POSTABLES AND PRESSURE!

21 02 2017

 

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This coming Friday February 24th is my Birthday. If you don’t know me by now, this much you should know and that is I never do anything halfway, halfhearted or what others might call via truly “normal” means. I am a passionate person with a capital P! People many times admonish me to calm down and relax but it rarely does any good. If my pulse is pounding then my purpose is being persistently pursued with an over the top power and presence! Such was the case last week when my Monday schedule included doing some radio interviews over at The Coastal Broadcasting Studios and then heading over to The Lighthouse Church to DJ our annual Sweetheart Dinner.

 Let me provide some back story for you all. Back in 2013, I was thoroughly entertained and inspired by a brand new Hallmark Channel Offering entitled, “Signed, Sealed, Delivered.” It’s the tale of a quirky and unique group of four postal employees who work in the Dead Letter Office of the Denver, Colorado Branch actually becoming detectives to solve the mysteries behind their undeliverable letters and packages from the past.  Every episode is funny, inspirational, suspenseful and romantic and brings true tears of bittersweet joy as the package they reunite with its rightful owner always shows up with impeccable timing. Sure it may be late according to the calendar but we have been taught to “trust the timing,” when it comes to the bigger picture. So with the help of some divine intervention and lots of selfless teamwork from the fearless foursome we devoted fans call “The Postables,” the message always gets through! Being the hopeless sentimental romantic that I am, I couldn’t help but fall in love with these characters played to perfection by actors Eric Mabius, Kristin Booth, Crystal Lowe and Geoff Gustafson. The show was also the brain child of Martha Williamson who created the classic, “Touched by An Angel.”

 After a first season of weekly Sunday Night shows on The Hallmark Channel, the last few years have showcased Signed, Sealed, Delivered presented as quarterly broadcast special movie events on The Hallmark Mystery and Movie Channel. Every premiere means that everything else in life stops as we fans gather around our television sets to “live tweet” on the social media instrument Twitter with each other and the Cast themselves. It is like we are all watching together as a big family which coming from one, I am very used to. One of the characters named Shane, the Technical Wiz of the bunch played by the amazingly talented Kristin Booth, really jumped off the screen for me because she made the show seem like real life. Kristin is so good at what she does; she genuinely convinced me that she was Shane and the Postables were a group that you could really hang out with and feel at home among them. I became her number one Postables Fan, a position that I declared myself to own and looked forward to the next Signed, Sealed, Delivered Movie like a child looks to Christmas. My Family asked me what I wanted for my Birthday last year and all I asked for was Kristin Booth singing Happy Birthday to me and believe it or not, our dear Shane put a video on Instagram doing just that! So this year my hope was to interview Kristin for my weekly Radio Show heard Sunday afternoons on 98.7 the Coast! We had planned to do just that coinciding with the next edition of a new Signed, Sealed, Delivered Movie.

 Fast forward now to last Monday! With “Higher Ground” being set to be debuted on Sunday Night February 19th, I had locked down Monday the 13th to record the interview with Kristin. I had also contacted and invited a talented young writer named Chandel Charles who oversees the Alameda and Downing Blog Sight for the show and an enthusiastic gal named Lauren Webb who is a big fan just like me to also be interviewed. My plan was to record the three interviews and then mix in the music later for what I hoped to be my own personal love and thank you note to the Cast and Followers of what I believe is really “Must See TV!” Was I nervous about talking to Kristin Booth! Yes I was, but I had also just interviewed my life long crush Olivia Newton-John late last year and I survived that! After my initial jitters I settled in to what turned out to be a great chat together on the phone. Kristin was personable, charming and gracious just as I thought she would be! I also called Chandel and Lauren right after Kristin and by just about 4:30 pm, I was happy with the results. As I got in my car to head back over to the Church, I drove about a block and a half and right in front of the Wildwood NJ Post Offices of all places, I felt like somebody just stuck a shot of anesthesia into my vein. I felt dizziness like I have never felt before and thought I was going to pass out. I laid on my car horn and prayed to get to the side of the road safely. I should have called 911 but ended up navigating my way to Rio Grande where I shuffled into Jackie Russell’s Office knowing I didn’t have an appointment but feeling like I was going to die. My initial Blood Pressure reading was 190 over 120 something. With the help of my faithful friend and Church Secretary Sandi Gallo, I made it to Cape Regional Emergency Room where I was admitted into the Hospital. Needless to say, I never did it make it to The Lighthouse Church Sweetheart Dinner.

 My dear wife Terri gave up Valentine’s Day and her Birthday, the 14th and 15th to be with her goofy husband and the good news is that it was not a stroke. The better news is that I got to complete the Radio Show and present it as my gift of appreciation to Kristin Booth, the rest of the Cast of Signed, Sealed, Delivered, Martha Williamson and the best group of Fans and Family on the Planet- The Postables. I hope you get to hear my show which is online on my Facebook Page. But even more, please check out Signed, Sealed, Delivered. I would say that it is to die for and I would be almost right except that I am still alive and still passionate about everything I do and believe in! If you don’t believe me, take my blood pressure– that will prove it! Here I am Baby, Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours!    

                





MY FUNNY VALENTINE BIRTHDAY GAL!

13 02 2017

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In honor of Valentine’s Day which is February 14th and my wife Terri’s Birthday which is the 15th and since she is my Funny Valentine and the Love of my Life, I thought I would dedicate this article to pay tribute to her. Theresa Ann Sheptock is originally from Lebanon, Pennsylvania but since she married me, besides New Jersey, which is my home State, we have also lived together as a family in Ohio and Nebraska. We were married on December 4th in 1982 at Avon United Methodist Church which just happened to be right across the street from Terri’s house. It was a warm 70 degree day which worked out for both of us because Terri told me that if it was snowing that day, she was not going anywhere! Let’s just say that Terri was very timid about many things back then like trucks on the highway and elevators that ventured beyond the second floor and even that was only scratching the surface!

 I am older than Terri by two years although we both share February Birthdays. I actually took Terri out on our first date on April 24, 1981 during my Junior Year at Philadelphia College of Bible. The funny truth is that it was Terri’s Dad who predicted that she would marry me after his first encounter with me although I was totally unaware of this until much later. I used to be Cook in the College Cafeteria and loved “Working the Dinner Crowd” so to speak! I was even dating another girl at the time my future Father-In-Law made the call but he would turn out to be right and I have never been upset by his prophetic utterance. Although it took his Daughter a little bit longer to buy into the idea that she would eventually become my wife. After the evening that our first date was over, Terri told her roommates, “Never again!” Our next date would not be until September of that same year but by April 24, 1982 we would be engaged. On April 24, 1983, our first Baby would be miscarried but as God always seems to do, the Lord redeemed that day when on Easter Sunday April 24, 2011, our first grandson Jude was born!

 Terri and I are complete opposites but we complement each other quite well. I am much louder and enjoy being in the forefront while Terri makes her presence known behind the scenes. I know that most of all that I have ever accomplished would never have happened without my amazing Wife’s expertise and input. We are both firstborns and tend to be obsessive with keeping things orderly and neat. We both admit to ruining our firstborn Rudy III, so much so that he is pretty sloppy and we finally surrendered to his chaotic room by just shutting the bedroom door. We knew that Lindsey was the Girl for him when she didn’t run and hide after getting a glimpse of what just might be in store for her future home with our Son.

 I love that my Wife is athletic and has a great throwing arm from the outfield when it comes to playing ball. One of our early dates was a Baseball Game at the old Veterans Stadium to see the Mets play the Phillies. I figured that she might need to know pretty quickly how passionate I was about the Orange and Blue Team. I bought her a Mets Batting Helmet that night and she’s been cheering, “Let’s Go Mets” with me ever since!

 We both like singing and even have done a few duets together along the way.  When it comes to music, Terri is not as over the top as I am when it comes to knowing everything about who is singing the song, what year the record came out and how high it made it on the charts. Our relationship almost came to a sudden halt the day that she told me in the car that she wasn’t a big Beatles fan. I almost stopped the vehicle right then and there but thought better of it. I figured, “Nobody’s perfect!” Terri did accompany me to Citi Field to eventually see Sir Paul McCartney in concert and I caught her singing along that night to all the classic hits.

 When it comes to other forms of entertainment, Terri and I both love to laugh although she doesn’t find the Marx Brothers, Abbott and Costello and The Three Stooges as funny as I do. I do know that she has been blessed with a wonderful sense of humor exhibited by the way that she has put up with me all these years. We also just like being together and it no longer matters so much what we do but that we get to be with one another while we are doing it. A walk on the Ocean City Boardwalk with a stop for coffee and a seat on the bench is a treasured getaway for us both.

 Theresa is a devoted follower of Jesus. She faithfully gets up early every morning, long before daylight and has her quiet time with the Lord. She makes it very clear that she doesn’t want her noisy husband interrupting! Terri is an amazing Mom and Nana and the kids all know how she has gone above and beyond what any Parent would do in providing her children and grandchildren with so many tangible acts of love. She is so much better at showing patience than I ever could be. She stays with projects all the way through to completion and I am honored to have her as my Helpmate, my Love and my Best Friend this side of Heaven.

 We have been through so much together. Five of our nine children are already in Heaven. Statistics show that this should have done in our union long ago but Love found a way to keep us not only together but growing even stronger through the pain and the disappointment that living life sometimes brings. I do know this much to be true. I married way over my head and there is never a day that I regret my choice. Anybody can love somebody who is picture perfect. But it takes a real depth of devotion to still be committed and even head over heels in love in spite the scars and wrinkles the seasons of life have compiled. We continue to share and share alike. She cooks and I vacuum. She does the laundry and I clean the toilets. She does the bills and I trust her in spite of the fact that I never see my paycheck. I may Pastor the Lighthouse Church but Terri is a key component of why we are so successful. I know that in the long run, our Congregation would miss her much more than me. But I am glad that we work as a Team. We always have and I pray that we always will.

So my Funny Valentine will also celebrate her Birthday on back to back days. I will buy her flowers and do my best to shower her with affection to make it clear that I don’t take her for granted. I wrote her a song for our Wedding Day and I am grateful that I still get to sing it today. “Terri’s Song, Lord I want to sing it strong. It’s the prettiest song that I have heard, that I’ve ever heard. It’s Terri’s Song and I don’t want to sing it wrong and Lord I won’t have to; No, Lord I won’t have to, if You just give me the words!” Thanks God for Theresa! Happy Valentine’s Day My Love! Happy Birthday My Wife!               





THE BACK STORY TO REAL FAITH!

7 02 2017

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I have always tried to challenge Christians, when it comes to sharing their faith with others, to do as much listening as they do speaking. What is essentially Good News for Believers is not always understood and recognized as such by those who don’t trust in Jesus.  When Church Goers throw out terms like, “eternal life,” “salvation,” “by faith,” “only grace” and so forth and do so without providing a proper context; it just leaves the outside crowd lost in the dark rather than assist in the bringing of them into the light.   Let me share a personal story from when I was in Malaysia back in 1999 that I hope will serve as a parable to help illustrates the problem we have with sharing the Gospel properly and powerfully.  

 The “Grand Slam Single” is a reference to the clutch hit that ended Game 5 of the 1999 National League Championship Series between the New York Mets and one of their rivals, the Atlanta Braves. The game was played on Sunday October 17, 1999 at Shea Stadium. I watched it on the Internet on Monday October 18th while I was in Penang Malaysa at the Dalat Christian School.

 The game was tied 2–2, going into the top of the 15th inning until Mets pitcher Octavio Dotel gave up an RBI triple to Keith Lockhart giving the Braves a 3–2 lead. In the bottom of the 15th inning, the Mets loaded the bases against Braves relief pitcher Kevin McGlinchy. Mets catcher Todd Pratt playing in place of the injured Mike Piazza drew a timely walk that tied the score 3–3. The next batter was Mets third baseman Robin Ventura. Ventura crushed the 2–1 pitch over the wall in right-center for a grand slam home run winning the game for the Mets and driving both the Mets players and fans into a frenzied celebration.

 Ventura, however, never reached second base as Todd Pratt, the runner who was on first, picked up Ventura in celebration. Subsequently, Ventura was mobbed by his teammates, never finishing his trot around the bases. Because he failed to touch all four bases, the hit was officially scored only a single. Roger Cedeno, the runner on third at the time, was ruled the only runner to have crossed home plate before the on-field celebration began and the Mets were awarded a 4–3 victory. Thus, Ventura was only credited with a single one RBI. Who cares? What was important was that the Mets won and I was going bonkers for this was great news!

 I wanted to celebrate! Nobody in Malaysia did. If part of the definition of good news might be “something you want to shout across the street,” this certainly fell into that category. Christians often encourage one another to think positively, whatever the circumstances but I didn’t need any encouragement that morning. Something had happened that made all the difference. The trouble was who could I tell? Who wanted to hear this good news? It was Malaysia. I wanted to go to the desk and hug the Librarian and share with her that the Mets had just won! I wanted to hug and high five everyone around me! Ironically, the only person who was even a Baseball Fan at the School that day was a guy from Atlanta and he was a Braves Fan so this was not very good news for him!

If I acted too happy, he might have hit me!

 Because Baseball was not the sport of choice in Malaysia, what meant so much to me had no context for joy to those living half way across the world. What was a true moment of exhilaration for me didn’t even raise an eyebrow for all those around me.  Any chance of that environment changing could only begin by first me teaching the game to those living in Penang and then pointing out why the Mets were the team to root for among the other 30 clubs that make up the Major Leagues. It would take my personal investment into the lives of others so they could learn from me all I know about the grand old game. This was not going to be accomplished in a hurry. This feat would take a true commitment from me to do whatever it takes for as long as it would take to share my knowledge and relationship with the sport.

 When it comes to sharing Christianity, Disciples must approach evangelism in much the same way. I can’t expect others who have no ownership of their faith to be able to grasp my utter joy in only a few moments. I must be willing to go the distance so another may connect with the Lord and not just be coerced into buying into something that they don’t admit they desperately need. Church becomes boring for those who don’t love God much as baseball is torture for those who have never understood the wonderful nuances of the contest. Passion is not expressed for an affection not owned. Rather than just assume everybody knows the wonder of John 3:16; maybe we need to be ready to give everyone who asks the very specific reasons for the eternal hope that we now have.

Faith needs a back story if it is ever to graduate to the forefront. It takes lots of patience and genuine compassion to be willing to pass the depth of our love for God to others but if it is important enough to us, we will be willing for it to pass through us. Slow down and dig deep and see if you can’t reproduce your enthusiasm for God in the lives of others!          





IT’S GOOD NEWS

2 02 2017

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The Gospel is so much more than just quickly repeating some words verbatim so that you don’t go to hell! It must not be reduced to nothing more than fulfilling rituals and routines which may or may not bring you closer to God. It is not just pray this prayer as much as it is about pledging your allegiance to Jesus as your Savior and Lord. In the Letter to the Romans 10:9-10, Paul writes the following, “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” Notice it never says anything about only giving mental assent to principles of theology. It has everything to do with connecting with your heart. I have learned that whoever has your heart also defines your behavior.  

Christianity is not just about getting your ticket punched to Paradise. Faith is actually about pursuing a personal relationship with the Rescuer himself.  

 Paradise is not a Place but a Person. What good is it to be rescued but never redeemed? There is nothing in itself that makes “forgiveness of sins” good news. Being forgiven is good news only if it leads to a reformed behavior. You could actually walk out of a courtroom innocent of a crime and still get killed on the street. What good is it if a Lifeguard rescued you from drowning only so you could go on later to kill a car full of teenagers because you were driving drunk? What do we really receive when we surrender our lives to Jesus as Savior and Lord? The answer is a forever relationship with Jesus that begins the moment we receive Him as our King. We are destined to not only let Jesus save us from drowning in a sea of our sin; we also fall head over heels in love with the Lifeguard!

 Jesus Christ is not merely the means of our rescue from damnation; he is the One who redeems us so that we may become the authentic people God designed us to be. He is salvation itself. If he is not launched to the number one spot in our hearts and souls, then there really is no salvation at all. Conversion is not so much rooted in being informed as much as it is necessary to be transformed. Jesus is not merely the rope that pulls us from the threatening waves. Jesus is the solid rock under our feet, and the air in our lungs, and the beat of our heart, and the warm sun on our skin, and the song in our ears, and the encouraging embrace of our beloved. Knowing Jesus is not for later on after we die and go to glory. Our eternal life begins now! The apostle John defined it this way in John 17:3, “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” This verse has nothing to do with the quantity of our days. It has everything to do with the quality of what we say and do within those days.

 Religion is us trying to get to God. The Gospel is how God reached out to us when we couldn’t have cared less about spirituality. Religion majors on labels and outer signs of conformity. The Gospel zeroes in on the one to one aspect between us and God and how we must all decide what are we going to do with the Jesus who lived and died and on the third day, rose again. The evidence is overwhelmingly in favor of Jesus being who he said he was and is. You can debate philosophy from now until the cows come home but history is another matter. If Jesus really is who he said he is then what are you going to do with that truth? Don’t tell me that he is a good teacher if you have no intentions of following his teaching. Don’t hide behind the legend and folklore myth if you aren’t brave enough to admit that the only reason you have walked away from following Jesus is because your pride won’t put your own ego aside. I don’t care what denomination you fall into if you don’t believe the news. It matters not what version of the Bible you may carry around if you won’t listen and obey the power in the pages. If Jesus is who he said he is and you walked away willingly then someday you might have a whole lot of explaining to do when the Lord asks you point blank why you closed your life to him.

 Jesus never led a person to himself the same way twice. He didn’t have a cookie cutter system. He didn’t use the shout at people from heaven approach and see if it sticks. The other day I was on the roof of the Lighthouse Church with a bullhorn to make a point. I was shouting at passing cars telling them that Jesus loved them and that they should pull in to the parking lot. Let’s just say that while I could technically say I was preaching the Good News, it wasn’t the best avenue to take to get the message across. God left heaven and came to earth. Jesus met us face to face. He knew our backstory and ministered accordingly. Maybe the Church needs to listen as much as they talk. Maybe before we start telling others that God loves them, we need to be willing to love them too. This isn’t about mass communication as much as it is about heart to heart connection. What if we asked God daily to open a door so we might open our mouth and he might open another’s heart to believe the greatest front page headline story ever?

 It’s Good News! No excuses now and before you close your eyes and walk away in ignorance, will you at least be willing to give Jesus an honest look? What if the Bible is true? What if God has a destiny far bigger and better than the one you cooked up for yourself? What are you so afraid of that you won’t at least examine the evidence and come to your own conclusion? Don’t jump a head to the result before you have done your homework. The Kingdom of God is the only governmental system that will still be standing when all others have failed and fallen. What if you started to simply believe and follow Jesus? The next move is yours. Choose wisely!    

 





HERE IN THE MIDST!

23 01 2017

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Human Beings run amuck when they attempt to create a theology that becomes based more on what a believer sees and experiences rather than stayed safe and secure upon the rock of the truth that God says. This is what causes us to misinterpret the signs of our present times. We falsely assume that if all is going well, then we must be doing something right and if there are lots of constant trials and troubles, then it must be traced back to some kind of bad behavior that we must be hiding in the closets of our hearts. Even I have cried out to Heaven in a voice of despair wondering if God had abandoned my building.

 Hard times don’t mean that God has left us!  Rather than accusing God of leaving us, maybe the better question should be, “Have we wandered away from him?” God never said that his followers would only be faced with sunny forecasts for the rest of their days. Even Jesus faced the worst of this earth when he was here on this planet. God’s actual promise in Romans 8:28 reads like this, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” No matter what may surround me, nothing can steal away the God who stays with me. In the midst of the mess, my Lord can be found ready to make a masterpiece. But more often we pray for God to take away what might very well make us stronger if we would only give God the room to do his work in us!

 Last October of 2016, my life hit rock bottom on a weekend where it seemed that I just couldn’t get out of my own way. One of the results of dealing with my many physical ailments that have gone way beyond my control these last eleven years has been what turns out to be a paralyzing anxiety that I hate to admit, but more than once, has gotten the best of me. In an unhealthy way, it has birthed the perfectionist tendencies within me to attempt to create my own obsessive compulsive ways that, no matter how hard I try, always seeming to come up short.  I have learned the hard way that when we turn to our own coping mechanisms to survive rather than wholeheartedly trust God, we will never find the elusive peace we are desperately fighting for.

 Unfortunately, over time things did not get better physically or emotionally. As a matter of fact, it got worse. I kept trying harder and harder and yet kept failing miserably. It got so pathetic that on a Sunday morning when I should have been at The Lighthouse Church preaching and pastoring, I was so terrified; I couldn’t get out of my bathroom. I was crying out to God in pure panic because for that moment, I believed he had abandoned me. I had never felt so alone. Feelings may not be truth but they sure can fool the best of us. It was at that moment, I believe God met me and made me admit to him that I needed outside help. I could no longer attempt to fix this on my own. God led me to see a Professional who has been helping me retrain my brain and work through and expose the lies that I have come to believe. It has given new wind to my sagging sails and for the first time in a long time, I honestly believe there are better days ahead for me and of course that affects all those around me as well.

 Hey Christians, God has given us his word that he will never leave us or forsake us. And we must not use our circumstances as a barometer of whether the Savior has kept his promise. If we want to become the men and women that he is calling us to be, we can’t be hesitant to give him absolute leadership within our lives. He may allow some severe times of testing to come into our world, but if we open the eyes of our heart, we will discover again and again that the Lord hasn’t left us to try to figure out our paths of promise on our own. Moses discovered his burning bush in the wilderness. David sensed the Lord’s presence when he took on a Goliath almost three times his size. Gideon was visited by God when he was secretly attempting to thresh wheat in a winepress because the enemy Midianites were robbing the Israelites blind. I was on my knees on my bathroom floor when God renewed my vision. How will the adventure pan out for you? If you want to experience the glory of God, then you must trust him enough to follow him even when you have no clue where you are going. There will be no miracle until you acknowledge him in your midst.

 The story of the Hebrews crossing the Red Sea was no coincidence. God literally took his people on a very indirect route. Goshen in the land of Egypt was due west of the Promise Land and yet Jehovah took them south to eventually go north. Why? It only made sense if the Red Sea becomes a literal teaching moment where the Lord made it clear that no matter what was before them or what was behind them, if they looked up to find their salvation, they would never be disappointed. The Red Sea happened because God was writing the script. And the Red Sea Story would become essential to the identity of the Jewish Nation.

 I don’t know what trials and tribulations you may personally be facing right now. I do know that it is tempting to try to take matters into your own hands–but don’t do it. God is with you right where you are. Ask him to reveal himself to you and offer him your committed allegiance. What will follow will be many songs to sing of how God made a way when you thought the road was a dead end. It isn’t over if you are still breathing. Look up and then look out and engage in the relationship of what occurs when you and I walk humbly with our God!





Not Be Shaken

10 01 2017

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And the so called Football Analysts have pronounced over and over again how inadequate Tim Tebow is and will ever be at the position of quarterback in the National Football League. “He can’t pass.” “He throws like a Girl!” “He is incompetent of ever pulling off being a winner at this professional level.” These words would not only deter but defeat many an individual. Having to watch your heart and soul being stomped upon on Television week after week has buried and bushwhacked more than one talented but insecure individual. Yet while Tebow is knocked down, he refuses to be knocked out. His faith has definitely proved to be just as legitimate in the walk department as it has been in the arena of talk.

 Last weekend’s snow cancelled our Saturday Night Services at The Lighthouse Church. This gave me the opportunity to catch some of the NFL Playoffs on television. I couldn’t believe how bad three of the four teams I was watching were. The Houston verses Oakland Game featured two of the worst quarterbacks that I have seen in a very long time. Now granted, the Oakland Kid was a Third String substitute for the injured Starter, but in my humble opinion, neither of these Men had a tenth of the tenacity and excellence Tim Tebow would have brought to the contest. It actually got so bad that I had to turn the thing off.

 Tim Tebow was a two time National Champion and Heisman Trophy winner at the University of Florida. The only time he was given a true shot at being a starting QB in the NFL, he lead the Denver Broncos to an amazing win in the Play-Offs. Still this poor guy was traded by Denver to the Jets where he was buried on the bench and then cut by the New England Patriots and our own Philadelphia Eagles. Coach Chip Kelly who proved to be quite clueless when it came to the game in the long run, actually said that “Tim Tebow was not good enough to be the 3rd String Man on the Eagles.” What are you doing now Chip Kelly?

 Critics crack me up. They will always be there lurking in our audience as we try to fulfill the destiny that God has designed for us. The so called “Know-It-Alls,” love to be schemers and puncture the balloons of the dreamers. They sit in the crowd and cry out criticisms that have no intentions of being constructive but specialize in destructive tendencies. While we all need qualified Coaches in our world, we can all do without the whiners and complainers. It is almost like we have to practice the discernment of knowing when to tune out those who want to tear up our “Bucket Lists” of aspirations and inspiration.

 The last I checked they have never built a statue for a Critic. The privilege of being immortalized in bronze is reserved for the Men and Women willing to press on when everybody else passes it up.  Spectators do not get the trophies. The Crowds don’t get the Championship Rings. The Comfortable who opt out of the conflict also miss out on their chance to be in the company of the Lord who longs to lead those who trust him into miraculous moments of faith. If you never step out of your boat, you will never have the need to cling to the Jesus who walked on water! Sometimes playing it too safe actually leads to signing your own death sentence. If you aren’t operating within your passion then could it be you aren’t fully living at all?

 Tim Tebow has written a Book that I have begun to read named, “Shaken.” Our Men’s Group will be studying this during the month of January. I would invite any Guys reading this to come and join us at The Lighthouse Church Monday nights at 6:30PM. I love the interaction with other fellow Warriors who are determined to depend upon God rather than allow the despondency of an apathetic culture suck them into mediocrity. Iron sharpens Iron and Teammates build up other Believers as we all seek to make the most of our lives as we anticipate God’s will to influence our way in this present day. If we are going to fail, we are going to do so by giving it everything we have and trusting God for all we need.  I want even my enemies to see the passion of Jesus in my eyes in the midst of everything I do. How about you?

 We are beginning a New Year. It is officially January 2017. God has made a way where there was no way for any of us to pass on through. Jesus died for our sins because none of us could pull that off on our own. Jesus rose from the dead and conquered the grave. God became our snowplow clearing the way for us to walk in his pathway. Going to church has to be more than just being informed. Being the church is about allowing the Holy Spirit to transform us. There is one thing God wants us to do for him and with him. What’s that? Live to win! Paul said to run in such the way as to win the prize and not just critique the others who are running. Let the spectators spectate and let the Believers generate some heat that the watching world won’t be able to ignore. It is time for your feet to hit the floor. I close with the words of Psalm 62 and as the Scriptures say, “My soul, wait in silence for God only, for my hope is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I shall not be shaken. On God my salvation and my glory rest; the rock of my strength, my refuge is in God.”

 

 





2017- IT’S YOUR MOVE!

4 01 2017

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Why do we punch elevator buttons more than once? Why do we love the front seat of a bus but fight for the backseat of a church? I know the Parishioners at The Lighthouse do it to stay out of the splash zone of their perspiring and expressive Pastor! Why do we ask for directions, but then argue with the person who is giving them to us? What is the real purpose of a necktie? Why do many want to “Friend” you on Facebook but then refuse to acknowledge you in public? Why can’t we “sleep in” on our days off? My guess would be that rational behavior is not one of our best human trademarks. There are many things that we do that must make the angels in Heaven assigned to watching over us just scratch their wings in wonder!  

One characteristic that is true about our breed is that we are a “Spread-The-Word” kind of species.

We are good news tellers. We like to go tell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere when we are moved by a message. When we see a must-see movie, we must say it to all those that sit in the company of our conversations. Spread the wealth. Sing the truth. Share the treasure. One fact about most fellows and ladies is that they can’t keep to themselves what has touched their hearts.   

With that in mind, before we get too deep into the start of a New Year, I want to show you one last nugget from the Christmas Story. This is from the Gospel of Luke about some shepherds. St. Luke writes, “.” Up until Christmas Eve, this group had just been shepherds, but now they were men with a mission that mattered. They had been given a reason to advertise. Their pilot was ignited to burn. Encountering a life changing experience opened the door for them to become light bearing torches. No name shepherds in the dark of night were transformed into eternally famous life changers in the light of day! And God invites us to be a part of this assignment also.

 I want to write about a contrast between those who think they are powerful and the authentic source of power itself. There are those who falsely assume they have control and then there is the engine room where all the major decisions of life are really made. Once again we need to revisit the Christmas portion of Scripture. Joseph got to Bethlehem because Caesar Augustus made a decree that the entire world should be taxed. That’s a pretty awesome thing when you think about it. One guy is able to make a decree that everybody ought to pay money, and it ought to go to him. Why? Caesar believed that he was the guy who had the real power. In his own mind, he was the center spotlight of the universe. As a matter of fact, this is from an ancient inscription.  It says, “Caesar Augustus is savior of the world.”

 That language “savior of the world” is kind of loaded language because Caesar claimed that as his title. In fact, the word gospel was actually a technical phrase that would be used in the first century to describe the beginning of the reign of a Caesar. The assumption was that he was the good news for the human race. He was the light of hope in the midst of hapless humanity! The birthday of Caesar was regarded by himself as the redeeming hope for all mankind. Does anybody know when Caesar Augustus’s birthday is? It’s September 23. I checked on that. We might want to make note of this so we don’t miss it again. I venture a guess that Hallmark does not sell a whole lot of birthday cards for Caesar Augustus. But there is another birthday from a long time ago that is still going real strong. Wouldn’t that come as a big surprise to Caesar? Long after his bulb has burned out, there is another light still shining bright!

 Caesar had the money. Caesar had the clout. Caesar had the power. He believed his reign was good news for the world. He was bringing peace to the world. He was bringing prosperity to the world. Any reader in the ancient world of that story in Luke would have thought, “Caesar is the good news.” “Caesar is the glowing governor.” And yet, Caesar was only an instrument in the hand of the God of all creation. Caesar makes this decree that the entire world ought to be taxed. In another part of the world he would never visit, in another country he had probably never heard of, a guy he would never have met named Joseph goes to his hometown. By the way, his hometown just happens to be the place where, according to ancient prophecies, the Messiah, the Savior, the true Light of the world would be born.

Immediately, for anybody reading this story, the question would arise, “Who is really in charge? Who is really making the decisions? Who is the real subject of the good news dilemma?” The story of Christmas is the story of contrasts and oxymoron’s. Caesar and Herod wore the titles- but Jesus was the true Messiah! Joseph and Mary were the outcasts and yet they were in God’s spotlight. Shepherds couldn’t get a word in edgewise in society and yet the Angels talked to them directly. And the dregs of the culture were the carriers of the Christ. They spread the word. They shined their light. The lightweight became the heavy hitters. Mary may have been the first one to literally carry the gospel, but it was the Shepherds that were the first guys to spread the word.

 Willie and Waylon would have sung back then, “Mothers, don’t let your babies grow up to be Shepherds! Let them be Rabbi’s or Rulers or such!” Shepherds were looked down upon. It was just assumed that shepherds were dishonest. Shepherds would take their flocks, and they would eat on the lands that belonged to other people. They would eat other people’s grass. Shepherds were considered just kind of dishonest, thieving people. Yet, it is the Shepherds that God chose to be the first ones to bear witness to the birth of his Son, Jesus. Why? If Shepherds could be witnesses for Jesus then anybody can be a witness for Jesus. It’s not about the credibility or articulateness of the witness. It’s about the person of Jesus. It’s about spreading the word.

“I have to tell you.” We shine our lights for all kinds of things. We talk of baseball, football, basketball, soccer, dance, music, work, hobbies, kids, and pets and so on. And as we embark upon a New Year, I ask you all, “Why wouldn’t we make our lives matter about what matters most?” One night, when these Shepherds are in a field, and an Angel appeared, and the Shepherds are overwhelmed with fear and joy, the Angel says to the Shepherds, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news. It’s not just good news for some folks, and it’s not just about Caesar. It’s not about money. It’s not about power. It’s not about human circumstances. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you, even you shepherds, you who are listening to me right now. He is the Messiah. He is the Lord. He is the Son of God. He is the Savior of the world. It’s not Caesar. Caesar’s name is great and he’ll make a great salad someday but he’s no Jesus.”

 Only Jesus can answer your prayer. Only Jesus died on a cross for you. Only Jesus can forgive your sin. Only Jesus was resurrected from the grave. Only Jesus can give you a purpose for your life. Only Jesus can give you a hope beyond your death. Only Jesus can make his home in your heart. Only Jesus was born in a manger and died on a cross and was resurrected and today 2,000 years later, all over the world, is still changing lives. Only Jesus does that. And the word that came to the Shepherds and said, “You have to tell people,” is the word that comes to us! And the foolish move would be to ignore what we need to pay the most attention to! What will you do? Your future and the hope of others depend upon it.