12 11 2021

Let’s face facts. Human beings live like they have an endless amount of time this side of Heaven to accomplish all the things they long to do. By their behavior they exhibit qualities that show no sense of urgency that perhaps there might not be as much time left on the tick tock of life as they assume there is. Too often people get much too weighed down by their past or stricken with an extreme paralyzing fear of the future that they are allowing the present moments of this very day to get away. We just can’t waste these resources like we do. I don’t want to die with the basketball still in my hands when the final buzzer sounds when I could have and should have taken what very well could have been a winning shot.

When I recently left my last church assignment in Cape May County, NJ after spending 24 fruitful and beautifully blessed years serving there, many thought that as a Minister now in my 60’s, I was looking to retire or at least take it easy. I didn’t even entertain the idea of not continuing to do what I have had the honor of doing full time since 1982! I didn’t ask for what in College Football might be referred to as a “cupcake” schedule. I begged for a challenge. I wanted to have to be in a situation where if God didn’t show up, I had no shot of being successful. I was diagnosed with cancer but I wasn’t ready to pick out my funeral songs yet cause I didn’t feel a bit dead. Actually, my heart still has lots left in the tank even if the old body might be breaking down a bit. But the diagnosis was a sobering wake up call to the reality that I can’t waste time trying to please people when I know that my truest joy was discovered in being the person God created me to be. I may not have an infinite amount of minutes at my disposal but I know that it is within my ability to make every moment matter!

Of all the exotic places on the map, the Lord brought me to Shamokin. I have been asked more than once during these last few months, “Why did you come to Shamokin?” I didn’t come to tread water. I didn’t move here to circle the airport. I didn’t pack up all my stuff to move to Pennsylvania to hear why things will never change here. I don’t believe in playing church. I’m not crazy about those who push a religion that does nothing more than reiterate that on our own we can’t measure up. I fell in love with the God who first loved me and when He rescued me, I dedicated the rest of my life on earth to get people excited about the reality of being with Jesus forever. Eternal life is not so much measured by the quantity of what happens after we die but it is better defined by the quality of living and loving we experience now because of who we know! I am here in Shamokin because I love the Lord who loves the people of this city! If God hasn’t given up on us; why would we wave a white flag of surrender and quit on ourselves?

Last Sunday night epitomized what I love about being a Christian. Halloween is known for some pretty dark and horrific themes. Many church people have made the choice to escape their surroundings and retreat to their homes and lock their doors with a double bolt. Not me! I want to take the light where we need it the most! Michael McDonald used to sing, “Taking It to The Streets,” and that it still my anthem in 2021. I got to interact with people of all ages, backgrounds, sizes, shapes, and colors. I have always made it my practice to give out the same sized candy bars that I used to get in the 1960’s when I was a child “trick or treating” in my Jersey neighborhood. I find nothing exciting about the miniscule, “Fun Sized” teeny weenie versions of Hershey Bars and Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups. I am not rich in any way shape or form, but I believe in showing others the same kind of courtesy that you yourself would like to receive. Imagine my disappointment when I ran out of candy about 20 minutes before 8PM. I have never run out of goodies before and again it sobered me to the lesson that I don’t want to come up short on living and run out of gas while there are still more miles to go on my journey. Running out made me realize that I need to keep running on with my very best efforts, so I don’t end up running on empty.

If we have a pulse, we still have a purpose. If we aren’t dead, we aren’t done. But we can’t keep losing those sacred seconds that the Holy Spirit wants to make last. And let’s lose the excuses that only prevent us from truly being the productive instruments that God knows we can be. Do we believe what He says? Are we unwrapping each day as the gift it is or are we wasting our hours whining about the contents when we should be willing to work with the ingredients that we have received?

Call me naïve or someone who has his head in the clouds, but I moved to Shamokin to make a difference in every which way I can. This life has tried to steal my song way too many a day but not on my watch. I am a realist. I know the hurt and the pain. I see the injustice and the loss. For all that’s wrong with our surroundings, I can still celebrate the colors of creation that are splashed in brilliance all around us. I don’t know how many more breaths that I have in this body, but I vow to God and to all of you, I will do everything to contribute to the magic that takes your breath away in the best of manners. I don’t see Shamokin as a steppingstone. I see where I am as the right time of my life to celebrate this heartbeat. If I can get you to look up rather than give up, then it is time well spent!      



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