Your biological clock is ticking, and what are you doing about it?


I have never really owned up to the fact that I am getting older. It’s like I am in some sort of denial. Every year the birthday celebration comes and goes, and you get the dorky cards from your older sister, people have a dig at you for gaining another year (as if you had any choice), and the only comfort is that a few of your mates are a few years older than you are.

My mother’s move into high care has challenged my own persistent denial. Here I was visiting my mother at Lovely Banks. When she stood up, she had to be assisted. When she walked, she was assisted. When she showered, when she brushed her teeth, when she got dressed, when she went to the toilet. She needs assistance with it all. And yet, just a few days before I had been looking at a photo of her dressed as a bride with her husband, Cor. I had seen the vibrant smile of a young mother sitting on the front step of their cottage in Commonwealth Rd, Portland. I has seen her as a graduate of Bathurst High School. And now, about the only thing she can do by herself is fall asleep, or change the channel on the TV. Young once. Now old.

And I realised, it’s the same with me. No, not as old. But at one time I too was a high school graduate, a young groom – not knowing whether to be more proud or excited. I, too, was a young father. Now all my children are adults, and my Mum is in a nursing home. So I need to face the facts: I am 52 years old, and I am not getting any younger.

So I am going to make a few commitments:

Exercise more. I have let my riding program go for much of this year. Yesterday, I went out for the first time since early August. It was good, but my average was way off. I want to work hard to get my level of fitness up again. I will never be Lance Armstrong, I know. But I have been told that he cannot preach his way out of a wet paper bag, either, so that’s OK.

Discipline my eating. I am going to trim what I eat through the middle of the day. I have a generally sedentary job, and I don’t need a man sized meal at lunch time. Coupled with riding, this should see me drop a few kilos. We’ll see.

On a more long term note: I really want to make the second half of my life more productive. I want to add value to my ministry. I want to be a better preacher, a better leader, a better coach, a better husband, a better man (if you’ll pardon the cliche). I want my second half to count and to have impact way more than my first half.

So, now, today, I want to make a difference.

God reminds us that we get about ‘three score years and ten’. The best estimates of life expectancy have only added about a decade to that, even in the 21st century. Even then, don’t make too many assumptions. For all of us, life hangs by a slender thread. Free radicals, and crazy people driving little red cars mess with the mix on a regular basis.

So, now, today, I want to make a difference. Today, I want to do things that matter. Today, I want to strive for the sort of world God delights in. I want to keep learning. I want whatever I do tomorrow to be better than whatever I did today.

Q: what have you changed to make more of a difference in the second half of your life? …and you’re not there already what does this idea get you thinking about?

Great reading: Bob Buford: Beyond Half Time: practical wisdom for your second half

Grace and peace: Dave

How to tell people about Jesus (3): …a few resources for answering the tough questions

In my last post I mentioned some books which I find helpful in addressing some of the common questions people ask. Here are a few titles to consider (feel free to recommend some others you have read in the comment section)

I may not need to say it, but there are no perfect books out there. You may not agree with everything an author says. That’s OK. People don’t agree with everything you say, either, and we need to relax about that. As always, test all things, and hang on to the good.

iStockphoto.com

The Case for Christ – Lee Strobel
Strobel recounts his own faith journey, and in so doing answers questions about the reliability of the New Testament, the historicity of the resurrection, and the person of Christ. Strobel’s background in law and journalism make this both a great resource and a well reasoned approach. It’s easy to read, and well priced to give away. Strobel writes as an ex-atheist, so you can be sure he knows where people are coming from.

The Case for Faith – Lee Strobel
In this book, Strobel builds on the foundation laid in his first work. He addresses some of the common the objections people may raise about believing in Jesus: the presence of evil and suffering; what about those who have never heard the good news? Or how do we explain the goodness of God in the face of the Bible’s teaching about Hell? Strobel opens up the issues of violence in church history. His section on the rarity and role of doubt in a believer’s life is especially helpful.

The Case for a Creator – Lee Strobel
Strobel addresses the perceived tension between science and faith, showing how many well respected scientists now see evidence of design in the universe and life systems. There is also a great DVD series which would be a great resource to work through in a small group setting.

Searching Issues – Nicky Gumbel
Nicky Gumbel is well known for the Alpha course. This book addresses the seven most common questions raised in Alpha course settings: suffering, other religions, sex before marriage, the New Age, homosexuality, science and Christianity, and the Trinity. There is also a helpful study guide for group work.

Simply Christian – NT Wright
A more inductive approach geared towards the thinking agnostic or atheist, while still very readable and accessible. Wright wants to get people thinking about what they see in their world and in the people who live in it. Staring with people’s longings, he looks at how the Bible presents God and the importance of Jesus, and finishes with what it means to be called followers of Jesus and to seek a world that God delights in. Reading this book brings memories of C S Lewis’ ‘Mere Christianity’. It’s a brilliant read!

Books like these can really help others to work through questions that trouble them. They will also help the reader become more effective as they share the message about Jesus.

Remember:

it is God who changes the heart, and not the power of an argument

. So read the best resources, and pray for God to use you

Q: Which book and resources have you found most helpful for sharing the good news? Leave a comment…

Grace and peace: Dave

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years – Don Miller

 

The story starts when a movie producer wants to make a film about Don Miller’s life. This is all very exciting until Don realises how boring it’s all going to look. So Don and the producers wrestle to develop a storyline that will hold interest. As they wrestle with this, we are drawn into what Don discovers, not only about movies, but about life itself. We start to see how life might work better, both for Don and for us. The surprise this book has for us is how this ‘better story’ might become our reality. 

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years drew me into the questions of my own life. I wondered about the ‘story’ or my own life, and before I knew it, I was thinking about how it could or should develop. As Don and the people of his book faced their challenges, I thought about how I was facing my own challenges, and whether I would meet them more resolutely, or further seek to avoid them.

I was also struck with the observation that the restlessness we sometimes feel in life often arises out of an ignorance of what our story actually is. Too often we do not know what sort of character we are supposed to be. As a consequence, we rarely get the idea that identity and meaning are formed as we grapple with the conflicts that inevitably come our way. Surprisingly, this realisation did not get me withdrawing from the challenge, it actually drew me deeper into it.

Miller’s book does that to you: it is an enticing invitation into hope. You read it and you want to be a better person. I love the way Miller’s warmth and spirituality sneaks up on you, whets your appetite for a fullness of life, and sometimes takes your breath away.

 

 

I have provided this review as a member of the Thomas nelson Book Review Blogger program. You can be part of it too by signing up at http://brb.thomasnelson.com/

 


Books I read on holidays…

 

Jesus Wants to Save Christians, Rob Bell & Dan Golden, Zondervan, 2008

Incredibly rich understanding of the Biblical narrative, Bell & Golden’s manifesto for followers of Jesus is an incredibly stimulating read.

If you’ve ever wondered about the calling of Christians and the church in the 21st century, you have to read this book.

It made me dream about meeting the challenge of implementing and anticipating the new heavens and the new earth in the here and now.

Every church leader needs to read this book. I bought copies for RCRC’s leadership and ministry teams

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I have read a few books on sexual intimacy over the years, and Lehman’s “Sheet Music” is one of the best. There are no embarrassing euphemisms, and no ‘cringe factors’ that I can remember.

This a great resource for couples who want to share a deeper and warmer sexual intimacy. Also great for couple preparing for marriage.

——— ½

 

 

 

11 opens up a raft of relationships any person will do well to cultivate. No one possesses all wisdom and foresight, and I think we all know that truth comes best in a team setting.

Len Sweet is a great wordsmith, an insightful critic of culture and a wise interpreter of Scripture. His book helped me see a little more of what’s going on in my life. He made me ask whether my team and close friends are having a wholesome impact on my life.

I wondered, though, whether 11 critical relationships was a few too many? I am not sure I can have close relationships with that many people effectively.

I also was looking for a sharp, purposeful angle in the book, and apart from acknowledging these relationships will help you cross the finish line well, I struggled to maintain forward momentum. Could be my issue, I guess. But I suppose I would have benefitted from a more purposeful development of the material.

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The account of the events surrounding the death of Cameron Doomadgee on Palm Island on November 19, 2004

Chloe Hooper walked with Andrew Boe through the trial of Chris Hurley. We hear the cries of Doomadgee’s family, we sense the fear of Hurley, we gasp in disbelief at the inequity. Most of all we ache with the sheer hopelessness of the case. Prejudice. Indifference. Seemingly intractable problems. I was disgusted by the history of my own State (Queensland) and the sort of bungling and apparent corruption which has made justice, in this case, almost an impossibility.

I started inquisitive and interested. I finished angry and broken.

All Australians need to be more aware of the oppression that is happening even in this day. Queenslanders, we should all read this book, and at least learn something as Hooper lifts the lid on our own history, past and present (see Chapter 1, The Island, p.7 ff)

———— ½

 

A gift from Leonie, The Time We Have Taken is an ambulatory study of several suburban characters in the 1960’s. We see how they interrelate, how they love and fall out of love, how they live and die.

Carroll develops his characters with great depth and warmth. We’re drawn into the naiveté and intricacy of Australian homes, hearts, and proclivities.

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 The story of how a Jewish Haggadah from the 16th century was discovered and conserved. We are taken into the lives of various people associated with the Haggadah.

You will read sub-stories and adventures from the Yugoslavian Partisans, Jewish communities in Spain, and the infamous Spanish Inquisition.

Brookes’ research brings great texture, and the diverse nature of her characters makes this consuming reading. No wonder this author has been honoured with a Pulitzer.

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While not a terribly recent title (2004) I thought this would be good to decompress and get me into holiday mode. Wrong. Having read a number of Jodi Picoult’s titles, I found James’ style irritating. She takes great care developing the back story in the first chapters – stacks of detail there. But I found myself saying “I’m up to page 115 and there hasn’t even been a murder yet!”

I thought her vocab was a little forced in places: transmogrification is a great word, but how much does vocab like that add to engagement and reader value? I thought it was a bit of a pose in places.

But as one person said to me a few days ago, “It’s still not bad for an old woman with a black handbag…”. Enough said.

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