Category Archives: Help For Mid Life
What Is True Wellness?
This is a guest post by Dr. John Dunlop. He is the author of Wellness to the Glory of God: Living Well after 40 with Joy and Contentment in All of Life. Wheaton: Crossway, 2014. Article adapted from: http://www.crossway.org/blog/2014/09/what-is-true-wellness/
Will I Be Well at Age 95?
Henry came to his appointment huffing and puffing using his walker to get down the hall. I, as his physician, shook his hand and asked, “How is it going my friend?” Smiling he gave me a strong handshake and said, “Praise the Lord, I’m well, thank you!”
As pleased as I was to hear his response, it caught me just a bit off guard. I was 65; he was 95! I found myself wanting to feel just as well in 30 years. All kinds of questions began to pop into my mind:
Can we truly be well at 95, even when short of breath and using our walkers?
Will I be able to say I’m well if I am still on earth at that age?
What can I do now to increase the chance of being well in thirty years?
The Concept of Shalom
The ancient Hebrews contribute to our understanding of wellness by their use of the word shalom. Whereas shalom is often loosely translated as “peace,” the true meaning is far more extensive. At root, shalom means “totality.” It is the sense of wholeness we have when every part of our lives is in a profound harmony and unity within ourselves, with those around us, and with God. Shalom leads to wellness.
Where do we find the integrating principle that brings all of our lives together? Once again the ancient Jews had the correct answer. The famous Shema of Israel says, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deut. 6:4-5). We are to be a people of one God. This must be more than something we recite for we need to have him as our single focus and see all other areas of life brought together in him. We are to love him with all of our hearts, souls, and might.
Our love for God is well illustrated in the Scriptures:
O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise You. (Psalm 63:1-3)
We learn to love God with all of our beings and then find in him our fulfillment and greatest joy. In God we find what we need to be satisfied. We experience shalom through shema and that sets us on the way to true wellness.
All to the Glory of God
And yet while loving God and loving other people are wonderful—and may help us reach our ultimate purpose—they are not that ultimate purpose in themselves. To attain that ultimate goal we must go one level deeper.
Our overriding purpose in life should be to glorify God. We bring God glory in three distinct ways.
First, he is glorified in our own spirits as we find greater joy and fulfillment in him.
Second, others may give him glory as a result of something we do for them that reflects God’s love and goodness.
Third, God is glorified in his own being through our worship as we declare how much we treasure him. The apostle Paul speaks of Christians as being “the aroma of Christ to God” (2 Cor. 2:15). It is difficult to understand fully but in some way we remind God of the sacrifice of his beloved son, Jesus, and in that he is greatly pleased.
Living with a passion for God and his glory will have the following results:
(1) It will free us from worry and anxiety as we will be less focused on ourselves
(2) We will function out of a sense of fullness, not emptiness
(3) It will energize us and ignite us with passion
(4) We will fulfill our true purpose, find our niche, feel at home, and be content
(5) We will do things with eternal impact
(6) We will experience wellness in its truest sense
6 Areas of Wellness
In order to have this unified focus on God and his glory in our lives we must carefully review each area of our lives to see what changes are needed. These areas include:
(1) Physical: Are we being good stewards of the bodies he has entrusted to us? This includes eating well, controlling our weight, exercising, getting proper rest, and taking advantage of the good medical care available to us.
(2) Mental: As age approaches it is increasingly important to keep using and sharpening our minds. Dementia may intervene but even that offers opportunities for God to be glorified.
(3) Social: Relationships are more important as we get older and we need to ensure that we’re making the best of them. It’s critical that we choose a living situation where we will not be isolated but can continue to build close friendships while strengthening our family relationships.
(4) Financial: Are our finances worry-free? Rarely can we increase our resources but we can often limit our expenses. We must be good stewards of the resources God has given us, saving to meet our future needs, and leaving room to be generous.
(5) Spiritual: Our later years offer rich opportunities for spiritual growth and service. Some of the fruit of the Spirit like patience and gentleness may be late bloomers. All believers, no matter their age, are given spiritual gifts through which they can help others. Our abilities may change over the years but there will always be need for prayer and encouragement for others.
(6) Emotional: Are we learning to be content? That must exist in three tenses: we must be comfortable with the past, satisfied in the present, and confident of the future. As age advances depression is all too common and we must learn to effectively deal with that.
Once we get to Henry’s age it’s unreasonable to think that we will continue to be totally well in each of these areas. But, if we review each of them and carefully take stock of where we are now,we can make some corrections that will maximize the chance of true wellness as our lives progress.
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).
John Dunlop (MD, Johns Hopkins University) practices medicine in Zion, Illinois, and serves as an adjunct professor at Trinity International University. He is board certified in geriatrics, holds a master’s degree in bioethics, and is a fellow of the Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity. Dunlop is the author of Finishing Well to the Glory of God: Strategies from a Christian Physician and Wellness to the Glory of God: Living Well after 40 with Joy and Contentment in All of Life. Both published by Crossway Books.
By Jon Bloom
Does God care about how productive we are? He does. Deeply. Consider:
Our fruitfulness reflects on Jesus: “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples” (John 15:8).
We are to live purposefully and manage our time: “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15–16).
We are not to let the less important tasks crowd out the more important: “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary” (Luke 10:41–42).
Our productivity can be an indicator of our faithfulness: “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little. . . . You wicked and slothful servant!” (Matthew 25:21, 26).
Being productive doesn’t just come naturally. Just like any other area of the Christian life, we have to learn it. The Bible gives little instruction on how to do this because the Bible was written for many kinds of people in many cultures living in many eras of technological diversity. So we are called to do the hard work of thinking biblically and experimenting faithfully in our own day.
How Desiring God Became a Web Ministry
But thank God he provides resources so we don’t all have to keep re-inventing the wheels. And Matt Perman is such a resource. His new book titled What’s Best Next is, as John Piper describes it, “simply extraordinary.”
I have known Matt for 16 years. And for 13 of those years, we labored together in the mission of Desiring God. Matt’s contributions to our outreach were many. But there is one particular thing that Matt accomplished that will continue to bear fruit for years to come: the Desiring God website.
In 2004, we delegated the oversight of the site to Matt. He jumped in with both feet and poured countless hours into understanding the principles of how websites worked. And then, with his team, he built a new site from the ground up. When we launched that site in 2006, we had, for the first time, all of John Piper’s recorded and written sermons and articles available online, free of charge, and organized in a way that was easy to use. The day that new site launched, Desiring God really became a web ministry. And Matt Perman is the original architect of this remarkable resource.
Make the Best Use of Time
But an amazing and wonderful thing is that the book What’s Best Next also had its genesis in those intense, often grueling days. As Matt learned how to design websites, he also felt the need to learn how to “make the best use of the time” (Ephesians 5:16). So now there’s another lasting legacy.
What makes this book extraordinary is that Matt 1) synthesizes and modifies the best common-grace productivity practices out there (I know of no one as widely read or reflective in the discipline of productivity), and 2) grounds it all in a gospel-saturated theology. I don’t know how to adequately describe it. It’s sort of like Jonathan Edwards meets Peter Drucker meets David Allen, written in a clear, accessible style.
The book is full of helps. It provides us with the biblical “why’s” for productivity and lots of practical “how’s.” If you like Matt’s system, he will walk you through it from start to finish.
Doing Good and Advancing the Gospel
But most importantly, Matt helps us understand that ultimately, a gospel-driven pursuit of productivity is an act of love towards God and others. It is a way of counting others more significant than ourselves (Philippians 2:3). Repeatedly Matt drives home this point: “Good planning and productivity practices exist to make us more effective in doing good and advancing the gospel” (83).
And so, I commend this book to you as a way to help you live out Ephesians 5:15–16. It was forged partly in the foundry of Matt’s hard work at Desiring God. And as it releases, we share the prayer John Piper expresses at the end of his foreword:
May God give this book wings for the glory of Christ and for the good of the world, and may it bring a blessing back on Matt Perman’s head with wholeness and joy in every corner of his life. (12)
SOURCE: http://www.desiringgod.org/MARCH 17, 2014. For more about What’s Best Next, see the helpful reviews by Tim Challies and Fred Sanders, and read the entirety of John Piper’s foreword in the post by Justin Taylor.
Jon Bloom (@Bloom_Jon) is the author of Not by Sight: A Fresh Look at Old Stories of Walking by Faith and serves as the President of Desiring God, which he and John Piper launched together in 1994. He lives in the Twin Cities with his wife, Pam, their five children, and one naughty dog.
Life Lessons I learned from Noah’s Ark…
ONE: Don’t miss the boat.
TWO: Remember that we are all in the same boat.
THREE: Plan ahead. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the Ark.
FOUR: Stay fit. When you’re sixty years old, someone may ask you to do something big.
FIVE: Don’t listen to critics; just get on the job that needs to be done.
SIX: Build your future on high ground.
SEVEN: For safety’s sake, travel in pairs.
EIGHT: Speed isn’t always an advantage. The snails were on board with the cheetahs.
NINE: When you’re stressed, float awhile.
TEN: Remember, the Ark was built by amateurs. The Titanic by professionals.
ELEVEN: No matter the storm, when you are with God, there’s always a rainbow waiting.