Help Us Help Others

Help Us Help Others
Chaplaincy Clark County

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.