11 08 2015


Happy Birthday to my son Rudy! He is 29 years old today and it seemed like just yesterday that Terri and I welcomed our firstborn child. We were living in Morristown, New Jersey back in those days and I was serving as a Campus Life Director with Youth For Christ working exclusively with High School Students. We loved investing our hearts into the lives of teenagers, but we were so yearning for kids of our own. After two painful miscarriages in 1983 and 1984, we were both so joyful and very grateful to God at the safe delivery of our pride and joy- baby boy- Rudolph Peter Sheptock III! The year was 1986 which turned out to be a banner year, not only because Rudy was born, but the Mets won the World Series! Times were good! 

Today Rudy is already the Senior Pastor of Pike Grace Brethren Church in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. I was a Youth Pastor for the first 15 years of my ministry and didn’t become the Lead Minister until I got here at The Lighthouse Church back in 1997. When Rudy’s church lost their Shepherd, the congregation turned to my son who really does show wisdom beyond his years. Needless to say I am very proud of him. He is married to a wonderful gal named Lindsey and they have two wonderful and lively sons named Jude and Gideon. There is a 3rd baby on the way and we are already praying for a healthy arrival come next February.

I share all this with you because I thought today you might like to hear from the younger Pastor Rudy. He has become a very gifted Preacher and Writer. Here is a little sample of his work as my gift to all of you on Rudy’s Birthday! Enjoy!

A WORD FROM MY SON RUDY: “I have met many people who openly proclaim they don’t need church. They have an attitude that says, “Me and God have got our own thing going on.” Church is not a priority nor is fellowship with other believers. When it comes down to it, God has declared that we need one another. There are over 50 “one another” passages in the New Testament. God did not intend for us to live out our faith alone. He purchased us and made us one body (the Church) in the blood and resurrection of Jesus Christ. When we are saved we are unified together with all believers. We are meant to live, breathe, and function in the community of other believers. When we forsake these relationships we miss out on tremendous blessing.

Many times the two reasons why fellowship is not a priority are privacy and protection. People are just not willing to get to know others or be known by them. Yes, relationships can be messy. Yes, they can also open us up to hurt and disappointment. However, despite these “ifs” God still calls us to love one another and bear with one another. The Lord knows what He is doing by commanding these things because He knows exactly what we need. Many times we convince ourselves that staying away from others is what is best for us. We think, “If I stay away than I won’t get hurt” or “If I stay away than people won’t know this about me” but the truth is when we stay away we are really only hurting ourselves.

One of the ways that we fight off sin is through fellowship. Paul teaches in 2 Timothy 2:22, “Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” There are actually three commands in this verse. One is to flee from youthful lusts. We are to run (at times literally!) from sin. We are to do whatever we can to get away from the youthful lusts of this world. John describes the things of this world in 1 John 2:16 as, “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life.” John goes on to say that these things will pass away and die along with the world. We are not to hang around these things, make them our practice or pursue them. Instead (here is the second command) we are to pursue the things of God, which are righteousness, faith, love and peace. Notice all of these things are not found in us but in Christ. So we are to run from ourselves and run to Christ. As Jesus said we are to “deny ourselves” and follow Him. There is a third command in this verse that is often missed. Paul not only tells us to flee from sin and pursue Jesus but he commands for us to do so “with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” We are to fight sin and go after Jesus not as lone rangers but as a band of brothers. We are lying to ourselves if we think that we can fight off sin alone. God has given us a provision in other believers to fight against sin and focus on Jesus.

God has also given us the opportunity for much needed encouragement in one another. The writer of Hebrews continues with the call of community in the New Testament with this passage in Hebrews 10:23-25, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” There are times we may feel like giving up on church. We may be going through a rough time that drives us to seclude ourselves or we may just get caught up in busyness that we slip away from fellowship. See from this passage that we cannot make this a habit. The writer pleads with the people not to make this a pattern. Missing a few Sundays can become a destructive pattern in our lives that keeps us from valuable necessities for living. We need love, we need to partake in good deeds, we need encouragement, and we need to know that there are others out there holding onto the truth that we are so desperately trying to hold onto. This passage tells us that we find all of that in gathering together. You have more than you know to offer to this body of believers!

A good picture for the word stimulate is a “spur.” When a horse slows down in the race, the jockey gives the horse a spur to push him on. There are times spurs hurt. There are times they are uncomfortable but that horse needs the spur to run in the right direction and win the race. In the same way we need the spur of one another. We need one another to challenge us, to love on us, to serve us and to encourage us so that we are each heading in the direction of Christ.”

A WORD FROM DAD AGAIN: I am proud of you Son! Keep shining your light bright and praying for many more fruitful years in your future! God was definitely gracious to me in giving me a Son like you! Happy Birthday!



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