Hope at the Beach
Worshiping Christ on the sand, North side of Seal Beach Pier
For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who is not partial and takes no bribe, who executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and who loves the strangers, providing them food and clothing. You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. You shall fear the Lord your God; him alone you shall worship; to him you shall hold fast, and by his name you shall swear. He is your praise; he is your God, who has done for you these great and awesome things that your own eyes have seen. Your ancestors went down to Egypt seventy persons; and now the Lord your God has made you as numerous as the stars in heaven. Deuteronomy 10:17-22
Wow what a great scripture. It is very appropriate for us this month because Seal Beach finally had the second of two surf contests. I say finally because they had postponed it four times. On Super Bowl Saturday and Sunday around two hundred folks gathered near the Seal Beach pier for the contest. It was great. Of course we had our two worship services during the first two qualifying heats at 7:15 a.m. and 8 a.m. One of our group was surfing in the first heat and we lost one or two while the service was going on but it was good.
Why I wanted to tell you about this Sunday was that many new folks, both surfers and spectators, worshiped with us. One incident really caught my attention. While I was serving communion an older surfer who I did not know came up, took communion and knelt at the table and prayed. As always we just kept on going. After the service I got a chance to ask how he did in the contest. He told me that he hadn’t made it through to the heat that morning but had just wanted to come down and see who won. He was unaware of our worship service and when he saw us he said that he knew that God was compelling him to worship with us. Now that would have been great in any case but he told me that he had been far from God for so long that he felt like a stranger until he saw/heard us. I invited him back and said, “See you are no longer a stranger but part of the Hope at the Beach family.” He smiled and answered, “Even if I don’t make it every Sunday?” “Yes of course,” I answered.
You too are part of God’s family even though you might think of yourselves as strangers. You are one of us because of what Christ is doing, has done and will continue to do in his Kingdom. Please pray for the Lenten Season that had begun and for the people that God will lead to worship him, and for His ministry and outreach at Seal Beach.
Rejoicing in Him,
Chuck and Lin Carlson
Hope at the Beach
HAPPY NEW YEAR and GOD BLESS US ALL!
Welcome those who are weak in faith, but not for the purpose of quarreling over opinions. Some believe in eating anything, while the weak eat only vegetables.Those who eat must not despise those who abstain, and those who abstain must not pass judgment on those who eat; for God has welcomed them.Who are you to pass judgment on servants of another? It is before their own lord that they stand or fall. And they will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make them stand. Romans 14:1-4
As many of you know, one of the things I like to do is listen to Dr. Charles Swindoll. Last week he was preaching on Romans 14. The first thing that stood out was “Judge not lest ye be judged!” Of course, this was only the beginning. As I listened it struck me that though Paul wrote this in a letter thousands of years ago, it was speaking directly to our little fellowship at Seal Beach. We have so many different folks at different places in their journey of faith that one would think that we must argue all the time, or at least, find fault in each other’s points of view. But it is not the case. A unifying factor is that we have all been hurt by judgement of others. We remember the pain of false or “half-true” accusations. We remember how though we love Christ and his church we have stumbled and fallen short of God’s calling for us. (PS. 106:6) It is good to remember because in it we are humbled and made pliable for God’s Holy Spirit to work in us. We can greet others without expecting them to be a certain way or act/dress a certain way. When we come to the beach there is no dress code, no code of action that we must follow. Folks come, seeking peace and/or solitude and find us gathering there in worship, allowing God to lead in our journey.
I love this last part of the section Paul writes, “It is before their own lord that they stand or fall.” I have always believed that we were not called to be caretakers of others. That is God’s job and He does a much better job than I do. My job is to pronounce the Good News or “God news” of the gospel of Jesus Christ and that is what I will do until I no longer have breath. I will spend my time speaking about what/who saves humanity not on what condemns it. This is the light I want to stand in and I hope you will stand with me.
God’s grace be with you all,
Christmas Eve Candlelight Service on the Beach
Traveling through this life is like… SURFING
For he commanded and raised the stormy wind, which lifted up the waves of the sea. They mounted up to heaven, they went down to the depths; their courage melted away in their calamity; they reeled and staggered like drunkards, and were at their wits’ end. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he brought them out from their distress; he made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad because they had quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven. Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wonderful works to humankind. Psalm 107:25-31
As we travel through this life it appears to me that it is like surfing the waves of the ocean. As the journey begins we see the waves of life beginning to swell. Higher and higher they come towards us and we are ready. We begin to prepare to take off as we paddle harder and harder. Soon the swell picks us up and we are on the wave. All is well and the excitement of our journey and what lies ahead of us is new. We rise and fall with the shape of the wave as we turn one way and the other up and down as our adrenaline begins to rise in our being.
Then as we experience the joy of this journey we are hit by something unforeseen. Either the backwash of life or a rail (the edge of our board) gets caught – whatever the reason, we are knocked of our board and free- fall towards the mighty ocean, helpless and afraid. We cry out, ‘Lord, Lord?’ but to no avail.
We ask in our hearts, ‘Where is God? Where are his promises to save me? I am alone!’
Then, when it appears all is lost, God reaches out God’s mighty hand and lifts us higher than we were.
God places us back on our boards and the journey continues. But now we are aware of the presence of the Mighty Lord. We see God’s hand of mercy and our direction is clearer.
“This is what happens to all of us some time or another.” Then the verse above came into my heart. And I was glad of the stormy, sometimes quiet journey God has given us. At times we think that there is chaos and disaster, but if we would just “hide” in the waves (in Christ) or as it is known to surfers, “in the tube,” we will find gladness of heart, quiet, and abundant life. Hence the word of encouragement I leave with you…
Go in Peace…Surf the Lord!!