Help Us Help Others

Help Us Help Others
Chaplaincy Clark County

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Ten minutes I will never give back

Good morning,
I pray the day finds you well.

I was late getting to the YMCA this morning.

I was running late, I started to drive down the little road that takes me to the big road that takes me to the YMCA and there was Marvin and Priscilla. Marvin is 88 years-old, and moves really slowly. Priscilla, Marvin’s dog must be 105 years-old (in dog years) and moves even slower. There I was, sitting in my car on the little road by my house waiting. It can take Marvin five minutes to cross the road, it can take Priscilla even longer, she needs to stop, sit, and rest halfway through.

The thought came to me, “Well here is ten minutes that I will never get back.”

I was running late because I was finding it hard to get out of bed this morning. Not because I was tired or just didn’t feel like getting up, my back was acting up. I found it hard to move. I don’t know why. My back pain is a lot like those traffic jams you get into. You sit for a long time inching your way through, when you get to the end of the jam there is nothing there and traffic is moving just fine. You know something happened, you just don’t know what. It took me a while to slide out of bed, trying not to do the wrong thing that would cause the invisible man to stab me in the back again, with whatever it was he had. I hobble into the bathroom and attempt a shower. The shower part went ok, The whole drying off thing was another adventure. We have a lodge style house and a lodge style house has a lodge style bathroom. A lodge style bathroom must have lodge style fluffy towels with stitching of bears, deer, elk…on them. These lodge style towels live on the bottom shelf of the vanity. Normally this is a great place to have them. This morning, not so much. I started to wish I had opposable big toes like a chimp. I could just stand there and pick up a towel without bending over. I even tried to train my toes , no luck. Eventually I got a towel, only to figure out that I had air-dried in the process. Trying to get dressed turned into a math problem. My arms are only so long, I can bend my back only so far, and I can only raise my legs so high, none of which was enough to get my feet into my pants. I start doing static load comps in my head. Cos divided by theta, or is it sin times theta? This is why I’m a chaplain and not an engineer. It took some time but I finally got dressed. I got my stuff and out the door I went.

I was sitting there watching Marvin and Priscilla cross the road, feeling slightly annoyed.

Then I remembered something I had read. It was a story about a guy who had been mugged and left for dead on the side of the road. People would walk by, but they would not stop to help. Eventually this one guy from out of town stops and helps the man. He even pays for his doctor. It is an amazing story. Not just because he helped him, but because he saw him in the first place, really saw him.

Marvin’s wife had died years ago. His son moved his company far away and doesn’t come to visit anymore. All Marvin has is Priscilla. Marvin doesn’t want help crossing the road. Marvin just wants someone to visit with. I get out of the car and talk with Marvin. Eventually both Marvin and Priscilla made it to the side of the road. Eventually I managed to get back into my car.

As I drove to the YMCA this morning, I thought about Marvin. I thought about Priscilla. I thought about the Good Samaritan. We do not have to wait for a big thing to happen before we can be good Samaritans. We have the opportunity everyday to see people, really see them. We have the opportunity everyday to positively impact a person’s life. If our boss asks for something, give it to them, obviously they need it. If a member needs some help, help them with a smile on our face. There are many opportunities to Be Christ’s hands and feet every day. We just need to see the opportunity He is giving us.

Instead of thinking, “This is ten minutes I will never get back.” I would rather think, “This is ten minutes I would never GIVE back.


Wednesday, June 4, 2014

I see from my house by the side of the road

Good morning,
I pray the day finds you well.

I see from my house by the side of the road
By the side of the highway of life,
Those who press with the ardors of hope,
and others who faint with the strife.
But I turn not away from their smiles nor their tears—
Both parts of an infinite plan.
Let me live in a house by the side of the road
And be the friend I can.
Sam Walter Foss

We have finished the remodel of our YMCA. My office is right next to the welcome center, people call my office the fish bowl. My office has a lot of windows in it. As I sit in my office, next to the welcome center of our YMCA, I have the opportunity to watch as our members go by; young adults, young families, kids of all ages, elderly people, people with canes, crutches, wheelchairs. Many of them wave to me as the go by, a quick hello. It is easy to see the physical attributes of the people that walk by, it is much harder to see their emotional attributes; for this, I must look harder. I can see the ones where the day has not gone as planned. I can see the ones that are having a difficult time. I can see the ones that are putting a smile on a face that would rather cry.

As I sit in my office next to the welcome center, I can see those who press with the ardors of hope. I see the others who faint with the strife. My door is open, a welcoming gesture; one that many people take advantage of. They come in, tell me their woes, share their troubles, share their grief. But I turn not away from their smiles nor their tears, as I sit in my office next to the welcome center in our YMCA. I trust that God has an infinite plan. I trust that God has a plan for me, a plan for them.

Many times, I sit in front of my office next the welcome center in our YMCA. It is not good enough to just sit in my office and wait. I must go be amongst, amongst those that are hurting, amongst those that grieve.

Let me live in a house by the side of the road, and be the friend I can.

It really isn’t my office anyway, it is God’s office, He just lets me sit in it.
Being a chaplain is the most rewarding, painful, sometimes sad thing to be. I am humbled that I get to travel through life with people as they do the best they can to live it.

My prayer is that while I sit in my house by the side of the road, and be the friend that I can, I show people a bit of Christ along their journey.


Thursday, April 24, 2014

Dancing with God; seeing God in the everydayness of life

My new book "Dancing with God" is now available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Westbow Press.  Please get one, let me know your thoughts.


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

God is a funny duck

Good morning,
I pray the day finds you well.

God is a funny duck. I am not trying to suggest that God is actually a duck. No, what I am suggesting is that God is always about a million steps ahead of what we are planning or doing and it always causes me to laugh when I finally catch up to something He has had in the works for quite a while.

We have been going through quite the remodel at the Clark County Family YMCA. We are almost done. During the remodel process we have had to put a few programs and services on hold as we began to be compressed into smaller spaces, as other spaces where being redone. Did I mention we are almost done with the remodel? Spaces have become more available which means programs and services are have become more available.

I had a meeting scheduled for quite a while with some people that really have a heart for the community that we call home. I wanted to talk about services and various offerings that we might provide. The people wanted to talk with me, but said it was a surprise and that I would understand once they revealed their heart. Did I mention that these people were from Rhapsody Church, the church at our YMCA?

I was sitting with some of my YMCA friends the other day. As I sat with Larry Whittlesey, Jeffrey Danes, and Bob Reichen, we talked of many things. One of the things we talked about was being a repository for services, classes…things people need. We talked of many things, but mostly we talked how the YMCA is uniquely positioned to be that “safe place” where people could come for help. We left the meeting, not deciding on anything but encouraged none-the-less.

Last night I had my meeting with Rhapsody Church; it lasted for about two hours. Long story short they wanted to see if together, the YMCA and Rhapsody could build a repository of services for people that the entire community could use. Classes ranging from parenting, nutrition, counseling services, grief services…A place where many partners could reside. A place where a person who needs help could find the services that they need, without searching many different places. It was quite a meeting and therefore the reason it lasted two hours.

Earlier that day Heidi Shenk (the Aquatics director) and I had gone to the hospital to visit a member who had suffered a stroke. We do that at our YMCA. I make hospital visits for those that say they would like a hospital visit. I took Heidi because she knew this person and I like to include staff whenever possible.

Later that day I called a member who had just lost a child. We talked for a long time. Actually, she did most of the talking. I do most of the listening as a chaplain. She is in a great deal of pain and was thankful that I took the time to call. She was also thankful that the YMCA had a chaplain to talk with. We will be having more conversations I am sure. She took my cell number so that she can call when the next wave of grief hits her and needs a friendly voice and a willing ear.

At the meeting that night I talked about providing a support group for those whose loved ones have had a major life change, like a stroke.

At the meeting I talked about the mother who had lost her child. I suggested a support group for people who are grieving.

God is a funny duck.

He had this whole thing in the works for a long time. He had many more people involved in this plan than I could have imagined.

As I dove home last night, I had a tear in my eye.

As I glanced in the rearview mirror to check on the traffic behind me, I could not help but see what He had been up to all this time. As my eyes turned forward again to watch the road in front of me, I could not help but wonder what He has planned next.

Today we are feeding about 600 kids. One of the sub-communities that is right next to our YMCA has a large proportion of kids that are on a school food program, they get their meals at their school. This week is spring break. Spring Break means there is no school. To these kids, spring break means there is no food. Today we are feeding them. We are partnering with Rhapsody Church to feed these youngsters.

A day in the life of the chaplain.

A day full of pain.

A day full of possibilities.

A day full of wonderment.


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

A minimalist theology

Good morning,
I pray the day finds you well.

Nose bleed question of the day.

Are we really looking forward to going to Heaven, or in the everydayness of our lives are we really more concerned with just staying out of hell?

This is the question that God woke me with yesterday morning.

I have been pondering this question.

If we are really looking forward to going to Heaven, our hearts are forming in a certain way. Thus, the actions that come out of our hearts with one set of motives. If all we are concerned with is merely staying out of hell, our hearts are forming in certain way. Thus, the actions that comes out of our hearts with another set of motives.

As I pondered this question, with tissue paper in hand, I was confronted with my own limitations.

I posed this question to some of the staff at our YMCA.

One of the staff, after sitting with it for a while said, “As a child I was very excited about heaven. But now, after all these years, after all the failures, all the mistakes, all the things that I have done wrong; if I am to be totally honest with myself I guess that when I think about it, I a really more concerned with just staying out of hell.”

Another staff member said, “If I stay out of hell, don’t I automatically go to Heaven? There isn’t a middle ground in-between is there?”

I told the staff that while there is a theology that has purgatory in it, a middle ground if you will. I do not hold to that theology. But what I am really talking about is the matter of the heart.

These are the things a chaplain gets to talk about with the people that call the YMCA home.

When I thought about it hard enough, wiping the blood from my nose occasionally. My thought process was. If I am really looking forward to going to Heaven, it is because I am truly in love with Christ and I know He is truly in love with me. That when I get to Heaven I will not be condemned for all the things that I got wrong in life, but rather I will be loved and accepted. If I am more concerned with just staying out of hell, it is because hell is a really bad place and I do not want to go there. My thoughts become, “what do I have to do to stay out of hell. What do I have to do to get a C-, if you will, a passing grade.

As I thought about the staffs answer about her concern with just staying out of hell, I was confronted with something that pastors talk about all the time, Grace. It is one thing to talk about Grace, it is quite another to truly feel it in your heart. You see this staff, after living a lifetime here on earth, had made mistakes, just like the rest of us. She was confronted with the fact that in her own self, she would never measure up, There was nothing she could do to be “good enough,” just like the rest of us.

This was no ethereal conversation. This was boots on the ground, a heart was broken by the realization that this person was thinking more about hell, and how to avoid it, then about Heaven and how great it will be.

I call this a minimalist theology, “What does one have to do just to stay out of hell.”

I am reminded of a monk. Brother Lawrence was a monk who had been relegated to kitchen duty. At the time he was not thought to have the intellectual prowess to actually do “Monk work” so he was in the kitchen. When Brother Lawrence made a meal, he made it as if he was making a meal for Christ. When he washed a plate, he washed it as if Christ was going to eat off of it. In fact everything Brother Lawrence did was as if he was doing it for Christ. Brother Lawrence did not do things, just to stay out of hell. No, in fact Brother Lawrence did not even think about hell, he thought about Christ and what it would be like to be with Him always. He thought about Heaven.

My prayer for today is,

Father, help me stay focused on You and not slip into minimalist theology. Give me Your words to give others that are confronted with the fact that they cannot earn their way into Heaven. Give me Your words to give others comfort and to know that You want to be with them, to love them, not to hurt them. That they have hope and a future.


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Social unconsciousness

Good morning,
I pray the day finds you well.

It all started innocently enough. I was at my friend’s beach house, looking out the window at the ocean. His house is on a hill that rises steeply from the beach up to a bluff. There are houses on the beach, the houses stair step up the hill occupying the landscape. As I looked out the window I noticed something. I noticed that the homes directly in front of my friend’s house had flat roofs, giving us an unobstructed view of the ocean. I also noticed that the houses in front of the homes with flat roofs had multiple stories and high-pitched roofs. I asked my friend, “Why would someone build a house on the beach that only looked into the house right in front of them?” My friend said that actually the houses with the flat roofs where here first. During the building boom of the 90’s the property in front of these houses was re-zoned residential and houses were built all the way down to the beach. First, the houses right on the beach went up, then the ones behind them went up. People building them taller, so they could see over the tops of the houses below them, all the way up to the original homes that were there.

Social unconsciousness-

Here I was looking out a window with a wonderful view of social unconsciousness. It was a kind of time travel really. I could see a time when people intentionally built their homes so that their neighbors behind them would still have a view. Then I saw a time when people stopped caring about the people behind them, or even beside them. They wanted a house on the beach with a view of the ocean. It did not matter to them that the house they built ruined the view of the house behind them. They had their view.

This got me to thinking; where else have I seen social unconsciousness?

Later that day my friend and I went out to eat. The town in which his house is located is your normal beach town. Winding, hilly two lane roads. Every few miles there are turnouts that slow moving vehicles can utilize to let others that are behind them pass them safely. On some hills, there are even extra lanes that allow safe passing to happen. As we drove to our destination point, we fell behind an RV that was going fifteen to twenty miles under the speed limit. We were the fifth car in line behind the RV. Before long there were twenty to thirty cars behind the RV, patiently waiting for a safe place to pass. We passed a sign that read, “Slow moving turn out ahead. Slow moving vehicles are required by law to use turn outs.” The RV drove right passed the turnout, seemingly oblivious to the fact that now there is almost a mile long string of cars behind them.

Social unconsciousness.

The more I thought about it, the more I saw it. I began to see social unconsciousness in the everydayness of our life.

When I think of social unconsciousness, I do not really think that they are unconscious of others. I am pretty sure that the RV knew that there was a line of cars that would relish the opportunity to get past this slow moving vehicle. I think that they just did not care. I am pretty sure that when the people built their new beach homes they were well aware that they were totally ruining the one thing the people before them had built their homes for, the view. They just did not care.

Have we become a people that are so self-absorbed, thinking only of ourselves, dare I say narcissistic, that we have become unconscious of our neighbor?

I cannot help what the world would look like if we all did the wonder move?

We all know the wonder move. Before we do something, say something, react to something, we say, “I wonder. I wonder how this will affect my neighbor. I wonder if what I am doing is negatively impacting another. I wonder if?”

If as a people, we are unconscious about others, why would we be surprised that others are unconscious about us?

Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you. Somebody said that once.

Lord, open my eyes to my social unconsciousness. Help me see where I am not thinking about my neighbor in the everydayness of my life. Give me the correction that I need so that I can truly be your hands and feet. Give me Grace as I extend Grace to others. Help me be a more loving person.


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Something about Mary

Good morning,
I pray the day has found you well.

It is that time of year again.

Every year Camp Collins, the YMCA camp in our association has a fundraising dinner to raise money so that it can continue to provide a positive place for kids to go in the summer and learn “Y” values. The past few years I have been asked to speak at this fundraising dinner. I always say yes when asked, it gives me the opportunity to tell a good “Y” story.

I like to tell people that camp is where the magic happens and friends last forever.

As chaplain, I go out to camp at least twice a month. I try to make it every week, but schedules being what they are sometimes I miss a week. I am always on the lookout for a chaplain that has a heart for camp, someone who can spend more time with the staff and kids. I usually make it out to camp on either a Wednesday, or a Friday; these are the days that campfire is going on. Campfire is a time when all the campers come together and yes, there is a campfire. There is a lot of singing, skits, and general fun going on at campfire. I usually drag my wife with me and we make it a date.

Something about Mary.

Laurie, my wife and I went to campfire last summer on a Wednesday. Campfire, if you are wondering, is a place at Camp Collins down by the Sandy River with a stage and benches set in a semi-circle around the stage. Laurie, and I were sitting in the back row waiting for campfire to start. All the campers started to come to campfire and take their seats on the benches.

Mary came and sat next to me.

I noticed something about Mary right away.

I noticed that Mary only had one leg.

Mary is not her real name, but a story always goes better with a name attached.

As Mary was watching campfire, I was watching Mary.

I watched, as she sang songs.

I watched, as she was part of a skit.

I watched, as her camp counselor interacted with her.

I watched Mary laughed.

I watched as Mary’s camp counselor looked at her. She looked at Mary and her eyes said, “I see you.”
The counselor did not see Mary as a little girl missing a leg. No, she saw Mary as completely whole, well, and strong.

Her counselor saw Mary as perfect.

It was a beautiful night.

I have often thought about Mary and her counselor, as I think about that campfire. I think, how Mary was missing a part of herself, she was missing a leg. It was easy to see Mary’s hurt, her missing part. If we are to be honest though, we are all hurting and missing a part of ourselves; most of the time we do not have the courage to look that deeply into ourselves and see the pain of our missing parts. But, when we do have the courage to go there, we see it and the pain that goes along with it.

What makes camp so special are the counselors. Yes, there are a lot of really cool things to do, like horseback riding, archery, Rockwall climbing, high-ropes…, but the counselors that do all the heavy lifting. They work with these kids. Many of whom, have invisible missing parts already in their young lives. What makes camp so special is after these kids leave camp, and are confronted with their pain and their missing parts, when they go to that scary place. They will not only see their pain, they will not only see their missing parts, they will see their counselor there with them. A counselor that is looking at them, their eyes saying, “I see you. I see you well, whole, and strong.” The counselor will help this kid come out of that dark scary place and back into the light and laugh.

Camp is a place, where the magic happens and friends are made forever.

Something about Mary.

Father, it is that time of year again, a time when we are raising money for a camp, a camp that helps kids. Please, touch the hearts of those attending the dinner so that camp can continue to do the work it does. You know Father that we are all missing parts of ourselves, many times unseen, but missing non-the-less. I thank you for these counselors. For when a kid has the courage to go that dark place and they see their counselor there with them who they are really seeing is You. Help us Lord be Your hands and feet.



Wednesday, January 29, 2014

I was diagnosed with S.M.S.

Good morning,
I pray the day has found you well.

I was diagnosed with S.M.S.

There was a time in my life when I was in great shape. I had very little body fat, lots of lean muscle, tons of energy and very little compassion for those that were overweight / out of shape. I would look at these people and say to myself, “Why don’t they just get off the couch.”

Then something happened.

A number of years ago I started feeling poorly. I started to lose energy. I started to gain weight. One day when I driving my car, I realized that I could not keep my eyes open. I was falling asleep in the middle of the day and there was nothing I could do about it. I went to the doctor. After a series of tests, I was diagnosed with S.M.S.

(Stupid Man’s Syndrome)

If I had gone to the doctor when I first started to feel bad; when I first started to gain weight, I would not have gained over 50 lbs. before finding out that my thyroid had stopped working and I needed medication. Here I was a middle-aged husband who worried about his wife, thinking what life would be like after she went through “the change”, and I was the one who ended up on hormones.

Go figure.

After struggling with my weight for over fifteen years now, I have a new appreciation for those that struggle with me. God took a medical condition, turned it into a teachable moment, allowed me to do some reflecting on my attitude, and left me a changed individual. I no longer look down my nose at people that have what some may call a “weight problem.”

I know their struggle.

I know my struggle.

Since my diagnosis, I have had a new attitude, a new appreciation for people that are working on their stuff.
So often, we look at the outside of something and make a judgment of the inside. The old saying, “You cannot judge a book by its cover” is really very true.

My office at our YMCA is right next to the membership desk. Many people come into our “Y” looking to join because they want to lose weight and get into shape. At least that is what they think. The reason my office is right next to the membership desk is because often times these people will say something to the membership personnel and the membership person will say, “Do you know we have a chaplain? Let me introduce you to Roger.” I am introduced, a conversation ensues, and I end up getting to work with why they are in the condition they are in. Our trainers work on their physical wellness and I get to work on the spiritual and emotional wellness.

I get the opportunity to open the book, so to speak.

The one thing we do not do is judge people. We take them for themselves and work with them the best we can.
We extend Grace, just as Grace has been extended to us.

I will continue to struggle with my weight. I have many people that are helping me with this struggle, because they care.

Whenever I notice that, I am starting to make a judgment I remember what Jesus once said.

Jesus had some pretty strong words on judging people.

“Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. 3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye. Matthew 7:1-5

My prayer is:
Lord, forgive me for judging others. As I slip into judgment, give me that gentle nudge to stop and take a deeper closer look and see where I need to change. Conform me Lord into your image not for my sake but for the sake of others. Amen.


Monday, January 6, 2014

When I think about Heaven, God, eternity, and everything

Good morning,
I pray the day has found you well.

I started thinking about Heaven, God, eternity and everything. I thought I would share this with you. Please tell me your thoughts.

When I think about Heaven, God, eternity, and everything, I cannot help but think about time. Moreover, I think about the concept of time.

Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

God created the heavens and the earth. Another way of saying this is that God created everything. When I say God created everything, time is included in this everything. This is an easy enough concept to understand. Before there was anything there was God and God started creating things, which included the heavens, and everything contained within the heavens. Now, contemplating “the heavens” it starts to bring on small headaches, which if I ruminate on it long enough will eventually bring on a nose bleed. One of the things that God created in all this was “time”.
What is time?

Webster’s dictionary defines time as:
the thing that is measured as seconds, minutes, hours, days, years, etc.
: a particular minute or hour shown by a clock
: the time in a particular area or part of the world
a : the measured or measurable period during which an action, process, or condition exists or continues
b : a nonspatial continuum that is measured in terms of events which succeed one another from past through present to future

As we can see, time is a measurement. It has a beginning and an end. Wikipedia takes this definition and then explains it this way:

Time is a dimension in which events can be ordered from the past through the present into the future, and also the measure of durations of events and the intervals between them. Time has long been a major subject of study in religion, philosophy, and science, but defining it in a manner applicable to all fields without circularity has consistently eluded scholars.

God also set the limits of our lives. First, God tells us that we will die eventually.

Genesis 3:19
By the sweat of your brow
you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
since from it you were taken;
for dust you are
and to dust you will return.”
Then God tells us how long we were going to live.

Genesis 6:1
When human beings began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, 2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of humans were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. 3 Then the LORD said, “My Spirit will not contend with[a] humans forever, for they are mortal[b]; their days will be a hundred and twenty years.”

When I think about eternity and time, my thoughts go to God.

God is never constrained by the things He creates. Let us unpack this for a moment.

God created the universe.

This includes the stars and the planets along with everything else.

When man started to notice that the sun rose and set everyday he noticed that there were periods of light and darkness. Man also found out that it was a lot easier to get things done when he could see what he was doing, so he preferred to do things during the time when the sun was up. He began to call this daytime. Man also found that it was easier to sleep when the sun was not burning a hole in his head. Therefore, he slept at night. Man started calling this nighttime. As “time” went by Man also noticed that the moon would change shape. Man started to notice how the moon would be big and round and then it would lose its shape as “time” went on. Than it would start to get bigger again and eventually become round again. Man also noticed that this seemed to reoccur at regular intervals. Man took notice that there were times when the day was warm and long and the day would be short and colder. That leaves would change color and drop from trees, the trees would go bare for a period of time and then start to grow leaves again. Man eventually noticed that this seemed to reoccur. Man started to measure all of this and eventually we came up with months and seasons. Months and seasons put together became “years”. Man started to see things as years went by. He saw that at first he grew and then he shrank. His hair either grew grey, fell out, or a combination of both. He also noticed that eventually people died. Man began to wonder how long people lived and began measuring a life in “Years.” Over “time”, this was not precise enough so Man started to break up the day into equal units that we eventually called “hours”. The man broke the “hours” up into “minutes and “seconds”. Eventually that was not good enough so Man broke up the “seconds” into tenths, hundredths, thousandths, millionths…It seems by this point we became obsessed with “Time” Because of this obsession, Man thinks about time a lot. Since man thinks about time a lot, Man started to assume that God thinks about time a lot. I do not know if God thinks about time a lot or even at all. Since God is all knowing, we like to use omnipotent to say that God is all knowing. We like to use the word omnipotent mainly because it makes us seem smarter. Something else we like to think about a lot, “How do we seem smarter than other people.” For some reason this has become important. The fact that there are so many smart people in the world makes me wonder why we have so many troubles that need to be worked out. I would have thought that all these smart people would have figured out the solution by now. God can think about everything at the same time, try doing that without going completely insane.

God is not constrained by time. Another way of saying this would be, “God lives outside of what we consider “Time.”

Here is an example, a rather poor example, but an example non-the-less.

Say a scientist wants to create an experiment. The scientist takes a Petri-dish puts some virus or something into the dish. For the sake of argument, let us say that this virus or something begins to grow. Let us also say that over time this virus or something gains consciousness. For the sake of this story, let us call this virus or something Descartes, mainly because I am getting tired of calling this virus or something a virus or something. One day Descartes realizes that he has a thought and says, “I think therefore I am.” Over time, Descartes begins to contemplate Life the Universe and Everything, which sounds an awful lot like a book by Douglas Adams but it is not. In this story, the virus or something had not invented the printing press yet so it would be impossible for Descartes to have read Mr. Adam’s book. Descartes starts to wonder if there is more than just what is around him and wonders if there could be a supreme being that could possibly be in charge of everything, and could possibly have even created him. There is no way for Descartes to see anything outside of the Petri-dish. In fact, the Petri-dish encompasses his entire universe. Descartes entire existence can be measured in a matter of hours, but to him it is an entire lifetime. There were many viruses or somethings before Descartes and many viruses or somethings after Descartes. Yet, virtually no time has passed in the scientist’s life. It is about now that you are seeing the flaws in this little story: one, the scientist is still constrained by time, all-be-it a much longer existence. Secondly, the scientist did not create the virus or something and all the things in its environment. The scientist did not create the Petri-dish. Nor did the scientist create the sterile gelatinous substance that allowed Descartes to live in the first place. No, some administrative person in charge of making sure the shelves were stocked with scientific stuff like plastic, or glass Petri-dishes filled with sterile gelatinous stuff bought them from some supplier that actually made Petri-dishes filled with sterile gelatinous stuff. Actually, the supplier may or may not have made the Petri-dishes and the sterile gelatinous stuff. They may have bought it from someone else who may or may not have made the Petri-dishes and sterile gelatinous stuff. Come to think of it, I have no idea who makes the Petri-dishes and sterile gelatinous stuff. As time goes by in the Petri-dish and all the other viruses or somethings contemplate Descartes thoughts on existence and come to the conclusion that there must be something bigger than just them, they start to speculate on just what that “bigger something is”. They start to wonder, “Where do we go when we die?” the whole thing about time and heaven starts up again. At no time is the scientist constrained by “their” time. Along with the fact that the scientist had no idea that there was a virus or something that had gained consciousness, after all this is just a scientist and not God.

God is not constrained by our time either. In fact, God has eternal life, a life that Christ has given to us.

Now we have to look at the word eternal. I had mentioned earlier the whole infinity thing and mathematics and there is no reason to talk about that again. Only, eternity has no beginning and no end. If it did, it would cease to be eternal and the whole “time” thing would come into being on the heavenly realm. We would no longer have eternal life but a life marked with a beginning and thus have a unit of measurement attached with it. The next thing we must look at is, “If there is no time to be constrained by is there a past and a future?

Remember what Webster’s Dictionary has to say:
a nonspatial continuum that is measured in terms of events which succeed one another from past through present to future

Moreover, let us not forget the all-insightful Wikipedia:

Time is a dimension in which events can be ordered from the past through the present into the future, and also the measure of durations of events and the intervals between them. Time has long been a major subject of study in religion, philosophy, and science, but defining it in a manner applicable to all fields without circularity has consistently eluded scholars.

If God is not constrained by time and can see not only the past, the present, but the future as well in our lives, knows all the ifs, ands, and buts of what the future holds for each of us for all of us. In essence, in the realm of God everything is in the present tense. We do not live this way as we live our lives here on earth, I say here on earth because while this book may go out to different countries that have different languages it is still here on earth. My hope to sell tens of books still rests on the fact that only people from earth will read it becoming in effect a non-entity for anyone not currently living on our blue little planet.

I haven't finished it yet, I got tired of typing.

I hope it blesses your day.


Thursday, January 2, 2014

And there I find you in the mystery

Good morning,
I pray the day has found you well.

As a chaplain, I get this a lot, “I don’t see God. I want to see Him, but I don’t.” When confronted with this statement I ask the question, “Where have you been looking for Him?”

As a kid growing up there were many things that I did not understand.

One day the thought came to me as to why I would assume that just because I was breathing in one room just fine, why would I think that I would be able to breathe just fine if I walked into the next room?

I had not learned about atmospheric pressure, how air moves for points of high pressure to points of lower pressure in a never-ending attempt to even out the pressure. Thus, air moving from one room to the other room.

I could not see the air that I was breathing. Obviously, I did not grow up in Los Angeles.

I had always just known that when I walked from one room to the next that I would not just keel over and die from lack of oxygen.

I never thought about it, that is, until that one day when I asked the question.

I could not feel the air. I could not smell the air, well most of the time I could not smell the air. Sometimes I could smell the air and I liked what I smelled, like when mom was making dinner. Other times I could smell the air, and I did not like what I smelled, like when we would be driving down the road and dad would say, “Roll up the windows, there is an oil well.” We would all roll up our windows, but we never got them rolled up in time. An awful stench would always envelop us inside the car. We never did see the oil well that was causing the stench, just imagine how bad it would have been if we hadn’t rolled the windows up. I never could figure out why dad always smiled as we all howled in nasal pain and disgust. I guess he liked the smell.

As I thought about why there was always air and that I would just assume it was there. As I went through school, I learned about air. I learned about how air moved from place to place as the atmosphere tried to stabilize its pressure. I learned that the air that we breathe is made up of many things. I learned that what we breathe in is good, and what we breathe out is not. I learned how plants take this used up air and like to breathe it and what plants breathe out is good for us to breathe.

I learned about symbiotic relationships.

I don’t think about whether or not there will be air in different rooms as I walk from place to place anymore. No, I tend to look at the back of cars and wonder what else is mixed with this air.

Now that I am all grown up, there are many things that still baffle me.

Most of the things that baffle me are why people treat each other the way they do and why we have to bring someone else down to make ourselves feel better.

And there I find you in the mystery.

When people say to me, “I don’t see God. I want to see Him, but I don’t.” And I ask them, “Where have you been looking for Him?”

People usually respond, “What do you mean?”

One of the things that still baffles me is why we are so consumed with waiting for the “Big” miracle, which can be different for different people. Why are we waiting for the big deal to see God?

I had a person sitting in the chair the other day posing this very question to me, “Why don’t I see God?”

I asked her where she had been looking?

I suggested that she stop looking for big things and start looking for little things. She said she would try.

She came back to me the next day all excited. She said that was driving home praying that God would show up. She was sitting at a stoplight when her eyes caught something on the back of the car in front of her. It was a bumper sticker with a cross on it.

The bumper sticker read, “God loves you very much.”

Now you can say, “that was just a coincidence, or that bumper sticker is everywhere I have seen one of those myself.”

I would respond, “Coincidence is the word that we like to use to discount the miracles of God. The fact that the bumper sticker is everywhere and you have seen it yourself. Have you ever asked yourself, “Is God talking to me?”
I am of the mind that God is talking to you. Just like God, made air and plants and us to all live in relationship with each other.

And there I find you in the mystery.

I have lived most of my life in the mystery of God. I like to put it this way, “It is awfully hard to see what God is up to as we look through the windshield of the car of life. It is when we take a look in the rearview mirror that we get to see a glimpse of what He is up to. The problem is we cannot spend all our time looking in the rearview mirror without risking running into a tree. We are forced to live in the mystery, as we trust in Him.

It is called Faith.

Lord, as I go through my day I will try to have faith. When my faith falls short or begins to ask questions. I know that you will be right there with me. Help me lord see the little things. Help me see the many little things. In them is the big thing. Amen.