph over old age, to grow old gracefully?  Yes, for I have seen it happen time and again!
  3. But those of us who are young must realize the experience is reserved for those who...
    1. Follow the wisdom of God
    2. Understand the abundant life is not found in worldly things
    3. Sow in such a way as to bear fruit and reap a harvest leading to eternal life
    4. Such a person will be like those described in Psalm 92:12-15..."The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree, He shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Those who are planted in the house of the LORD Shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bear fruit in old age; They shall be fresh and flourishing, To declare that the LORD is upright; He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him."
  4. Don't you wish to be like that?  By the grace of God you can!  In Christ Jesus you can become a new creature (2 Corinthians 5:17), made possible by the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5).
  5. The sooner you begin this new life, the less "baggage" of the old life you will have to contend with, and the more you can do for the Lord...

What can a retiree do for the church?


Hindrances before retirement

  1. Financial obligations

  2. Children

  3. College tuition

  4. Work demands

What you may lack

  1. Knowledge and use of modern technology

    1. Computers, laptop, broadband, Wi-Fi

    2. Internet, HTML, FTP

    3. Cell phones, Palms, Blackberry

  2. Speed – with age we tend to slow down

  3. Some health issue – joints, eyes, ears, arthritis, blood pressure, cholesterol

Situation in early retirement

  1. More home than you need

  2. More time than you can fill

  3. More wisdom / maturity

  4. More practical experience

Some practical Suggestions

  1. Learn something NEW

    1. Take a computer course

    2. Learn to write HTML

    3. Learn something you always WANTED to do

    4. Study a foreign language

  2. Get involved

    1. Volunteer at some agency – hospital, nursing home, foster parent

    2. Church – teach, assistant teacher, VBS, visitation program

  3. Work at home

    1. Sent notes, cards, letters

    2. Make phone calls – check on elderly, sick

    3. Take food – to lonely, sick, elderly, bereaved, post-surgery

  4. Close the generation gap

    1. Get involved with young couples

    2. Adopt a “grandchild” in the church

    3. Babysit

For the “older” retirees

  1. Be an example

  2. Guide, lead, suggest

  3. Support and encourage

  4. Athens, TN – 3 Musketeers – all were in their 90's and going strong

The main outline is adapted from Mark Copeland (with material added from other sources)

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