It was Christmas Eve! The family always loves Christmas Eve; it was a day for them to be together, to share a ziti dinner, to play games together, and spend an entire afternoon together. Cell phones were turned off, computers were shut down, and life became simple for just that one day.
This Christmas Eve was even more special because it was snowing. It started as a gentle storm with beautiful, huge snowflakes. As they day wore on, though the storm picked up. By mid-afternoon the winds had picked up to near gale force and snow was blowing hard. The long nights of winter were even more evident with the clouds and the storm, as darkness started setting in early this Christmas Eve. This storm promised to be a nasty one!
Of course there were Christmas Eve services to go to, too. The church had promoted and planned a huge celebration for this Christmas Eve. It was to be Christmas pageantry at it’s best, children dressed as Mary and Joseph, the choir dressed in full robes, and even live animals as props. It would be a glorious celebration of the birth of a Savior.
Lisa and the kids were all planning to go. Ten-year-old Ben was in the play, 8-year-old Brittany was in the children’s choir, and baby john was just excited because the Christmas pageant was finally going to be taking place. Lisa wished so much that her husband, Tim, would attend also. She had been praying for Tim for years, that he would finally see Jesus as his savior, that he would see beyond the religious ritual that he had grown up with and see a relationship with a God who wanted to be part of his life, with a Savior who had died for him, and with a Holy Spirit who wanted to be in him and guide him.
But, Tim, was cold to all that. He didn’t want anything to do with it at all, as a matter of fact. He had done that ‘religious thing’ as a kid and was done with it. He didn’t need God; after all, where was God when his dad died when Tim was a young teenager? No, Tim just didn’t get this religious thing at all; he was done with it.
So, as it came time to go to the Christmas Eve service, Lisa and the kids got all bundled up and booted up to go. Lisa asked Tim, one more time, if he would like to go. She didn’t want to nag, but wanted him to know how much it would mean to her. Tim cared for Lisa so much, not wanting to hurt her feelings and wishing he could bring himself to go along with her, but hearing the words come out of him mouth, “no, Lisa, you know how I feel about all that religious stuff”.
Lisa and the kids went on, then, without Tim. The service was grand, just as everyone had expected, but the storm was picking up more and more. Tim was concerned about the family and their safety as they were out in the storm so he was a little wary as he sat home, alone, on Christmas Eve.
Tim needed to go out to the garage and get a few presents ready for tomorrow morning, so he put on his hat, coat, and gloves to make the trek out to the detached garage. He had wanted to build a breezeway from the house to the garage for years, and he understood why tonight. The trip from house to garage, although only thirty feet, would be a cold and windy one.
Once he arrived at the garage he saw a little family of birds sitting outside. The seemed to be sheltering themselves from the storm, as best they could, by gathering close together and close to the garage, only a few feet from the garage door. Tim tried to show them to the garage door, knowing their chances of survival would increase greatly if they could just go into the garage. He didn’t like the idea of having a family of birds in the garage for he winter, but he felt that was a better alternative than having the birds die just a few feet from warmth and safety.
Tim waved the birds into the garage but it seemed they didn’t understand what he was doing; they didn’t make a move. He tried shooing them, over and over again, into the barn but the birds simply could not understand. Tim was so frustrated. He thought to himself, “you silly birds, you see me leading you to safety but you ignore me, you just don’t understand”.
He kept waving, kept shooing, but the birds just would not move toward the safety of the garage. “How can I get them into the garage, to safety”, Tim kept thinking. His frustration was building. Then, he thought to himself, “if only I could become one of them for a little while, I could talk their language, and become one of them! If I could become a little bird for jut a short while I could lead them and save them from their lack of direction! If only I could become one of them…”
Then it hit him. Through all of the religion Tim had learned as a kid, through his church attendance as a child and a young adult, he had never considered this. The Christmas story just became crystal clear. God was just as frustrated with mankind as Tim was with this little family of birds. Only, God had the ability to become one of us, to be like us, to send a Savior to us to lead us and save us from our lack of direction.
Through Jesus, God was with us! He sent His Son to become one of us, to communicate with us, to see our problems from a human perspective, and to lead us and to save us from misunderstanding, misdirection, and even from ourselves! This is the Christmas story. God with us!
I enjoyed watching the Masters golf tournament today. It was a great tournament as Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson tried to come from way behind to get on the leader board while Kenny Perry and Angel Cabrera tried to hold onto their spots on the board. In the end, Cabrera held on in sudden death and won. It was very exciting to watch if you’re a golf fan.
I got to go to the Masters in 1988 and 1989. I was there for the Thursday and Friday rounds. It was probably the highlight of my ‘sports spectator career’ as the Masters is considered one of the most difficult sports tickets to get. I went with a dear salesman who called on the company I worked for at the time, which made it even better. I got to go to the Masters and didn’t have to pay for it!
I consider myself very fortunate to have gotten to see Gene Sarazin do the honorary tee off on the first hole. I got to see Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus an Gary Player and Chi Chi Rodriquez play golf. These gentlemen are icons of the game and are icons of an era where golfers were first and foremost gentlemen. These golfers and others like them have shaped my competitive nature. I learned from them that there is a lot of satisfaction as well as a lot of fun in the game alone (whether it’s golf, tennis, basketball, or any other game). I can play any sport I chose to play and have a great time, win or lose.
I see lots of people who are so bound up in trying to win a game that they forget that its a game and its supposed to be fun. Now, I can understand how a professional athlete gets bound up in winning; it’s his livelihood. But, when I play a game, whether a team game or an individual sport, I’m not getting paid for it.
Now, I’m not a proponent of having kids sports where ‘everyone is a winner so we don’t keep score’. I believe in playing to win and in teaching my children that we play games to win, but I am very much of a proponent that games should be fun and we can all have fun, win or lose.
A sample of pictures from Rwanda. If you went, you will surely understand the words, “And I don’t want to leave this place.”
I just finished reading ‘Tribes’ by Seth Godin. It’s a great book that carries the thesis that we can all be leaders. All we need are followers. There are tribes everywhere in search of a leader. Godin defines a tribe as ‘a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to a cause’.
He describes two perspectives of life; one being the factory perspective and the other being the tribal perspective. Factories were great in their day but only require management while tribes require leadership. In my years in corporate America, I have seen lots of good managers, but a very few good leaders. The corporate (factory) mentality actually discourages leadership and encourages management.
In a short piece about change, Godin wisely states, “change almost never fails because it is too early. It almost always fails because it is too late.” He urges people to embrace change and to become change agents without fear of being criticized or put down because of their willingness to propose something that is out of the ordinary. He says that being criticized is way better than being ignored and being part of the factory!
I learned a lot of lessons from the book and reinforced some older lessons I have learned. I need to find someone to pass it along to , as he asks on the last page. Anyone want to read it?
I’ve been back from Rwanda for a couple of days now and I’ve been processing all I saw and did while I was there. It was an incredible trip in so many ways! (I feel like I’ve used ‘incredible’ way too many times to describe the trip.)
There is one visual that just won’t get out of my head, though. When we were at the street boys ministry; called the Dream Center, I noticed that quite a few of the street boys didn’t have a full set of clothes. Many, many of them had only a t-shirt. They would wear this t-shirt the best way they could to cover themselves properly. These were, in a lot of cases, teen-aged boys who knew they wanted to be covered properly.
They would wear their t-shirt in an unusual way. They would pull the neck part of the t-shirt up their legs and over their waist so that the neck would be at their belt line and the t-shirt would hang down to their knees. How sad.
Again, though, these boys were full of smiles. They loved seeing us and they loved interacting, hugging, and letting us love on them. Truly amazing.
We took a lot of things to give away to the street boys; flip flops, candy, clothes, etc. But, as Paul Brasley put it later that night, I think those boys would have been just as happy to see us if we came empty handed but with hearts full of love. Yes, they needed many of these physical items, but they craved loves, hugs, and smiles and the love of Jesus.
We visited a hospital in Kigali yesterday. If you’ve never been outside the US, then you cannot fathom the conditions in this hospital. We would never let one of our loved ones inside a hospital like this. But there were plenty of patients in this hospital.
Before we visited the wards, Pastor Peter got to deliver a message at the hospital’s chapel service. He did a great job preaching about the man who was let through the roof by his friends to be healed by Jesus.
The wards were amazing. I visited the men’s ward with Mike Tunks, Jonathan Rand, and Jeff Tenley. We took small gifts to them, bananas, cookies, a lollipop, and things like that and we prayed with each man individually. We didn’t know what each man was suffering with, but it appeared that quite a few of them had AIDS. We prayed for them all and we could feel the Spirit of God moving. It was an awesome experience.
It was nice, too, to see a lot of family members visiting their relatives. The relatives and the patients all welcomed prayers on their behalf and many times the family members would join in agreement with our prayers.
I believe healings will take place because of the prayers we prayed and that lives will change because of the prayers we prayed.
I got to go and visit Momma Clementine yesterday morning. She is a single mom that Rich and Robin met a few months ago. Here’s how they met. Robin notice two young children (3 & 5 years old) walking down the street along. They both had tiny babies tied on their backs. Robin thought they were dolls tied to the children’s back but upon further examination they were twin baby girls! There was no momma in sight! Through a God-ordained set of circumstances, they finally met Momma Clementine.
She has eight children, the youngest is the baby twin girls. There is another set of twins that are about 8 or 10 years old, John Damascene and John Claude. The oldest is a girl named Clementine. (Momma’s are known by the first name of their first born; hence Momma Clementine.) There are four more, unfortunately I can’t remember all the names right now. However, there is a Patrick who is about 3 and a Claudette who is probably 8 or 9.
Before visiting Momma C. we went to the place where Rich and Robin found them. It’s amazing that someone could live there (however, there is another family that has moved in to this place already but that’s another story for another day). There are basically no walls to this place only some foundational supports and a very leaky roof. There is no furniture, everyone sleeps on the ground or on a piece of cardboard if they are lucky enough to find one. The cook pot is just a little pot over a tiny fire. The food, some carrots, potatoes, and whatever else they can find are sitting on the ground close to the fire. Honestly, if you don’t see it with your own eyes you cannot fathom the conidtions.
We made it on down to Momma C.’s apartment. Rich and Robin were fortunate to find the apartment for Momma and are paying for it now. It’s not much, but it’s dry, relatively clean (as Momma is very conscientious to keep her house, her family, and herself neat and tidy), and relatively safe. The children are thriving now. Rich and Robin says the newborn twins which are about 2 – 3 months old have doubled in weight since they have met them. The other children are doing well, too. Clementine, the oldest, is in school and Rich and Robin have found a tutor to come and help the other children get up to speed in their education. The tutor also helps mentor Momma C.
Momma C. is not a Christian yet. She is working her way there, though, I’m sure. One amazing thing she said to Rich and Robin is that she can see the love of Jesus through the work they are doing and through the things our mission team is doing to help her out.
The love of Jesus isn’t just what we preach about. The love of Jesus is something we live out! It’s easy to preach or teach about the love of Jesus, but I have to believe we’re called to so much more. I have to believe that we are called to live out the love of Jesus every day, whether we’re in Kigali, Rwanda or Pembroke, New Hampshire.
Mother Theresa once said, “if you can’t feed 100 families, then feed 1.” Momma C. is Rich and Robin’s ‘one’!
There is one more thing that struck me about the street boys yesterday. As we were getting ready to leave for the day, they were getting their lunch. They looked so happy to get lunch, it was obvious that many of them had not eaten since the last time they were at the Dream Center which would have been last Thursday.
Yet, as they walked past us with full plates and smiling faces almost every one of them offered us some of their food. They weren’t just offering it to us, they were almost insistent that we take some. How can those who have so little be willing to share so much?
We visited the Dream Center street boy ministry today. It was so incredible. There were probably 150 boys there all looking for a meal, some medical care, and lots of hugs and love. I was in the medical clinic that Rich runes every week and got to take pictures and watch the work that goes on there.
Rich and Robin do some great work. They love these boys and know each one by name. They take care of their medical needs, laugh and joke with them, and share the love of Jesus with them. One boy, Thomas, came in with terrible sores on his shins. Rich says he has been there many times with these sores and Rich actually thought he would die a couple of times as they appeared septic.
Another little boy, Foster, had a toothache. Linda and I pulled him aside and prayed for him. He was probably 6 years old and was a very brave little boy. Although he had a toothache, he was most concerned with his mother because she doesn’t know Jesus. We prayed with him, checked his mouth, gave him some antibiotics, a toothbrush, a new pair of shoes, and a hug and off he went.
It was also awesome to see Abbie and Tess washing the feet of some of the street boys that have foot issues. They might have had sores or aches and pains with their feet. Although we were washing them for physical reasons, it was really spiritual to see our folks serving in such a humble way. Tess even washed one of the boys hair because he had some sort of skin issues on his head.
I could tell millions of stories, but I don’t have the time right now. It’s sufficient to say that lots of people were blessed today!
We made it to Rwanda! We left GCC’s parking lot at 3:00 am on Friday morning, made it to Logan for a 6:00 am flight to Washington DC, then made a 10:40 flight to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia via Rome, Italy. Then, we just had one more flight from Addis Ababa to Kigali, Rwanda. We made it right on time and exactly 24 hours after our first flight left Logan.
Everyone was surely tired when we arrived at about noon local time as many we too excited to sleep on the plane. We made it to our missionary house (which is very nice by Rwandan standards) and rested for only a few minutes before heading out to an outreach in a nearby village.
I was concerned that we might have overbooked for the day and folks would be too tired to go out. I made the outreach optional, telling the folks they could stay and relax if they weren’t up to going out. Of course, everybody went. We traveled for about an hour to the village packed like sardines in a little van.
As soon as we arrived and stepped out of the van, though, everyone’s energy level went up by 2000%! There were hundreds, maybe 1000, of people there. Many of them were children. We were immediately accepted and loved by the villagers as we started to sing and dance with them. The love of God and big smiles are a universal language. Even though we couldn’t communicate well via the spoken word, we were able to communicate through smiles, touches, and hugs. It was incredible.
As the pastor of the group, it is awesome to see everyone step outside their comfortable place and get involved in ministry and in loving on the folks. And everyone in this group did just that at the outreach. Hundreds of folks (mostly children) came to the Lord and the Holy Spirit moved in a mighty way.
Keep us in your prayers; I’ll keep updating via the blog.
Communication can be so difficult. I just found out yesterday (Thursday) that my email account hasn’t been working properly for the entire week. Apparently, every email I’ve sent to folks with a GCCNH.COM email address hasn’t been delivered. Oh, it shows as sent in my ‘sent’ folder but the folks here never got the emails.
For most of the week, I wondered if people were just ignoring me. I have great co-workers who have never ignored me before, but those kinds of questions do go through your mind when you’re assuming technology is working properly. I would send them notes and not get replies or ask them questions and not get answers. Finally, Louise asked me to reply to an email she sent on Tuesday. Well, I had replied to it on Tuesday and she had never received it. I re-sent it and she still didn’t receive it.
It proves the point that, regardless of the medium, sometimes we send very clear and concise messages that just aren’t received by the other person. This can happen with spoken words, with email, with snail-mail, or in any way we communicate. It pays to make sure messages are received and understood in the way we tried to deliver them.
Sometimes, the message we want to send gets convoluted in the space between our lips and the other person’s ears; or even between our keyboard and the other person’s eyes. Sometimes the ‘tone’ of an email when we read it can be directly opposite of what was intended by the sender. I’ve found that it’s best to assume the best when reading emails from those we know and love; knowing that they love us and that they always speak to us respectfully.
So for me, I will do my best to communicate clearly and hope the message gets delivered properly, despite technological glitches that hinder me.
Rev Kev blogged on the great shoe debate so I guess I’ll throw in my two cents. Then, I’m going to be done with the controversial stuff and just go and try to live a life with less so others can have more.
If you left on Sunday without leaving your shoes, please don’t feel guilty. See, I don’t really think it’s all about shoes. Sure, there were lots of shoes left and sent to Soles 4 Souls and that was a great thing. Even greater than that, though, is that we learn to put God first, others second, and ourselves third.
If we just use Jesus as a model for our lives, then we will be all set. He lived a life focused on God, His Father, and others. He sacrificed, even to death on the cross, so that we would be able to live in freedom and live a life of abundance. Our choice to live a life focused on others enhances that freedom and that abundance.
So, if you left with your shoes on Sunday, please don’t feel any guilt. Just remember that faith is a verb and go and actively live out your faith. God will lead you to a place where He wants you to be generous. Listen to Him.
I just got off the telephone with a good friend of mine from Rwanda. He and his family are missionaries there and are doing some great work. It’s incredible to consider how technology can put us within earshot of each other, but that’s another blog for another day.
He told me that his power has been off and his Internet service has been down for a couple of days now. He’s not sure why they’re down and says it’s probably because they are doing some work on a transformer or some other equipment. He says, ‘it’s Africa, nobody tells anybody when things like this are going to happen.’ He also says that all he can do is laugh, because there is nothing else to do.
He’s learned how to be joyful in all circumstances. He and his family sold all they have here in the US to go to Rwanda to serve God and the Rwandan people; they pay over $8.00 a gallon for diesel, the sun is hot, the rains are drenching, and their power is, at best, sketchy. Yet, he says he can only laugh because there is nothing more to do.
I was blessed when I hung up the phone. Here is a man who has devoted his life to live uncomfortably just so he can serve and love the street boys, hospital patients, and the poor and needy of Rwanda and he’s one of the most joyful people I can ever imagine.
Oh, that I can learn to be so joyful!
In the book of Isaiah, God says; “When you pass through the waters I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”
God tells us to ‘fear not’ because He has chosen us and He has redeemed us. We are His. I want to do a study of all the times God says ‘fear not’ in His Word. It’s like He knows that the biggest thing that holds us back from serving Him and ruthlessly becoming all that He has ordained us to be is fear.
There have been times when I’ve been paralyzed with fear over the years. What have I feared? Failure? God said that He will be with me and the waters will not sweep over me. So, what happens if I fail at something? God is there!
The one thing that I’ve become convinced of is that I cannot be the man God has purposed me to be and be afraid. I must believe in the calling He has on me and in the purpose He has for me and obediently leave fear out of the question.
We sang “Jesus Paid it All” in church today. I started thinking as we were singing. Jesus did pay it all. He was abused, beaten, scorned, and murdered and he paid it all. But, I think a lot of people don’t realize this when they are thinking of how it affects their own lives.
A lot of folks think they need to clean up their lives, or make themselves better before they come to Jesus. They think they must make changes and they must get rid of the junk in their lives before they come to him. But, Jesus paid it all! We can’t clean up enough to make ourselves worthy, but that’s all right because he paid it all.
If we try and clean ourselves up before we come to him, then we’re discounting the fact that Jesus paid it all. If folks will come to Jesus, right now just the way they are, then he will clean them up and he will make all the difference in our lives – because Jesus paid it all.
I’m on vacation this week so I have some extra time to read. The book I just finished is titled “Washed by Blood” and it’s by Brian “Head” Welch. He was guitarist for the group Korn and has quite a story to tell. The book chronicles his childhood and some of the issues that carried from childhood to adulthood. It also tells of his time as a meth addict and the struggles he had as he fought this addiction and tried to raise his daughter as a single dad.
Then it tells of his conversion experience and the incredible things God spoke to him as he was converting and getting off of drugs. One of the points of the book that I like most is that he tells of how he came to God while he was still ‘dirty’ with drugs. He didn’t wait until he was cleaned up and acceptable to God. God accepts us wherever we are.
One of my favorite parts of the book is on page 134 where he says that he felt closest to God in his home. He came to the realization that God doesn’t live in church; He lives inside of us and we can feel most close to Him whenever and wherever we build a personal relationship with Him. The other is similar, on page 176, where Head says he was looking all over for God then he realized that God was inside of Him because he had asked God to come inside. He didn’t need to search for God any longer.
He also tells of his baptism of the Holy Spirit and the growth he experienced as he learned to pray in his own personal prayer language. There aren’t many autobiographies that go into such detail with the Holy Spirit baptism and prayer language, so it’s nice to read about it here.
I recommend the book. Head doesn’t glorify his drug use and does glorify the change that can come about when we let Christ be the center of our lives. He also tells of his love for the guys in Korn and how much they mean to him, even today.
Psalm 69:1 says “Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck”. Do you ever feel that way? Most of the pastors at GCC were away this week either on vacation or at Youth Camp. I spent a good deal this week as the only pastor available and in the building. This verse came to mind many times!
There are a lot of days that I feel like I’m only one breath away from drowning. I feel like I’m so far over my head that I will surely drown any minute. I remember the guest speaker at our new building dedication, Noel Wilcox, saying these very words in his dedication message. God puts us in places where we are uncomfortable so we can grow into what he has ordained us to be.
When I’m one breath away from drowning, I’m totally dependent on Him for that next breath. I believe He has called me to where I am today, so I’m sure He will supply that next breath for me. So, I’ll continue to be one breath away from drowning and depending on Him for that one breath. I don’t think there is any other way for me to grow to become all He wants me to be.
I’m a child of the ‘60’s; born in 1960 and raised during this tumultuous time. One of my favorite things to do as a kid was to watch the Charlie Brown specials. I vividly remember waiting for Charlie Brown and his Peanuts friends to be on TV for holiday specials. In the ‘60’s you only got 1 shot to see these specials. There was no cable TV to show them over and over ad nauseum.
Charlie Brown became one of my role models and I learned a lot of lessons from him. I’ve applied these lessons throughout my life and believe that life today is richer because of what I’ve learned from Charlie.
Charlie Brown, or Chuck as Peppermint Patty and I call him, is a sincere, misunderstood kid. It always seemed that he was sincerely trying to do the right thing, but being Charlie Brown isn’t easy so he sometimes struggled to get his messages across. There are 4 distinct lessons I learned from Chuck; let me share them with you.
First, Chuck knows who he is and doesn’t look to others to get his identity. Chuck is a trusting guy. Do you remember the times when Lucy was holding the football for him so he could kick it. It never failed, she would pull the ball out from in front of him and he’d end up on his behind. But he kept trying and trusting Lucy. We sat in front of the TV and said, “no, Charlie, don’t do it she’ll just pull it out from in front of you’; but Charlie knew he was a trusting soul; he knew that Lucy was his good friend; and he didn’t look to me to make his decision about kicking the football. He just did it. And without fail, Lucy pulled the football away and Charlie ended up on his backside.
He was always proud when Lucy said, “Of all the Charlie Brown’s in the world, you’re the Charlie Browniest” because he knew that it was good to know himself and to be better at being himself than anyone else.
Chuck is a seeker. When he was doing his best to direct the unruly Peanuts gang in their Christmas Pageant, he stopped practice to bellow out, “doesn’t anybody know the true meaning of Christmas?” Charlie wanted to know. He was looking for meaning in the overly-commercialized society of his day. He didn’t believe fulfillment could be found in commercialism, gaudy decorations, or fancy Christmas gifts. He sought meaning in his life.
He seemed so content to hear Linus deliver the true Christmas Story from the book of Luke. I memorized this version of the Christmas Story from watching this special year after year after year and I learned to seek truth from Charlie Brown.
Chuck taught me that regardless of how sincere I am, my sincerity doesn’t mean that my beliefs are true. Charlie’s friend Linus sincerely believed in the Great Pumpkin. He knew that the Pumpkin would show up in the patch on Halloween. He believed this so strongly and sincerely that he passed up a whole year’s worth of trick-or-treat candy to hang out in the pumpkin patch waiting for the Great Pumpkin. Of course, he talked Charlie into staying in the pumpkin patch with him. But, it really didn’t matter how sincerely Linus believes in the Pumpkin, the pumpkin is not real.
You and I can believe in a lot of things, but if our beliefs are not based on the true truths of our world, then we’re no better off than Chuck and Linus sitting out in the middle of the most sincere pumpkin patch they could find. We need to search our beliefs and know that they are true.
Finally, Chuck knew how to find beauty and potential in simple and ugly things. Do you remember the Christmas tree that he chose in A Charlie Brown Christmas? Remember how tiny it was. Remember how it drooped when just 1 Christmas ornament was on it. Chuck chose this tree because it was the only ‘real’ tree available. All of the others were plastic and fake, but Chuck saw beauty in the real thing. Charlie could see through this ugly outer façade and see the true beauty in the tree and know how great things can come from things that seem to be ugly on the outside.
Chuck’s friends finally saw the tree through Chuck’s eyes and decorated it beautifully. Maybe we should try to see our world through Chuck’s eyes and realize there is great beauty in many of the things that, on the surface, seem pretty ugly to us. Maybe, then, we can make something beautiful out of some of the eyesores of our lives and our world.
Charlie Brown is, indeed, a great teacher. He has taught me many more things than these, but these are some of the most valuable things I learned from him. I learned to be comfortable being myself; I learned to be a seeker, looking for true truths in life; I learned that sincerity is great but only if the things I sincerely believe are truths; and I learned to see beauty and potential in all things. Thanks, Chuck.