Help Us Help Others

Help Us Help Others
Chaplaincy Clark County

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Triangle, circles, community and Christ

Good morning,
I pray that the day is finding you well.
I got to the YMCA a few minutes later than normal this morning, the snow storm that we were going to have never really materialized.  In fact, the weatherman told us last night that NOAA would not even record the snow that we did get because it wasn’t measureable.  I learned that “a trace” of snow is not measurable, hmm.
When I got to the YMCA Norm, Nikki, and Lindsey were at the front desk.  Norm and Nikki doing their normal front desk stuff and Lindsey had a child from childwatch with her and he had math homework.  He was busy adding and subtracting on the number line.  Norm was helping him.  It wasn’t long before a math conversation ensued.
We started talking about triangles and the question came up, “How many triangles does it take to make a circle?”  We found out it is two, did you know that?  Of course you did, as my youngest son told his grandfather one Christmas when Grandpa guessed what was in the wrapped package, “Grandpa you’re so mart; how did you know it was a train game?”
We continued to talk about triangles.
Did you know that two triangle of the same shape make either a rectangle or a square?  Why am I asking you this?  Of course you knew.
So if two triangles can make a square or a rectangle and two triangles make a circle, then there must be a corresponding relationship between a square and a circle, but you already knew that too.
The next thing we learned was that if you were to put a circle under a “theoretical” electron microscope you would find that the circle is made up of many, many very small straight lines.  Lines so small that there wouldn’t be much to measure at all.
In fact, I would say that if we were to put a word to it the word “trace” could be used.  In any given point of a circle, there is only a trace of a straight line.
I started to think about NOAA and the fact that the snow event wasn’t big enough for them to bother with.
I started to think about Christ and how He was amazed at the little things, the same things that most of us would not even notice.
Matthew 13:31
 31 He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field.
Matthew 18:1
 1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
 2 He called a little child and had him stand among them. 3 And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
Christ wasn’t impressed with the size of something, in fact the bigger something was the more He saw man’s will and not His father’s will in it.
Richard Foster in his book Celebration of Discipline makes the following observation about service and the heart.
True service comes from a relationship with the divine Other deep inside.  We serve out of whispered promptings, divine urgings…Self-righteous service is impressed with the “big deal.”…True service finds it almost impossible to distinguish the small from the large service…Self-righteous service requires external rewards.  It needs to know that people see and appreciate the effort…True service rests contented in hiddenness.  It does not fear the lights and blare of attention, but it does not seek them either…Self-righteous service is highly concerned about results.  It eagerly waits to see if the person served will reciprocate in kind.  It becomes bitter when the results fall below expectations.  True service is free of the need to calculate results.  It delights only in the service.  It can serve enemies as freely as friends.  Self righteous service picks and chooses whom to serve…True service is indiscriminate in its ministry…Self-righteous service is affected by moods and whims.  It can serve only when there is a “feeling” to serve (“moved by the Spirit” as we say)…True service ministers simply and faithfully because there is a need…Self-righteous service is temporary…True service is a lifestyle…Self-righteous service is insensitive.  It insists on meeting need even when to do so would be destructive. True service can withhold the service as freely as perform it.  It can listen with tenderness and patience before acting.  It can serve by waiting in silence…Self-righteous service fractures community…True service builds community. Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline, (San Francisco: HarperCollins Publishing Company, 1998), 128-9.
Just as a circle cannot be made without many, many very small straight lines.  One cannot build community without placing one’s self in a position  of smallness and place other people’s needs  at the center.

Monday, January 16, 2012

A good night's sleep

Good morning,
I pray that the day is finding you well.

Laurie and I bought a new mattress.

Our old mattress had gotten so lumpy and bumpy that it had become almost impossible to get a nights sleep. In fact it started to look like one of those 3-d topographical maps that we used to have in school. I would look at our mattress and I was sure that I could pick out the rocky mountain range, the vast rift valley of Africa and the mid Atlantic ridge. There was one part of the mattress that I am sure had the same measurements as the Mariannes trench.

Laurie is a consummate garage saler; she loves the treasure hunt and really has a aversion to paying full price for anything. The running joke in our family is she found me at a garage sale. Over the years as our mattress got worse she would find garage sale mattresses; I would nix the idea, I have an aversion to sleeping on mattresses that others have used for a long time, eeeu.

Laurie and I bought a new mattress.

I am feeling kind of jipped out of a nights sleep. I lay down at night and the next thing I know it is time to get up. I often wake up in the same position that I lay down in when I go to bed. With the old mattress I knew I had been in bed for a while. The act of tossing and turning, looking at the clock umpteen times a night verified that I had been in bed for a certain amount of time. Now I go to bed and then wake up, I wake up most times on my own completely rested. I never used to dream, now I dream all the time and I'm not used to it. Dreams are weird and sometimes scary.

I like to get up early in the morning, make my coffee; actually push the on button since Laurie makes the coffee the night before, something that I really appreciate.

The other morning I woke up, went to the kitchen to push the button to make the coffee; actually I have to push two buttons. We have a fancy coffee maker that has a bean grinder on it so that one can put fresh coffee beans into the coffee maker and the coffee maker grinds the beans, then make the coffee all in one process. Laurie bought it at a garage sale for $5.00. I don't use the bean grinder, I don't think it is necessary to grind up Folger's again before I brew it. So I have to push the button that turns the bean grinder off, obviously a coffee maker a fancy as this assumes you will be grinding your beans and not be using Folger's in the coffee maker, in fact I am sure that I am shortening the lifespan of the coffee maker by using Folger's, anyway, I turn off the grinder and then push the "brew the coffee" button, quite the process actually.

I push the buttons on the coffee maker and the radio comes on. This is when I realize that Laurie had not put the coffee maker together to make the coffee. I turn off the radio, open the dishwasher, get out the parts to the coffee maker and put it together and then push the buttons again. Again, no coffee just music, now I am really getting upset.

It is at this moment that I realize that the alarm is going off and I am in bed dreaming. As amazing as our coffee maker is, it doesn't have a radio in it and it doesn't disassemble into many parts that can be put in the dishwasher. Hmm, something that I could invent; no, I'm not creative that way, it would probably turn out like some combination soup and tea maker which doesn't sound appealing at all.

I had another night of going to bed and then waking up, only this time I had a weird dream added in for good measure.

Why am I telling you all this? I can hear you know thinking in your mind, or maybe even out loud, "Really Roger, what's the point?"

The point is, here Laurie and I had been putting up with a very bad mattress for a very long time because we could not truly grasp what it would be like to be on a very good mattress. In fact it wasn't until Laurie had a back problem that the thought of a new mattress came to the top of our minds and then became a priority.

After getting the mattress and a great nights sleep; here I am feeling cheated out of "rest time" because of it's effectiveness.

So often I think that we Christians here in America are feeling that we need to put on a dour face as if we are truly suffering for the Lord when in fact we have a pretty good mattress in our life. We hear of others being persecuted, others that are truly suffering for the lord. Yet when we go to these countries they are the ones acting as if they have the good mattress, they are joyful in the Lord; we, the ones that the world looks at as the top 1% of the wealthy of the world, don't seem all that joyful in our walk with Christ.

Awake, my soul!

Awake, harp and lyre!

I will awaken the dawn.

I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations;

I will sing of you among the peoples.

For great is your love, reaching to the heavens;

your faithfulness reaches to the skies. (Psalm 57:8-10 NIV84)

If others had done a more complete telling of the beauties of what a good mattress could bring maybe Laurie and I would not have waited so long to buy a new one.

If we do a better, more complete work for the Lord maybe others would be compelled to give Christ a try. Life isn't easy and sometimes it is downright hard, but that should not take away our joy in the Lord. He died for us, the least we can do is be happy about it.