IT’S TIME TO LEARN BY DOING!

19 06 2019

IMG-0970 (1)
People learn much more by doing than just by sitting in a classroom debating a topic. It’s one thing to be told that you have what it takes and it’s another thing altogether to discover that you actually do because you accomplished something with your life. Knowledge must be obtained by going beyond just what you read in a book! There comes a day when we all must venture beyond the classroom and take it out to the streets of the real world! To say that you really learned something, I believe that it must go beyond the intellect and be proved by passing a physical test of some sort. It means practically triumphing over the challenge via experience. You have gained a few battle scars because you personally and fully engaged in an adventure that demanded you apply the instruction you claimed to have assimilated into your life.

Real Christianity is not a spectator sport. Faith doesn’t take place in the Sanctuary as much as it needs to infiltrate the Society that you are a part of. Believing must be entered into wholeheartedly, body, soul and spirit. You might say that it is one-part instruction and nine parts engaging. It is willingly giving God room in your life to move in the ways that He has promised to. If you have never laid down your limited control so that God can take you into a situation that if He doesn’t come through, the whole venture will fall apart, what are you waiting for?

Faith without action is just religious talk. You can say that you are a Believer but if you have never actually taken a step forward into God’s great wide open, you probably never trusted and obeyed. Real reliance upon Heaven is what the Biblical story of David and Goliath is all about. The Old Testament tale informs us rather blatantly that the armies of Israel have drawn up against the armies of the Philistines, but not a single shot has been fired from any bow. There is more cowardice than courage in the Hebrew front lines.

The reason, of course, is the dreaded Philistine, Goliath. He is a mercenary of tremendous size and strength, and is renowned for his reputation and skill in combat. He’s killed many men bare-handed, and no one is rushing to be next. Enter David, who is barely a teen himself, when he goes into the camp and sees with his own eyes what is really going on. He hears Goliath just cursing God and being crudely profane about the Lord that David loves. Without much fanfare, David offers to fight Goliath because nobody should be mocking Jehovah like that!

This is where it becomes all too familiar. King Saul, who at this point only has a ceremonial connection to God, does what most of us would do and he tries to tell David that the kid is out of his mind. King Saul says, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a boy, and Goliath has been a force to be reckoned with for years” (1 Sam. 17:33 NIV). Many would call this sound and sane advice, but the problem is that when God calls someone to do something heroic, the last thing they need is discouragement and negativity from the peanut gallery!

David doesn’t let the negative steal his thunder and he accentuates the positive call that he has received from his God. David owns a supernatural confidence because he has already seen the Hand of the Lord come through for him as he shepherded his sheep and protected them from the attacks of lions and bears. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, David didn’t just roll over and count his losses. David went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. David had a viable history of seeing how God helped him kill both the lion and the bear; so, this uncircumcised Philistine shouldn’t be much more trouble. David boldly shares, “The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” (1 Sam 34–37 NIV) David learned lessons here that would carry him the rest of his life. It is not a cocky arrogance. It is the resume of faith. David knows that God has been with him.
David intends to charge Goliath, take his best shot, and trust that God will do the rest.

This kind “knowing the Lord” only comes through participating in the plan of God. David realized that what he was about to do was dangerous, but that didn’t mean God wasn’t in it. We live in a day now where there is too much protection and I believe an unhealthy prevention keeping children from any experience where they might get hurt. How will they ever learn that bumps and bruises are a normal part of the journey? Climbing trees is a right of passage even if it means falling. Ski Retreats, Hiking Trips, Whitewater Rafting, Overseas Mission Trips were only a few of the activities that as a Pastor for the last 37 years, I have taken many teens and adults upon. All of it involves some real potential risks and dangers but the spiritual fruit reaped because of the involvement far outweighed the playing it so safe that you never leave the safety of your own backyard approach.

Christians must not be content to stay inside and merely watch. Some people are more inherently fearful than others; some are made fearful by overprotective caregivers. Either way, it is a great disservice to let an individual becomes so sheltered that because everything is potentially dangerous, the disciples of today end up doing absolutely nothing! Living lives mean risks are involved, and the older we get, those risks may increase dramatically. But if God is calling me at 60 to follow Him into the Amazon Jungle, I’d be safer there in the center of His will than I would ever be hunkered down at home. And the same goes for you!

A man’s heart is crushed when he has no one to accompany him into the adventures his soul craves, no one to show him how to shoot a free throw or hit a curve ball or jump his bike or rock climb or use a power tool. A woman’s heart is broken when she has no Father to fight for her, and tell her that she is a beauty and a delight and a gift from God that can do anything she sets her mind to. Much of the anger we see in our youth today comes from this lack of experience, because they are ready and fired up to be involved but have no outlet, no place to go and no one willing to lead them out into the great wide open. Enough with the video games! It’s time to get out and breathe the fresh air and expend a little blood, sweat and tears.

Today’s Church is in deep spiritual trouble if no one steps up and gets passionate about leading others to follow Jesus out the front door and into the scary world so that Jesus can make a difference through us. Christianity will never be a picnic in the park but it is still God’s call upon all His children to go into all the world and live the gospel. We’ve been in the classroom long enough. It’s time to practice what we preach. It’s time to put those notes to good use. It’s time to do what Jesus said we could do with Him, if we would only give the Lord a chance to keep His promises to us!





OUR VIEW FROM HERE DETERMINES OUR JOY TO THERE!

11 06 2019

2019.06.14
Life is not fair, and it does not always make sense. As a matter of fact, as for me and my house, it rarely does. I’m just very grateful that asking God, “Why?” doesn’t mean that I am committing a great sin. Growing up, when I asked the question, “Why?” more often than not, I got the answer, “Because I said so!” No dialogue. No venting allowed. I was pretty much demanded to just, “Grin and bear it and keep my curiosity to myself.”

“Why?” screams from the depths of every one of us! I believe that one of the reasons it does is because we have been created in the image of God. This is what makes us yearn for right over wrong. This is what causes us to pursue purpose and not settle in the muck of mediocrity. Why do you think that humanity despises injustice? Adam, Abraham, Moses, David, Peter, Paul and even Jesus who knows all things, cried “Why?” on the cross. This basic human inquisitive nature was expressed as one of our Savior’s last words before he died on the cross.

I am beyond grateful that God allows us to voice both our dreams and our doubts. He hasn’t outlawed our need to vent our disappointments or spell out our disagreements. This doesn’t mean the Almighty is obligated to answer us back in the manner we want Him to. But it is not a misdemeanor to express the cries of our heart and souls. I often ask God to help me and even to deliver me miraculously from my unpleasant present circumstances, and it is nice to know that I no longer have to feel guilty about it. I thought it was not holy to question God—and maybe it was even sinful. I think God understands by now that as hard as I could try to stuff my real feelings, sooner or later they come spilling out anyway. When it comes to stifling my true colors, I let them fly in living black and white!

Here are some of my questions that will never go completely away this side of Heaven. Why is life so hard? Why do people inflict such premediated devastation on each other? Why does God seem so absent at just the times I need Him to show up and speak out most? Why do bad things happen constantly to those who really do care about serving the Lord? If you say You really love me Lord, then why does my life translate into a language that communicates to me that You truly don’t care? Where can I find you Jesus amidst the chaos that rolls in way too often like a thick fog that blinds me from catching any positive glimpse of a bright and hopeful future? If this is the best life is ever going to be, is it really worth the blood, sweat and tears to only obtain two steps forward and forty steps back?

And yet deep down in the portals of my being, I know that my lifeline is continuing to stay plugged in fully to the One above me! No matter what event or circumstance may come my way in this Christian pilgrimage of mine, apart from any unchecked sin, nothing should be given permission to diminish true joy. Joy is not something that can be turned on and off like a faucet. And the last thing I ever want to do is to paste some plastic smile on my face to hide the debilitating disappointment in my gut. Will I ever learn to not base God’s love for me solely according to the surroundings I see all around me? If I have any real chance of rejoicing in the Rock of my Salvation, I must regularly fix my gaze intently upon the move of God despite whatever is happening. Let’s just say that I am guilty of a short attention span that makes it hard to base my life upon what the Bible says, when what I see contradicts sharply what I hope to be.

How did Jesus maintain his positive pulse? How did the Lord not lose focus upon His Father when so much of what He encountered here on this planet turned out to be an unfair force? What was the specific joy set before Him that gave Him the perseverance and power necessary to endure the cross with all of its suffering and shame? Why didn’t Jesus pack it in and beam Himself up back to paradise prematurely? What was this race that God ran all about? Do I have any chance of finishing this marathon well? My view from here will determine my joy in getting there. I know that I allow the enemy to steal my joy every time that I operate in such the way that I behave as if I forgot what I was recreated to believe. When I forget the destination, I frustrate my daily destiny.

Christianity is more like a cross country meet and not a track and field dash. I used to run cross country and while each race was the same in distance, each course was unique. No two were exactly alike. Sometimes it took you through the woods. Here in Wildwood, the runners must tread the sand. In Middle Township, the steps include a portion where the zoo is part of the scenery. My life will take me through rough roads that maybe you will be able to avoid. But the one common denominator is the finish line will culminate in the loving Arms of our Savior. When we get too caught up in the path that we are travelling that we forget the Who we are supposed to be persevering to and for, we are in danger of bailing out before the run is done. It’s funny that just about the moment I want to collapse in my exhaustion, the Holy Spirit never lets me go. He picks me up and infuses me with the strength that I need to get back up again, just in the nick of time. The Spirit obviously desires to work in us and through us. The Holy Spirit is like a fire whose flame we want to be careful not to extinguish. The Holy Spirit wants to intensify the heat of his presence among us, to inflame our hearts and fill us with the warmth of his indwelling power. On our own ability alone, we won’t experience the truth that God says we can!

A nineteenth-century immigrant, after passing through Ellis Island by way of the Statue of Liberty, was found walking the tracks of the Lehigh Valley Railroad in New Jersey. On his back and in his arms, he carried everything he had brought from the Old Country. Though fatigued and footsore, he shuffled along the rails until an agent stopped him and warned him to get off the tracks lest he be hit by a train or arrested for trespassing. The man refused, instead producing a railroad ticket good from Jersey City to Scranton. The agent looked at him in shock and asked why he was walking when he could ride. The immigrant said he thought the ticket gave him only the privilege of walking the rails. He almost danced for joy when he learned that he could ride the train instead of trudging the tracks.

Religion will kill you. It is like trying to walk the tracks to Glory in your own effort. If the rushing trains of life running us down doesn’t kill us, the mere exasperation of trying to be good on your own merit definitely will. Jesus paid it all. We’ve got a ticket to ride, and we need to care! God has given us a ticket to ride in the Spirit! We must not be content to walk in the flesh! Are we losing our joy to there because we keep forgetting where we are going and who has promised to get us there? Renew the wonder of your relationship with the Lord daily. Your lasting joy depends upon it.





LOVE IS PATIENT!

4 06 2019

love

We are not a very patient people. And more often than not, rather than allowing God to conform us into His image, we want the Lord to adjust His will to our “always in a hurry” American cultural ways. Our prayers sound like orders when we demand God to give us what we want exactly when we want it. And if He doesn’t perform for us in “fast food fashion,” then we want a full refund. What we truly need to do is to turn it down a notch and practice a slower pace while we run our race with Jesus. Nowhere in the Bible does it challenge us to compete with other Christians in order to come in first. What it does express is for us to work together as a team so that we eventually all finish together! But to practice the “one another’s” in the Scripture, we are going to have to learn to wait for and wait on our Brothers and Sisters in the Family of God.

Isn’t it funny that there are only two positives when it comes to how Paul defines God’s Love for us in 1 Corinthians 13? Most of the Chapter tells us what Love is not. The first two aspects clearly map out what Love really is. Love is Patient. Love is Kind. The fruit of patience received within us is that kindness becomes revealed through us. If you carefully observe Jesus in the Gospels, you come to the conclusion that our Lord was not in a hurry to do what the Father called Him to accomplish. Jesus walked everywhere He went rather than rent a chariot for faster travel. In His daily journey, He always made sure to notice the lives that seemed to be strategically planted on His path. Jesus invested His valuable time and attention to the kinds of people that most would have cheerfully ignored. Jesus loved on the little children. He made eye contact with the broken men and women who would have been eternally lost unless He intervened.

When did the need for speed become a spiritual sacrament? The church loves to share its content but unless it does so with the goal of championing personal contact, there will be no lasting connection of the heart. Jesus was the Messiah who didn’t mind napping in the midst of storms that He knew His Father had undeniable control over. Jesus was able to do in three years what most of us will never do in a lifetime, mostly because we think the secret is being driven, when what we actually need to do is become utterly dependent upon God’s daily direction. Our Lord may be demanding at times, but He was never demeaning. He worked with that ragtag group of Disciples and His patience and kindness invested in them would change the course of history forever.

How patient are you? How kind are you? The old Bible word for kindness was “longsuffering” and what it literally meant was that if you were a bomb, you were equipped with a very long fuse before you would ever go boom! We give up way too easily and much too quickly! Impatience is a bigger enemy than we realize. Impatience will rob you of any real relationship with God. Impatience will keep you from loving your spouse and properly listening to your children. Impatience will stunt your growth as an individual. It will produce in you a shallow and short-circuited soul.

Here are some words we hear almost all the time as we caffeinate our Christianity with artificial stimulants. “I don’t want to finish this assignment. I don’t want to stick with this diet. I don’t want to stay in this marriage. I don’t want to honor my commitment. I don’t want to stay on this budget. I don’t want to go to this church. I don’t want to obey God in my sexual behavior because it takes too long and it takes much too much discipline to wait.

Now, if God wants to grow patience in you, how quickly do you think He will do it? It will probably take a little while. If God wants to grow patience in you, how will He do it? Chances are very good that He will probably give you something specific to be patient about.

There is a mollusk called the silver-lipped pearl oyster. One produced a single pearl that sold for $1.5 million. To make a pearl, an oyster needs two things and only two things: an irritant and time.  The oyster has to find a way to cope with the irritant and yet remain flourishing, so it’s like a little parable. The oyster gives a tiny, little bit of itself to the irritant. It secretes a substance called nacre (what it makes its shell with). It makes one layer and then another and then scores and then hundreds and, eventually, thousands of incredibly thin layers of nacre that are lustrous and iridescent. To produce a great pearl can take 20 years. An oyster might live as long as 40 years and might produce two in its whole life.

When God wants to produce patience in us, He knows that we need two things (an irritant and time), and God will provide both. God will give you time, and God will give you an irritant. Your irritant may be in the same room as you are reading this paper. If you don’t have an irritant, give me a call and I will let you borrow a few of mine! But this much is true and that is that our pearls of great price don’t come cheap. They are not manufactured on a streamlined conveyer belt. They are hammered out in our hearts. We invest our blood, sweat and tears. Still, God assures us that “Love is patient, Love is kind.” If we want the real deal, we must go to the authentic Source. God makes beautiful what we have busted. God makes royalty out of what we have rusted. God transforms our trash into treasure. But if we want to experience the joy of this process, we must trust the timing of the One who holds our every minute and second in His Hands.

What if we Believers stop trying to make Jesus like us? What if we Disciples actually allowed Jesus to make us more like Him? What if we got His Word on what the definitive definition of Love was all about? What if I slowed down? What if I walked with Jesus and gave up the temptation to jog? And they’ll know we are Christians by the trail we blaze? Nope! They will know we have been with Jesus by the traits of patience and kindness exuding through us! Love is Patient. Love is Kind. What am I?





WHEN RELATIONSHIPS SAVE YOU!

1 06 2019

IMG-0479


Did you know that most of history has been determined by personal relationships? Last week was Memorial Day and we as a Country are just a week away from commemorating the 75th Anniversary of D-Day. One of the biggest moves that actually brought World War Two to a close was made solely on the basis of our Secretary of War’s special connection to a City in Japan.

What many Americans may not realize is that Hiroshima was not the first choice to receive the dropping of the Atom Bomb. Kyoto was originally the City chosen to experience the ultimate devastation. What changed the course of events? Henry L. Stimson, Secretary of War under President Franklin Roosevelt and then President Harry Truman, was the noted individual who actually saved Kyoto from the nuclear hellfire originally destined for them. What was the reason that Stimson felt so strongly about rerouting the attack? It was in Kyoto, Japan some 20 plus years earlier that Stimson and his Bride had honeymooned. Needless to say, he was enamored by Kyoto’s beauty and influenced by the memories that were made there. The glories of Kyoto in the Autumn, her vivacious gardens, breathtaking temples and surrounding hills were just too much to imagine annihilated in the twinkling of an eye. What was just another spot on the map was too special a place in the heart of Henry Stimson and he petitioned President Truman to please reroute the nuclear blast. It was decided that Hiroshima would receive what Kyoto was being spared from. Unfortunately, no American of any influence had been to Hiroshima and so it would be the recipient of the historical attack that brought a speedily end to World War II.

The enemy of our souls wants nothing more than to drop a bomb of discouragement and death upon God’s creation. There is no love lost between humanity and hell. Therefore, we are under a daily barrage of lies leading to temptation opening the door to sin and eventually separation from the Lord who loves us. If there isn’t a divine intervention that opens the door to supernatural redemption, there isn’t much hope for survival for any of us. But God so loved the world that He sent a Savior to rescue, redeem and restore us. To Jesus, we aren’t just another impersonal number who just blends in with everybody else. To God, we are someone special and He loves us in a way that nobody else would or could. Because of the Lord’s great fondness for us, we are not blown off the face of the earth!

In Jesus, we discover a life worth living. We learn them not via principles to be memorized, but only through a personal relationship with God! It’s not knowing the catechism we dutifully memorize that saves our future. It is our entering willingly into a personal relationship with the Lord who made us and saved us. Would Jesus sacrifice His Body and shed His Blood for a people that He knew nothing about nor cared anything for? If your heart does not beat a relational rhythm with Jesus, then He is nothing more than a mark on an impersonal religious map! It’s not about a ceremonial religious declaration that brings eternal life and imminent peace and purpose, but a faith driven relational dedication that brings us into the right connection that can never be severed.

Many individuals in Bible times sat and heard Jesus teach and they got free bread and ate holy fish and saw more than their fair share of miraculous events but unfortunately, never went much further beyond that. I would venture a guess that the majority only knew Jesus at the level they allowed Him into their world. They came to the events but didn’t stick around long enough to build a lasting friendship. Christianity is not so much about studying doctrine and discussing devotional dissertations as it is about being an active learning Disciple.

Belief is inert. Crowds who make up the weekly population at local churches can say the words and sing the songs but if they don’t behave what they claim to believe, it isn’t real. Faith produces action. Without faith it is impossible to please God and if you ever really want to get on the Lord’s right side, you best not be doing it wrong! Faith is not a quick fix, a lucky charm, a magic potion or a cure all! It is impossible to live in this world and escape trouble. Jesus doesn’t promise to eliminate the trouble! He promises to not allow the trouble to eliminate you!

Jesus never did what He did for crowd approval. He did what He did because He loved us in a way that we would always remember! Don’t just admit that you love Jesus! Commit your love to Jesus! Our eternal destination is not a place but a person! It’s not a what but a who! Personal Faith in a Personal Lord brings a Personal Purpose. When this crazy world wants to drop a nuclear explosion with the goal of bombing our spirit into oblivion, we have a Savior who loved us enough to spare us. Actually, Jesus took the full brunt of the damage that was meant for us. His love was what saved our city both now and forever.

You never forget the ones you love. And if you love and are loved by Jesus, you can bank on the truth and promise that He never forgets you. As a matter of fact, if you honeymoon with Him today, you will always have a place to belong with Him throughout eternity. The Bridegroom is coming soon for His Bride. I wish we’d all be ready, but while I can’t decide for you, I can for me. Heaven is not a place, but a Person and what makes it Paradise is not the surroundings, but the Savior. You never forget the ones you love and while we sometimes get forgetful about Jesus, He never forgets us. And because of the love that He bestows upon us, we will be saved. We will be spared. We will shine both now and ten thousand years into the future. It really is all about who you know! Do you know Jesus?





DON’T LOSE THAT LOVING FEELING!

22 05 2019

IMG-0319

In December 1964, a song titled “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’” began to be heard on the radio. It was a song that would one day become the 20th century’s “most played” love song on the radio. It was performed by two guys from California – Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield; two guys who came to be known as the Righteous Brothers even though they were in no way related. Their stage name came about after a black U.S. Marine, attending one of their early nightclub acts, shouted out approvingly: “That was righteous, brothers!” The label stuck, and the two singers became a distinctive duet, with Bill Medley, the taller of the two, providing the bass-baritone, and blond-haired Bobby Hatfield singing tenor. Their style would later be dubbed “blue-eyed soul,” and there was no doubt about their vocal talent. They had a range and style that helped create a strong and distinctive sound. But they also had another potent ingredient in their music that helped make it distinctive — a music producer named Phil Spector.
Spector began collaborating with the many song writers who honed their skills in the cubicles of the Brill Building on Broadway in downtown New York City. One such duo of hit tune makers was the husband-and-wife team of Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil. In creating “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’,” Mann and Weil were inspired in part by the Motown classic, “Baby I Need Your Loving” — a hit song by the Four Tops. As the Righteous Brothers’ Bill Medley would later recall: “Barry Mann wrote this ballad and I remember him telling me he wanted to write a song that was like the Four Tops’ records, and so they wrote this ballad and Phil Spector and Barry Mann sat down at the piano and sang it to us. And they both had real high voices. And when they got done I said, ‘Man, that’s a great song for maybe the Everly Brothers but not so much me and Bobby! Our voices were not made for this tune!” Bill Medley could not be more wrong about this right melody!

To get up to the really high notes in the song – a song, it would turn out, that builds and builds – there had to be a low and very slow start, so they kept experimenting to try to find just the right start and sound. The unforgettable opening lyric– “You never close your eyes anymore when I kiss your lips” –was done very uniquely in Bill Medley’s signature deep bass baritone. As a matter of fact, it was so slow and so deep that upon hearing the record, some disc jockey’s thought it was being played on the wrong speed. And speaking of those radio stacks of wax DJ’s, “You Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’”had another quirk about it that made it a problem! The song was too long! It was nearly four minutes in actual play time back during a season when most songs on the radio were in the two minute range. But Phil Spector fixed that by altering the actual 3:50 play time on the disc label by reversing the last two numbers and making it 3:05, which helped get the song past time-conscious music programmers. When the song was finally played, we the listeners knew it was pure gold! The powerful back-and-forth call and response between Medley and Hatfield in their respective baritone and tenor gave the song its dramatic, soulful and legendary flair.

Although it was introduced to America in the midst of the British Invasion- when the Beatles ruled the pop charts- “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’” hit number one within only two months of its initial release! And it might have been too slow and too long but it became one of the most successful pop singles of its time! Indeed, “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’” became the most played love songs in pop radio history, estimated to have been broadcast more than 8 million times in the 20th Century. The 8 million “radio plays” of “You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feelin’” equals more than 45 years of back-to-back airplay. Yes, 45 years straight of the same song- over and over again!

But do you know what is sad to me? It is the terrible fact that the most played love song of our era on the radio is not a love song at all. It is a ballad all about a love that was lost. It is the tale of a passion that once was- and had at one time been so on fire- but now could hardly flicker a flame. I believe it also represents a diagnosis of our culture that has been so mislead into thinking that we can receive satisfaction by chasing after things when it is only loving people and prioritizing relationships to be at the very top of our bucket lists that could ever be enough for any human being to live for! We were made to be loved and to love! Right from the beginning of the Bible- we are told that we are special not because of what we have- but because of who and whose we are! God loves us and longs for us to love Him with every ounce of our being! He also knows we are at our best when we come up with random and creative ways to love on one another! Do you know why good love goes bad? Because we stop doing what we at one did! We stop caring like we at one moment had! We don’t go out of our way for God and we don’t look to run that extra mile for one another! We tend to want to get by with as little effort as possible and this rarely results in a beaming bonfire of connection and communication! It ends up with it being so ironic of how two people who at one time were so close- could now be so far away.

Rarely do you lose anything when it comes to relationships. You actually have more power than you think you do. You don’t lose that loving feeling! You leave it behind! You stop investing you’re “A” game in one another! You attempt to impress with leftovers rather than preparing a banquet of your absolute best! You have bought into the myth that you don’t need anybody as long as you’ve got your every “thing!” But No “Thing” will ever be enough to fill that gaping hole in your soul! Only love will be enough and that is why without love- all our service and all our steadfastness and all of our stuff come up pretty small. So if you want to regain a little of that “lovin’ feelin’” maybe it is time to get back to the basics of love! I guarantee it will reset the juke box in your blue eyed- brown eyed- green eyed- hazel eyed or whatever color you may be sporting in those sparkling eyes soul!

Oh, by the way, Rudy On The Radio can be heard playing classic hits like this every Sunday from 2-5PM on 106.3 The Shore. It is a Radio Show like no other because everything comes from the heart. I don’t know where I would be without the music and I am glad that I don’t even need to try to guess the answer to that scenario. One of God’s greatest gifts to me has been music and songs that seem to play at the right time and the right place to keep me in the right frame of mind. What are some of your all-time favorite tunes? Share them with me at oldieswithaheart@gmail.com I’d love to dedicate one to you in the not too distant future. Happy Memorial Day!





THE ODD COUPLE

15 05 2019

IMG-0218

What very well may be my all-time favorite television show ever was The Odd Couple starring Tony Randall as neat and finicky Felix Unger and Jack Klugman as sloppy but sweet Oscar Madison. Every episode sought to answer the question, “Can two divorced and different as night and day friends share an apartment in New York City without driving each other crazy?” And yes, while they did push each other to the limit every now and then, what we viewers learned was that together they covered many more relational bases than they ever could have done so on their own.

It got me thinking that many of us seem to only have friends that are like us in personality and interests. Yet, I would venture a guess that almost every nine out of ten marriages I officiate are between two total opposites. If we choose to spend our lives romantically with someone who is everything that we are not, why wouldn’t we also make sure that we include those who see life from another perspective within our daily view? Maybe we need a few “Odd Couple” connections of our own to broaden our approach as we tackle this journey called life.

Perfectionists can be uptight and impossible to live with and the Laid-Back crowd can drive others absolutely batty with their inability to make up their minds. “What do you want to do?” “I don’t know what do you want to do.” “It doesn’t matter to me; I’ll do whatever you want.” Conversations like that drive me up the proverbial wall and yet, my blood pressure would thank me if I could just be a little less uptight more often. Being around happy go lucky individuals does force me to slow down and be patient. It also confirms what I know deep down in my heart, and that is people should always be a priority over projects. Unfortunately, when I get on a roll in getting things done, I am a force to be reckoned with rather than a human being that should take the time to pay full attention to who God puts in my path.

The urgent often crowds out the important. Our busyness can cause us to miss what is really most important. Projects often take precedence over people. Being too busy can bully you to choose unwisely. It tends to substitute shallow frenzy for deep friendship. It promises satisfying dreams, but delivers hollow nightmares. It feeds the ego, but starves the inner man. It fills the calendar, but fractures the family. It cultivates a program, but plows under priorities. It lives under the assumption that everything has to be done perfectly.

We need to be reminded often that God uses all kinds of people. There is not one temperament or personality type that is superior to another. The Lord has gifted us differently for a reason, and we are not to despise one another or look at others with contempt, just because we have contrasting approaches to every day life. If we weigh our gifts and our instincts together, we have a tendency to cover all the bases!

Do you see what a disservice we do to a Family when we expect uniformity over unity? Once you have more than one child, get ready for variety. Rather than forcing your children into your mold, why not wait and see what God reveals in them and through them as they grow up? I hate chaos but I also learned that loving my children was more important than me expecting them to become order freaks like me, so I would shut the door of their bedrooms rather than fight over the mess. One of the trademarks of “The Odd Couple” television show was that Felix Unger was as neat as a pin and Oscar Madison’s bedroom could have been condemned as a garbage dump, yet they learned to live together under the same roof. Still there was a mutual respect for each other’s personal space. My wife and I have very distinct and definitive decorating styles. I cover every inch of wall space available with no measuring and lots of creative touches while Terri is content to not even put up a picture in some rooms. I love her with every inch of who I am, even though I disagree with her use of space. What I am trying to say is that there may be nothing odd at all when different people come together and commit themselves to the good of the team rather than fighting for one’s own way or the highway.

When it comes to being a Church Family, I believe the only non-negotiable is agreeing about Jesus being who He says He is. I welcome diversity in the shapes, sizes and make-up of the Congregation. How boring life would be if we were all clones of one another. Check out Jesus’ Apostles. The Lord picked people and not a prototype. When you look at the extremes of Mary and Martha or Peter and John, you must conclude that God is the author of “Odd Couples!” I want to be more like Jesus in the days to come as I continue to develop deep friendships and real relationships.

One more actual piece of trivia about TV’s Odd Couple. Tony Randall and Jack Klugman were real friends. They grew to play off one another the rest of their lives. While they are nothing alike, they do like one another and I wish there would be more of that in our Churches today. And they will know we are Christians not by our conformity but by our love for one another. Can all these imperfect people share a space without driving each other crazy? They can if they care like Jesus!





WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE REAL?

8 05 2019

unnamed2Do you have an authoritative voice in your life? Is there someone that you trust enough to allow that individual to tell you the truth even when it is difficult to hear? Too many people today only surround themselves with others who will tell them exactly and only what they want to hear. As for being open to receiving correction, well that isn’t happening because pride and stubbornness prevents the truth from ever hitting its mark.

There was a day that we were all taught to have respect for our elders and for those in a position of authority, such as teachers, coaches, Law Enforcement officials, preachers and so on. Today, too many parents are teaching their children, whether they realize it or not, that they don’t have to esteem anyone but themselves. If Johnny gets in trouble, Mom or Dad will come to their rescue and remove any real discipline or consequence for the unwise choices. How can we ever learn how to genuinely do it right if we are never wrong?

I am so weary of watching baseball games where players don’t hustle when they don’t want to. How can managers or coaches have any real influence when they know that their outfielders are making millions of dollars more than they will ever see in their lifetime. We are rewarding mediocrity, and celebrating status quo. When the crowd ignores the leader, it only results in chaos. We used to say that nothing positive will occur if the inmates are running the asylum. It takes some confident men and women who will embrace and engage grace and truth together and dish it out in an abundant supply no matter what the audience begs for.

If you don’t have a teachable spirit, your growth will be stunted. If you don’t approach life with a servant’s heart, Jesus said that you would never taste the essence of God’s kingdom. Too many misguided souls are dying to obtain a title when what really counts is whether you are a person of integrity no matter who notices or doesn’t notice.

The Comedian Rodney Dangerfied was famous for the line, “I don’t get no respect.” His tombstone actually reads, “Here lies Rodney Dangerfield, There Goes the Neighborhood.” It is way too easy for those who have been called to make a difference to use the lack of respect excuse to keep them from fulfilling their God given purpose. Jesus did what He did for an audience of One. He didn’t look horizontally to take care of the need that would only come vertically. Jesus said, “If My Father didn’t call for it, I won’t do it. If My Father opens the door for Me to follow Him even down a difficult road, it is not My will but His Will that needs to be done.” Don’t expect self-respect to happen if you choose to compromise your principles. Don’t assume God will be pleased if you only act like a Disciple and not live like a Disciple. Remember Jesus said, “Why do you call me Lord, Lord, if you have no intention of doing what I say.”

I believe that some of my most fruitful experiences have involved me submitting to God and surrendering what I wanted to do to obeying where the Lord was leading. I am a natural whiner and complainer and I don’t like to be told what to do. If I stick to my guns, I will run out of bullets. I can’t tell you how many times that the most powerful moments of my life have occurred when I stopped trying to be god and just was content to be with God and do what He asked me to do.

I once led a Youth Group from Nebraska to go on a Missions Trip to New York City. We were going to help plant a church in the Bronx. I assured our young people that New York City was going to be a lot different than what they saw in the Movies. On the second Day, we got mugged and robbed so maybe I was wrong. Maybe we were going to experience what happens in the Movies. I knew the kids were looking to me and how I behaved was going to set the tone for whether this trip was going to turn out to be the success I believed God wanted it to be or a total disaster.

The following day I was sure to be tested. The Pastor of the Church wanted us to go out on the streets and do some sharing about the Lord and the new Church. I had no problem with that. It was the next directive that made me shudder and shiver. The Church wanted us to wear their specially made T-Shirts which were like literal billboards with wording covering every inch of it. There was also another catch. The largest size they had was medium. Our Group was beginning to grumble and if I were to be honest, I wanted to wear that shirt as much as I wanted my teeth drilled. It wasn’t going to cover my XXL Frame. I went into that tiny bathroom of that church building and I prayed this simple prayer. I looked up and exclaimed, “Dear Jesus, I wouldn’t wear this shirt for anyone but You; but because you humbled yourself and took on the uniform of humanity, I can surely wear this much too tiny wardrobe for one day.” In seeing how ridiculous I looked, the rest of our group followed suit and God moved and blessed and to this day, we still praise Heaven for all that happened on Earth that week.

There is a devastation of a massive proportion occurring in our culture today because there is a breakdown of confidence, trust, love, and affection between one another. When integrity goes, and credibility goes, and confidence goes, and trust goes, and love goes, and affection goes, at the point of relationship, you have devastated the life of that society.

Years ago, I had the privilege to have worked with my Dad. Because I worked for my Dad, right from the get go, I made a commitment to make it impossible for anyone to ever say that I do less because I have a relationship with the Boss. I made sure I worked doubly hard because it wasn’t just my reputation at stake, it was my Father’s also. Today I work for my Heavenly Father and I feel the same way. It is my prayer that we all will practice what we preach and be diligent to live what we say. Our lives are a book of all that we stand for and we can’t waste a day, especially when we could have given more.