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

A Tailored Fit

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Some time ago, when dinosaurs still roamed the earth, I had a job in a men’s clothing store. In those days, long before mega-malls and Amazon, a small local shop made its success by giving excellent customer service. In a store like that one, this meant measuring arm lengths, inseams and waistlines accurately. A fair amount of training went into learning this process. Once mastered, I could confidently suggest styles and cuts that would best fit each individual customer.

I believe God is the most excellent tailor of all! (How was that for a quick transition!) I have been contemplating a passage of Scripture that is familiar to many of us, Ephesians 6:10-17, since my friend Dawn ( wrote an excellent blog about it.

As I understand it, God’s armor is not a ‘one size fits all’ choice. Rather, experience has shown me that the Almighty tailors His armor to fit perfectly to each individual.

The Apostle Paul gives us some detail on this in his instruction about donning the armor of God. Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. (Ephesians 6:10-11 NIV).

Before putting it on, we are to establish in our hearts and minds the awesomeness of our God. To stand against the devil, we must stand in the Almighty’s power. In this power, He offers us each the armor that is described in this passage. It is God’s power, but it is tailored made to fit us each individually. As evidence of this, I have seen many godly people who have put on the armor of God, and each of them, though fully covered, manifests different aspects of the armor. This tells me that it is God who has ‘taken our measurements’ in order to have the perfect fit available.

As in all good bible study, the truth lies in the fact that ‘Scripture proves Scripture.’ For our purpose today, consider the young boy David as he prepares to do battle with Goliath. After convincing everyone that he is God’s chosen one to fight, King Saul offers the lad his personal armor for protection.

Earlier in the narrative, when Saul is anointed King, he is described as being a head taller than the rest (1 Samuel 9:2). It becomes obvious to all that the armor of a full grown man is not going to be any help to David. David says, “I cannot go in these, because I am not used to them.” So he took them off (1 Samuel 17:39 NIV).

In other words David is saying, these were not made for me, I must go in the strength that the Lord provides. You know the rest of the story; David, carrying only a slingshot, slays the giant Goliath.

We too must go in the power God supplies. He offers us His full armor. We in turn must figuratively put it on each day as we go out into the world. This armor, as described by Paul, will protect our body and our mind. God thus provides us protection in all areas of our life and then gives us the only weapon we need in our defense, His word.

May we all, Dear Reader, recognize that God has made and provided the perfect fit for each one of us. As we put on the full armor of God each day, let us go out and proclaim His goodness in all we do, knowing that we have a tailor made suit of armor at our disposal.

Be blessed and be a blessing,

Pastor Chuck


Every Saturday morning at 7 am a group of local pastors and church leaders gather to pray at a different location each week.  This group is a great blessing to me in several ways, not the least of which is the evidence of the unity of believers the Holy Spirit brings.  There are Pentecostals, Lutherans, Methodists and non-denominal folks currently meeting (and have been for over 6 years now!).  We come together to seek God for our community and we also spend some time simply talking with each other; highlighting the things God is already doing here in Central New York.  We also talk about our struggles; knowing full well the challenges of ministry here.

I give you this background, so I can share a wonderful idea that was brought up just yesterday morning.  Reverend Diane Wheatley, Pastor of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Fulton, shared what had come to here recently regarding today’s technology.  Like most of us who are closer to 60 than 50, the electronic age seems more suitable to the younger generation(s) than us.  We use it as best we can, but honestly it creates more frustration with a hint of fear than it does any advancing of the Kingdom of God.

Pastor Wheatley’s insightful idea struck me as being brilliant.  Basically, she said that instead of side-stepping technology, we ought to embrace and use it.  She intends to start at her church by inviting people to take out their phone/devices at a certain point during church services and reach out to someone on their contact list.  Using whatever venue they want, folks will be encouraged to let someone else know who is not at the service that they are praying for them, right now!

She also said the same for the preaching of the Word. Why not live-stream some or all of it, again with the purpose being to let others know what it looks and sounds like at a church gathering. The message could also be recorded by members of the audience to be posted to their various accounts later.

As I have pondered these thoughts during the day, I have gotten more excited about doing these things myself.  After all, if we truly mean to be inclusive in our fellowships, shouldn’t we be reaching out to people in as many ways as possible?

The answer is a definite yes! As I look out at the various congregations I have the honor of being involved with, I see that most of the people in these churches belong to my generation.  There are some young families attending, which is a great blessing, but for the most part the local church is still ministering in the old ways to an increasing older crowd.

In his book, Building a Discipling Culture, Mike Breen explains the reason why this is: Most of us have been trained and educated for a world that no longer exists (p. 11).  I find this to be true in the clear majority of churches in my area.  Pastors and leaders have been trained with an inward focus which has precluded most of them from engaging in any new way of communicating the gospel.  All the pastors I know are hard-working and faithful shepherds of their flocks.  Yet the demands on their time have kept their efforts primarily toward keeping to a minimum the number of folks who are leaving their fellowships, thus making any attempt at using technology to reach out to non-churched people at best extraneous.

The bottom line is this: the ‘tried and true’ method of being the church is tired and for the most part useless regarding reaching new/different people.  The local church, as it currently is operating, is dying.  Attendance is receding like my hairline and no number of committees or resolutions is going to stem the tide of dwindling membership.

What are we to do?  Let’s run with Reverend Wheatley’s idea!  After all, when Jesus walked the earth, He communicated a radical message in the best way possible then, He talked with folks.  He shared the love of God in both word and deed.  As the message spread, so did His audience.  Our task is the same: Share what we know to be true about God through our actions and words.  The biggest difference (other than us not being Jesus!), is the far-reaching and instant audience that is available to us.  With the shrinking of the world because of electronic communication, let’s reach out to those who have never been to a traditional church with the means we have.  The message of God’s love is unchanging.  We ought to be sharing always and everywhere.  The easiest way to do it today is already in your pocket or purse.

Now if only someone would show me how to use snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, Linkedin, Tumblr . . .

Getting and Staying Spiritually Fit


I happened to watch some of the Winter Olympics the other day.  I was fascinated by the biathlon as I watched these athletes cross-country ski various distances and then stop to do target shooting at dollar sized target at 50 meters (160 feet).  Such a test of skill and physical endurance.  I’ve never been a skier, but I have done some target shooting with rifles, shotguns and handguns.  My eyesight, which has never been sharp, made hitting the bullseye next to impossible.  I cannot imagine attempting to be accurate during strenuous physical activity as these biathletes were doing.  Racing against each other with the pressure of shooting straight seems implausible to me.

Yet, one after another they did just that.  How much practice went into this I wondered.  Countless hours of skiing, weight training and target practice were undoubtedly accumulated to gain this level of proficiency.  Obviously, not everyone has the skill and the persistence to make it to the Olympic Games.  What sets these top-notch athletes apart from the others? In addition to their natural abilities, the dedication to hone their skills didn’t waver.  I am sure that sacrifices had to be made if they were to reach their goal.

As a teacher/preacher of the gospel of Jesus Christ, I am always looking for examples in the events of the world around us that shine light on biblical truth.  The above-mentioned biathletes have accomplished this for me!  As I said, I am not skier nor a marksman.  Yet the results of these competitors’ tenacity in preparation can still inspire me as I apply that same principle to my life of faith.

The athlete’s I mentioned didn’t just wake up one day at their peak of physical abilities, it took much hard work and practice.  St. Paul uses this same line of thinking to encourage us about our spiritual condition as well.  In his first letter to his young apprentice Timothy, he wrote the following: Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. 8 For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. (1 Timothy 4:7-8 NIV).

Notice that Paul does not discount physical training.  He recognized, as we should too, the importance of maintaining our health through physical activity.  We are not to ignore this in the pursuit of a deeper spiritual life.

Having said that, the Apostle does not apologize for what is of far greater importance.  Deepening our spiritual lives provides benefits in the present as well as for the future.  The plusses in this life might be; a greater sense of peace and purpose, or simply a deeper assurance that God does indeed have everything under control.

The question is, how do we train ourselves to be godly?  Maybe first we ought to consider what it is to be godly.  I define being godly as: practicing what I preach! I can espouse wisdom and good counsel in this venue, praising God for all His wonderous deeds both then and now.  If, after having done this, I close my laptop and go about the rest of my day seeking to fulfill only my selfish desires, I am hardly being godly.  To further hone my definition, I would add that my life is to be lived in such a way that points always to God and that my being transparent ought to give hard evidence that I am devoted to the Lord.

If living life in love and honestly wanting to be of service to all is my goal, how do I train for it? Going back to our athlete’s example, they didn’t suddenly wake up one day ready to compete in the Olympics.  As I said, they put countless hours into their preparation.  This same approach works in training in godliness too!

Like the athletes in their pursuits, I didn’t merely come to one morning with knowledge of the Scriptures.  I spent (and spend) the time to read them.  I sought out people with deeper understanding of God’s word and asked them to teach me.  Probably the greatest lesson these devoted folks shared with me was this: God will reveal as much of Himself to me that I desire Him to.  Much the same as prayer is, the reading/studying of God’s word is done to know Him more deeply.  With this in mind, I do read/meditate/study the Scriptures every day expressly to deepen my relationship with Him.

Another training discipline I have embraced to become more godly is the memorization of passages and verses of the Bible.  If, as I believe it is, the Scriptures contain the very essence of God, what better nourishment could I possibly ingest? God desires me to follow Him whole-heartedly and by His grace He has supplied me with the manual to do so!  If my bible is sitting on the shelf collecting dust, I can assume my relationship with the Almighty is crusty as well.

The last point I will draw from the example of the Olympic athletes is this: making the time to do the training required for excellence.  I am positive that they built their schedules around the activities they undertook.  The training was the priority, and they made the appropriate time available to achieve their goal.  The same mind-set should apply to our training in godliness.  If I wait until it is convenient to do so, I most likely will never get to it.  If I think I will put the time in after everything else is done, I am fooling myself.  To train in godliness is to take on the responsibility of growing in the faith.  No one can do it for me, I must make the commitment to do so.

Listening to the interviews of the Olympic athletes, I have yet to hear one say they regretted the hard work and sacrifice they put in to get to this stage of their career.  Likewise, I have yet to hear anyone lament the time and effort they have made to grow in godliness.  I take that as great encouragement and hope that you do to.  Wherever you are on your faith journey, there is always more opportunity to grow in it.  If you put the time in to do so, the rewards will be great.  The bible doesn’t say we will get a Gold Medal for our efforts, but it does tell us that the faithful will receive a crown of righteousness!