In this lecture, I want to talk to you some about the idea of phases in our lives as we, as we grow from being newborns all the way until we are senior citizens.  There's a guy named Bobby Clinton, who has spent a great deal of time  studying this, and trying to boil it all down into some manageable ways of  looking at the phases of our lives and being able to see what God is doing in our lives, and how that then impacts others. And I just thought this would be helpful  to go do just skimming over and you don't know think you're gonna have to, to  analyze and figure out every part of your life by means of this, but but just take a listen and ponder a little bit what, what has God been doing in your life in order  to enable you to be a senior minister today? And that's that the idea of this  What, What is God doing for you to make you into a useful tool in his hand.  Sometimes for the senior citizen when memory starts to look like Arlington  Cemetery, and whether these are all real deaths, or whether we die 1000 deaths every day, as somebody put it once. The thing is that there are so many times  when the senior citizen to whom you will be ministering have experienced a  loss. And it's a matter of how are they going to be dealing with that? How are  they going to understand the purpose in their life, sometimes we'll never  understand God's purpose in our lives. With some event with some tragedy with  some celebration, it's it's difficult to, to often get a handle on but as a senior  minister, you have an opportunity, when you're just hanging out with them to  define ways to help them process some of these deaths that they see, as they  look back over their lives. So many people, they'll tell you about so many people that they knew that they cared about, they've moved to be with the kids, you  know, they I haven't seen Fred for the last 15 years now. Well, you know, it's  been 20 years since I last talked to him. And, and for senior citizens, sometimes  the years just fly by and, and then when you realize that you don't have that  relationship anymore, like it used to be, it feels like you've really lost them that  there's been a death in your life. Others have developed Alzheimer's and, and  so their friends have lost their own personal identities, and they no longer even  recognize the person you're speaking with, as their friend of so many years. And that is very, very difficult for them. Other people have lost the ability to get  around. And so now one is living in this care facility and others living in that care  facility and how do they get together? They've lost that connection, and so many have died. All in all, it seems like our lives as senior citizens are filled with  markers which remind us of a little death or a significant or a significant death.  Over and over and over again. Go to these old cemeteries. Each stone marks  the life of a person who lived and died but even even the rocks can be worn  away. And the place and the person remembered no more as Psalm 103 has it  as a father has compassion on his children. So the Lord has compassion on  those who fear Him for He knows how we are formed. He remembers that we  are dust. The life of mortals is like grass. They flourish like a flower the field the  wind blows over it and it is gone. And its place remembers it no more And that's 

the experience of so many senior citizens. And as they, they come to the final  phase of their life as they look at what God has done throughout their lives. And  as they try to figure out what has life been, you have the opportunity to come  alongside, and to help them process through some of this and to look at what  God has been doing and to, to help them get a sense of what God has done for  them. Because Because whatever is done for the Lord will always endure Psalm 90, Moses' praise, establish Oh, God, the work of our hands, yes, the work of  our hands, establish it, make it last. Make it last. It's what we pray for. So Bobby  Clinton talks about seven phases of life. And what they're meant to do is just to  help us get a handle on what God expects of us today in our phase of life and  wherever we happen to find ourselves. And the first one is sovereign foundation. These are things we had nothing to do with God providentially superintends over our own creation works and family environment, historical events that we are  aware of that we experience in the broader culture. But God is the one who, who knit us together in our mother's womb. He already was looking out for it there he was preparing us for the life that we would live. Now doesn't mean that God is  responsible for other difficult and tragic, and well, obviously sinful things we've  chosen to do. that happen in our early lives. But it does mean that what God can do is he comes into our lives, and when we're open to his leading, and his  working, and we want His sovereignty to come to come and wash over us. We  realize that God can build on and he can redeem, he can heal, he can work  through or around all of our circumstances. And when, when we're, you know,  somewhat older, it's hard to see this when you're, when you're growing up, even  into your teenage years and early 20s. These are all sovereign Foundation, God is molding you and shaping you to be the person that you're going to be as an  adult. And as we look back, and we can, we can see that God has used these  foundations, in order to establish us as one of his people. Inner life growth is  what Bobby Clinton calls phase two. And now the second phase is where we,  we become aware that God has his hand upon us. And we then in turn, you  know, I sought the Lord. And afterward I knew he saw, he moved my soul to  seek him, because he was seeking me. And so we seek to know God in a more  personal and intimate way. We learn to pray we learn other spiritual habits. And  as Bobby Clinton looks at it, he says, when you when you're going through this  phase, when you're learning to know God in a more personal and intimate way,  you're going to get put through some tests God's going to, to, to refine your gold. Gonna find out if you're a person of integrity if you're a person who's willing to be obedient, and he goes through quite a long series of things, but it's kind of like  he takes a look at the 10 commandments and it says all of these things God will  be working in our lives and seeing how we're doing and he's going to be refining the gold. So that then we can be more useful tools in his hand. Phase three, he  calls ministry maturing and and in phase three, we begin to find a way in order  to do ministry whether we are we are thinking of ourselves as a full time 

minister, or more likely as, as a person who is doing ministry, because that's  what God has laid on us with our spiritual gifts, and we begin to reach out to  others. And we begin to, to experiment with those, those the spiritual gifts we  

we've been given. And Bobby Clinton says, we may often need some training in  order to be more effective. And that's kind of what CLI is about. Helping people  become more effective in their life where they are. God will zero in on our  relationships with others. And he'll he'll help us see our inadequacies. And he'll  see how he is the one who will fill us with strength so that when we  acknowledge who we are, then we can say with Paul, when I am weak, then I  am strong for I can do all things through Him, who gives me strength. So God's  developing our gifts, our skills, God's helping us understand what the body of  Christ is all about. And, and this often takes place through our mid years, you  know, he turn 30, turn 40, turn 50, all these these decades begin to to help us  see who we are as God's servants and how we can minister effectively the  people and, and things change as we go along. Or our interests and our, our  abilities might change, especially as we get a little more training, and we see,  oh, now I see how I can use that gift to do that thing. And, and what we often fail to understand is that we need to understand that ministry activity or fruitfulness  is not the main focus of what God is all about, and phases. 1, 2, 3 No, God is  working primarily in us. Not through us, he's teaching us, we minister out of what and who we are. And that is a powerful insight when we begin to see that we  can minister because of the gifts of God. Not because we're a gift to somebody  else. But because God has given us a gift. And so we then live out that gift. And  in doing so we bless the body of Christ. In Phase four, we've, we come to the  point we've identified and we're using our spiritual gifts in the ministry, and we  discover that it's very satisfying. And we're also gaining a sense of our priorities  concerning what's the best use use of our gifts for now we understand what not  to do is just as important as learning what to do. So many times we get caught  up in doing all the good things, that we don't have time for the best things. And  you begin to see people around you who who you are touching, and in whom  you are beginning to build a walk with God too so that you're astounded God is  actually using you to do this. And as you minister to seniors, that you you can  help them begin to see what all God has been doing in their lives. And you begin to realize that ministry, life flows out of being pruned. We just like with the tree,  you have to prune it down in order for it to be more fruitful. You can't just let it  grow wild. God doesn't let us grow wild either. Jesus says, I am the vine you are  the branches. My father prunes you so that you may be more fruitful. And we  begin to understand that as God prunes us. He makes us into again what He  desires not what we do, but what he desires. A great ministry can flow them out  of a great sense of healing. And in this phase, we see our character mellow and  mature. In Phase Five, it's called Convergence by Bobby Clinton. It's kind of like  an illustration of the two rivers that come together. And they, it's a convergence 

of those two, two streams. And our life begins to come come together, we focus  our major priorities, and our gifts, we figure out who we are as a person who can minister, for God, in our world, in our community, in our relationships in, in our  circles, we begin to understand how God has been working on this and we feel  very comfortable in how we ourselves are ministering then in turn to others. God moves us then often into a role that that matches our gift mix and experience.  And then ministry gets maximized that just it's a, it's a beautiful thing to know  God's in charge. And so we focus on our strengths. And we move away from  ministry that we're not gifted for or suited to it, we don't have to do everything.  And then Bobby Clinton says, as he observes people, he said, many followers of Jesus do not experience this convergence. And it is what happens is that they're they're too filled with all kinds of ideas of how, how they should be doing  different things. And they become so scattershot. And they need that pruning,  but they don't slow down and let God do the pruning in their life. So they can  focus in on what God wants and how they can then walk with God. Our  response to God's guidance must be trust, to rest, to watch to learn, so we can  test and approve God's will in our lives. Phase six, he called celebration. And he  says, statistically, very few ever experience this phase six of celebration, or  some call it an afterglow. It's a fruit of a lifetime of ministry and growth that, that  culminates in an era of direct and indirect influence of people you have  influenced now are influencing others, and they in turn are influencing others.  And you begin to see God doing amazing things that just just recently, I, I got a  note from a parishioner of mine, and she was she was a member of my church.  Wow, it was about 20 years ago, now, and she was doing her doctorate in, in  counseling at a major university. And while she was there, I got to know her and  her husband and, and ultimately, by God's grace, I wasn't even aware how  influential I was. But as she puts it now, Well, Bob, you're the one that brought  me into a very personal relationship with Jesus. And I had written her back and  boy, you know, sometimes I wonder what my, my ministry really has, has  accomplished. And she said, I want you to know that every time I lead someone  to Jesus, in my counseling ministry, and I have so many opportunities to, to  that's, that's your work. Bearing fruit again. That's an indirect influence. And I'm  just flabbergasted I'm blown away. By what, what God had her tell me because I never would have guessed that that was going on. Or that she would describe  her life in that way. And then phase seven is to finish well. And here we focus on  finishing the race marked out for us and anticipating what God has in mind in the future as well as for our eternity. And this is what you can help senior citizens do  as well. Not only the celebration of what their life has been, but also finishing  well. I have fought the good fight. I have kept faith. I've run the course. And now  I'm finishing that that idea that Paul gives us in in one of the pastorals is, is such  a beautiful vision of we have, we have done what God gave us to do. And that is how we finish so well. When we're ministering to seniors, and we're talking 

about finishing well, one of the things we do well to talk about is the legacy of  faith that will be left after we die. What kind of legacy? Will there be? What kind  of what kind of life of faith? Will those who are our descendants be left with? I  think that's a good thing to discuss with seniors. It's a good thing to, to have all  of us think about, what is it that God has done that we are now leaving to the  next generation and the generations that will follow? May it always be a spiritual  legacy of faith, and of fruitfulness because that's what that's what makes all of  our lives worth living. Parents who successfully pass along a spiritual legacy,  their children, they model and they reinforce the unseen realities of the godly  life. Today's footprint is tomorrow's like legacy. May those who come behind us  find us faithful, beautiful song. And it's one that is helpful for us as we think  about what our legacy is going to be. Also, along this line, there's there's the  funeral then, and I I'd like you to take some time to read the material that I  posted in this lesson that I got from Dr. Thomas G Long he was a professor of  mine, whom I just really respect and his thoughts on the place of the funeral in  the Christian community, I think are just so helpful for how we can understand  not only finishing well, but then where the community remembers this person.  And in symbolically in the funeral we we end their life. We lay them to rest in the  sure and certain hope of the resurrection.

Last modified: Monday, February 19, 2024, 8:00 AM