“I’m Sorry!”

20 06 2018

God doesn't love because You are special ...you are special because he loves you

I am a chronic apologizer. If I had a nickel for every time “I’m sorry” rolls off my tongue on any given day, I could buy a very nice car. I grew up in the midst of a culture where “guilt” was as available as the air that I learned to breathe. Let’s just say that I have never been one who had to be overly grilled to see the error of my ways. If it went wrong I just assumed that it was my fault. Rain showers ruining our family picnic, “I’m Sorry.” My Mother had a bad day, “What did I do?” Our local community didn’t meet its annual budget, “I know I will be blamed somehow!” Let’s just say that this is not a healthy or admirable trait.

I tend to chuckle when I hear legalistic preachers playing the role of moral policemen in their diligent attempt to make sure that everybody knows how sinful we are. I know the Bible is clear in its teaching that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God; but I also know that our Lord is filled with compassion, mercy and grace that He freely bestows upon His needy creation. Do I feel worthy of the everlasting love of Jesus being unconditionally given to me? Mark my words, “Not on your life!” I have battled my entire lifetime really believing that I could ever be receiving something I know I wasn’t good enough to earn. As a matter of fact, I think that I have been very guilty of working hard for what God longs to convince me I already have. Grace is the place that Heaven is inviting us to land our hearts. Still humanity is convinced that slavery to feeling bad about everything is a much better look for us when we inhabit the Sunday sanctuary.

I’m not thinking God is totally pleased with my expertise in sporting a non-stop confessional lifestyle. I can say all the right things theologically and still walk in bondage to the chains in my brain. How many of you grew up hearing gems like these? “You always disappoint me. You are so fresh. You never do anything right. You are so bad. Why can’t you be good? Why do you always have to mess it up?” I could go on but you get the gist. And I wonder why my first impression about myself and my abilities were always initially negative. I think that when I read in the New Testament, “You can do all things through Christ who gives you strength,” I can’t help but add, “That’s true for everybody but Rudy!” Just because it’s not printed in black and white doesn’t mean that this lie isn’t ingrained in the bowels of my heart.

God doesn’t love you because of what you do, but because of who you are! The joy of being a child of His has nothing to do with our performance. When you think about it, almost all babies are pretty selfish when it comes to their demands and yet healthy parents will do anything it takes to meet those needs. Living loved must precede any chance of our behaving well. Guilt makes a lousy goal. God’s kindness leads to our giving up on our self-reliance and come into a wonderful surrender of resting in Him. God loves us not because we are that loveable. He made the move towards us when we were about as disinterested as we could be. What draws me to Jesus is the immensity and intensity of His desire to have me be with Him. God doesn’t shame us into the kingdom. I love the Lord not because I have to but because I want to and I want to because I don’t have to. Me always saying, “I’m Sorry,” has at its root my inability to believe that God has erased the old tapes and given me a brand-new heart which guarantees a fresh start. The old me is gone and the new creation that the death and resurrection of Jesus has given birth to doesn’t have to operate driven by fear. If faith is to ever come alive then it must believe that God exists and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Would the Lord say you believe this by the way you behave?

The Lord loves me. I am finding my joy in rediscovering that fact. I’m a Pastor but that doesn’t make Jesus love me one iota more than He already does. I have good days and bad days but God’s love stays the same. He doesn’t tease us so we will please Him. It’s not some cosmic game of chess. It’s not a contest at all. Love is love or it is not love at all. I don’t have to apologize for being me. I need to jump into the fountain of life and splash to my heart’s delight. Yes, I need to say, “I’m Sorry,” when my deeds are destructive, but as Bruce sang, “It ain’t no sin to be glad you’re alive.” Stop with the guilt and start with the grace! If we are going to do what Jesus did, then what are we waiting for? Go for it! You won’t be sorry you did!





WHERE IS MY SUPER SUIT??? 

12 06 2018

The Giant in Front of Yiu is Never Bigger...

Disney’s Pixar is bringing back The Incredibles to the big screen this summer. The story is quite simple. A family of undercover superheroes, while trying to live the quiet suburban life, are forced into action to save the world. There is a scene in the 2004 original that has Lucius Best whose alter ego is the character Frozone frantically searching his house for his ‘super suit.” The whole clip is quite hilarious as he continues to shout out to his wife, “Where is my Super Suit?” Frozone’s better half is not that impressed with her husband saving the world. She doesn’t want him to miss a dinner party planned for that evening.

Don’t you wish Christianity came with a “Super Suit?” Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all we had to do to flash the holiness of God through us was to duck into a nearby closet and put on our “Be Like Jesus” trusty Cape and Uniform? Dressed like that we could do no wrong and stamp out sin and conquer the injustice all around us.

I think it might be a bit easier if before our daily adventure with the Lord began, we would be able to eat a bowl of “Holy Spirit O’s” complete with all the fruit of the Spirit in every bite. After a healthy breakfast like that, nothing could stop us from shining bright for God wherever we went, whatever we did. Unfortunately, there is no cosmic underwear or sugar empowered Bible brunch that would make us live the victorious Christian life easily and conveniently. Daily we must look up and get filled with the Spirit before the ugly stuff begins to take over! If we want to make a difference as Believers, it is not so much about what we wear as it is about who we depend upon.

The most famous battle described in the Old Testament was not fought between two armies, but between two people. It was the battle in the Valley of Elah between David and Goliath. In this corner was the army of Israel and in the other, the army of the Philistines. This was the setting. First there was Goliath, whose size and appearance were so impressive that the writer describes him in exacting detail. We don’t measure things by a cubit or a span. We measure them by feet and inches. So, let’s put it into our lingo. Goliath was somewhere near 9′ 9″ tall and simply put an enormous man. The NBA would love him! And if you add to his height the length of his arms when he would lift them up over his head, you can imagine what an imposing creature he must have been. But it wasn’t just his size. The “Super Suit” he was wearing weighed between 175 and 200 pounds. Goliath had so much bronze on, we could have nicknamed him, “LeBronze!”

 Every morning and every evening for well over a month, he marched out there, flaunting his size and his strength, daring someone to take him on. How applicable to any “giant” we encounter!

That’s the way with the giants of fear and worry, for example. They don’t come just once; they come morning and evening, day after day, relentlessly trying to intimidate. And while Goliath once was content to the Israelites from a mile away, because nobody stood up to him, the monster ended up insulting the Lord right in the Hebrews’ back yard!

In the other corner stood our hero, David. Remember, the Shepherd Boy wasn’t going there to fight. He was just sent by his father to bring his brothers some lunch! David looks across the battlefield, and he sees this giant of a guy, encased in his super suit, shouting out threats and defiance and cursing God! And that made David livid! No one talks that way about my God!!!Why is everybody running away? David said to Saul, “Your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.” King Saul looked at David and said, “You don’t have the size for it.  You’re just a kid. Look over there at that giant!” David then describes to Saul how in the past God proved Himself faithful when David slew a bear and a lion. Saul said, “Now wait a minute, David. We have to fix you up for battle.” Imagine it! You can’t tell me the Bible doesn’t have humor, because it says that “Saul clothed David with his garments.” Here’s Saul, a 52 long, and David is a 36 regular. Saul drags in all this heavy armor and then says, “Put this on, David.”

Be wary when the world tries to get you to wear its armor to fight a heavenly battle! David says, “Saul, I can’t fight with this stuff. I can’t even walk in it, and I sure haven’t tested it myself in battle.” What works for one person will not necessarily work for someone else. We’re always trying to put our armor on someone else or put someone else’s armor on ourselves—but that’s not the way to do battle. David doesn’t look for a “Super Suit.” David trusts his “Strong and Supernatural Savior!”

Before I close, I have heard others mock, “If David trusted God then why did he need five stones? Why five? Wouldn’t absolute trust in God indicate only one stone was needed? In fact, in the story it only takes one to kill the giant. So why did he take up five? Goliath had brothers! Goliath had four of them (2 Samuel 21.19-22).

David lived by a very simple principle: nothing to prove, nothing to lose. He didn’t try to impress anybody in the army of Israel. He didn’t try to impress his brothers. He didn’t even try to impress God. He just ran to meet Goliath. And David put his hand into his bag and took from it a stone and slung it and struck the Philistine on his forehead. All David had was a sling and a stone against a giant wearing two hundred pounds of armor. It may seem silly, but that’s the way God operates.

I don’t know what your intimidating giant is today. It may relate to your job, your roommate, or your school. Maybe it is a person, a lawsuit, unemployment, a disaster or maybe even your own partner in life. Perhaps it is some fear that is lurking around the corner, sucking your energy and draining your faith. God is saying to you right now, “All I ask of you is five smooth stones and a sling of faith. I’ll take it from there. You don’t have to wear somebody else’s armor. You just trust Me. And I’ll strip you down to nothing but faith, and then I’ll accomplish a victory where I’ll get the glory.

It is God’s love for us that causes Him to bring us to an end of our own strength. He sees our need to trust Him, and His love is so great that He will not let us live another day without turning over our arms to Him, our fears, our worries, even our confusion, so that no super suit becomes more significant to us than our Savior.





TOO MUCH TOO SOON???

6 06 2018

Less of Me, More of HimYears ago I had the privilege to be part of a Youth Conference in Washington DC that featured both Nancy and Ronald Reagan addressing the audience. We heard Nancy on Friday night and the President on Saturday Morning. Among his many abilities, Ronald Reagan was a talented communicator and gifted story teller. One of the tales that he shared with us that I still remember was about a young, country boy who had just finished Bible school but had yet to preach a sermon.

When the newly appointed Pastor arrived at this Texas church, he walked in with the highest of hopes; but to his utter amazement, there was only one seasoned rancher present. The sanctuary was empty except for this one man. He was sitting about halfway back on the hard pew and the novice preacher walked back there, shook his hand, and asked quite sheepishly in cattle country, “What do you think I ought to do?” The old man answered, “Well, I don’t rightly know Reverend, I’m just a cowpoke. But if I went out in my field and found only one steer, I’d still feed it.” That’s all the new Parson needed to hear. He quickly climbed up behind the pulpit and delivered a sermon that went on and on and on and on. Over an hour and a half later he finally ended the marathon.

The Pastor, now feeling pretty good about himself, finished with a benediction and walked right over to the rancher and asked, “Well, what did you think?” “I don’t rightly know, son, but I will tell you this. If I went out in my field and found I only had one steer, I wouldn’t feed him the whole warehouse in one sitting.”

There are times that we Christians may mean well, but we tend to come on too strong too fast when it comes to sharing our faith with others. We have such a passion for what we believe, we forget that we need to care about the who that we are talking to. This means that we shouldn’t be preaching when it comes to one on one conversations. Forget the monologue and be willing to enter into a dialogue. We must not only talk but be willing to listen. We should allow time and opportunity for feedback and questions. The connection should not be so much about finger pointing as it is about heart sharing. When Jesus shared the truth with others, He adapted the means that He shared the gospel even if the message stayed the same. The rule of thumb should be that we are not ready to tell others that Jesus loves them if we aren’t willing to love them too. It takes more than eye contact to make a genuine heart connection. Make sure your ears are all in too. 

There is another important principle that Believers should be aware of before they are ready to spread the good news. Too many Christians need to reexamine their motives before they start to dispense the message. Have you ever blurted something out in anger? During those outbursts we not only said things we wish we hadn’t said, we also probably said a lot more than we wish we would have said. Maybe we need to take a walk prior to the action of beginning our talk. Little is retained when smoke is shooting out of your ears and fire surges from the tongue. And more often than not, even though we may have actually communicated some truths that needed to be presented, our rage and rant ruined the rightness of our words.

Keep all of this in mind when you are preparing to deliver your next speech. We might have more time for action if we made for less words and more work! How long does it take you to get to the point? There comes a definite moment when we need to cease circling the airport and just land the plane! We should be precise and purposeful. What is it? Just say it.

Next let’s look to not be pompous but humble and available. Lead with respect. Allow for response.  

Don’t be so dogmatic when you should be delivering the treasure with love. Let me give you a tip. If it’s one-on-one or one-on-a-few, leave the preaching to someone else. If it’s with your kids, don’t preach. If it’s with your spouse, don’t preach. If it’s at work with your boss or somebody who works for you, again, don’t preach. Preaching isn’t appropriate in relational settings.

Finally, don’t be a “Know it All,” for nobody knows it all! There is something so refreshing about someone who is speaking and willingly admits, “I really don’t know all that I should know about this, but I am willing to learn.” It’s wonderful when you’re around someone who has a wealth of knowledge, but you hear them admit, “I’m not the final word.” I can honestly conclude that those who have taught me the most are the men and women who have been the most teachable. So, before you step up to the pulpit to preach your never-ending sermon, take the time to seek the Lord and let Him lead the way. Sometimes we really do say it best, when we say nothing at all and get off the stage so God can have the floor!

 





TO SAVE A LIFE

29 05 2018

In Helping Others

Another week goes by and another school shooting is in the News. Kids are dealing with severe and serious anxiety at an alarming and sobering rate. Recess is no longer a safe place and more than fretting over this Friday’s math test, young people are worried about whether they are going to survive another semester. While this happens, our National Politicians are busy playing partisan games. 

I don’t believe that this problem would be solved by simply enforcing stricter gun control laws. In my humble opinion, I see the root of this pandemic buried in the fact that too many children are growing up unchecked and unloved, literally lost within ill equipped environments. In the modern era of promoting political correctness at all cost, we have foolishly bankrupted our society spiritually. The law of the jungle may be laid upon a foundation of self-centeredness and survival, but the golden rule taught us that as God’s creation we should love the Lord and others before ourselves. If we could be more proactive than reactive, we might just save a life or two along the way.

I always taught my children to fight for the underdog and keep an eye out for those who are being bullied and abused. I was a Youth Pastor for 15 years before I became the Senior Pastor of the Lighthouse Church 21 years ago. I challenged Young People to walk their talk when it came to the Faith they claimed to possess. This included looking out for those who were sitting alone in the cafeteria or stuck outside on the peripheral of the so-called “in crowd”. I coached our Kids to make eye contact with others as they walked through the hallways, offering smiles and a kind word when called upon. I wanted them to look for opportunities to build somebody up when the world was in a tear down mode and to never let anyone go unloved on their watch.

I am calling on Christians to set the example when it comes to putting skin to love. Many Churches always need volunteers to help in the Children and Youth Ministries. Adults have a tendency to want to relax while in the Sanctuary while somebody else takes care of their family. The problem is that because there are not enough Helpers to go around, too many Sunday School Classes are overcrowded and understaffed and we are missing a golden open door to being like Jesus in this chaotic and crazy era.

 I can’t tell you how many Little Ones just need some unconditional love and attention. They could use some boundaries and structure and human contact rather than more video based experiences. If I could change one aspect of our daily routines it would be enough with the staring at the screens already. I grew up in a different time when Families ate together at the Supper Table every night. Communing like this wasn’t just about eating our daily bread, but connecting heart to heart! If the culture won’t do it, maybe the Church can fill in the gap. I love hanging out with the Children at the Lighthouse Church. To many of them, I am like an adopted Grandfather who fills their empty cups with all the qualities that matter most. Babies need to be held and sung to in the nursery. Children need to know that they are loved and designed with purpose and power. If Mom and Dad are no longer there, then I believe God is calling us to plug the gap, and not just with baby sitting, but with honest to goodness tender loving care. I believe that with the right amount of godly attention, a future tragedy can be averted and a happier ending rewritten.

One of the goals that I champion as a Pastor is that I believe the Body of Christ should be cross generational. There are too may silo constructed Churches today where everyone is the same age and in the same boat with too much in common. As I read the New Testament, I read where those older should invest and mentor the younger. I also see that nobody should look down on the kids just because of their age. I believe there should be appreciation and understanding and respect for the differing Seasons of Life represented in any given Congregation. How can we get together if there are no avenues for the ages to intermingle? I love learning from our youth as I also teach them to look up and glean from me. My body may be almost 60 but  my heart is forever young; and just like Jesus proclaimed to let the Little Ones come to Him, I receive such joy when the kids dive bomb into my arms when they see me at The Lighthouse.

So as the Beaches in our area become flooded with swimmers, there are Life Guards on duty. Will you become a Rescuer of this Generation? Will you make the first move and reach out to that someone who may appear disinterested and unreachable? There are three things I pray daily in my own soul and they are that the Lord would rescue, redeem and restore me. Who in your sphere of influence needs a rescue? Is there somebody that God has allowed you to cross paths with that could use a Somebody to believe in them? And what if because of your willingness to risk the rejection to make a connection, you actually save lives along the way? It all begins with us! Now let’s get out and about pursuing to save a life! 





WHERE ARE YOU BEING THE CHURCH?

22 05 2018

Love is like the 5 loaves and 2 fishesHere’s a question you’ll never read in the Bible: a Believer asking another Believer and it is, “Where do you go to church?” Did you know that there is also no place in the Bible that ever commands you to, “Go to church?” The New Testament challenges the Disciples of Jesus to be the church but that is a bit different. There’s a simple explanation for this and it is simply that the New Testament letters were being composed, nobody thought about calling a building a church. The church didn’t even have any buildings then. It just had people.

But, over the years, something crazy happened. What should have defined a body of Believers came to be the name of what we titled a building. Just the other day, somebody came by The Lighthouse and complimented me by responding, “You have a beautiful church.” I replied by saying, “How do you know? You haven’t even met any of the church yet?”  

I love what John Ortberg writes. He eloquently informs us that the first Christians never even conceived that what Jesus described as His Bride would be lowered to just labeling their meeting places. I love this next line. Ortberg says, that it would have made as much sense as if someone inspected a crib alone and concluded, “You have a beautiful baby.”

We all know that babies are people. The crib is just the piece of furniture where you place the baby and even that is a temporary resting destination. We put the baby in the crib so that he or she can rest up and recharge so he or she can be ready to be released to life itself. Living is not nestling in for an eternity of doing nothing more than being stuck in a resting pattern.

If you have a toddler, would you want him or her in the crib 24 hours a day, 7 days a week? Actually, if you have a baby, you might want to be in the crib 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. This spot of rest and relaxation is only a temporary fix. We don’t gather as the Body of Christ to live in a building where we meet for worship! We don’t neglect our habit of meeting together to rest up, recharge, and get nourished so that we can get back out into the world and be living representations of the Savior we claim to love.

Our western culture has redefined “Fellowship” as just eating cookies and drinking coffee together, but it is so much more. Fellowship is all about community and connection. Biblical fellowship means that you get close enough to another you even know what they smell like. When I was a younger man, before I became allergic to everything, I used to wear the cologne, Brut. As a matter of fact, my wife Terri always knew when the kids were with their Father because she would say, “You smell just like Daddy.” When was the last time somebody said, “You smell just like Jesus?” You can’t give out what you don’t put in. Too many of us smell like a building when we should have the aroma of Jesus! I guarantee that if you jump into the arms of your Lord, the intimacy with Him will produce a fragrance of life to others. What are we waiting for?

So much of the Ministry of Jesus had nothing to do with lecturing in a conference room. Jesus was always inviting someone to share a meal with Him. Matthew, Zacchaeus, and every imperfect seeking sinner had the opportunity to have a meal with the Master. Growing up in the 1960’s, our Family had Dinner at the table every night. It was so much more than just stuffing fast food down our throats we just received at a drive-through as we rush on our way to the next event. We shared stories and laughter as we passed the meat loaf and freshly baked biscuits. The current generation has no idea the depth they are really missing because they have traded in authentic communion for convenience.

In the Book Of Revelation, when Jesus was standing outside of the Church at Laodicea, He promised that if someone would open the door and invite Him in that He would come on in and do what with them? He didn’t say, I’ll come in and teach you. He made it clear that He wanted to share a table where quality time was treasured. Who wouldn’t want to have lunch with the Lord? Believers–we are His Bride and not His building. When we gather together, it is such a privilege to come to the table so that we can go out refreshed, recharged and renewed, ready to bring others to such a relationship with the God who loves us so!

Are you ready to make the paradigm shift? Burdens aren’t lifted at a building. Burdens are lifted at Calvary because you have connected with the Jesus who loved you so much. Do you know the best way to receive love? It is by giving love away. When we are truly loved by God, we are filled to be spilled so that those on the outside come on the inside and know what an amazing community the Family of God really is. I don’t want to smell like a musty building when I can represent my Master so much better. How about you?  





SCARS AND TRUST!

14 05 2018

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If God was small enough to be understood then He would not be big enough to worship! If a human being could wrap his or her brain around the Lord, He would not really be the Almighty! If our God is an awesome God then He must be wholly and fully infinite and the last I checked, our finiteness will only take us people so far and so high. I know some who threaten to shake their fist at God and give them a piece of their mind, but I believe that any one who actually got an audience with the Lord would fall to pieces and suddenly become speechless at the sight of the Savior. God made man in His image and not the other way around. Maybe it is time we stop coming to Church so that we can tell the Lord what to do when we should really be doing nothing more than reporting for duty.

 We need God to dictate our agenda if we are to correctly interpret the events of our times. Now is the time that Christians need to be committed to become scripturally correct rather than politically correct. If we don’t know what God says, we are destined to be lost in the dark about the times and seasons when we should be living free in the light. Somewhere along the line we need to move deeper than just piling up mere intellectual information for our brains when we should be applying spiritual behavior with our actions.

Seeking wisdom through human effort alone is a royal waste of valuable time. Wisdom is looking at life from God’s point of view. When we employ wisdom we are viewing life as God sees it. That’s why it’s so valuable to think God’s thoughts after Him. Understanding is responding to life’s struggles and challenges as God would have us act. Believers should not react in panic and confusion but respond with prayer and practical godliness. If we process life from only our limited vantage point, we will forfeit vision and suffer from living way too small and overly cautious. Wisdom allows us to trust and obey the Lord because we believe that He sees way beyond what we might ever get a glimpse of and that His heart for us is good, holy and just. If we are to keep on going when the going gets tough, we need to secure a good reason to do so. The promise that God works all things together for good to those who love Him is hope enough for me.   

What is the driving goal of your Faith? Is it to live a life that is easy and pain free? If Jesus made it His desire to be pain free, He would have never come from heaven to earth to die on the cross for our sins. Are we willing to learn from our suffering? I am not saying that we need to love it or even like it but we can’t loathe it so much that we pretend it isn’t there. A hard road is not punishment from God. It is paramount for those of us who long to stay firm in our faith no matter what might come our way. We see only a part while our Lord views the whole. No matter how low our lives may go, the promise for every child of God is eternal victory in the heights. The story doesn’t end in defeat. It culminates in miraculous victory for everyone who calls upon the Name of the Lord!    

Good times rarely bring the best out of us. It is suffering that helps us clarify our priorities and focus on the right objectives. The greatest lesson that a true Follower of Jesus will learn in the midst of his or her trials and tribulations is a personal relationship with the Lord that could never be grasped within a classroom alone just reciting theology and doctrine. Until our humbling moments, we think too highly of ourselves and put way too much stock in our own ability. It is when we come to the end of ourselves that we are ready to find God.

Why doesn’t God answer all your questions? Could it be because you aren’t ready to listen? As long as you insist on justifying yourself, God will not justify you. When our words end the wisdom of God begins and the understanding of our soul occurs! Plainly stated, the silence of God ends when we finally choose to just shut up! Examine your prayer times! Who does most of the talking? Do you genuinely allow time for God to speak? I think that we don’t always give the Lord a chance to get a word in edgewise. Maybe one of our biggest faults is that we have fallen in love with the sound of our own voice. Or worse yet, we have allowed the authority that God should have in our hearts to others who really don’t care that much after all. If you care too much about what the crowd says, you won’t ever surrender to the instructions of the Christ!

Little kids are really good at trust. My grandkids come running to me at full speed and then without hesitation launch themselves into my arms! They bank on the expectation that I catch them every time and I do. But as adults, we stop running and do no more jumping unless we examine the hands of our catcher and measure out the distances of our launch. You will never know how sweet it is to trust in Jesus if you never allow Him the privilege to catch you. When life lets you down, Jesus will lift you up if you let Him.

As a teenager, Louisa Stead felt called to be a missionary. She went to America around age 21, and lived for a while in Cincinnati, Ohio. She married a Mr. Stead in 1875 and together they had a daughter named Lily. While the Family was picnicking off Long Island Sound, Mr. Stead tragically lost his life in a matter of moments while trying to rescue a drowning boy. Those around her told Louisa that her dream of being a missionary was over and done now that she was widowed but that’s not what the Lord was speaking to her soul. In the midst of her grief and struggle, Louisa Stead wrote these words. We still sing them today in the beloved Hymn, “Tis So Sweet To Trust in Jesus, Just to take Him at His Word, Just to rest upon His promise, Just to know, ‘Thus Saith the Lord.” Most of the wonderful worship songs we sing today were not born out of times of sunshine, lollipops and roses but from seasons of scars. Could God be writing a new symphony of praise from your story today? Remember the music will begin when you quit trying to lead and be simply content to follow!





A LIVING THANK YOU CARD

7 05 2018

2018.05.09Thank You

My first full time job in Ministry was with an organization called “Youth for Christ.” While I was first assigned to work in South Jersey, I actually ended up serving for five years in the area that I grew up around North Jersey. My Boss was Ron Hutchcraft. I had already known of him because I had heard him on the radio. When he called me while I was still a senior at Philadelphia College of Bible, I was very excited and honored.

 I was newly married and ready to win the world to Jesus. I was never assigned a Youth Group but was given a map. It was my job to go and find the teenagers to work with. Before it was all said and done, I ran weekly Campus Life Clubs in Randolph and Roxbury on Monday, Mendham and Chester on Thursdays and Morristown on Tuesdays. I saw many teens connect personally with the Lord over these times when I wasn’t sure what I was doing but I was convinced of who I was doing it for. I did many unconventional events back then in what could be defined as truly unique ways but I was game for whatever it took to see Kids fall in love with Jesus.

 I learned lots from watching Ron do what he did. Our relationship may not have been the traditional Mentor-Student set up but I was taking mental notes all along the way. Nobody could say more in five minutes than Ron. I loved the way he used the radio as an instrument of heralding the gospel. He told everyday stories that opened peoples’ eyes to deep spiritual truth. He was funny and yet spot on with serious principles. He worked with his wife Karen as the dynamic duo. He included his family in the ministry. Life wasn’t compartmentalized. Everything and everyone was part of the journey.

 Human beings have a tendency to wait until it is too late to say the things that matter most. We allow the tyranny of the urgent to dictate our direction. Even though most people will swear that relationships come first, our practice doesn’t always back up our preaching. Unfortunately, I have officiated way too many funerals where what’s going on without saying is finally said. If there is anything to be learned from our mistakes, it is to make the people we love a true priority! Honor those you appreciate. Let those who impacted you the most hear your heart while it is still beating. Ron Hutchcraft said “Goodbye” to his beloved Bride Karen two years ago. I wasn’t going to wait another year to let him know how much he has meant to me.

 Last Sunday, Ron spoke at our Church. He actually snuck into our Saturday Service unannounced. Once I knew he was there, I was 22 all over again. I was actually nervous. And even though it all happened within 24 hours, God allowed me the opportunity to say, “Thank You,” while it mattered. I am so grateful that I reached out to Ron. He hasn’t lost a beat in banging that drum for God.

 So who can you honor? Who needs a note of appreciation? Who would benefit from an invitation to be reunited? Will you do it? Will you wait until it is too late? The older I get, the more I realize that each day needs to be unwrapped as the gift that it is. As George Bailey realized, I too have been given a pretty wonderful life. I am not a rich man in the area of finances, but when it comes to friends, my cup overflows. Thank You Jesus for the blessings that breathe and are fully alive. My cup truly does overflow. And thanks Ron for being patient with a 22 year old maverick who wanted to turn the world upside down. Because of you, God has actually helped me to turn things right side up!