8 10 2012

ImageMy little friend Dustin has a social studies project and I promised him that I would give him a hand in getting it done.  The assignment is a project about our community here in Cape May County and a portion of it is a scrapbook that features some people who improve the lives of others in the surrounding area. I am honored that Dustin would even include me on a list of individuals like that!  So he fired some questions at me and my contribution to his masterpiece is answering them and I thought I would share my replies with all of you right here in my column!


My move to Cape May County happened in the summer of 1997 it was also my return back home.  Although I was born and raised in the northern part of New Jersey, I had always felt a pull to this portion of our state and I just knew that someday God would allow me the chance to fulfill that calling.  It all became reality when the Leadership of The Lighthouse Church contacted me where I was serving as a Pastor out in Omaha, Nebraska.  They had asked me if I was interested in coming to join what they sensed the Lord was doing in this area and become their Minister.  I knew the moment that I crossed the bridge into Wildwood that this was a very special invitation from God just for me and I actually saw in my heart the clear vision of where He was going to take our church before any of it had ever happened!  It was a no brainer for me to tell my family to fasten their seatbelts because we were all heading east!  It has been a decision that I have never regretted and I am one of the lucky guys who get to call it his job what he would love to do for free anyway!  Now don’t tell all the people that Dustin- or they may just take me up on that!


I love the “small town” feel of our area!  Yes we are very close to major metropolitan cities like Philadelphia and New York and even Baltimore- but where we live still has the makeup that when I go to places like Wal-Mart, or Shop Rite or Acme or get my haircut at Sam’s Barbershop or stop by the Library- I run into neighbors and friends who feel like my family and I know their names and they know me and we stop and chat and catch up on life and what is really going on in the day to day activities!  When I live and move and breathe in Cape May County- I am not anonymous and I can’t just blend into the scenery which challenges me as a pastor and a Christian in general- because it means that my faith must be lived out and real if my messages are going to have any substance of impact at all!  Yes Dustin- I also love the ocean and the beach and the beauty of our area- although I do wish we would get more snow in the winter times- but it is the people that make this little stretch of New Jersey the very best place that I have ever lived and truly my home!


Being on the radio was a lifelong dream of mine ever since I was even younger than you Dustin.  My parents said that I was born with a transistor radio in my soul and a jukebox in my heart.  At the age of 4 while other kids were listening to nursery rhymes and kiddie songs- I was buying the album “Meet The Beatles” with my own money and adding what we called 45 singles like “Chapel Of Love” by the Dixie Cups to my collection and I would pretend even then to have my own make believe radio station and would talk for hours to my own imaginary audience!

When I first became a pastor, I worked for a man named Ron Hutchcraft who was very involved in Christian radio and he showed me lots about how I could create shows of my own for the local ministries that I was involved in.  I was on Christian radio stations in some way shape or form for many years.  In 2000 though, when the Journey 106.3 FM switched formats- a door opened up for me at Coastal Broadcasting and I never looked back and over the years I have gotten a chance to do what I love most- play music and talk to people on shows like “Sunrise” and “Oldies With A Heart” and “Friday Night Live!”  I also had the honor and privilege to twice host the Morning Shows on WILW and FUN 106.3 FM and I wished I could have done that forever but getting up at 4:45 AM every day and still being a Pastor full time takes a toll on your body and I had to let go of it after a while.  But I will cherish the days that I got to say, “Hello Love- How in the World Are You,” on the air and get to meet so many of my radio heroes and the artists that I grew up listening to.  Some of them today have even become good friends of mine!  I still hope to get back on the radio soon in some way shape or form- but Dustin- don’t ever let anybody tell you that your dreams can’t come true! My life is a living testimony that God can do absolutely anything!     


I love this question!  I believe that what makes us special as a church is that we don’t try to be anything other than what God wants us to be and that is to be a vehicle to take the treasure of the good news of God’s love to Cape May County and beyond!  We have this saying, “No Perfect People Allowed,” because too many human beings think that they have to do something before they can come to God!  They try to clean up their act, or cover up the mess- but the reality is that there is nothing we can do to try to impress the Lord!  He doesn’t want us to just pretend like we have it all together!  He longs for us to come just as we are so that He can make us what we could and would never be on our own!  I love seeing the real miracle of transformation- when God gets ahold of a person and turns them into a living masterpiece of grace!  I love being the Pastor of The Lighthouse Church and I am still so excited about the things that are still to come! 


When I first got to the Lighthouse Church back in 1997, the Owner of the Herald- Mr. Art Hall had mentioned that they once had a minister who wrote a little something for the paper but he had stopped.  I offered my services right then and there because if there is one thing that I am never at a loss of- it is words!  As many of my readers know, I am the king of run on sentences- and me going on and on about the things that I am most passionate about is very easy to do. I called my column, “Speaking In The Light” because to me it conveyed the picture of the beacon beams coming out of a Lighthouse and I have been doing this now going on 16 years!  It is another way that I can touch people who may never set foot in the Lighthouse Church- but that doesn’t mean that I don’t care about them deeply.  In many ways it makes me a pastor for the community! I am sincerely and humbly amazed by how many wonderful individuals through the years have stopped me out and about or emailed me or jotted me a note to just let me know that they read this piece coming from my heart to their eyes and ears every week! They all have blessed me in so many ways!  I may never write a book in my lifetime- but I have 16 years of columns that someday may be compiled into something lasting!  Is there anybody out there reading up for that challenge?


It may sound silly and like a cliché Dustin- but I want to make a difference by shining my light before all people so that in me and through me- they might be turned on to how good God really is!  Knowing the Lord is not a religion or a system or a program- it is a forever relationship and when you know you are loved- you are finally free to live in such a way that you look to not just receive- but truly give the best of everything all away!  New Jersey gets a bad rap- but I am proud to be born and raised here and living here and I want to make it hard to go to hell from Cape May County because once you have tasted of the sweet love of Jesus- you never leave the same way you came!

Thanks Dustin for allowing me to do this!  Now go and show them Jesus and unwrap each day as the precious gift that it is!   




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