You Can Enjoy Life All the Way Into Your 80s!


“Life is long. You never know what will happen next!”

Morgan Freeman, 79, Academy Award winning actor
Top “voice” actor in documentaries and animations

All my life, I’ve looked forward to being old enough that I’d be at least relatively wise. Something seems to have happened in the intervening years.

Life Goal: Get Old, Get Wise

I’m more than halfway to my goal age of 80 and while I’m no longer so sure of wisdom, I’m finding that aging comes anyway. For some reason, it’s less exciting than I expected.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m a Yankee and we don’t give in to age easily. So, for example, you’ll find me on early weekend mornings building retaining walls in my garden. Shuffling 22-pound blocks around as I make my unprofessional efforts to create their best arrangement is better strength training than I’d ever get at a gym.

But the first warning that I’d hit a pothole in this aging process came when I attended a sportsmen’s show with my widowed father, age 84. Continue reading

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God Rewards a Disobedient and Unsubmitted Wife


At the time I am writing, family relationships are one of the several subjects that have become a litmus test of faith in American Christianity. God’s story of life in God’s family, as depicted in the Bible, is much more nuanced than any list of rules we can locate there.

Today, it is still common for women who ask their pastor for help with an abusive spouse to be asked what they are doing to make their husband so angry. And on the reverse side, women seeking to follow God have been taught they must obey their husband, whether or not their husband’s direction is godly.

But when we look for clarification of the rules in the Bible, one of the subtle stories about how women live out their faith and trust in God is the story of a woman named Abigail, whose wealthy husband Nabal was unhospitable, ungenerous and probably flat out greedy. You get the sense from the story in 1 Samuel 25 that maybe one way Nabal became so rich was by refusing to participate in the usual community philanthropies that were expected of any person of means. Continue reading

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The Wrong Way and the Right Way to Steer Clear of Self-Righteousness


No one wants to be labeled “self-righteous.” But it’s pretty easy to fall into that trap, even when you don’t care at all about God. 

Checker

I had just finished offloading my cart of dinner party fixings to the cashier’s conveyor at the market. It was going to be a pretty typical dinner party for us: a low-fat imitation boursin, made from Neufchatel and tofu, to go with veggies and crackers; a couple of chickens that we would bake with lots of garlic and fresh rosemary from our patio garden; a home-baked dessert; and with dinner, a choice of flavored selzer or cran-blueberry cocktail, since none of our guests drank alcohol.

The skinny lady with the perfect blonde ponytail who had checked out ahead of me looked at my order as the cashier began ringing me up. Just before she started rolling her cart away, she volunteered her opinion of my supplies, founded in the righteousness of current dietary fashions: Continue reading

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How to Stop Beating Yourself Up in One Easy Step


Those thoughts batter your mind late at night … just before an important meeting … calling you a fraud, a failure, and worse. Would you try a one-step remedy to shut those voices up forever?

How often do you find yourself thinking:

If ‘they’ knew
that I [did / am / think / want]
whatever ‘it’ is
that horrifies and shames me
about my [life / behavior / identity / thoughts / desires],

I would be an utter outcast
instead of just feeling outcast the way I do.

How often do you find yourself listening to voices in your head that tell you:

You [bad word]!
You mess everything up!
You can’t get anything right!
You always have failed!
You always will fail!
You’re a complete and total failure through and through!

Some people tell you those voices are recordings that you’re playing back from the past. For some people they probably are. For some people, the voices say things that no voice they ever heard could have said — for example, bad words from languages not spoken in their country. Attempting to reject the voices does not seem to work: negating a negative is no more successful in the mirrored corridors of the mind than in logic or in law. For some people, stating affirmations about their own true identity helps to overcome the voices.

The One-Step Method to Overcome Self-Hatred

There’s only one effective way I know to throw self-hatred out the door. Continue reading

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Short-term Mission or ‘Missio-Tourism': A Tourist’s View


The value of short-term missions has been debated for a long time. Now, via a business acquaintance, I’ve obtained a view of their impact on vacationing Americans.

My friends were in a Central American resort area when they encountered what we call short-term missionaries and I think they might call “missio-tourists”:

“The newest development we observed first hand at airports and in Central America — hoards of professionally organized youth and adults, roaming in large groups (as recognized by their lovely colorful t-shirts), toting their Bibles and flooding countries they pretend to visit in the name of doing good.

“Listening to these pimple-faced, overweight youths and their ignorant and insensitive comments about the communities they just helped/bothered made me cringe. ‘They did not even, like, have air conditioning.’

“Really? Missionaries of the 21st century?

“If you only know how to walk around and travel in large Christian groups, please stay at home and don’t bother anybody. It is not going to improve the USA’s image abroad. Let the professionals do the real work with communities abroad, those who actually may need it.”

I know that the first response of many will be that improving the image of the USA isn’t the job of a short-term missionary. Their job is to share the Good News — to make known the image of God.

Making God’s Image Known?

But the more I thought about how these friends described short-term missionaries in the airport, the more I found myself wondering how well they could have represented the image of God overseas when they were doing such a poor job in transit.

I found myself thinking about how Jesus behaved during his journey “home.” While he hung on the cross, he didn’t spend time complaining about the lack of honor and glory on his “short-term” mission outpost, our world, even though those are things he definitely could have missed from his home with the Father.

How Jesus Spent His ‘Airport’ Hours

Instead of grousing about the terrible conditions in the land he was leaving, he spent that part of his “travel time” sharing Good News about the Father’s kingdom with a convicted criminal.

We are responsible to share God’s kingdom life in every place, whether on short-term mission or on our own long-term mission, “having gone” (Young’s Literal Translation, Matt. 28:19) wherever God has called us by the demands of career, family, or even church.

Have you been on a short-term mission trip? What do you think about the benefits and costs?

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