"A Good Old Age"

– An A to Z of loving and following the Lord Jesus in later years”.

By Derek Prime

- a book review

 

            Old age often gets a bad press. Very often caricatured with grumpiness, aches and pains, loneliness, and isolation it’s not something we particularly look forward to or relish when we’re there. Pastor and Bible teacher, Derek Prime, shows us that there is another way to view, especially to live, old age fruitfully. He does so simply and kindly and persuasively.

            Author Derek Prime was in his 80’s when he wrote this book. “A GOOD OLD AGE” is the exquisite fruit of the author’s lifetime of practicing Christian Ministry and leadership that aims to particularly help elderly Christians sustain and to joyfully navigate the final years of the journey of faith with its unique challenges and rewards. Drawing on his lifetime immersed in God’s Word, Derek Prime gives a roadmap for pursuing godliness in our later years and advises why and how we remain valuable disciples of Jesus Christ in the work of His Great Commission until our last day on earth. He charts the ‘A to Z’ of Christian discipleship in an immensely practical, warm and honest way - biblical wisdom for the elderly.     The value of this book lies in the specific application of the Scriptures to the challenges and opportunities of old age. Honest, insightful and full of grace, this book is a goldmine of wisdom for older believers and a gem for the others. The value of these pages goes far beyond encouraging and motivating senior citizens to enthusiastically accept and live the good old age.  There is also something for families, church leaders and young people too. it will be a great aid to discipleship to a Christian of any age. 

            If you are in the elderly group, reading this book, will perk you up spiritually to finish the race looking up to Jesus. Even if one is aging, one remains alive to continue serving - doing in the closing chapter what one had been doing throughout the course of one’s life.  If still away from it,  this book will help in coming to terms with old age and learning how to handle it - and much more. Instead of succumbing to the temptation to slow to a crawl, we are encouraged to run the race looking to Jesus right through the tape all the way to the end.

            This book is a must read, especially those who still find it difficult to come to terms with ageing and how to live through this phase. You may not have problems with it but others may have. After reading his book you will be able to help and guide such people to happily live their vintage years – living in faith up to their dying day. 

            

About the Author:

            Derek Prime, M.A., S.Th., was born in 1931 in South Lambeth, London, and attended Westminster City School. His parents were neither professing Christians nor churchgoers. In 1944, at the age of 13, some school-friends persuaded him to go with them to a Bible class at Lansdowne Evangelical Free Church in West Norwood, near his home. There he heard the gospel and became a Christian.  In June 1946, at the age of 15, he was baptized and received into church membership. 

            During his teen years, he began to sense a call to the ministry which was soon confirmed and he was ordained to his first pastorate in 1957. He was for twelve years pastor at Lansdowne Evangelical Free Church before moving to Edinburgh at the age of 38 with his wife and five children. Prime was appointed minister at Charlotte Chapel, Edinburgh, where he served for eighteen years (1969-1987).

             While at Lansdowne, he was President of the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches (1966). Since 1987 he has given his time to writing and itinerant ministry and has written a number of books and articles.

“A Happy Old Age” 

 

Author - Ashton Oxenden

Published by Reformation Heritage Books, USA             

 

                The author addresses the “Aged Christian” in the “old age” phase of life. Oxenden reminds his readers that life “is a journey that is soon ended.” He suggests some ways to make our last days the best and happiest of all our life – whatever the condition we may be in at this stage. Firstly, we are to take a “good searching look” and see what sins have marked our life and reflect on the many mercies received. Secondly, we are reminded that every stage of life has its own duties and highlights some of these duties of the Aged Christian. He warns that Satan tempts every one of us all the time and alerts of some temptations in old age. Finally, Oxenden exposes some trials of old age and we are encouraged that joys in old age and to experience them. 

                We are guided to practice active spiritual ageing through having the Bible as our constant companion, regular worshiping in church and praying. 

                Read the book. You will be surprised at the simple things we need to do in the final phase of our momentary life on earth, for ourselves and our loved ones to have contentment and peace as we slip away from Earth, after a happy old age, to glorious Heaven for eternity. The narrative is simple and the Bible references are appropriate. The 73-page pocket-sized book is in clear large print and well laid out making for easy reading.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

                Ashton Oxenden (1808 – 1892) was an English clergyman who served as Anglican Bishop of Montreal and Metropolitan of Canada for 10 years. He was an evangelical Calvinist and a prolific writer, author of more than 40 books

 
Finishing Well to the Glory of God
Strategies from a Christian Physician

Author: John Dunlop, MD.

Most of us want to finish life well, yet so few of us know how to go about it. There is a profound, uniquely Christian approach to the end of life on earth. “Finishing Well to the Glory of God” has been written from several perspectives – as a Christian, as a physician, as a son who saw his parents go through their later days and as a cancer survivor who is approaching his seventies and confronting some issues of ageing. 

            Dr. Dunlop relates nine strategies for finishing well to the glory of God. Among them are: Let Go Graciously; Embrace a Biblical View of Life and Death; and Changing Gears from Cure to Comfort Care. He discusses each strategy with a brilliant combination of biblical reflection, medical expertise and godly warm-hearted wisdom. He brings to the treatise years of experience as a physician and provides pastoral wisdom and social strategies blended with rich scriptures as he addresses spiritual, emotional, psychological, financial and physical needs. 

            This book is a practical guide for patients, care-givers, family members, counsellors – just about anyone who must leave this world one day. Find out very simply, how to finish well for one’s self and how to help a patient or loved one to finish well when called upon or duty bound to be care-giver. It probes very difficult questions that all people, not least Christians, must face as physical death approaches. Find insights to these questions: What purpose can my life have when I am older? What things detract from finishing well? How do I begin to give up the things of this world? Does God have purpose in our suffering? What does the Bible teach about life and death? What does death lead to? What needs to be done to bring closure with loved ones? How to make a decision when to withhold and when to withdraw care? What does it mean to switch gear from cure to comfort care? When to do so?

            Read this book to live well and finish well and to help others likewise. Dr. Dunlop has covered the whole trail and the reader benefits from his rich experience for immediate application.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

                John Dunlop MD. (Graduate of Johns Hopkins University, USA). He serves as an adjunct professor at Trinity International University and practices geriatrics in New Haven, Connecticut where he is affiliated with Yale School of Medicine. He also authored other books such as Strategies from a Christian Physician and Wellness for the Glory of God; Living Well after 40 with Joy and Contentment is All of Life.​

He Walks with Me

Devotions for Your Caregiving Journey with God

Published by Our Daily Bread

Are you tired by the thankless task of caring for your loved ones?

Do you struggle with guilt, resentment, or bitterness?

Does it seem impossible to keep on trusting God?

From Our Daily Bread Ministries:

"Caring for someone is one of the most difficult responsibilities a person can take on. Much is expected from you, including the ability to play multiple roles: parent, nurse, counsellor, provider, and helper. You can expected to play these roles all the time. And you are expected to sacrifice yourself and everything you have - your time, your hobbies, your own family, your dreams, and your happiness - for someone else.

 

What makes it harder is the fact that most of the time, caregiving is not something we can prepare or plan for: It can be a shock to discover just how stressful, exhausting, and frustrating it gets. As you spend most your days giving - and never receiving - you may find yourself exhausted physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Worse, you may feel trapped in the role, knowing that you cannot leave until the person you are caring for is completely healed or has passed on. This can fill you with resentment, especially when others don't seem willing to sacrifice their time - but expect you to give up yours. No one seems to understand that you, the caregiver, can suffer as much as the person you're caring for."

“The Blessedness of Death”

By Dallas Clarnette

        

        In the first part of this 72-page book the author reminds readers that the death of any person is a certainty. In his observation: It is very strange thing this -  the one certainty, yet we do not think about it. We are too busy. We allow life and its circumstances to so occupy us that we do not stop and think…People say about sudden death, “it is a wonderful way to go.”Clarnette concludes that such mentality is quite wrong; the way we go out of this world is very important.

        In 1981, Clarnette conducted the funeral service of 3 young men all killed at the same time in a car accident. Their car hit a sheet of water and skidded right into the path of an on-coming semi-trailer along a stretch of road, in Australia. One father’s obituary for his son read: “Bad luck, pal, Dad” which led Clarnette to believe that only a person with utter mindless grief, and a heart “having no hope and without God in the world” could say “Bad luck, pal”.

        He notes of instances where people celebrated the death of a loved one with godly abandon. He laments that actually people are celebrating the life of the deceased, rather than serious reflections on the significance of death; it  only shows to what extent society has lost all fear of God. On the other extreme death is celebrated with great lamentation, remorse and expression of regret and recrimination towards those who caused the death of the person.

        In his experience, Clarnette noticed such an attitude prevails among non-Christians. He says: “This is not to deny that many non-Christians meet their death with heroism and defiance. Yet when they do, it is at the best, stoicism, for they can only make assumptions about what lies ahead; while Christians meet death with a certainty because of Christ’s resurrection. They know what’s ahead. They know they are made in God’s image. They know where they are going. And they know what welcome awaits them. For that very reason, they know, as death comes to them a great inner sense of peace and rejoicing in the knowledge of Christ.”

        In his interest in studying the death of believers (including the period before death) Clarnette came across one conclusion that the death of believers were associated  with circumstances significantly different to the death of believers. Secondly, many Christians die without the ability to communicate, in their last days or weeks. But many who can talk, die without giving any clear testimony to their trust in Christ. 

        How do we explain the marked difference between how believers face death today than they once did? The author offers the following:

1. The outlook of believers used to be God-centred – in a way, ours is not.

2. A grievous weakness of faith

3. A serious deficiency in theological knowledge

4. In as much as there are degrees of faith, there is one called the full assurance of faith which, seemingly, most Christians are not interested in achieving.

        Thankfully, there are instances where others (i.e. believers) give a ringing testimony of their trust in Christ and their expectation of being with Him. The pages in the second half of the book are devoted to reporting selected and glorious moments in the lives of saints down the years as they approached their coronation. The 27 cases include one on a 14 year old. They speak to us today, at a time when “joy unspeakable and fullness of glory (1 Peter 1:8) seems to be such a rare emotion among the saints of the Lord. They should urge us to make sure that we prepare well for our departure from this life.

 

About the Author:

        Dallas Clarnette began preaching in 1953 and was ordained to the ministry in 1960. Service in churches in Victoria, New South Wales, Western Australia  and Queensland, together with a period as Academic Dean and lecturer at Kingsley College, have filled the years. Opportunities for ministry in India, Singapore, Cyprus, Kenya and China have also been taken up. He has earned degrees from Asbury Theological Seminary, Kentucky (Master of Arts in Religion) and Luther Rice Seminary, Florida (Doctor of Ministry).

“AGING MATTERS – Finding Your Calling for the Rest of your Life”

          By R. Paul Stevens.

 

          How are we to think of old age or the senior years of our lives? More importantly, how are we to live out these years? And how are we to live with faith? Does aging increase our spirituality? Or soul search? Are there special vices and virtues in aging and spiritual disciplines to enable us to grow spiritually in our most senior years? In his book Aging Matters, R. Paul Stevens the author, comments that “People fear aging partly because they fear death. The logic is circular. It is mostly old people who die. So we fear getting old because we will die. So aging is a paradox. Everyone wants to live longer, but none of us wants to get old.” What’s your reaction to Steven’s observation?

          These and other questions are taken up in this informative and thought-provoking book. The author approaches these questions from a perspective of a Christian faith drawing on the Scriptures but he writes in a way that could be accessed by people who are not Christians. Aging Matters is written in three parts:  Calling, Spirituality, and Legacy. Part One deals with our attitude toward work and retirement. The author introduces two simple ideas which he reiterates a few times in his book: (1) God calls people in all walks of life (not just the clergy) to work that uses their gifts for the good of others; and (2) work need not come with a paycheck in order to be “work.”

          “I have a serious proposal to make. We should work until we die.” So begins Part One of Aging Matters. This thesis may startle or even anger folks who are looking forward to retirement or those who are enjoying newly gained leisure to travel or play more or just run after grandchildren. But it may comfort others who fear retirement as a loss of self, those who are asking, “When I reach the retirement age and am no longer a [manager/pastor/lawyer/corporate officer — fill in the blank] who will I be?” Their only question is “How can I keep working?” Steven’s thesis is that we are created by God to work and, in fact, will probably continue to work in the afterlife. By the way, what is your take on “work in the afterlife? He defines work as “energy expended purposefully – whether it be manual, mental, or both, and regardless of whether it is or not remunerated. When we play, we may be expending energy, but it is not purposeful.” Stevens affirms that wherever we find ourselves on the age clock, God calls us to use our gifts for the good of the world. This call continues throughout our lives, though it may take different shapes to fit changing circumstances.

          In the section on Spirituality he considers whether the aging process itself is a spiritual discipline, a spiritual journey. Find out what vices and virtues are uniquely associated with aging. With a light and sometimes humorous touch Stevens addresses aging as a spiritual journey and the vices and virtues of aging. He discusses how the pain of progressive losses can deepen us. Loss comes bearing gifts. One reviewer of this book aptly summarizes these gifts as:

  • Intensification toward a contemplative life

  • Simplification with its concurrent freedom

  • Learning to live in the present moment (which he calls “heavenly mindedness”).

  • The blurred line between sacred and secular

  • Seeing time as a precious resource.

          In the third Part, learn about leaving a multifaceted legacy and how to prepare for death and what there is on the other side. In a subsection called “Death of the Whole Person,” Stevens writes, “More than our bodies die:  emotions, personality, capacity for relationships, capacity for giving and receiving love.” 

          The take-aways from this book include: 1. The reader will see advancing years in quite a different perspective. He will see aging as a process of maturing that is laden with new opportunities. 2. There is hope as faith enables us to see an ultimate future which is even better than the past. 3. Receive guidance to discover our calling. 4. Envisage Spiritual and Personal Growth – realize that the very process of aging is a spiritual journey of become the whole person, more connected with God, with others and with the created order. 

 

          You may want to consider adding a copy of “Aging Matters” to your library of books for reference in the future or by others after you have read it for yourself. But the book has another possibility. Each chapter ends with stimulating questions for group discussion.

 

About the Author:

R. PAUL STEVENS

Professor Emeritus, Marketplace Theology and Leadership

BA, BD, DD (McMaster University), 

Paul Stevens joined the Regent faculty in 1987 as Associate Professor of Applied Theology. During his tenure at Regent, Dr. Stevens taught courses on Marketplace Theology, equipping and empowering the people of God, and ministry and spirituality. In addition, he served the College as Academic Dean. Dr. Stevens’s primary focus in teaching and writing is equipping the whole people of God for leadership. He has taught and spoken at institutions all over the world, including Tyndale Seminary in Toronto, the Christian Studies Institute in Brazil, Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Biblical Graduate School of Theology in Singapore, and in Kenya for the Certificate in Ministry offered by Carey Theological College. Dr. Stevens was named Professor Emeritus of Marketplace Theology and Leadership in 2005 and continues to teach courses frequently at Regent.