Advent – Christmas Letter

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The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze, their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den. They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain; for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. Isaiah 11:6-9 NRSV

This is one of my favorite verses during this time of the year. Advent –the coming of Christ. But why couldn’t it say an old man would lead them? Well, for one thing he probably was unable to walk with all those animals around him. I have a hard-enough time with children running all around me. Good call God!Christmas morning in Martinez

It is also hard not to say Christmas letter and just forget about Advent. But that would be as bad as an old man trying to lead a group of anything. Advent is very important, though it doesn’t get the respect that some of the other church calendar focuses such as Christmas, Lent, Easter, Pentecost. Advent is a ‘preparation’, an ‘expectation,’ two things that don’t always resonate with the human character. While raising children in our home it was always a battle to wait for Christmas morning to open gifts, what with all the services a pastor’s kid must attend. It was also hard to read the Christmas story before we opened the gifts. But we did it. I have always believed it was the waiting and the giving that has made my Christmas the best.

This year, again, we find ourselves waiting to fully celebrate the birth of the Christ child with a portion of our family after Christmas, and again, I find myself excited for the wait, excited for the ones who are to come – our family.

This year let us remember that we are waiting for THE ONE who will come again, once and for all.

Merry Christmas to you all and may this New Year bring you great and wondrous blessings.

Pastor Chuck and Lin

 

November 2016 Update

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This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with him while we are walking in darkness, we lie and do not do what is true;  but if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.  If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. 1 John 1:5-10

How often have we heard these words, “We are children of the light?” Look at the second part of verse seven, (“and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”) Nowhere does it say in this that my righteous judgement and my adherence to the Law saves me, does it? No, it says that is the action and the right of Jesus the Christ to save all from sin.

And what gets in the way of this salvation? From the words of Jesus,
“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you lock people out of the kingdom of heaven. For you do not go in yourselves, and when others are going in, you stop them” Matt. 23:13 (NRSV)
to the words of Paul,
“Therefore you have no excuse, whoever you are, when you judge others; for in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things.” Romans 2:1
We get in the way of Christ salvation for the world.

Why do I share this with you this month? This month many of us will gather together with family and friends to celebrate Thanksgiving. We will pray, eat, give thanks, laugh, cry, and then go about our lives (which is all good, by the way). Some of us during this time of focus on gratitude will think of friends and many who are far away from God and the good news of Christ’s salvation and want to do something about it. Here at Hope at the Beach, by your generous gifts and most needed prayers you can do something.

We have seen a big increase of seekers finding this joy in Christ – returning to their love of God. Each week for the past few months we have been enjoying many new faces, when asked their stories tell a very familiar truth. For the most part it’s something like this, “My church, family, friends, whatever, did not agree with the way I live my life, the way I look, the person I am, etc. and have hurt me so deeply that I thought I would never come back. But today I heard a message about a loving and forgiving God, thank you for that.”

Now that is something to be very thankful for! So I encourage you to add Hope At the Beach to your thanksgiving prayer and let the light of God’s mercy shine in your hearts and out to all so that they may know the saving grace of Christ.

September Update, 2015

Test yourselves to make sure you are solid in the faith. Don’t drift along taking everything for granted. Give yourselves regular checkups. You need firsthand evidence, not mere hearsay, that Jesus Christ is in you. Test it out. If you fail the test, do something about it. I hope the test won’t show that we have failed. But if it comes to that, we’d rather the test showed our failure than yours. We’re rooting for the truth to win out in you. We couldn’t possibly do otherwise.

We don’t just put up with our limitations; we celebrate them, and then go on to celebrate every strength, every triumph of the truth in you. We pray hard that it will all come together in your lives.

 I’m writing this to you now so that when I come I won’t have to say another word on the subject. The authority the Master gave me is for putting people together, not taking them apart. I want to get on with it, and not have to spend time on reprimands.

2 Corinthians 13:5-10

 

It is hard to believe that the summer is over. Surf Camp for M&M Surf School has had its last class and school has begun. Now is not the time to lay back and take it all in, now is the time for IMG_4478examination. “He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” 1 Cor. 1:8-9 NRSV

The fellowship down in Seal Beach continues to build, through the power of Christ, a people of God. Each day many gather between 6-7:30 am to pray not only for their day but for those who are sick or far away from our living Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

12036784_1055847771094090_1958026573715088246_nAfter nearly seven years this small gathering of Saints reach far and wide. From Alaska to South America; from the shores of the Pacific to Europe (Germany). Each year folks travel from all over the world and worship Christ here on this humble beach, then travel back home with stories and pictures sharing the Good News with their neighbors. The Word, alive and well within their hearts.  News of this does not disappoint but build us up.

We still have new folks dropping by each Sunday some hurt and heavy laden, yet, God provides and healing happens. Some bring baggage from years of righteous abuse given to them by well meaning brothers and sisters who, in my opinion, have lost their way. Here they find a healing and safe heaven.

Thank you for your prayers and support without them we would not be able to bring the help so needed in this time.

July Update, 2015

Storms? Learn to Lie Down in the Boat With Jesus

That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?
They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” Mk. 4:35-31
We have been experiencing some challenging tests among the fellowship at Hope at the Beach. Tests that cause us to wonder where are we, where is God, and is there anything we can do about all this ‘stuff’? Some have expressed that they feel ‘cut off’ by all this ‘stuff’. This is more than the usual drama of life; this is life and death, pain and sorrow, and division of families kind of ‘stuff.’

Number 1: We are where God wants us to be.
God brings us into all types of waves/storms, big or little, loud or quiet, yet, God does bring us through. Good words to embrace, yet difficult when you are the one caught on the ocean in the storms, right?

Number 2: God is in, with, and under us in all circumstances, gently leading, guiding, and caring for us along our journeys.

Number 3: So what do we do? Pray and “lie down in the back of the boat with Jesus”
i.e. trust in the Lord and let God do the work.

Just as the serpent deceived Eve in Genesis, the evil one tempts us into believing a lie: that God is far away. However, the truth is that we are never far away or cut off from the One who gave his all that we might be one. God, in Jesus is not a liar. He is the truth and that truth does and will set us free.

Along with the promises of God that He will never abandon us nor forsake us, God has and does equip us to not just survive these ‘tests’ but to thrive.

A great wisdom I have found concerning these situations is found in the words of Oswald Chamber’s;
“Either Jesus Christ is a deceiver and Paul is deluded, or some extraordinary thing happens to a (person) who holds on to the love of God when the odds are all against God’s character. Logic is silenced in the face of every one of these things. Only one thing can account for it-the love of God in Christ Jesus.
Out of the wreck I rise every time.”

Promises to cling to as you lie down with Jesus:

  • Romans 8:28-39
  • Deuteronomy 4:31
  • James 1:2-8.

In His joy, Go in Peace…Surf the Lord!
Pastor Chuck

 

April 2015 Update – OPEN WATER

What marvelous love the Father has extended to us! Just look at it—we’re called children of God! That’s who we really are. But that’s also why the world doesn’t recognize us or take us seriously, because it has no idea who he is or what he’s up to.

But friends, that’s exactly who we are: children of God. And that’s only the beginning. Who knows how we’ll end up! What we know is that when Christ is openly revealed, we’ll see him—and in seeing him, become like him. All of us who look forward to his Coming stay ready, with the glistening purity of Jesus’ life as a model for our own.       1 John 3:1-3

The day after Easter I followed my normal schedule. I woke up at 5:30, went to the gym, worked out for 20 minutes, then went to Seal Beach to do my daily devotion. As I drove down the little hill into the parking lot I saw our beautiful Easter Cross with all the lovely colors still fresh from the day before. Along with that striking image there was something else, totally unexpected, that filled my heart with joy. The banner of HOPE written in red hanging on the windbreak!. It had inadvertently been left behind the previous morning, and there it remained, 24 hours later, proclaiming to the community that with the empty cross, there is HOPE.

cross with hope

Each year hundreds of people not only come to our Easter morning Sunrise service, but for the next few days pass by the flowered cross, and this year the word of hope.  What a testimony to the wonder of God’s love.

This was our seventh Easter on Seal Beach and it was spectacular. Rev. Dan Gibson gave the Easter message. His focus was built on an experience at his internship site in Nome, Alaska. He talked about how in the long winters the city and commerce was boxed in with no escape, in or out, because of the iced-over ports. But come the Spring,  shouts of “Open water” resounds throughout the land. The ice is breaking up and the supply ships can come in.

And so it is with the resurrection: we have “Open Water!” because of Christ.

Nome, AK

We continue to share the Gospel with all who come to the beach. Please continue to lift us up before the Lord and come visit this summer. Sundays, 7:15  and 8:00am

Go in Peace…Surf the Lord

Blessings,
Pastor Chuck

End of Summer Update – Sept/October

Hope at the Beach
A Surfer’s Chapel
www.HopeattheBeach.com

I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not tailgate worshipabandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.

“When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen.
“When you come looking for me, you’ll find me.
“Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.” God’s Decree.
“I’ll turn things around for you. I’ll bring you back from all the countries into which I drove you”—God’s Decree—“bring you home to the place from which I sent you off into exile. You can count on it.     Jeremiah 29:11-14 The Message

A few weeks ago on Monday morning, I arose at my usual time, early, and drove down to the Seal Beach pier. My intent was to read my morning devotion, meet with a person I meet most every morning before her work begins and pray with her. Meet M&M and others, pray with them, go home and begin my day. I realize after five and a half years that things don’t always turn out the way I intend them.

This morning I arrived a little early. The parking lot was empty except for a man with a broken arm, setting on the wall looking at the waves break on the shore. I began to read the prophet Jeremiah. The sun had not yet broken over the trees and there was fog on my window. As I looked up from my reading I realized that the man was near my window. The parking lot was still empty for the most part but I was not concerned. My window was open and he approached it. He noticed the Bible in my hand and said, “Sorry for interrupting…” I told him he wasn’t and smiled at him saying, “Are you having a good morning?” He looked at me and said, “Are you Pastor Chuck?” This is not unusual because Mike is always telling people about our ministry and encouraging folks to come down and meet me. Of course I said yes and asked if he would like to come in and sit. He said he’d be more comfortable standing where he was. He began to cry. I looked at him and he said, “Do you have something to read to me that would bring me some kind of comfort. As I said before I was reading in Jeremiah and thought of the verses above. Without a word I turned to it and in my best voice-over voice read it to him. When I ended, the tears had increased and sobs had been added. After a moment he said, “Pray for me!” Again without a question I began to pray. As the young lady who I’d usually meet drove into the parking lot, he said thanks and began to leave. I said “I hope that I will see you this Sunday.” He answered me, “Hope, yes that what this is, Hope at the Beach.” I smiled, he went on “I think I will now.” Of course I didn’t understand what he meant but I know God did.

Two weeks later at the 7:15 am worship he showed up. He pretended to meet me for the first time and I played along. He was much different. He spoke with clarity and purpose. He shared with the group about his tumultuous journey so far and how he found us. After the service as I pulled out my guitar to get ready for the next service he approached me and quietly said, “Thanks Pastor Chuck, I had intended to end my life a few weeks ago until you read that scripture and prayed with me. See you next week.” I smiled and he has been coming ever since.

This is what God does at Hope at the Beach. Thanks for your prayers and support and of course may God bless you all big time. “Go in peace and Surf the Lord”

Pastor Chuck

Waiting for worship

Draw them near, O Lord