Lent Newsletter – March 2017

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Hope at the Beach Lenten Newsletter – March 2017

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” John 14:1-7

In the midst of Lent, we find ourselves wondering whether or not this Christian life is worth all the pain, hassle, and at times, sorrow. I believe that Jesus had these times too. As he drew nearer to his death, those who followed him also felt that things were going sideways, but didn’t know why.

It is here in this very moment that Jesus comes to us and brings us hope. Calling us not to be troubled in the very moment of catastrophe. Calling us to look not backward, not forward, not even in the “now”. But calling us to look to him; ‘the way, the truth and the life’. It is IN him we will find healing, calm, and joy. It is in HIM we find purpose and calling. It is in him WE find rest!

This is what I have been preaching at Hope at the Beach for the past eight years. Hope is a commodity sorely needed in this time. It is because of your prayers and financial sacrifice that we can, by the power of the Holy Spirit, continue to help people know Jesus. And in knowing Jesus, know the Father and have people see God in and through us.

As always, go in peace and surf the Lord!

Pastor Chuck and Lin

We Are Church


We are church on the beachWe voted on and passed our constitution today, February 19, 2017. After eight years on the sand of Seal Beach, a seed planted, sprouted, and is growing!
Thanks be to God!

We meet every Sunday for two services.
One at 7:15 AM, (affectionately called the Surfer’s Special.) Then at 8:00 AM we have a full worship with music.

Join us anytime!

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/October 2016 Update

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Go in Peace…Surf the Lord

Let Us Dance in the Rain and Let Christ Lead

And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. A windstorm arose on the sea, so great that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep.And they went and woke him up, saying, Lord, save us! We are perishing!And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, you of little faith?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a dead calm. They were amazed, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?”   Matthew 8:23-27

It appears that we are going from storm to storm; that in fact, life becomes a waiting game for the next storm to come. We batten down our lives and things slow down. We don’t want to be caught unawares. But life is not about waiting for the next storm to pass. Rather, it is about learning to dance in the rai! (and as many of you know I am a dancer). I have found that one needs faith to dance in the rain when one can barely walk.

As I was reflecting and dancing after a recent storm I looked around and realized that we at Hope at the Beach have been dancing in the rain and sunshine for nearly nine years. What brought this clearly to my mind was on a recent Sunday – as I was giving Communion to the gathered folks at the beach, a young man, his name is Zack, came over holding his surf board and dressed in his wet suit and asked for communion.

When Zack began to come to Hope, he was nine years old and a student at M&M Surf School. He was so Zach taking communionexcited about Church on the beach that the next Sunday he brought his parents. They all have been attending since that time. He has graduated from high schoo,l has been attending Long Beach State, and is soon going into the Coast Guard. We are so grateful to God for sending Zack and his parents to our fellowship and for the faith that has been maturing in their lives.

He is not the only one who has grown up in this fellowship. Austin is another young man who has been coming to our services since our first Easter service. His mother is Jill who plays the jamba at our services and his step father is none other than Big Mike of M&M. Austin, too, has graduated and is entering the Air Force on November 22.

These young men and women (that’s Amber with Austin) and so many others have been dancing with me during the stormy times and the bright blessed sunny times. God has and will continue to sustain us and fill us with great joy and peace no matter what comes our way.

Which leads me to let you all know that last Sunday I signed the papers to become an independent Church body; Hope at the Beach, California. We are still part of ARC and continue to support them and they us. This October we will be getting a new bank account. It would be best if you immediately discontinued sending your donations to Hope Community Church and instead have your checks sent to our home address (in box below):

Please continue to pray for Hope at the Beach, all those who attend, and all who may wander by…May they hear a word of hope in these stormy times.

God bless!
Chuck and Lin

All things become “NEW” – Easter Newsletter

Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old. I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness  and rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43:18-19

In 1974 Bishop Gaylord Falde ordained me to ‘Word and Sacrament’ in and of the ALC (American Lutheran Church). It was unusual, yet not unheard of, to ordain a person who had not gone to Easter 2016Seminary. Yet, it happened. Why, you may ask – so that I might be able to preach and officiate during communion on the sands (beaches)  of Waikiki, Hawaii. Fourteen years later I attended PLTS (Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary) and was ordained in 1988.  I thought that I would never leave the insides of a church building again, silly me. God was going to do a ‘new’ thing with me. Almost 20 years later Pastor Bob Mabry and I stood on the north side of the Seal Beach pier and prayed together that God would begin a new thing here on the beach of Seal Beach. Unbeknownst to us, Mike and Michael Pless the owners of M&M Surf school were also praying that God would begin a ministry on that same beach.

God did hear our prayers and begin the ministry known as Hope at the Beach. This will be our 8th Easter Sonrise Service and every year it is a “NEW THING,” began and based on the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Wow, what a great God we have, who does a “NEW THING” every single day!

I want to thank you for partnering with us these many years. We will be continuing for as long as our loving God wills. Please follow in the Way with us. May God bless you all…..
Because of Him!

Pastor Chuck and Lin Carlson

Go in Peace…Surf the Lord

Advent Newsletter, December 2015

Hope at the Beach - A Surfer's Chapel

We got the basics from Moses, and then this exuberant giving and receiving, this endless knowing and understanding—all this came through Jesus, the Messiah.       John 1:17 the Message

This morning as I sit and listen to “What Child Is This,” I am reminded of why we are drawn to our Lord and Savior; our Messiah, Jesus, the Christ of God.  For the first time since the fall of humanity we are given full fellowship with God the father with endless knowing and understanding through the sacrifice of his son, this “child”, Jesus Christ.

Does this happen all at once? No! It takes place year after year, growth like rings in a tree, until the day we all rest in the blessed arms of our Lord.

In 2016 I will be 70 years old. I realize that not only am I still alive, but my relationship with Christ, the living Lord of all life, is so much greater than when I was 30. What I mean by that is that my i.e. “knowing,” the works and ways of God, and the “understanding,” (how God works in my life through the  good and the bad times), spiritual life continues to grow and get stronger. I cannot imagine how much more God will bring as his final Advent comes closer.

I had a glimpse of what God can do within the Christian’s life with my relationship with Chaplain Elling Ramsey, who was well into his second 100 years when he went to stand with our Lord. This man was so wise and his understanding was so clear that each time I sat and spoke to him I felt closer to our living Lord.

And I think that is what Advent is all about, drawing closer to the Living Triune God.

May your Advent and Christmas be amazing and may our prayer together resound with “Come quickly Lord Jesus.”

Love, joy, peace, and hope in Him,

Chuck and Lin

We invite you to join us – Christmas Eve: 6:00 PM
Come as you are!

Anticipation

 

December Advent 2015

Lin and Chuck Merry Christmas

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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