October 22, 2008

Never Stop Growing

2008 1530 page31 cap HAVE MORE THAN 40 BOOKS IN MY HOME library written by a person I appreciate and admire—Louis Albert Banks. Banks was a pastor/writer who lived from 1855 to 1933, and I treasure his writings.
Commenting on Psalm 92:14—“They will still bear fruit in old age”—in his book The Fisherman and His Friends, Banks tells the story of a man who came upon an old pine tree that had been blown down by a recent storm near the shores of Lake Superior. Knowing something about trees, he was intrigued by the huge evergreen lying on the ground. He examined it closely and determined it was at least 250 years old. But what impressed him most, however, was not its age but that when he stripped away the bark, it was evident that on the day the tree fell, it was still growing.
The analogy of this story is my prayer not only for myself but for all believers—that we grow old gracefully in the Lord, reflect the loveliness of Christ within our hearts, and continue to be spiritually productive throughout our whole lives.
Here are four “secrets” to help us attain this goal:
2008 1530 page311. Take time every day for personal devotions and Bible study. The time need not be long, but it should be regular.
2. Keep the joy of the gospel in your heart by “giving it away,” thus the stream of your influence will never go dry.
3. Find a friendly church family and attend regularly. Worshipping with others helps you to grow spiritually.
4. Live a life of service. Teach a Sabbath school class, visit those who are ill or otherwise unable to attend church services, or help a physically challenged neighbor with their yard work. You’ll be surprised by the happiness you bring to others as well as the joy that will well up in your own heart.
Ellen White tells us in The Adventist Home, page 535, that “service rendered in sincerity of heart has great recompense. . . . By the life we live through the grace of Christ, the character is formed. The original loveliness begins to be restored to the soul. The attributes of the character of Christ are imparted, and the image of the Divine begins to shine forth. The faces of men and women who walk and work with God express the peace of heaven. They are surrounded with the atmosphere of heaven. For these souls the kingdom of God has begun.”
Even our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, “did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). Along with spending time with the Lord, being a cheerful witness, and worshipping with others, the joy of service will keep us alive in Jesus throughout our lives on this earth. So make a point today of visiting someone who has been missing church lately or who is feeling lonely or discouraged. Give them a hug and tell them that Jesus loves them and so do you.

Dick Rentfro, a retired pastor, writes from Thorp, Washington.