A Whole New Meaning to ‘Be Still’

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With New York State pretty much such down in hopes of preventing the further spread of Covid-19, many people are faced with something they have longed for, time.  In my walks around the neighborhood with Violet, I have seen a good number of garages and sheds being cleaned out.  No doubt similar cleanings, sorting and discarding’s are happening in their homes as well.

This is time well spent.  Betsy and I did some of it ourselves as we cleaned out a large closet, taking the opportunity to rid ourselves of things no longer used or long forgotten.  There is a feeling of satisfaction that comes at the completion of these tasks.

But I wonder, what will the majority of folks do once the tidying up is done, especially if this mandated quarantine stretches on.  There is just so much busy-work to do to fill the void left in our schedules.  May I suggest, Faithful Reader, that you put some of this time to the best use of all, getting to know God better.

Allow me to share with you how I endeavored to do this today.  As I was reading through the Book of Psalms, I came to a passage that is familiar to many:

Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. (Psalm 46:10 NIV)

I have read and taught from Psalm 46 any number of times, but that in no way makes me an expert or learned theologian.  Realizing my limitations, I took to some of my reference materials out (and there are some very good ones on-line as well), in an attempt to learn more of what God is telling us when He says to be still and know that He is God.

As usual when I make the effort to get more understanding from the Almighty, He doesn’t disappoint.  The word still, as it was used in the original Hebrew, carries a different meaning than what I was anticipating.  To me, being still is just that, to stop moving or doing.  The original language takes this to a new level however.  To be still, as it is written here, means to hang limp, or sink down.  It has the sense of being feeble.

Working with this definition, it becomes clear to me that God wants more than just me stopping activity.  Rather, this scripture is reminding me to recognize my frailty, my lack of significance in the big picture and my over all weakness in the face of a global pandemic.

As I get my mind into this place, I can then better appreciate the rest of what God is saying here.  Once still in the sense of the original word, we are then to know that He is God.  I did the same research on the word know.  This particular word carries a similar meaning to the way we use it today.  It basically means to recognize or understand what is being presented.

But then it goes a little farther.  There is an intimacy attached to the Hebrew word to know as it is used in this passage.  This makes the knowing much more than simply a textbook-type learning.  It becomes a matter of the heart by seeing our great need of God in all things.

When we are still in this context, it becomes possible to begin to fathom how much we need God.  My wife Betsy often says, “The more I get to know God, the more I realize how much I need Him.” That sums up Psalm 46:10 very well my dear!

So Friends, what do you think? Is slowing down to know God better in the midst of a shutdown of life a good idea? Please let me know how you might be doing this.

Thanks for reading,

Pastor Chuck

Remember Jesus

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It was heartening to see so many other bloggers taking time on this Memorial Day Weekend to share their heartfelt thoughts about the importance of remembering those who gave their life for the protection of our country. As I wrote yesterday, I join my heart with yours in expressing my deepest gratitude to them all.

The preacher in me would like to take this opportunity to remind us all, including me, to remember Jesus. He too gave his life; not for the service of any one country, but for all humanity. The sacrifice that Jesus made makes it possible for sinners just like me to be welcomed into sweet fellowship with Him. The salvation that God offers is entirely from Him. I/we can not earn, nor could we ever truly deserve it on own merit. Jesus, motivated by pure love, bore the punishment that each of our wayward lives should bear.

And if that were not enough, His resurrection from the dead that we celebrate each Easter seals the deal: Jesus has won the ultimate victory over death. Whereas the brave men and women we remember during this time each year gave their only life and died, Jesus, who also died, is alive!

If, Dear Reader, you have a relationship with our Living Lord, I rejoice with you; asking only that you call to mind frequently the price Jesus purchased you with.

However, if you’re reading this and Jesus is nothing more than a historical or maybe mythical figure, I simply ask you to seek Him out. The Bible promises that He is available always to anyone who calls out to Him. Search your heart and mind and consider if there is an emptiness there that you just can’t seem to fill. If there is, won’t you consider asking Jesus to fill that void. My own experience with this process proved that there was nothing He couldn’t or wouldn’t do to fill me to overflowing with His love. I assure you He can and will do the same for you!

Once you accept the Lord’s invitation to salvation, you will find that remembering Him  will bring great joy.

Blessings and thanks for reading,

Pastor Chuck

Remember

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For many, Memorial Day Weekend is the unofficial start of summer. While the weather is actually trending toward that season here in Central New York, this year feels unlike any other as we all deal with the Covid-19 outbreak. No pandemic, however, should ever affect our memories.

In the States we use this day to pay our respects to all the brave men and women who have paid the ultimate price for the protection of our freedom. May we as a nation never forget the cost they paid for us.

I was reminded the other day about Nathan Hale, an American spy captured by the British in the early stages of the Revolutionary War. Just before they placed the noose around his neck, Hale has been quoted as saying, “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.” I’m sure this was a sentiment that many felt in the ensuing years and through our various wars and conflicts as they gave up their lives in the service of our country. I hope you will join me as we honor them this weekend (and always).

Blessings,

Pastor Chuck

 

Who was that masked man (or woman)?

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“Who was that masked man?” I was not a big fan of the Lone Ranger television show as a kid. I remember watching some episodes with my older brother, who was. I also recall hearing at the end of some of them the question asked by someone the Lone Ranger had just helped, “Who was that masked man?”

This all came to mind the other day as I was out doing our weekly grocery shopping. Among the many shoppers, the vast majority of whom were wearing masks, a familiar, if partial face approached me. We each tentatively spoke the other’s name and to our mutual joy, got it right. This person is a member of one of the churches Betsy and I regularly minister at. With most of the State of New York on shutdown, we hadn’t seen each other in nearly two months.

We exchanged pleasantries and inquired as to loved ones health and well-being, then went of our respective shopping chores. I had another encounter like this a little later as I approached the checkout line. This one played out exactly like the first because our identities were somewhat hidden behind the masks we wore.

As I contemplated the changes this entire Covid-19 experience has brought about, I got to thinking about masks. I think it safe to say we have all worn them, even before the pandemic. With varying amounts of guardedness we don masks to hide true feelings, for many reasons. Some of these are for our own protection or possibly the protection of others. I am not using my blog to chide anyone about this.

But I will comment about the wearing of masks for those who profess faith in Jesus Christ, with myself at the top of the list. To be clear, I totally support the wearing of PPE and following the recommendations for sanitizing surfaces and physical distancing in an effort to prevent the spread of this virus.

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The masks on my mind today are the hidden ones, or at the least the ones that hide our true identity. A devoted follower of the Lord Jesus is to be growing in His likeness day by day. No mask should hide this progress. Yet, speaking for myself, I must admit that I do put on various masks that obscure the living God within me.

One of the many of these is: the mask of indifference. Wearing this one prevents me from being able to empathize with the hurting world and worse yet, can keep me from trying to help.

Another ugly mask I slip on from time to time is one of self-satisfaction. This mask keeps me satisfied in my little world, not wanting anything or anyone to change the status quo I have worked so hard to establish. This mask can easily be turned inside out to be worn as a mask of judgment. Behind this covering I can easily judge folks as being unworthy of my time or stuff. An ugly mask indeed.

I could go on, but I think you get the picture. Much as the protective mask prevalent today hides much of our face, so these less obvious ones often hide our true heart and intentions. Wearing these less visible masks is in no way proper for the disciple of Christ.

This brings me back to the words Jesus shared with His original group of followers on the night He was betrayed:

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35 NIV)

It is clear that in order to follow this command of the Lord (a command, not a suggestion), we must be rid of the hidden types of masks I mentioned above. How you and I demonstrate this love of others will vary with each of us. But one thing will be clear, our motivation will be to love others as the Lord has loved us.

Though the PPE mask I wear today will still partially obscure who I am to the folks I meet, God’s loving heart ought to shine through in all other ways. This makes my goal not to be acknowledged as the answer to the question, “Who was that masked man,” but rather that our all-loving God is revealed in my words and actions.

Blessings to you all and thanks for reading,

Pastor Chuck

 

He loves me, he loves me not

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The last recorded conversation involving Jesus in John’s gospel (John 21:15-23) is an interesting one (as if the Savior of the world could say anything uninteresting!).

For context, the disciples have just encountered the resurrected Jesus for the third time. They had been out fishing all night without catching any when Jesus, from the shore, tells them to drop their nets one more time. They do and then have trouble hauling in the large catch. This group of seven disciples then come to shore and have breakfast with Jesus. It is after this meal that Jesus and Peter have the conversation noted above.

For the record, I do not believe Jesus had an ox-eyed daisy (Wikipedia claims this is the flower traditionally used in the He loves me, he loves me not game) in His hands as he questioned Peter about loving Him.  I do think, however, that asking Peter three times whether he loved the Lord was in direct correlation to the three times Peter had denied knowing Jesus on the night He was arrested.

We can surmise the importance of this conversation in the way Jesus addressed Peter before asking these questions. Verses 15, 16 and 17 each have Jesus addressing Peter (the name Jesus had given him) as “Simon, son of John.” This remains me of my parents calling me by Charles Kenneth when they really wanted my attention.

Jesus asks Peter three times if he loves him. The wording of each is slightly different and biblical commentators have done much study on this topic. As interesting as that is, I simply would like to look at these three questions putting our own name in place of Simon son of John.

I’ll go first: “Charles Kenneth, do you truly love me more than these?” Jesus asks. “These what?” I would probably be thinking. Like it was to Peter, this question could have to do with either ‘others’ who profess to love the Lord or, the things of life that I use, do and enjoy. For Peter this would have been his life as a fisherman and all the gear that went with it.

This is not a question to brush off quickly. Though I can never truly know the hearts of others with regard to their love of the Lord, I can certainly keep watch on my own. The other possible target of this question might be even more difficult to honestly respond to. There are things in this life that I do deeply love. But do they replace Jesus as my first love? He already knows the answer, I would be wise to consider my response carefully.

Jesus then asks, “Charles Kenneth, do you truly love me?” Thinking about this, I come to a better understanding of how difficult it must have been for Peter to hear it. After all, he had been a devoted follower of Jesus for over three years. He had given up the life he knew to go ‘all-in’ with the Lord. And yet, we know that Peter denied knowing Jesus on the night of the Lord’s arrest. Hence the question: “Do you truly love me?” As I apply it to myself, I see similarities. I have followed Jesus for a period of years, through mistakes and misspoken words, trying my best to be worthy of the name Christian. But the question the Lord poses is penetrating. It goes through all the ‘stuff’ I do and taps on my heart. My answer is “Yes Lord, I truly love you.” But I am left with the on-going struggle to some degree of revealing and expressing the depth of that love.

Jesus then asks a final time, “Charles Kenneth, do you love me?” Again like Peter, a part of me wants to be hurt that I have to be asked a third time. I must push past this fleshly response so that I can simply stand before the One that is asking. This third question, in my opinion, is the one that the Lord wants me to take with me everywhere I go and in everything I do. It is the filter through which I am to run every thought and action: Is this demonstrating to the Lord and to everyone else that I do indeed love Him?

Thankfully, I do not believe the Lord is expecting perfection out of me. He knows my weaknesses and blind spots. This not to say I am to hide behind these as excuses for unloving thoughts and behaviors. Rather, as I honestly admit and confront these things, I can ask my Savior to strengthen me so that my faith does reflect and display more love toward Him and others.

Most importantly, as the children’s song says, “Jesus loves me, this I know.” No ox-eyed daisy is needed to tell me that!

Blessings to you and thanks for reading,

Pastor Chuck

 

Navigator memory system

Navigator’s Topical Memory Categories

Live the New Life

Christ the center – 2 Corinthians 5:17 and Galatians 2:20

Obedience to Christ – John 14:21 and Romans 12:1

The Word – 2 Timothy 3:16 and Joshua 1:8

Prayer – John 15:7 and Philippians 4:6-7

Fellowship – Matthew 18:20 and 1 John 1:3

Witnessing – Matthew 4:19 and Romans 1:16

Proclaim Christ

            All have sinned – Romans 3:23 and Isaiah 53:6

Sin’s penalty – Romans 6:23 and Hebrews 9:27

Christ paid the penalty – Romans 5:8 and 1 Peter 3:18

Salvation not by works – Ephesians 2:8-9 and Titus 3:5

Must receive Christ – John 1:12 and Revelation 3:20

Assurance of salvation – 1 John 5:13 and John 5:24

Rely on God’s Resources

            His Spirit – 1 Corinthians 3:16 and 1 Corinthians 2:12

His strength – Isaiah 41:10 and Philippians 4:13

His faithfulness – Lamentations 3:22-23 and Numbers 23:19

His peace – Isaiah 26:3 and 1 Peter 5:7

His provision – Romans 8:32 and Philippians 4:19

His help in temptation – Psalm 119:9, 11 and Hebrews 2:18

Be Christ’s Disciple

            Put Christ first – Matthew 6:33 and Luke 9:23

Separate from the world – 1 John 2:15-16 and Romans 12:2

Be steadfast – 1 Corinthians 15:58 and Hebrews 12:3

Serve others – Mark 10:45 and 2 Corinthians 4:5

Give generously – Proverbs 3:9-10 and 2 Corinthians 9:6-7

Develop world vision – Acts 1:8 and Matthew 28:19-20

Grow in Christ likeness

            Love – John 13:34-35 and 1 John 3:18

Humility – Philippians 2:3-4 and 1 Peter 5:5-6

Purity – Ephesians 5:3 and 1 Peter 2:11

Honesty – Leviticus 19:11 and Acts 26:14

Faith – Hebrews 11:6 and Romans 4:20-21

Good works – Galatians 6:9-10 and Matthew 5:16

The Navigator’s system seems to work best by memorizing these verses under the 5 different headings. I have found that this helps me to focus on what I am attempting to commit to memory and why.

They suggest that you first say the heading. (for example: “Grow in Christ likeness”)

Next, read the verse you are learning (start by stating book, chapter and verse).

The actual memorization is a matter of personal preference, but sticking to their simple formula of heading, book, chapter, verse seems to cement it in more quickly.

I participated in a small group that followed this program that met weekly for 8 weeks. By the end I had all these verses committed to memory.

As I mentioned in my comment on your blog, I have adapted this program a little bit. I have made 3 different Word document folders for my laptop. They are: Book by Book Memorization (I say and type them in order from Genesis to Revelation). The next one is titled Additional Verse Memorization. In this folder I list new verses I am learning, using a heading for each one. For example: Living and Active; Hebrews 4:12-13. Using the same basic principle of speak, read, write and repeat I can continue to learn new verses. My last folder is titled Psalms where I use the same process to memorize passages from any number of them.

I dedicate 15 minutes per day to memorization. Once you get a manageable amount memorized, I recommend spending equal time learning new and reviewing what you have memorized. I find this extremely helpful in retaining what you store away.

Don’t hesitate to ask any questions or for clarification on any of this.

I pray Scripture memorization blesses you as much as it has me!

Pastor Chuck Copps

Lakeside Christian Ministries

http://www.lakesidechristianministries.org

 

I Must be Having Fun

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“Times flies when you’re having fun.” We’ve all heard this and, hopefully, many have experienced it as well. I got to thinking about this old saying during my morning meditation time today. You see, today is rather important anniversary in my life: 29 years ago, May 3rd 1991, God placed me on the journey of sobriety. A journey He has kept me successfully on ever since. Let me start today by thinking Him for this inexplicable gift and life saving gift. I have been blessed by tremendous support from my wife, family and many friends over the years, but without God’s intervention, nothing would have been possible.

Nearly 30 years have, pardon the cliché, flown by in the wink of an eye. Hence my oft repeated phrase, ‘I must be having fun because the time is going by so quickly.’ I recall the earliest days of sobriety as I marveled at the men and women at AA meetings who spoke of their length of sobriety in terms of decades! Fresh from de-tox and rehab, those numbers seemed more like fantasy than reality. I can also recall thinking that if I were to reach those lofty heights of time away from I drink, I would be 60 years old. (Guess what Charles, you hit that number a few months ago!)

My message today is to encourage each of you to embrace the gift that today is. I realize that many, especially in these times, are struggling in ways never thought possible just a few short months ago. My prayer for you and me is that no matter what cards we have been dealt, we hold onto hope. Hope that not only brings a properly timed end to shutdowns, but also a hope that opens our eyes and hearts to the tender care of our Creator.

May these words from the Apostle Paul be a light in the darkness for you: I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:12-13 NIV).

Relying on God’s strength can help you to do so much more than simply endure another day; it can make it possible to experience the joy and peace that only God can give. God’s peace is not restrained by our circumstance. It is abundant and can overflow into your life. Admit your need to Him, whatever it is, and God’s faithfulness will not only see you through but will lift you nearer to Him.

Give it a try and see if today doesn’t zip by in warp speed as the joy of life lived by the loving lead of God fills your heart and mind.

Thanks for reading,

Pastor Chuck

The New Normal

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I have lost count of the number of times I have thought or verbalized the desire to have things get back to normal. But what is normal; or maybe the better question is: what was normal. As many of you know by now, I like to go to the dictionary as a jumping off point. Doing so again, I find the Cambridge English dictionary definition of normal as ordinary or usual; the same as would be expected.

In other words, my normal is what I am used to. Like many, I take great comfort in routine. So much so, in fact, that as I ponder this today, it is in the very routine that my comfortability comes from, not the things I do routinely. This tells me that I do not necessarily put much thought or creativity into the tasks that make up my day, for it is the very doing of them that creates my normal routine. Doing things in this fashion helps to keep them like the folks at Cambridge said, ordinary or usual, the same as would be expected.

As I consider this through the lens of the last 8 weeks, when little or none of the old normal has been found, I am sure I’m not alone. I am longing for something that no longer exists, desiring to go back to a time when I had a semblance of control of things. In the midst of uncertainty, the strong desire is to look backward toward what I thought I knew rather than forward into a great unknown.

I wonder if similar thoughts were going through Peter’s mind in John Chapter 21. If you’d like, hit pause and go read John 21:1-14 for the written account.

Welcome back! For the rest, here’s my Reader’s Digest version of that section of Scripture: Jesus had already appeared twice to His disciples since His resurrection. The events described in these verses took place sometime in the week since the second appearance. Peter and the boys were still dazed and confused by all they had recently seen. Their leader arrested, tried and executed only to see Him alive three days later! That’s more than enough to make anyone’s head spin.

Recall that fishing was the way of life for Peter and a number of the other original disciples of Jesus, including John, the author of the verses being considered here. The narrative tells us these men were standing on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, where they had previously made their living. I think it a fair guess to say that they were looking for something normal in their new reality.

Peter, a leader of the group, verbalizes this thought when he announces, “I’m going out to fish.” (John 21:3 NIV). He was going out in a boat searching not only for fish, but I assume also for some sense of normal in those most unsettled days. His companions quickly agree to go with Peter, no doubt experiencing similar feelings.

The rest of the story serves as a lesson to them and any of us that would look to the past as the way to go into the future. They fished all night without landing any. Remember, this was not sitting with your feet up waiting for a fish to bite, but rather strenuous work of castings nets and then hauling them back to the boat. They did this all night with zero gain for their efforts.

My takeaway from their futile attempt to re-establish a normal that no longer exists: don’t make the same mistake today. To grasp for something that is no longer there is not only a waste of time, it is self-centered. If my goal is to get back to a time when I was comfortable because I believed I knew what was going on displays a lack of true insight. I have to ask myself, for whom was I doing whatever it was I was involved in? If my honest answer to that reveals even some indication toward selfishness, I need to evaluate the motivation of what I do going forward, as a new ‘normal’ begins to reveal itself.

I feel encouraged as I write this, even as I have discovered some of my motives to maintain normal have been self-serving. For as difficult as it is to find this out about myself, my hope in the new normal is heightened as I read how that fishing expedition ended after Jesus appeared to the disciples on the shore.

Following His instruction, they cast their net one more time. As they hauled it back toward the boat, they discovered a catch of fish the likes of which they had never seen! So many fish that the boat was nearly sunk.

If following the lead of Jesus can bring that level of excitement as the new normal, then allow me to figuratively voice what Peter did, “I going to fish!”

I’d loved to hear how/what the new normal looks like to you.

As always, thanks for reading. Blessings to you all and be safe,

Pastor Chuck

 

Watergate and Jesus Gate: Two Cover-ups that Did Not Work

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It has been said that if we don’t remember the lessons of the past, we are likely to make similar mistakes in the future. History has proved this time and time again with regard to the attempts of people in power attempting to cover-up actions they had taken, or at least had condoned. People my age grew up in a time when this truism was the hot button topic: The Watergate Cover-up.

For the many who are younger than me or perhaps those living in other parts of our world, here is my brief synopsis: In 1972, then President Richard M. Nixon was caught up in a scandal that would eventually lead to his resignation from this land’s highest office. He, or at the very least some in his administration that were very close to him, ordered a break-in to the Democratic National Committee headquarters located in the Watergate Office building for the purpose of obtaining intel on his political opponents.

The actual perpetrators acted more like a slap-stick comedy team than actual burglars. Their ill-advised and planned break-in was quickly discovered, which started the ball rolling on the plan to cover up any Whitehouse involvement in it.

I’ll spare you the sordid details, suffice to say that the many and varied attempts to cover up or suppress truth ultimately failed. The depth of the president’s involvement was revealed, which led to his resignation in August of 1974. Though Nixon was later pardoned by his replacement Gerald Ford, over 60 of his staff were convicted and sentenced to prison time. The cover-up had failed completely.

Another government sponsored cover-up that did not work happened about 2000 years ago in Jerusalem. Matthew’s gospel, written approximately 30 years after the events mentioned here, describes it this way:

While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble. Matthew 28:11-14 NIV.

Hush money didn’t work then, much the same as it failed to hide the events at the Watergate building in 1972. The Roman guards received a “large sum” of money to keep quiet about what really happened as Jesus was resurrected, but the evidence was too overwhelming in support of the truth: He was risen from the dead!

Human history is pock-marked with countless attempts to conceal true events. I am not so naïve to believe that some of them haven’t been somewhat successful. But I count myself blessed to know the truth about that first Easter! No cover-up could prevent the news of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. His victory over death frees me and all who would believe in Him from its clutches. Why would anyone want to cover that up?

Thanks for reading and be safe,

Pastor Chuck

 

 

Believing is Seeing

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As I prepared some post-Easter messages, I turned to John’s Gospel for some of his eye-witness accounts of the activities of Jesus after the resurrection, paying close attention to the interactions that the disciples had with their now Risen Lord.

As it does each time I read it, the reaction of Thomas, both before and after seeing Jesus, resonates with me. Here’s my paraphrase of those encounters: Thomas, who was not present with the others when Jesus first appeared to the group after His resurrection, did not believe his friends when they told him what had happened. That’s impossible and a crazy thing to say was probably what Thomas said when he heard this. Ever pragmatic, he goes on to claim that he will never believe unless he can put his fingers in the nail holes and his hand in Jesus’ side.

In other words, seeing is believing for old doubting Thomas. As critical as I would like to be about him, an honest look in the mirror shows that I too have these same tendencies. It was as I read and subsequently communicated with the author of beautybeyondbones blog (I highly recommend reading it!) that this fact raised its ugly head again.

The author of that excellent blog (you can find it on WordPress) was sharing about the painful loneliness of in-patient treatment for an eating disorder and how this current lockdown from Covid-19 was bringing some of those feelings to the surface again. This brought back vivid memories of my time in detox and rehab so many years ago. Realizing that the shared pain of a similar path was helping me, I have decided to share some of my personal experience of those days in my life. My hope is that these words will touch a life like mine was by that brave author now quarantined in New York City.

Faith, as I often write about these days, is defined best in the Book of Hebrews Chapter 11, verse 1: Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see (NIV). Hence, my title today, believing is seeing. Though there are times and seasons in my life now when the certainty of what I do not see is clear, that was not always the case.

As your know, Long-time Reader, I have been a recovering alcoholic for nearly 29 years, all thanks to God! I realize I have shared some of the results of that horrible existence; such as the physical, financial and spiritual bankruptcies that resulted from my drunken life. Yet, I do not believe I have ever mentioned in any detail the struggles of those 7 weeks of in-patient treatment.

As I see I am already on page two on my laptop, I think I’ll focus this entry of the initial 3 week stay in the mental health wing of the hospital that oversaw my detox. Actually, to say that they just monitored my detox doesn’t quite speak to what that caring staff did for me.

Having already taken my belt and shoelaces because I had stated I might harm myself, the staff for the next 48 hours checked on me every 15 minutes to insure I was still breathing because the risk of pulmonary and/or cardiac arrest is heightened when the body is no longer receiving the vast amounts of alcohol it was used to. I will never forget the compassion in their eyes as they not only checked my vital signs but would also stay to hold my shaking hands or wipe my sweat-soaked brow.

I believe the heart-felt care they gave me helped me to be more receptive to the idea of living life without booze. On the third day of that life-changing lockdown, now that I was physically out of the woods, I was given some AA literature to read.

My eyes were drawn immediately to one sentence: We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. To this day, I count that moment as the time I knew, without any doubt or hesitation, that this Jesus I had heard about in church as a child was in fact the Savior. My Savior! I asked Him in that moment to please help me. I was lost and so scared, desperate for a way out.

It was then, in His infinite mercy, that He touched me. As He did, He opened my eyes to know that believing was seeing and, all these many years later, our Precious Lord has continued to pour the gift of faith into me, ever honing my spiritual insight that I might see Him at work better as He helps me to believe more completely. Believing is seeing!

I pray that my experience may help someone in some small way to better see through their own eyes of faith today.

Blessings and be safe,

Pastor Chuck