Help Us Help Others

Help Us Help Others
Chaplaincy Clark County

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.