Thursday, June 17, 2010

Growing old in these days

I attended a graduation party recently and found myself seated next to a 52 years old social worker. She is widow; her husband died young and she never remarried. She says she is a believer in Jesus Christ and does not attend any church or Bible study and the like. She was positive, engaging, and animated. She was a very interesting woman.

Her work is primarily with older people. She loves the older people but she doesn’t like their kids; the older people’s kids are baby boomers. I asked her why and she said older people today help one another but she fears that the baby boomers will carry their “me only,” “I only worry about myself”and “to hell with the rest of you” attitude into old age.

The most generous old people are the poorest ones; they are very generous with the little that they have, she told me. Richer people are not as generous and look down on those “below” them. “They never ask for help from those who they consider to be of lower economic status,” she observed.

She told me to tell my “baby boomer” friends that the joy ride is over. As we age we will see costs rise and services being cut. She is at the end of the baby boomer age herself and says looking forward is not a pretty picture.

I asked if the church could help. She laughed. “The last place I’d ask for help would be the church;” a stinging rebuke. Most churches have an inward focus (if it has any focus) and the churches today seem to have no or little outward focus, she commented.

When I asked her what I had to look forward to in the nursing home she said, “Be prepared to be alone, in our generation other patients will probably not help.” She has noticed the nurses, men and women lack compassion. “Tell me something positive,” I said. She told me the young nurses coming in seem to be different from the 30-50 year old nurses. The new younger nurses are more kind and compassionate than the previous generation. Good news for a growing old man.

As I reflected on all she said, I said to myself, what a sad example my generation has become. It angers me when she slams Christ’s church. Sadly much of what she said is true. I guess we will sit in our own drivel and waste away. No one else will care and neither will we.

How do we as Christians respond? Jesus says, “I will be with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20). Remember God’s promise in these days—The Lord is with us.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

An Unplanned Evening in Starbuck, Minnesota

We were returning home from a business conference at the University of Minnesota Morris when we had car trouble in Starbuck. It was about 5:30 p.m. as our car rolled to a stop in front of the convenience store at the intersection of Hwy. 28 and the Main Street of Starbuck.

Being from out of town and about eighty miles from home, I looked at my wife and said, “This should be interesting.”

As we walked into the convenience store, I asked the manager “Who should we call for help?” Without hesitation he said, “Call John Perry” and handed me the phone book but we did not get an answer. A customer filling gas came in and asked how he could help; he said that John lived near him.

Another employee, a young man named Patrick, said John was his step Dad and he would call him on his cell. We were impressed with this small town kindness.

John and Audrey arrived quickly and towed our car to John’s Star Motors. The initial diagnosis was serious—transmission problems.

We called to find a ride home and our neighbor, Jane, graciously agreed to make the trip. Expecting a two hour wait, John and Audrey suggested we have dinner at a fund raiser being held at the old train depot a few blocks away. Incidentally, this is a type of event that was recommended at the conference to enhance our communities—farmers market, benefit meal, and local entertainment.

We, the outsiders, walked in with a tentative nature to be met with friendly servers. After we told of our blight, they jokingly said this supper was planned just for us—they knew we were coming!  Again we experienced the delightful small town kindness.

We ate with two couples; the women happened to be sisters. We visited like old friends; we shared our meal interspersed with good talk and humor. They also informed us that John Perry is a good guy and that they always take their car to him. We were relieved to hear the high recommendations.

We finished eating and walked up to the convenience store to meet our ride and visited with many friendly, helpful people.

The next day John looked at our car and called to say he had good news; it was not the transmission but an axle failure. He would have the car ready in a couple of hours. We were more than pleased. We were more than impressed.

Does the community of Starbuck realize how special it is? Everyone we met was welcoming, helpful, and honest—the customer at the gas pump, the convenience store manager, Patrick, the people at the community supper, and John and Audrey at Star Motors.

We wanted to take this opportunity to thank everyone in Starbuck for the kindness shown to a couple of “wayfaring strangers.” We certainly felt God’s hand in this unplanned and possible trying situation which became an experience of grateful praise to Him as well as His people.  Thanks to all of you, especially John and Audrey Perry—we are strangers no more.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Passionate About Nothing

The following is a quote from the book "Blue Like Jazz" by Donald Miller. My daughter was reading this book for her book club. She gave me a copy of my own after she saw me reading hers. 

On page 111, Donald Miller says:
“A friend of mine, a young pastor who recently started a church, talks to me from time to time about the new face of church in America—about the postmodern church. He says the new church will be different from the old one, that we will be relevant to culture and the human struggle. I don’t think any church has ever been relevant to culture, to the human struggle, unless it believed in Jesus and the power of His gospel. If the supposed new church believes in trendy music and cool Web pages, then it is not relevant to culture either. It is just another tool of Satan to get people to be passionate about nothing.”

I Peter 1:13-19 says (ESV): 13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, "You shall be holy, for I am holy." 17 And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one's deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, 18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.

Hebrews 2:3-10 (ESV): 3 how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, 4 while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.

5 Now it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking. 6 It has been testified somewhere, "What is man that you are mindful of him, or the son of man, that you care for him? 7 You made him for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honor, 8 putting everything in subjection under his feet.“ Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his controlAt present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him.  9 But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. 10 For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.

Enough said.