Category Archives: Aging

Afterglow – from Mother’s Day, Part I

With many others we intentionally and with great care, design all worship services to bring our people into God’s Presence.  There we seek to lead them in adoration of the Father and his Son and to the Holy Spirit’s direction for inspiration to serve God and Christ.  We have shared in many such stimulating worship experiences through the years.  And each time we’ve thanked God for gathering his people on Sunday.

Sunday, May 14, 2017, MOTHER’S DAY, brought a landmark worship service for Escondido Christian Church.  By combining God’s word with life-experiences and memories of mothers and grandmothers.

A few stories were humorous.  One lady said her mother was the best cook in the world.  She wished she had paid attention!  One said a coat of paint covers a multitude of sins.  This writer wondered aloud if that was the same idea as “women need make-up because every old barn needs new paint.”  Only groans filled the air.  Another said her mother always told her never go anywhere if she couldn’t come home on roller skates.  Couldn’t figure that one!  Still another told her daughter to “marry a rich man.”  “But what if I don’t love him?” she queried.  “You can Learn to Love him!!” she declared.

One guy noted that his mom married his dad after his first wife—mom’s sister—died in childbirth.  Thanks, mom, he said, “I wouldn’t want to look like Aunt Gertie.”

A few accounts remembered their mother or grandmother’s concern for others.  Two stories related their desire to help others, to always be kind to others and to say only good things about them.  Another related the patience of their maternal leader.  She never raised her voice in anger and never complained about anything.  (Since we have a very informal congregation, on hearing this one, one of the ladies piped up with, “That certainly doesn’t apply to me.”)

Another to the positive effect mom and her mother had on her life.  They cared for husbands through multiple surgeries, offering long-term care and provided daily help in practical needs.  Our lady learned care-giving from them:  ministering to her mom for almost 15 years, then to her own husband.

A pleasant shock rolled through the group when a daughter by email related her own story.  At 9 years of age she had fallen off her speeding bicycle and struck her head on an upraised sprinkler head.  That left her in a coma for months, from which she emerged with some brain damage.  She suddenly couldn’t read, write or do her sums.  Her mother tirelessly worked with a teacher and principal to re-teach memory skills.  She recovered and gained 3 education degrees—partially to celebrate her ability to do it.  She counseled that the odds against such a recovery had been diminished by getting immediate rehab help.      – End Part I –

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Aging – help for in short supply

While the number of Americans over 75 years increases rapidly, the number of geriatricians lags.  As the writer noted, geriatricians are like the African okapi—a “revered, rare and endangered” species.  Geriatrics is a specialty so unpopular few in medicine choose it.  While medicine greatly increased life expectancy, it hasn’t recruited the medical specialists to support the lifestyle of the aging.  Approximately 7,000 practice in the U.S. in 2016.  Another 6,200 are needed in 14 years to keep pace with the aging population.

The reasons are varied.  One, since the purpose of medicine is to restore health, and the medical problems of advanced seniors are often terminal, curative, not palliative, care is preferred.  Two, salaries are significant at a median of $220,000, but half that of a cardiologist—despite demanding 1-2 years of training beyond.  Three, the time each geriatric needs is increased by their body’s inability to respond to treatment and their oftentimes inconsistency in following doctor’s directions.  San Diego U-T, 2/10/16

Obviously the church isn’t the only organization not interested in caring for ailing advanced seniors.  From this minister’s experience working with seniors, I understand the problem, particularly trying to surface their need of God.

We rent a room in a Senior Center for morning worship.  I have seen Seniors barely able to shuffle toddling their way to Bingo on Sunday mornings.  I’ve intentionally made myself available to the Seniors gathering at 9 AM  to await Bingo at noon.  Their need to get a chosen seat is second only to their need of fellowship.  They reserve the same table, then meet with their group to kibitz.

I’m convinced they aren’t thinking of death, dying and judgment.  Not one of the many I’ve talked to have ever hinted they had a spiritual need.  They have lived so long without God they consider him irrelevant.  It’s more of the old Satanic lie:  you live, you die, you go to Heaven—whether God likes it or not; whether he’d ready for you or not.

Does a ministry among Seniors have hope for success?  Yes, but only if personal relationships with unsaved seniors are established and maintained.  A “ministry of presence” among them is needed before a “ministry of penetration” into their rigid spiritual concepts can occur.  It’s likely that most any other ministry would be more productive, though none is more necessary.  No one, not even seniors who fought for their country in WWII, Korea or Viet Nam, can enter Heaven except by Jesus Christ’s permission.  Since so many Seniors have no personal relationship with him, he won’t recognize them.

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Aging – vigor in

Wade Phillips is now 68 years old and the architect of the Denver Broncos defense that harried and humiliated Panther quarterback Cam Newton.  The self-proclaimed Superman of the NFL proved to have legs of clay that couldn’t scoot to safety in Super Bowl 50.  (If Newton learns humility from his defeat, it will be the best lesson of his life.)  San Diego U-T, 2/8/16

Only the willingness of Denver coach Gary Kubiak gave Wade his chance.  While a veteran of many coaching years, including as head coach, but normally the genius of defenses, Phillips didn’t coach in 2015.

Too old?  Too many younger, equally-capable men?  Too old?  Lost some of his creative genius?  Or just too old?  Hooray for old man Manning at 39.  Hooray even more for 68 year old, white-haired man Wade Phillips.

As this writer has often said, and repeated, churches would be spiritually enriched if they hired older preachers.  Heck, not a few churches would immediately profit by hiring a 70 year old man.  Heck, even more would profit by hiring an 80 year old exhorter.  The ram’s horn summoning Israel to assemble for worship or war didn’t have to be new.  A man who retains his energy and mind can be the best addition to many a church staff.

We can’t be confident it will happen.  We can hope it shall.

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Aging – vigor in

As a tiny, thin, blond-haired, blue-eyed, German-speaking Jewess in 1944, she served as spy for French Intelligence behind enemy lines.  In 2015, at age 95, she continued relaying her experiences at least once a week to interested groups.

Let’s see:  at 95 years she felt compelled to travel and speak of experiences 70 years old!  How many of us, far or some younger, find our age an excuse to no longer serve the Living God and his Risen Christ?

I have sometimes concluded that my writing, at age 79, may be too little, too late.  Nevertheless, I won’t use my age as an excuse to stop!  Is there anyone reading this who can be challenged to let no excuse keep us from serving the Savior who let no reason keep him from the Cross?

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Christ – Lord and Savior…both…not just Savior

That Jesus shared a meal with the two disciples at Emmaus, Luke 24:30-31, doesn’t mean he observed the Lord’s Supper.  They likely knew nothing about the Supper since it had been instituted only 72 hours before.

What we shouldn’t miss in the account is that Jesus transitioned from guest to host.  While on the road he was but a stranger and had to be urged to stay.  But once in the house, he automatically assumed his role as host, and the men as his guests.

That seamless transition from guest to host symbolized a truth taught everywhere in Scripture:  Jesus will enter only those homes where he is welcomed, only those lives asking him to enter.  But once we open the door, or our minds and hearts, he COMES in and, when he does, he’s the BOSS.

Forget self-awareness, self-improvement, self-fulfillment, or any of the other Satanic substitutions for self-denial when we accept Christ.  He IS Savior if we seek forgiveness.  But once we’re cleansed, he’s LORD of life.  Discipleship is all about him, his will, his word, his plans, his Spirit.  He won’t enter where he isn’t wanted, he won’t come to STAY where only his Forgiveness is desired, but his Lordship isn’t.

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Aging – in discipleship offers benefits to churches

A San Diego Union Tribune article 4/27/15, called Elders of Invention, stressed the creativity of senior citizens.  The people profiled had engineering and business backgrounds that continued to function after their retirement.  They continue in their 80’s to be sharp-minded creationists.

“Good ideas are ageless,” one said.  And women are particularly gifted as creationists.  A “bubbling imagination” in creativity is more important than particular knowledge of a product, the writer said.  And Dr. Gary Small, of UCLA, noted that “an aging brain can see patterns better.”

Naturally, any creative effort demands time, patience and, that favorite word perseverance.  But what lasting good comes without that favorite word?

The spiritual implications are obvious.  As businesses, schools, and organizations see the advantages in hiring Seniors, church leaders remain unimpressed.  Perhaps the last organization to see value in older people, the church can most profitably use their experience, insights, and depth of discipleship.  Consider just three ways:  one, teaching in-depth Bible studies to small groups; two, as mentors of young preachers; three, as tutors of young families.

A lot of us old people are still rarin’ to serve.  And any small amount of money they cost a church is vastly repaid in results.  What church will be wise enough to see their value in helping prepare the next generation’s witnesses to Jesus Christ?

P.S.  A few years ago, The Restoration Herald, reaching hundreds of churches, published my article suggesting that churches should consider hiring Senior Ministers.  I received no indication from any pastor that a call came due to the article.  I doubt if this blog will have any better results.  Nevertheless….