Category Archives: Serving Christ

The Power of Presence

The Power of Presence: A Love Story by Neil T. Anderson

The Power of Presence: A Love Story by Neil T. Anderson

Neil T. Anderson is well known in the Christian community for his ground-breaking books: The Bondage Breaker, Victory Over the Darkness, Freedom in Christ, and others. So I was intrigued when The Power of Presence: A Love Story was offered for review by Kregel. It was promoted as being a book about his care for his wife of 50 years, now gripped with agitated dementia.

My heart goes out to Dr. Anderson. He has served the community well, and is now serving his wife well. There are few things more draining than the dementia of a loved one, and he is devoting this part of his life to her. I wanted to hear more about that journey.

I’m not sure what I expected. Perhaps something like Henry Nouwen’s later writings as he moved from being a professor to serving in a facility for the physically and mentally handicapped. His books from these years speak to and offer hope to those who have been sidetracked by God. As a person who has been involved in family caregiving for over a decade and “looking forward” to many more years, I hoped that Anderson would have words of wisdom for the weary and confused. I hoped that he would bring alive the ministry of presence—both God’s and the caregiver’s.

I was disappointed. While he used his and Joanne’s shared story as a common thread, the bulk of the book was theological. And I had a hard time finding the unifying theme or purpose of the book. I didn’t gain better ideas of how to be a better caregiver, and I often couldn’t draw the connection between the story of Joanne and the theological ramblings. I’m sure if I had had my theological hat on, I would have found the book interesting. But I had my caregiver hat on, and the book was promoted as a “luminous meditation.” I wasn’t meditating and I wasn’t illuminated…

Where Christ is Present

Where Christ is Present

Where Christ is Present: A Theology for All Seasons on the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation edited by John Warwick Montgomery and Gene Edward Veith

I love theology and church history, so was excited to be invited to review Where Christ Is Present: A Theology for All Seasons on the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation. However, nothing in the invitation or summary suggested that it was a Lutheran apologetic. I was surprised and somewhat put off when the authors took strong positions favoring Lutheran theology as they contrasted it with other theologies. Some of the contrasts were respectful; others less so.

That being said, I very much enjoyed the read. The authors offered excellent summaries of various theologies of Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Calvinism, and Weslyanism, as contrasted with Lutheran beliefs. My favorite chapter was the one on the various understandings of salvation by Rod Rosenbladt. It answered a lot of questions that were never addressed in my theology or church history classes. Other authors contrasted the differing theologies on the Lord’s Supper, baptism, grace, and vocation. I also enjoyed the introductory chapters on the Reformation itself. The book was well documented with excellent endnotes and bibiliography.

I found the book easy to read, but I have a graduate degree in theology. I think it would be a bit denser for the average layperson, but I don’t think it would be overwhelming. If you have always wondered why different churches take different approaches to these issues, this would be an excellent resource. Just keep an open mind and look at it as a comparative theology rather than a Lutheran marketing tool. The only reason for the 4-star rating is the fact that the Lutheran apologetic aspect was not clearly disclosed and was too dominant for my taste.

Want to Feel Totally Inadequate? Try Being a Caregiver

Asleep in the Chair

Asleep in the Chair
Photo Credit: Timothy Krause

I’m a long-distance caregiver. I spend about a week a month at Mom’s, managing her medical care and just about anything else she needs. We return home tomorrow. I’m exhausted. I hurt all over. I’m discouraged. Oh, this is nothing new. It happens every time I’m here. It’s not that the work is so hard. In fact, this week was particularly light in terms of medical appointments, which was good news/bad news. We had fewer demands on our schedules, which made it easier for Mom. But it also meant more unscheduled time, which is hard because she and I don’t get along well. We don’t have a lot to talk about, and most of the time, I wear myself out to get her to make good decisions. Which she resents. She wants to do what she wants to do without bearing the consequences.

For example, she has had terrible neck pain for over a year. We’ve tried a variety of medical treatments and several alternative medicine treatments. They help for a while, and then she plateaus. She lives in constant pain. I feel bad for her, and try to get her to make wise choices. Like taking a nap during the day to give her body more time to heal. Like not falling asleep in her chair, which torques her neck, puts more stress on it, and reverses anything we’ve done medically. It seems so obvious to me, but to her, not so much. She wants to be able to do what she wants without being responsible. Or said differently, she wants the freedom to make bad choices and avoid the consequences.

I confess I get frustrated. I’ve spent a lot of time and money to be here, but she doesn’t appreciate that. And somehow, it’s my fault she doesn’t feel better. It’s very confusing. Very disempowering. Very demeaning. I feel inadequate. My own strength fails me.

That’s when I have to lean totally on Jesus. When I suffer insults, I suffer for the sake of Christ, not Mom. When I am weak, I am strong in Him (2 Cor. 12:10). I don’t have to defend myself. I serve. I do what I can. I accept that I will never be appreciated, praised, or acknowledged. I accept that nothing I do will ever be right or good enough. So I serve Mom as unto the Lord (Col. 3:23). I look to Him for my reward. And I forgive quickly.

No, I’ll probably never get the thanks I think I deserve from Mom. But I know someone who is looking at me with great love and affection, and yes, great satisfaction. And for now, that is enough.

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