16 11 2020
Feast for the eyes: A non-traditional Thanksgiving table - inRegister

SPEAKING IN THE LIGHT

THANKSGIVING EYES

NOVEMBER 18 2020

I just got home from spending a weekend out in western Pennsylvania. My wife Terri and my youngest son, Joel, ventured out to Ebensburg where my son, Rudy has pastored for quite a while now. He and his beautiful wife Lindsey and my grandkids: Jude, Gideon and Eden make up the Sheptock Family that calls the Keystone State their home. It’s quite funny that Terri and Lindsey are both from the same area around Lebanon, Pennsylvania and Rudy and I met our wives while attending Philadelphia College of Bible although it was called Philadelphia Biblical University when my kids were there and now goes by the name Cairn today. Rudy went to his church to work as a Youth Pastor but shortly after he arrived there, he became the Lead Minister at a much earlier age than I did. Let me just brag on him and let you know that he is doing an outstanding job and has loved on his flock in the way that Jesus would want him to.

Rudy has also done an admirable job becoming acclimated to the community where he resides. Growing up in northern New Jersey, I never did much hunting except maybe for key baseball cards that I wanted to add to my collection. I am the only Sheptock male in my family that has never shot a gun. Rudy on the other hand is part of the autumn tradition that has all men heading out into the woods at this time of the year looking to put some venison on the table. Now don’t get me wrong, I will eat whatever you catch and enjoy every morsel, but I am not the one who is going to bag it. Rumor has it that you must be incredibly quiet when it comes to this sport, so that pretty much rules me out. I am even silent at a high volume!

Today in my Son’s sermon, he used hunting as an illustration to spiritually challenge us to make sure that we are aiming for what God says is worth our passionate pursuit. God’s word is literally our lens for us to see His will magnified in our sight. We must be dependent upon the signs of the Savior if we hope to set our feet moving in the right direction. If we want to avoid coming home empty handed, we best allow God to determine our destiny! We also need to be aware that there are tons of daily distractions looking to derail us from the holy trail. If we claim to walk by faith and not be driven by the selfish desires to obtain all that we see, we must ask Jesus to instruct us along practical paths that value eternal goals. If it is passing away, we probably should be passing on it as quickly as possible. I want my heart to be consumed with heavenly treasure and not heralded trinkets that are here today and gone tomorrow. In light of forever, are you running a race that is actually going somewhere that you really not only want to go, but you hope that the presence never ends?

November is a season of gratitude and I am beyond blessed that my children are investing in activities and actions that have been marked as majestic by the Master. Watching my Son preach the Word today with conviction and courage amidst his congregation that battles the pandemic and a challenging economy made my soul swell. His behavior brought both his earthly Dad and his Father in Heaven much pleasure. He takes care of his family by making his goal, his ambition, his horizon and his heart serving the Lord. Let’s face facts, unless you are a television Preacher, ministry is not a money-making venture. But just like he grew up in a family that chose to give God plenty of room to provide, Rudy is giving the same gift to his wife and kids. Too many individuals are doing nothing more than seeking great things for themselves but when you believe God will take care of you when you go out of your way to take care of others, all of creation sings songs of praise! Christians never have to worry about whether they are doing God’s will or not when they make it their aim to bring glory to the One who made it all. If you seek first the kingdom of God, you will never come home without the prize that Jesus made possible for all who trust and believe in Him.

Like many of you, I have been very busy but not always feeling that blessed. Perhaps, I have tried to coax out of activities what doing without being will not deliver. In the Bible, there was a woman named Martha who tried so hard to impress the Lord. She worked herself into a frenzy by slaving in the kitchen for the Savior. The only problem was that Jesus was in the living room hoping Martha would join her sister Mary in hanging with the One whose very Word satisfied the deepest longing of the human heart. Why do we get so entangled with the peripheral when the center of it all should be the One who deserves to have all eyes glued upon Him? If I say I love God, then why is it that I am so easily interrupted by temporary eye candy? Is that why we are reminded often to fix our eyes on Jesus? I want Him to be the reason I run. I want Him being at the finish line waiting to catch me which is the real purpose for my journey. If family is everything, I want to be forever with my Father! And if my Lord wants me as much as I want my kids, then I can only imagine the joy of that reunion day!

There are probably many reasons we could all be bummed out this Holiday. This year has been beyond challenging and there is still a month and a half to go. And on top of the pandemic and politics and lack of positive participation with people, there may have been other disappointments and detours away from the highway to happiness. But even if the road is long with many a winding turn, as long as we walk with the Shepherd, surely goodness and mercy will follow us all the days of our life. God knew that the moment we were born, there would come the inevitable passage through the valley of the shadow of death. But He made it clear that we would not have to do that dance as a solo performance. Nothing can separate us from the love of God. He will go wherever we are to remind us of how much He loves us. And when we see ourselves through the reflection of the eyes of love, we finally see all that matters most. I saw it this weekend when I saw my kids. God sees it right now when we make eye contact with the view that will not end. Open your eyes and don’t be blind to the biggest blessing of all! What are you looking at? What are you aiming for? What needs to change so that your eyes don’t miss the beauty that can’t be beaten?   





10 11 2020
FOLLOWING GOD'S DIRECTION, February 17, 2019 | CGM New York

SPEAKING IN THE LIGHT WITH PASTOR RUDY

I admit it, I am not very good at following directions. I don’t excel at paying close attention to someone as they spell out the specific details of what I need to do to get to where I need to be. Maybe that is why I have spent so much time wandering aimlessly while in my car. I know I would make it much easier on myself if I would just focus and stay present during the instruction portion of the program, but my attention span shrinks far too easily. But when it comes to following Jesus, I am all ears! If my heart is going to be healthy spiritually, I need to hang on every word proceeding from the mouth of God.     

In my message today, I came across these words from 2 Thessalonians Chapter 3 and verse 5. It reads, “May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.” If ever anyone had any doubt that God is taking us someplace worth going, this truth sets us straight on a path to life giving destinations. If Jesus is truly given the privilege to take the wheel, then get ready to head to the land of love with a lasting staying power. 

The perseverance of Christ is that of epic proportion. Jesus literally endured the hatred of mankind by conquering the cross and rising from the dead. This is why we are challenged to fix our eyes upon our Savior who is the author and finisher of our faith! The source of our endurance is the same Holy Spirit whose power ignited the light that our Lord needed. The Greek word translated “steadfastness” means staying strong all through grueling situations in spite of opposition from both outside and within. We can do all things through the presence of Jesus that supplies all the equipment necessary to keep on running the race when looking for a lawn chair to plop down in is calling your name.

Let me share a story about the Nobel Prize-winning Russian novelist Alexander Solzhenitsyn. The tale took place when he was imprisoned by Stalin in a Siberian gulag. One day, while being forced to slave away in sub-zero temperatures, he finally reached the breaking point of what he could humanly handle on his own. Filled with frustration, he threw his shovel down and slumped to the ground and surrendered himself to a beating from a guard that would probably end up killing him.

He had seen it happen time after time to others and now he was waiting for the first fist to batter his face. But God had other plans to encourage His servant to not give up but to look up. Without any fanfare, an emaciated fellow prisoner approached Solzhenitsyn. Simply and silently, this humble comrade scratched the sign of the cross in the mud and proceeded to disappear back in the crowd of those imprisoned.

Solzhenitsyn stared at those two lines scratched in the dirt and got the message loud and clear. Thinking of Jesus and all He went though for mankind shattered the despair that was hoping to deflate the Russian’s battered heart.  We have learned later that it was in the midst of that moment, that Solzhenitsyn knew there was something greater than the Soviet Union. He knew that the hope of all mankind was represented in that simple cross. And it was through a sincere allegiance to the power of the cross that anything was possible. Picking up his shovel, Alexander Solzhenitsyn slowly went back to work. Nothing but the encouragement of the steadfastness of our Savior could have inspired Solzhenitsyn to return to work that day. Only the presence of God at Golgotha could allow church to occur in the gulag with fresh possibilities.

Living with so much uncertainty in 2020, we all need a big God; an awesome, unspeakably amazing God. We need a God whose promises are certain; a God who’s been there before and can walk with us and counsel us and stand up for us and prepare a place for us and who can even make all things work together for good for those who love Him. And loving Him should not be as hard as we sometime make it. Remember, when we open up our hearts and choose to love God, we are privy to the secret that this love is possible because He chose to first love us even when we weren’t that loveable at all. The love of God is our beginning and our end. The love of God is our launch and our finish line. When it comes to faith, we are on the road to a paradise that will never fade away.

This is good to know when you come to realize what God’s future for us is all about. God did not create us to serve Him as much as He made us for relationship with Him. Let’s face it, God doesn’t need us to get things done and more times than not, we actually complicate the process rather than make it go smoothly. More than anything, God longs for us to stop looking for affirmation and validation in all the wrong places and to rest our weary hearts in His hands! The holy map is not taking us to a destination of mechanical duty. All signs point to us finding our satisfaction and completion in a connection that causes sparks to fly within.

God showed me a living illustration of what life is really all about the other day at my Son Joel’s Soccer Game. Joel is one of the Senior Captains on the Cape May Tech Soccer Team. On the positive side, he has become a great player, but the bad news is that they haven’t won a game all season. The other day was the stuff that dreams are made of. With the team down 2-1 to Wildwood Catholic, and with only about 15 seconds left in the game, Joel was involved in a breakaway with a clear shot on the goal. It appeared that Joel was going to be the hero and score the tying goal. With us on our feet, Joel took his shot! What 9 out of 10 times would have ended well, resulted in a ball that hit the pole and bounced out and not in. Game over! Tech loses again! But not Joel. He will always be a champion and a hero in the eyes of his Father. Nothing would ever make me love Joel more or any less. I told him how proud I was of him playing hard and leading well. And when it all wraps up, whether he scored that goal or not would not impact eternity. But living life knowing that not only his earthly Dad loved him, but his Heavenly Father cherished him too would make all the difference. We are being led to the love of God. God’s love is unconditional and forever. When you come to the end of your search for perfection here on earth, maybe you will finally be ready to look up and listen to the One who longs to lead you to Him.

We are called to pray that God’s Word will accomplish God’s Will in God’s Way as God Wants!

Prayer must line up with God’s purpose. Prayer is not trying to change God’s mind. Prayer is about transforming our desires to line up with how God thinks! If all we need is love, then it is time to listen to the One who wants to get you to experience the real thing. Pay attention to the One who paid it all to win the right to keep you safe with Him forever!





2 11 2020

SPEAKING IN THE LIGHT WITH PASTOR RUDY

CHANGE IS INEVITABLE!

Let’s face it, we are all creatures of habit. And as much as we would all be energized and enhanced by partaking fully in more regular newer adventures, there is something inside of us human beings that chooses to resist change like the Covid19 Virus. More often than not, it really has nothing to do with whether the next chapter offered us might be the very best thing that could happen to us. It seems to come back to the fact that we find a peculiar rest in our routines and repetitiveness. Unfortunately, this approach to life will kill any season of moving forward in our faith and deeper in devotion.

While discipline is essential to discipleship, so is a dedication to follow Jesus wherever He leads, doing whatever He asks, whenever He chooses to do so. This is why surrendering our agenda to the Lord is key to Christianity. This earth is not our home and as good as seasons may appear, this side of heaven, they always must come to an end. Our loved ones pass on, our kids move away, our friends relocate, our jobs come to a termination point, our houses get sold and our bodies betray us the older we get. The only thing that never changes is God’s promise to never leave us or forsake us or stop loving us. Anything else we attempt to hold on too tightly to will eventually get ripped away from our grip. This is not easily embraced, but must be acknowledged, or you will get stuck in a time warp where you will not only lose the hope of a thriving future, but become blind to the focus of today.

Miss Amelia Havisham is a character in the classic Charles Dickens novel Great Expectations. On the day she was to be married, the groom never shows up and that moment totally devastates our heroine. With her heart broken into pieces, she never takes off her wedding dress and proceeds to have every clock stopped at the precise moment she should have been betrothed. Miss Havisham never allows her wounds to heal and she spends the rest of her days locked away in a ruined mansion in the very same outfit until she dies. This is tragedy times a million.

If you choose to engage your heart in the exercise of living, you will get battered and bruised. The very same organ that reaches the heights of euphoria when all goes your way, can feel like a white-washed tomb when circumstances come tumbling down. That sense of despair can force us into a self-preservation mode where we play it so safe that we aren’t actually living at all. There is potentially great cost when you become vulnerable enough to let it all hang out. I speak as one from experience, one who confesses that I know of no other way to behave other than wearing my heart on my sleeve. Will you get let down? Absolutely! Will you be treated fair and with respect? No guarantee that it will happen even though it is only right. The choice comes down to either rolling with the flow while adjusting the load on the road or fight the oncoming tide and allow as little change as possible.

Let us revisit another literary timeless tale, “The Velveteen Rabbit.” What does it take to be real? What must have to happen so that we will be open and honest and not hide what we feel? Do we lose value when we are aged and torn and been through a war or two? Will we make the mistake of staying safe in the package even if that was not the purpose God created us for? I will always cherish the words of the “Skin Horse” when he imparts his wisdom to the stuffed Bunny.

“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?” “Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but really loves you, then you become Real.” “Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit. “Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.” “Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?” “It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That is why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

God has not created us ever to be ugly. This world is filled with unkindness, unfairness and misunderstanding. When Jesus came down to this planet, He held nothing back. Transitioning from the ultimate perfection of Glory to the deepest pits of gory, we never got anything less than all of Jesus. This is why He deserves nothing less than all of us. Obedience is not conditioned upon our signing off on the project. God is our Coach, and we are His instruments, and if His will is to be practiced here as it is in Heaven, transformation is a necessity and that won’t occur without change. Not just one little bitty remodeling mind you, but a whole renovation work that covers every inch of who we are.

The pandemic of 2020 has frozen too many of us in a place of immoveable pause. Processing is essential to adaptation, but wisdom must enlarge its borders or the drought of inactivity will cause inertia to set in. Our lives must become established on the Rock if we are going to outlast the storms blowing our way; but the road to this reality is the fruit of venturing through the clouds and not running a million miles an hour in the opposite direction. If the Lord is willing to teach us how to number our days, then we must be reporting for duty daily and not only when we deem it worth our time and effort.

Fasten your seatbelts Church! There are blizzard warnings even in places where the Bible has been adhered to. Wake up and sober up to be part of God’s solution to the pollution that sin leaves in its selfish tracks. All hands must be on deck. Every member of the Body of Christ must be ready to play the game. If the clock is ticking, then its time to boost the offense and not give in to the temptation of playing prevent defense. Change is never easy, but it must be addressed as we continue to run the race God has marked out before us. We are not home yet but we have no chance of getting there unless we run! Run to the battle and let God lead!     





27 10 2020
Going to Church Every Week Should Not Be an Option- Even If You've Been  Offended February 7, 2020 — Seele

SPEAKING IN THE LIGHT WITH PASTOR RUDY

CHURCH IS NOT AN OPTION

I know the church has been getting a bad rap lately. It seems everyone has an opinion lately and not all of them are positive. This pandemic has been more about division than bringing people together and that is a shame. There are those who think that the church should meet and others who believe the wisest move is to stay apart. There are many who vote for masks on and just as many who say masks off. Some want us to meet only outside and others can’t understand why everything isn’t inside. We at the Lighthouse Church have done our best to provide entry points that cover all the bases by offering 4 Worship Services every weekend but even that has not satisfied the masses. And at a time when the church needs to be keeping it all together, there is way too much attempting to tear it all apart.

The church is not an organization. The church is a living organism. The church is not made up of a work force. The church is made up of the family of God showing the world how it is done! Because no matter what, programs will never give us what only God’s power can provide! Big budgets don’t promise the Holy Spirit has freedom to move. Flashy worship may be entertaining, but if the music showcases the band over the One we should be singing to, there will be a short circuit in the electricity department. We need to let our light shine so people can see Jesus whether they know the Pastor’s name or not. God initiated vision prevents believers from looking in the wrong direction when it comes to prioritizing their most important purpose. I believe the Bible tells us that it all has something to do with love.

In the Gospel of John 13:34-35, Jesus told us, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Loving God will only strengthen our love for Him because we learn that He loved us long before we ever loved Him. The more we allow God’s love to invade our hearts, the more we will begin to care for those around us. This world is all about taking “selfies.” The church should be all about making “other-ies” more important than even our own desires. All humans stand on level ground before the cross of Christ.  Young and old, male and female, Jew and Gentile, rich and poor, black, white, and every other nationality that has ever walked the grounds of this planet; we are all sinners in need of salvation.  

This is not the season that we should be about barriers and barricades. Why are we constructing walls that our Lord and Savior already tore down? Only by living the love of Jesus and only by genuinely loving one another, will the world ever see the real Jesus! It is to brothers and sisters that the world is drawn. The church is the bride of Jesus. Are we attempting to be more factory than family? Actions always speak louder than words. For God so loved the World that He gave us Jesus and in Jesus we should finally discover the value of being around one another!

God made it very clear that without the church, there would be no Christianity! So much of a believer’s spiritual formation must occur primarily within the context of community, that’s where people mature in their faith. There are so many things you can’t accomplish as a solo entity. How can you do all the “one another’s” of Scripture if there is nobody around you to practice with? People who stay committed to the truths that Jesus was committed to will experience all that God has in store for His creation. We must learn to work through conflict, practice holiness partnered with hospitality, forge through forgiveness, fight the good fight of faith and stick it out when running away might be the easier option. I have always said that I would much rather have pew jumpers than church hoppers! I love when I see God’s people become the people of God!

In my 24 years here in Cape May County. I have seen many people come and go and come again and go again and so on and so forth. We all know people who are very critical of the church. Unfortunately, they are not committed enough to be part of the spiritually led solutions! Aren’t you glad that Jesus doesn’t give up on us? He wants us to bloom and blossom where we become planted, but there will be no eternal fruit if faith doesn’t dig deep roots. Like trees repeatedly transplanted from soil to soil have a challenge to establish a real root system, so are Christians who don’t dig in and make a lasting statement about who they are and what they really believe in.

You can’t ignore the importance of church! Nobody is perfect and there is no infallible place of worship this side of heaven. Wherever we go, flesh will always attempt to squash faith. The enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy. God has promised that His explosion of colorful creativity would be displayed through the church. Not everything is black and white. There is unity around the truth but there is diversity in the way that faith is expressed! What a time for the watching world to see the church at its best. This is the day that God wants us to become the rock that He proclaimed the gates of hell would not be able to stand against.

I love being a Pastor because it keeps me real. Traveling speakers can preach their five best messages over and over again and come into town only to leave just as fast. But when the shepherd makes his home in the middle of the sheep, you can’t fake it because you will be exposed quite quickly. The church is God’s idea so I wouldn’t abandon it too quickly. God didn’t commission the angels to share the good news of Jesus. He gave His Holy Spirit to redeemed men and women. Instead of opting out, it is time for us to surrender all to our Savior who gave us nothing less than His best. Get all excited and let’s lift up Jesus. It is not about denominations or political parties. It is about believing on the Lord Jesus Christ and allowing Him to shine through us. It’s getting too dark in our world and now more than ever it is a season for the church to shine! Come and be part of what God is doing. It is a miraculous adventure! Let’s stop going to church and let’s be the church!





20 10 2020
Microphone - Wikipedia

SPEAKING IN THE LIGHT WITH PASTOR RUDY

SINGING WHEN I FEEL LIKE SINKING!

I have always been drawn to the stories behind the songs. I am fascinated by the paths that it took to get much of our favorite music to the public forum. Let’s just say that passion is born out of pain. God has taken our trash and turned it into true treasure. So many beautiful melodies were produced from being originally being battered. Creation proves that not all done in the dark has to remain there. When I felt like my heart was shattered into pieces, God gave me a song! How many of us are not merely surviving but actually surviving because we have learned how to sing when we felt like sinking into oblivion. 

Let me tell you how one such horror story became a hymn of great inspiration. It happened to a man named Joseph Scriven. Just a tad before my time, in 1842, this Irishman graduated from Trinity College in Dublin and like so many other young men before him, he fell head over heels in love with a girl from his neighborhood.

They got engaged, planned their wedding and began dreaming about the future that they would experience together as husband and wife. But tragedy invaded their tomorrows! On the night before their wedding, Joseph’s fiancée saddled a horse to go and see him. It would turn out to be one of the last things she would ever do.

Joseph saw his wife-to-be riding toward him, and he couldn’t wait to kiss her! But suddenly, just as she was crossing the bridge over the river, her horse bucked and threw her like a rag-doll down into the river below. Joseph ran with everything he had, jumping wildly into the river, calling out her name. He soared deep into its icy waters, but his efforts would not help. By the time he got to her, the woman he loved was already dead. He thought that he would be going to a wedding but ended up present at a funeral.

If that wasn’t enough to steal the breath from his faith, Joseph moved to Canada. While he was there, he fell in love yet again. In 1854, Joseph and Eliza Roche planned to become husband and wife. The wedding had to continually be put off because Eliza was ill and even with all the hope and prayers said on her behalf, she never got better! She actually became worse and eventually Eliza died too.

Joseph Scriven never did get married. Joseph’s mother was deeply concerned for her heartbroken son but the faith that he had was established and unsinkable. It wasn’t his Mother that lifted up her son. It was the absolute opposite. Joseph composed a poem to strengthen her, little knowing that it would become one of the best-loved songs of all time. Several years later, a friend found it in a drawer at Joseph’s house and was deeply moved. “The Lord and I wrote it together,” Joseph explained. That poem, forged out of so much disappointment and pain, continues to cause Believers to look up when they probably feel like giving up! The words go like this:

“What a friend we have in Jesus, All our sins and griefs to bear!

What a privilege to carry- Everything to God in prayer!

O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,

All because we do not carry- Everything to God in prayer.

Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere?

We should never be discouraged- Take it to the Lord in prayer!

Can we find a friend so faithful, Who will all our sorrows share?

Jesus knows our every weakness—Take it to the Lord in prayer!”

As I am writing this, I want to pray for all of us. I believe this is no time for us to continue to be held hostage by the fear of what might be. God has showed up to equip us for what is. When Scripture uses the word comfort, it doesn’t mean what we think it does in English. It is not so much about how a Mother holds a crying Baby to her chest, as it is God preparing us properly for the ride of our lives. When Christians are begging for a pillow and blanket, perhaps we should be looking for a crash helmet and a new pair of Nikes.

The problem with America’s church today is we waste too much time thinking God is going to fix all that is unpleasant when we should be gearing up for our next adventure. The Lord wants to work in us more than He wants to change the stuff around us. Jesus is looking to get us ready for the challenges that are still to come. We can’t settle for anything less than following our Savior the entire way that He leads, even if it means a bumpy ride.

Are we pretending that the kiddie rides are the safe option when we might need to fasten our seatbelts for the roller coaster with the twists and turns that make our stomach queasy? Can we escape so great a calling by playing it safe when we know that to live means to risk great pain and heartaches? If we don’t need Jesus, we won’t trust Him. If we are fooling ourselves by thinking that the little boat ride with the string that makes the bell ring that we sit in which does nothing more than go in a safe circle is the journey Jesus has invited us too- we will be sadly mistaken and spiritually off track! Getting our heart crushed is nobody’s idea of a picnic, but the reality is that without our willingness to surrender our way to God’s will, we might never learn to sing the sweet song of salvation.

If our walk contradicts our words, we lose our testimony. Our “walk” and our “talk” must agree!

A yielded heart is necessary for this Sinner to be made into a Saint. Too many Christians today emphasize guarding the truth, but they sadly downplay living the truth. One of the best ways to guard the truth is to live what we say we believe! It is good to be defenders of the faith, but we must not forget to be demonstrators of the faith. Joseph was able to articulate his union with Jesus because it stood the test of how living on this planet can wreak havoc in your heart. Stop just singing praise tunes. We followers of Jesus should be writing new verses to expound upon how being connected to God does not just fix life. It is life!  





13 10 2020
Guide To Spotting Fake Rolex Watches vs. Real Ones

SPEAKING IN THE LIGHT WITH PASTOR RUDY

THE ORIGINAL COUNTERFEIT

Think about a time in your life when you were deceived. Can you remember a time when someone knew what they were doing when they purposely conned you? Lying to you was on the agenda. Getting you to do something that was not best for you was the priority. It wasn’t fair and it wasn’t right, but it was still done. There was even the sense that others were experiencing some unbelievable satisfaction in your going down the wrong road with no brakes to keep you safe.  

Some of you might think back to a time when you were deceived by someone close to you. A friend, a family member, a so-called boyfriend or girlfriend, a spouse, or a business partner proved to be someone other than who you thought they were. They were acting a part that did not match up with conviction in their heart. As you reminisce, it is still hard to fathom how someone who claimed to care about you could be so cruel. The memory of the pain of living with that deception is still almost more than you can bear to think about even today. This was not the way you were raised to believe was the way to treat another. It certainly was not something you learned in Sunday School!   

Have you ever been burned by outright lies when it came to a purchase?  Just because it happens all the time, doesn’t take away the sting from the soul of the victims that have been through this ordeal. Sometimes people get cheated out of just a few bucks. Sometimes you buy something you think is genuine only to learn later that it is a cheap knockoff. You cannot buy a Rolex for $5 and you should not expect to receive something for nothing especially when cheap comes wrapped up in expensive packaging.  There are no “great deals” when you attempt to sell your soul for rip offs in return.

There will always be wolves decked out in the disguise of sheep. Flesh parading behind the facade of Jesus does not transform darkness into instant light. Unfortunately, there are way too many deeds of deception being done in places where devotion to Jesus is expected. This is the worst kind of counterfeiting being practiced on our planet. Preachers who appear on television promising you health and wealth if you only invest your last few dollars to finance their million-dollar mansions built by the sea. Jesus didn’t even have a roof over His head and yet His servants are living high on the hog. There is something rotten in the State of Denmark and it isn’t kosher by Heaven’s standards.

Any kind of deception can break your heart, mind, and bank, but spiritual tomfoolery can crush your soul. A hypocritical pastor, an abusive church, a legalistic maniac or phony friend can cause long-term psychological and spiritual damage in a person’s life. Such toxic deception has opened the door to pure atheism. I have always tried to challenge those who have been burned by this Bible thumping practice to not blame Jesus because some of His so-called disciples are deeply disturbed. If you are going to walk away from the Lord, make sure it is the real deal before you book a ticket out of Dodge! Of all the knockoffs living here among us are the painful peddlers who pawn off a watered down Gospel that has no good news in it at all. Just because some belief systems receive the majority of the crowd’s approval on television and radio, in bookstores and media outlets, and even behind pulpits and in classrooms of well-respected churches and Christian institutions, none of that makes it the truth. If you want to know for sure what is the authentic Word of God, then you best be sure to have the one and only God of the Word residing inside of you.

Impostor is a person who practices deception under an assumed character, identity, or name. Ferdinand Waldo Demara Jr was a prison warden, a monk, a lawyer, a sheriff’s deputy, cancer researcher, teacher and a religiously oriented psychologist, a Baptist Minister and a Surgeon but in reality, he actually was none of those things. He did possess a fascinating photographic memory that fueled his ability to be known as, “The Great Imposter.” This man named Demara who was born in Massachusetts literally faked his way through life. His most famous exploit was to masquerade as surgeon Joseph Cyr aboard the HMCS Cayuga, a Royal Canadian Navy destroyer, during the Korean War. During his time as a surgeon on the Cayuga, Demara actually performed surgeries. He performed surgery on 16 injured soldiers. Demara would disappear to his room with a textbook on general surgery and proceed to speed-read the type of surgery he was to perform, including major heart surgery. Amazingly, none of these patients died as a result of his surgery. Ironically, it was because of his skill as a surgeon that Demara was exposed.

According to this article, the removal of a bullet from one wounded man made the papers, and when the mother of the real Dr Joseph Cyr read that her son, who operated a civilian practice, was now in the war, she proceeded to contact him, only to be assured by him that he was indeed not in the armed forces. Hearing this, she immediately contacted the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and Demara was exposed for the fraud that he was. What was hidden in his closet was exposed in the light. Deceivers hate to be exposed!

Unfortunately, masks are not only popular in pandemics. The enemy of our souls loves to portray himself as something he isn’t. The devil has a prime advantage because nobody believes in him anymore; and that works in Hell’s favor. The devil is the master of illusion and an expert in deception. The influence of darkness has turned angels into demons, kings into animals, pastors into predators, and sheep into wolves. It can swagger with self-importance one minute before writhing in self-contempt the next. Lies have hats that can be worn for almost every occasion. Christians have no business putting any of this nonsense on their heads or into their hearts!

Growing up, I used to watch a game show on television called, “To Tell The Truth.” The premise of the program was that three people claimed to be a person. The job of the panel was to ask questions to determine who was telling the real truth about his or her identity. There would almost always be someone who was fooled by a feeling and duped by some deception. This is no time to be taking those chances when it comes to knowing Jesus. God did not play hide and seek with us. He invites every single man and woman to enter into a real relationship with Him. Our eternal destiny comes down to the simple reality of whether we know Him or not. There are many who claim to be experts about Jesus but if it doesn’t match up to the One we can read about in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John- it isn’t really Him. This is no game. This is a matter of life and death. Jesus will say to many on that day who claimed to even do great wonders in His Name to depart from Him because He never knew them. Salvation has nothing to do with what we know, but everything with who we know. Jesus claimed to be the Way, the Truth and the Life. Jesus has stood up and made Himself available to all of us. Will you make a stand with your heart and make sure you are not being fooled by cheap imitations? There is nothing phony about God’s love for you. There is no fine print, just eternal grace for all who willingly follow Him.





7 10 2020
Kicking Shoes Off Stock Video Footage - 4K and HD Video Clips | Shutterstock

Speaking In The Light with Pastor Rudy

THE SHOE’S NOT READY TO DROP

A Denver magazine reports a disastrous fire in that city during which a large warehouse, containing thousands of tons of ice, was destroyed. The editor points out that the building actually contained thousands of gallons of a potent extinguisher, but it was frozen. What an eerie picture of the apathetic condition of many of our local churches today. While sin runs rampant throughout the country, fiery faith has become ice cold!

There is a biblical word that describes the rebellion to the truth happening even in places of worship today. First, God has been banished from society and social life and now there is a movement to even have Him evicted from churches. Our English word “apostasy” describes the widespread departure from the faith that will occur in the days leading up to the return of Jesus. Congregants will desire only positive upbeat messages coming from their pulpits. Topics like sin, hell, salvation, and judgment will be deemed as “hate speech” and prohibited from being preached to the masses. Any mention of the blood of Jesus will be outlawed as offensive. Only State approved sermons will be given the go ahead for presentation. If you think that this philosophy is far-fetched, one only needs to study the history of what happened to the German Evangelical Church in the midst of Hitler’s reign.

We are living in an age where a sense of doom is looming. We feel the threat of terrorism now invading even our local neighborhoods. We have all experienced the effects of diseases like Covid and the pandemic that has stolen any normalcy of life in 2020. Politics has become volatile as hatred is spewed between the different parties. There is the ever present insecurity of the economy. We hear of devastating earthquakes and tsunamis, and overhead, even the climate is threatening our existence. Add to these things the ever quickening pace of the moral decline of our nation, the defunding of law and order and it all begins to feel like the prelude to something big, dare I say something even worse is on the horizon. It’s almost like one big shoe is about to drop and indeed it is!

We have all heard the saying, “Waiting for the other shoe to drop.” This modern idiom traces its origins back to the way that tenements in larger cities were designed and built back in the late 1800s, often with bedrooms stacked atop one another. It was common to hear the neighbor above you take of his or her shoes at night and drop them to the floor; first one, then the other. “Waiting for the other shoe to drop” is to “await a seemingly inevitable event, especially one that is not desirable.” The Bible says that at a time of great turmoil, while the world is groping for peace and security, “destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape” (1 Thessalonians 5:3).

The Bible also says, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring the Good News to those who need it!”  I’m not ready to take my shoes off yet! It’s time to live like we are Citizens of Heaven! This world is not our real home, we are only passing through. For too long, God’s people have tried to play both sides of the fence by attempting to serve two masters when only one can be placated. As Joshua proclaimed years ago, “Choose this day whom you will serve!” Yes, following Jesus may cost you popularity and position but the alternative will never satisfy the yearning for eternal love and belonging that is in every one’s soul. Maybe we need to learn how to wait for the best so we don’t sell out for the temporary quick fix. As long as I have life and breath, I want to lace up my Nikes, which by the way, means “victory” in the original Greek language; and run the pace of the race in introducing the love of Jesus to every face that I see until I finally gaze upon my Lord in person!

The enemy loves to get us to doubt the fact that the One who is the Truth will set us free! The enemy loves to get us to live in an alternative universe where we think that we know better than God in deciding what way we should go. The enemy also wants us to forfeit forever for some immediate thrills right now. Jesus said clearly that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Maybe rather than settling for a religion, we should seek a real relationship with the One who created us in the first place. You got to know the One who made you because He certainly knows you and is inviting you to find your forever in Him.

I am startled by the fact that we haven’t acted like we have learned anything from history. When I see mob mentality, it only causes my soul to grieve. God is calling us to experience His perfect love which casts out fear. Intimidation, manipulation, bullying and name calling, labeling and lying can’t lead to paradise. It never has and it never will. So I refuse to wait for that other shoe to drop. Keep those who claim to know Jesus with their running shoes on. God has called us to a race that is not so much about finishing first as much as it is about finishing well. Some people want to live in a place of perfect peace. God is preparing that place for us but it is not here. So while I am here, I want to bring Him honor and glory by showing others Jesus. He is the true treasure. He is the Lord we all need to follow. This shoe is not dropping until I am done breathing. How about you?





29 09 2020
Pro-life Video | Choose Life - YouTube


SPEAKING IN THE LIGHT WITH PASTOR RUDY

I MUST CHOOSE LIFE!

I know that if you just mention the word abortion, like it or not, you have lit a stick of dynamite. If someone desires to polarize a room into two passionate camps of strong feelings and cries of emotional angst, just bring up the topic of Roe Vs. Wade. I remember being in grade school when the term defining the procedure to terminate a pregnancy entered the mainstream of American language. The words of a dear Sister who was my teacher at Notre Dame Catholic School still ring in my ears. She said, “The word causes raised eyebrows now, but one day it won’t even evoke an individual to bat an eyelash.” Even though she would have rather been wrong, she turned out to be oh so right!

I’m a Pastor who doesn’t believe in abortion because I am very pro-life. My understanding of the Scriptures shows me that life begins at the moment of conception. Even while we were still in the wombs of our mothers, the Bible explains that God had specific plans for our lives. John the Baptist was filled with the Holy Spirit while Elizabeth carried him inside of her. God called Jeremiah to be a prophet form his conception. A baby is not a fetus or worse yet, just an it. A baby is a miracle. And even if the pregnancy happened in less than perfect circumstances, it doesn’t mean that the product of that union was a mistake. Every life is a gift. Even the lives of those precious children who never saw the light of day here on earth, each and every one is waiting for us in God’s presence.

If all of our children would have lived, Terri and I would have 9 children today. Before our son Rudy was born in 1986, we experienced 2 miscarriages in 1983 and again in 1984. I say we because even though as a man I didn’t have the honor to carry those children inside my own body, they will forever hold a place in my heart and soul. After Rudy, Leah and Abbie were born in 1986, 1988 and 1991, tragedy would once again rear its ugly head in 1995 and 1999 when two of our sons, Nicholas and Benjamin would be born to only survive a short time on this earth. Nicholas may only have been with us for a total of 90 minutes, we spent a whole lifetime in an hour and a half. And when it was apparent that déjà vu was occurring with our son Benjamin, Terri and I wondered if we ever would recover from such excruciating heartache. The length of their moments with us didn’t lighten the power of the impact to us. To this day, there are moments when I believe my heart is going to explode because we miss them so much.

When Terri found out that she was pregnant again in 2002, all the medical professionals thought we were absolutely crazy. I remember my wife and I sitting in conference with a doctor at Cape Regional as he very soberly and seriously rationalized all the reasons we should do the responsible thing and terminate this baby and save ourselves from the harsh reality that because of our history, chances for a healthy birth were a million to one. I know now why many choose abortion. The tension as we were meeting with that physician was so thick, it would have taken a chain saw to cut through it. But we knew that there was no way we could take matters into our own hands. I went into the chapel of our local hospital and literally poured my heart and soul out to God. On July 30, 2003, Joel Thomas Sheptock was born. I was 43 and Terri was 41 but we had another son to raise and today he is 17 and a Senior at Cape May Tech. I couldn’t imagine our lives without him.

Still there would be more tragedy ahead for us. A 9th child was born way too early in June of 2005. And on the very day our oldest son Rudy was graduating from Middle Township High School, another Sheptock child was ushered directly into the presence of God. I remember someone saying to me that day, “Are you still going to stay a Minister? I mean, look at how many kids you have lost.” I replied with tear stained eyes, “It is my faith in God that gives these children purpose. Because I believe God is who He says He is, I will see them all again.”

Every life matters. I grew up in a family where my Mom and Dad had 7 children of their own and went on to adopt 30 more children. Many of my brothers and sisters ended up Sheptocks because nobody else wanted them. I have siblings that include many children that society has labeled as severely handicapped. The Sheptock Family is made up of kids with no arms, one arm, cerebral palsy, learning disorders and two wonderful brothers who have down syndrome. Martin and Issac exhibit more love coming through their pinkies than some so called healthy people display in their whole bodies. Nobody can convince me or either of them that their lives don’t matter. I can’t even imagine what this world might be had they never been given the opportunity to be born. As a matter of fact, if you ask any of my brothers or sisters if they wanted to continue to live, I know they would all give you an exuberant, “Yes!” None of these human beings are accidents. God loves and has a plan for each and every one.

I do not picket abortion clinics. I don’t scream hate at those women who have had abortions. I have no desire to be known as a Christian by just what I am against. I am for life. I am for all life. I fight for every life until God says it is time to take that person home. I don’t believe that inside the womb you are an it and all of a sudden, after your journey down the birth canal, that only then are you a human being. I felt prompted to write about this topic because there may be somebody reading this today who is confused and overwhelmed by the predicament they may find themselves in. God loves you. God is a God of grace and mercy and new beginnings. I want to speak up for the unborn. If all mankind is created equal, then these babies are just that, fearfully and wonderfully made by God. I close with some lyrics from an old Phil Keaggy song. “Who will speak up for the little ones; helpless and half abandoned. They have a right to choose, life they don’t want to lose, I’ve got to speak out, won’t you?” The World Health Organization estimated that between 40 and 50 million abortions were done in 2018. I write this article in honor of each and every life that never got the right to see the light of day. Choose life. Please!









22 09 2020
This Quote About Singing A New Song Will Inspire You To Write!

Speaking In the Light with Pastor Rudy September 23 2020NO TIME TO SING THE BLUES!

Do you see the cup half full or half empty? As you embark upon the rest of 2020, are you ready to seize the day or are you searching for the nearest bunker? Decisions like these are what separate the optimist from the pessimist. The optimist sees possibilities in the problems, and the pessimist sees problems in the possibilities. One sees open doors to opportunities and the other sees only the size of the very real obstacles standing in the way. But as Christians, we should be known more for our faith than our fear. When you process the days to come through the eyes of Heaven, even the greatest pitfalls can become a great potential for blessings.

Whether we like it or not, outlook determines outcome. If we concentrate only upon the doom and gloom, we are destined to become discouraged and behave as if we have already been defeated.

But if we fix our eyes upon Jesus, then perhaps we will witness the Lord turning graves into gardens and transforming trash into lasting treasure. Looking through the eyes of love certainly influences the manner in which we will tackle today and tomorrow.

When we read the Scriptures, do we truly believe that God can do what He did then in our day? God took Moses’ blunders and after a 40-year hiatus in the back wilderness, it literally made him one of the Bible’s greatest leaders ever. Jesus took Peter’s cowardice and the inability to complete a simple sentence to a slave girl and turned him into the most powerful preacher ever to deliver a sermon. The same God that took us broken and battered sinners and transformed us into His beloved and blameless bride is still looking to work His miracles today! God can take any of us, no matter how bruised and beaten up we may be, and make out of us something wonderful for His glory. Our attitude towards what the Lord is up to today will definitely influence what kind of story will unfold around us tomorrow.

Stop looking at what you don’t have and see the Lord! Stop listening to all we can’t do and let’s get busy with what God is waiting for us to accomplish now. God always starts with what we have before He gives us what we need. Are you willing to lay your abilities down so that God can raise up within us the muster we need to slay the giants that blaspheme our faith? Without faith it is impossible to recognize the movements of the Almighty. Rather than try to impress Jesus with our resume, He would be so much more pleased if we would just surrender our hearts fully to Him. Heroes are born not out of charismatic personalities but out of simple men and women who choose to not stay stagnant. I am not a pawn on the chessboard of chance. I am a child under the influence of an awesome God.

If you have trusted Jesus as your Savior, then you already have everything you need to bring the light into the darkness. Now, instead of whining, why not start with an attitude of worship? God inhabits the praises of His people and when we get a clear view of Him, the other challenges don’t seem as daunting as they once did when we attempted to walk this adventure as a solo. Man’s agenda is to look to this world to satisfy a thirst it is unable to quench. God’s will for us is to find all that we lack in our relationship with Jesus. Whenever we place a higher priority on being happy over the Lord making us holy, we aim for a prize that is no reward at all. If God is not the One who will greet you at the conclusion of this race, you are running along the wrong road. Anything less than eternity is passing away. We must not forfeit the crown of Glory which God has promised for those who are willing to wait upon the Lord just because we get impatient and choose to settle for the cheaper carnival trinkets that are available right now. 

The god of today is the way of the quick fix. When we need to know something, we want instant access to information. When we’re hungry, we settle for fast food. When pain hits, we want immediate relief no matter what it costs. When wrongs occur, we want swift justice. When trying new things, we want immediate success. When starting a new job, we don’t want to begin in the mail room. We want to go right to the top of the ladder. And when God does something we don’t understand, we want to know why! And if God is any kind of worthy Deity, we figure that He won’t dilly-dally around especially when we need Him! But the Lord is not the one on trial; we are. And we will never grow in faith unless we go hard after Jesus. If God doesn’t have a free hand to construct a masterpiece out of our mess, then we certainly are selling our faith short!

What are you singing today and do you have a song at all? Has the circumstances of 2020 caused the church to lose its voice? I don’t think so. I believe that the remnant of the real followers of Jesus will continue to sing songs of praise even in the setting of prison walls. Our song is not one that celebrates our circumstances. The inspiration of the tunes we croon come from the Holy Spirit who resides inside of us wherever we may be. Sing it loud and live your faith boldly. The old Coke commercial used to say, “I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony.” Today’s church should be teaching the watching world that our praise songs are not funeral dirges but symphonies of hope. This is no time to sing the blues. Today is the day to raise the praise. God is everything He claims to be and one day He will rid this world of sin, evil, death, and pain. While we wait, God allows these things to continue and our precious promise is that God uses pain and problems to draw His children back to Himself. I know that being in His Arms is the safest place even in the middle of a hurricane. Where are you today?





15 09 2020
Plane Window Seat View - Free photo on Pixabay

SPEAKING IN THE LIGHT WITH PASTOR RUDY

THE VIEW FROM HERE

Anyone can celebrate the good times when everything seems to be going your way. But the test of true character is what happens when nothing seems to be falling into place? I have learned the hard way that just because you do what is right doesn’t guarantee that you still won’t face your fair share of wrong. The greatest lesson that God has taught me is that He is faithful in the midst of any circumstance that may come our way. Just when we think that the Lord has opted out of His promise to be with us always, He shows up in the most miraculous of ways!

Most religions don’t have any purpose for suffering and hard times. The best of belief systems advises its followers to avoid trials and tribulations at any cost. This is not the case with Christianity. Jesus made it clear to His disciples that in this world they would experience their fare share of bumps and bruises but nobody should be shocked by such a rude awakening. Jesus also promised to be with us every step of the way. Hard times didn’t mean lean seasons in the sojourn of any seeker chasing after the Savior.  

The Bible clearly teaches that Christians can celebrate the God times whenever and wherever we may be no matter what the situation. Even in the year of the unpredictable and unthinkable, this is no time for the followers of Jesus to be longing to live in another era. God created us for such a time as this. God provides what we need to succeed where He leads as long as we choose to walk by faith and not by sight. If we stay true to what God says no matter what we see with our eyes or hear from those around us with our ears, we will discover spiritual diamonds amidst the dust of these crazy days! No matter what is thrown at us this side of Heaven, as the recipients of God’s amazing grace and His peace that makes no sense unless we look through an eternal perspective, we really do have all we need to get to where we are going! Grace and peace doesn’t alter our destination. Grace and peace actually accompany us to our destination.

Marge had an experience aboard a plane bound for Cleveland, waiting for takeoff. As she settled into her seat, Marge noticed a strange phenomenon. On one side of the airplane a sunset painted the entire sky with glorious and majestic color. But out of the window next to her seat,

all Marge could see was an ominous sky dark and threatening, with no sign of the sunset. As the plane’s engines began to roar, she sensed God spoke to her. “You have noticed the windows,”

she heard beneath the roar and thrust of takeoff. “Your life, too, will contain some happy, beautiful times, but also some dark shadows. Here’s a lesson I want to teach you to save you much heartache and allow you to ‘ride with Me’ with continual peace and joy.” “You see, it doesn’t matter which window you look through; because no matter what your view, this plane is still going to Cleveland. So it is in your life. You have a choice. You can dwell on the gloomy picture. Or you can focus on the bright things and leave the dark, gloomy situations to Me. I alone can handle them anyway. The final destination is not influenced by what you see and hear along the way.”

No matter what happens around us, nothing can rob Christians from the reality that our ticket is punched for Glory! l am going to Heaven! If I catch Covid, I am still going to Heaven. If I have cancer, I am still going to Heaven. If I am broke or persecuted or swinging on a star, I am still going to Heaven. When I land, I am going to be greeted by a welcoming party that will take me into a land where all the pain of the past will not be allowed into the present.  Learn this, act on it and you will be free, able to experience God’s peace that passes understanding and the grace that fuels our engines when this earth forces us to run on empty!

When your faith is anchored by the simple but straight forward truths that God said we should care about, it will be more than enough to keep you clear and focused on the important tasks that He has for all of us ahead. I know that my biggest messes come when I try to do God’s will my way. I know that I only set myself up for failure when I try to control what only God can handle. How many of us are looking to play it safe during a time when we should be looking to walk on water. 

When Jesus met the first disciples fishing, he told them to push out a little deeper. These were lifetime experts who knew the seas inside and out and suddenly, a carpenter was directing them to do what they already knew what to do. They could have said, “If we need any help fixing a chair, we will give you a call but leave the fishing to us.”  They probably thought it was a stupid idea, but do you know what? They did it anyway. Jesus challenged them to push out into deeper waters and they did. Jesus encouraged them to throw their nets on the other side of their boat and they did. Grace and peace flood our hearts when we simply trust and obey the Lord. What is He asking you to do today?

I know life in the middle of 2020 can be very hard. Nobody knows what might be waiting for us in the months to come. God knows! God has even given us a foretaste of what our future holds if we stay connected to Him. God might ask you to do things that are beyond your ability. God might ask you to do things that won’t be popular with the people around you. God might challenge you to do things that don’t make any sense at all. Do it anyway. Keep your eye on the ball. Darkness doesn’t have the capability to destroy us but it sure will try to distract us. Keep the light on. Trust the ultimate Pilot no matter what side of the airplane you may be sitting on. And don’t ever settle to make yourself at home until your plane lands in Heaven! Bon voyage!