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

One small step for Mum & Dad, one huge step for love

Mum normally does not get going until about 8 or 8:30. Today, she was up well before that. Probably around 6:30am. When i asked why she was up so early, she said it was because something big was going to happen that day. And again I am reminded that Mum is fully aware of what this day will bring.


Mum & Dad, walking into Lovely Banks in Cobden

We’ve talked about that, my sisters and I. We’ve often wondered whether Mum really has a complete understanding of what is happening. I mean, how do you just move away from your husband of 57 years? How do you leave your family home? How do you just walk into a place like Lovely Banks, knowing it will be your last move before you die? How do you do any of that without breaking down, or worse, throwing a tantrum and digging your heels in?


Mum & Dad, December 19, 1953 married at the Leigh Memorial Church, Lithgow, NSW

I can think of two reasons. The first is that even though Mum is suffering her delusional fantasies, and she sometimes has trouble interpreting reality, she has enough of a handle on what’s going on to know that she needs this level of care. The second is that she knows Dad can’t be here carer anymore. Dad has chronic back pain, and so the lifting, the care, the pure and simple everyday being there was just getting the better of him. It was nothing for him to be up two or sometimes three times a night helping the disoriented love of his life to the toilet and back to bed again.


Settling in. The wonderful staff take Mum and Dad through some basics.

Dad told me tonight that this afternoon he has asked Mum, “You know why this was necessary, don’t you?” and Mum had said “Yes, because we couldn’t go on doing what we were doing anymore.” Some nights, Dad only had three hours of sleep. If even young guys have trouble coping with that, we can understand a 78 year old will never be able to manage it..

I think this says a lot about the love that Mum & Dad have for each other. Love is not doing what you want. If it was, Mum would still be home, irrespective of what harm it brought her and Dad. But that is not what love is. Love is a decision. Often and joyous one, but sometimes a painful one: to deny yourself, your wants, your comforts, and to consciously and selflessly do what the other person needs. So, as hard as it is, Mum decided that she had to make the move. That level of maturity, and that depth of love, is inspirational.

It’s a divine decision. It’s the sort of decision Jesus made, when he turned his back on his glory and made himself nothing for us. He denied his own wants and comforts, and instead he consciously and selflessly did what others needed.


Mum’s new room on Day 1

So we lie down in our beds tonight. Dad is alone in his room. Mum is alone in hers. And there is love. And there is peace. And we are thankful that God has led us through this day.

Have a read of Psalm 91. It’s brilliant!

Q: What do you think about love being defined as self denial and a decision to serve the other? is this actually doable? Leave a comment…

Grace and peace: Dave

New Year’s Revolutions

Welcome to 2009

It may be nineteen days late, but I’ve been on leave for the last three weeks, so this is the first chance I’ve had to express some thoughts and prayers I have been working through for the two months. I have called these ‘New Year’s Revolutions’, because most of them I just want to keep rolling around, returning, reforming and reframing with greater focus.

So here’s what I am looking at

  1. I want a more prophetic and challenging ministry. That means I want to listen to what’s going on in my life, the lives of people around me, the culture in which I live, and hold that up to God’s call to be a people implementing and anticipating new creation. I want to speak to and expose our blind spots and the complacencies of my own culture. I want this to be decisive, incisive and breathed by the Spirit. Please understand: I do not want to suggest that we are all slacking off. The truth is, there are lots of people at RCRC who are great servants in great ministry. But we do have a tendency to favour what like and want, rather than true needs around us. I 2009 I would love to see that change
  2. I want to see more spiritual passion. I could be wrong, but sometimes I sense that we’re wary about a rich expression of following Jesus in life and worship. Whether it’s a lavish gift, some outward expression of heartfelt joy, or a rich sense of community and acceptance when the community of Jesus followers gather. For this reason, I think it would be good to ask a few questions of ourselves:
    1. Is my celebration of God as expressive as my celebration of great exam results or the victory of the team I love? Which one is better? Which gives me more hope?
    2. Is my welcoming of Jesus followers on Sunday as warm, expressive and heartfelt as the meeting of a best friend I have not seen for a long time? Does our expression of community say something about the wonderful transformation Jesus has brought and is bringing?
    3. Is God really the centre of my celebration on Sunday? How could I give better expression of this with his new community?
  3. I want to lead and preach toward full commitment and Christ centeredness. We all know perfection only comes when Jesus returns so I’m not thinking of dividing us into business class Christians and the economy variety: some Christians who have ‘made it’ and others who haven’t. But let me ask you – and let me keep asking you:
    1. Are you in top spiritual condition? Where do you rate yourself on a scale of 1-10 where 1 is ‘not at all Christ centred’, and 10 is ‘as Christ centred as I think I can be’. Let’s say you give yourself a 6/10. Do you think God is satisfied with that? If not, what do you have to do to move up a notch? What attitudes have to change? What do you need to put to death? What needs to come alive?
    2. Is RCRC in top spiritual condition? What needs to change? What do we need to do more, and what should we be doing less?
    3. Are you in a context where you are being stretched theologically? Where your desire to know God and serve him is really being deepened? Are you seeking greater opportunity to grow? Have you made a goal to nurture your faith significantly in 2009? Have you signed up for Foundations? (watch this space)
  4. I want to see RCRC truly embrace a healthy outward focus. We’ve talked a lot about this: serving our community, being salt and light, being an agent of hope for Redlands. Now we have take it to the next level. I know we are all busy. Me too. I probably can’t do more things than what I am doing at present, so I need to think of the following:
    1. What can I drop or do differently? Letting something go doesn’t mean I no longer agree with it, or that it’s become bad. It may just mean that as I change and meet new opportunities being a good steward means I need to do things differently
    2. What will I do to specifically serve the outward mission of the church? Jesus has given his transforming love to me minute by minute – so how will I implement something of his transformation in my life? You may not be Mother Theresa, but here are 10 suggestions (as distinct from commandments) to start you on your way:
      1. visit some lonely people
      2. cook a meal for the single mum a few doors away
      3. ring/email school chaplains to let them know I’m praying for them
      4. offer to mentor a child at a local school
      5. get involved in something like the Matthew Stanley Foundation or the Melanoma Awareness Foundation – two causes that have been too close to home for many
      6. help Meals on Wheels
      7. pray for the Missional Communities group at RCRC
      8. send regular encouragement to those involved in RE teaching
      9. support RCRC specifically engaged in evangelism ministry
      10. just pray daily for my church to move from ‘in here’ to ‘out there’. Pray for Ministry Team people like Dan Neville, Geoff Hughes and Rod McWilliams as they seek to lead us into this

And then, a wish: I would love to see some healthy creative ministry develop, specifically for powerful communication at Sunday services. I am not talking about ‘skits’ so much, as well produced, well presented, dramatic presentations that support, add texture, and harmonise with what preachers like me present. These can be so powerful!

I wouldn’t mind betting that there are a few people in the RCRC family who could run with this – speak to me! What a great way to use your talents and gifts to bring God’s message of grace and hope to people!

Friends, I know this year will have its share of challenges. We all, by God’s grace, need to pull together and in the same direction. Ours is the rich privilege of taking the blessings God has so richly poured out on us, and using them to bless those who have no hope, or power, or love. God has blessed us with life in Jesus, and this year we get to celebrate it afresh with one another.

What we need to understand it that the purpose of that life and blessing is to carry it to the community around us, so that the world may know there is a God who is transforming His world through His Son, Jesus.

Shalom,

Dave