PASSION OR JUST PLAIN DRIVEN?

15 10 2019

Ready... Set... Go.PNGIs being a perfectionist a gift of nature or something passed along via nurture? I have no idea what the answer is, but I do know that I have battled my high level of expectations from as far back as I can remember. Life is not a movie and I am not the script writer nor the director. Somewhere in between apathy and workaholism there must be a healthy balance. I still haven’t found what I’m looking for but that doesn’t mean this world doesn’t exist. I can tell you that my addiction to my own adrenaline rush hasn’t brought me joy. It might have brought me lots of success and the adulation of my onlookers but I’m not sure that God is applauding my efforts.

Contentment is rooted in being ok with who you are no matter where the Lord has planted you. Joy is not an event as much as it is founded upon the right relationships. Many of us would give verbal affirmation to the principles of loving God and loving one another as being the most important values one can aspire to, but more often than not, our behavior tells a different story. We drop people for projects and we give away too much of our soul to please a crowd that would mutiny against us at the first sign of unsatisfaction. God deserves the first cut of our absolute best. The Lord has never tried to substitute stuff when what we truly needed was quality time with Him.

What is your primary motivation as a person? Is it to be the best at what you do? Do you hope to one up everyone else? Are you looking for cheers from strangers over the sincere hugs from your family and friends? People have made millions of dollars and died bankrupt in their soul. What if climbing the ladder is not doing any good in lifting your heart higher? Do you love well? Would those around you describe you as being fully present when you are together? What good is it to recite the correct words but have your gut millions of miles away from the greatest goal of all?

Love is paramount when it comes to everything we say and do and are. You can be driven and still be labeled as the king of the hill, but that doesn’t guarantee that there aren’t fire ants inhabiting the territory. One of Frank Sinatra’s signature songs was “My Way.” The only problem with that tune is that nobody is singing it in heaven. If we are ever going to even taste what an abundant life is genuinely all about, it might be time to make doubly sure that we are approaching it God’s way. Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all that matters and lasts will be given to you with no strings attached. What’s so hard to understand about that?

I am naturally a driven person. I hate to lose and I want to succeed with every challenge I accept. But if I am not fueled by passion for God and a heart for others, I won’t be internally satisfied. Neither will you. Trophies in our day and age have become so devalued that everybody gets one. Major League home runs are aided by juiced baseballs and good grades in school come easier than ever now that the government demands that a certain quota of academic excellence be achieved. What if I began every day by not looking around for my instructions but faithfully and intently looking up? I know that at this stage in my life, I can’t do something just to keep myself busy. I have been busy since birth. I am not ready to retire. I am so ready to recalculate. Driving in the fast lane constantly has taken its toll on my tires. My spirit is exhausted. But I know God is still inviting me to discover His secrets on higher ground.

Are you willing to inspect the fine print of your daily agenda? Are you doing what you do because you love it or is there more loathing beneath the surface? I know we must all tackle the hard tasks. Bathrooms must be cleaned and beds still need to be made. What I am saying is that we must be careful to not be casting our pearls before swine. Christians should not be examples of what boredom looks like. We serve the God of all creation and checking in on a regular basis with Him just might keep us from wasting what we should be treasuring. If this was your last day on earth, would you be proud of the legacy that you are leaving?

The Apostle Paul gave us a clue when he said to leave what is behind in the past and press on to the prize that still lays ahead. The golden ticket is not a position, a place or a possession. The greatest goal is a person and His name is Jesus. Jesus can’t rust or be ruined in any storm this old Jersey shore might throw at us. I am going to run this race with purpose in every step. If it doesn’t lead to Jesus then I am not signing up for track shoes. Every day must be unwrapped as the true gift that it is. I want my story to be rooted in passion and not just how fast and hard I was driven. Let’s tune in to the counsel of the only Coach that deserves the position. His name is Jesus! Please Jesus, be our passion! Ready! Set! Go!





THE HEART CALLS AND HOPE IS HERE

8 10 2019

The heart is calling...
I am writing today’s column from Vancouver, British Colombia. I have been here since Thursday as I finally successfully attended the annual “Hearties Family Reunion.” Last year’s pilgrimage was a pure disaster and it did go on to send me into a deep depression, but I had so many Believers praying for me this time that I knew something miraculous was in the making. I am humbly grateful tonight because I can say with tears in my eyes and praise in my soul, mission accomplished.

What is this gathering all about? Those of us in attendance share a common love, passion and appreciation for the Hallmark Channel’s beloved television series, “When Calls The Heart.” It is now about to enter into the 7th Season and I have been a huge fan of this faith-based saga from the very beginning. Inspired by the novels of Janette Oke, she writes about a young woman named Elizabeth Thatcher in the early 1900’s who decides to leave behind her life of luxury to head west so she can become a teacher on the Canadian Prairie. I was actually on the very set of Hope Valley earlier today and it was decorated to the hilt for the Christmas Movie that will be aired on December 25th. Those of you who know me well understand that I was totally in my element, even if the snow was more movie magic than manufactured by the right meteorological conditions.

I believe God made us to live within community. Pride has been our pitfall. Our “Every Man For Himself” mentality has caused us to compete against our brothers and sisters rather than simply complete them. While we can do so much good when we live to give rather than breathe to receive; the majority of our moments get muddied by our misguided selfish motives. Executive Producers Brian Bird and Michael Landon, Jr. believed that our culture was starving for entertainment that feeds the soul and not just bleeds it dry. Like his Father before him who gave us “Bonanza,” “Little House on the Prairie” and “Highway to Heaven,” the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. Younger Michael teamed up with Brian Bird, who himself was mentored by Martha Williamson on “Touched By An Angel,” to give us another family friendly classic. There is nothing worse than sitting down with your kids to watch tv together, only to have to hit the remote seconds into the experience because of inappropriate language and less than proper behavior. Kudos to the Hallmark Channel for getting a conscience and sharing something valuable that rewards you for the time you invested with your viewing habits. Because of the success of the “Hearties,” there is now lots of buzz and excitement about becoming one of the “Hopefuls” who are those who support the newest Hallmark Channel masterpiece, “When Hope Calls.” This tale features the ups and downs of 2 Sisters who run an orphanage in the midst of the old Canadian west. It was a spin-off of last year’s “When Calls The Heart” Christmas Movie.

What have I witnessed the last few days? One of the biggest lessons is that faith isn’t dead on the earth. I have never been a fan of separating the secular from the spiritual. Life was never meant to be lived within compartments. You are who you are all the time and not just weekends and Wednesday nights. If you can worship God in a sanctuary, you can still express your devotion just about everywhere you go, in everything you do. If God isn’t lifted up in what you are working on, then why are you wasting such precious time. Praying for one another is not confined to only religious buildings. Let me illustrate by sharing the following happenings from Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

As I sat down to dinner with other “Hearties” on Friday night, because I don’t wear a clergy collar, my role as a Pastor is not always clearly recognized. The woman sitting to my right looked bewildered and overwhelmed. She had just learned that her husband back home had just been taken to the hospital with abdominal pain. Without hesitation, I knew I needed to pray for her and I did. I prayed for wisdom for this special lady  and healing for her husband. Before the evening was over, every individual in that Hilton banquet room was also praying for this entire family. This wasn’t a church gathering. This was a Hallmark event and yet God was invited to play a huge role. Think how Washington might get straightened out if the Lord wasn’t kicked out of government but actually looked up to in order to lead us to becoming a better people once again. I’m not talking about a State religion. I’m talking about Believers living their faith wherever and whenever God puts them.

On Saturday morning, as I was coming up the escalator, I saw one of my new friends collapsed on the couch. Surrounded by other Hearties, I was informed that she had experienced an anxiety attack and because I know that ugly feeling so well, I knelt down and prayed over her. When I opened my eyes, there was Michael Landon, Jr. praying along as he held this young lady’s hand. How cool is that? Prayer is not a felony. Prayer is a privilege for us to invite God into real life. If I can challenge us, it would be to never be ashamed or embarrassed to pray for someone when God gives you the nudge to do so.

Finally, today we toured the actual set used to film “When Calls The Heart.” I didn’t get to preach today but when my tour group entered into the Church building of Hope Valley, a dear young lady asked me if I would pray for all of us while we were in there together. I used my big booming voice to get everyone’s attention and shared that I would like to pray for everyone and I invited them to join me. I knew God was with us in that room. I knew God was knitting hearts together as we were on this field trip. Once again, I was so blessed because I didn’t shy away when I was encouraged to shine bright. If you can’t be a Christian 24/7, then something needs to change. God is an all the time good and faithful Father! Shouldn’t we be all the time obedient and trusting children?

Tomorrow, Monday, I come back to Cape May County. I am not an actor nor do I play one on tv. I am a learning, active, follower of the King of kings and Lord of lords. I am a disciple. I am hopelessly devoted to Jesus. I got to meet the entire casts of these awesome productions. I broke bread with the fellow fans of the shows. I laughed, I cried, I lived. God is not about building organizations. He is putting together a family made up of the hodgepodge of broken humanity. Redemption will always be the center of how God moves. Let’s use our hearts even more than our brains. Let’s become a community not just on paper but in practical ways. The heart is calling and hope is the answer so the next move is up to us. Don’t ignore what we need if we will ever be inspired.





CALLING IT LIKE IT IS!

5 10 2019

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Not everyone who calls themselves a Christian truly is one. Just being informed about God doesn’t result in being transformed by God. Information is not the same as inspiration. There are too many Believers who know all the right truth in their heads but it hasn’t yet made a connection in the heart. The watching world doesn’t need any more empty rhetoric. There are enough politicians who fit that bill. I believe it is time for Christians to allow Jesus to show up through them by the power of the Holy Spirit. If others could see something really attractive in the way that we live, church could become the place to be.

The Bible doesn’t say, “Taste and see that the Lord is boring.” Shame on us for making something so explosive become way too ordinary. The early Christians were world shakers. Unfortunately, today’s disciples are becoming way too intimidated by those who don’t really hold the power over them that they claim to have. Nobody can make you do something that you don’t want to do. Even if someone holds a gun to your head, it doesn’t mean that you have to do what another is threatening you to take part in. If ever there came a day when I would have to choose between staying true to my Lord or losing my life, I would hope that I would have the courage to stick to my conviction of following Jesus. There are more Christians being martyred for their faith today than at any other time in history. Just because it isn’t happening in America, doesn’t mean it is not occurring in many parts of this planet.

I do know that a time of crisis is not the time to begin to pray. I challenge the Body of Christ in these United States to become proactive in their times of intercession for our Nation’s revival. We have become way too proud and self-sufficient. We don’t take sin seriously. There are many so called churches where they don’t even acknowledge any bad behavior at all. Some have gone so far that they are now rewriting the Bible. They say, “Hell No!” to any concept of eternal separation from God. And what used to be obviously wrong is now being repackaged as not so bad. I don’t know about you, but we best not put words in Heaven’s mouth.

Holiness doesn’t happen by us not getting in the game. Christians need to go after the very promises that God has given us. But the Bible won’t come alive in anyone who chooses to sleepwalk through life. I wish it was as easy as just having a big bowl of Holy Spirit O’s for breakfast with your coffee but it takes more initiative than that. Jesus has set the table for us to come and meet with Him so we can be filled with the Bread of life and take a drink of His living Water but this isn’t fast food on the run. This means us setting a time and a place and devoting our full attention to the One who has so much to share with us. If we are what we eat, who is choosing your daily diet of what you are allowing to fill your body, mind, heart and soul?

I had a Doctor look me straight in the eye and tell me that if I didn’t change my diet, I was not going to be around much longer for my wife, children, grandkids and church. I love to eat and it is very easy for me to down a dozen donuts and devour a whole pizza in one sitting if I just let my appetite go unchecked. I literally must deny myself and look for healthier options if I plan on seeing positive changes in my health. I have to get out of my easy chair and exercise. I must push my lazy flesh if I am ever going to experience the energy and vitality that I was missing when I weighed almost 280 pounds. When you think about it, American Christians should be the most on fire Believers on this planet because of the amount of biblical teaching that we have been exposed to. We know this is not the case because until we practice what we preach, our story will never change.

Falling into bad habits doesn’t happen overnight. The enemy doesn’t walk up, pitchfork in hand, and ask with a shady and snarky grin, “How would you like to become an alcoholic or a drug addict? He serves us poison dipped in chocolate. The real facts are that if we head down a highway of self-indulgence, it is very likely that we will become a thief and a compulsive liar to support our urges and because of that, we won’t be able to hold down a job, and we will exploit and misuse any positive relationships with family and friends! Do you still want to sign up?” But even godly people can get lured into compromise with the darkness through sarcasm and subtlety.

Rather than it all being too much about self, maybe it is time that we forget ourselves and concentrate on Jesus and look to obey Him no matter whatever. We need to get a glimpse of sin through God’s lens. We need to own up and admit the times that we have come up short and actually grieved the heart of God by our behavior. It is only as we see His holiness, His absolute purity and moral hatred of sin, that we will finally get it through our heads, the awfulness of sin against a Holy God. Salvation is not just a past occurrence. We are actually under construction and while we may not be what God has intended us to become, we certainly should be making progress in the process. As the old hymn says, “Just as I am, I come.” But God has no intention of us staying what we were. He is making something wonderful and beautiful in us. He is also restoring us to the original condition that we were created in before sin threw a wrench in the program.

Father Damien was a priest who became famous for his willingness to serve lepers. He moved to Kalawao, a village on the island of Molokai in Hawaii that had been quarantined to serve as a leper colony. For sixteen years he lived in their midst. He learned to speak their language. He bandaged their wounds, embraced the bodies no one else would touch, preached to hearts that would otherwise have been left alone. He organized schools, bands, and choirs. He built homes so that the lepers could have shelter. He built two thousand coffins by hand so that when they died, they could be buried with dignity.

Slowly, it was said, Kalawao became a place to live rather than a place to die, for Father Damien offered hope. Father Damien was not careful about keeping his distance. He did nothing to separate himself from his people. He dipped his fingers in the poi bowl along with the patients. He shared his pipe. He did not always wash his hands after bandaging open sores. He got close. For this the people loved him. Then one day he stood up and began his sermon with two words: “We lepers…” Now he wasn’t just helping them. Now he was one of them. From this day forward he wasn’t just on their island; he was in their skin. First, he had chosen to live as they lived; now he would die as they died. Now they were in it together.

One day God came to earth and began His message: “We lepers…” Jesus wasn’t just helping us. Jesus became one of us. Jesus was in our skin. Jesus loved us to the point that we were in it together. The story of incarnation is the story of love. Many people didn’t recognize him as God, of course. They were looking for someone a little flashier. They expected more in the way of special effects, not someone who would take on all our limitations. Many people saw him, but only a few recognized him. Those who missed him did not generally do so out of a lack of knowledge.
What blinded them was pride.

Don’t be so proud that you won’t allow yourself to be touched by the Savior. For because of Him, earth is no longer known as a place of dying, but as a place to be set apart to new life! Don’t settle for sloppy seconds when Jesus has set the table for you and I to dine with the Divine!





CHOOSE LIFE!

25 09 2019

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I know that if you just mention the word abortion, like it or not, you have lit a stick of dynamite. If someone desires to polarize a room into two passionate camps of strong feelings and cries of emotional angst, just bring up the topic of Roe vs. Wade. I remember being in grade school when the term defining the procedure to terminate a pregnancy entered the mainstream of American language. The words of a dear Sister who was my teacher at Notre Dame Catholic School still ring in my ears. She said, “The word causes raised eyebrows now, but one day it won’t even evoke an individual to bat an eyelash.” Even though she would have rather been wrong, she turned out to be oh so right!

I’m a Pastor who doesn’t believe in abortion because I am very pro-life. My understanding of the Scriptures shows me that life begins at the moment of conception. Even while we were still in the wombs of our mothers, the Bible explains that God had specific plans for our lives. John the Baptist was filled with the Holy Spirit while Elizabeth carried him inside of her. God called Jeremiah to be a prophet form his conception. A baby is not a fetus or worse yet, just an it. A baby is a miracle. And even if the pregnancy happened in less than perfect circumstances, it doesn’t mean that the product of that union was a mistake. Every life is a gift. Even the lives of those precious children who never saw the light of day here on earth, each and every one is waiting for us in God’s presence.

If all of our children would have lived, Terri and I would have 9 children today. Before our son Rudy was born in 1986, we experienced 2 miscarriages in 1983 and again in 1984. I say we because even though as a man I didn’t have the honor to carry those children inside my own body, they will forever hold a place in my heart and soul. After Rudy, Leah and Abbie were born in 1986, 1988 and 1991, tragedy would once again rear its ugly head in 1995 and 1999 when two of our sons, Nicholas and Benjamin would be born to only survive a short time on this earth. Nicholas may only have been with us for a total of 90 minutes, we spent a whole lifetime in an hour and a half. And when it was apparent that déjà vu was occurring with our son Benjamin, Terri and I wondered if we ever would recover from such excruciating heartache. The length of their moments with us didn’t lighten the power of the impact to us. To this day, there are moments when I believe my heart is going to explode because we miss them so much.

When Terri found out that she was pregnant again in 2002, all the medical professionals thought we were absolutely crazy. I remember my wife and I sitting in conference with a doctor at Cape Regional as he very soberly and seriously rationalized all the reasons we should do the responsible thing and terminate this baby and save ourselves from the harsh reality that because of our history, chances for a healthy birth were a million to one. I know now why many choose abortion. The tension as we were meeting with that physician was so thick, it would have taken a chain saw to cut through it. But we knew that there was no way we could take matters into our own hands. I went into the chapel of our local hospital and literally poured my heart and soul out to God. On July 30, 2003, Joel Thomas Sheptock was born. I was 43 and Terri was 41 but we had another son to raise and today he is 16 and a junior at Cape May Tech. I couldn’t imagine our lives without him.

Still there would be more tragedy ahead for us. A 9th child was born way too early in June of 2005. And on the very day our oldest son Rudy was graduating from Middle Township High School, another Sheptock child was ushered directly into the presence of God. I remember someone saying to me that day, “Are you still going to stay a Minister? I mean, look at how many kids you have lost.” I replied with tear stained eyes, “It is my faith in God that gives these children purpose. Because I believe God is who He says He is, I will see them all again.”

Every life matters. I grew up in a family where my Mom and Dad had 7 children of their own and went on to adopt 30 more children. Many of my brothers and sisters ended up Sheptocks because nobody else wanted them. I have siblings that include many children that society has labeled as severely handicapped. The Sheptock Family is made up of kids with no arms, one arm, cerebral palsy, learning disorders and two wonderful brothers who have down syndrome. Martin and Issac exhibit more love coming through their pinkies than some so called healthy people display in their whole bodies. Nobody can convince me or either of them that their lives don’t matter. I can’t even imagine what this world might be had they never been given the opportunity to be born. As a matter of fact, if you ask any of my brothers or sisters if they wanted to continue to live, I know they would all give you an exuberant, “Yes!” None of these human beings are accidents. God loves and has a plan for each and every one.

I do not picket abortion clinics. I don’t scream hate at those women who have had abortions. I have no desire to be known as a Christian by just what I am against. I am for life. I am for all life. I fight for every life until God says it is time to take that person home. I don’t believe that inside the womb you are an it and all of a sudden, after your journey down the birth canal, that only then are you a human being. I felt prompted to write about this topic because there may be somebody reading this today who is confused and overwhelmed by the predicament they may find themselves in. God loves you. God is a God of grace and mercy and new beginnings. I want to speak up for the unborn. If all mankind is created equal, then these babies are just that, fearfully and wonderfully made by God. I close with some lyrics from an old Phil Keaggy song. “Who will speak up for the little ones; helpless and half abandoned. They have a right to choose, life they don’t want to lose, I’ve got to speak out, won’t you?” The World Health Organization estimated that between 40 and 50 million abortions were done in 2018. I write this article in honor of each and every life that never got the right to see the light of day. Choose life. Please!





IT’S ONLY TOO LATE IF WE GIVE UP!

17 09 2019

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The past is a tricky thing. It can appear to look so much better than it really was; especially when you are stuck in an unpleasant present. If we look around at our current circumstances and discover there is more to complain about than celebrate, chances are very good that we can be found pining for times that never really existed any further than beyond the playgrounds in our mind. Goals are necessary for human beings to grow up. Expectations on the other hand can be the kiss of death because life so rarely cooperates with our agendas. Where do we go when we look in the mirror and see staring back at us too much cynicism and very little optimism?

Do I believe our Country is moving in a healthy and hearty direction? Not on your life I! I sense that we as a Nation are way too busy running from who and what we should be running to and championing causes and ideas that we should be setting out with the trash on the curb. But my solution to this national pollution has nothing with us returning to the “Good Old Days.” There has never been a moment since Adam and Eve were evicted from the Garden of Eden when sin hasn’t been mixed within even the best efforts of humanity. If you look at any of our success as Americans, it has come in spite of the fact that deep down inside we the people are made up of more selfish flesh than selfless spirit.

What then has gotten us to where we are today? I can make a pretty good guess that it wasn’t us promoting a “selfie” generation where everyone gets a trophy and nobody ever has to face correction and consequence unless it deals in the matters of faith. When did “Faith in God” become a such a criminal act? While our society outlaws prayer in school and bans the Bible from its libraries, it goes out of its way and bends over backwards to not offend sin. Whatever happened to sin? Everybody pretends it isn’t there while its rotten fruit stares us right in the face.

You can’t have it both ways. Our Founding Fathers believed that all humanity was created equal. Did you see the key verb of that sentence? We are not a higher evolved form of animals. You and I and every man and woman of every Nation on this planet have been formed in the image of God. This changes everything. It gives us a higher purpose to seek a holier love. It means men and women should be expected to act noble and do right and love their neighbors as themselves. If you subtract faith from the equation, what do you have left? If you would like an answer to that question, just take a peek at today’s news stories. How many more school shootings will it take to remind us that along with learning our A B C’s, we also need to be retaught our P’s and Q’s. Whatever happened to etiquette and manners and respect for authority. If you don’t teach our children well, then don’t be surprised by the hell we all will experience otherwise.

The separation of church and state was never meant to keep faith out of our culture. It was a means to keep government from legislating a particular religion. I have to smile because not too long ago when I was invited to pray at a community function, I was given instruction on what I could and couldn’t say. I shared that I wasn’t attending to recite prose, but to talk to the Lord on all of our behalf and that means a regular conversation. Celebrating Christmas doesn’t shove Jesus down the throat of unbelievers. It teaches all the world to acknowledge a historical event. The birth of Jesus of Nazareth was the most influential happening that this earth has ever witnessed. All of a sudden, we have more citizens criticizing Christmas Songs in a Holiday Concert than we have Fathers and Mothers upset about the way their children talk to adults.

As millions of Christians flee the Middle East and Christianity’s original homeland becomes increasingly bereft of followers of Jesus, an odd anomaly is occurring. Christianity in the Gulf states is actually surging. Amid a shocking exodus in neighboring countries, there has been a jump in its Christian population. Why? Because believers are shining their light bright in spite of how popular or unpopular it may be. These Christians aren’t being obnoxious individuals who shove the Bible in your face. These disciples are simply being like Jesus would be if He was there and according to Scripture, He is there.

I no longer depend upon politics to do what we can do as the Body of Christ. It goes beyond just memorizing a few Bible verses. It is teaching people about our legacy and history as Americans. It is getting our heroes of yesteryear out of the boxes in our attic and letting a whole new generation know from whence we came. Ask your children if they can finish this sentence: “Listen my children and you will hear…” If they can’t, it is because this Nation has become so consumed with itself, it turns its people into self-righteous hypocrites rather than patriotic servants who like Nathan Hale would say, “I regret that I have only one life to give to my Country.” How can we expect our children to lay down their lives for what is right when they hardly have been taught what true sacrifice is all about?

If it is truly too late for America, why are we still here? It is time to do what Jesus called us to do when He challenged us to let our lights shine so bright that we turn what is dark to new life. Don’t follow the crowd when you can follow the Lord. Don’t tell others that Jesus loves them until you are ready to love them too. Do some digging into our real history. We can be proud to be Americans as long as we remember that we were founded to be one Nation under God and that is nothing to apologize about. God makes a better leader than some human egomaniac. America is not a Christian Nation but it is a Nation with lots of people who call themselves Christians. Because of that, we have the freedom to love God and one another with no fear of wrongdoing.

I have been reading about the life and ministry of George Whitefield. The United States of America was born because of the way God used this passionate preacher of the gospel. Let me close with this quote, “John Wesley tells of a dream he had. In the dream, he was ushered to the gates of Hell. There he asked, “Are there any Presbyterians here?” “Yes!”, came the answer. Then he asked, “Are there any Baptists? Any Episcopalians? Any Methodists?” The answer was Yes! each time. Much distressed, Wesley was then ushered to the gates of Heaven. There he asked the same question, and the answer was No! “No?” To this, Wesley asked, “Who then is inside?” The answer came back, “There are only Christians here.” Come on Christians! Let’s be more united in Jesus than divided by our labels that won’t make it to Heaven.





WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE TRUTH?

9 09 2019

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What’s with people not being able to tell the truth? I mean, it has gotten so bad in our society that an individual could be caught red handed, plainly guilty, still in the act of the crime and yet before any one blinks an eye, the excuses start flying trying to convince all onlookers that no wrongdoing had ever occurred. If blame was a game, it could be an Olympic Sport in our culture. I’m afraid that we aren’t teaching our children well as it’s a rare thing to see anyone step up, come clean and simply apologize. Sometimes you have to be willing to shut up, swallow your pride and accept that you are wrong. It is not called giving up- it is called growing up!

Unfortunately, statistics prove that lying has become an accepted way of life for too many people. Americans tend to lie at the drop of a hat. In the Book, “The Day America Told the Truth,” it says that 91 percent of those surveyed fib rather routinely about matters they consider trivial, and 36 percent fudge on matters they would define as important. Families are in turmoil because 86 percent of teenagers recite fables regularly to their parents, and even 75 percent of adults keep the whole truth from their friends. Maybe one of the biggest reasons that 2 out of every 3 marriages end in divorce is because 68 percent of couples distort the details when they speak to each other. These numbers don’t speak well of the present generation. And how many only cough up the facts after they have been caught and not because they are truly sorry for their bad behavior?

Writing letters of recommendation can be hazardous to your pocket book. If you tell the truth, you might get sued if the contents are negative. Robert Thornton, a professor at Lehigh University, has a collection of “virtually litigation-proof” phrases called the “Lexicon of Intentionally Ambiguous Recommendations,” or LIAR for short! Here are some examples: To describe an inept person, Thornton wrote, “I enthusiastically recommend this candidate with no qualifications whatsoever.”
To describe an ex-employee who had problems getting along with fellow workers, Thornton got creative by saying, “I am pleased to say that this candidate is a former colleague of mine.” To describe an unproductive candidate, Thornton replied, “I can assure you that no person would be better for the job.” And finally, to describe an applicant not worth consideration, Thornton typed, “I would urge you to not waste any time in talking to this candidate about any offer of employment.”

This is what happens when everybody makes the team and all participants get a trophy and authorities are tongue tied when it comes to telling it like it is. How can anybody truly get better in their field of interest unless constructive criticism is allowed to be part of the conversation? I will never forget being part of an ordination exam for a young man who was being interviewed and tested by his peers about entering the ministry. He was absolutely terrible. He may have been the nicest kid in the world but it was clear that he did not have the call nor the gifting to shepherd a flock. But when push came to shove, nobody had the courage to let this gentleman down. They passed him and his track record as a Minister would prove to be a blunder. Churches were penalized by the clergy who didn’t do their job when it mattered most. In my 37 years of full-time ministry, I have seen too many individuals who should have been serving God full time and others who probably should have chosen a different vocation. Telling the truth shouldn’t be that hard to do. Will we become a people who champion that character trait again? I hope so!

In the Bible, there is the story of James, the half brother of Jesus. When Jesus was actively traveling around fulfilling the mission His Father had sent him to do, James and other members of Joseph and Mary’s family wanted to come and get Jesus off the streets because of how He was embarrassing everyone. James thought Jesus had lost His mind. James wanted no part of what Jesus was saying and doing and tried to bring an end to the charade. Thankfully, the family could not get in the way of our Heavenly Father’s will. Jesus would continue to live and eventually die the death that He did for the sins of the world. When Jesus rose from the dead, it literally rocked James’ world. He saw Jesus before and James clearly saw him die and come back to life again. James didn’t rationalize his foolishness about his being very wrong about his Brother. Because of James willingness to admit that he was wrong about Jesus, we have his New Testament Letter and James received eternal life!

Repentance has gotten a bad rap through the years. Pictures of hell, fire and brimstone preachers screaming at a congregation to, “Turn or Burn,” couldn’t be more inaccurate. Repentance literally means to change your mind in such fashion that it causes a radical turnaround in your behavior. It is doing a 180 with your body, mind and soul. What I used to be, I’m not and where I used to be going, I turned around and went in the opposite direction. Still repentance doesn’t happen unless someone admits wrongdoing! No short cuts. No mudslinging. No more running or hiding. When we come clean, God has access to redeem death into real life. “And you shall know the truth and the truth will set you free.”

A store manager overhears his clerk tell a customer, “No, ma’am, we haven’t had any for a while, and it doesn’t look as if we’ll be getting any soon.” Horrified, the manager came running over to the customer and said, “Of course we’ll have some soon. We placed an order last week.” Then the manager drew the clerk aside. “Never,” he snarled, “Never, never, never say we’re out of anything–say we’ve got it on order and it’s coming. Now, what was it she wanted?” “Rain,” said the clerk.





THE TRUTH ABOUT SPOUT OFF!

31 08 2019

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I wish I could tell you that sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me. If I did claim that the last sentence was true, I’d be lying. There are days I wish people would just get it out of their system and chuck some boulders at me. It at least would be understandable pain. What I can’t comprehend is when total strangers take cheap shots at you with words that aren’t even close to the truth.

I have never been a fan of “Spout Off” in this newspaper. I don’t believe you should be allowed to get away with launching verbal bombs at another and get to do so remaining anonymous all the while. I think it is rather cowardly if you ask me. And if “Spout Off” must exist, I am naïve enough to believe that it would serve such a better purpose if it was full of encouraging words and gratitude. Life sentences filled with kindness would build others up much better than idle and unfounded gossip. All it takes is one individual to ask if I read “Spout Off” this week and against my better judgment, off I go, searching through the entries, waiting to get hammered by someone hiding behind a curtain of protection.

Recently, a Spouter mentioned that I had turned the Radio Station given to The Lighthouse Church, LIFT FM, into a secular music medium. Here is the absolute truth on the matter. LIFT FM is a low powered, non-commercial Radio Station that can be heard at 97.9 on the FM dial in Cape May County and 98.5 FM up in Cumberland County. As the Station Manager, I select the programing that plays on the radio 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. Since taking over, I have added such Christian Preachers as Dr. Robert A. Cook, Dr. James Montgomery Boice, Dr. John MacArthur, and Dr. Tony Evans. One can also hear Haven Ministries, Radio Bible Class, Keep the Faith and Focus on the Family daily. We also have local Ministers such as Pastor Walter Nistorenko from Abundant Life, Pastor Bob Stahler from Great Commission Baptist Church and Rev. Dave Bailey from Ranch Hope. Kevin and Taylor host our Morning Show that features today’s best contemporary Christian music and I’m on daily at Noon also playing the entire catalogue of Christian music from the 60’s through today. My daily themes feature, “Message Monday,” “Two for Tuesday,” “Worship Wednesday” and “Throwback Thursday.” If there are 168 hours in every week, for 166 of them- we feature only Christian Music.

On Friday, from Noon-1PM with an encore presentation from 7-8PM, I host a program entitled “Oldies With A Heart.” It is a show that features the soundtrack of the music we grew up with from the 50’s through today. Yes, it is secular music but only with songs handpicked by me that celebrate the memories that we have shared together along the way. The show has also included interviews that I have had with such dignitaries as Olivia Newton-John, Shirley Jones, Connie Francis, Michael Learned of the Waltons, Toni Tennille, Members of the 1969 New York Mets, Hallmark Channel Stars and so many more. I have Listeners who tune in via our website, LIFT985.com, from all over the world. It allows me to enter into the lives of so many individuals that I would have never met without the wonderful vehicle of radio. I never hide the fact that I am a Believer and a full time Minister. I am never ashamed of my love for Jesus and His love for me. If anything, it allows me to go into all the world and shine the light bright. If every good and perfect gift is from the Lord above, then music like all the other blessings can be used for both good and evil. If a great romantic love song between a husband and wife is offensive, how are you supposed to communicate your affection for one another? Do you only drink milk from Christian cows?

Another “Spout Off” made the statement that if you came to the Lighthouse Church, you’d only hear me sing lyrics to secular songs all through my message. I was referred to as worldly and a craver of radio disc jockey fame. Now, anyone who knows me understands that I will break out in song at any time over just about anything. My brain is 98% song lyrics. I sing about everything. But make no mistake, I am a Minister of the Word of God and treat it with the utmost care, study and respect. God called me to be a Pastor back in 1975 and I have never wanted to be anything else for anyone else. Some preachers play golf and I play the Oldies but Goodies once a week on LIFT FM and once a week on 106.3 The Shore out of Wildwood. I love music. Do you want a Preacher who is sullen and gloomy or one who loves to jump, shout and knock himself out for the Lord? As for knowing my name, I could care less if you remember me. The name I want you to know is Jesus! The Bible says that there is no other name given to us people by which we can be rescued. My name won’t even get you a good table at McDonalds! Knowing Jesus leads to everlasting life and eternal joy.

You don’t have to like me, but at least get the facts straight. As soon as I wrote that last sentence, I was humming the theme to the old television show, “Dragnet.” Too many Christians are only known for what they don’t do! I want to shine because of what I do! I am a people person by nature so of course I wish everyone would at least be nice to one another and treat your neighbors and enemies with respect. Jesus said, “You shall know the truth and the truth will set you free.” If you feel the need to shout your spout, all I would humbly ask is that it be based on reality and not fantasy. I gave my heart to Jesus back in 1975 and I’d long be gone without Him. Even with the Lord in my life, there have been many tough roads that we have survived together. What it really all comes down to is loving God and loving one another and if Christians would make that their main goal, this world would clearly see Jesus—and He’s worth shouting about!