Author Archives: robert

Practicing Patience

By Dick Koehneke

Have you heard this definition of patience?  It’s the quality you admire in the driver behind you and despise in the driver in front of you!  Here are a few thoughts on the subject of patience.  

  1. Patience is not the same as being passive. Patience is not about inactivity, but about activity that is appropriate and helpful to the situation.  Patience is about putting your resources where they can make a positive difference, instead of squandering time and money and energy on wasted effort.
  1. Patience means that grumbling gives way to gratitude. Why grumble when you can be grateful?   Grumbling is a waste of time and energy.  Grumbling and worry are first cousins.  When worry is in your heart and mind, grumbling is what comes out of your mouth.  Grumbling also implies a profound sense of arrogance, as though your problems are all the result of somebody else.  Take a good, long look in the mirror. That should cure your grumbling and make you grateful for the people in your life who are willing to stick with you. 
  1. Patience means that we stop lamenting what we lack and start using what we have. When we get caught up in complaining about what we don’t have, we neglect what we do have. The reason the grass looks greener on the other side of the fence may be that it’s artificial turf!  When you’re getting bored with your marriage, the best thing to do is to take that energy you are starting to put into something else – or someone else  – and invest it in your spouse.  If you’re fantasizing about some different job, refocus your attention on giving your best effort to the job you have.  If you’re dreaming about being a great athlete or musician some day, keep practicing the fundamentals of your sport or your instrument.  
  1. Patience involves giving God time to work things out. You might be praying for a promotion to a new position.  Good!  God wants to bless not only you but also the person who is presently in that position, so it will take time to work things out for the good of all.  You might be praying for higher income, but maybe you need to learn to live within the limits of what you have right now, so that more money won’t just mean more money out the window.  For some reason, we seem to learn more life lessons in the school of struggle than we do in the school of success.  
  1. When we’re going through tough times, patience involves learning to stop saying “Why me?” That’s a dead-end question.  It leads nowhere good.  Instead of saying “Why me?” let’s pray:

Teach me!  Lord, what do you want me to learn from this experience?” 

Change me!  Father, use this difficult time to make me more like Jesus.” 

Use me!  God, help me to bless someone else in this situation with empathy and compassion, now that I know what it feels like.” 

  1. Patience means we learn to appreciate the word “UNTIL . . .”

“UNTIL” means there is something coming.  It’s not here yet, but it’s on the way.  James 5:7 says, “Be patient UNTIL the Lord’s coming.” Praise God that he is patient with the world, not rushing to judgment, but giving everyone every opportunity to repent and turn to Christ in faith.  The apostle Paul wrote, “Whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death UNTIL he comes.” (1 Corinthians 11:26)  As we celebrate Holy Communion, we look forward to the eternal feast at the heavenly banquet table.    

“UNTIL” is a word of hope and anticipation.  It helps us to practice patience, as we deal with the challenges and opportunities we face each day.

What’s Brewing – June 2019

Welcome from the friendly confines of …..St. Arbucks! Our discussion this morning focused around the Beatitudes of Matthew 5:1-10 as we all strongly affirmed how blessed we are as God’s people! As we share the gifts that the Lord gives to us each day, we share those gifts with the children, youth, and adults of all ages around us. What a great way to live!

Isn’t it such a joy that God’s people of all ages teach us adults so many things about being blessed? Here’s a quick story:

One day the father of a very wealthy family took his son on a trip to an “under-developed” country to show his son how poor people live in the world. They spent a few days on a farm hosted by a “very poor” family. On their return home, the dad asked his son, “How was the trip?”

“It was great, Dad!”

“Did you see how poor people can be?”, the Father asked.

“Oh yes”, said the Son.

“So, what did you learn from the trip?”, asked the Father.

The son thought for a moment and then answered, “I saw that we have one dog and they have four. We have a pool that covers our back yard, and they have a creek that has no end. We have imported lanterns on our patio, and they have the stars at night. We have a small piece of land to live on, and they have fields that go on and on. We have to buy our food, but they grow theirs. We have walls around our property to protect us, but they have friends to protect them.

The boy’s father was speechless. Then his son added, “Thanks, Dad, for showing me how poor we are.”

All too often we forget what we have and concentrate on what we do not have. It is so easy to think that the gifts we have in life are gifts that we have earned and deserve, rather than seeing that all of life is a gift given to us by a loving and gracious God! One person’s worthless object is another person’s prize possession. It’s all a matter of perspective!

Blessed are …..we, indeed! Blessed are we because He loves us and provides everything for us to continue to serve Him by serving others!

Today, we thank the Lord for the children, youth, and adults around us, who we so often take for granted. We also ask the Lord for His forgiveness as we often live selfish lives and seem to think that life is all about how much we can spend and earn and keep for ourselves, as if “whoever gets the most” in life, wins!

Let us continue to celebrate life by affirming how blessed we really are in order to share our lives and gifts with others throughout the world. Let us continue to share our riches with those people who God has placed around us, in Chicago, Nebraska, Palestine, and throughout the world. Let us continue to model for others that life is not about possessing  things but rather about confessing that the Lord continues to bless us so that we can be blessings to others!

Blessed are we ….indeed!  And that’s what’s happening at St. Arbucks this week!

Rich Bimler

Just Watching – June 2019

The June 2018 R and C Resources Just Watching word-of-the-month was perennial.   Perennial is an adjective that normally describes flowers or plants or vegetables that endure and that recur annually – like daffodils, day lilies, asparagus and hosta.  So, what does that have to do with me?  Read on, please.

I wrote:  “Recently an aging-expert used perennial in reference to me and other men and women in my age bracket”.  She says that we not only endure but that we keep renewing – coming back – year after year.  We don’t bloom and die.  We bloom, die and bloom again year after year after year.   She’s not talking about dying on earth before we live again in heaven.  She’s talking about how many of us take a licking and keep on ticking right here!  We endure and year after year, like perennial plants and flowers, we bloom again.  The May, 2018 AARP Bulletin cited Dr. Laura Carsten, “…a top aging expert who is on staff at Stanford University”, as the source for that insight. 

Imagine that!  Me – and others out there my age and beyond – age on in this world long past what is supposed to be our prime and do so as healthy and enduring perennials.  Less than a hundred and fifty years ago, sez Dr. Carsten, “aging” and companion words like geriatrics and gerontology weren’t even part of a university’s vocabulary let alone having a full time faculty member who specialize in aging.   Dr. Carsten wrote, “When I was in graduate school 30 years ago, old age was considered to be pathological…”  (That means something that is involved in, caused by, or of the nature of a physical or mental disease.)   She continues, “…and I went along with that.  But when I began studying elders I found that they were really doing well emotionally, even when they weren’t doing so well physically.  They were generous, thoughtful and emotionally complex.  And I thought ‘If those qualities are growing as our population is aging, then we’d be idiots not to see aging as a resource for improving society’.”   What a fortuitous flip-flop!

It’s when she came to that conclusion she shifted gears and began describing people 70 and beyond as “perennials” and in the process became a recognized specialist in one of life’s basic and on-going activities: aging.  Put another way, Seniors and Super-Seniors keep growing in usefulness for as long as they live.  The big 2019 surprise is that Super-Seniors (men and women over 85 years of age) have become a huge demographic segment, 490,000 strong, with no end of growth in sight.  As significant as is their numbers is the significant and often unrecognized servant roles they fulfill in their families and in their communities. 

Audie and I know what that means from observation and personal experience as we recently zipped past our 90th birthdays, Audie first and me a few months behind.   Audie’s 90th birthday followed the pattern of her mother’s side of her family.  She has lots of over-90 distaff ancestors. 

But when I match up my 90th birthdate to the birthdates of all the ancestral males in my lineage I’m all alone.  Checking my Mueller roots I have become the oldest Mueller male in direct descent going back to the 1650s and, since there are no older records, maybe a thousand years beyond.   I am doing my perennial, post-90, male thing while trying to feel my way along on an earthly serving path upon which none of my ancestors have trod.   I’m heading into a perennial tomorrow of continuing growth and expanding service but with no male ancestors to guide me.  And with not a whole lot of other help elsewhere, either.  Look out for the imminent Super-Seniors! 

When I embarked as a pastor in the early 1950s “old age” meant working toward being maybe “three score years and ten”.   In those days that’s when old men and women were thought of as rocking away on some Old Folks Home’s front porch, wound down and worn out waiting for Gabriel’s sweet chariot to swing low for them.  How did I fail to notice that Scripture has more to say about living life’s last days to their fullest as Seniors and Super-Seniors than at any of the earlier age cohorts?

But here we Seniors and Super-Seniors are with little or no sense of imminent departure.  One of our doctors (please note the plural) recently told my wife and me that we don’t look or act like people who are “old”.  Given our present state of intellectual, physical, social and spiritual vigor (compared to what I was expecting to feel like at 90) I don’t think of myself as “old” either.  We’ve both got things to do!

Don’t get me wrong – we ain’t what we used to be.  We pop lots of pills and the speed with which we do almost everything is much slower than it was once.  But we look forward to our life’s agenda every morning and face an abundance of fresh and demanding issues each day. God has fascinating new challenges for us every day.  Few are like those we dealt with in past life stages.  We have changed.  Our world has changed.  Our choices have changed.  Our Super-Senior, post-90 world understands Wayne Dyer’s significant comment that “When you change the way you look at a thing the thing you look at changes”.  Maybe that’s what keeps things so exciting!

That means that we perennials, with our descendants, daily face heretofore unknown issues.  We can’t act as if we are not in the jet age, the electronic age, and the age of scientific discovery in which change is a constant.  We have to think ahead to the very different world not only of our children, but our grandchildren and our great-grandchildren – and plan for it.   Today’s world isn’t what Audie and I foresaw when we married in 1953.  But then we didn’t expect to be 90, either.

My 1942 Confirmation sang a hymn the first line of which was, “Lord, take my hand and lead me long life’s way.”   Over the 77 years since the eight of us sang that song He has done just that for me.  With Him as Leader, even when I have been such a poor follower, I’ve had a great life.  And it’s not over yet.  There’s more beyond.

Believing that I wonder what He yet has in mind for me as I follow His lead in my Super-Senior perennial world?  Is there even more to come before Audie and I (and you) go home?

That remains to be seen.  Yes, indeedy!

Charlie

AH-HA Moments – June 2019

What better time than June to reflect again on the gifts that the Lord continues to provide all of us, regardless of our age. This AH-HA litany hopefully helps us reflect on the present, promise, and presence of our AH-HA Lord through each and every day of our lives! Enjoy and celebrate!

                                     OLDER ADULTS – THE MINISTERING ONES!

Happy are those who suffer with the very young, the very old, and the very lonely.

                                            FOR THEY HAVE COMPASSION  

Happy are those who greet the world with smiles, laughter, and anticipation.

                                             FOR THEY HAVE COURAGE

Happy are those who live not for themselves but for others.

                                            FOR THEY HAVE FREEDOM

Happy are those how listen and hear and extend their hands.

                                           FOR THEY HAVE UNDERSTANDING

Happy are those who speak gently, live humbly.

                                                FOR THEY HAVE DIGNITY

Happy are those who live simply, love deeply.

                                              FOR THEY HAVE SINCERITY

Happy are those who live intensely and sing through life the praises if the Risen Christ.

                                               FOR THEY HAVE AWARENESS.

Happy are those who have compassion and courage, freedom and understanding, dignity , sincerity, and awareness.

                                                  FOR THEY ARE UNIQUE

Happy are those who at times forget their priorities, focus too much on themselves, react inappropriately to others, and sometimes even make a big mess of things.

                                               FOR THEY ARE FORGIVEN !!!

      Rich Bimler                                

Just Watching – May 2019

For how many years has R and C Resources been predicting a tsunami of Seniors and of Super-Seniors?   A billion or more?  Remember the difference?  Seniors are men and women 65 years old and aging by the day.  Super-Seniors have slipped past an 85th birthday and are still going.   Those forecasting days are now over.   Both Seniors galore and now huge clumps of Super-Seniors are here, on the scene.  The latter are 490,000 strong in the USA – and they keep on coming and coming and coming. 

I know that is true because TV programs, newspapers and magazines are doing a chicken-little-thing about it.  Of late they increasingly announce not only the raw data about the population explosion of older people but are pouring out follow-up stories about what the data will mean for the future of Social Security, medicine and a redistribution of the tax load.

Are other generational segments part of this pattern of expansion?  The good news/bad news is that they will only expand as they become Super-Seniors but they are even now a bulky presence – not growing but their numbers are not declining as fast as they once did.

While this numerical ballooning is going on the geographical limits of the USA are a constant: it remains the same.  There’s no give in our border to border or coast to coast boundaries.  We may sing as of old about wanting “land lots of land under starry skies above” but the fact is that we are fenced in and the 2019 question facing us now is just how many people can we cram into our “national phone booth” before we feel we have run out of room – which in a way is what building a fence on our southern border is all about.  That question takes on new meaning and the issue is intensified when we recognize that our population is not only growing, we are living longer as well as living longer longer.   Wow!

Do you realize that older US citizens will not only compete with immigrants from the outside but will increasingly vie with their  grandchildren and great grandchildren for leg room, tax dollars and waning resources?  Or to put it another way will we individually live so long that we will have used up our personal assets and will have little to pass on to our heirs – or pay our end of life bills? 

Impossible?  Be alert.  When you are checking out facilities that you may want to care for you in your later years they are checking you out as well.  They want to know whether your assets and projected income match your life expectancy.  That process is complicated by current calculations of how long our nation’s Social Security and Medicare reserve will last.  There are even quiet conversations about whether to intentionally limit the life of Seniors and Super-Seniors.  You better be wary when your great grandchildren offer to take you casket shopping. (Little joke…)

Impossible?  In the distant past some Eskimos reportedly parked aging and infirm grandpas on passing icebergs and watched as both float away.   Or migrating Indian tribes are said to have put immobile seniors under a tree with a jug of water and then moved on without them.  Did it happen?  What do you think?

The Chicago Tribune (4/26/19) printed a reader’s response to one of their earlier articles entitled, “Elderly Are Not Throwaways”.  The reader asked why stories about the contributions of select outstanding younger people featured, “40 Under 40” but there were never articles about outstanding Seniors and Super-Seniors who are still adding much to our world bannered, “80 over 80”.   I hope you know there are Seniors and Super-Seniors aplenty who every day make life at many levels a wondrous thing.  I watch them do their magic week after week at Trinity Lutheran Church in Roselle and at Windsor Manor in Carol Stream, Illinois.  The sad thing about their grand ministry is twofold:  Many of the 40-under-40 don’t realize the value and importance of what the 80-over-80 are offering and many of the 80-over-80 don’t understand how valuable and important the way they “live and move and have their being” really is. 

One of the ways that I put the post-90 years into proper context is by re-reading what an inspired “someone” penned long ago about how life changes surface with age.  It looks to me as if he was an “over-80” type of guy who spelled out in Ecclesiastes 12 (especially verses 1-7) what later life can be like.  Basically things about aging haven’t changed much over the centuries.  I discovered as much on Good Friday last when as I got out of bed.  My right leg hurt like heaven and it wouldn’t support me.  After limping around throughout Easter, during which time I came to find out you had to be at death’s door in order to see a doctor, I met with an orthopedist on Monday and had an X-ray.  Diagnosis?  90 years of walking-running-jumping-twisting had worn out the cartilage in my knee and it was down to a painful bone-on-bone reality.  In the days of Ecclesiastes there wasn’t much to be done about something like that given life expectancy then.  But in 2019 it called for me to produce my health insurance and Medicare cards, completing about a dozen pages of forms followed by four successive shots of something into my knee, a measurement for a knee brace and the medical opinion that the whole knee might have to be surgically replaced in time.  All of which is to say medical care 2,000 years after Christ was much different from that which was available1,000 years before His birth. 

That little isolated narrative was true not only about a worn out knee joint.  I also could tell you tales about dealing with cataracts, with cancers of all kinds, with encroaching macular degeneration and aches and pains yet to be identified.   All of which would have been avoided if I had died at a more reasonable age, like 45 or 50 – as did most people in the past.  But Mordecai’s reminder to Esther that she had been put into the world “for such a time as this” fits my world, too.  Only I’m hearing them at 90, creaky parts and all.  I’m not someday going to become a Super-Senior.  I am one.  

You?  Where are you in God’s chronicled order of things?  And given that all of us may have some, many or all of the much used and often abused parts Ecclesiastes enumerates, what are we to do?  We aren’t dead.  Super-Seniors have to cope with all kinds of 21st century challenges like shaky memory, limited hearing-vision-taste-touch, weak grip and so forth and so forth.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not complaining.  By now I should be used to dealing with change.  I came into this world unable to speak, to count or throw a ball.   But I somehow learned to do all that and am now coming to understand that what I can “do” will come and go with age.  That’s some of what Mordecai and Ecclesiastes reminds me.  Doing comes and goes.  What is of greater importance to Super-Seniors and any heading in that direction and is more important than what I can do and not do is who I am – beginning with being one who is redeemed of the Lord and as such a child of God.

All that notwithstanding what can I do even now in my increasingly limited condition?  Given who I am, where and with whom I now live Walter Foss’s life goal is tailored to my life and within my reach: “Let me live in my house by the side of the road and be a friend of man.”  My daily challenge as a redeemed child of God is to be what He called me to be – where I am.  But I never imagined I’d still be at it at 90.

Yet here Audie and I are still reaching out to others. 

Charlie

Five Pillars

By Dick Koehneke

Tony Bennett, the head coach of the men’s basketball team at the University of Virginia, is a strong Christian.  Last year his team was the #1 overall seed in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, also known as “March Madness.”  They lost in the first round to a #16 seed.  It was the first time in the tournament’s history that a #1 lost to a #16. 

This year they won the national championship.  Coach Bennett calls last year’s first-round loss “a painful gift.”  It caused him and his team to focus on what’s most important to his team’s culture.  He defines the most important factors as “five pillars.”  (Some people might call them “core values.”)  All five reflect Coach Bennett’s deep Christian faith.  These are the five pillars:

  • Humility
  • Passion
  • Unity
  • Servanthood
  • Thankfulness

How might the five pillars apply to friends and followers of Jesus Christ?  Here are a few of my own reflections.  

Humility:  “And Mary said, ‘Behold, I am the Lord’s servant.  Let it be to me according to your word.’” (Luke 1:37)

The English word “humble” comes from the Latin word “humus” (meaning earth or ground).  In English “humus” refers to the dark organic material in soils that is essential to the fertility of the earth.  It accepts whatever is planted in it and brings forth an abundant crop.  The essence of Christian humility is being open and available, as Mary was, to whatever seed God wants to plant in your life, producing the harvest that He desires.  That’s humility. 

Passion:  “I know your works; you are neither cold nor hot.  Would that you were either cold or hot!  So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.”  (Revelation 3:15-16) 

Lukewarm, self-satisfied people who claim to be Christians are distasteful to God.  People who are “cold” don’t claim to be Christians.  They may be more open to God than the lukewarm hypocrites:  those who claim to love God but are really full of themselves.  Lord, forgive my lukewarm apathy toward You and set me on fire with zeal for Your purposes! 

Unity:  “For as in one body we have many members, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.”  (Romans 12:4-5)  

We belong to Christ, and we belong to each other too.  What affects one of us affects all of us.  Teammates want to play their very best, not in order to get individual rewards, but so that the team can win.  We’re in this together.  We need each other.  We are “members of one another.”  That’s unity. 

Servanthood:  “As each has received a gift, use it to serve others, as good stewards of God’s varied grace . . . in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 4:10-11) 

The world’s favorite question is, “What’s in it for me?”  The Christian’s favorite question is, “What’s in me for you?”  Asked another way,  “What do I have that you need?”  You might be God’s answer to someone’s prayer.  God works through each one of us in a different way to convey His blessings to others.  You are a blessing of God going somewhere to happen. 

Thankfulness:  “Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” (Colossians 3:16)

Thankfulness is therapeutic.  Gratitude is good for our well-being.  As we think about God’s blessings in this life and His promised blessings in the life to come, we never run out of reasons for thanksgiving.  Even our hardest experiences can be reasons for thanksgiving.  Tony Bennett was thankful for the “painful gift” of last year’s first-round loss.  His gratitude led to this year’s final victory.     

What’s Brewing – May 2019

The topic “assigned” last month to our St. Arbucks’ coffee clutch group was “What are the signs of Health and Hope in your Congregation?”  We offer these 10 insightful concepts for you and your “group” to discuss and share, with or without the Starbucks:

  1. There is a vision for the future. It is God’s vision of faith and hope that we are empowered to articulate. Verbalize it, name it, repeat it, live it!
  2. There is a celebrative spirit! There is laughter. There are smiles and hugs. And even in the tears, there is love and acceptance.
  3. There is a “passion” for people! Faith communities know that “God so loved the world” – and that includes everyone, those inside and those outside of our faith communities. There is a passion to tell others of God’s love for them, especially to those who think God has forgotten them.
  4. There is a sense of Hope! Hope is not a naïve wish that everything will go well. Rather, it is the assurance that in spite of the Good Fridays in our lives, there is always an Easter!
  5. There is the proclamation of the Gospel, in doing and in telling. The Gospel of Christ is alive because the Spirit is present in our lives.
  6. There is a global mind-set. We see the Lord alive in all of life throughout all the world with all of His people and we help and encourage others to connect with other cultures, ideologies, and environments.
  7. There is a sense of “taking care of ourselves” as individuals with gifts and needs, and as people of ALL ages – the younger and the older. This, however, is not an inward look at the expense of looking “outward” to others, but it is a commitment to keep each other healthy and whole in the name of the healing Christ. We need to care for ourselves so that we are equipped to care for others.
  8. There is a “servant-leadership” style. Our task is to equip those we serve so that they are equipped to serve others. This is the sign of a servant leader in Christ! This is the sign of Christ living in us! Servants come in all ages, colors, and sizes!
  9. There is a lot of “Resurrection Practicing!” As Wendell Barry puts it: “Expect the end of the world. Laugh. Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful though you have considered all the facts!” Practice Resurrection daily!
  10. There is forgiveness ….always! Life is for-giving! And life is forgiving. We live out a life of forgiveness because He first has forgiven us!

And Let all of God’s people – the younger and older – say AMEN and HOORAY!

AH-HA Moments – May 2019

JOY BREAK

We begin this month with some joy-filled words from Henri Nouwen: “I have a friend who radiates joy, not because his life is easy, but because he habitually recognizes God’s presence in the midst of all human suffering, his own as well as others. My friend’s joy is contagious. The more I am with him, the more I catch glimpses of the sun shining through the clouds. Yes, I know there is a sun, even though the skies are covered with clouds. While my friend always spoke about the sun, I kept speaking about the clouds, until one day I realized that it was the sun that allowed me to see the clouds. Those who kept speaking about the sun while walking under a cloudy sky are messengers of hope, the true saints of our day.”

“AH-HA  Moments” build from this theology. AH-HA Moments are seen as the breaks in the clouds that allow the Light of Christ to shine through. God’s presence in Christ allows us to confess and proclaim our faith and trust in our Lord, as we continue to celebrate the Christ –Life each day. It even allows us to step out and:

Care more than we think is wise;

Risk more than we think is safe;

Dream more than we think is practical;

Expect more than we think is possible;

Celebrate more than we think is necessary;

Comfort more than we think is comfortable;

Forgive more than we think is called for;

Hope more than we think is appropriate; and

Laugh more in the Joy of the Lord!

May the month of May be filled with mountains of  AH-HA Moments for you and yours!

Rich Bimler

Are You Listening?

By Dick Koehneke

Jesus saw the two disciples of John following him.  He asked them, “What are you seeking?”  They said, “Rabbi, where are you staying?”  Jesus replied, “Come, and you will see.”  (John 1:38-39)

Jesus listened carefully to the two disciples of  John.  He did not give them what they asked for.  They wanted his address.  He gave them what they needed:  a relationship with him.

When your prayers are not answered in the way you expect, remember how the Lord works.  He knows you better than you know yourself.  He knows that what you want may not be what you need.  He is listening carefully, with care for you.   

I appreciate this devotional meditation titled, “I Asked and He Gave.”  “I asked God for strength, and he gave me challenges to make me strong.  I asked God for wisdom, and he gave me problems to solve.  I asked God for prosperity, and he gave me the ability to think and work.  I asked God for courage, and he gave me obstacles to overcome.  I asked God for love, and he gave me troubled people for me to help.”  That’s how God works.

“Where are you staying?”  they asked.  “Come and see,” Jesus said.  He was listening carefully and with care.

Are we listening to one another?  The temptation in these hurried and hectic times is to do what I call, “Snap, Jump, and Rush.”  Make snap decisions about another person.  Jump to conclusions.  Rush to judgment.    Snap, Jump, Rush.  Is that how you want to be treated?  Let’s not treat each other that way. 

We’ve all had the experience of being misunderstood.  It doesn’t feel very good, does it?  Sometimes we want to say, “I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.”  There are times when the best thing to do is to say, “Let’s rewind the tape and start over!”  Or as the engineer in the recording studio says, “Take two!  Let’s do it until we get it right!”  That’s the way to understand each other. 

I’d like to say something to young people.  If you’re not so young, maybe you could share these thoughts in your own words with the young people in your life.  Here goes: 

Dear young people, when you listen to your parents, listen for the meaning behind their words.  When you hear them making rules and setting boundaries, you may think they are saying, “We don’t want you to have any fun.  We don’t trust you.”  That’s not what they mean.  Here is the meaning behind their words:  “We love you more than you can imagine.  We want only the very best for you.  We don’t want harm to come to you.  We want you to grow up into the fullness of God’s plan for you.”  That’s what your parents are really saying.

God has given us the Good News of Jesus Christ to share with people whose lives we touch.  In order for us to communicate the Gospel in a way that connects with others, we need to learn to know them, and that takes some careful, caring listening — listening that hears the meaning behind the words, listening that uncovers real needs, listening that leads to the practical application of real Christ-like love to meet those real needs.  In the Spirit of Christ and by the Spirit’s power, we want to listen carefully and with care — to those near and dear to us, to people we barely know, and everyone in between.  

They asked Jesus, “Where are you staying?”  He answered, “Come and see.”  The next time someone asks you, “Where is your church?” or even “Where do you live?” you could give them the location, or you could say “Come and see!”

   

 

What’s Brewing – April 2019

THE YOUNGER AND THE OLDER NEED EACH OTHER!

“Younger people and older people aren’t separate species. The old were once young, the young will get old. We have a lot of common cause.” (Mary Schmich)

The St. Arbucks’ coffee guzzlers agree entirely with the above quote. We wish we would have said that! Why is it that our society seems to continue to separate us by “age groups” and then wonder why we often do not understand each other? Our conversations this week centered on how we older ones can become more intentional about connecting with our younger friends all around us. How can we also model to the younger that we also need their presence, smiles, and input as we continue to age?

One grandpa turned the discussion around by sharing a “clever” approach to grandkids by writing up a list of “How grandkids can get along with your grandparents” Here goes:

  1. Carry pictures around of your grandparents at all times!
  2. Call us at any time, about anything.
  3. Keep loving your parents, as they keep loving you.
  4. Laugh at Grandpa’s jokes, even if …..
  5. Hug as much as you can. Grandparents live on hugs.
  6. Always know that your parents love you, even when you may not feel that they do.
  7. Listen to your parents more than your grandparents – they have to live with you!
  8. Say “I love you” as often as you can to your grandparents.
  9. Let them win some of the card and board games you play. They need affirmation also!
  10. Help your family and friends know that the Lord loves us all through our laughter, friendship, and caring for each other, as well as for others!

Our discussion then centered around what is the basic role of grandparents and other older adults  to younger people. One word sums up our thoughts….ENCOURAGE! Do a word study in the Scriptures and see the significance of this word. It means to “inspire with hope.” The Lord encourages us through His love and forgiveness to be encouragers of one another. Other “encouraging” words from the Lord to check out are: Hebrews 3:13, Hebrews 10:25, and Ephesians 6:22. 

So what are some other specific ways we can make intentional “connections” between the younger around us? First of all, be creative. Think of little action steps, take advantage of the people the Lord puts into our lives. And build on the relationships you already have with the younger!

How can you greet some young folks before and after worship? How can you show interest in the high school student who comes to your door asking for financial help on a school trip? Any chance of you signing up as a tutor at a local school?  Here’s a few more quick suggestions shared:

  1. Listen, listen, listen to little kids. Give advice, if you wish, but no need to tell them what to do or not to do. Just listen and respond accordingly.
  2. Do special projects with the younger: visit hospitals and retirement homes together, play sports together, make something together, take them to a ball game, for an ice cream cone, or a movie.
  3. Think Out Loud. Let the younger hear your thoughts, concerns, passions for life. Share your own joys, as well as concerns, with them. A great way to model the process of aging.
  4. Share your faith together. Point out “God Sightings” to them in your own life. Talk about “What a friend we have in Jesus”, regardless of our age!
  5. Ask the little ones for their advice. Get a better perspective of their views on issues, joys and concerns of living. Then share your thoughts in non-judgmental ways.

In general, celebrate the little things in life with as many young people as possible. Be the “friendly, encouraging older adult” and a model of celebrating the Christ-Life, rather than the stereotype “grumpy old guy”! All it sometimes takes is a smile, a chuckle, and a kind word of friendship and support.

Come to think of it: as we encourAGE, encourAGE, encourAGE the younger, the Lord turns it around and helps them to encourage us as well. What a partnership of faith!

Philippians 2:1-3 is a nice conclusion for our St. Arbucks discussion: “If you have any encouragement from being united in Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in  spirit  and purpose. “

I think I’ll go and call my grandson right now, just to say “Hi” and “Thanks for being You!

Rich Bimler