Hope at the Beach Newsletter
Pastor Chuck Carlson passed into his eternal home on June 12, 2018.
To all my friends and loved ones,
Formulating parting words about my Chuck Carlson, my best friend, partner, and lover of 47 years is very difficult. Many of you have already beautifully described the kind of person he was on Facebook and through private messages. Thank you for these kind and precious words that are a comfort to his family.
I’m going to try to share what was on his heart during the 10 day window of life and awareness he had the beginning of June. He had been suffering a failing heart and an infection that shut down his kidneys. He was “out of it,” in and out of lucidity with waves of pain and agitation. One afternoon, Harry, his best friend of over 65 years, and wife Bee, joined me for a visit. We shared iPhone pictures of their family vacation, etc. all with Chuck’s eyes closed. Suddenly, he opened them up really big and was AWAKE! He was so happy to see us. He started teasing Harry, laughing and cracking jokes. He felt great! He had no pain, yet no strength. He was told how serious his condition was and that he was on life support. He was filled with the Spirit, sharing God’s word and joy with anyone who came by. He talked and talked about so many ideas and what he wanted to tell his congregation. He knew he has a short time left and was filling every minute with what was important to him – his purpose for living. He and I shared scriptures with each other and prayed together. He prayed for each person that came to see him. I think the best way to describe what he wanted to say is by using the words of Paul below. Please take a moment to read these words as if Chuck himself is saying them to you. He loved you so!
2 Corinthians 4:5-12 The Message (MSG)
5-6 Remember, our Message is not about ourselves; we’re proclaiming Jesus Christ, the Master. All we are is messengers, errand runners from Jesus for you. It started when God said, “Light up the darkness!” and our lives filled up with light as we saw and understood God in the face of Christ, all bright and beautiful.
7-12 If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us. As it is, there’s not much chance of that. You know for yourselves that we’re not much to look at. We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we’re not demoralized; we’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we’ve been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn’t left our side; we’ve been thrown down, but we haven’t broken. What they did to Jesus, they do to us—trial and torture, mockery and murder; what Jesus did among them, he does in us—he lives! Our lives are at constant risk for Jesus’ sake, which makes Jesus’ life all the more evident in us. While we’re going through the worst, you’re getting in on the best!
3-6 Every time you cross my mind, I break out in exclamations of thanks to God. Each exclamation is a trigger to prayer. I find myself praying for you with a glad heart. I am so pleased that you have continued on in this with us, believing and proclaiming God’s Message, from the day you heard it right up to the present. There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.
7-8 It’s not at all fanciful for me to think this way about you. My prayers and hopes have deep roots in reality. You have, after all, stuck with me all the way from the time I was thrown in jail, put on trial, and came out of it in one piece. All along you have experienced with me the most generous help from God. He knows how much I love and miss you these days. Sometimes I think I feel as strongly about you as Christ does!
9-11 So this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well. Learn to love appropriately. You need to use your head and test your feelings so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush. Live a lover’s life, circumspect and exemplary, a life Jesus will be proud of: bountiful in fruits from the soul, making Jesus Christ attractive to all, getting everyone involved in the glory and praise of God.
2 1-4 If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.
5-8 Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.
9-11 Because of that obedience, God lifted him high and honored him far beyond anyone or anything, ever, so that all created beings in heaven and on earth—even those long ago dead and buried—will bow in worship before this Jesus Christ, and call out in praise that he is the Master of all, to the glorious honor of God the Father.
12-13 What I’m getting at, friends, is that you should simply keep on doing what you’ve done from the beginning. When I was living among you, you lived in responsive obedience. Now that I’m separated from you, keep it up. Better yet, redouble your efforts. Be energetic in your life of salvation, reverent and sensitive before God. That energy is God’s energy, an energy deep within you, God himself willing and working at what will give him the most pleasure.
14-16 Do everything readily and cheerfully—no bickering, no second-guessing allowed! Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God. Carry the light-giving Message into the night so I’ll have good cause to be proud of you on the day that Christ returns. You’ll be living proof that I didn’t go to all this work for nothing.
The Message (MSG)
Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson
I’m still figuring out what I will do now. I know I’ll be moving out of the Seal Beach apartment in a month or two. I will probably be traveling and living with my kids and grandkids in Morgan Hill, Idaho and North Carolina.
Put Saturday, August 4, 10:00 AM on your calendars. We are planning a special Celebration of Life for Chuck at Seal Beach (on the sand, north of the pier) followed by a paddle out led by M&M Surfing School. Wetsuits and boards will be available for you to join in, so bring your bathing suits and/or chairs/blankets/towels. We’ll have a reception afterwards – TBD.
I am so grateful for the outpouring of love and prayers. They’ve held me up like a life raft in a storm. I feel your love, and I love you back. Thank you for affirming our lives along with the ministry of Hope at the Beach. God’s word never goes void, so keep on spreading the Good News to all you encounter. You are loved – unconditionally and accepted into the kingdom as children of God. Jesus made it so!
Because of Him!