The Music of Adversity – Revised and Updated!

11 07 2018

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As many of you know, I presented this article last week. Last Thursday I received a phone call from Carla von Trapp Hunter. Carla is the great-granddaughter of Baron Captain Georg von Trapp and his second wife Baroness Maria Augusta von Trapp. Carla was very gracious with me as she told me that she saw last week’s copy of my Cape May County Herald article. Carla did mention that while she loved the sentiment and the overall positive purpose of my writing, there were some discrepancies that she had hoped I would fix and correct the errors. I was quick to apologize and offered my services to do whatever I could to make things right. So here it is for Carla’s approval and our further education. While movies and literature take many creative liberties, the truth is still the truth and literally the best path to journey upon. I have asked Carla to join me on an upcoming Rudy on the Radio Broadcast. I do hope she will!

My Mother got a big kick out of the fact that I got to talk to Carla von Trapp Hunter last week. Before she took on the role of Mom, Joanne Tedesco was preparing to be a Nun in the Convent. While she left before taking her final vows, her devotion to God never wavered. When the Movie, “The Sound of Music” came out in the mid 1960’s, she resonated with it from head to toe. I think she dragged us kids to see it about seven times in less than two weeks. This included packing the family Station Wagon and going to the local Drive-In. Seeing the film wasn’t enough for Mom as she proceeded to line us all up when we got home and made us sing, “Do-Re-Mi!” You guessed it! I was “Doe a Deer!” While many of you know a little of the real-life story of the Trapp Family Singers; it does all come back to me every time The Sound of Music repeats on television.

Many of you know that this Julie Andrews Classic Rodgers and Hammerstein Musical was based upon a real story not about the Sheptocks but the von Trapp Family. The patriarch of this Austrian singing family was Georg Ritter von Trapp (1880–1947), a decorated submarine captain during World War I. When von Trapp lost his wife Agathe to a scarlet fever epidemic in 1922, he became the sole parent of seven children. After one of his daughters came down with the fever, he hired “How do you solve a problem like Maria,” a convent novitiate, as the child’s nurse. I can hear her sing, “I’ve Got Confidence” in my imagination even as I write this.

Five years after Agathe passed, Georg married Maria Augusta Kutschera, later known as Baroness Maria Augusta von Trapp. Maria was later portrayed as Maria Rainer in “The Sound of Music.” Here is something not everyone knows. Maria had three children that were not represented in the film. This would have made 10 von Trapp’s altogether and not just the seven portrayed in the film. But here is a very real fact and that is the von Trapp’s home was always filled with music, and the children learned to sing and harmonize. The Trapp Family performed in concert halls and festivals, becoming famous all over Europe.

During the 1930s, Georg Ritter von Trapp watched the rise of Nazism with sober alarm. When the Nazi’s annexed Austria in 1938, the von Trapp’s knew there had to be some major decisions made about their future. Georg not only refused to fly the Nazi flag on their house, but he also refused to sing at Hitler’s Birthday Party. They were also not in line with the Nazi’s anti-religious stance and policies. The von Trapp’s weighed their options, many of them the Nazi’s were using to entice the family to stay. The plus’s included a renewed Naval career for Georg and even greater fame and position as a singing group. But in the end, they knew they would not compromise so they up and left their beloved Austria even though it was by train and not the hike through the mountains the movie implied. The von Trapp Family went out via Italy and not Switzerland. They were on their way to America actually pretending nothing. And instead of the fictional Uncle Max Detweiler, the overbearing musical promoter, it was actually the Family Priest, the Reverend Franz Wasner who would act as their musical director for over twenty years.    

When they arrived in America in 1938, there were nine children with the tenth on the way. They began to sing and tour as the Trapp Family Singers. In 1941, they would buy a large farm in Vermont in a countryside very similar to the Austrian landscape near Salzburg that they missed so terribly. The house they lived in was called “Cor Unum” which means, “One Heart.” When their singing career came to an end after nearly twenty years of concerts in almost thirty countries, they converted their chalet into a ski lodge. Tragically, on December 20, 1980, the Family lodge burned to the ground. Maria and the children were devastated. They had endured so many trials and tribulations during their days and now there was yet one more mountain to climb. The lodge was gone. In their discouragement, they questioned whether they should rebuild.

As Providence designed it, the von Trapp Family Motto was already in place. In Latin it was, “Nec Aspera Terrent” meaning, ‘Hardships Do Not Deter Us’; or also translated as ‘Let nothing difficult frighten thee.’ The von Trapp family received their hereditary title ‘Ritter’ (Knight) and ‘von’ from Captain Georg von Trapp’s father, Captain August Riiter (Knight) von Trapp. As a hereditary designation, all descendants inherit this coat-of-arms and title.

“Do Not Be Terrified By Adversity.” This has been one of the great lessons we have been learning in the Book of Job as I have preached through these treasured Scriptures at the Lighthouse Church. Adversity doesn’t mean the absence of God’s presence in your life. Adversity doesn’t mean that the Lord is punishing you or withholding his love. Adversity is just one more aspect of every individual’s adventure. Adversity doesn’t mean defeat. Adversity could very well be the launch to a depth in your life that could not be developed any other way through any other means. God will use adversity if you choose to look up rather than give up. The only way to avoid adversity is to check out rather than show up! What music is flowing from your story because you refused to allow any enemy force to steal your song?

One of my favorite songs from “The Sound Of Music” is “Climb Every Mountain.” Mother Superior sings it to Maria when she seeks to escape life rather than live it to the fullest. The lyrics include these inspirational words. “A dream that will need all the love you can give. Every day of your life
for as long as you live.” Do not be terrified by adversity. Expect it and use it to grow up in your faith. If you are willing to go the distance, you too will add walking with Jesus as one of your favorite things! It surely is for me!

Thanks again to Carla von Trapp Hunter for making me dig a little deeper. I actually had the Movie, “The Sound of Music” on while I rewrote and revised this and it made me smile big. It also reminded me of the crush I had on Angela Cartwright back then! Please don’t ever erase the sounds of songs in your life and delete the tunes in your world. God gave us the ability to sing even as our hearts break and our feet dig in to stand our ground to hold fast to our convictions. When the world tries to force you to croon a melody that compromises everything you are, don’t you dare. The music of adversity is our ability to standardize our signature tune. Music and passion are always in fashion in me. How about you? 





LESSON FROM THE STORKS

5 07 2018

Storks

Did you know that out of all the creatures in the animal kingdom, storks are some of the most loving and tender of the species that God has designed? Mother storks aggressively watch over and carefully nurture their babies just like a human Mama would! Plus, the tender loving care that these birds have for one another never dies. Adult storks genuinely look out for one another and meet each other’s needs throughout life.

Even when a stork becomes old and gray, the bird is never banished to fend for itself. Studies show that when an elderly member has difficulty keeping up with the others, another younger stork will fly alongside the aged stork and allow it to rest its wings on theirs. These storks help each other fly more effectively, and they are constantly touching, nurturing, and protecting one another. It is no wonder that the Greeks used the word “storge” to both define and describe “family love.” The early church was known for its “storge” (pronounced store-gay) affection and connection for the entire Body of Christ. It is “storge” that speaks of nurture, empathy, affection, and tenderness. And they will know we are Christians by our “stork like” love for one another.

I have never really understood how an intelligent mind could adhere to the “Big Bang Theory” of the creation story. Not when there is so much intricate workmanship that is clearly seen in the animal kingdom alone. I don’t believe in Atheists because I don’t believe there is really such a category. I will agree to someone calling themselves an agnostic or a flat-out unbeliever but there is too much evidence of handiwork in our midst to deny there was a powerful touch behind it all.

I want to share three more lessons we can learn from storks. First is an affectionate touch. It is experienced among the birds and it is necessary for the human beings. People were created for affection. Doctors have scientifically proven that without touch the body and the emotions become unhealthy. Touching someone says to them that they are important to you; they belong, and they have value. If we did not receive affectionate touch in the right way as a child, then in our teenage years we may allow ourselves to be touched in the wrong way. The Family of God should be an affectionate, considerate bunch and with all the pushing and shoving going on in our culture, the church should be a place where holy hugs reign supreme.

Second is all about eye contact. When somebody has been living in shame and overcome with insecurity, they rarely are able to keep their heads held high. Jesus knew that the eyes are the windows of the soul, and he always dove headfirst in low below the surface! If we don’t see an understanding glance from those we need to notice us, we may end up feeling awkward, insecure, separate, and out of place in our relationships.

Finally, we need to take note of the tone of voice we use to communicate. Christians learn to bond and trust one another when Believers learn to speak words in an encouraging, gentle, tender, and empathizing manner. Loving tones nurture the spirit and help the family feel acceptance and value so they can walk free from the fear of rejection and failure.

So, let’s take a lesson from the storks. No, they don’t deliver babies or consume Vlassic Pickles, but they do give us an example of how we should behave as followers of God. Is there someone in your world today who could use a little tender loving family attention? Don’t wait until it is too late to walk like a stork and fly like an eagle.





WHEATIES OR THE WORK OF THE SPIRIT?

27 06 2018

Your talent is God's gift to you

When I was a kid, because of the power of commercials, I had to eat a bowl of Wheaties before every single Little League Game. I didn’t eat them because they tasted good because it was like eating cardboard covered with milk. I ate them because some advertising agency sold me the bill of goods that even when Henry Aaron didn’t partake in the “Breakfast of Champions,” he was going to come up empty in the batter’s box. Now you and I both know that I could have had Sugar Pops or Maypo Oatmeal and neither would have guaranteed me to hit for the cycle, but we people have a tendency to look for short cuts rather than train ourselves in the gifts that God has given us so we are ready to get out there when the Umpire shouts, “Play Ball!”

I’m convinced that this could be such a fruitful time for Christians if we would just be available to surrender our talents to God so He can use us. There are days that I am concerned that more Believers are looking to sit on the bench rather than hoping to get out on the field and show this world what we got!  Do you understand how gifted God has made us? Every single human being was created in the image of God and He never made anyone who didn’t have the capacity to shine their light so bright our culture would forget the darkness altogether!

 Are you daily using your God-given gifts to serve Him and others? Do you know what your God-given gifts are? Are you attempting to serve the Lord without loving Him first? In the Bible, the “Great Commandment” comes before the “Great Commission.” Loving God comes first and it stirs up a genuine love in us for others so much so that we are ready to do, go and be anything Jesus wants! When we get our priorities backwards, we treat privileges like they were nothing more than obligations. Are you viewing your faith in God as if it was nothing more than a religious checklist of tedious things to do?

When our faith was brand new and our love for the Lord was in its infancy, nobody had to tell us to read our Bible or go to church or tell others about Him. We couldn’t get enough of this relationship that literally transformed our hearts. But over time, we begin to take advantage of what God meant for us to celebrate.

Remember when your kids were young and they wanted to do things with you? But sooner or later, they act like they are doing you a favor by just being seen in public with them. They no longer appreciate your efforts to enjoy life by just being together. Let’s say that you had two tickets to this past year’s Super Bowl and the chance to see the Eagles beat the Patriots. You know the value of this opportunity and you share it with an individual you hand picked because you wanted to convey to them how special they are to you. You get to the big game and the first thing your companion asks is, “How long are we going to have to be at this thing? I want to go shopping at the Mall of America. I have to catch an early plane tomorrow; can we leave early?” I think you get the idea. You would be hurt. You would be at the very least disappointed. What you meant as a privilege, your comrade only saw as an inconvenience. Do we ever make God feel the same way? I would say that we do–and way too often.  

It is time for us to stop just going to Church and start being the Church! What position in Jesus are you totally plugged into? Are you looking for some action or just another excuse to go on the disabled list? If you want to obey the will of God, you must not get in the way of God. The Holy Spirit provides the power that nothing any grocery store item can provide. Church isn’t a restaurant where we go to pick up a meal cooked to order. Church is a place where Brothers and Sisters in Christ encourage one another to love the Lord by humbly walking side by side as we serve the Savior. Who is He calling to do nothing today? Can you hear Jesus say to us, “Surrender to the enemies in your culture?” “If you can’t beat them, just learn how to fit in rather than make waves.”

“Don’t get better, stay bitter!” “Why be free when you can be a fraud and wear a man-made mask to hide from others knowing the real you?” Do you see God as a monster or as the ultimate Minister who will give you everything you need to see your past redeemed so that you can do some miraculous field work both today and tomorrow?

Today is a day when you need to move towards God so God can move in and through you. On the Cross, Jesus picked a fight with sin and hell on our behalf. Because of the Cross, you can experience the ultimate concert of praise where God has given you the ability to live a life in a state that is beyond your wildest imagination. You don’t do ______ and there will be no ________! Let God fill in this blank so your spiritual walk doesn’t come up empty.

 

 

 

 

 





“I’m Sorry!”

20 06 2018

God doesn't love because You are special ...you are special because he loves you

I am a chronic apologizer. If I had a nickel for every time “I’m sorry” rolls off my tongue on any given day, I could buy a very nice car. I grew up in the midst of a culture where “guilt” was as available as the air that I learned to breathe. Let’s just say that I have never been one who had to be overly grilled to see the error of my ways. If it went wrong I just assumed that it was my fault. Rain showers ruining our family picnic, “I’m Sorry.” My Mother had a bad day, “What did I do?” Our local community didn’t meet its annual budget, “I know I will be blamed somehow!” Let’s just say that this is not a healthy or admirable trait.

I tend to chuckle when I hear legalistic preachers playing the role of moral policemen in their diligent attempt to make sure that everybody knows how sinful we are. I know the Bible is clear in its teaching that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God; but I also know that our Lord is filled with compassion, mercy and grace that He freely bestows upon His needy creation. Do I feel worthy of the everlasting love of Jesus being unconditionally given to me? Mark my words, “Not on your life!” I have battled my entire lifetime really believing that I could ever be receiving something I know I wasn’t good enough to earn. As a matter of fact, I think that I have been very guilty of working hard for what God longs to convince me I already have. Grace is the place that Heaven is inviting us to land our hearts. Still humanity is convinced that slavery to feeling bad about everything is a much better look for us when we inhabit the Sunday sanctuary.

I’m not thinking God is totally pleased with my expertise in sporting a non-stop confessional lifestyle. I can say all the right things theologically and still walk in bondage to the chains in my brain. How many of you grew up hearing gems like these? “You always disappoint me. You are so fresh. You never do anything right. You are so bad. Why can’t you be good? Why do you always have to mess it up?” I could go on but you get the gist. And I wonder why my first impression about myself and my abilities were always initially negative. I think that when I read in the New Testament, “You can do all things through Christ who gives you strength,” I can’t help but add, “That’s true for everybody but Rudy!” Just because it’s not printed in black and white doesn’t mean that this lie isn’t ingrained in the bowels of my heart.

God doesn’t love you because of what you do, but because of who you are! The joy of being a child of His has nothing to do with our performance. When you think about it, almost all babies are pretty selfish when it comes to their demands and yet healthy parents will do anything it takes to meet those needs. Living loved must precede any chance of our behaving well. Guilt makes a lousy goal. God’s kindness leads to our giving up on our self-reliance and come into a wonderful surrender of resting in Him. God loves us not because we are that loveable. He made the move towards us when we were about as disinterested as we could be. What draws me to Jesus is the immensity and intensity of His desire to have me be with Him. God doesn’t shame us into the kingdom. I love the Lord not because I have to but because I want to and I want to because I don’t have to. Me always saying, “I’m Sorry,” has at its root my inability to believe that God has erased the old tapes and given me a brand-new heart which guarantees a fresh start. The old me is gone and the new creation that the death and resurrection of Jesus has given birth to doesn’t have to operate driven by fear. If faith is to ever come alive then it must believe that God exists and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Would the Lord say you believe this by the way you behave?

The Lord loves me. I am finding my joy in rediscovering that fact. I’m a Pastor but that doesn’t make Jesus love me one iota more than He already does. I have good days and bad days but God’s love stays the same. He doesn’t tease us so we will please Him. It’s not some cosmic game of chess. It’s not a contest at all. Love is love or it is not love at all. I don’t have to apologize for being me. I need to jump into the fountain of life and splash to my heart’s delight. Yes, I need to say, “I’m Sorry,” when my deeds are destructive, but as Bruce sang, “It ain’t no sin to be glad you’re alive.” Stop with the guilt and start with the grace! If we are going to do what Jesus did, then what are we waiting for? Go for it! You won’t be sorry you did!





WHERE IS MY SUPER SUIT??? 

12 06 2018

The Giant in Front of Yiu is Never Bigger...

Disney’s Pixar is bringing back The Incredibles to the big screen this summer. The story is quite simple. A family of undercover superheroes, while trying to live the quiet suburban life, are forced into action to save the world. There is a scene in the 2004 original that has Lucius Best whose alter ego is the character Frozone frantically searching his house for his ‘super suit.” The whole clip is quite hilarious as he continues to shout out to his wife, “Where is my Super Suit?” Frozone’s better half is not that impressed with her husband saving the world. She doesn’t want him to miss a dinner party planned for that evening.

Don’t you wish Christianity came with a “Super Suit?” Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all we had to do to flash the holiness of God through us was to duck into a nearby closet and put on our “Be Like Jesus” trusty Cape and Uniform? Dressed like that we could do no wrong and stamp out sin and conquer the injustice all around us.

I think it might be a bit easier if before our daily adventure with the Lord began, we would be able to eat a bowl of “Holy Spirit O’s” complete with all the fruit of the Spirit in every bite. After a healthy breakfast like that, nothing could stop us from shining bright for God wherever we went, whatever we did. Unfortunately, there is no cosmic underwear or sugar empowered Bible brunch that would make us live the victorious Christian life easily and conveniently. Daily we must look up and get filled with the Spirit before the ugly stuff begins to take over! If we want to make a difference as Believers, it is not so much about what we wear as it is about who we depend upon.

The most famous battle described in the Old Testament was not fought between two armies, but between two people. It was the battle in the Valley of Elah between David and Goliath. In this corner was the army of Israel and in the other, the army of the Philistines. This was the setting. First there was Goliath, whose size and appearance were so impressive that the writer describes him in exacting detail. We don’t measure things by a cubit or a span. We measure them by feet and inches. So, let’s put it into our lingo. Goliath was somewhere near 9′ 9″ tall and simply put an enormous man. The NBA would love him! And if you add to his height the length of his arms when he would lift them up over his head, you can imagine what an imposing creature he must have been. But it wasn’t just his size. The “Super Suit” he was wearing weighed between 175 and 200 pounds. Goliath had so much bronze on, we could have nicknamed him, “LeBronze!”

 Every morning and every evening for well over a month, he marched out there, flaunting his size and his strength, daring someone to take him on. How applicable to any “giant” we encounter!

That’s the way with the giants of fear and worry, for example. They don’t come just once; they come morning and evening, day after day, relentlessly trying to intimidate. And while Goliath once was content to the Israelites from a mile away, because nobody stood up to him, the monster ended up insulting the Lord right in the Hebrews’ back yard!

In the other corner stood our hero, David. Remember, the Shepherd Boy wasn’t going there to fight. He was just sent by his father to bring his brothers some lunch! David looks across the battlefield, and he sees this giant of a guy, encased in his super suit, shouting out threats and defiance and cursing God! And that made David livid! No one talks that way about my God!!!Why is everybody running away? David said to Saul, “Your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.” King Saul looked at David and said, “You don’t have the size for it.  You’re just a kid. Look over there at that giant!” David then describes to Saul how in the past God proved Himself faithful when David slew a bear and a lion. Saul said, “Now wait a minute, David. We have to fix you up for battle.” Imagine it! You can’t tell me the Bible doesn’t have humor, because it says that “Saul clothed David with his garments.” Here’s Saul, a 52 long, and David is a 36 regular. Saul drags in all this heavy armor and then says, “Put this on, David.”

Be wary when the world tries to get you to wear its armor to fight a heavenly battle! David says, “Saul, I can’t fight with this stuff. I can’t even walk in it, and I sure haven’t tested it myself in battle.” What works for one person will not necessarily work for someone else. We’re always trying to put our armor on someone else or put someone else’s armor on ourselves—but that’s not the way to do battle. David doesn’t look for a “Super Suit.” David trusts his “Strong and Supernatural Savior!”

Before I close, I have heard others mock, “If David trusted God then why did he need five stones? Why five? Wouldn’t absolute trust in God indicate only one stone was needed? In fact, in the story it only takes one to kill the giant. So why did he take up five? Goliath had brothers! Goliath had four of them (2 Samuel 21.19-22).

David lived by a very simple principle: nothing to prove, nothing to lose. He didn’t try to impress anybody in the army of Israel. He didn’t try to impress his brothers. He didn’t even try to impress God. He just ran to meet Goliath. And David put his hand into his bag and took from it a stone and slung it and struck the Philistine on his forehead. All David had was a sling and a stone against a giant wearing two hundred pounds of armor. It may seem silly, but that’s the way God operates.

I don’t know what your intimidating giant is today. It may relate to your job, your roommate, or your school. Maybe it is a person, a lawsuit, unemployment, a disaster or maybe even your own partner in life. Perhaps it is some fear that is lurking around the corner, sucking your energy and draining your faith. God is saying to you right now, “All I ask of you is five smooth stones and a sling of faith. I’ll take it from there. You don’t have to wear somebody else’s armor. You just trust Me. And I’ll strip you down to nothing but faith, and then I’ll accomplish a victory where I’ll get the glory.

It is God’s love for us that causes Him to bring us to an end of our own strength. He sees our need to trust Him, and His love is so great that He will not let us live another day without turning over our arms to Him, our fears, our worries, even our confusion, so that no super suit becomes more significant to us than our Savior.





TOO MUCH TOO SOON???

6 06 2018

Less of Me, More of HimYears ago I had the privilege to be part of a Youth Conference in Washington DC that featured both Nancy and Ronald Reagan addressing the audience. We heard Nancy on Friday night and the President on Saturday Morning. Among his many abilities, Ronald Reagan was a talented communicator and gifted story teller. One of the tales that he shared with us that I still remember was about a young, country boy who had just finished Bible school but had yet to preach a sermon.

When the newly appointed Pastor arrived at this Texas church, he walked in with the highest of hopes; but to his utter amazement, there was only one seasoned rancher present. The sanctuary was empty except for this one man. He was sitting about halfway back on the hard pew and the novice preacher walked back there, shook his hand, and asked quite sheepishly in cattle country, “What do you think I ought to do?” The old man answered, “Well, I don’t rightly know Reverend, I’m just a cowpoke. But if I went out in my field and found only one steer, I’d still feed it.” That’s all the new Parson needed to hear. He quickly climbed up behind the pulpit and delivered a sermon that went on and on and on and on. Over an hour and a half later he finally ended the marathon.

The Pastor, now feeling pretty good about himself, finished with a benediction and walked right over to the rancher and asked, “Well, what did you think?” “I don’t rightly know, son, but I will tell you this. If I went out in my field and found I only had one steer, I wouldn’t feed him the whole warehouse in one sitting.”

There are times that we Christians may mean well, but we tend to come on too strong too fast when it comes to sharing our faith with others. We have such a passion for what we believe, we forget that we need to care about the who that we are talking to. This means that we shouldn’t be preaching when it comes to one on one conversations. Forget the monologue and be willing to enter into a dialogue. We must not only talk but be willing to listen. We should allow time and opportunity for feedback and questions. The connection should not be so much about finger pointing as it is about heart sharing. When Jesus shared the truth with others, He adapted the means that He shared the gospel even if the message stayed the same. The rule of thumb should be that we are not ready to tell others that Jesus loves them if we aren’t willing to love them too. It takes more than eye contact to make a genuine heart connection. Make sure your ears are all in too. 

There is another important principle that Believers should be aware of before they are ready to spread the good news. Too many Christians need to reexamine their motives before they start to dispense the message. Have you ever blurted something out in anger? During those outbursts we not only said things we wish we hadn’t said, we also probably said a lot more than we wish we would have said. Maybe we need to take a walk prior to the action of beginning our talk. Little is retained when smoke is shooting out of your ears and fire surges from the tongue. And more often than not, even though we may have actually communicated some truths that needed to be presented, our rage and rant ruined the rightness of our words.

Keep all of this in mind when you are preparing to deliver your next speech. We might have more time for action if we made for less words and more work! How long does it take you to get to the point? There comes a definite moment when we need to cease circling the airport and just land the plane! We should be precise and purposeful. What is it? Just say it.

Next let’s look to not be pompous but humble and available. Lead with respect. Allow for response.  

Don’t be so dogmatic when you should be delivering the treasure with love. Let me give you a tip. If it’s one-on-one or one-on-a-few, leave the preaching to someone else. If it’s with your kids, don’t preach. If it’s with your spouse, don’t preach. If it’s at work with your boss or somebody who works for you, again, don’t preach. Preaching isn’t appropriate in relational settings.

Finally, don’t be a “Know it All,” for nobody knows it all! There is something so refreshing about someone who is speaking and willingly admits, “I really don’t know all that I should know about this, but I am willing to learn.” It’s wonderful when you’re around someone who has a wealth of knowledge, but you hear them admit, “I’m not the final word.” I can honestly conclude that those who have taught me the most are the men and women who have been the most teachable. So, before you step up to the pulpit to preach your never-ending sermon, take the time to seek the Lord and let Him lead the way. Sometimes we really do say it best, when we say nothing at all and get off the stage so God can have the floor!

 





TO SAVE A LIFE

29 05 2018

In Helping Others

Another week goes by and another school shooting is in the News. Kids are dealing with severe and serious anxiety at an alarming and sobering rate. Recess is no longer a safe place and more than fretting over this Friday’s math test, young people are worried about whether they are going to survive another semester. While this happens, our National Politicians are busy playing partisan games. 

I don’t believe that this problem would be solved by simply enforcing stricter gun control laws. In my humble opinion, I see the root of this pandemic buried in the fact that too many children are growing up unchecked and unloved, literally lost within ill equipped environments. In the modern era of promoting political correctness at all cost, we have foolishly bankrupted our society spiritually. The law of the jungle may be laid upon a foundation of self-centeredness and survival, but the golden rule taught us that as God’s creation we should love the Lord and others before ourselves. If we could be more proactive than reactive, we might just save a life or two along the way.

I always taught my children to fight for the underdog and keep an eye out for those who are being bullied and abused. I was a Youth Pastor for 15 years before I became the Senior Pastor of the Lighthouse Church 21 years ago. I challenged Young People to walk their talk when it came to the Faith they claimed to possess. This included looking out for those who were sitting alone in the cafeteria or stuck outside on the peripheral of the so-called “in crowd”. I coached our Kids to make eye contact with others as they walked through the hallways, offering smiles and a kind word when called upon. I wanted them to look for opportunities to build somebody up when the world was in a tear down mode and to never let anyone go unloved on their watch.

I am calling on Christians to set the example when it comes to putting skin to love. Many Churches always need volunteers to help in the Children and Youth Ministries. Adults have a tendency to want to relax while in the Sanctuary while somebody else takes care of their family. The problem is that because there are not enough Helpers to go around, too many Sunday School Classes are overcrowded and understaffed and we are missing a golden open door to being like Jesus in this chaotic and crazy era.

 I can’t tell you how many Little Ones just need some unconditional love and attention. They could use some boundaries and structure and human contact rather than more video based experiences. If I could change one aspect of our daily routines it would be enough with the staring at the screens already. I grew up in a different time when Families ate together at the Supper Table every night. Communing like this wasn’t just about eating our daily bread, but connecting heart to heart! If the culture won’t do it, maybe the Church can fill in the gap. I love hanging out with the Children at the Lighthouse Church. To many of them, I am like an adopted Grandfather who fills their empty cups with all the qualities that matter most. Babies need to be held and sung to in the nursery. Children need to know that they are loved and designed with purpose and power. If Mom and Dad are no longer there, then I believe God is calling us to plug the gap, and not just with baby sitting, but with honest to goodness tender loving care. I believe that with the right amount of godly attention, a future tragedy can be averted and a happier ending rewritten.

One of the goals that I champion as a Pastor is that I believe the Body of Christ should be cross generational. There are too may silo constructed Churches today where everyone is the same age and in the same boat with too much in common. As I read the New Testament, I read where those older should invest and mentor the younger. I also see that nobody should look down on the kids just because of their age. I believe there should be appreciation and understanding and respect for the differing Seasons of Life represented in any given Congregation. How can we get together if there are no avenues for the ages to intermingle? I love learning from our youth as I also teach them to look up and glean from me. My body may be almost 60 but  my heart is forever young; and just like Jesus proclaimed to let the Little Ones come to Him, I receive such joy when the kids dive bomb into my arms when they see me at The Lighthouse.

So as the Beaches in our area become flooded with swimmers, there are Life Guards on duty. Will you become a Rescuer of this Generation? Will you make the first move and reach out to that someone who may appear disinterested and unreachable? There are three things I pray daily in my own soul and they are that the Lord would rescue, redeem and restore me. Who in your sphere of influence needs a rescue? Is there somebody that God has allowed you to cross paths with that could use a Somebody to believe in them? And what if because of your willingness to risk the rejection to make a connection, you actually save lives along the way? It all begins with us! Now let’s get out and about pursuing to save a life!