HAPPY ANNIVERSARY WITH A TWIST!

13 12 2018

danicing in the RainWhat a year this has been. What a crazy adventure life has become. There always seems to be something happening that complicates matters. I never expect anything to be easy. Nothing ever is. Actually, the older I get; the harder the challenges have become. It would be so easy to just wave the white flag of surrender and discover a bunker to hide in until I graduate to Glory. But my faith keeps me fighting. The truth of Scripture trumps the lies that want to pronounce me dead prematurely. Life isn’t fair but God has given me His promise that He will make something miraculous out of the mess. I must look up rather than give up and when my circumstances want to play taps, I must choose to tap dance!

 

Terri and I celebrated our 36th Wedding Anniversary last week. It was actually on December 4th but we hosted a Christmas Dinner for the Lighthouse Leadership knowing we would have our date come the weekend. We were being treated to a dinner at an Italian Restaurant in West Cape May via the kindness of a church member. Reservations were made and off we were to celebrate our wonderful yet never a dull moment union that we have experienced together. Nothing could go spoil this date, could it? Of course, it could!

 

Sometimes it doesn’t pay to be early. This was one of those instances it might have been better to be late. Because our reservations weren’t until 5:30, we had a little time to kill. We stopped at TJ Maxx along the way and actually bought some more Shiny Brite ornaments for my antique Silver Christmas Tree. We got back in the car and began to drive down Route 9 when a look of horror was seen upon Terri’s face. I asked her immediately, “What’s wrong?” She shared, “I lost the gift certificate. I had put it on my lap but forgot about it when I got out of the car at TJ Maxx. It could be anywhere.”

I turned the car around and we proceeded back to the TJ Maxx parking lot where we began our frantic search. We retraced our steps through the store. There we were out on our hands and knees, looking under cars to see if the gift certificate could be found. In a Hallmark Movie, we would have recouped our loss and went on to the romantic dinner that we had hoped for all week. But in real life, it was nowhere to be found. Not only did we lose the gift certificate, but the $40 that Terri had attached to it to that she was going to give to me later.

 

A younger me might have gotten upset. A younger me might have even lost my temper. I saw the tears falling down my wife’s face and I knew that there was nothing we could do to change the past. I suggested that we still go out to eat but on a lighter budget, we ended up at the Court House Diner. We were still married 36 years. We were still alive and breathing and together. We were still the parents of four wonderful children and the grandparents of four more. We were still loved by God and still going to Heaven. We just were forced to adjust the load on the road of the wild and crazy ride of life. No, it didn’t go like we planned. I am just grateful that it wasn’t the total loss that it could have easily become.

 

I don’t know what you are going through these days. I am sure that you have all had your fair share of disappointments. While having expectations are quite normal, we must make sure that when life goes out of our control, we don’t spiral into a chaotic state with it. Let me quickly suggest 3 principles to hold on to when your agenda blows up in your face.

 

First, we must learn to laugh and keep our sense of humor no matter what cards life deals us. The anniversary twist was our opportunity to shuffle through another fine mess life wanted to throw at us. When you want to cry, try to find a reason to laugh. Terri and I can honestly attest to the fact that our marriage has been far from boring and what could have been a disaster makes another great story.

 

Second, we must not allow the outside circumstances to alter our inside character. Life must be lived from the inside out and not visa-versa. Who we are and our truest identity shouldn’t be up for grabs because of where we are or what might be taking place all around us. We must be thermostats and set the temperature rather than acting like thermometers that change with the climate of our surrounding environment. Things will go wrong but we can still be right. Love is not determined by the events. Love is what makes any event something positive.

 

Finally, we must understand that everything this side of heaven is temporary. I have come to learn how to enjoy the magical moments and endure the nightmares. I have understood that no matter what I do, some days will be downers and rather than pretend and fake it, I have learned how to ride that stretch of highway knowing that soon the scenery will change. There are seasons of smiles and times of tears and both are key components of life on earth. This too will pass and when it is all said and done, God has promised us that the best is still yet to come. I don’t get too used to the highs or the lows but have accepted that both are instruments in the hands of God in fashioning us as the masterpieces He has pronounced us to be.

 

Nope, we never found that gift certificate. I don’t expect us to. But we have found the foundation of love and that is the commitment that we have for one another. God has our backs even when we don’t like or comprehend what is in front of us. I can either opt out and become a wallflower or I can learn to dance the twist. Last week it was the anniversary twist. Who knows what this week will call for. All I do know that when all is said and done, there will be lots more in store! God has given us His word on that and as far as I’m concerned, that is what will define me!      





THE PRESENCE OF CHRISTMAS

4 12 2018

Christmas2018-onlineMy heart for every person who lives in Cape May County this December is that all would willingly come to the table and experience fully the power of the Christmas Present of Presence. The promise of God as far back as the Book of Isaiah was that the virgin would conceive and bring forth a child and that the Holy and Anointed One’s name would be Immanuel. God wanted to be with us. He wasn’t afraid to show up and allow us to get close to Him.

It’s funny about human leaders. They like to keep the people at a distance for fear that if you get too close, you will recognize all of their faults and the imperfections that can’t be hidden forever. When Jesus came from Heaven to Earth that first Christmas, His whole ministry began in a manure pile. Jesus had nothing to hide and nothing to prove and everyone who ever had contact with Him knew that He was like no other that they had ever encountered. Jesus came and the closer you got to Him, the more you wanted. The more vulnerable you became, the more you felt not rejected, but finally loved like love should be. This is the story of my own testimony. When I opened my heart to Jesus and recognized that I needed His strength; I got to see more of God’s power. When I recognized that I needed His wisdom; I was finally open to God to discover His guidance. When I recognized that I had sinned over and over again and I needed His forgiveness; I finally knew what mercy and grace were all about. On my own, I was all alone and I ran to God to know His love for me. This is why the celebration of Christ has become a daily exercise of mine. It’s not about a day in December as much as it is about finally finding the music that could provide the appropriate soundtrack of my life. This is why that no matter how hard and ugly life gets, I keep on singing. Nothing has stopped me from singing!

Music is always associated with Christmas. Music goes all the way back to the very first Christmas. Something about discovering the real meaning of Christmas makes the heart sing. Every year I pray that God will show me something new about the Christmas Story. Every year, He never lets me down. This past week I learned that when Jesus was born, there was a custom in Israel at that time that when there was a birth and the birth was safe because in that day, as still is the case in much of the middle East today, births were a really dangerous thing, there would be music if the baby was born and the baby and the mom were safe and if the baby was a boy. You knew that a baby boy had come into the community when you’d pass by and hear music resonating from the home.

When Joseph and Mary had to travel to Bethlehem for the census, he was going home. Joseph had lots of family in his home town. When the Bible says that there was no room in the inn, we are not talking the Hilton. No room in the inn meant that Joe’s Family had shut him out because he chose to do the despicable and marry Mary when everyone knew that Mary was carrying a baby that didn’t belong to Joseph. Joseph and Mary were bad news and not welcomed. It is quite ironic that by obeying God, this amazing couple literally were shunned by the religious congregation and abandoned by their own flesh and blood. There would be no earthly musicians available to celebrate the birth of Jesus, because righteous people don’t sing songs of celebration for illegitimate children.

But God had made other arrangements and there was miraculous music provided on that first Christmas! When earth shut down, the Heavens opened up and a host of angels so large that nobody could properly count them provided the symphony for the Savior born for all of us. This Concert wasn’t held for the high and mighty, but for the lowly Shepherds who were available to pay attention to the song that would change history forever. The Shepherds were invited to the Birth of Royalty and they showed up and couldn’t be shut up after seeing and hearing a miraculous melody that this planet could never provide.

I hurt for those who have no song to sing this Season. It’s hard to make great music out of nothingness. What good is the Winter Solstice and the promise of longer days if it just means more hours of pain and despair? There are no 24 Hour “Nothing but Dirges” Radio Stations. Why doesn’t atheism or skepticism or agnosticism or humanism or sarcasm result in more great music and more unforgettable songs to sing? If you remove the soul of Christmas, you also will lose your mind. Imagine hearing songs like the following:  “Joy to The World. We’re All going To Die! And There’s no Hope at All!” Can you imagine singing this one to your Kids on Christmas Eve? “Away in a Manger A Baby Lies There… But You’ll be a Corpse Soon, so Why Should I Care? When You Are Quite Dead Dear, You Won’t Make A Peep. So, Shut Up Your Crying, and Let Mommy Sleep.” Lyrics like this are awful. If you long to remove the Light of the World from your Holiday Festivities, all I can say is, “Be careful what you wish for.” There is not enough meaning to just eat, drink and be selfish. In acknowledging the Birth of Jesus, I’m reminded again of the reality that there is this great God, and I get to praise Him, worship Him, know Him and forever be with Him. If there’s not something bigger than you and I, then God help me! God help us!

Here is my challenge! Between now and Christmas, over the next couple of weeks, I want to invite you to commit yourself to practice the presence of Christmas. Christmas literally means the celebration of Christ! It is magnifying Jesus! Rather than looking for the meaning of life under the tree, fix your gaze intently upon the One who died on the tree for you and me. Every time you think about Jesus in December, celebrate the difference that Jesus has made. When you see a nativity scene, when you hear a Christmas carol or see a Christmas tree or Christmas lights or hear the Christmas story, please stop what you are doing and make a conscience decision to concentrate on Jesus with your whole self. People can pretend all they want, but there is no denying that nobody has ever changed the course of history like Jesus. Even better, if you will open up your heart to Him, Jesus will change your story and make it a never-ending adventure. If you practice the presence of Christmas, I guarantee that your whole being will show it!





NO MORE WASTED TIME

28 11 2018

wasted time

I grew up loving “bubblegum music.” This was the title given to songs like “Sugar, Sugar” by The Archies and “Simon Says,” by the 1910 Fruitgum Company. My favorite band of this infectious genre was “The Partridge Family.” Oh, how badly I wanted to be a member of the Partridges. I got to interview the legendary Shirley Jones on my Radio Show a few years back and I literally asked her if she would adopt me because I thought she was the coolest Mom around. I still own all my Partridge Family Records and play them when I’m feeling a bit blue and just need to smile. Another funny tidbit was when I joined the Philadelphia College of Bible’s Chorale back in the day, my Choir Director gave me this advice about my singing. He said, “A little less David Cassidy would surely help your voice!”

A week ago, I saw one of the saddest documentaries on television that I have ever witnessed and it was about David Cassidy. He passed away just a little while back and his daughter Katie Cassidy shared this horrific truth. She said, “My father’s last words were ‘So much wasted time.” All the records, money, fame, possessions and adoration from devoted fans couldn’t meet the needs of his aching heart. David never received the acceptance that he desired from his Dad, Jack Cassidy. No matter what David did, it was never good enough for his insecure Father. David spent a good chunk of his life attempting to climb an insurmountable mountain. He made so much great music but the song never soothed his soul and he left this world with the one result that nobody wants to have as their final tagline: Regret.

Are you still trying to please a Parent, a Spouse, a Boss, a Coach, a Teacher that will never be satisfied? Are you investing the best of who you are into a bottomless pit of despair? Do you know that if you look up right now, you would see a Heavenly Father who loves you not because of what you do but because of who you are? To Him, you are already His masterpiece. You are fearfully and wonderfully created. Love is not something to be earned, but an unconditional gift to be received with no strings attached. God’s grace is available to whosoever will may come and open up their heart and let it in. What a difference it makes when you are no longer living with your goal being to be accepted and valued. God already loves you more than you could even conceive or imagine. When we operate with our hearts filled, we are then ready to be spilled knowing that God will never allow our wells to run dry!

I think we are all susceptible to become victims of our environments. The world’s mantra is “You Have Got To Look Out For Number One,” with the main subject of life’s sentence being quite self-centered. God says that if we want to capture the secret of life, it is not so much in the getting as it is in the giving. God so loved that He gave us Himself. He never thought that as a wasted move. The only mistake would be not participating in the party that the Lord has invited us to be a part of. Pride is deadly and poisonous. It keeps us lost in the fog when if we would only humble ourselves and ask for help, we could be alive and well out in the open.

Will this be another Holiday Season of so much wasted time? David Cassidy’s words have been a daily reminder for me to share my gratitude with those I love and to not waste those precious moments when I can put my creativity into practice. We are not always a victim of our circumstances. We can intentionally make decisions to do what we can to change the state that we claim to be stuck in. What if we let God lead and stopped letting the crowd dictate our decisions?

Last Saturday Night, Mike, Jeff and I were on the B Train coming back from Yankee Stadium heading into Manhattan so we could catch the Path Train back to Hoboken where I parked my car. We had gone to see some College Football as Notre Dame beat up on Syracuse in route to what turned out to be an undefeated regular season. It really was a great day but there were a couple of situations where the same old ugly anxiety tried to rear its ugly head and steal my joy.

There we were, packed in like sardines on the B Train and we weren’t moving. It was hot, stuffy, crowded and things got no better when the Conductor came on with the news that, “We are experiencing signal issues and other problems and will be stuck here indefinitely. Thank you for your patience.” I muttered under my breath, “As if I had a choice.” It was taking forever. All of a sudden, I had a migraine coming on and it felt like the walls were closing in. I wanted to scream. I closed my eyes and prayed and asked God what to do. The defeated me would have stayed put and given in to the circumstances. The me that refused to surrender to “wasting time” made a decision. I asked Mike and Jeff if they were willing to go for a walk. Sure, it would be traveling 40 plus blocks but they both quickly agreed.

Just coming up out of the pit and getting out above the ground into the fresh air invigorated me. We were in the Big Apple! People paid big bucks to walk the route we were about to embark upon. We strolled past Lincoln Center and Columbus Circle. I actually started singing Barry Manilow’s song, “New York City Rhythm” at the top of my lungs. It’s New York, no one cares!

We continued on passing the Ed Sullivan Theater, the Brill Building, right down Broadway and Times Square! I even bought hot chestnuts from a vendor! I love hot chestnuts! We made a memory out of what the enemy meant to be a mess. I came home not silenced by stress, but lifted up via life lived and laughter shared. And it was inspired by the line, “All the wasted time.” Not this time! Not today!

Living at its fullest takes an effort for you and I to get up and change the channel! Get your eyes off the “Me Station” and tune into the “He Station!” Get your perspective on things above! The Conductor of the B Train may be sharing bad news but the Conductor of the Gospel Express is calling you to come out from underneath the ground and get out into God’s fresh air! Look at who you’re with! Look at what’s around you! Instead of being consumed by who doesn’t love you and what doesn’t happen and where you aren’t; concentrate on the truth that God does love you and you have a purpose and that assignment can be experienced wherever you are planted! Look at the One who wants to make sure that all your wasted days and wasted nights are no more!





PUT THE SMART PHONE DOWN!

20 11 2018

LifePut down the smart phone! It might be the most intelligent move you make this week. Let’s return to the times when if you wanted to communicate with one another, you didn’t use your thumbs to text, but your tongue to talk! Here is my challenge as we embark upon Thanksgiving 2018! Make as much eye contact as you possibly can. Be intentional about every conversation you engage in to look to learn something new about that one you say means so much. Don’t leave the table prematurely. The Football Game will always be there, season after season. Unfortunately, that Mom, Dad, Pop-Pop, Nana, Son or Daughter may not be and will you wait too late before you realize how precious each moment with one another truly is?

Put the smart phones down. Over the river and through the woods to Black Friday Sales we go? In this day and age, what item do we need that badly that we can’t wait another twenty-four hours to purchase? If you need to get out and about, why not grab that somebody special and take a long walk together. Reminisce about the reasons you love each other. Remember the memories that helped make you who you are today. Reflect upon the many blessings that will cause you to be grateful rather than incite you to be hateful. Put on that new vinyl and dance to those oldies but goodies. Do your children know your favorite things? There is not an app for that! You are going to have to communicate if you ever hope to relate.

Put the smart phones down. The greatest treasure that we have to give is our time so that we may offer our undivided attention. As I often wonder every weekend when I officiate the Services at The Lighthouse Church, everyone is in such a hurry but is where we are going worth the priority we give it? Whenever I go to minister overseas, church is the place to be. People coming together to worship, to connect, to be there for one another is the main objective every week. I often believe that American Christians go to church on the road to their real destination. According to the Scriptures, is there anything more important than loving God and loving one another? We may agree with that principle with a shake of the head but with the results of our behavior, our walk doesn’t validate our talk. What if you made it a goal to have at least three significant conversations every time you walked through the doors of your place of Worship? How many members of your Congregation would you say that you know very well? How many of them would you consider Family? The Bible says that we are Brothers and Sisters in Christ. What do you say?

Put the smart phones down. Drive the car with your undivided attention. Sing along with the Radio. Ask your Kids what they are learning in School. We complain that the Teens don’t say very much but dare I say that we Adults are not making a very concentrated effort! When is the last time you actually skipped the Drive-Thru so that you could sit together and share a burger, soda and some great conversation? How many things do we try to do on the run? Did Jesus multi-task? The only reason that our Lord was able to do the Miracle of Feeding the 5000 is because that many people showed up and stuck around long enough to stay for dinner! I believe that God needs to instruct us to follow the instructions that He gave to Moses when He said, “Take off your sandals Moses! This is Holy Ground.” I might add, “Take off your shoes and stay awhile.”

Put the smart phones down. What if you gathered all the gadgets before you sat down to eat this Thursday. What if we risked being called a few choice names to set the stage for some Holiday Magic to take place? So, they roll their eyes. So, they hem and haw and sigh and snort. When I was a Youth Pastor, one of my favorite activities that I would do this time of the year was what we called “Destination Unknown.” The Teens would show up and I’d put them all on the Church Bus and then I proceeded to put them in Teams of Four that included three Young People and an Adult. We then drove them around our Town and dropped them off at the homes of our Senior Saints. I told them that we would come and get them in an hour and a half, but during that time, they had to find out all they could about the people who were hosting them. Do you know that this became one of the most popular events of the year? Do you know that many beautiful mentoring relationships were birthed because we just set the pieces in place for connections to blossom and bloom? There are Dating Web Sites; what if we pushed the envelope a bit and nudged people to look at each other and see if they can discover some golden nuggets of lifechanging truth? Could we be on the verge of a Thanksgiving Miracle?

Put down the smart phone. Go visit your neighbors. I know for many, it might be the very first time! Share some baked goodies. Do them a good deed. At the very least, smile! You know that I’m not a big Fan of the times we live in. I know that God has a plan and a purpose for all of us and there is a reason that we are here for such a time as this, but for all this technology, I think the Human Race has taken two steps forward and twenty steps backwards. We may be smarter but we act so dumb. Everybody reaches for their phones to document these days and times with pictures and video but while we are consumed with getting that done, I’m afraid we miss the moments that matter! I don’t have any videos of the 1960’s but I have them in my heart. And it is on Thanksgiving Day that I cherish the past while I hope for the future but take hold of the present.

I’m am not going to use my Smart Phone this Thanksgiving Day. Will you do the same? Please share your experiences with me. Hey here is a novel idea. Write me a Note and tell me how it went. I have a feeling we will see what we might have missed if we were too busy looking at our hands that we forfeited what could only be viewed by the heart! Have a Blessed Thanksgiving! You can write me Pastor Rudy at The Lighthouse Church, 1248 Route 9 South, Cape May Court House, NJ 08210… I promise I will write you back!





NEVER GOING BACK AGAIN

14 11 2018

Never Going Back Again Press OnWhat have been some of the toughest realities of your life that you have had to deal with? How has God given you what you needed to battle through? In my own dozen year war dealing with issues that have included but not limited to anxiety, depression and OCD; I can honestly tell you that the Lord hasn’t fixed it like I hoped He would. I thought healing would come faster and restoration be finished by now. It has also forced me to face the following questions, “Why is our real enemy not the brokenness we deal with but the pride that causes us to hide who we really are? How honest are you with God in your prayers? How authentic have you been willing to be with yourself and are you ready to risk vulnerability with the family and friends that you surround you?”

I think that for too long my goal has been to return to the Rudy I was before all the craziness began. I have been expecting the Lord to take me back to how I used to be so I can pick up where I left off. Herein lies my biggest obstacle. Why would God allow all the up and down experiences of the last 12 years if they were not going to play a significant role in who the Lord is making me become? Rather than label these as the lost period of my journey, what if God saw them more as the launch into the redeemed Rudy?

How can we be thankful in all situations even when we are not thankful for all situations? I can answer that dilemma by sharing that as low as we may go, God goes even deeper with us than that. Just because it appears that the Lord is silent, doesn’t mean He is absent. I may have done my share of complaining but Jesus is still my constant companion. Life can be unbelievably difficult but the Lord is unconditionally present. I notice Him more when I need Him most! In my subtraction, God is my necessary addition. Would I have been so dependent upon Heaven’s grace if earth’s agenda had been more user friendly? I don’t think so!

Paul challenged us to forget what has already happened behind us so we can be pressing on to the adventure still on our horizon! God forgives and forgets our sin. Why are we stubbornly hanging onto what the Lord has boldly declared for us to let go? I don’t want to go backwards. I can’t redo what has been recorded in the books. I can apply the lessons learned as my bridges were burned because my future is not in my past anyway. Where is God taking the more mature me? My body may bear the battle scars but God has promised that freedom will still get a chance to ring. The best is still yet to come and the last I checked, it is not a rerun of what was but exciting previews of what is still yet to be. The house in my heart may have been well lived in but the value of the property has definitely increased in value. The taxes may have been demanding but the dawn of a new day is here. Jesus paid it all and all to Him I owe. Sin has left a crimson stain but God has taken the burnt-out soil and made it fertile and holy ground. There is nothing like growing bouquets of roses in the desert! There is nothing like a delicious dessert of ice cream to soothe a hard and difficult day.

Where are you today on the highway of holiness? What are you really hoping for? Are you longing for the good old days? Are you dreaming about the possibilities of tomorrow? I can’t hide the battle fatigue anymore. I can’t pretend that I can start living again when all the clouds decide to disappear. God has taught me how to dance in the rain and march in my own parade in spite of the pain. The enemy can throw some booby traps in the runway but this plane is going to land in Paradise. Let’s stop putting off until tomorrow what must happen today. Thanks for the memories Lord, but I am never going back again. Instead of championing what we once were; it is time to celebrate the people we are becoming. God is making something beautiful and He is doing it in you and me!





LOVE SONGS AND REAL FAITH

10 11 2018

I am a lover of “Love Songs.” As a hopeless romantic, I have always favored those big ballads that celebrate the highs and lows of relationships. Barry Manilow is one of my all time favorite performers because music and passion are always in fashion when he records another hit single. I cherish tunes with lots of key changes and that big high note finish!

How about you? What are some of your all time favorite love songs? If you have somebody sitting near you as you read this, turn to that neighbor and share one of yours with them. I’d say, “sing it to them,” but that could cause problems! One of my favorite odes to romance is a song written by the Gershwin’s entitled, “Our Love Is Here To Say.” Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Perry Como, Wayne Newton, Harry Connick, Michael Bublé and many other Crooners took a crack at it but in my opinion, the best version is the one by Nat King Cole. One of the greatest voices that God ever gave a human being comes out of the mouth of Nat King Cole. When he sings, “In time the Rockies may crumble, Gibraltar may tumble, they’re only made of clay but our love is here to stay.”

Over the years, I have written and sung many love songs to my wife Terri and my Lord Jesus. To express my appreciation and devotion comes pretty easily for me. My fault is not having enough to say but maybe saying a bit too much. A song with 27 verses may get a bit monotonous! I’ll tell you one composition you wouldn’t find in my notebook. I have never constructed a tune that told of my unfailing appreciation for all my trials and tribulations. As a matter of fact, I have put together my own psalms begging God to take away all my hard times and keeping my path free from detours. Pain and its scheming companions like affliction, suffering, hardship and adversity are often seen as the invading enemies of life. Whenever I spy one of those coming at me, I tend to turn and run.

Truth be told, in our comfort-at-all-costs culture, when our comfort zones get the squeeze, we get angry. Yet according to the Bible, pain is a necessary part of life. And although we may not like it, we can learn to grow through it by learning its lessons. There’s a holy tension involved in trying to accept the pain that God allows while at the same time fighting to overcome it. I fluctuate between my desire to worship God and yet still whine to Him. One moment I want to hug Him and a second later, slug Him. It is of great importance that we learn to see pain from God’s perspective.

The Bible reveals that suffering is both inevitable and essential. Contrary to the TV Preachers who wear their Rolexes and drive their Rolls Royce to their gold studded studio pulpits, the “health and wealth gospel” that falsely proclaim that if Christians just have enough faith, they won’t suffer, Jesus said that in this world we would have our fill of trials and tribulations. You can be holy and harried. You can pray and still be pummeled. You can read your Bible and still be bullied by the things of this culture. I’m not saying that we have to pretend to cherish our persecution but let’s not forget that God informed us that He would use these difficulties to deliver us to look more like the Lord we claim to follow.

In Christianity, the word “comfort” means more than just soothing someone’s sorrow. It means “strengthening” what has already been made solid once but now is being rebolstered and refurbished so it can handle even more pressure. Christians don’t bring Jesus to the mix but they actually reveal the truth that He is already there. When we shine our light, we expose to what those living in darkness just can’t see. Though the enemy receives exhilaration by putting the squeeze on our earthly comfort, God’s spiritual truths will always open the door to an inexplicable strength, peace, and joy. When we understand that every single Believer is going to battle sin and take on temptation, and experience both good and bad times, maybe we can learn that our songs aren’t always going to have lyrics that are happy and peppy and bursting with love. If you have been married for any length of time, you know that life has got to get deeper than just the romantic ballads. Life also includes songs for the battle and melodies of forgiveness, and music for mourning and a larger catalogue than just positive pop. Jesus taught us how to sing the songs of loneliness and for the joy set before us, endure the crosses that we are destined to carry.

istillbelieve_edited-1

Real faith lasts. It might get rocked and roll. It might get shaken, rattled and dashed. The enemy will throw everything at Believers including the kitchen sink. The pure power is not that I sing, “I Believe,” but even through it all, “I Still Believe.” Because Jesus Christ Himself has invaded my heart and soul, I have decided to follow Him and not turn back. Jesus has given us His word and we have His life on it that even though in time the Rockies may crumble, Gibraltar may tumble, they’re only made of clay but, God’s love is here to stay! I still believe.





DON’T SAY YOU DON’T REMEMBER

2 11 2018

JESUS IS THE SAME

Many people believe in a God that they don’t trust. They offer an intellectual nod to the truth that there is a God but they refuse to surrender their hearts and souls to His Lordship and leadership. On the other hand, you can’t trust in a God you don’t believe in. What makes us think that perfect faith occurs with one quick prayer? Why do we buy into the lie that we humans can get to a place in our spiritual walk where we never doubt or struggle or ask any more questions? You will only get so far if your sphere of spirituality is limited to academia alone. If you don’t get out and begin to walk with Jesus, you will have no positive memories to build your Christianity upon. I hate computer passwords. We are challenged to make our passwords so difficult that others can’t steal our identity. The only problem is that I make my passwords so obscure, I can’t even remember them. So, what do I end up doing? I have to create a new password every time I enter. There are a few sights that are an exception to the rule. There are a few pages I visit so often that I couldn’t forget the password if I tried. The more you connect with God, the deeper He enters into your memory bank. If you visit the Lord sporadically, chances are very good that you have to keep on starting from scratch. But if being with Jesus becomes a habitual connection, you can be sure you won’t forget how to enter into the resources that are available to those who walk by faith.

My childhood address was 89 Summit Ave in Cedar Knolls NJ. The telephone number was 201-539-8706. My Kindergarten Teacher’s name was Mrs. Osborne. I can vividly remember all the details of Terri and my first date. It occurred on April 24, 1981 and we ate at Pizza Hut. I can’t tell you what Terri made for Dinner last night. It was at 9:07 on September 24, 1969 that the Mets first clinched the pennant. Gary Gentry induced Joe Torre of the St. Louis Cardinals to hit into a double play. What time did I get up this morning? I have no clue. I know all the words to every Barry Manilow song. I still need the projector to know the words of the songs we presently sing at church. We remember what matters most to us.

I marvel at how amazing the human mind is, especially in its ability to record and store data in the form of memory. There are essentially two things that distinguish between what cements itself in our long-term memory and what goes in one door of the brain only to quickly slip outside the other. The first is the significance that we attach to the thing we’re remembering. The second is how frequently we think about it and how often we recall that memory or how frequently it springs to mind on its own. I share my little stroll down memory lane because one of the best aids to climbing out of the valley of despair is to remember what God has done! But you can’t draw from a memory bank that you have made no deposits in. Are you giving God legitimate room to work within your life? It’s nice to read what God did for Israel and the early Christians and the Saints of old, but what has He done in and through you? You can’t expect God to do it again if you never gave Him the chance to do it in the first place!

When I start to fight my spiritual amnesia, one of my go to Books of the Bible was written by the Old Testament Prophet named Habakkuk. When he began to wrestle with all that was happening in his present, he dove into the annals of all the Lord had done for him and his people in the past. Rather than being so shortsighted that he could got duped by misreading the circumstances being reported to him on the daily news, he got out the God movies and highlighted all the God moves and began to beg the Father of Heaven to, “Do It Again!” It’s almost as if Habakkuk were saying, “Hey, guys, remember when God delivered us from the bondage of Egypt and He opened up the Red Sea and He led us through the wilderness and He made the walls fall in Jericho? Can you imagine how different our world would be if what God did then, He also does now? It’s that experience we have with our children and grandchildren when we do something that brings joy or hope or security to them. As a matter of fact, it is music to this Father and Grandfather’s ears when he hears, “Do it again, Daddy! Do it again Pop-Pop!” When was the last time you looked up to Heaven and begged the God who loves you beyond words to, “Do it again?”

Habakkuk understood the importance of this kind of remembering. He is honest about his feelings of what is going on around him. He doesn’t agree with God or have a clue what the Lord is doing and why He is choosing to do it the way He does. But Habakkuk has been through enough that He is willing to live by faith even when the facts give him a very uneasy feeling. And the Prophet prays a prayer that every Believer should still be praying 2600 years later. In Habakkuk 3:2, he prays, “LORD, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, LORD. Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy. “God, I remember what you did. You took my breath away and shut my mouth with Your amazing display of Your Deity. God, I remember what you can do. Now please renew those deeds in our day.”

JESUS IS THE SAMEWhen I’m in the valley and when I’m in the pits, You are the same God yesterday, today and forever. When the dog bites, when the bee stings and when I’m feeling sad, I simply need to remember God’s greatest hits and then I don’t feel so bad, alone, scared, anxious, depressed and hopeless. What God did before; God will do again and this time it will be even better than yesteryear. I just have to recall all that God has done in my life for me, through me, even in spite of me. I must return, renew, replay and restore to everything that has to do with who I know God is. When I can’t see him in my present situation, I remember what he’s done in the past and expect Him to show up again tomorrow. Don’t say you don’t remember. Make “Jesus Memories”— the only way to remember!