Hello to you all, both long-time and new!

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I would like to acknowledge and say a big THANK YOU to all of you who have recently started following this blog. I truly appreciate the time you take to read and respond.

For those who have been reading, putting up with, and/or groaning over the past 3+ years, a hearty thanks to you as well!

It occurs to me that those falling under the newer category might not know all the backstory that comes along with me. I’d like to take this opportunity to allow you the opportunity to catch up!

As I am embarking on a somewhat new aspect of my journey as a follower of Jesus Christ, I have been asked to write an essay introducing myself to the folks who will be considering me for a Rostered (ordained) ministry position within the Lutheran Church. The following is an excerpt from that essay. It is my hope that you, New Dear Reader, will take the time to get to know me a little better (and for those who have heard much of this, you may hit the like button and be on your way).

Thanks once again for sharing the ride with me.

Part 1: My Story

I was born on January 11th, 1960 in Oswego New York to Kenneth and Evelyn Copps. I have one older brother, Carl. I had a happy home-life growing up in in that small town. My parents provided for all our needs and most of my wants in a caring way. Dad worked full-time as a machinist while Mom stayed at home. I had some close friends through the years and it seemed we always congregated at my house. It was warm and open to everyone.

My parents were Roman Catholic and raised my brother and me in that faith. It never meant much to me as I saw going to church largely as an inconvenience on my time. Other than Confirmation, weekly Mass was my only exposure to Catholicism. Things of faith were rarely if ever brought up at home. Tending to shirk responsibility in those days, I was more than happy to do my 60 minutes per week at church and leave faith at that.

At the age of eighteen I opted out of regular church attendance, going back only to be married in 1983. My wife and I attended her local church, Holy Family in Fulton, New York for a brief period after marriage, but that attendance soon faltered as well.

I was well into the downward spiral of alcoholism at this point. The ensuing years are a blur even now. Finally, with my health failing, my wife ready to leave and at the brink of financial disaster, I sought help. A three week stay in a detox-center followed by a 28-day rehab helped prepare me to live a sober life.

It is at the beginning of recovery that my faith life came to be. In fact, I count both my sobriety date and the date of my salvation the same: May 3rd, 1991. It seems that the Bible stories I sat through as a child had some affect after all! I knew in my spirit that the Higher Power the AA literature speaks of was in fact Jesus Christ. I received His forgiveness at the detox-center and have been a follower of His ever since.

That last sentence hardly speaks to the wonder of these last 29 years. I owe a great debt of thanks to Pastor Brent Dahlseng. He took a great interest in my spiritual journey. He encouraged me to read God’s word and to become a person of prayer. He was a tremendous mentor and friend as he helped me navigate my new life with purpose.

God has been faithfully persistent as He continues to call me to His service. Starting as a Small-Group apprentice leader, I have now had the privilege of being on many different prayer ministries as well as hospital visitation teams.

As the Lord has helped me to discern His call on my life, I attended seminary (Rockbridge Seminary) and was granted a Master of Divinity in 2014. We had begun a home ministry by this point and the schooling and training the seminary provided me had enriched my ability to serve. This has proved especially true in my Hospice work as I provide pastoral care to patients and their families.

I was ordained by the Elim Fellowship of Lima, New York in April of 2018. I have had the pleasure to officiate at weddings and our home ministry is now ‘on the road,’ as we serve people in their homes by providing bible study, counseling and the opportunity to worship.

It is with much anticipation that I enter into this next phase of ministry. I continue to trust God will reveal His will to me as I embrace a deeper understanding of Lutheran theology in the service of the church.

Blessings to you all,

Pastor Chuck

A Whole New Meaning to ‘Be Still’

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(image courtesy of bible study tools)

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

What if the person at the well had been a member of the LBGTQ community?

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The encounter known as Jesus and the Woman at the Well, found in Chapter 4 of John’s gospel has long been a motivator for me in ministry. If you are at all familiar with the meaningful interaction between Jesus and this woman, you know that she was ostracized from society because she was currently living with a man outside of marriage.

Jesus, caring little for social niceties, breaks a rule by engaging in conversation with this woman as he sat at the well outside of her village. Remember, in those days men and women who weren’t family would not have had this casual conversation. In fact, a male would never have asked a question of a female as Jesus had in public.

Jesus’ example or throwing social constraints aside is very encouraging to me. He met that woman right where she was, not only physically, but also spiritually. He carried no pre-set conditions or barriers to insulate himself. The Lord merely, and simply, starting talking with her.

At Lakeside Christian Ministries, we have attempted to take this same approach in all that we do. After all, if it was right and proper for Jesus, we must be on the right track!

Our ability to minister in some of the more difficult places in our community, be they racked with deep poverty, substance abuse or any of the other common maladies folks deal with in these times, has been blessed on many occasions. The simple, heartfelt approach of meeting people as and where they are has opened many doors and hearts to us.

Seeking and meeting people in this way has become our normal mode of operation and because of this, we are becoming better equipped as to how to respond to verbal and other clues. Experience is teaching us, and we are becoming more attuned to the folks we get the privilege to minister to. I feel we are following the example Jesus set by his meeting with the woman found in John Chapter 4.

We are certainly not alone in our efforts. Many people, be they of faith or not, are successfully reaching into communities as they supply many types of practical help and moral support. I thank God for every agency, ministry and individual that takes their concern for people and puts it into positive action.

But (you had to know by now, Dear Reader, that a but was coming!), I had pause to wonder how well I/we are doing with this example of Jesus when the need of someone is a little less obvious than that of the woman at the well. What I mean to say is that we may be good at seeing the need in poverty and springing into action with no judgment, but what about at other times and places.

For example, what if the person at the well is transgender? I am confident that this would not have made the slightest difference in Jesus’ approach. He simply met, interacted and always loved. The Lord would have engaged in conversation with this person for the simple reason that they were loved by him. No judgment, no condemnation, simply love.

Can you and I make this same claim when we are face to face with someone of the LBGTQ community? Do we look with compassion to see if there is a need we might help with? Or are our first thoughts more confused or worse yet judgmentally accusatory.

I for one have never found a response from Jesus described as these. Sure, he was appropriately stern or pointed when dealing with the hypocritical of his day, never mincing words when he was attempting to get their attention.

Yet on the other hand, Jesus always led with love, no matter what the issues in front of him might be. Consider those afflicted with leprosy back then. They could not be where other, ‘clean,’ folks were and if they were in their vicinity, they had to announce their own presence by yelling out, “Unclean, unclean, stay away!” The gospel records several instances where Jesus, paying no attention to any of that, actually laid his hands on some lepers to heal them!

We all need to pay closer attention to the wonderful example Jesus has left us. We are to follow his command to “Love one another.” Period. No questions as to who might deserve our love and certainly no judging someone that we feel doesn’t. We are to simply love. We can do this as Jesus modeled. We can listen. We can be willing to have open and honest dialogue with someone who is experiencing life in way that we might not be familiar with.

I encourage us all, in whatever way this little article may have touched you, to simply love one another (that’s everyone, btw) a little more deeply; a little more considerately, a little bit more honestly, etc.

Let love rule your heart, not judgment. Let the example of Jesus lead you, for he will never lead you in a way that is contrary to his love.

Thanks for reading.

Be blessed and be a blessing,

 Pastor Chuck

(image courtesy of kendrickhome.net)

Hello again Faithful Reader! If the old saying is true that times flies when you are having fun, then I must be having a blast!

It has been a month already since I began the next part of my journey at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church. I am serving on staff there as Vicar (a fancy word for saying intern!)

I wrote the following for the October newsletter they put out. I hope it serves as an update for you all.

Also, I was given the honor of preaching for the first time there on September 24th. I’ve included the link to the ‘studio’ version of that sermon should you want to give a listen to my take on the inclusiveness that Jesus modeled.

From the newsletter:

Feels Like Home

Growing up in Oswego, my house was the place we all my friends would gather. As I look back, it is easy to see why. My parents went out of their way to make my buddies feel welcome and never letting any of them leave hungry. The homemade dinners and fresh baked desserts were prepared with the expectation of extra plates being needed, and they often were!

Betsy and I made it a point to have our home be like that as well. Our two kids knew that their friends were always welcome. The numerous sleepovers and meals shared let us know the kids were as comfortable around us as we were with them.

The wonderful welcome Betsy and I have received at St. Marks has reminded me of the times I just mentioned. Even behind the masks, the light in your eyes and the joy on your faces is easy to see. Part of me feels like my friends must have at my homestead as my parents made sure their needs were met in a caring way.

At no time have we felt like outsiders trying to make our way in. Instead, invitations have been extended to join in ministries or to simply share a little of ourselves with you in conversation.

As you may know, part of the ministry I have been involved with in recent years has afforded me opportunities to be in any number of different churches as a guest preacher, providing music with Betsy or leading bible studies. We believe
each of these churches are doing their best to honor God in all that they do.

I find this true at St. Marks as well, but as a body of believers you stand apart from these others. I believe that is because of your humble devotion to serving Christ as you reach out throughout the Baldwinsville (and beyond) area. Betsy and I are honored and humbled to serve with you as together we extend the love of God to the world around us.

Blessings,

Vicar Chuck Copps

You’re Included TOO!

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Inclusion. Certainly a word we hear frequently of late (and that is a very good thing!) For a person professing to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, being inclusive ought to be second nature. Sadly, what ought and what is are many times not the same

There is no place where it is proper to exclude anyone simply because of skin color, gender identity or any of the other social, religious, economic, etc. labels that get thrown around. What many consider as ‘being different’ is often someone living in a way that we are not accustomed to. Being inclusive means to drop the idea that different equals bad.

The Lord Jesus taught frequently about being inclusive, which tells me that this struggle is not a new one. Whether we want to admit it or not, most of us are most comfortable when around others who look, act and believe as we do.

What blessings we miss out when we throw up those types of walls. We waste our precious time and energy if we spend it trying to protect what we have from ‘outsiders.’ Likewise, we cut ourselves off from the opportunity to share life with various groups of people who might very well have invaluable lessons and experiences to share with us. From the personal perspective of a parent of a child who is a member of the LBGTQ community, I can tell you God has poured forth abundant blessings on the relationships my wife and I have made here. That’s not to say we have done anything special, except maybe to be non-judgmentally inclusive.

Jesus’ instructions for life are quite clear: Love your neighbor. Period. There is no place for judging or trying to change someone. To love means to listen and to always advocate for justice. It is to seek means of communication, not for disparaging thoughts or words.

While are thoughts are turned toward inclusion today, please remember that you are included too! We need to set aside our tendency to see things in an us v. them mentality. Being inclusive is to put those types of thoughts away, for good.

What helps me in this regard is taking to heart the words of inclusion Jesus spoke for everyone. In other words, from Jesus’ perspective we, that means all of us, simply are included. The Lord spoke in broad terms that were applicable to individuals.

For example, in Matthew’s gospel Jesus is quoted as saying, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28 NIV). You need not be a bible scholar to understand what “all you” means: Everyone! Jesus invites us, all of us, individually, to come to Him and receive His blessing of rest and relief when the weight of the world gets too heavy. I love this. No prerequisites, no condition, no being a certain this or that, but rather come to Jesus, the One who loves you because you are you.

Yet the inclusion of God can take us even further. If we take the Lord up on His offer for peace and rest, He then as an assignment for us. An inclusive assignment. We are to take this awesome gift of His love and share with the world around us. “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…” (Matthew 28:19a NIV).

Here is another case where all means all. I realize most of us are not going to be called to another nation to carry the message of God’s love, but that does not release us from our responsibility to doing so in our own context. We are to share God’s love with everyone with no excuse acceptable for exclusion. What that looks like and how we do this will vary from one person to the next, but the common bottom line is this: God’s love, His forgiveness and care are not to be restricted or withheld by us for any reason because God includes all!

God includes all. Period. Let’s include that in our personal lives as well!

Be blessed and be a blessing,

Pastor Chuck

Here We Go!

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Starting something new brings out different emotions in different people. For some, new equals scary. The many unknowns tend to take the imagination in all sorts odd directions. Fear of failure can be nearly paralyzing. Sleepless nights as the new approaches are not uncommon, leaving one to want to stay snuggled in the familiar.

For others, new equates with adventure. The possibilities seem endless and the desire to get started has every nerve ending pulsing in anticipation. With different people to meet and challenges to overcome, a new project or direction is certainly not to be boring.

I find myself landing squarely in between these two examples. Being honest, there is some trepidation but also a pull to get started, to see just what God is leading me toward.

I share these thoughts as I begin a new chapter in ministry. Those who have been with me in the blog-o-sphere for a while know that I have been pastor of a home based, outreach oriented ministry. To be clear, this is not going away, but the realities of the pandemic have severely limited our access to so many we used to minister to.

Faced with this happening, I sought out God through prayer for direction. Faithful as He always is, a new path soon emerged. I have started this week serving as an intern on the staff of St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Baldwinsville, NY, just a few miles down the road from our home.

Betsy and I have belonged to and worshiped at the Lutheran Church here in Fulton for a number of years. With the encouragement of the wonderful pastor there, I began to explore ways that I might become more active, in an official capacity, within the Lutheran Church.

This led to my being accepted into their Candidacy for Rostered Ministry program. Taking my education and experience background into account, those overseeing me suggested a take some courses at a Lutheran seminary (on line!) and to work on staff at one of their churches to learn the ins and outs of daily parish ministry.

Hence, the Here We Go at the top. The lead pastor at St. Mark’s is a blessing to that congregation and to me too! I have been welcomed with abundant grace. The details of my duties are still being worked out, but I am certain that God is in the middle of them all.

So there you have my update, Dear Reader. If you are a praying person, I humbly ask that you include Betsy and me in your prayers. We simply want to serve God and bring glory to His name.

As always, thanks for reading.

Be blessed and be a blessing,

Pastor Chuck

Signs

Hello Blog-o-sphere! It is good to be here again! I think I made mention at the beginning of August that I had a busy month coming up. I truly had no idea how busy it would become.

I’ll spare you the details, except to say that as always, God showed His faithfulness to me in so many ways that the things that occupied my time this past month were not burdens, but blessings!!

I would like to share a snippet from my sermon of Sunday, 8-29. (Should you want to hear the whole thing, please go to our website: www.lakesidechristianministries.org)

I was talking about the hard-heartedness of the Pharisees in Jesus day as found in the 7th Chapter of the Gospel of Mark. They see the Lord’s disciples “eating with defiled hands,” meaning they were not washing them ceremonially as their rules decreed.

Jesus rebukes them telling them their hearts are not seeking God, but rather looking for praise, power and control over people as keepers of their burdensome list of rules and regulations.

All this made me think about my life; how I live it. What impressions do I give people in my everyday interactions with the world. I imagined my life as a house with various signs placed in the front yard. As I considered this, I wondered just what kinds of signs people might see.

I ask my listeners to join me in considering this. I asked: “Would the signs in front of the ‘house’ of your life say :“Keep Off!” Or “Go Away, you are not wanted here!” Maybe, “This is a place of judgment, and I am the judge.”

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You get the idea. I went on to ask myself and everyone to take a good look at what our lives look like. I asked us all further questions: “We wouldn’t withhold kindness because we perceive someone as living a different lifestyle than us, or we wouldn’t withhold friendship because someone has a different political opinion than we do, would we?”

Obviously, these types of ‘signs’ do not promote fellowship or encourage anyone. They serve only to protect us and our personal bubble we try to maintain.

In contrast to this, I asked if we might all put different placards in the front yard of our life. Signs that say: “All are welcome. Let’s talk about that. I’m not perfect so I will not expect you to be.”

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Or perhaps this: “I am a sinner saved by grace. Come, let’s share the experience of life as friends, getting to know each other along the way.”

How about you, Most Appreciated Reader: What do the signs outside the house of your life say?

Be blessed and be a blessing,

Pastor Chuck

Jesus, So Much More than Just Another Meal

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Some thoughts on John 6:35, 41-51:

Just a quick scan of the Bible reveals that God has quite the record of providing real food on a miraculous scale to sustain the body. In the beginning of Chapter 6 of John’s Gospel you can read about one of those times as Jesus fed over 5,000 people from just 2 fish and 5 loaves of bread with leftovers that filled 12 baskets!

Jesus had worked this mighty miracle as a setting for a plain talk on His true mission in the world. “I am the bread of life.” By saying it that way, ‘I am,” Jesus was identifying himself with God.

While it is true that Jesus spent much time ministering to people’s physical needs, the real purpose of His coming into the world was to save people’s souls.

Hearing this, the people began to lose interest. As long as there is free food, great; keep it coming. Be our King and feed us every day like the Israelites in the desert under Moses. Jesus’ first audience were thinking only of their own physical wants and needs. How many of us still do this too?

More than just another meal

Jesus addresses those grumbling as He points out that the manna, (in verses listed at the top) miracle that it was, did not provide the eternal ‘food’ that we all need. After all, their ancestors ate it and still died in the desert. Jesus is so much more than just another meal.

The first of the I am statements in John’s Gospel

Jesus, “I am the Bread of Life.” What does that say to you? The original audience had trouble processing that claim. What do you do with it?

Maybe before we examine that, a more basic question needs to be addressed first: Who is Jesus to you?

            Is He: a cosmic talisman you call on when you are in trouble?

Some far-off or aloof deity/someone you choose to keep at arm’s length?

Is He your Savior (the A answer!). Yet the text today seems to be telling us that the Lord can be something in addition to Savior. Please remember that Jesus is salvation, plus or minus nothing.

Jesus: “I am the bread of life.” (twice) “I am the living bread that came down from heaven.”

            Is He the Bread of Life to you?

When Jesus says you will never hunger or thirst again, obviously He does not mean physically. Rather, Jesus is telling us all that believing in Him brings with it a satisfaction that cannot be removed or replaced. It has been said that we are all born with a God-shaped hole in our hearts that can only be filled perfectly by Jesus. That hole is what gets filled when you take the Bread of Life. Jesus brings to you the wholeness that only He can.

Remember, Jesus is not just another meal

 Jesus does not want only to help us sustain life. No, rather He is offering all humanity eternal life! You, me and the whole world. This is God’s grace as it is poured out to us each day. John 10:10b records Jesus saying, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy, I have come that they may have live; and have it to the full.” Jesus has come to save and to have the life He offers to the full.

We then must use each day’s grace for the purpose God gives it; that it nourishes us spiritually. All we have to do is merely acknowledge our need and accept what the Lord is offering daily. God knows your needs. Do you trust Him to supply that which you need, even if you do not understand it or can explain it?

Thanks for reading.

Be blessed and be a blessing,

Pastor Chuck

Theology: What a Huge Topic!

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(As I journey through the United Lutheran Seminary, I will keep you updated with how things are going and occasionally share some of my work. This is one such time. The assignment was to share some thoughts of the topic of Theology)

My first thought upon looking at this assignment was, “Theology is the study of God. How can I adequately do that in a forum of roughly 150 words?” Relief from my mental gymnastics came as I realized that many more learned folks than me over the centuries have struggled with this same question; some writing great volumes about theology without ever covering the entirety of the subject.

Then, as if the study of God were not enough, those considering this usually add the study of religion to it, primarily as it deals with God’s relationship with the world at large.

Again, my finite brain shrivels at the enormity of the task. But fear not, I move forward knowing that my intentions are good and continually hoping that the God whom I/we study will guide my understanding as He leads me/us into further knowledge of His vastness.

Scripture brings comfort as it informs that in this life we cannot know God fully (1 Corinthians 13:12). Yet this encouragement is not to dissuade from gaining more knowledge of the Almighty. Hence, the study of Him. I firmly believe that it is God’s desire that we do indeed learn more about Him. Not for our edification, but for His glory.

In this pursuit, He that is all-knowing bestows on those who earnestly seek Him more knowledge of the things divine. What a privilege! What joy in gaining knowledge of the Creator!

My prayer for me and all of us as we journey together is that God will continue His transforming work in and on us all, for His glory and the edification of all who call on His name.

Pastor Chuck Copps

The Wonder of the Cross of Christ

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Christianity 101 tells us that the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ is central to its theology. Jesus, the very Son of God, came to earth and lived a sin-free life as He taught and demonstrated of the nearness of the Kingdom of God.

He ultimately revealed the depth of His love for all mankind when He willing went to an awful death by crucifixion. As He did, He supernaturally bore the weight of the entirety of the world’s sin on His person in order that ordinary folks like you and me could be saved for all eternity.

The Apostle Paul sums this all up for us in his letter to the Roman church: That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9 NIV)

I would gladly welcome conversation on any of the above at any time, including questions, concerns and uncertainties. But let’s do that during another post. For today I want to focus on the physical cross itself that Jesus was crucified on. I believe that God is still calling us to Himself and that much of the invitation still lies in and around that wooden implement of death that God has wondrously turned into an invitation to life.

I have been giving some thought to the physical cross. I know that much of Christian art has depicted Jesus carrying an entire cross up Calvary’s hill. However, research seems to have shown that the Lord carried only the cross piece as the longer vertical pole would have been left in place for re-use.

Joseph Zias, an anthropologist with the Israel Department of Antiquities, and Eliezer Sekeles of Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School in Jerusalem state that, “One can reasonably assume that the scarcity of wood may have been expressed in the economics of crucifixion in that the crossbar as well as the upright would be used repeatedly.”

If they are correct, and I have no reason to doubt them on this, that means that the crossbar that Jesus carried and died on was used again, possibly many times.

I think it unlikely than any of those being put to death by crucifixion by the Romans of that time for treason, speaking against the government, rebellion or murder (the crimes most often punished by this means) knew of the previous carriers of their cross-piece. Word of who Jesus was and what He had done was still confined to a relatively few people at the outset. How sad to think that the very piece of wood that had held the Savior’s body was unknown to them.

Conversely, how wonderful is it that we live on the other side of the event of the Cross of Jesus! Because He took the place of all sinners (that’s you and me again!) and willingly paid the price for all of our transgressions, we can know that our forever home has been secured with Him.

Yet as we celebrate this greatest news ever presented to human beings, let us not forget how it came to be. In other words, let us not lose sight of the significance of that cross-piece that Jesus carried. We have the opportunity to know why His Passion had to play out as it did.

As you contemplate that awesome truth again today, I ask that you also remember those who have no knowledge of what Jesus did (and is doing). Many are trudging through life carrying a burden that can only be relieved by the One who cares for us all. Please, if given the opportunity today, won’t you share the incredible story of God’s love for all as it is represented in the Cross?

Thanks for reading.

Be blessed and be a blessing,

Pastor Chuck

No More Burnt Toast!

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I am blessed to be a part of a blogger chat group that meets via zoom on Saturday mornings. One of the regular attendees, Alicia, has a recurring problem: She burns her morning toast (a lot!). Though she does not claim to be the world’s greatest chef, Alicia finds this on-going issue frustrating; probably because it occurs more often than not.

As the discussion turned to failed attempts in the kitchen this morning, talk of Alicia’s toast problem surfaced. It was as I listened to what happened that God nudged with some Spirit-filled advice for her. You see, the root cause of her burning bread was not the toaster, but rather the fact that in an attempt to use her time constructively, Alicia goes off to do other chores while the toaster does its thing. Invariably, one task leads to another and the inevitable burnt toast pops up.

The words of the Prophet Micah popped into my head and in them I believe is the end of all of Alicia’s failed toasting: But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me. (Micah 7:7 NIV)

The God-given answer seems clear: Stop all other activity and wait by the toaster form your meal! Knowing as I do that Alicia wants to make every second of her day count, I then counseled her to use that time of waiting to praise God. Maybe a short gratitude list of things she is thankful for. Or perhaps spend those few minutes while waiting for her toast to pray for her kids and husband. Using time in this way is certainly productive, with the side benefit of not having to throw out burnt toast.

As I like to do, I then apply this advice to myself, looking for areas where I allow busyness to cloud or even block my awareness of God around me. Having identified a few, I will take the same Spirit advice I shared with Alicia and apply it to myself. Very rarely is a thing to do so important that I cannot slow down to simply be in God’s presence. He already knows my heart, so why not bask in His wonderful presence. Doing so will make whatever is pressing at hand fall into a clearer perspective.

Like Micah, I will watch in hope, knowing that God has only good for His children. I will wait for God my Savior, for waiting for Him is better than anything I might accomplish on my own and I will cherish the knowledge that He hears me. And not only hears, but listens with a loving heart that will direct me in His ways, if I only will open myself to Him.

So I tip my cap to the last burnt toast Alicia ever makes, and join with her as we proclaim the greatness of the God of the Universe!

Be blessed and be a blessing,

Pastor Chuck

Checkin’ in

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(image courtesy of lacatalinahotel.com)

Greetings in grace to you Most Appreciated Readers! I wanted to take this quick opportunity to check in with you all.

I realize I am not the most prolific blogger on WordPress. Yet even my less than regular jottings have been even more spaced out than usual. Hence the update.

As you may remember, I have gone back to my old painting job at Le Moyne College for the months of June and July in an attempt to help my replacement (who also happens to be our oldest son) get the thousands of square feet of dormitories and other living spaces re-coated before the new academic year begins in August. This effort keeps me more than busy during the week, as the 8+ hours of painting each day go speeding by.

Weekends are spend primarily doing the things around our house that get neglected during these weeks, thus leaving little time for blogging. I don’t know how it is for you, but the less I write makes me more aware of how much I enjoy sharing this time with you.

Even in these uber-busy times of my life, God is faithful. In fact so much so that He is presenting me with a new ministry opportunity. Beginning in September I will be joining the staff at a Lutheran Church just a few miles from our home. I will be serving there ½ time, as I also go back to seminary to tackle some courses in the Lutheran foundations. This tract will be leading me into full-time parish ministry so time down the road.

I will embrace this new chapter while maintaining my roots in the local church Betsy and I belong to, as well as seeing to the ministry opportunities presented to Lakeside Christian Ministries.

I realize that some folks get to my age and begin to slow down or at least start to look at the possibly of life after work. I say blessings to them.

But for me, it is full speed ahead (with God’s leading)! I am energized by what lies ahead while enjoying the blessings of the moment. God is so good!!

I hope to keep you all posted (a little more frequently) going forward.

As always, thanks for reading.

Be blessed and be a blessing,

Pastor Chuck