The Best Way to Predict the Future is to Create it.

“The Best Way to Predict the Future is to Create it.” Peter Drucker

Happy New Year! Millions of people throughout the English-speaking world have heard, read, said or written this wishful greeting dozens of times in the past weeks. No wonder I keep thinking, “What could I do to create a Happy New Year for myself?

I rattled off some ideas on my keyboard. They quickly sorted themselves into things I want to Change, things I want to Keep the same, things I want to Start, and things I want to Stop.

I realized that planning for my 83rd year on earth, I couldn’t do this in my head, so last week I made up a chart and filled in the details. It looked so exciting I wanted to boil down a summary in alphabetical order and share it with you.

  1. Emotional Health: Keep on reading light fiction and true story-based memoirs to Jo in the evening. Start planning outings, and days trips in our mini-motorhome after the snow is gone, and cross-border trips after the pandemic is over.
  2. Extended Family: Keep interceding by name for each of our extended family with Jo each morning. Start having one-on-one dates with our eight grandkids, and with each of the four spouses when restrictions are lifted.
  3. Financial: Stop or make a Change in spending money on some subscriptions and recurring business expenses which are not paying for themselves. Start marketing my books: five titles on Bible translation, and three memoirs, all published in paperback, ebook and soon four in audio. Keep on having up-to-date records of Bank Accounts, Insurance, Wills, Medical Directives, Power of Attorney, etc. in a safe place and backed up online. Keep on finding things we no longer need and give them away or have them posted for sale online.
  4. Hobbies: Start making photographs with my 35 mm camera again, instead of quick snapshots with my phone. Keep sorting flower photos from Brazil with Jo, and Start producing collations and prints to decorate our bedroom
  5. Marital: Keep on with morning sharing and prayer times with Jo. Change to having even more frequent and regular dates with Jo, taking time to do things she enjoys as well as things we both enjoy.
  6. Mental-Intellectual: Keep on reading at least one book a week in a wide variety of genres but especially on memoirs since that is what I’m currently writing. Start reading and studying intensively every type of writing instruction I can find in books and online.
  7. Ministry/Work: Keep writing a bi-weekly InSights & OutBursts blog post. Start writing the fourth volume of my/our memoirs, From Adventure to Mission: The Canela Decades, complete at least in first draft. Keep on writing regular Popjes Updates to our prayer and financial partners, etc. and correspond accordingly. Keep alert for ways in which I can be of help to someone.
  8. Physical: Keep walking 5 kilometres a day in good weather. In winter walk when possible, if not, Start doing step up exercises for 20 minutes. Change to swimming when pool opens post-pandemic. Keep on with the modified ketogenic diet. Keep the 45-minute nap after lunch.
  9. Social: Post-pandemic Start building face to face relationships again. Meanwhile, Keep using Zoom to connect with family on Wednesday nights, Sunday afternoons, and with church friends Sunday morning. Keep in contact with phone and social media.
  10. Spiritual: Keep getting up two hours before Jo to read Scripture and my daily affirmations of truth and to write my prayer journal. Keep reading Scriptures and a YouVersion devotional with Jo in the morning and pray with her for ourselves, our family, and friends. Keep on trusting in God’s love, power and wisdom.

Now you know more about me than I did about myself a week ago.

Jesus and the Flight Attendant

“Josh! Share your toys!”

“Ashley! Don’t grab all the cookies for yourself!”

Why do parents have to hassle their children like that? Because babies are born selfish, and it takes years of parental examples of selflessness, and lots of reminding, to get them to stop thinking only of themselves, and learn to empathize with the needs of others. It doesn’t come naturally.

I sometimes wonder what little kids think when they hear a flight attendant tell their mommy to be selfish. You’ve heard them. After the seat belt demonstration come the instructions for the oxygen mask. “If you are traveling with a small child, put on your own mask first, only then put the mask on your child.”

How rude and selfish! How unloving! What a terrible example to the little kid!

No, not really! When mommy makes sure she stays conscious herself she is acting in practical love to her poor, gasping little daughter beside her. It’s a basic principle of life. We must look after our own basic needs first, only then can we meet the needs of others.
Jesus, like the flight attendant, taught the same thing.

“Love God . . . and love your neighbour as you love yourself” was the preface to Jesus’ famous story of the Good Samaritan who stopped to help the naked, bleeding victim of a vicious mugging. He not only had compassion, he had wine and oil and cloth for bandages to treat the sufferer’s wounds. He had extra clothing for the victim to wear, and a donkey for him to sit on. And when they got to the inn, he had money to pay the innkeeper for food and rent. (Luke 10:25-37)

Before he started his journey, the Good Samaritan had made sure he had everything he needed for his journey. He was also ready to share what he had to meet the needs of others. He got ready to act in love to others by loving himself first.

The Bible teaches clearly that our human instinct to love ourselves and take care of our own needs is normal and natural. Yes, this natural instinct can be perverted just as other instincts can be, but unless we love ourselves enough to care for our own basic needs, we won’t be able to love others in any practical way.

Our world abounds in opportunities to show love to others. Newscasts are litanies of evil that decent people need to fight against: corruption in politics, destruction of marriages, unethical practices in business, and the heartless murder of the not-yet-born, etc. We hear of enormous physical and spiritual needs on mission fields around the world.

But what if we neglect our own physical, mental, and spiritual health? What if we don’t take care of our family and business responsibilities? What if we have only a cursory relationship with God? How can we possibly make an impact for good on these world needs?

We would be like a mommy who disobeys the flight attendant’s orders and tries to help her little girl first, but both end up slumped unconscious in their seats.