16 11 2020
Feast for the eyes: A non-traditional Thanksgiving table - inRegister


I just got home from spending a weekend out in western Pennsylvania. My wife Terri and my youngest son, Joel, ventured out to Ebensburg where my son, Rudy has pastored for quite a while now. He and his beautiful wife Lindsey and my grandkids: Jude, Gideon and Eden make up the Sheptock Family that calls the Keystone State their home. It’s quite funny that Terri and Lindsey are both from the same area around Lebanon, Pennsylvania and Rudy and I met our wives while attending Philadelphia College of Bible although it was called Philadelphia Biblical University when my kids were there and now goes by the name Cairn today. Rudy went to his church to work as a Youth Pastor but shortly after he arrived there, he became the Lead Minister at a much earlier age than I did. Let me just brag on him and let you know that he is doing an outstanding job and has loved on his flock in the way that Jesus would want him to.

Rudy has also done an admirable job becoming acclimated to the community where he resides. Growing up in northern New Jersey, I never did much hunting except maybe for key baseball cards that I wanted to add to my collection. I am the only Sheptock male in my family that has never shot a gun. Rudy on the other hand is part of the autumn tradition that has all men heading out into the woods at this time of the year looking to put some venison on the table. Now don’t get me wrong, I will eat whatever you catch and enjoy every morsel, but I am not the one who is going to bag it. Rumor has it that you must be incredibly quiet when it comes to this sport, so that pretty much rules me out. I am even silent at a high volume!

Today in my Son’s sermon, he used hunting as an illustration to spiritually challenge us to make sure that we are aiming for what God says is worth our passionate pursuit. God’s word is literally our lens for us to see His will magnified in our sight. We must be dependent upon the signs of the Savior if we hope to set our feet moving in the right direction. If we want to avoid coming home empty handed, we best allow God to determine our destiny! We also need to be aware that there are tons of daily distractions looking to derail us from the holy trail. If we claim to walk by faith and not be driven by the selfish desires to obtain all that we see, we must ask Jesus to instruct us along practical paths that value eternal goals. If it is passing away, we probably should be passing on it as quickly as possible. I want my heart to be consumed with heavenly treasure and not heralded trinkets that are here today and gone tomorrow. In light of forever, are you running a race that is actually going somewhere that you really not only want to go, but you hope that the presence never ends?

November is a season of gratitude and I am beyond blessed that my children are investing in activities and actions that have been marked as majestic by the Master. Watching my Son preach the Word today with conviction and courage amidst his congregation that battles the pandemic and a challenging economy made my soul swell. His behavior brought both his earthly Dad and his Father in Heaven much pleasure. He takes care of his family by making his goal, his ambition, his horizon and his heart serving the Lord. Let’s face facts, unless you are a television Preacher, ministry is not a money-making venture. But just like he grew up in a family that chose to give God plenty of room to provide, Rudy is giving the same gift to his wife and kids. Too many individuals are doing nothing more than seeking great things for themselves but when you believe God will take care of you when you go out of your way to take care of others, all of creation sings songs of praise! Christians never have to worry about whether they are doing God’s will or not when they make it their aim to bring glory to the One who made it all. If you seek first the kingdom of God, you will never come home without the prize that Jesus made possible for all who trust and believe in Him.

Like many of you, I have been very busy but not always feeling that blessed. Perhaps, I have tried to coax out of activities what doing without being will not deliver. In the Bible, there was a woman named Martha who tried so hard to impress the Lord. She worked herself into a frenzy by slaving in the kitchen for the Savior. The only problem was that Jesus was in the living room hoping Martha would join her sister Mary in hanging with the One whose very Word satisfied the deepest longing of the human heart. Why do we get so entangled with the peripheral when the center of it all should be the One who deserves to have all eyes glued upon Him? If I say I love God, then why is it that I am so easily interrupted by temporary eye candy? Is that why we are reminded often to fix our eyes on Jesus? I want Him to be the reason I run. I want Him being at the finish line waiting to catch me which is the real purpose for my journey. If family is everything, I want to be forever with my Father! And if my Lord wants me as much as I want my kids, then I can only imagine the joy of that reunion day!

There are probably many reasons we could all be bummed out this Holiday. This year has been beyond challenging and there is still a month and a half to go. And on top of the pandemic and politics and lack of positive participation with people, there may have been other disappointments and detours away from the highway to happiness. But even if the road is long with many a winding turn, as long as we walk with the Shepherd, surely goodness and mercy will follow us all the days of our life. God knew that the moment we were born, there would come the inevitable passage through the valley of the shadow of death. But He made it clear that we would not have to do that dance as a solo performance. Nothing can separate us from the love of God. He will go wherever we are to remind us of how much He loves us. And when we see ourselves through the reflection of the eyes of love, we finally see all that matters most. I saw it this weekend when I saw my kids. God sees it right now when we make eye contact with the view that will not end. Open your eyes and don’t be blind to the biggest blessing of all! What are you looking at? What are you aiming for? What needs to change so that your eyes don’t miss the beauty that can’t be beaten?   



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