24 07 2013

I can hardly believe that it was 16 years ago this summer that I came back to New Jersey from Omaha, Neb. to accept the challenge and have the privilege to become the pastor of The Lighthouse Church. I saw a picture of me the other day from that historic June day in 1997 when at the Seashore Campgrounds, I officially responded positively to the invitation to come to Cape May County. Now I may have lost most of my hair since then but I can honestly tell you that I haven’t lost a bit of my enthusiasm.

Did you know that our English word for enthusiasm literally comes from the root words that mean “In God?” As long as I stay in God and God in me, I will never run out of the fiery fuel that I depend on to go at the highest level that I am able to live at. My body may be breaking down, but my spirit is being renewed as we speak. And as the old Motown song goes: “Ain’t No Stopping Us Now, We’re on the Move!”

I am still so grateful to God for allowing somebody like me to get to do what I do not only as my daily profession but as my deepest heart’s desire and passion. For me, what gets me up out of bed each day may still be simply summarized by me staying true to these two principles. First and of utmost importance, I need to make sure that I am loving God with all of my heart, soul, mind and strength and keeping the Lord as the main reason and purpose that I do anything I do! It is what God says to me that matters most and it is His saying to me someday soon, “Well done good and faithful servant,” that is the truest affirmation that I will ever need! The second goal is the one that can be so much fun and yet cause so much frustration at the same time and that is to love other people as God made them and not for what I want to mold them to become! I am here to love others and not try to manipulate matters so they will love me. I can’t lie to you. I know it is hard to be rejected, especially by those that I genuinely and sincerely care about, but love must remain unconditional for it to be at its best.

Once you start needing something in return- I believe that it paralyzes your ability to love another in its truest form. God loves us most because He is able to do so without ego or pride or any other ulterior motive. He doesn’t bully us or try to overpower us into devotion! The Lord knows that for love to be the real deal, it must be offered willingly and with no strings attached. That is the kind of love that has made this life that I have been given the gift to live a supernatural affair.

So often we measure our success by the big and splashy electrifying moments along the way but for me, I have come to see life’s magic in the most ordinary of daily happenings. Let me try to illustrate by sharing the fact that I have been getting my haircut at Sam Repici’s Barber Shop on Mechanic Street since I first actually cleaned his business’ restroom as a random act of kindness during Middle Township’s First Harvest Fest held back in October 1997.

I am loyal to a fault and when Sam told me that he was retiring late last year, I almost cried. Let’s face facts, I don‘t have that much hair to cut so it was lots more than the barbering that I enjoyed and was now anxious about having to replace. I loved the interaction that we always had with each other inside the shop between those cutting hair, those getting their hair cut and those waiting. Another piece of the simple pleasures of life disappearing.

Needless to say, I went a long time without getting my haircut until just last week, my face lit up when I found out that Sam had called me. He was still doing haircuts two days a week and to top it off, I still had a freebie coming my way because my “Haircut Angel” had paid for me and I needed to come on in and take advantage of the gift.

I was elated. I was actually giddy simply because I was going to still be able to stay connected with a guy who even though he has never set foot in The Lighthouse Church is still a very important person in my life. It is all about relationships. It is all about family, friends and neighbors and living out my faith among them. And I don’t want a day to go by without treasuring the little things because they are what make life a big deal.

So let’s push forward and see what the Lord has for all of us as I begin my 17th year at The Lighthouse Church and another year of weekly sharing my thoughts with all of you. It is the kindness of my readers that provides plenty of inspiration to keep plugging away until the day comes when that final whistle blows and the great family reunion begins. Thank you.

Let Pastor Rudy know what you think by emailing him pastorrudytlc@comcast



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