TWENTY YEARS AT THE LIGHTHOUSE CHURCH!

20 06 2017

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It will officially be twenty years this weekend. Twenty years ago this June 25th in 1997, I officially accepted the call from God and the invitation from his people to come and become the Senior Pastor of the Lighthouse Church. I had been an Associate Pastor since 1982, working with Teens, College and Career and Singles up until my coming back home to the State in which I was born and raised in, good old New Jersey. While I started my full time ministry working under Ron Hutchcraft in Youth For Christ up in my stomping grounds of Northern Jersey, I also served Churches in Dayton and Stow, Ohio and Omaha, Nebraska. It was from Nebraska that I came back to accept the position with the Lighthouse and become inundated with the new and wonderful challenge of living and serving God in South Jersey.

 It is hard to believe that all this time has passed. I do remember walking on the Boardwalk in Wildwood praying and seeking the Lord’s direction. I guess that is not the quietest place to try to hear from Heaven. Earth gets pretty loud there with everybody hawking their goods and trying to distract you from holding on to any clear thought, never mind attempting to make a life changing one.  But I can confidently give testimony that God made it quite apparent through his word that if I trusted him enough to take on this assignment, I would clearly see and experience the glory of God. The Lord was going to create some “Holy Wood” in Wildwood and all of Cape May County.

 The very next day I preached about the need to break camp and advance and never stay satisfied to try to live the Christian faith while stuck in neutral. After we were done, at a Sunday Picnic held at the Seashore Campgrounds, Gerald Stout, Paul Brant, Jim Carpinelli and Art Hall cornered me and invited me to the dream of a lifetime. I remember taking the job without even knowing if they were going to pay me, never mind what they were going to pay me! I also recall saying to them to please hold off making any announcement until I told my wife and family that we were moving. They hadn’t seen what I saw. As a matter of fact, I’m not sure anyone did because it wasn’t actually visible to the natural eye yet. But I knew what God was going to do by faith. I had a complete confidence that the best was yet to come.

 No, it didn’t happen overnight! It was quite funny to hear believers in the area tell me right to my face, “You won’t last here. Cape May County will eat you up and spit you out. Outsiders think they know it all but they never stay.” One of my favorite passages in the New Testament is where it literally tells us that the crowds were trying to discourage Jesus from moving forward in miraculous power and the Lord just “ignored what they said.” In the original Greek text, it gives us the insight that these words didn’t even penetrate the ear drums of our Savior. I knew early that I wasn’t going to get my props horizontally, but knew they would eventually come mostly vertically! And just like he said he would, Jesus has done infinitely beyond what I might have even hoped to imagine. This is my home. This is my life. This is where I sense that I will graduate to Glory from. And none of it would have ever happened without simple trust and obedience in a God who is the ultimate promise maker and keeper.

 The other night, my son Joel graduated 8th Grade from Dennis Township. Joel has only lived in one house and gone to one school system his entire life. I shared with him that this was not the case for me. My Parents didn’t take into account how the many moves they made did affect my psyche. I went to Kindergarten, changed schools for 1st thru 4th Grades, went to a new 5th Grade School, a new 6th Grade School, two different 7th Grades, and two different High Schools. I had no sense of stability when it came to developing lasting and deep relationships. My older Children Rudy, Leah and Abbie had to experience quite a few moves also until we came to Cape May County twenty years ago. Rudy was in 5th Grade, Leah in 4th and Abbie in 1st when we arrived. Since then, this has been home base. I am grateful for the consistency and longevity the Lord has allowed me here. I am grateful!

 Many thought and were misinformed when they assumed that my greatest work here would be constructing an actual building for the Lighthouse Church to call their home. I am so thrilled with what I affectionately refer to as “The Holy Recreation Center.” But it is just the instrument that God uses to see the real ministry take place and that is the transformation of lives! The addicted are set free, the lonely are given community, the lost are found, the believers are equipped and all the applause goes to Calvary. I once prayed years ago that the Lord would make it hard to go to Hell from Cape May County. I sought that the Lord would be so real that even the hardest heart couldn’t ignore God’s presence and the difference he makes. I am in no way shape or form ready to retire or worse yet kick it into any maintenance mode. I believe the best is still yet to come!

 Dear Lord, continue to ignite the light into our daily lives. May the other Churches who seek to serve you be encouraged and strengthened for the battle. May the Christians excel at loving God and others as the Holy Spirit fills us to spill us! Thank you for the last twenty amazing years, but fire me up for what is just around the corner. I love being part of this Family, this Community and this County. Allow me to continue to offer good news to as many as possible and effectively as possible until you finally invite me to my next move and then, “I’m Going to Heaven!”           


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21 06 2017
Doreen

What a beautiful testament-we are ALL so glad you listened. You have been inspiring to Ray &I. You have led this flock so well that when I thought I would never fit in such a large church-God used you to squash that idea right out! I have come so close to so many and love to call them my brothers, sisters, mentors, and family. I am truly blessed through the LightHouse Church and all you seek to lead us to do. God Bless you and your family Pastor Rudy! We love you all.

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