IN NEED OF A RESCUE

26 08 2019

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The Lighthouse Church held its 23rd annual Beach Service this past weekend down in Wildwood. The highlight of the day are those individuals who have chosen to be baptized in the ocean as a way to give testimony to their faith in Jesus as Savior and Lord. Over thirty people of all ages shared their personal stories of the differences the Lord has made in their lives. The strong winds and rip currents made the event a unique experience. I have finally learned what it is like to be inside a washing machine. Nevertheless, I am happy to report that every one who went in, came out! Many with faces glowing and excitement building for the days to come.

It never fails that as the Service is going on, someone who is walking by always seems to ask me, “What is going on?” It gives me the opportunity to share my faith and talk about the Lord. When I get to the part about salvation, the phrase “Jesus Saves,” begs the next question, “Saves from what?” Rather than just quote a Sunday School answer, I try to come up with an illustration that will make the reply come alive. This year was no different. God always gives me an illustration just when I need one.

I recalled a television show that I saw not too long ago that featured this scene. A young boy begged his father for a snake. After much badgering, the dad gave in and purchased all his son would need to house and care for this unique pet. When it came time to feeding the serpent, things got interesting. The twosome returned to the local animal emporium to buy snake food. If I can be more specific here, this turned out to be cute and cuddly white mice. This could have been the biggest mistake of the day because it took absolutely no time for the youngster to bond with the menu!

Dinner time could only be put off for so long and so with much hesitation, the son had to drop his new unsuspecting mouse into the snake’s glass cage. At the time of the alleged feeding, the snake just happened to be sleeping amidst a bed of sawdust. I love how smart God’s creation truly can be. This tiny mouse somehow sensed that he had a serious problem on his hands. At any moment he could be swallowed alive. Obviously, the mouse needed to come up with some kind of scheme to save himself. What did the terrified creature do? He quickly set up work covering the snake with sawdust chips until it was completely buried. With that, the problem disappeared. The mouse apparently thought he had solved his problem. Another cover-up right before our eyes.

If there was going to be any real rescue, it was going to have to come from outside. The boy couldn’t bear to see his silly little mouse devoured before his eyes. As the snake awoke and was ready to pounce on the mouse, a hand swooped down and removed the rodent from the cage. The boy literally saved that mouse just in the nick of time. His attachment to that industrious but helpless little being kept him from being eaten alive.

Mankind too needs to be rescued and redeemed. No matter how hard we try to cover up, rationalize, and pretend that we have no enemy, the devil prowls around like a roaring lion seeking to devour us. Good works only cover up the undeniable elephant in our soul. We all have sinned and fallen way too short of the glory of God. If there is no mediation, sin will eventually win. But because our Heavenly Father loved us so much He sent His only Son to love us when we weren’t that loveable, the Master’s hand prevented us from being consumed. Love genuinely lifted us to safety.

Believe it or not, the real reason for all the chaos and confusion that we are caged by are the effects of the separation that occurs because we are not rightly related to God. Faith in Jesus is the only way for us to be rescued from the ruins of the sin that we are stuck within. God’s grace had mercy and compassion on us at just the right time. Believing that we have a Savior is not a pipe dream. Clinging to that hope is a sure thing. Just as the fangs of death are about to inject us with eternal poison, we are gathered into the grip of the One with nail scarred hands. It is in those hands that we never have to worry about death and separation again.

Becoming a Christian is all about a change of address. I am no longer found in a cage of doom in a neighborhood near you. This mouse no longer has to dig up wood chips to cover up my mess. Jesus has wiped my slate clean. He can do the same for you. You will never be good enough; nobody has ever been good enough. Only Jesus was good enough. Becoming a Christian is a change in our relationship with God. Jesus’ work, when it is believed and rested in, instantly changes our standing before God. Because we have been saved, we are forever “in Him.”

Several years ago, a man and his wife were found frozen to death in their car. A blizzard had dumped tons of snow in the area, burying their vehicle. Before she died, the woman scribbled a note on a piece of paper and stuffed it in the glove compartment. The note read: “I don’t want to die this way.” Tragically, less than six feet from their icy grave was a stranded bus, whose festive passengers remained warm throughout the night. So close and yet so far. Where are you today?





The Holy Spirit is Not Just for Show

21 08 2019

the comforter

I grew up amidst a time when if you wanted to stay out of trouble, you had to know the difference between the towels in the bathroom that were for show, and the other towels that you could use to dry your hands. Knowing the right towel was not all the knowledge necessary while you were taking care of business. There were also a variety of soaps in the dish on the sink and some were used for actually washing your hands, but the other only served a decorative purpose. I wish it ended there, but this discernment between what is there for show and what is there to be applied also rambled into other areas of the home.

I don’t know why they called it the “Living Room.” You were not allowed to do much in there. The sofa was not meant to be sat upon as it was covered in plastic, and how you got through there without walking on the beautiful rug still goes beyond my understanding. This was a room only to give the appearance that life occurred within it, although I suggested we refer to it as, “The Off Limits” area.

When we ate in the “Dining Room” when company came over, there was another dilemma staring you in the face. There were napkins provided on your plate but because they were made of this particular cloth, we were never to wipe our mouths on them. We were not allowed to use our shirt sleeves either. My Mother would provide paper napkins for the actual duty of keeping your face clean.

It’s not hard enough being a kid without all this extra pressure on you to make sure you know the proper etiquette around the homestead. I think I struck completely out when Mom bought us new comforters for our beds that even included a matching pillow cover. She allowed us to pick out one in our favorite color.

My color of choice has always been orange. I don’t know what that says about my personality, but it is true. I have an orange floor in my office at The Lighthouse Church. Even though I was a boy of about 11 or 12 at the time, I was looking forward to cuddling up in this new orange blanket of joy.

I’ll never forget my Mom’s horror when I got in bed and pulled the covers up tight. Mom scolded me quicker than normal, told me to get out of bed immediately, fold up that new ensemble of bliss, and place it on the chair in the room. Nothing had changed.

My bed was dressed up in this orange wonderland but I would never get to experience it. Once again, it was all for appearance sake and not for actually enjoying.

If today’s church in America suffers from anything, it’s the problem that too many Christian leaders set things up to look good, but make it undeniably clear that real messes are not allowed. We have “Fellowship Halls” carpeted to the degree that nobody dares to get it dirty. How can you have fellowship if you are not allowed to share a meal together?

I remember one aunt who never allowed us to play on her lawn. She treasured the green grass over happy children. We were so miserable whenever we had to go over to her house.

I believe she was just as disgusted to have us there. Needless to say, she lived a lonely life. Everything was nice and neatly organized but nobody was ever allowed to get close enough to truly live.

Once you open the door to anyone, you risk having life turned upside down and inside out, but Jesus modeled for us a ministry that taught us to never hold our best back from anyone. Jesus gave the same kind of intentional care to the rich and famous that he did to the down and outers. When people were around Jesus, even though He didn’t hesitate to tell the truth, one still began to feel like you mattered more than the sofa or the fine china or the towels hanging up on the hook.

Somewhere along the line, we championed looking the part without fully playing the part. God doesn’t work with images that we project. The Lord goes right to the matters of the heart.

If you learn anything by reading about Jesus in the Gospels, it’s that even though you might have felt bad at the beginning, he always made sure you left feeling better. His truth didn’t lay you to waste. His love built you up and gave you the vision of what He always intended you to be.

I have been preaching about the Holy Spirit lately. Every Christian at the moment of salvation is given a comforter, and He is not meant to be folded up and put in the closet. The wonderful gift of the Holy Spirit is meant to be so much more than an ornamental feature in our lives that we can look at but not touch.

Jesus called the Holy Spirit the “Comforter” for a practical reason. There is nowhere we go where we can escape His presence. There is nothing we can do that will break the bond between us. Believers may quench and grieve Him, but He never leaves or forsakes us.

When the Holy Spirit is fully allowed access to every nook and cranny of our hearts, we begin to look more like Jesus every day. The Holy Spirit doesn’t comfort us by removing us from life or keeping us out of the chaos. The Holy Spirit comforts us by giving us life smack dab in the middle of all that we ever have to go through. We never have to take on any battle alone.

So, before this day gets away from you, have you acknowledged the presence of God in your walk? Are you clinging to Him, rather than looking to lucky charms that aren’t magically delicious?

God so loved us that He didn’t save the best only for company. He invites us to come in and sit with Him. You can even walk on the carpet.

It is what the grace and mercy of our God is about. Get to know the Holy Spirit, who is not just for show. The world you live in will be transformed by this relationship, and you will be able to cuddle up tight in a “comforter” that isn’t in the closet but all over you!





I WILL FOLLOW HIM

14 08 2019

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As I write this, I am wrapping up my Sunday afternoon Rudy on the Radio Show I do on 106.3 The Shore, out of Wildwood. Earlier today, I played the big hit from Little Peggy March entitled, “I Will Follow Him.” In the Movie, “The Sister Act,” a group of Nuns sang it as a gospel song by making the “Him” they referenced in their hymn, the Lord Jesus. The chorus proclaims a devotion that is not embarrassed to tell the world, “I love Him and where He goes, I’ll follow. He’ll always be my true Love; from now until forever.” Jesus said that the watching world would know that we are what we say we are not by all the knowledge we could spout off; but simply by our love for Him and then one another! As important as the brain is to our intellect, it is the heart that is the driving force in our worship of God! God wants more than empty religious motion. He wants real emotion that expresses itself in nothing less than fiery devotion.

When life makes no sense, when what God is visibly doing is more frustrating than fulfilling, He still wants me to live by faith. Without faith, the Bible tells us that it is impossible to please God. A better translation for “please God,” would be “to walk close in consistent community with the Lord.” Without faith, it is impossible for human beings to have a relationship with God because first we must admit that God exists. There is a term today called “Christian Atheists” which defines believers who say they are dedicated with their mouths but their behavior would tell a different story. Do you live like God exists and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him? Would those who know you give a positive testimony that you are the kind of person who practices what he or she preaches? We begin to fulfill our God given purpose when we willingly yield and totally surrender to the specific God given plan that He has for each and every one of us. The goal of all Christians is to be like Jesus, but the road to get there is unique for every man and woman. The most important trait that we followers of Jesus need to own is that we don’t just hear the words of Jesus but we listen with the intent to assimilate his instructions into everything we are and do and say!

How do we know it is God’s voice leading the way in our every day? One of the clearest signs that the Lord is really in charge is when the pages of God’s word begin to come alive with power in our lives! The Acts of the Apostles was not limited to the early church. The same Holy Spirit is looking to move in and through us. Does the Holy Spirit have access to your will and your life? Don’t say, “Yes,” if you keep on saying “No” to His invitations.

I think one of the greatest obstacles for American Church goers is that we are looking for a syllabus when we should just be content to follow the Savior. We stubbornly expect the Almighty to provide us with all the details before we choose to follow. But God won’t give us the plans when His true will for us to just stay as close to the Planner as we possibly can. This flies right into the philosophy of the culture we live amidst.

Scriptures tell us, “By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.” Did you see that? There were more questions than answers. Common sense might tell you that you should never leave a pleasant present if it means walking into a “who knows what” tomorrow? Yet without faith, it is impossible to know God as He desires to be understood. The Bible goes on to tell us that, “It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going.” Abraham went even though He didn’t know where he was going. He just knew who he was going with! How many of us are so stuck looking for tomorrow’s agenda that we actually miss today’s adventure that comes with following Jesus?

Jesus summoned every one of the 12 Apostles with the same call. He challenged them to drop what they were doing and to “Come, follow me!” The Disciples didn’t get a three-year plan to buy into. They got not much more than Abraham; and yet they all ended up going without knowing what they had really gotten themselves into. Are we so busy trying to fit God into our dreams and schemes that we are actually missing out on letting the Lord lead? From what I read in the Word of God, it seems that it is very much God’s style to give us as little information as possible about what we are doing until we are actually doing it. When we want it all at once, Jesus says it will be disseminated on a need to know basis. He doesn’t give us the script ahead of time. Sounds like there is a lot of improvising along the way. The Lord adjusts the load as we share the road with Him but we must make a move towards Him for the adventure to begin.

Even when God seems absent or, worse, indifferent; or worse still, utterly unfair by my standards of justice, for example, when not one but two of your sons die in your arms, when your last 12 years have been haunted by depression and anxiety and a heart attack and two bouts of shingles and a mini stroke, when most of the plans I make never come to fruition, as long as He still leads, I am on the right track! God “wants me to wait on Him so that I will feel life deeply and not lash out in despairing frustration or angry rebellion but rather to still believe that He is here and His plan is good no matter how out of whack I think it has spun!

The Holy Spirit reminds me Jesus, who is called Emmanuel, is always here no matter how it looks or feels. But if we don’t make time to meet with our Heavenly Supervisor daily, how are we ever going to be able to please the CEO of the Universe? What would Jesus do? The New Testament tells us exactly what He did and if He did it, we should do it too. “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary; place, where he prayed.” “Solitary place,” means somewhere that you won’t be distracted and interrupted. A place where you can give God your undivided attention. The story goes on to tell us, “Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!” How many times are the days we live controlled not by the Holy Spirit, but more by the tyranny of the urgent? I love the reply of Jesus. Because He has been with His Father, he is able to pass up the good thing so that He may do the God thing! “Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come. So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.” When we are sold out to following Him, we are finally free to say “No,” to the crowds so we can “Yes,” to the Christ! How many Holy Spirit specific directions have we missed because we can’t recognize His voice over the noise of the crowd?
Changing the way we relate to God and life requires entering into a battle. We are naturally self-obsessed. We are committed to our own well-being at any cost. God is naturally others-obsessed.

He’s committed to our well-being at any cost to Himself. Who is following who? We need to stop demanding that God follows us so that we are humbly open to following Him. The more you hang out with Jesus, the less you care about where you are. As long as God is here, I am not lost or in trouble or lacking the resources I need to get to where He has promised. The Spirit is a first-rate Guide. He will teach willing hearts how to live. Are you ready to follow?





THE SAVING WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

6 08 2019

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The word translated for Holy Spirit in the Gospel of John Chapter 14 is “Helper” or the Greek Word, “paraklētos.” It is this word that we have transliterated into English to form the term “Paraclete.” The Greek term can also be translated as an “Advocate,” “Encourager,” or even “Coach.” In modern terms, the word carries the idea of a “Personal Trainer” coming alongside of the protégé amidst the course to provide appropriate counsel, constant correction, positive hope, necessary comfort, and the most important big picture perspective. As the Paraclete helps another towards excellence and reaching the goal victoriously, so the Holy Spirit is essential if we believers want to win the race that we were called to participate in.

I can relate to the term Coach for The Holy Spirit because He provides the guidance and instruction that I must have if I am going to become the person Jesus has called me to be. I must surrender my will to the Spirit’s leadership or I will be wandering aimlessly on the path of life. The Holy Spirit literally trains Christians to dedicate themselves, to discard hindrances, and to become obedient like Jesus. The Helper does this supernaturally, in part, by recalling the word of God that have been committed to memory in the mind so that they may be transferred to the application in the heart. Scriptures warn us against quenching the Holy Spirit which we do when we refuse to show up for daily practice and ignore the signs of our Heavenly Coach so we can play the game God’s way!

We can also quench the Holy Spirit by not accepting the difficulties of life, by being bitter and angry, by not being prayerful, and by not enjoying consistent company with our God. We can quench the work of the Spirit by not being worshipful and by not being willing to cast our cares upon Him. We can quench that work of the Spirit by operating in our own strength and relying upon our own agendas by not running to God for everything we need. Apart from the Lord, we can’t do a single thing that leads to eternal treasure. We quench The Holy Spirit by feeling inadequate, by not trusting God’s love, and by living like we lack all the key ingredients that the Lord has already graciously supplied. Any of those and more would cause us to quench the work of the Spirit. And when we quench The Holy Spirit, we grieve Him also.

This is why we must be dedicated and determined to make holy progress. This is why we need to stick to the Holy Spirit’s process.

1 Peter 2:1-3 says, “Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. 2 Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, 3 now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.”

Acknowledge our sin as quickly as possible. Don’t rationalize what needs to be recognized and removed as soon as possible. Rid ourselves by the power of the Holy Spirit of what will eventually poison the fuel tank of our hearts and souls. This means dealing realistically with all malice, all deceit, all hypocrisy, all envy and all slander of every kind.

Here are some warning signs that maybe things aren’t as spiritually healthy as you hoped they were.

  • Your priorities are suspect. You make no time for reading Scripture, prayer, church, or even your loved ones.
  • You live like you have more control than you really do.
  • You’re spending more time with your favorite vices — trash TV, social media, caffeine and more caffeine, a glass of wine or two or three, a pint of ice cream or too much pizza.
  • You over-react to small inconveniences — traffic, on hold with customer service, a long line at the grocery store.
  • Your personality is disrupted by an anxious heart.
  • Your mood is influenced solely by your current circumstances with no eternal perspective.
  • You forget and behave in a way that you have little value to God.
  • You harbor unforgiveness in your heart by rationalizing what you should be repenting of and you justify the sin that needs to be confessed.
  • You feel burdened by the unfairness of life and it spoils even good days.
  • You struggle to extend grace to anyone and act self-righteously and judgmental; especially with those you love.

So, we need to be in the Bible so the Bible will be in us! If we have trusted in Jesus, we have within us the presence and power of the Almighty God. The Holy Spirit lives within us. We need to allow Him to come out and shine bright! Let Him make the Bible come alive to you and through you. Be in it! Be all about it! Like newborn babes, let’s crave it and savor it! Like a summer day without ice cream should be any day without time with our Savior via the Holy Spirit and Scripture! Use it and we won’t lose it! The more we practice what we see on the pages; the more we will need to brush up so that we can run the current plays! Knowing Jesus leads to growing in our connection to the Holy Spirit. We can’t be saved without a Savior! Have you tasted that the Lord is good?

In everyday life, when we speak of someone being saved, we communicate two basic things:

One, someone was in danger and unable to rescue himself from a terrible fate. Two, someone else rescued, redeemed, and delivered him.

Sandra McCracken, on her album “Live Under Lights and Wires,” shares a story of two young boys in Missouri who spent their summer playing by some sandbag levees that had held back some of the extreme flooding that happened over the past decade on the Mississippi River.

Tragically, the two boys found themselves in some quicksand resulting from a breach in the levy.

When rescue workers finally found them and came to them, they found only the younger boy standing in the sand. “Where is your brother?” asked one of the rescuers. “I’m standing on his shoulders,” answered the young boy.

The older brother had sacrificed his life to save his younger brother. Just as this young boy needed saving, we too, were once sinking in the sand of our sin, and it took our older brother Jesus to sacrifice himself so we could be saved. And like the little boy, we are still in the sand of sin but saved from the death it would cause, and one day, the rescue worker Jesus will come and pull us out completely. This is the basic sense of what the Bible means when it says that we’re saved in Christ. It is what happens when we taste and see that the Lord is good and the Lord is God!





#METOO

31 07 2019

#metoo

In October of 2017, in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein allegations that accused him of using his position of power within show business to gain sexual favors from women working for him, the female population from all over the world have been coming forward about their own horrible experiences of very real sexual harassment. The rallying cry on social media that brought these ladies all together so that they could hear and share their stories was the use of a hashtag and the phrase: “#MeToo.” No arena of human existence has been spared the pain and the shame of this flat-out bad behavior. Even the Church hasn’t escaped and unfortunately has been guilty of embarrassing leadership activity that strays from staying in line with what Jesus would do or had done with the women in His own ministry.

Whenever there is a problem on planet Earth, humans like to play the blame game. Many men say that women ask for it by the way the provocative way they dress and the sexual signals they send. Women shout back that if men’s minds weren’t constantly in the gutter all the time, they wouldn’t have so many of these uninvited interludes. Who is wrong and who is right? Where can the fault line that longs to cause the quake of the ages in the battle of the sexes truly be found?

Last week at The Lighthouse Church, we had a guest Speaker who touched ever so briefly on the #MeToo issue that because of the brevity of seconds he allowed for the illustration, I concluded that he might have raised more questions than answered them. Everyone needs to remember that when you are sharing a message, the very moment you open your mouth, you risk being misunderstood, misquoted and mismanaged. I am not afraid of communicating on such topics. I just want to make sure that I have allotted the necessary amount of time to dot the I’s and cross the T’s! I don’t believe that this occurred within our Worship Service a week ago and so I promised that I would address it with this article.

Men never have a reason to mistreat women. It doesn’t matter how well masculinity might be able to rationalize any given situation, under no circumstance does man get a free pass in using a woman rather than treating her with the utmost respect. As a husband of an amazing woman for 37 years, a father of 4 living children, 2 of them being beautiful adult daughters, a grandfather to 4 children, 2 of them being wonderful little gals, you can best be sure that I believe God put inside of me a desire to do whatever is in my power to love them, honor them and protect them in a healthy way that only inspires their growth to become the individuals the Lord is calling them to be. This is not about which sex is stronger. This is about fulfilling the responsibilities that God has given to men and women. There is never a time that exploitation and abusive actions are tolerated as acceptable behavior. Women should feel loved and safe with the men around them and visa versa.

In the Bible, when the religious men brought the woman caught in adultery to Jesus, they felt justified in their unrighteous behavior. I can’t wait to get to Heaven when we can finally learn this dear woman’s name. No longer will she have to wear such a hideous label. The moment that Jesus took over that experience, this woman no longer had to fear for her life. She knew that for the first time in forever, she would be safe and literally be given a second chance. As a matter of fact, if there ever was a sure-fire example of not only how to treat women but all people, it’s Jesus. The moment we stop treating each other as God-created masterpieces made in His image, that is the moment everything begins to fall apart and not come together.

Christians aren’t exempt from the #MeToo epidemic. Growing up I was physically abused by someone who actually used God as the reason to beat the living daylights out of me. The sad part was, I had confessed my mistake long ago, but this individual thought that there was plenty of shame to keep on heaping on. It is a miracle that I am a Christian today, but that is because Jesus is not always well represented by those who wear His Name.

Men need to be responsible for every word that proceeds out of their mouths and every action that degrades someone else. Women also need to know that they are beautiful just as they are. I have told my wife and daughters and now granddaughters that they will always be amazing to me. It has nothing to do with size, color, ability or any other external trait. Just as God loves us because we belong to Him, so we need to love one another in the same way. I know pornography runs rampant within our society and is more accessible than ever before, but that doesn’t make it right. It doesn’t give us permission to use sex as a way to satisfy our own desires. Read the Song Of Solomon. God is the author of sex but at its best, it is always an expression of giving and not taking what doesn’t belong to you. There are so many of us that have been burned in the name of love but that doesn’t mean that God is done with us. We need to not be part of the problem but someone who is singing the song of an eternal solution.

If you have been abused, misused and put in a state where you have been threatened to remain silent, I pray that God will use this article to give you the courage to cry, “Help!” Yes, there are many hypocrites in the church but that doesn’t mean Jesus is one- so too, there are many good men and women who can be trusted and will take good care of you. What I love about my Jesus is that I have always felt safe within the grasp of His nail-scarred hands. Nobody put up with more hatred than Jesus. Nobody responded with more love than Jesus. What both men and women need now more than ever before is truth and grace and both are found in ample supply in the Lord!





KEEP IT REAL!

26 07 2019

Got Faith

As a Christian, I have surrendered my life to Jesus with the humble desire that His will be done to me and through me. I made this decision back in April of 1975 and shortly after my conversion experience, I received a calling into full time pastoral ministry. I was so excited about preparing for this adventure. I loved my time at Philadelphia College of Bible and couldn’t get enough of studying the Bible as well as making the most of every opportunity to share the good news with just about anyone who would listen. One of my favorite expressions from those days was shouting at the top of my lungs, “I’m Going to Heaven!” I’m glad I didn’t know then what I have come to know now. I’m not sure I would have signed on to this journey if I had the details ahead of time. I believe God loves us so much, He purposely keeps us in the dark about what might prevent us from living in the light.

It’s been 37 years since I became a professional Pastor. I can confidently tell you that I still love Jesus even though I haven’t always been crazy about the scripts that He has given me. I am hopelessly loyal to those God has placed within my path and I am still naïve enough to believe that people can be trusted to keep their word. Unfortunately, that balloon has burst so often that I am tired of plugging it up. But I refuse to become cynical and sarcastic. Every day I pray that I will seek the Lord passionately and always be open to new and creative ways to show others the truth and grace of Jesus. It must be both, by the way. Operating with only truth and one can become legalistic and pompous. Acting with only grace and one gets fluffy and shallow. I don’t want to become a cocky Pharisee but I also want to have way more depth than Barney the Dinosaur. This is where we Believers must not try to use the culture as a replacement for devotion to the Christ that we have pledged allegiance to. It’s His Word that is the only hope for our world. And the Bible is key to way more than just stuffing our brain with information, but changing our heart with transformation.

If there is one habit of our present society that just plain irritates me, it is the blatant disrespect shown for authority. Nobody wants anybody to tell them what to do or how to do it or where to do it or when to do it. We must not stamp the Lord’s name on our tastes. There are times that we need to do something not because we feel like it but because it is right. If I only entered into activities that I enjoyed, I wouldn’t be much good. As a matter of fact, God sees the big picture and my growth would have been stunted horribly if my to do list was only as long as what I could envision. While we may wrestle with our divine assignments, it all comes down to obedience if we ever want to become fully grown disciples. The surrounding crowds will always shout their selfish opinions but it’s only the Head Coach we need to please. If I start pastoring to just please the congregation as my number one goal, the church is suddenly in trouble. If we want to be eternally effective, make sure that everything you do is for the audience of the One who is seated on the throne in Heaven!

It’s going to be tempting to do things just because everybody is doing it. The fact is, not everybody is doing it. It only takes one descending vote to make the mob less crowded. Nobody can make you do something that you don’t want to do and so while the coercion meter might be at high alert, you still have a choice. I pray that God gives us Christians the boldness to stay true to Jesus as He was faithful to us. The cross wasn’t a picnic in the park and it caused our Savior much shame and pain but for the joy set before Him, He went the distance. It is time for the church to stop zigging when they need to be zagging and start not only asking, “What Would Jesus Do?” but we get busy really doing it His way.

How do you talk to strangers? Does your wardrobe worship God? Are you careful about not just eating organic and healthy but feeding your soul with the wonderful words of life? Do your footprints lead to places that you are proud to be? What are the views that you give permission for your eyes to see? If Jesus hung out with you, would you be embarrassed by His company? Would you ask the Son of God to wait here while you go there? Are you able to say “No” to what sin wants you to say “Yes” to? Can you be honest about your struggles or are you so good at acting, you even believe the lies? Do you go to church to be entertained or challenged? Are you seeking an easy chair when the Lord is ready for you to launch into the wild blue yonder? Are you stingy with your money or are you a cheerful giver? Does God get your absolute best or is He stuck with your lazy leftovers? Have you decided to follow Jesus or are you content with only a fun sized spiritual snack? It is time to get all excited and go tell everybody that Jesus Christ is King because you are signed, sealed and delivered yourself.

I’m a 59-year-old Minister. Many churches have decided to only have young and hip Preachers. I think we need Pastors of all ages in all stages of the seasons of life. I may have more life behind me than ahead of me but life has always been about quality and not quantity where God is involved. I still love what I do, where I get to do it, and it’s because of my real relationship with Jesus that I will not get sloppy about the road I travel upon. I share all the truth, even the hard verses because when it comes to God’s recipe of sanctification, no ingredients can be compromised. I have no intentions of hammering people over the head or shoving the Bible down anyone’s throat. Those tactics didn’t work with me so why would I use them for others. Somebody loved me enough to tell me about Jesus. As long as I am the Pastor of The Lighthouse Church, I long to do the same. The times they may be changing but I’m anchored to the Rock and thoroughly creative about the instruments that we use to win the right to be heard and understood. This is no time for pseudo faith. I only want to offer you the real thing. Any other options will only lead you to die a slow death of thirst.





TASTE AND SEE!

18 07 2019

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I love to go to Sam’s Club on sample day. Why pay money to eat at a restaurant when people are handing you free food with every twenty paces you take? I will try just about anything. I love liver and onions, anchovies, oysters and an Italian dish made up of peas, eggs and tomato gravy just to name a few menu items that aren’t in the popular category. On Mission Trips, I have eaten guinea pig, goat, and a few other delicacy items that I didn’t bother to ask what it was. Growing up in a family with too many brothers and siblings, let’s just say I wasn’t choosy when it came time for dinner! I knew I was hungry and if I could benefit from developing an appetite for some of the unpopular dishes, it just meant more for me!

Where does craving God fit in to your daily diet? Psalm 34:8 challenges us to “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” I know many individuals who are defined as “picky eaters.” They refuse to even try many delicious foods because they don’t like the look of things. The Bible doesn’t say, “Look and see that the Lord is good.” Have you ever ended up liking the taste of a food even though the appearance of things left much to be desired? When people try to force somebody to swallow something they really don’t want, it usually causes a gagging reaction. I have seen the ugly results that occur when religion is shoved down the throats of unwilling participants. People don’t become believers; they end up bitter and rebellious. There has got to be a better way in sharing the truth with others than giving them no choice in the selections off the menu.

Jesus always invited His followers to dinner, didn’t He? Every time He called someone to Himself, He invited them to break bread with Him. He wanted others to get a taste of His company. He wanted others to sample what it was like to hang out with Him. Actually, the more the majority of men and women got to be with Jesus, they were no longer satisfied with the snack packs of the Savior. They wanted to be a regular participant in the banquet table of the Bread of Life and the Living Water. It was like nobody could get enough of feasting with God on his words of grace and truth.

Everybody can taste, can’t they? Actually, the answer is No. There is a medical condition labeled cavernoma in a brain stem, and it can gradually take away many of the abilities we just take for granted. One of the behaviors is the ability to swallow, and many with this diagnosis have to be put on a feeding tube. They have to put a feeding tube into your stomach which they say will be a part of life from now on. No more roast beef, mashed potatoes and sweet corn on the cob. No more strawberry rhubarb pie, vanilla milkshakes and a piping hot cup of coffee. I can’t even imagine what a tragedy losing my taste buds could be.

After I suffered a heart attack, I had to begin taking medications that wreaked havoc with my tongue. My wife makes the best buffalo wings on this planet. We actually got the recipe from the original creators in Buffalo, New York. Suddenly, I could no longer stand the hot spicy taste. What used to be a delight had now become a dreaded dish. No more Mexican, Thai or spicy treats of any kind. Terri still makes me a much blander brand of wings and while they are good, I still miss the real deal.

It turns out tasting is not a constitutional right. It is proven that what once was a treat can now be something we’d rather see in the trash. The closer our relationship is to the One who created us, the more in tune we are with the gourmet goodies that matter most. The more we allow sin to distort our taste buds, the easier it is to settle for fast food that while its convenient, it isn’t really good for our souls! I see too many undernourished Christians who are starving not because they don’t have their pantries stocked with heavenly goods, but because they are choosing poorly.

Taste and see. How full does your cup have to be for it to produce this kind of worship in you?

I was reading an article this week online that said the average 4-year-old laughs 300 times a day. The average 40-year-old laughs four times a day. What happens to us? Does the world become less beautiful? What if children are right? Isn’t that why Jesus said that unless we become like little kids, we would miss the kingdom of God? Are we getting apathetic over what we should be amazed by? Are we taking for granted what we should be utterly grateful for?

I try to restrict my diet to just a few treats. But every now and then, I cheat by giving myself a really good treat. Last week, I went to Rita’s in Rio Grande to have a watermelon Misto. It was beyond amazing! I was thoroughly engaged and celebrated every sip. I blasted the music as I drove home. I wanted the drink to never end. I did dispose of the cup before I entered my driveway but I will tell you this, I thanked God for that afternoon dessert. It was a wow experience. When we unwrap each day as the gift that it is, we are more in tune with the little daily surprises that the Lord puts in our lunch box! But to become a partaker of this amazing grace, you need to open your mouth and receive the gift. Taste and see that the Lord is very good. When you have your fill of what God has in store for you, He fills you to spill you and others start to get hungry for what you are serving. We serve Jesus so we can serve Jesus! Come to the table and get ready for a miracle meal that never ends!