By Tim Counts, edited by Bobby Price
We need the senior saints of the church, and we need senior saints ministry in the church. A couple of days ago, I received an email from a church member in his 80s, letting me know that he’s moving. We have known for some time that it’s best for him to move closer to his family due to his health and housing situation. But the news that the move was finally happening hit me unexpectedly, as if I’d lost a dear friend. I felt it in the pit of my stomach and the tears in my eyes. Then I realized that is exactly why I felt that way: I was losing a dear friend, and a grandfather in the faith. And our church is losing him, too.
Sometimes senior saints question their usefulness in the church as they age. That’s unfortunate because they’re an essential part of the body of Christ. Although we trust in our sovereign and wise God to add and take away from his local body as he sees fit, church life is different without them. As pastors, therefore, we need to remind our elderly members that they’re not only loved by their Good Shepherd and Savior—they’re also loved and needed by his people. That means senior saints ministry, and senior saints in ministry.
1. We Need Your Prayers.
My 80-something friend often leads our congregation in prayer on Sunday mornings. Visitors and members regularly comment on how his prayers are a blessing to them. That’s an example of senior saints ministry. We need older members to pray during worship services, Bible studies, prayer meetings, and privately. As God’s word says, “They still bear fruit in old age” (Psa. 92:14), and shows in Anna’s example (Luke 2:36-38).
2. We Need Your Practical, Biblical Wisdom.
My grandpa taught an adult Sunday School class until Parkinson’s robbed him of his voice. I’ll never forget a seminary professor who taught class using a special microphone because health complications made it difficult for him to speak. I’m so thankful that these men continued to pass on their biblical knowledge and life experience until they literally could not anymore. Whether through teaching a class or sharing a comment during a Bible study or encouraging a young mom during fellowship, every church member needs the wisdom that comes from decades of studying the Word mixed with decades of life experience. Perhaps this is why Paul told Titus that the elderly are to teach the young how to live out God’s sound doctrine (Tit 2:3-5).
3. We Need Your Encouragement.
My friend recently raised his hand at a business meeting as I was almost done explaining a new initiative, and simply said that he saw God’s hand in this and that the congregation should be supportive of where God was leading me with this initiative. We could have just stopped the explanation right then and gone straight to the vote. As a senior saint, your words of encouragement matter.
I’ve seen young, sleep-deprived parents light up when an older person in the church tells them, “Your kids are a joy.” I’ve seen discouraged empty-nesters, struggling with change, rediscover hope as they remember God’s faithfulness in your marriages of over 50 years As the Psalmist exclaims, “One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts” (Psalm 145:4). Don’t hesitate to share your stories of provision and grace and forgiveness, and to remind us of God’s goodness and faithfulness. Senior saint, we need your encouragement.
4. We Need Your Presence.
We know it takes a lot of work for older folks to get to church. We know that there will come a day that we need to come to you, rather than you coming to us. But until that day, we need your presence.
There’s something particularly special about the redeemed people of God coming together for worship and seeing a spectrum of ages. There’s something about coming together to worship with people who are different than us—even generationally—that points to the beauty of the gospel and the glory of God. There’s something about knowing fellow saints who can speak of God never abandoning them through decades that powerfully reminds us of the faithfulness of God.
We don’t call you “senior saint” because you’re perfect or because you don’t have struggles like the rest of us. We call you “senior saint” because your faith in Christ in your senior years points to the fact that the same God who saves is the same God who sustains. Lift your heads, dear senior saints. You’re needed. Please don’t stop serving.
Amanda, a 28-year-old Los Angeles resident, prays nightly and believes in Jesus. She also chants, goes to Kundalini (yoga), meditates with a group and is into crystals. “The energy they hold is this ancient energy,” she said. “It helps your own energy when you work with them; when you’re near them.”
According to a recent Pew Research poll, she’s not alone. Most Americans “mix traditional faith with beliefs in psychics, reincarnation and spiritual energy that they say can be found in physical objects such as mountains, trees and crystals.” A staggering 41 percent of Americans believe in psychics. A stunning 42 percent believe spiritual energy can be located in physical objects.
People genuinely didn’t know the difference between authentic spirituality and the world of the occult. They need a proper understanding of the spiritual world, specifically the great spiritual conflict in the heavens and the nature and work of angels and demons.
Here are the three marks of the occult, as opposed to biblical spirituality:
1. The disclosure or communication of unknown information unavailable to humans through normal means. This involves things like horoscopes, fortune-telling, psychic hotlines and tarot cards. That knowledge comes from somewhere—and if it’s not from God through the sources God has ordained, then it is not real or worse, through the evil one and his forces. There is no neutral and impersonal “Power” just floating around out there. Nothing that has a voice or can be tapped into—some kind of cosmic consciousness for secret knowledge about the future of a human life. Everything falls under heaven or hell, good or evil, God or the evil one.
“You have trusted in your wickedness…your wisdom and knowledge mislead you... Disaster will come upon you, and you will not know how to conjure it away… keep on, then, with your magic spells and with your many sorceries… let your astrologers come forward, those stargazers who make predictions month by month…they are like stubble; the fire will burn them up. They cannot even save themselves…each of them goes on in his error.” (Isaiah 47:10-15)
“…diviners see visions that lie; they tell dreams that are false, they give comfort in vain." (Zechariah 10:2)
“I am the Lord, the Creator of all things. I alone stretched out the heavens… I make fools of fortunetellers and frustrate the predictions of astrologers.” (Isaiah 44:24-25)
“Let no one be found among you who…practices divination or…interprets omens... Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord.” (Deuteronomy 18:10-12)
2. The placing of persons in contact with supernatural powers, paranormal energies or demonic forces. This involves things like spiritual energy in a crystal or any other entity, attempting to summon up a spirit or a deceased relative through a séance, channeling a spirit, or procuring the services of someone claiming to be a medium.
“Let no one be found among you who…is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord.” (Deuteronomy 18:10-12)
“When men tell you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God?” (Isaiah 8:19)
So what is happening when you get in touch with a ghost? It’s not a ghost. There is no such thing as a ghost. So what happens at a séance when Uncle John suddenly seems to appear or to talk through a medium? You are either being tricked (and many really are just flat out hoaxes) or you are in contact with a demon impersonating who you hoped to connect with. The first scenario makes you out to be a fool; the second is simply nightmarish.
But in both cases, you are receiving knowledge, contact and advice that is not of God—it’s either of human origin or of demonic origin. Look at the words on this from the prophet Jeremiah:
“So do not listen to…your diviners…your mediums… They prophesy lies to you… ‘I have not sent them,’ declares the Lord. ‘They are prophesying lies in my name.’” (Jeremiah 27:9-10, 15)
3. Any attempt to gain and master paranormal power in order to manipulate or influence other people into certain actions. In other words, all forms of witchcraft and the casting of spells. Being clear on this is important because of the rise of modern day witchcraft, which goes by the name of Wicca.
“Let no one be found among you who…practices…sorcery…engages in witchcraft, or casts spells… Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord.” (Deuteronomy 18:10-12)
So there you have it. A map of the supernatural world. On the one side you have God and His faithful angels. On the other side the world of the paranormal, or the occult, which is the world of Satan and his demons. These are the only two worlds. These are the only two forces. These are the only two sets of beings. There isn’t anything else.
One of them is good, the other is evil. There are a lot of ways, sadly, that Satan and his team seduces us to engage the evil side—to open our lives to it and to invite it in without even knowing it. And when we do, whether we are aware of it or not, we are engaging the forces of darkness. We are connecting with Satan and his demons. We are willfully opening up the door of our life to their presence and activity. And they will enter. And nothing could be more dangerous.
Initially it might seem benign, even innocent, for as the Bible says, Satan positions himself as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14). But then the evil engulfs you. And it’s even more than playing with fire. It’s dousing yourself with gasoline and then lighting the match.
It is spiritual suicide.
by Brian Mavis, edited by Bobby Price
Here are ten things (not necessarily in any particular order) that I thought my new Christian friend should sink down deep into his heart as he travels his first year with Jesus:
1. God Loves Us
The one thing that the Bible emphasizes more than us loving God and people is that God loves us. He loves us first and most. God isn’t in heaven plucking a daisy saying, “I love you” when you obey and “I love you not” when you sin. He cannot not love you (Rom. 5:8 and 1 Jn. 4:16).
2. Relationship First!
Your motivation to and the purpose of learning, serving, worshipping, giving, reaching, reading, praying, etc. is to grow relationally more in love with God and people (Mt. 22:36-40).
3. You not only are saved by grace; you grow by it, too.
A common trap for new and growing Christians is trying to clean up their lives without God’s help. This is a false equation: The less you sin = the less you need God’s grace. You can’t sin less and love more without the strength of God’s grace. (2Pet. 3:18)
4. Don’t trample over the Great Commandment trying to obey the Great Commission.
New and enthusiastic Christians often do this. Instead, lead people to Jesus by loving people to Jesus (1 Cor. 13:1-3). If they ask you why you live the way you do, humbly and simply share with them why you put your hope in Jesus.
5. Love your neighbors—your literal neighbors.
Do this because you are a Christian, not just because you want them to be Christians (Mt 22:39).
6. It’s All About Jesus.
Focus on Jesus, His cross, His resurrection and His kingdom. When you confessed Jesus as the living Lord and Messiah, you never said—and will never say—anything more meaningful. Jesus is God with skin. No other “religious leader” (Moses, Buddha, Muhammad) is His equal. They were mere men; Jesus is God who became a man. He is the center and circumference—the hub and rim of all of life and creation. All of the world’s greatest gifts—love, life, truth, grace, etc.—have a name. Jesus. (Jhn. 1:14-18)
7. God cares about your whole life, not just your “spiritual life.”
It is a mistake to think that God is only concerned about a section of your life called “your soul” or “your spirit.” God cares about and is to be Lord of all of your life—personal, emotional, social, familial, financial, physical, vocational, sexual, intellectual and so on.
8. Love other Christians, even when they are different.
Unfortunately, many Christians and churches view their “brand” of Christianity as the only true or most true type of Christianity. They may not think they are the only Christians, but they do think they are the best or most right ones. This is a prideful and sinful attitude that grieves Jesus and dismembers His body. We are to love people, even if they disagree with us--even if they are wrong! (Mar 9:38-41)
9. Pray with your Bible open.
There are many different spiritual exercises (fasting, solitude, serving, etc.), but the two most important ones are communicating and communing with God through prayer and listening to and learning about God through the Scriptures. Prayerfully read about Jesus (in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). Prayerfully read about the beginning of the church in a book called Acts. Prayerfully read some letters written by Christians for Christians—some good ones to start with are James, Philippians and Ephesians.
10. Find a Christian mentor.
You will need help and encouragement in this journey with Jesus. Ask an older Christian (of the same gender as you) to mentor you. Look for someone who displays the attitudes and actions that were described above. Be a blessing to them in return. (Php 3:17)
Christianity is not a list, but a life; it’s not a chart, but a charter. But a new Christian will learn new things. Some of those things will be true but not important. Some things will be off by degrees that can lead them astray. Other things will be just plain wrong. Help a new Christian learn to follow Jesus by being their best at what matters most to Him.
Bobby Price was born and raised by Christian parents in Perrin, Texas. Bobby decided early in life to become a preacher of God's word. He attended the Sunset International Bible Institute in Lubbock, Texas where he graduated in 2015 with his Bachelors of Biblical Studies with a focus in Congregational Ministry. Afterwards, he interned for a year at the valley view Church of Christ in Jonesboro, AR. He is currently working on his Masters of Biblical Studies, through the Sunset International Bible Institute Graduate School.