10-10-10

10-10-1010-10-10 by Suzy Welsh is a very simple and very practical decision making tool. It revolves around asking three simple questions: When faced with a dilemma, stop and ask, “What will the consequences of my options be in 10 minutes, 10 months, and 10 years?”

This approach helps broaden the variables in complex decision making. It enables us to tap into our values and focus on our goals as we face the immediate crisis of making a decision. Some choices have long ranging consequences and other do not. 10-10-10 helps us weigh the different consequences of our decisions.

10-10-10’s applicability is wide ranging. “From college students to busy mothers to senior business executives, from artists to government administrators to entrepreneurs, 10-10-10 has shown its effectiveness in decisions large and small, routine and radical, changing lives for the better at home, in love, at work, and in friendship.”

While I appreciate the power of this decision making tool and recommend it to others, it doesn’t go far enough. And I mean more than extending it to 50-50-50, to enable decisions to be made with ‘whole of life’ implications considered.

As a Christian, I believe that we all make decisions with eternal consequences. Choices made today and tomorrow will have implications for more than this life alone. If I choose to shut God out of my life for the next 10 minutes, and the next 10 months, and the next 10 years, then I run the risk of distancing myself from God for all eternity. My choice is to trust God with the complexity of day to day, month to month, year to year decisions. I believe that God has secured my eternity through Jesus Christ and that every decision I make should reflect this reality.

The words of John Newton, in his famous song Amazing Grace, come to mind:

When we’ve been there 10,000 years
Bright shining as the sun
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we first begun

Let’s make our decisions by weighing up the consequences for 10 minutes time, 10 months time, 10 years time, and 10 thousand years into eternity. I’d love to cooperate with Suzy Welch in a Revised Edition called 10-10-10-10!

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Comms are back

My computer just gave me a message…

Welcome back Macarisms!

Obviously a smart aleck Macbook Pro making the comment. But the truth is, I’ve written just three posts on this site since October 2014. So here comes a change.

My plan, God-willing, is to return to spending a bit more time reading, reflecting, and writing. Much of my bookwork in 2015 has been focused around planning, preparing, and preaching at Stromlo where I’m a pastor. Meanwhile, the pile of ‘unread good stuff’ gets higher and higher, and the space where I cram all the ‘I must write something about thats’ gets messier and messier.

My plan is also to repent of a personal pride—the pride of only allowing Macca’s stuff on macarisms.com. To be honest, I’ve found much value in the links, posts, and tweets of others. And much of the best stuff I’ve found gets passed on by a friend of a friend of a friend. So I plan to relax and pass on a few gems from time to time.

A picture seeing as it’s Seniors Week!

welcomeback

Posted in Personal | 3 Comments

Ministry on holidays

I know I’m on holidays, and I didn’t plan it this way, but the beginning of 2015 has offered a number of opportunities for ministry. On Sunday 4th January I had the opportunity to preach on Hebrews 10:19-25 at South Coast Presbyterian Church and warn people of the dangers of making new year’s resolutions that focus on personal achievement. Typically on new year’s eve we decide how we’re going to work harder, but God is calling us instead to rely deeply and continuously on the completed work of Jesus. That night I was also interviewed on 2CH about Hope Beyond Cure.

During the following week I was interviewed by a leader of the Next Gen conference who drove down to the South Coast to ask me questions about suffering and hope in the gospel. I sat in front of my tent and answered questions for about an hour, so that he could edit the material into three 5 minute segments to use at the conference this week. Someone sent me a tweet saying they were at the conference and were encouraged by the interviews.

On Saturday we travelled to the Central Coast to celebrate my mother’s 80th birthday. It was a joyous occasion and good to see family again and meet my new niece, Annabelle. We stayed with Jim and Lesley Ramsay and as usual found them a great encouragement. On the return trip we dropped Marcus at the airport so that he could head to the Gold Coast to catch up with friends he made at the CMS MMM camp this year. He’s been preparing Bible studies to do with his friends during this time.

moretolifeOn the Sunday I spoke at the first of the Church@theBeach events for Austi Anglican. I had the opportunity to share something of my journey with cancer and to speak of my hope in the resurrection to come. Afterwards I met a woman who had just discovered she had metastatic cancer and had recognised her need to work out the big issues of life, death, God, and the life to come. I will be praying for her.

Next weekend we are looking forward to our son, Marcus, getting baptised here at Burrill. If you are down near Burrill at 3pm on Sunday you’d be very welcome to join us.

Posted in Pastoral ministry, Preaching | 2 Comments

Our 31st anniversary present

loveWe received a wonderful wedding anniversary present this morning—yesterday’s CT scan showed that I’m still NED! There is no evidence of cancer in my body. I don’t know why things have been going so well for me, especially when cancer destroys the lives of so many, but I’m very thankful to God. It is now over 18 months that I’ve been NED.

Do I have to continue with the chemo? Yes. Can I take a break? Yes. My oncologist was happy with the idea of me skipping two treatments over the summer. That could mean I get eight weeks in a row without the awful side effects of chemo. Awesome :) We’ll need to make a decision about exactly what to do, but I’m looking forward to a bit of a break.

It’s fair to say that I have a bit of a spring in my step today. I am so appreciative to God for his loving kindness.

Posted in Journey with Cancer | 4 Comments

Marking a milestone

threeToday marks a significant milestone for me. Three years ago I was admitted to hospital with cancer and, within days, a year seemed like an eternity. Now three years, two operations, 50 cycles of chemotherapy, God’s kindness, and a lot of love from a lot of people, and I’m still here—thank God!

And thank you! For your prayers, your visits, your emails, your phone calls, your messages, your meals, your financial help, our walks, the words with friends, the motorbikes, the holidays, your feedback, your encouragement, your wisdom, your nursing, your doctoring, your acupuncture, your physio, the rugby, the camping, the fishing, the reading, the playing…

I thank God for my life! And I thank him for the solid hope of life to come!

Posted in Journey with Cancer | 8 Comments

The value of a life

I’ve written recently about our desire to see Crizotnib on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) in Australia as soon as possible. This decision must be made by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) who meet three times each year, in March, July, and November.

The PBAC is an independent expert body appointed by the Australian Government. Members include doctors, health professionals, health economists and consumer representatives. Its primary role is to recommend new medicines for listing on the PBS. No new medicine can be listed unless the committee makes a positive recommendation. When recommending a medicine for listing, the PBAC takes into account the medical conditions for which the medicine was registered for use in Australia, its clinical effectiveness, safety and cost-effectiveness (‘value for money’) compared with other treatments.

There are real difficulties knowing how to measure cost-effectiveness. The temptation is that a an expensive drug that helps a small number of patients, which is not guaranteed to be curative, will quickly be considered non-cost effective. However, when you factor in that the person or the government might be spending similar sums on other treatment; that the targeted therapy may have better medical outcomes; that it may introduce a much improved quality of life; that it may enable the patient to return to work and not experience the financial and personal costs of joblessness; and more… the equation is not simple.

And another important factor, and I do not know if this is considered by the PBAC or not—if a drug enables the person to live an extra six months, or six years, or whatever, with their family, friends, and community, isn’t this worth something. I know it is to me, and my wife, and my children, and my grandchild, and my friends, and my church, and a bunch of others.

I’ve recently met up with people from Rare Cancers Australia. They are doing a great work of helping to support people who cannot afford the treatments they need. This month they have launched a campaign called Sick or Treat. Please take a look and see if you might be able to help.

anitaPlease also watch this clip from the Today Show. Anita has the same cancer and mutation as me, and it is excellent that this is getting publicity. If you feel like lobbying the PBAC, please do. If you pray, please ask God that they will approve this drug and many others like it.

Posted in Journey with Cancer | 1 Comment

The morality of God in the Old Testament

Layout_GenesisHow are we to understand the Israelites being commanded to wipe out all the Canaanites in Deuteronomy and Joshua? What do we make of the various Psalms that call down curses on the enemies of the writers and God? Perhaps, like me you are troubled by these things (and others) in the Bible. Atheists, such as Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Christopher Hitchens, and Sam Harris, point to these things as evidence for the moral corruption of God (who they believe is really a fiction). Christians come under attack for their beliefs in a God, whom some describe as a moral monster. Some would say how can Christians criticise the recent actions of the IS in Iraq or Syria, when the Old Testament provides evidence of God’s people doing similar things, and at the behest of God?

Let me say that this isn’t really the atheist’s problem—this is a problem that the Jews and the Christians need to deal with. For the atheist, the problem is not with God, for he/she/it doesn’t actually exist, but with the people who claim to believe in God. Their criticism is fundamentally toward religious people justifying their immoral behaviours in the name of an imaginary divine being. However, for the Christian who believes that God is real, that he has revealed himself to people, and that he is involved in human history—there are real issues to consider when it comes to trusting that God is morally pure. This is an issue that I’m keen to explore further.

In considering this matter, I’ve recently read a brief book by G.K. Beale, called The morality of God in the Old Testament. The book focuses on the commands of God to destroy every man, woman and child of the Canaanites (e.g.. Deuteronomy 20:10-18) and also on the imprecatory Psalms (e.g.. Psalms 7; 35; 55; 58; 68; 79; 109; 137) which call upon God to judge and destroy his enemies.

Beale explores various proposed solutions to deal with the difficulties raised by these passages. First, he describes how people argue that wartime ethics differ from peacetime ethics. While this may be true, it doesn’t account for the commands to kill non-combatants. Secondly, he explores the suggestion that the command to kill women and children is not meant to be taken literally, but is a metaphoric way of describing a total victory over the Canaanites. Beale demonstrates that while there may be something in both these suggestions, neither adequately explain the texts.

Instead Beale offers a fivefold approach to engaging with these issues. His approach gives important nuance and perspective to interacting with the difficult moral issues of the Old Testament.

  1. God’s wiping out the wicked Canaanites as a demonstration of his justice;
  2. God’s extermination of the Canaanites as a purifying of uncleanness of the Promised Land as an Edenic sanctuary;
  3. God’s self-sufficiency and independence from creation;
  4. suspension of ethical obligation by typology and intrusion of final judgment;
  5. suspension of the law of neighbour love. (p33)

Beale argues that we need to recognise the uniqueness of the Canaan episode. It does not offer a paradigm for continued activity in the Old Testament, let alone the New Testament. Instead, it should be seen as a once-only, historic actioning of God’s redemption of Israel, as the nation enters into the land of promise. This salvation/judgment event is also to be understood as a type of what is to happen through Christ’s first and second coming.

There is more to his argument than this, but he demonstrates how it is important to allow Scripture to be understood in it’s full biblical context. The critiques of Dawkins and others show absolutely no understanding of the overall shape of the Bible or the saving purposes of God in the Old and New Testaments.

I still find the matters being described troubling, but no more so than the reality of death and the promise of eternal judgment for all who dismiss God. As a Christian I need to grapple with why God allows any suffering, evil or death, and especially with the moral rightness of God judging people for eternity. It’s sobering to remember how much my own moral failings corrupt my ability to recognise what is right and true and perfect. It’s totally presumptuous (and deluded) to think that I can stand morally superior to God, and judge him for his actions. This becomes clearest to me when I am reminded that God loved the world so much, that he sent his only Son, Jesus, to die in our place, so that all who trust in him will not perish but have everlasting life. Such is the moral character of God.

Posted in Books, Christian living | 2 Comments