Laughter Was God’s Idea: Stories About Healing Humor by Chaplain Jack Hinson

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Today I visited my new hospice patient. He’s 94 years old.  His frame tells of a once fit physique.  Aging has robbed him of strength, but his spirit testifies age has no power over spirit.

During our time together, he kept things light. Never did he emitted a whimper of despair nor take anything about himself seriously. He is the model person described in Laughter Was God’s Idea: Stories About Healing Humor by Chaplain Jack Hinson.

The objectives of the book are:

Humor is a good medicine.

Humor is God’s gift to us to navigate life with joy.

We must be taken with the word “joy”.  For joy according to Hinson grants us peace, openness to others, and it allows us to bond with others. It does not have the usual meaning of ‘

“a state of laughter and fun”.

In one of the early chapters, Hinson writes,  “Taking oneself seriously leads us to believe that we are responsibility for our personal well-being and  our future.” He continues,”Only  when we accept of our human frailty, can we naturally accept God’s grace.”

His obvious corollary is,  “Don’t take yourself seriously. For it builds a wall around you that keeps you from the joy that awaits you.”

Hinson writes that these views were his takeaways from four Conrad Hyers lectures. They changed my perception on the healing power of humor, joy and laugher.

Having embraced at these beliefs, Hinson realized that a hospital deserves a joyful chaplain. His daily prayer became, “God, if you will furnish the joy, I will spread it all over the hospital  …”

My new hospice client is another example of a person who believes and adopted this “joy” to navigate life.

Hinson’s book contains many experiences and profession wisdom gained from his life as a chaplain.  These two arrested me:

  • Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do. Always be clothed in white, and always anoint your head with oil. Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun—all your meaningless days. For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun. Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom. Ecclesiastics 9:7-10.

Thus is another way to say life is a one-time gift,  let nothing (particularly seriousness) keep you from the joy God has already approved for you.

  • Love thy neighbor as thyself.   Phil 1:3-4.

Chaplain Jack interprets this to mean: Do something for your neighbor that you would do for yourself, for your neighbor is just like you.

To support his  joy/humor in healing theory, Hinson laces his book with scientific studies from the halls of research, from sayings by famous historical figures and from recognized medical stalwarts. They make interesting readings. For me, the tone of his stories convinced me.  For conviction is hard to sell when there is no belief.

Jack Hinson is a husband, father, pastor, writer and chaplain of various hospital chaplaincy committee. Further, he served as interim pastor in a number of international locations and delivered numerous addresses on Humor in Healing.

Isaiah 28 For The Second Millennium

A true cornerstone

The Lord Almighty said:

I have placed a special one among you.

He is tested and has my authority.

For those who rely on him,

your concerns are covered.

If you follow him,

your interactions are just and

I will declare you righteous.

Those who rely on him:

Your ungodly alliances with associations and worldly things,

I void.

Your lies and falsehoods behind which you hid,

I annul.

In my special one,

there is rest, repose and peace for your soul.

His rest will completely wraps you in justice,

His righteousness and  His strength

will support you during troubled times.

Pay attention to His faithfulness, His proven faithfulness;

to do his work, his strange work,
    and perform his task, his alien task.

I  permitted his death on a cross.

I permitted the curse

to compensate for your return to the Divine.

Then I made him My throne of mercy,

through which I dispense grace.

My Fellow Travelers: In times of crisis,

The Lord Almighty wishes you to remember

the beauty and the mystery of His work –  His strange work;

and that His alien tasks create what seems alien to His nature

though, it is good,

all the time.

 

REFERENCE:

For an NIV translation of Isaiah 28, go to:

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Isaiah%2028&version=NIV

Bible Verses for Assurance

A Caring Shepherd assures one of his flock.

A Caring Shepherd assures one of his flock.

There are moments in life when even the strong needs assurances. A comforting word or a simple smile sometime will do. But some Bible verses assure a wanting heart beyond spoken words or smiles. Below are three of my favorites. They provide me comfort beyond human understanding.

Peter, the aging shepherd to the scattered believers throughout the diaspora, is the writer of the first verse. His flocks are experiencing persecutions in their adopted lands. The caring pastor chooses his words to assure each that continued faith in the Lord Jesus will result in a guaranteed inheritance – the salvation of the soul. Meditate his words:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1: 3 – 5)

Often when listening to another who exudes confidence, it sparks our confidence. Few have spoken with greater confidence than the Great Apostle, Paul. He reveals this jewel to us from his Romans treasure:

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38 – 39)

Meditate that verse in the quiet of your being; For everyone who asks receives, the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks the door will be opened (Matthew 7:8) and  pray  it brings you the confidence the Apostle exudes.

These verses demand commitment to a dedicated life lifestyle of seriousness. They demands you to entertain the question: “Am I able to leave what I have and make that level of a commitment? ”  All lifestyle change causes some pangs of concerns or a quickening heartbeat. The LORD assures success as HE  spoke through Luke 12:32:

Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 

For a friend with an advancing degenerative condition

Coming to the end of a journey can be difficult.

During these moments, we are inclined to make decisions

that opens voids we feel needs to be filled.

Uncertainty pops up then  anxiety, and in some cases fear.

Scripture tell us that these conditions are the children of punishment,

the lack of knowledge and the  lack of  love.

But you ARE loved,

by Jesus, your family, your spiritual associates and by me.

My prayers for your heart

Remember your pools of love;

Rest in therm.

Each of us pray a quality of life in which you can prosper.

May Jesus continue to bless you in the way He deems the best.

Always for you.

The Prayer Of The Apostle Paul

The site of the discovery

The Site of the Gnostic Find

The Prayer of Apostle Paul is a historically significance spiritual prose that all serious believers should know. It is a part of the Nag Hammadi Gnostic library that was found in 1945 having been buried more that 1500 years. Familiarity with this prose, opens one to a treasure of new expressions for spiritual contemplation.  As the prose communicates thoughts from another era, it is not in present day writing style. Thus references are provided. Pursue them, they expand your spiritual consciousness.

Matthew Zapruder wrote a helpful explanation on reading poems. I supply his summary as a guide:

… poems can be a process of unfolding, one that might welcome us, or maybe grudgingly allow us, to be inside it. Poems do not have to be all about the revelation, the learning at the end. They aren’t necessarily goal-oriented. If anything they are more like a conversation with a friend. You start talking, you learn something, you double back, you get confused, you misunderstand, you laugh, you have some different feelings, you drift off, you come back, you know you have learned some things (though maybe you can’t even say what) but most of all you know you know this person better. What’s the goal? To be alive, and to experience. Which is more than enough, and a great pleasure.

Zapruder’s explanation applies to first time spiritual readings as well. For that matter, a first time visit to an unfamiliar floor plan can cast a haze of confusion or resistance to the environment. But return visits often open you to acceptance, that is, an understanding to appreciate the space, which  prepares you to better appreciate another home yet to be visited. So it is with a spiritual reading.

THE PRAYER OF THE APOSTLE PAUL
…..[1]

Grant me your [mercy].
[My] Redeemer, redeem me,
for I am your;
I have come from [you].

You are [my] mind:
bring me forth.
You are my treasury:
open to me.
You are my fullness[2]
accept me
You are <my rest>[3]
give me incomprehensible perfection.

I call upon you,
you who exist and preexisted,
in the name exalted above every name,[4]
through Jesus Christ,
[Lord] of lords,
King of the eternal realms[5]
Give me your gifts with no regret,
through the Son of Humanity,[6]
the Spirit,
the Advocate[7] of [truth].
Give me authority, [I] ask of you,
give [healing][8] for my body, since I ask you
through the preacher of the gospel,[9]
and redeem my eternal enlighten soul and my spirit,
and disclose to my mind the first born of the fullness of grace.
made in the image of the animate God
when it was found in the beginning.

Grant what eyes of angels have not [seen],
what ears of rulers have not heard,
and what has not arisen in the human heart,[10]
which became angelic,
made in the image of the animate God[11]
when it was formed in the beginning.
I have faith and hope.
And bestow upon me
your beloved, chosen, blessed majesty,
the firstborn, the first-begotten,
the [wonderful] mystery of your house.
[For} yours is the power and glory
and praise and greatness,
forever and ever.

[Amen]

In peace.

Holy is Christ.

[1] About two lines are missing at the beginning of the text.
[2] Pleroma, here ad below.
[3] The text only reads “rest”.
[4] Philippians 2:9
[5] Or “aeons” “ages”
[6] Or “Son of Man”.
[7] Or “Paraclete”
[8] The Coptic was restored to read “corruption” in which case the prayer may be understood as Paul’s prayer before his death.
[9] Or “evangelist”, probably referring to Jesus, possibly to Paul or another evangelist.
[10] 1 Corinthian 2:9; Gospel of Thomas 17; Gospel of Judas 47
[11] Or “the psychical god” i.e. the demiurge.

Marvin Meyer, The Nag Hammadi Scriptures: The International Edition, ©2007 HarperOne

REVELATIONS: Visions, Prophecy,& Politics in the Book of Revelation

Jim Padgett depiction of Chapter 9:1

Elaine Pagels is a gifted expositor. What’s often boring to me, she expresses in interesting narrative. Since my last post, I have been following paths that she has laid over the past 15 years.

Ms Pagels is the Harrington Pierce Professor at Princeton University. Her interest is early Christianity history. The Gnostic Gospels, one of her bestsellers, is now joined by another, the focus of his post: Revelations: Visions, Prophecy, & Politics in the Book of Revelation.

If you’ve ever said to yourself that you will read the Bible or the book of Revelation, then having second thought feeling the task too boring or overwhelming for lack of a scholarly background in spiritual readings, I invite you to read Elaine Pagels’ latest volume, Revelations.  It’s an assessable read filled with drama and intrigue. Furthermore, it contains an excellent history of early Christianity.

A gifted story teller and scholar

Before I begin, let me declare that I am not an agent for Professor Pagels. My motivations for this post are twofold. First, I admire how the professor presents her research to the non-scholar. She has more than forty years of research experience, yet she communicates like a gifted storyteller. Second, having been one of the first scholars to help complete an English translation of the Nag Hammadi in the United States – the 1945 discovery of secret revelations and gnostic writings, Professor Pagels is among those who seek to illuminate the history of Christianity: its success and the evolution of  its belief – why its believers believe what they believe.

John the Apostle, writer of Revelation?

Early in her book Professor Pagels resurrects this still debated mystery. She recalls three undisputed observations.

  1. The Gospel of John is a treatise that declares Jesus is God.
  2. The book of Revelation which deals with cosmic war, a dragon, beasts, a whore, a mother, plagues, earthquakes, cosmic disintegrations and the salvation of Jesus’ followers  has a drastically different style than the Gospel of John.
  3. Further, the writer of  Biblical Revelation fails to declare himself an apostle: at that time a practice.

Dr. Pagels makes no attempt to resolve this mystery.

Many revelations: secret and public revelation

John’s Revelation was written during a time when many were writing a book of revelations.  Peter, Mary Magdalene, Paul, Phillip, and James wrote their own revelations. A Revelation of  Ezra had been written, although the author was not the prophet Ezra.  Non-Christians also wrote their own revelations.

Writers of a revelation tended to write two: a secret revelation and a public revelation. Apostle Paul is an example.  In his public revelation, Paul declares that Jesus called him to minister to the Gentiles and revealed those things that he wished Paul to tell the Gentiles. Paul’s  zealous pursuit of his public revelation kindled a wide spreading of the new religion. But it is only the Revelation of John, that is highlighted in the Christian canon.

Some takeaways from this read

Below is a list of the some things I gained from this reading:

  1. A plausible explanation of why John’s revelation entered the Christian Canon over other revelations,
  2. A interesting chapter on church history,
  3. Details of an intense rivalry between Apostle Paul and John, the writer  of Revelation,
  4. A short introduction to Gnostic history and the Gnostic gospels,
  5. The existence of other revelations, and finally
  6.  Encouraging an initiate to question was the major focus of many secret  revelations writers.

Conclusion

Today we are bombard with messages through multiple channels. Those who seldom question are prey to messages that are harmful to society. In Revelations Pagels alerts us to the importance of questioning some gnostic writers placed in their secret revelation. I hope this observation ignites the readers of Revelations and ultimately all to forsake blind followings and to adopt questioning the “politics, beliefs and wisdom ”  of all who have the power to spread their views.

The Winning Attitude for Learning Mathematics

Watching a group of children – ages one to three years, is very entertaining. The little ones celebrate their freedom from adult’s grasps by running, jumping, stooping and peeking through their fingers.

This is a fun time for them. They never sulk. They dash here and there; often so fast they fall on all fours. With exuberant giggles, they climb to their feet and run again, attempting to press the envelops of the new capabilities.  This is also a time for learning. With each activity, the little ones develop muscles to run faster, jump higher, stoop lower and observe more. Mastering these activities is fun. But it is hard work and it requires a lot of practice.

Jesus of Nazareth, one of the great teachers ever to live, used imagery of child behavior to describe how to excel in a spiritual life. In Matthew 18:1 – 4, Scripture records:

[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.

Paraphrasing the great teacher, those who attain greatness in a spiritual life must come with enthusiasm to master the new life skills. But more importantly, they must enter the new life unencumbered and be ready to meet its challenges.

Learning and a New Life
Learning opens us to a larger set of truth. The new knowledge (truths) offers a hope of better decision-making, thereby promising a chance for a better life. Effective use of our new knowledge takes us from our past life, with all its mistakes, into the new life of promise.

In Matthew 18:2-4, Jesus announced that one attained greatness in a spiritual life by having the attitude of a child. This winning attitude is characterized by enthusiasm to master the new life’s skills, freedom from encumbrances of the past and openness to new possibilities.

The model that Jesus used to explain gaining “ the kingdom of heaven” holds for gaining proficiency in mathematics. If one substitutes “learning mathematics” for the phrase “enter the kingdom of heaven”, the previous consequences continue to hold. Those who seek – in wonderment and astonishment, the laws of mathematics and push themselves to a deeper understanding of its nature, gain the proficiency (skills) of a mathematician.

Mathematics Teachers
Likewise, that analogue holds for teachers of mathematics. They, too, must have the same childlike attitude. For only a teacher with conceptual knowledge of basis skills can lead a student beyond rote learning to understanding. Such teachers have laid bare the secrets of what they teach. Therefore they are not likely to say
“… that’s the ways it is…” , or
“… you must do it this way…”  or
any other statement whose frequent use impairs a student eagerness to know, when seeking a clear explanation from a teacher who is not able to provide it.

Conclusion: The willing attitude for success in mathematics is the attitude of a young child. It is characterized by inquisitiveness and the drive to master tasks.

Kloosterman & et suggest the following to build motivation in the elementary classroom. Also they help nurture the willing attitude for learning mathematics. Assess their value towards helping your child’s mathematical development.  Click the link to continue

Home for the Holidays

Christmas is the time humanity unfurls to receive and to give. We open ourselves to music, laughter, kindness, love for others, social gatherings, good foods, and memories of past traditions.

Lucky are those who have a venue to enjoy these fruits of the holiday season. For others, this can be a stressful time.

In the Sacramento Valley we are blessed with an evolving tradition that provides a gathering to those who yearn the fruits of this season. Enjoyed with family, or friends, it’s truly electric and memorable.

Alone?

Come and bathe in the friendliness of the crowd.

Experience love through music, song, dance and story.  You’ll leave with a new excitement for life and new memories.

This Evolving Event is the holiday performance of the Sacramento Choral Society and Orchestra, “Home for the Holidays“.  Held in the beautiful Mondavi Center of  the University of California Davis on Saturday, December 13 at 2 PM, “Home for the Holidays” will prepare you for  “the days of Christmas” and reintroduce you to the beauty of the arts in the Sacramento Valley.

Come Home for the Holidays.