Help Us Help Others

Help Us Help Others
Chaplaincy Clark County

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

A fly by of Pluto

Good morning,
I pray the day finds you well.

I woke up this morning thinking about the movie “Men in Black.” More specifically, I was contemplating the scene in the movie where Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones are sitting on a park bench. It is the morning after Will realizes that we are not alone in the universe, more importantly, we are not alone on earth; there are aliens living among us.

Will is just sitting there dazed and speechless. Tommy Lee says, “500 years ago, we knew the sun revolved around the earth. 400 years ago, we knew the earth was flat. 50 years ago, we knew we only had 8 planets. Yesterday, you knew we were alone in the universe. I wonder what we will know tomorrow?”

I always loved that line in the movie. I always wondered what I will learn and know.

I just got my National Geographic Magazine. Right on the cover is a picture of Pluto (The planet, not the dog). I remember a few years ago when Pluto’s designation had changed from planet to dwarf planet. When I watched the news on T.V. the whole scene from “Men in Black” came to mind, obviously I think about that scene often. I thought how the scene would change today, ““500 years ago, we knew the sun revolved around the earth. 400 years ago, we knew the earth was flat. 50 years ago, we knew we only had 8 planets. Yesterday, we knew there were 9 planets in our solar system. Yesterday, you knew we were alone in the universe. I wonder what we will know tomorrow?”

Every time I think about the movie, “Men in Black” and that particular scene, I cannot help but think about Christ, about God. A line in the movie would go something like this, “500 years ago we knew there was God. 400 years ago we knew there was God. 50 years ago we knew there was God. Tomorrow we will know there is God.”

While science is ever finding out knew things and discovering cool stuff, while our knowledge of the world around us may be ever changing. I take solace in the knowledge in the fact that God was the same yesterday as he is today and will be tomorrow.

My prayer is, that as we go through our lives, we continually find out knew things that God and Christ have to show us. Let us not be so focused on trying to see the big things in our world that we miss all the beautiful little things that Christ is doing in our lives.

It is true we are not alone in the universe. God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit are here with us.


Sunday, July 5, 2015

Born on the Fourth of July

Good morning,
I pray the day finds you well.

Born on the fourth of July.

I do not know to many people that can say that. As a matter of fact, I only know one person. This person is my wife's father, Jim. Yesterday, he turned 87-years-old. Obviously, yesterday was the fourth of July. Jim is an amazing man. He spent his life helping people. He raised great kids that all do their best to continue his legacy. The family is very close and very loving, another testament to Jim's life.

We had a scare a while back, we did not know if Jim would be around for this birthday, making this birthday especially special. We had a wonderful day filled with food, conversations, and laughter. The day ended with an amazing fireworks show that we could see right from the house.

Jim lives in Minnesota. Laurie and I flew in a few days ago. We will be flying out tonight. We normally do not make the trip for his birthday. We rationalize this by saying things like, "It is to far to go for such a short time." or "It costs to much." Then something happens and we make the trip.

As I sit here this morning, I cannot help but to think why we wait for a life event to make the effort to show someone how much they mean to us? As a pastor and chaplain I see this often. Usually in the form of a funeral or memorial. Throngs of people coming together to tell other people how much this person had meant to them and tell stories about them. I always ask myself, "Why do we wait until someone dies to tell other people how much they meant to us?"

I have been guilty of this too. We get so focused on the future that we really do not make the effort to do the truly important things in the present. In effect, we have been sleep walking through our present life as we kept our eyes focused on our future. We have put off things of the present so that we could do something down the road.

Laurie and I had a health scare a while back, it shook us awake. We still make plans for the future. We still keep an eye to the future, but we also take a good hard look at today. Somethings we just cannot do, we do not have the money or whatever to get it done right now so those are the things we plan for the future. Other things we can do today and instead of putting these things off for tomorrow we do them today.

One of the things that we can do today and it doesn't cost any money is to tell the people in your life how much they mean to you, how much you love them. We do not stop there, we do our best to show them how much they mean to us, how much we love them.

Born on the fourth of July.

Dad (Jim) had his birthday yesterday and we had the ability to fly to Minnesota and see him, so we did.

My prayer is that we all shake the sleep from our eyes and wake up. That we do not wait until a loved one is gone before we make the effort to say how much they mean to us, to say we love them. One thing that Christ taught us was to take the time, when the time arises. To not put off for tomorrow what you can do today. What would the world look like if we spent more time focused on showing our love for those in our lives and less time complaining about the things that we don't? Our YMCA has a saying, "Promote what you love, instead of complaining about the things you hate."

Jim, spent his life promoting the things he loved. His behavioral modeling has rubbed off. He is a great role model. this leads to my next question, "What role am I modeling?" my question to you is, "What role are you modeling?"

Something to ponder.


Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Who's Your Neighbor?

Good morning,
I pray the day finds you well.

My sister-in-law Chrisanne and her husband Jeff came for a visit.

They spent over a week with us. Chrisanne had just retired, she also has Juvenile diabetes, she has had this for over 40 years. We were having a wonderful time however, on Friday, she started feeling funny. By Friday evening we ended up in the emergency room at Southwest Medical.

I had dropped off Chrisanne, Jeff, and my wife Laurie at the emergency room door and then parked the car. When I walked into emergency I checked in with the family to make sure everyone was doing ok. I then looked around the room and saw one of the YMCA volunteers sitting there with his wife. I walked up to him and said, “John, what are you doing here?” He looked up, saw me standing there, and asked the same thing.

I told him my story, he told me his.

I sat with John and his wife telling him that he would be ok and doing my best to alleviate his anxiety about being there in the first place. I sat with them until they took them back.

I then looked around the room and my heart broke.

The room was packed with people. Life happens. Something went wrong and they ended up in E.R.

I walked up to a teenage boy and his mother. I asked why he was there. He showed me his hand, it needed stitches. He was scared, his mother looked tired. I sat with them until they went into the back.

I then noticed a young man and his wife. He was very sick, she was very scared. He was dying of cancer. He had just been released the day before after surgery for his cancer and he wasn’t doing well. I sat with them and listened. I do a lot of listening as a chaplain. I prayed with them and listened some more. Many times there is nothing that I can say to make people feel better, so I just sit with them and listen.

Chrisanne ended up spending the night in the hospital, Jeff stayed with her.

The next morning when Laurie and I came back to the hospital, we brought books and games to play. One of the books Laurie brought was “Dancing with God, seeing God in the Everydayness of Life.” The nursing staff was awesome and very helpful. They took the time to talk with Chrisanne and answer her questions. Laurie thought I should give “Dancing with God” to the nurse, so I did. She started reading the book, she started talking about the book to her co-workers. She came back and thanked me for the book, “It helps us get through the day.” She said. Chrisanne was released around 6pm Saturday night.

Sunday morning, I went to the church at the YMCA to talk about the Summer Feeding Program that is starting on Monday. The Summer Feeding Program is where we feed hungry kids that don’t get a meal at home because they are in the hot lunch program at school. Now that school is out the go long times between meals. We feed them lunch every day. When I got home everyone wanted to go for a picnic up the Washougal River. We packed up the stuff and off we went.

We drove up to a lookout spot in the mountains to have our picnic. That is when we noticed the smoke.

A forest fire had just started. We called it in. I drove the jeep down to meet the first responder. I led him back up to the spot where we saw they smoke. He took over and coordinated the fire teams. About a half hour later the helicopter with the water bucket arrived and started dropping water on the fire. As we drove down the mountain we saw the fire teams getting ready for the hike to the fire.

I made the joke that our weekend started in the E.R. on Friday, and we ended up saving the world on Sunday.

Then that still soft voice nudged me it said, “You did save the world, not the entire world, but the part that you had the ability to save. You helped people relieving their pain on Friday. You encouraged an overworked hospital staff on Saturday. You made a call for help to feed hungry kids Sunday morning. Then you saved a small part of My creation Sunday afternoon. I didn’t call you to save the entire world, just be My Hands and Feet to those that I have put in front of you.”

The still small voice said, “Who’s your neighbor? Friday it was the people in the E.R. Saturday it was the hospital staff. Sunday morning it was hungry kids. Sunday afternoon it was My Creation itself.”

I was humbled by this. I also thought, “How many times I have sleep walked through the day and didn’t notice my neighbor."

I will endeavor to be more awake.

My prayer is that we all stop trying to save the whole world and become more intentional about saving the little piece that God has put in front of us. There is an old saying, “Many hands make light work.” If we all just do the little bit that we can, a whole lot can be done. A whole lot for Christ.


Friday, January 16, 2015

It's my Birthday,today I'm not a pickle!

Good morning,
I pray the day finds you well.

Today is my birthday.

I came into the YMCA to a nice birthday banner on the wall outside my office, glitter sprinkles on the floor and a nice happy birthday sign in my office. I have received many nice birthday wishes, and inquiries about what I might be doing on this special day.

It is nice to be thought of, it is nice to be loved.

I have never been good about receiving compliments or having attention directed my way, it makes me uncomfortable. I guess it stems from my childhood. It seems that when I got attention at school or from adults it wasn’t the attention I was looking for. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t a bad kid, but I wasn’t a saint as well. All these years later, I still feel uncomfortable with attention. As the day progressed I gradually became more comfortable with the, “Happy Birthday, what are you going to do today?” well wishes.

Birthdays are funny things.

People make a special attempt to say hi, and to let you know they are thinking of you.

Too bad that birthdays are only once per year. Now I will have to wait another year for the well wishes to come. I will have to wait another year and be uncomfortable all over again, only to gain comfort as the day progresses.

How cool would it be if we could be that attentive every day?

I watch people coming and going all the time. And for the most of it we live in our little bubbles, going along never really noticing the other person. Pretty soon these other persons stop being other people and they become other things. We stop seeing them as people and start seeing them as a color, a worldview, an ethnic group…they stop being a person and only become a label. We might as well all be pickle jars with different labels.

I can see why groups of people come into conflict with each other. It is because they are no longer groups of people but because they become pickle jars, and see only that the label on the other jar is different.

The birthday question that I have for today is, “Why do we spend most of our lives as pickles and only see people as people one day per year?”

Why can’t we show people more of the Love of Christ, and less of the Wrath of God?

Let us do what God commands us to do:

The Greatest Commandment

34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[c] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[d] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22-34-39

And let God be in charge of His own Wrath.

Lord, on my birthday give me Your eyes, Your ears, Your mouth, Your heart. Give me the courage and endurance to do your greatest commandment. Please rebuke me when I think I am the one to dispense your wrath. Remind me of my job, and not let me try to do yours.


Thursday, January 15, 2015

The mole hill of the mind

Good morning,
I pray the day finds you well.

I was sitting on my front porch the other morning.

As the sun started to come up and illuminate the front yard I noticed a mole hill.

I looked at this mole hill with amazement. I wondered where it came from.

As I looked around I did not see any other mole hills nearby. How did it get there?

Did the mole dig underground for a very long way just to make a mole hill in my yard?

Did it risk running over the top of the ground for a long way just to dig a hole in my yard.

I contemplated this for a long time.

Eventually, I knew that I would have to get rid of the mole hill, along with the mole that made this mole hill. I was torn by this thought, but knew that I would have to get rid of this mole or I would end up with many mole hills in my yard.

I had witnessed this phenomenon before.

On my drive to the YCMA I pass a number of homes that started with a mole hill, they did nothing and eventually their entire yard was full of mounds and corresponding holes.

I left for the “Y” that morning with every intention of getting rid of that mole when I got home. But the day got in the way. I came home late and had totally forgotten about the mole and his hill.

The next morning I walked out onto my front porch to find six new hills.

I resolved myself to get rid of that mole, or moles that night when I got home.

But the day got in the way, I got home late and hadn’t even thought about the mole and his hills.

I walked out onto my porch the following morning and my yard was full of mole hills, now my yard looked just like those other yards that I drove past on my way to the YMCA.

I sat in my chair, on my front porch, in total shock and amazement.

How did this happen?

Then a still small voice said, “Your yard is a lot like the mind. An abhorrent thought comes across your mind, and you say, ‘I shouldn’t be thinking this. Yet don’t do anything about it. The thought eventually leaves and you forget about it. Later, that thought comes back into your head a little stronger, you think about it longer, and you say to yourself, ‘I shouldn’t be thinking about this.’ Yet you don’t do anything about it. A little later that thought is in your head full on and you think, ‘how did this go so far?’ Your yard is not so different than your thought life. If you don’t take care of it, your thought life will be full of mole hills too.”

My prayer is that we take care of the yard of our minds. That we take the time getting rid of the little mole hills before our minds become infested with dirt. Lord, please help us and remind us that you are there to talk with, to contemplate with keep or thoughts on the things above and not of earthly things.

Paul once wrote, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. Col 3:1-2