The annual meeting of the Louisiana Baptist Convention each year spawns several affinity group gatherings.
ALEXANDRIA – The annual meeting of the Louisiana Baptist Convention each year spawns several affinity group gatherings.
A perennial favorite is the luncheon provided by the LBC Pastoral Ministry Team for those people now retired from vocational ministry.
The event this year took place at Emmanuel Baptist, where the kitchen staff prepared a succulent meal of brisket, home-made rolls and several vegetables, plus a variety of desserts.
After background keyboarding by LBC Music Strategist Randy Turner, and welcomes given by Director Bill Robertson and Bivocational/Small Church Strategist Gary Mitchell, Pat Lofton brought a few words on “Bearing fruit in the fourth quarter.” Lofton is a retired director of missions now living in Epps.
“They shall still bring forth fruit in old age,” Lofton read from Psalm 92.
Since the average life span in America today for a person is about 75 years, the first quarter of life might be said to be from birth to age 20, Lofton said. Giving two decades to each quarter, people more than 80 might be considered to be in overtime, he added.
“You might want to get on the bench and rest for awhile,” Lofton advised, to appreciative chuckles from the crowd of perhaps 60 people.
He talked about the pleasures, pitfalls and productivity of being in the fourth quarter.
Lofton spoke of his joy in relaxing mornings spent with his wife, when for so many years he had to rush out of the house. They now live near the Poverty Point Reservoir; it takes him just 15 minutes to be in the water, fishing, and that’s another joy, he added.
Most of his words dealt with the pitfalls of aging:
-Criticism. He’s trying to give up gossiping, Lofton said, tongue-in-cheek. The benefits of doing so: life gets boring; you’ll sleep better not worrying whether someone might come after you for intemperate words; and you’ll develop a right attitude about people.
-Bitterness. So you didn’t do everything you’d once envisioned. Still in all, it’s been a good life, with every twist and turn under God’s control.
-Intimidation. Don’t let the fact that you are not being asked to preach as often as you once were, lead to discouragement or feeling unappreciated or unloved. Take heart in the fact that God continues to call others; that your work will continue long after you’re gone.
-Exaggeration. The problem with overstating is that you have to continue to do so, and at some point, the bottom falls out and you’re left discouraged. Best to not start exaggerating, so you don’t have to eat crow later.
-Discouragement. Dwell on the fun of being retired, of the joy you can find for today, rather than on the busy-ness of yesterday’s responsibilities and hardships.
Lofton made three points about the productivity of the fourth quarter.
-“Remember, God still uses us,” he said.
-Give yourself over to the ministry of encouragement. “That’s all I want to do the rest of my life is the ministry of encouragement,” Lofton said.
-“We can bear fruit in the ministry of prayer,” he continued. “God has shown me how I can improve in prayer. … It’s a privilege to walk with Him and love Him, and now it’s a privilege to pray to Him and [at the end of it all] to fall into His arms.”