A Real Shot in the Arm (for all of us)

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(image courtesy of ebay)

Because it was summer vacation, I was allowed to stay up to watch as Astronaut Neil Armstrong took those first steps on the moon. I heard him say, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” At 9 years of age those words did not mean a whole lot to me. I was simply awe struck that what seemed crazy or at least implausible was actually happening. There truly was a man on the moon.

As the years rolled on from my childhood, I have often made it a point to watch that first walk on the moon as it is replayed on its anniversary each year. As time has passed, I have come to understand and appreciate what Armstrong was saying as he stepped onto the lunar surface for the first time.

I thought about that famous quote the other day as I received my 2nd vaccination against Covid-19. Please understand, I do not put myself anywhere near the level of that famed astronaut. But as I looked around the large room where the others who had just been vaccinated sat for their 15 minutes of observation, I clearly saw the connection to July 20th, 1969.

Each person in that room had personally taken the small step toward helping themselves and their fellow humans. Individually, my being vaccinated will not have a far reaching effect, as my circle of contacts is quite limited. But that is not the point, and it was not was Neil Armstrong was saying either. Together, as we each take the small step to be vaccinated, we are coming together to help make the ‘giant leap for mankind’ in the fight against this pandemic.

So please, Dear Friends, take that small step when the vaccine becomes available to you.

As it was with my first shot, I had zero side-effects from the second, not even a sore arm.

Be blessed and be a blessing,

Pastor Chuck

What a Conversation Starter!

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As we continue to face the challenges and changes the corona virus outbreak is having on all of us, I have also discovered a few silver linings in my daily life.

One of these is the on-going discovery of people I do not know who live in my neighborhood.  As you may recall, Faithful Reader, I have worked primarily out of our home for the last 3 and a half years.  On any given day, I will take two or three long walks with our Golden Doodle, Violet (my computer would not let me use any of my own pictures of her, but this photo from pinterest is strikingly close to what she looks like).

Previously, these walks have been completed almost exclusively without seeing anyone to speak to.  Over these past few days, that is no longer the case! Parents prevented from going to their workplaces are outside at times they never were before.  Many, like me, are on potty runs for their dogs.

The pastor in me tries to take these meetings as opportunities to share hope.  Having Violet along has certainly made conversations easy to start.  Almost everyone is taken by her soft coat, soulful eyes and goofy personality.  As we share info on our different pooches, the talk invariably comes around to the current circumstances that have led us to meet.

I am not now, never been, and probably never will be a very successful evangelist.  I don’t have the gift of gab, if you will, that allows words to smoothly and cohesively flow from my mouth.  No, my strength seems to be more in the walking out of my faith.  This, I have been told, is most evident in my peaceful demeanor.  “You are easy to talk to,” and, “thanks for listening” are things I hear quite often.

So it is with those gifts that I engage my new-found neighbors in conversation.  By asking what their ‘normal’ was before this all started, I can begin to get the sense of what is most troubling them in these days.  Invariably, they will then ask me the same question to which I reply that my routine is pretty much as it was.  I then offer to tell them about our home-based ministry and some of the care we bring to our community.  As I do, I extend the invitation to them as well by asking if there is a specific area of concern for which I can be praying for them.  I gladly tell them of the resources we have available that may be of some help.

I share this with you today as an encouragement to take the new opportunities that are presented to you through this radical shift in your day to day life.  I understand the fear and uncertainty you may be experiencing, but my encouragement is that you not let them dominate your life.  In the midst of being careful and making preparations for the days to come, please stay aware of the people who have now appeared on your radar.  Please don’t be afraid to lend a listening ear or offer to help if appropriate.

Together, we will get through this.  Just ask Violet, she has heard me encourage quite a few of this recently.

Blessings and thanks for taking the time to read this,

Pastor Chuck

 

What an Opportunity!

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image courtesy of finerminds.com

Though I wonder what I might be writing about on March 15th, 2021, there seems to be little else on peoples mind right now than the global spread of coronavirus/covid-19.  Like many, I initially thought the talk of precautions, quarantines and physical distancing were all huge over-reactions.  I watched as stores were picked clean like buzzards on a carcass and wondered what was wrong with people.

However, as I have carefully done my research on this issue, I have jumped fully on-board with the ideas and practices that will help reduce the spread of this new threat. This in turn allow our health care providers to be better able to treat those most adversely affected by it.

Having said this, please know, Faithful Reader, that I am not advocating sticking our head in the sand in hopes it all goes away quickly.  Truthfully, I have no idea when things will return to the ‘normal’ I know and am comfortable in.

What I propose, and admittedly I should have been doing these things long before corona came along, is to seize every opportunity to be of help to those around us.  But try as I might, there is no way I can personally help everyone that I would like to.  Knowing this limitation, here is what I’m doing and I strongly encourage you to consider doing something similar: As I look out the front window of our little house, I see 3 homes across the street that are each inhabited by widows, all in excess of 70 years of age.  My plan, as soon as I publish this, is to walk across the street to each of these three in order to ask if they need anything.  Can I go to the store for you? Maybe I have something on hand that you need? Or maybe they will allow to simply pray with them.  I’ll make sure I leave my number with them should they need me later.

You get the idea.  Let’s take the opportunity circumstances have thrust upon us and literally be the hands and feet of Jesus in our own world.  I will take all the appropriate precautions when doing this, for their protection, mine and anyone else I may come in contact with.  But I will do it.

Please consider this for yourself.  We have been given the chance to step up as a people.  Let’s take advantage of the opportunity!

Blessings to you all,

Pastor Chuck

Dogs or People?

 

I’m a dog person.  I mean, I really like dogs.  If I see you out with your canine, I will invariably ask if it’s alright if I pet him or her.  Almost always, the answer is yes.  That’s because, in my opinion, dog people understand one another.

I had yet another opportunity to meet a new to me dog the other day.  I saw Brutus, taking up most of the corner of a waiting room, sitting with his human mom.  Being a 165-pound Great Dane, you can see how he would take up space.  I asked and was given permission to pet the gentle giant.

As dog owners, our conversation went along predictable lines as we shared stories of our beloved pets habits and activities.  It was then the Brutus’ owner confided to me another common sentiment among those who love their dogs:  she liked dogs better than most people.

I responded by telling her I understood how she felt but that I, being in the ministry and all, had to make sure I put people ahead of our furry friends.  Whereas this usually changes the topic, this lady instead pressed me, “But don’t you sometimes like dogs better than people?”

I laughed off a response and then it was time for Brutus and his owner to go, leaving me to ponder her question about which I liked more.  Anyone who knows me, or is familiar with my Facebook page knows that I adore our Goldendoodle, Violet.

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In my eyes, she is the perfect dog: friendly to everyone with a ‘I want to please you’ style that is so endearing.  Smart and playful, Violet is loved deeply.

But the lady’s question lingered.  This usually means that something is going on in my brain or spirit that God wants to address.  It didn’t take long to come into focus.  For me, it’s not so much a question of liking one over the other.  The sticky point is how much patience I have with dog v. human.  Violet can have an accident or chew on another dish towel or eat the occasional jig-saw puzzle peace and I take it all in stride.  Her good points outweigh these minor inconveniences to such an extent that these bumps in the road hardly register with me.

If only I could so easily extend grace to the world of humans around me.  Personal slights or forgetting something important that I told you are nearly capital offences at times.  The list of ‘how could you’ can get quite long.  Not a ringing endorsement for a pastor, but it is an honest one.

Having identified an area that needed adjusting, God was just as quick to show me how to start.  Praying, as I like to do on my long afternoon walks with the above-pictured Violet, God spoke quietly to my spirit.  Basically, He reminded me that He loved me.  So much so that He gave His one and only Son to die for the forgiveness of sins, mine included.  His Spirit also reminded me that my very capacity to love comes from God and that I ought to access it more frequently.

Taking this to heart and putting into practice these last couple of days has been a joy.  Allowing God’s grace to flow through me to others has re-opened my eyes and heart.  These folks, all created by and loved as deeply by the same God who poured Himself out for me, deserve my patience and all the understanding I can muster.

Colossians 3:13 instructs me (and all of us) to: Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (NIV) I’ve been doing this all along with my four-legged friends, simply loving them for what they are.  Applying this same criteria to the bi-peds around me is helping me to see them more clearly and compassionately for who they are as well.

Next time I’m asked which I like better, I’ll have a clearer answer! It’s not an ‘either or’ but rather a ‘yes and’ that works the best!

How about you: Dogs or people? And cat lovers too!

Blessings and thanks for reading,

Pastor Chuck