Author Archives: robert

Just Watching – February 2019

 For the last few years I’ve kept my eyes peeled for any item touching men and women who are over 85 years of age, the ones I call Super-Seniors.  They are the successor segment to the 65-85 year olds that throughout most of my life were called Seniors and often treated as if they were the last stop before heaven.  But given there are a lot more Super Seniors today than in the past and that their numbers are mounting.  Sadly the ignorance about them, even the denial of their existence by some seems to be mounting, too.  That probably should come as no surprise.  Not many today and fewer in the recent past live as if they will be old enough to example George Burn’s 95th birthday quip, “If I’d known I’d live this long I’d have taken better care of myself.”  That comment usually gets a wry guffaw of recognition in response.

But surprise, surprise.  Here I am within a few weeks of my 90th natal day.  Together with 490,000 Super-Senior men and women (with more coming stage center every day) I greet a new dawn.  In the near future public parking lots will be divided between “Handicap Parking” and “Really Handicapped Parking”.  It’ll be parking at the curb out on the street for everyone else.  I suppose that when that happens those 10% Senior discounts at restaurants and drug stores will be limited to Super-Seniors Only – first come, first served. 

Far-fetched?  Probably not.  Today, I’m told, in tiny Ecuador, long lines of people waiting to buy basic family goods form each day. Another but much shorter parallel line is also formed and monitored by the police.  It is limited to those who are infirmed or disabled, to pregnant women, to mothers with small children and to a group called the Third Age.  That Third Age is composed of people over 65 years of age who can prove it.  Anyone who tries to work their way into that line without proof of age are unceremoniously removed. 

Will the USA ever adopt a Third Age classification?  Who knows, but it has to be obvious that a kind of Third Age category is already upon us.  Look at the “older” age related housing, medical care or pension tsunami that is building in our society.  How many are projected to ultimately end up bankrupt or in default?  Think Tanks of all kind are tussling today with how the projected 20 billion people of our 2050 world will be supported.  Where will they live?  Will they have food and clean water?  What will the energy needs be in 31years? 

As you consider all that remember it wasn’t until the mid-1800s that the world population reached one billion. It wasn’t until the 1930s that it doubled to two billion.  Now a population of twenty billion within 30 years?  Hey, wait a minute!   Large chunks of our R and C Resources readership may still be alive then!   As L’il Abner (remember him?) would have said, “Who’d a’ thunk it?”

Yes, indeed, “Who’d a’ thunk it?”  And that’s the question Super Seniors (plus parents, pastors, Think Tankers and concerned leaders of all kinds) need to wrestle with today.

As I was preparing this issue of Just Watching and thinking about sharing this kind of supersonic change for Super-Seniors there came to my mind a mythological Greek figure from the past: Cassandra, the daughter of Priam, king of Troy.  As one story about her goes she was object of the god Apollo’s affection.  He offered her the gift of prophecy if she would become his.  She said yes to the receiving the gift of prophesy (and received it) but then no to Apollo’s desires (and didn’t keep her word).  How did Apollo react?  He put a curse on her that while she would receive the gift of prophecy no one would believe her.  Possible?  Hardly.

There are many “prophets”, past and present, who deal with Cassandra’s double whammy.  They possess a needed truth but those with whom they most want to share it spurn their offering.   Possible?  How about probable! 

Many a Cassandra-like caring parent (prophet) yearns to guide an obstinate child who will not listen or obey.   Or, many a Cassandra-like faithful pastor (prophet) speaks the truth in love to an intractable parishioner or an unyielding parish.  Or, how about the Cassandra-like political visionary (prophet) who agonize over constituents who spurn 21st societal improvements.

All this is nothing new.  There is a well-known collective paraphrase of many Old and New Testament texts that essentially say, “There’s none so blind as he who will not see – or deaf as he who will not hear.”  Even so, the ministry of many past or present “prophets” (like Jeremiah, John the Baptist – your own Mom or Dad) is to painfully speak the truth no matter what.

So how’s it going with those in the 21st century who faithfully keep testifying to undeniable life realities?   My answer is, “Not so good”.  Cassandra’s curse is still very much alive.

Notwithstanding, R and C Resources will continue its focus on the needs of individuals, home life and local parishes. For personal reasons, since I am one, I’ve been especially concerned with the Super-Seniors among whom I find myself.  My goal is that of tending to a number of practical issues.

  1. I will keep pushing whomever I can toward a better ministry to Super-Seniors.
  2. I will continue exploring those post-85 years, a Bonus Land that God has given to a rising number of us! 
  3. I will recognize that change is a constant and that more of it is on the way.  It’s not over until it’s over.  Change isn’t slowing down even a little bit.   
  4. I need to remember that centuries before Christ was born the Romans taught each other: “Tempore mutantur, et nos mutamur in illes” (which means, “The times are changing and we are changing in them”).  Much earlier Greeks agreed.  Their cryptic saying was, “Panta rhei” (which means, “Everything flows”).  That quote from Ovid of old was later adopted and adapted by the Lutheran Reformers.   
  5. As a 21st century Super-Senior I am committed to blessing my heirs with Johnny Mercer’s 1944 instruction for living life in God’s Bonus Land.  He urged a three step approach of, “accentuating the positive, eliminating the negative while latching on to the affirmative”.  Super-Seniors might adopt that song as guidance for life.   What do you think?

In any case, today is the day God has given us.  As I hold it in my hand a well-known quote attributed to many surfaces: “Yesterday is history.  Tomorrow is a mystery.  Today is a gift – which is why we call it the Present.”   Why God has chosen to gift me as long as He has – and as long as He yet will – I know not.  But that fact that He urges me to unwrap it hour by hour and as best I am able, use it to His glory and for the benefit of all with whom He surrounds me.   In God’s economy of things each day is a mulligan.  Maybe next time I’ll be able to keep my head down and follow through.

Join me at the tee?

Charlie

Give God the Last Word!

By Dick Koehneke

When Jesus had finished [teaching the people from the boat], he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”  Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything.  But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” (Luke 5:4-5)

If Simon Peter and his friends had listened only to their feelings, they would have gone home empty-handed.  They were tired, worn out, and frustrated.  They had put in hours of hard work with nothing to show for it.

If Simon and his friends had been slaves to their circumstances, they never would have experienced the miracle Jesus wanted to give them, and they might never have become his followers and friends.  The fish simply weren’t there.  They hadn’t been there all through the night, when fishing was supposed to be good.  They certainly wouldn’t be there in the heat of the day. 

But Simon Peter and his partners did not listen only to their feelings.  They listened to Jesus.  They did not obey their circumstances.  They obeyed Jesus.  They gave him the last word.  They did what he said.  What happened?  They caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break.  They had to call for help from another boat, and both boats were filled with fish!  Then they left everything and followed Jesus. 

Let’s take another look at Simon Peter’s words:“ Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything.  But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”  What if he had said it the other way around?  “Master, you tell us to let down the nets.  But we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything.”  He would have been giving the last word to his feelings and his circumstances.  His decision would have been dictated by emotions and events, not the word of the Lord.

You and I are tempted to do the same thing.  Thank God, we know the Word of God.  We hear it.  We read it.  We discuss it.  But sometimes, when the crunch comes, we give the final say to feelings and circumstances.  We are guided by emotions and events instead of God’s Word.  Listen to how it works:

  • “Jesus says he is always with me, but I feel so alone.”
  • “God tells me to forgive, but I am really hurt right now.”
  • “God’s Word says not to be afraid, but I’m facing some huge struggles.”
  • “The Lord wants me to work on my job as though I’m working for Him, but my boss is so hard to please.”
  • “The Bible tells us that the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin, but I feel so guilty, so dirty, so ashamed.”

That’s what happens when we give the last word to our feelings and our circumstances.  We’re walking by sight, not by faith.  That road leads nowhere good. 

Here is what Simon Peter actually said: “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything.  But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”  He acknowledged his feelings.  He recognized his circumstances.  But he gave the final say to Jesus.  He took action based not on his emotions or events, but on the word of the Lord.  Here’s how it works.  Here are the same five sentences with the clauses reversed, giving God the last word.  

  • “I feel so alone, but Jesus says he is always with me.”
  • “I am really hurt right now, but God tells me to forgive.”
  • “I’m facing some huge struggles, but God’s Word says not to be afraid.”
  • “My boss is so hard to please, but the Lord wants me to work on my job as though I’m working for Him.”
  • “I feel so guilty, so dirty, so ashamed, but the Bible tells us that the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin.”

What a difference!  What a transformation!  Now we’re walking by faith, not by sight.  Give God the last word.  Don’t deny your feelings or stuff your emotions.  Acknowledge them, express them, but don’t give them the last word!  Give God the last word, and feel your emotions begin to change!

Don’t ignore your circumstances or pretend that events aren’t happening.  Stay informed about what’s going on around you, but don’t let events dictate your decisions.  Give God the last word, and you will change the reality around you.  When one person changes his or her behavior, it changes the situation.

I love the command and promise of Galatians 6:9 — “Let us not grow weary of doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”  The proper time is God’s proper time.  It may come today.  It may happen tomorrow, or a year from now, or a decade from now.  It may not happen in your lifetime.  The harvest may come in the next generation or the generations after that.  It most certainly will come when we are together forever in heaven. 

Then God will have the everlasting last word:  “Welcome home!” 

  

What’s Brewing – February 2019

I WISH I WOULD HAVE SAID THAT!

What are some of your favorite quotes you have heard through the years? Which ones have you remembered and still share with family and friends? We all hear cute slogans, clever quips, and scintillating stories each day. Some I remember. Some I try to forget. Some I wish I could recall. I have found it fascinating to take a clever quote and build a story, article, or message around it, surrounded by good Law-Gospel theology, of course!

Well, that’s just what the St. Arbucks’ folks did recently as we were sipping and munching away. See what you think of them. Perhaps these will convince your mind to share some of your favorite stories with others as well. Ready, set, go:

  1. Mother Teresa said, “True holiness consists in doing God’s word with a smile.”
  2. Robert Orben quips, “I want to thank and pay tribute to all of our volunteers- those dedicated people who believe in all work and no pay.”
  3. Seen on a refrigerator door: “If you sleep on it, make it up; if you wear it, hang it up; if you drop it, pick it up; if you eat out of it, wash it; if you open it, close it; if you turn it on, turn it off; if you empty it, fill it up; if it rings, answer it; if it howls, feed it; if it cries, love it!”
  4. “The most handicapped person in the world is a negative thinker.” Heather Whitestone.
  5. Leon Bloy says, “Joy is the most infallible sign of the presence of the Lord!”
  6. Robert Greenleaf quips, “Not much happens without a dream. And for something great to happen, there must be a dream. Behind every great achievement is a dreamer of dreams.”
  7. “The perception of a problem is always relative. Your headache feels terrific to your pharmacist!”
  8. “When we learn to laugh at ourselves we will have enough material to keep us laughing forever!”
  9. From an Australian aborigine woman: “If you come to help me, then you can go home again. But if you see my struggle as part of your own survival and life, then perhaps we can work together.”
  10. Something I wish I would have said, so I think I will – “A keen sense of humor helps us to overlook the unbecoming, understand the unconventional, tolerate the unpleasant, overcome the unexpected, and outlast the unbearable.”

Now how about you thinking and sharing your favorite quips with others? Much joy and wisdom can come of it. At least the folks at St. Arbucks have a good time with it, but of course, that might be the strong coffee talking!

And to close – we bring before the Lord the prayer of King Solomon; “Lord, give me a listening heart!” Blessings and joy as you share these quips and quotes with others as we continue to share God’s love and forgiveness.

And that’s what’s brewing at St. Arbucks this morning!

Rich Bimler

AH-HA Moments – February 2019

12 “WARNING” SIGNS OF LIVING AN “AH-HA” LIFE!

Here is what we have all been looking for, folks – scientifically proven ways that point out the “warning” signs of living an AH-HA life! If you find yourself practicing and actually mastering the items below, be careful, you just might be living the life of an AH-HA person! And Hooray for you!

How many of these signs can you identify in your daily life? Which ones do you need to work on? Go for it!

  1. Persistent presence of supportive friends.
  2. Chronic positive expectations – a tendency to frame events in a positive light.
  3. Regular signs of joy in living.
  4. A sense of spiritual renewal in the Lord.
  5. Increased sensitivity to others.
  6. A tendency to adapt to changing conditions.
  7. Increased appetite for physical activity.
  8. Tendency to identify and communicate feelings.
  9. Repeated episodes of gratitude and generosity.
  10. Compulsion to care for other people.
  11. Persistent sense of humor. Known to have laughed out loud!
  12. A life centered in the forgiveness of Christ!

What do you think? How are we doing? Any items you might add, or change? Why not discuss this list with some friends and family and get a lively discussion going? Feel free to add, and even subtract, from this list. And have fun doing it!

Romans 15:13 says it so well, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit!”

Enjoy your AH-HA Moments each day as you celebrate and share these “warning signs” as gifts from the Lord!

Rich Bimler

What Do You Expect?

By Dick Koehneke

Some years ago I attended a conference in which one of the speakers was making a point about the expectations we have of ourselves.  As an illustration he asked us all to raise our right hands.  I did.  Then he said, “Now raise your hand as high as you can.”  With stretching I did that too.  Finally he said, “Now raise it just a little higher.”  Surprising myself, I did.  He said that is what maximum effort feels like.  I realized that I was able to do more than I had thought I could.  The speaker then told us we could lower our hands, which we all did, with sighs of relief.  

As you begin this New Year, what do you expect of yourself? 

Maybe you expect maximum effort from yourself in every area of life, all the time, everywhere.  That would be like trying to keep your hand raised in the third position all the time.  The reality is that you can’t keep that up.  It’s exhausting. 

What are you going to do when you don’t measure up to your expectations?  Burnout results from chronic disappointment with one’s performance.  After so much disappointment, you feel like you can’t succeed, so you stop trying.  Trying hurts too much.  You probably keep showing up, but your heart’s not in it.  That’s burnout.  It’s usually is a result of unrealistic expectations, either the ones you have for yourself or those that others have of you. 

Don’t expect more of yourself than you are capable of doing.  As someone has said, “Overconfidence gives you the courage to act on your misguided convictions.”  When we do that, bad things happen.  Falling flat on your face is a tough learning experience.  Romans 12:3 tells us not to think more highly of ourselves than we ought, but to think of ourselves with sober judgment.  In other words, be realistic.  Don’t have expectations that are so high or wide that they are impossible to meet.      

Don’t beat yourself up when you don’t fulfill your expectations for yourself.  If you do, you’ll be wasting energy that could be used for creative and constructive purposes.

A major league baseball player who hits for a .333 batting average is failing in 67% of his at-bats.  You know what?  He’s probably going to win the batting title.  He doesn’t get discouraged because he fails most of the time.  He is constantly making adjustments so that he can use his strengths to their fullest and minimize the impact of his weaknesses. 

That’s what we do in life, too.  We learn from our failures and make adjustments.  We learn to plan better . . . to get more rest . . . to try a different approach . . . to ask better questions . . . to listen more . . . to get regular exercise . . . to schedule personal devotional time . . . to understand ourselves more fully. 

What do you expect of the other people in your life?  Don’t expect more of them than they can deliver.  Trusting someone does not mean that you expect them to come through for you all the time.  No one but Jesus can do that.  We need to receive grace from others, and we need to give grace to others.  We’re not in the kingdom of glory yet.  If someone disappoints you, maybe you were expecting too much of them.  God’s Word says, “If the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have.”  (2 Corinthians 8:12)  St. Paul wrote those words about financial giving, but I think the statement applies in this context too.  You can’t give what you don’t have. 

“I am with you always,” says our Lord Jesus Christ.  His commitment to you is not based on your performance.  It springs from His perfect love for you.  He is ever faithful to His Word.  He is the same yesterday, today and forever.  Rejoice in the Lord, and have a Happy New Year!                     

What’s Brewing – January 2019

                                     COME LET US WORSHIP …THE SUPER BOWL!

The hype has already begun for the biggest “worship” event of 2019…the  53rd Super Bowl in Atlanta , Georgia! So grab your food, drink, friends, and family and get ready the BIGGIE, on Sunday, February 3!

A few of us St. Arbucks’ fans will also recognize this Holy day as the 4th Sunday after the Epiphany, but we are afraid our numbers are shrinking. This 21st Century Super Sunday will reach millions of people all over the world. In addition to the capacity-filled “worship arena” in Atlanta, this event will be seen on big and bigger screens all over the world – in homes, bars, restaurants –wherever God’s people are!

The “Community Outreach “committee has been working for months at promoting this event. Advertisers are spending billions of bucks just to get their product mentioned. No offering plate to cover any expenses to tell this spectacular story!

The Processional begins with hundreds of really huge men swarming out onto the “worship” field in liturgical garb of all colors. Many silent prayers for victory continue to be chanted and even yelled, admonishing the ‘best team” to win. The worshipers will wildly stand and welcome these worship leaders, no doubt with much more gusto that the typical “greeter” at the front door of our home congregation. The “Invocation” will be sung by a famous person of the “choir” who usually is so well received that the congregation breaks into wild cheers and chants event before the last “hymn stanza” is sung. Can you imagine that these worshipers are paying big, big, bucks to come to worship, sing, and shout, which is a phenomenon that stewardship committees are seriously studying to see what their local congregations can learn from this miracle!

Hey, wait a minute! “Stop this nonsense”, you may insist, as others at St. Arbucks have. Aren’t we taking this a little toooo far in comparing the Super Bowl to our Sunday worship experiences? Besides, even if our society continues to focus more and more on success, bigness, winning, and on an “I am #1” kind of “theology”, does this mean that we, the Church, need to follow along? Of course not! As a matter of fact, perhaps it means that we Super People in the Lord have a BIGGER task of helping those around us to see how our Super Lord continues to love, forgive, and empower all of us to bring this same message to those around us – at Super Bowls as well as to the lonely, the last, and the lost? You and I celebrate the Super Bowl EVERY Sunday as we worship around Word and Sacrament with other saints in the Lord. Our Super Bowl is the Baptismal Font that called us all to be on the Lord’s Team, the Church. We already ARE winners – every day!

 2 Corinthians 11:5, says it well:  “ I think that I am not in the least inferior to these super-apostles.”…….I may be untrained in speech, but not in knowledge; certainly in every way and in all things we have made this evident to you.”  Wow, what a contrast to a culture that continues to emphasize “Superhood” at the expense of “Servanthood”! You and I can confidently and calmly continue to proclaim that we have a Super Lord who has come to us so that we do not have to be super winners on our own, because he has already won it for us! Yes, we really are #1 in Christ, regardless of who wins in Atlanta, on the Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany!

And now, pass me the Tostitos!

Rich Bimler

 

Just Watching – January 2019

I never thought I’d reach 90 years of age.  Actually I’m not there yet.  I’ve still got to make my way through three months, one week and a couple days.  But I’m getting closer and closer. 

When my 90th B-day finally dawns I will join 450,000 other Super Senior nonagenarians living (as in “alive”) in the USA today.  That’s a lot of people.  There may be a few more by then than now because more and more Americans are not only living longer but living longer longer.  (Read that sentence again, please.)  Both the raw population numbers of those who are over 90, and their percentage of the USA’s population pool, is growing by the day.  Unless something awesome happens when I announce, “Today is my 90th birthday!” that stunning statement (for me, at least) will be met with a yawn and a bored, “Is that so” by most others. 

For a long time I’ve been flagging the changes that have been taking place and that are still happening within the population segment we have traditionally capsuled as “Seniors”.  It’s not the same group today as it was in the past.  It has been ballooning until it has become a huge chunk of folks, threatening to overwhelm in size (and demands) all other population segments.  Most haven’t noticed that.  For most the term Senior means, “…someone over 60…” who may not have a job anymore. 

But there’s a new and very different breed of cat alive and active on today’s traditional Senior scene.   She/he not only needs to be acknowledged as a separate reality but one that needs a defining name as well.  I’ve been pushing, “Super Senior” and with it mean to identify and set aside those who are over 85 years of age.  The adjectival addition of “Super” doesn’t mean that this group is of a superior quality but only that it needs recognition as a different and separated segment.   

As 2019 is dawning, my goal is to nail down what is so distinctively unique about Super Seniors.  I am in a good position to do so because Audie and I are, in fact, Super Seniors already.  We are also in and among a number of richly diverse Super Senior groups.  One is made up of a couple hundred or more fellow travelers from Trinity Lutheran Church (a Roselle, Illinois parish I have served within since 1978).  I still facilitate largely four Senior groups within that church each week listening carefully to what they have to say.  Many are Super Seniors.  In addition by phone, Facebook and e-mail we regularly network and commiserate with a few hundred more coast-to-coast Senior and Super Senior relatives and friends (though that circle gets smaller day by day) as they make their way into an ever changing personal and political tomorrow. 

But the Super Senior broth of Audie and me is thicker than ever before now that we live, move and have our new being at Windsor Manor in Carol Stream, Illinois surrounded by hundreds of other Super Seniors most of whom are of a solid Evangelical bent.  They come at many things differently.  We watch, listen and learn.  In addition I read all I can of what diverse creative folk produce who are interested in and write about the ever expanding and sweeping world of Super Seniors.  

And, of course I feed on what my literary companions of R and C Resources prepare and publish each month and the reactions we all get from our readers!  All those varied stimuli broaden my view of the Super Senior universe and trigger my Super Senior synapses.  I believe I am watching enough Super Senior variants that what I report about them (including what I note concerning you and me) is meaningful.

 want to start my January 2019 report by establishing a foundational principle of Super Senior-dom and the life that I believe is best lived within it.  That principle, stated as simply as I am able, is that Super Senior-dom is a Bonus Land in which my life can be the free-est, fullest and least inhibited I have ever experienced – if I want it to be. 

I picked up the term Bonus Land from an e-mail someone sent me.  I regret I don’t remember who sent it to me or the source he cited.  Mea culpa.  But as I’ve worked with it the term seems to fit the post-80 life I’ve been living as a person, a husband, a father, grandfather and friend.  I’m careful about hurting others by what I say.  I don’t offer instant opinions on every subject.  I’m generous about how I both evaluate and comment upon local, regional and national political (and ecclesiastical) figures.  The world in which I live reminds me of the “Oklahoma” song, “…Don’t Fence Me In”.  I need and have the room to explore and be all that God would have me experience – and so do all Super Seniors.  We’re a rising tide (for sure) that gives life to the saying, “A rising tide floats all boats.”

To that end may God empower us to be a positive and effective force throughout all the days which Psalm 139:16 says He has already set aside for us.   Can’t be a whole lot more, but….

As 2019 opens may you be as blessed in your tomorrows as He has blessed Audie and me in our yesterdays.      

Charlie

 

AH-HA Moments – January 2019

TOP 10 RESOLUTIONS (No, let’s make that REVOLUTIONS!) for 2019!

Hey, we all made it to another new year ….Thank you, Lord!

The Lord must have great ideas and plans for us this day/week/month/year, or ….because He is gracing us with another day to make a difference in our own lives as well as in the lives of those around us. Now that calls for a Hooray and an AH-HA, for sure!

Instead of making the traditional “Resolutions” for the new year, let’s consider making a list of our Top 10 “Revolutions” we’d like to test in 2019. Let’s ponder ways that we can more strongly and sincerely enable and encourAGE others, younger and older than we, to be more intentional about changing the attitudes of how our society looks at and evaluates the gift of …..AGING!

Take a look at these. Change them. Make them better. Use them in discussions with the younger and the older, starting with your friends and family. I’d welcome hearing your ideas , questions, and creative thinking about these and any other concepts you’d like to share.

                                           Top 10 Older Adult “REVOLUTIONS” for 2019

  1. As a conversation starter, ask people “How are you aging?”, and then listen closely at the comments. Are they positive, negative, neutral? What might their responses say about how they feel about themselves?
  2. Read some of the latest books on “Aging” and get a better sense of what others are predicting, doing, and thinking about this fastest growing age segment in our world.
  3. Discuss this concept with a friend: The word “Elderly” means the number of years a person has lived on this planet. The word “Elder” is defined as what this person has done with those years.” Interesting, eh, that in many churches there is a board of “Elders”, which does not necessarily mean that they are all older adults, but rather that they are involved, engaged, and committed to the ministries at hand. Must be a message there somewhere!
  4. Make a strong effort to “Age Out Loud”, meaning that you verbally share your positive vibes about aging with others when you hear the many stereotypes about aging being bantered about and discussed. (i.e., “Oh, I’m having a senior moment!”; or, “Wow, for an old person you look pretty good”; or “I wish I was young again!” Think of other phrases you hear around you that perceive older adults as “over the hill”, “less than they were”, and who primarily need “help” rather than having something positive to share with others.
  5. Work intentionally at “Reframing Aging”, from a negative view to a positive one, beginning with our selves. At times I still catch myself saying to an 85 year old friend, “Hi there, young fella!” How silly of me! Help others to reframe aging so people are not afraid or embarrassed to tell their real age. I imagine we all can think of someone who still is leery of telling their real age but instead says, “Oh, I’m 20 for the 4th time,” or we probably know people who refuse to say how old they are to most anyone, as if it’s a disease!
  6. Get in the habit of sharing your age by using fractions, just like younger kids do. For example, I am 78 ¼ this month. That’s what many little preschoolers do to show their excitement about aging by shouting, “Wow, I’m 4 ½ now!”
  7. We can control how we age more than we think we can. The breath of life is in all of us, but most of us don’t use it all of the time. Aging gracefully means having a generous view of others and the world. Let’s revolutionize ourselves and others by maintaining a forgiving stance towards the faults and weaknesses in ourselves and others. Watch out, though, positive attitudes are contagious!
  8. Let us continue to learn to laugh at ourselves more! As we do, we will have enough stories and materials to keep us laughing forever! As a friend reminds me, “Laugh at yourself – before someone else does!”
  9. Let us revolutionize the world by caring for ourselves and for each other. No need to “cure” people – simply show them through words and actions that you truly do care and love them, through phone calls, e-mails, visits, and prayers. My friend Dick has the wonderful habit of calling 5 fiends a week, just to say “I love you!” to them.
  10. Be personal ambassadors of older people. Be examples of what it means to be given the gift of old age. Let us rid ourselves of “perception barriers” that hinder and limit our abilities to celebrate and serve, in the name of the healing Christ!

May these 10 REVOLUTIONS for 2019 enable and encourage each of us to live life as a gift of the Lord…and let us work together to revolutionize the world around us! Celebrate life each day as a AH-HA Moment by celebrating God’s gift of aging!

Rich Bimler

 

 

 

Hope in the Lord

By Dick Koehneke

“Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:13)

What does it mean to hope in the Lord?  Christian hope is not wishful thinking.  It’s being confident that God will keep His promises.  God has given us many wonderful promises.  There are two promises of our Lord that are especially helpful to me these days.  One is, “I am going to prepare a place for you; I will come back and take you to be with me where I am.”  The other is, “I am with you always, until the end of the world.” 

The first promise tells us that we have a home with God in heaven through faith in Christ.  Trusting this promise keeps our focus on what really matters:  not so much on the twists and turns of life in this world, but on our eternal destination in heaven, our true home.  Christ is preparing a place for you.  Someday he will come and take you to be with him.  The promised future of life with God in heaven gives us strength to deal with the struggles and challenges we face here on earth.  Someday we will be with our Lord, beholding his glory.  What a joyous day that will be, what a glorious day, what a victorious day!      

Until we are with our Lord in heaven, He is with us here on earth.  That’s the second promise I try to remember: “I am with you always, until the end of the world.”  The literal meaning of the word “always” in the original language is “all the days.”  Jesus is with you all your days on this earth:  on your good days, on your bad days, your high days and your low days, your days of success and your days of failure, your days of health and your days of sickness, your joyful days and your sad days, and also on those days when you’re just plain in a daze, when nothing is working and nothing makes sense. 

The song “Hills and Valleys” by Tauren Wells says it beautifully.  Here are the words to the chorus:

“On the mountains I will bow my life to the One who set me there.
In the valleys I will lift my eyes to the One who sees me there.
When I’m standing on the mountain I didn’t get there on my own.
When I’m walking through the valley I know I am not alone.
You’re God of the hills and valleys, and I am not alone!”

Our Lord is with you in the hills and valleys of life — “all the days” of your life.  Even on your lonely days, you’re not alone.  Jesus is with you, closer than your next breath, nearer than your next heartbeat.  He helps you take your next step, and the next one, and the one after that, until you take your final step across the threshold of heaven.  When the world ends, or when your life ends – whichever comes first – Jesus won’t be with you anymore, because you will be with him!  That’s why he says, “I’m with you until the end of the world.”  Then we’ll be with him in heaven!      

Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  Our hope is not the same as optimism.  Optimism says, “Cheer up!  Things will get better.”  But sometimes things don’t get better.  Christian hope says, “Even if things get worse, if disaster turns into a meltdown, if calamity becomes catastrophe, God has a plan and a purpose for me.  My salvation is secure in Christ, the Lord is with me in all my experiences, and I have a home in heaven.” 

I invite you to say those words right now, either in your heart or out loud, pausing after each sentence to reflect and let God speak to your heart.  Here goes: 

  • “God has a plan and a purpose for me.”
  • “My salvation is secure in Christ.”
  • “The Lord is with me in all my experiences.”
  • “I have a home in heaven.”

“Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”  When you’re soaring on wings like an eagle, hope in the Lord.  You say you’re not soaring like an eagle?  You  may not be soaring, but maybe you’re running.  When you’re running and not getting weary, hope in the Lord.  You say you’re tired of running?  Maybe walking is the best you can do.  When you’re walking and not fainting, hope in the Lord.  It could be that you’re exhausted and you can’t walk anymore.  When you have no strength left, hope in the Lord.  Rest in him.  You don’t have to do anything.  Be still.  Let the Lord love you and care for you. 

“Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.”  Yes, Lord.  Let it be so.     

 

What’s Brewing – December 2018

The “Hurry Sickness” is alive and well at St. Arbucks! It is not just because “Tis the season to be rushing!” but rather it’s the daily mood and speed of today’s society.  Remember comic Lily Tomlin’s quote, “The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you’re still a rat!”?

As folks, young and old, hurry in and out of St. Arbucks this morning, we pondered the fact that many of us have the “Hurry Sickness”, big time, starting with me. Larry Dossey’s book, “Space, Time, and Medicine” puts it this way, “Just as Pavlov’s dogs learned to salivate inappropriately, we have learned to hurry inappropriately. Our sense of urgency is set off, not by a real need to act quickly, but through learned cues.” Our “bells” have become the internet, Facebook, texts, Instagram, and all the others – yes, even our morning Starbucks! (Quick aside – I recently saw a sweatshirt in St. Arbucks that read, “Sorry coffee, this situation calls for alcohol!”

The “Hurry Sickness” is very contagious, and some of us are actual carriers of it to others! It is easy to catch this illness. There is so much to do, so many events to plan for, so many people to see, and it’s on and on and on. Martin Luther was right when he exclaimed, “the hurrier I go, the behinder I get!” (Well, perhaps Luther didn’t say this, but he should have!”) We, or at least I, build in self-inflicted expectations into our daily lives. The book, “Time Management for Unmanageable People”, by Dr. McGee Cooper, claims that “hurry sickness” is a metaphor for all of those illnesses brought on or exacerbated by stress, rush, and internal and external constant pressure.  She adds:

  1. Messages from childhood tell us that faster is better.
  2. Modern society encourages hurry sickness – it’s everywhere we turn.
  3. Only a conscious effort to slow down will help “cure” us of hurry sickness.
  4. We all need to learn to balance “doing” time with “being” time. After all, we are human “beings” first, and then human “do-ers”.

Take a look at our lives – do we rush to be first in line? Do we get stressed out in gridlock traffic, even though our lives probably will not change if we are 10 minutes early or late? Do we finish each others’ sentences and rush ahead of the story? Do we skip breakfast or lunch to “save time”, or even eat on the go?   Do we not have time to stop and visit with a family member? And on and on!

I am reminded of a Charlie Brown cartoon that shows Lucy telling Charlie what’s wrong with him. When Charlie asks Lucy “What can I do about it?”, Lucy simply replies, “I don’t have the answers, my job is to only point out the problems!”

But rejoice old hurrying people of God! The spirit of our Lord continues to come to us with His reassuring words in Psalm 46:10 – “Be still and know that I am God”! I do not always listen but we do know through faith that He is there to calm the storms in our lives, and to settle us down with His peace, hope, and grace. He also sends caring people into our lives to help us to “Remember the Sabbath”, to lighten up, to calm down, and to help us to take time for spiritual renewal, solitude, and just plain rest!

Perhaps you have not caught the “Hurry Sickness”. Good for you! The Lord has given you the gifts to help those of us who have caught it to hear the reassuring message of the Lord through your caring, forgiving, and loving actions to us, the hurrying horde! And if you are infected with “HS”, watch for those special people around you like ….little kids, grandparents, spouses, staff persons, and other friends…who the Lord has placed into your life for you to sooth, listen, hug, and forgive!

May this day be a gift to each of us to take a deep breath, thank the Lord for all of our blessings, pray often, sit and do “nothing” for 15 minutes…and while we’re at it, let’s read Psalm 46:10 again and again ….and try not to get caught in rush hour traffic!

Rich Bimler