29 09 2020
Pro-life Video | Choose Life - YouTube


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 17 and a Senior 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!


22 09 2020
This Quote About Singing A New Song Will Inspire You To Write!

Speaking In the Light with Pastor Rudy September 23 2020

Do you see the cup half full or half empty? As you embark upon the rest of 2020, are you ready to seize the day or are you searching for the nearest bunker? Decisions like these are what separate the optimist from the pessimist. The optimist sees possibilities in the problems, and the pessimist sees problems in the possibilities. One sees open doors to opportunities and the other sees only the size of the very real obstacles standing in the way. But as Christians, we should be known more for our faith than our fear. When you process the days to come through the eyes of Heaven, even the greatest pitfalls can become a great potential for blessings.

Whether we like it or not, outlook determines outcome. If we concentrate only upon the doom and gloom, we are destined to become discouraged and behave as if we have already been defeated.

But if we fix our eyes upon Jesus, then perhaps we will witness the Lord turning graves into gardens and transforming trash into lasting treasure. Looking through the eyes of love certainly influences the manner in which we will tackle today and tomorrow.

When we read the Scriptures, do we truly believe that God can do what He did then in our day? God took Moses’ blunders and after a 40-year hiatus in the back wilderness, it literally made him one of the Bible’s greatest leaders ever. Jesus took Peter’s cowardice and the inability to complete a simple sentence to a slave girl and turned him into the most powerful preacher ever to deliver a sermon. The same God that took us broken and battered sinners and transformed us into His beloved and blameless bride is still looking to work His miracles today! God can take any of us, no matter how bruised and beaten up we may be, and make out of us something wonderful for His glory. Our attitude towards what the Lord is up to today will definitely influence what kind of story will unfold around us tomorrow.

Stop looking at what you don’t have and see the Lord! Stop listening to all we can’t do and let’s get busy with what God is waiting for us to accomplish now. God always starts with what we have before He gives us what we need. Are you willing to lay your abilities down so that God can raise up within us the muster we need to slay the giants that blaspheme our faith? Without faith it is impossible to recognize the movements of the Almighty. Rather than try to impress Jesus with our resume, He would be so much more pleased if we would just surrender our hearts fully to Him. Heroes are born not out of charismatic personalities but out of simple men and women who choose to not stay stagnant. I am not a pawn on the chessboard of chance. I am a child under the influence of an awesome God.

If you have trusted Jesus as your Savior, then you already have everything you need to bring the light into the darkness. Now, instead of whining, why not start with an attitude of worship? God inhabits the praises of His people and when we get a clear view of Him, the other challenges don’t seem as daunting as they once did when we attempted to walk this adventure as a solo. Man’s agenda is to look to this world to satisfy a thirst it is unable to quench. God’s will for us is to find all that we lack in our relationship with Jesus. Whenever we place a higher priority on being happy over the Lord making us holy, we aim for a prize that is no reward at all. If God is not the One who will greet you at the conclusion of this race, you are running along the wrong road. Anything less than eternity is passing away. We must not forfeit the crown of Glory which God has promised for those who are willing to wait upon the Lord just because we get impatient and choose to settle for the cheaper carnival trinkets that are available right now. 

The god of today is the way of the quick fix. When we need to know something, we want instant access to information. When we’re hungry, we settle for fast food. When pain hits, we want immediate relief no matter what it costs. When wrongs occur, we want swift justice. When trying new things, we want immediate success. When starting a new job, we don’t want to begin in the mail room. We want to go right to the top of the ladder. And when God does something we don’t understand, we want to know why! And if God is any kind of worthy Deity, we figure that He won’t dilly-dally around especially when we need Him! But the Lord is not the one on trial; we are. And we will never grow in faith unless we go hard after Jesus. If God doesn’t have a free hand to construct a masterpiece out of our mess, then we certainly are selling our faith short!

What are you singing today and do you have a song at all? Has the circumstances of 2020 caused the church to lose its voice? I don’t think so. I believe that the remnant of the real followers of Jesus will continue to sing songs of praise even in the setting of prison walls. Our song is not one that celebrates our circumstances. The inspiration of the tunes we croon come from the Holy Spirit who resides inside of us wherever we may be. Sing it loud and live your faith boldly. The old Coke commercial used to say, “I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony.” Today’s church should be teaching the watching world that our praise songs are not funeral dirges but symphonies of hope. This is no time to sing the blues. Today is the day to raise the praise. God is everything He claims to be and one day He will rid this world of sin, evil, death, and pain. While we wait, God allows these things to continue and our precious promise is that God uses pain and problems to draw His children back to Himself. I know that being in His Arms is the safest place even in the middle of a hurricane. Where are you today?


15 09 2020
Plane Window Seat View - Free photo on Pixabay


Anyone can celebrate the good times when everything seems to be going your way. But the test of true character is what happens when nothing seems to be falling into place? I have learned the hard way that just because you do what is right doesn’t guarantee that you still won’t face your fair share of wrong. The greatest lesson that God has taught me is that He is faithful in the midst of any circumstance that may come our way. Just when we think that the Lord has opted out of His promise to be with us always, He shows up in the most miraculous of ways!

Most religions don’t have any purpose for suffering and hard times. The best of belief systems advises its followers to avoid trials and tribulations at any cost. This is not the case with Christianity. Jesus made it clear to His disciples that in this world they would experience their fare share of bumps and bruises but nobody should be shocked by such a rude awakening. Jesus also promised to be with us every step of the way. Hard times didn’t mean lean seasons in the sojourn of any seeker chasing after the Savior.  

The Bible clearly teaches that Christians can celebrate the God times whenever and wherever we may be no matter what the situation. Even in the year of the unpredictable and unthinkable, this is no time for the followers of Jesus to be longing to live in another era. God created us for such a time as this. God provides what we need to succeed where He leads as long as we choose to walk by faith and not by sight. If we stay true to what God says no matter what we see with our eyes or hear from those around us with our ears, we will discover spiritual diamonds amidst the dust of these crazy days! No matter what is thrown at us this side of Heaven, as the recipients of God’s amazing grace and His peace that makes no sense unless we look through an eternal perspective, we really do have all we need to get to where we are going! Grace and peace doesn’t alter our destination. Grace and peace actually accompany us to our destination.

Marge had an experience aboard a plane bound for Cleveland, waiting for takeoff. As she settled into her seat, Marge noticed a strange phenomenon. On one side of the airplane a sunset painted the entire sky with glorious and majestic color. But out of the window next to her seat,

all Marge could see was an ominous sky dark and threatening, with no sign of the sunset. As the plane’s engines began to roar, she sensed God spoke to her. “You have noticed the windows,”

she heard beneath the roar and thrust of takeoff. “Your life, too, will contain some happy, beautiful times, but also some dark shadows. Here’s a lesson I want to teach you to save you much heartache and allow you to ‘ride with Me’ with continual peace and joy.” “You see, it doesn’t matter which window you look through; because no matter what your view, this plane is still going to Cleveland. So it is in your life. You have a choice. You can dwell on the gloomy picture. Or you can focus on the bright things and leave the dark, gloomy situations to Me. I alone can handle them anyway. The final destination is not influenced by what you see and hear along the way.”

No matter what happens around us, nothing can rob Christians from the reality that our ticket is punched for Glory! l am going to Heaven! If I catch Covid, I am still going to Heaven. If I have cancer, I am still going to Heaven. If I am broke or persecuted or swinging on a star, I am still going to Heaven. When I land, I am going to be greeted by a welcoming party that will take me into a land where all the pain of the past will not be allowed into the present.  Learn this, act on it and you will be free, able to experience God’s peace that passes understanding and the grace that fuels our engines when this earth forces us to run on empty!

When your faith is anchored by the simple but straight forward truths that God said we should care about, it will be more than enough to keep you clear and focused on the important tasks that He has for all of us ahead. I know that my biggest messes come when I try to do God’s will my way. I know that I only set myself up for failure when I try to control what only God can handle. How many of us are looking to play it safe during a time when we should be looking to walk on water. 

When Jesus met the first disciples fishing, he told them to push out a little deeper. These were lifetime experts who knew the seas inside and out and suddenly, a carpenter was directing them to do what they already knew what to do. They could have said, “If we need any help fixing a chair, we will give you a call but leave the fishing to us.”  They probably thought it was a stupid idea, but do you know what? They did it anyway. Jesus challenged them to push out into deeper waters and they did. Jesus encouraged them to throw their nets on the other side of their boat and they did. Grace and peace flood our hearts when we simply trust and obey the Lord. What is He asking you to do today?

I know life in the middle of 2020 can be very hard. Nobody knows what might be waiting for us in the months to come. God knows! God has even given us a foretaste of what our future holds if we stay connected to Him. God might ask you to do things that are beyond your ability. God might ask you to do things that won’t be popular with the people around you. God might challenge you to do things that don’t make any sense at all. Do it anyway. Keep your eye on the ball. Darkness doesn’t have the capability to destroy us but it sure will try to distract us. Keep the light on. Trust the ultimate Pilot no matter what side of the airplane you may be sitting on. And don’t ever settle to make yourself at home until your plane lands in Heaven! Bon voyage!


8 09 2020
Tom Seaver was brilliant in more ways than one | Newsday


 Death will never be easy for us to accept. Contrary to any nonsense of what Darwin might have said, I believe that the Bible was right on the money when it clearly taught us that mankind was created in the image of God. There is something clearly eternal at the core of who we truly are and when we experience the ceasing of the beating of a heart, it shouts foreign territory to our souls! God did not include termination in our DNA. Sin brought that enemy to our adventure and only the redemption that Jesus promises those that receive His free gift of salvation will still live even when he or she’s earthly time clock expires.

I grew up in the typical family of the 1960’s. Mom and Dad kept up with the proverbial Jones’ in every way possible. My Mom was a nurse and my Dad was the superintendent of buildings and grounds in Morristown. Mom worked days and Dad worked nights. We were all good people trying to do our best to get by and keep up appearances no matter what the cost. Somebody bought a swimming pool for their back yard, and then every neighbor put a pool in their back yard. My Dad built a patio, before you know it, the street was filled with patios. We lived, we went to school and church and work. We ate dinner together every night at 5 and then we watched lots of television, went to bed only to do it all over again and again and again!

Even back then I knew there was more to this life than living and dying and trying so hard to discover meaning and purpose. I was an exemplary straight A student who mostly feared that I would commit one sin too many that would result in me being separated from the God who I know was up there somewhere; but at that point I didn’t connect with Him personally. I tried so very hard to do what I needed to do to be good enough for my parents, my teachers, my coaches and myself. But no matter what, no matter where, no matter who, I admit that I came up way short of the standard of perfection. The acting on the outside would not remove the aching on the inside. I wanted to know who I was, where I came from and why the heck it mattered that anyone of us was here.

One of the vehicles God used to keep me engaged until I finally arrived at my destination was the game of baseball. Whenever I give my heart to something, I usually go overboard. I have never been a half way is better than no way kind of individual. Like most great dads, my Father taught me how to play catch, how to hit and all there was to know about the loveable losers from Flushing, Queens called the New York Mets. Dad was a Brooklyn Dodgers fan during his childhood, but they, along with the Giants, traveled west in the late 1950’s leaving the National League with no teams from the Big Apple and the only team left was that other one that won championships in the American League. With no chance of him switching allegiances to the Junior Circuit, he waited patiently for the new expansion Team to come along. I was born in 1960 and the Mets were birthed in 1962. We were a match made in Heaven. The only inescapable issue was that this team was terrible. They didn’t just lose, they blundered and bungled their way through 162 games a season. Why did I love them so? Maybe because they too were looking to find their way in this wild and crazy world.

In 1967, the Mets added a rookie pitcher to their roster named George Thomas Seaver. He wasn’t like anyone else who ever played on this team. He did his job with excellence and he hated to lose. He was determined to change the culture around him. He was not only amazingly talented at his craft but he thought through it. He was cerebral when it came to facing batters and choosing how to pitch to guys like Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Roberto Clemente and Pete Rose. Tom Seaver was Rookie of the Year in 1967 and won 16 more games in 1968. Paired with new Manager and former Brooklyn Dodgers great Gil Hodges, the Mets transformed from a traveling circus to a core of talented young and exciting and very good ballplayers. I ate, drank and bled orange and blue. I followed Tom Seaver religiously to the point that I knew his every mannerism and nuance on the mound. I bought a Tom Seaver glove. I dropped and drove off the pitching rubber so that I got dirt on my knee like he did. Tom Seaver became my very first real hero. From that point on, #41 and me were inseparable. If you knew me, you were going to know all about Seaver and the Mets! We went together as a packaged deal. If you knew me in my childhood, you knew all about my passion for the Mets. When the Mets became World Champions in 1969, I finally felt like a winner myself.

Fast forward to 1975. By then my family moved for the umpteenth time. I was in the middle of High School and was forced to start again making new friends and finding my place in this world yet again. My dream of being a Major League Ballplayer was coming to an end. I could hit and I could throw but I was about as fast as a snail on steroids. Suddenly I was coming to terms with what my life was supposed to be all about. Tom Seaver was still my hero but he couldn’t be my Savior. I desperately needed something more. Shea Stadium no longer held that magic it once had for me. And while going to ballgames with my Dad were still one of the highlights of my year, I was yearning for more than an earthly trophy that would only rust and be forgotten in a year or two. I needed a forever thing.

April 27, 1975 in a church parking lot in Chatham, NJ I looked up to Heaven and surrendered my life to Jesus. I gave Him everything I was, am and all I hoped to be. Up to that point, #41 was an identity that had literally saved my life from a premature exit. Thank You Tom Seaver and Baseball for being there for me until I could actually find my real way home. What used to be a number, became my mantra. From there on in, I would live my life “For One!” Jesus became my Hero, my Champion, my Rescuer, my Redeemer and my Closest Friend. I am alive because Jesus is alive in me. God so loved me as nobody would and could and I wanted to spend the rest of my life serving Him!Last Wednesday night I heard the tragic news that my childhood Hero, my role model Tom Seaver had died in his sleep. I wept like a baby when I found out. Tom Seaver played such a huge role in making me who I am today. Once again, I felt that old familiar foreign twinge of pain in my gut that this can’t be the way our stories end. Life must be about so much more than just what happens here. Jesus came and lived and died and rose again to assure us that our game won’t end when the final out on earth comes and goes. God put eternity in our hearts. He wired us to win and to never settle for defeat. He told us that real love is expressed, not just physically, but emotionally and intellectually. Tom Seaver got me as far as he could take me and for that I am indebted to him forever. But thanks be to God that Jesus didn’t leave me stranded on third base. Jesus got me home and He longs to do the same for you.


1 09 2020

JUMP - Potentash


In September of 1968, the television show “The Land of the Giants” made its debut on ABC Sunday nights. Even before I saw a single episode, I already had the official lunch box. Remember in grade school, picking out a lunch box that conveniently came with the matching thermos, was a major decision as the wrong choice could put you in cafeteria Siberia. I wish I still had some of those lunch boxes because they are worth a fortune on eBay! My Beatles lunch box alone could pay for my son Joel’s college education.

 “The Land of the Giants” was another program created by then science fiction wiz Irwin Allen. Allen also gave us “Lost In Space,” and “Voyage To The Bottom of the Sea,” to name a few. The premise of “Land of the Giants” took us 15 years into the then-future year of 1983.  The series tells the tale of the crew and passengers of a transport ship named “Spindrift.” Unfortunately, while on route from Los Angeles to London, something went very wrong. Somehow the air craft is dragged through a space warp where it is forced to crash land on a mysterious planet where everything is 12 times larger than on earth. Each week, we see the perilous adventures of the tiny 7 little people survive by obtaining food and avoiding capture by the giants or attacks from oversized animals, such as cats, dogs, ravens and my favorite, the gopher. They work hard to repair their spacecraft so they can attempt to return to Earth. They largely manage to succeed mostly because the giants are downright dumb. While they have a great advantage in size, they are inept when it comes to using their brains and brawn to send these little people to their tiny graves.

Maybe being so big isn’t that great after all. I can remember always being the tallest guy in my class. My size set me to acquire some pretty bad habits. While playing basketball in gym class, I never had to jump. I just would put up my long arms and take the ball away. There came a day though when my strategy of keeping my feet on the ground back fired! The littler players had to jump to make the grade and there came a day when those spunky guards would outjump me and outplay me. I will never forget when my Coach said to me, “Sheptock! You might be 6’4” but you operate like you are 5’8” because you don’t get any air under you!” Sometimes being bigger can actually lead to taking your size for granted. Sometimes being smarter can trigger you to believe you know it all. Sometimes having been blessed with so much here in America, we stop trusting God and exercising our faith in such a way that it actually grows!

As I observe our Country in the midst of embarking upon another month of pandemic, protests and politics; I don’t see enough humility. I do hear Christians calling for revival, but that kind of move of God only comes when the Lord’s people begin to confess their sins and admit that they haven’t been as faithful as they should be when it comes to following Jesus. I am wondering if Believers are more upset over the inconvenience that 2020 has been when just maybe they should be on their knees pursuing the Lord’s will and way like never before. God takes faith seriously. He is not a big fan of those who say the right things with their lips while their hearts are on another continent. If we want God to run things His way, then we must repent of begging for our own way.

Could it be that we have had it too easy as Christians in America? Are we ready to admit that we have depended more upon our reputation of being big rather than humbly surrendering our every minute to God so that our souls can grow too? How can we say that we would follow the Lord no matter where He takes us when we don’t even follow Him across the street? This is not a season to whine about the mistaken good old days. This is not a time to look for easier and more comfortable lodging. This is serious Bible boot camp where we can’t just talk the talk but we be willing to walk the walk, step by step in the footprints of our Savior. Is it time for the Church of Jesus to fulfill His promise that the gates of hell could not stand against it? How would we know if the Scriptures are true if we don’t allow God to prove it in each and every one of us? Could it be time for us to start jumping as we reach up to what God has for us? Could it be that the giants we face might be physically bigger but spiritually speaking come up way too small in all that leads to eternity?

God has already informed us that there are going to be some severe trials and tribulation to come before we get to go to paradise. There are no “Get Out Of Jail Free” cards! There are no free rides that allow you to “Pass Go and Collect $200.” However, there is a promise from our Creator that He will never leave us or forsake us as we shine our lights to alert those who think that life in the dark is normal and good. Our ultimate salvation is not in a vaccine. Our ticket to ride the train of freedom is not going to be found in defunding the police and destroying people and their property. Our hope and future is not tied to who the next President of these United States will be. Jesus taught us that God is much bigger than any earthly giants. God loves the world’s population even while He judges and we experience the real consequences from the poor choices His people have made. This is why this is no time to kick our hearts into neutral. It is time for Christians to practice what Jesus preached. It is time for us that have been called to wear God’s Name to get on our knees and trust Him! We need to worship Him loud and proud. We need to take our faith to the streets. We need to get up on our feet and not only reach up but jump up! Go after Jesus like the NBA does rebounds! And if we do, I believe that we will see God do a mighty work in our day!


25 08 2020

Peace is an inside job. | Boat wallpaper, Biblical verses, Native ...


Many years ago, I bought an album by the band Boston and the second cut on the record was a song entitled, “Peace of Mind.” The lyrics went something like this, “Now everybody’s got advice they just keep on givin,’ doesn’t mean too much to me. Lots of people out to make-believe they’re livin,’ can’t decide who they should be, whoa. I understand about indecision, but I don’t care if I get behind. People livin’ in competition, all I want is to have my peace of mind.” I would venture a guess that peace of any kind is in limited supply these days. I do know that if we don’t have peace of heart, there is no chance to experience peace of mind, body and soul.

The Bible has a lot to offer us when it comes to the subject of peace. Shalom is a word that implies that real peace has nothing to do with our outer circumstances but everything to do with what is happening on our insides. As a matter of fact, the peace that God promises is one that brings security to the heart eternally no matter what is on the move externally. If we are right with the Lord, then even if nothing else is right with the world, we will be secure in the midst of any insecurity living may bring our way.  

For example, in the Letter Paul wrote to the Philippians, he pens his masterpiece while imprisoned in Rome. He is locked up in chains, attached to a Roman soldier, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, and he has been in this situation for two long years and yet he writes of real joy and lasting peace. Paul once lived a life of constant adventure, traveling from city to city, influencing people of all ages and when we catch up to him via this correspondence, Paul is immobile. He is locked up tight in the sight of a system that isn’t letting him go anywhere. Paul has restricted movement, limited resources, and dwindling support. This energetic, fast-paced preacher, who was constantly active and moving about, is now confined tight as a drum under the most severe and strictest house arrest.

One might conclude that Paul’s temperament is in shambles. You might expect to discover a mighty bitter man behind these manmade bars. But that is not the message that comes from his words. Paul is not singing the blues but boasting of the reality that he rejoices in the Lord always. He shares how he has learned to be content with much and also with no material provisions at all. And while he might physically be chained, there is no stopping the faith that continues to pour out of him in spite of prison. Paul is not a chronic whiner. He is not longing for the good old days. Instead, this is a man who knows an unexplainable peace in his heart despite his current address. In the midst of the storm raging around him, a strong and steadfast purpose has settled into his heart. Paul, who has many reasons to feel conflicted and anxious, discouraged and defeated, is a man who has confidence not in what is around him but in the Holy Spirit who lives within him. And the same God who saved Paul is the same God who offers us that kind of peace.

Why then are we running to hide when we should be ready to shine our lights bright? As we find ourselves in a season unlike any other most of us have ever faced, are we showing others a Jesus who makes a difference or are we complaining about our settings and longing for yesterday? Peace of mind must be connected to a supernatural peace of heart that no longer looks to this world to provide the answers but has found all that is worth living for in a Kingdom where our Heavenly Father reigns. The promise is that the Lord’s perfect love will cast out fear. But the opposite is also true. Fleshly fear will blind us to the miraculous love of God. When we fix our eyes on what is around us rather than staying close to the Lord who is within us, we will miss the magic of making a forever difference each and every time. Fight the fear and live like the Lord is here, because in reality, He is very near!

I want to illustrate the thin line between fear and faith with this true story. Bryan Stephenson, author of “Just Mercy” and founder of an organization that tries to help those unjustly convicted of crimes, was trying to free a man who was clearly innocent. About a dozen people had seen him when he allegedly committed the crime, but none of those people were allowed in the courtroom because they were African-Americans. So, Stephenson complained to the judge, who reluctantly allowed Stephenson to admit a few of these eyewitnesses.

One older woman named Mrs. Williams was chosen to represent this group. But there was another big problem: a huge German shepherd stood guard outside the courtroom. When Mrs. Williams, who was deathly afraid of dogs, saw the dog she froze and then her body began to shake. Tears started running down her face before she turned around and ran out of the courtroom.

Later she said, “Mr. Stevenson, I feel so badly, I let you down today. I was meant to be in that courtroom. I should have been in that courtroom.” And she started to cry, and nobody could console or comfort her. But when she shared her history, one could only empathize and sympathize with this wonderful woman. She said, “I wanted to be in there so bad. But when I saw that dog all I could think about was Selma, Alabama 1965. I remember how they beat us, and I remember the dogs. I wanted to move and I tried to move but I just couldn’t do it.” And she walked away with tears running down her face. She felt like a failure because she was allowing her environment to stifle the necessary truth she knew she had to share.

The next day her sister told Stevenson that Mrs. Williams didn’t eat or talk to anybody all night. They just heard her praying all night long the same prayer: “Lord, I can’t be afraid of a dog. Lord, please help me with my fear of this dog.”  The next morning, she walked up to Stevenson and said, “I am not going to allow a dog to keep me from being used by my God. I am not going to allow a dog to steal my trust in my God. Nobody removed that German Shepherd. Mrs. Williams got to the place where she kept her eyes on her unseen Lord and was able to walk right past that very visible huge German shepherd still in the courtroom.

The courtroom was packed when the judge walked in and everybody rose and sat down, that is everyone but Mrs. Williams. This woman was strong on the inside even though she was in a place of fear on the outside. But that didn’t stop her from addressing the entire courtroom in a loud, firm voice: “I’m here!” Stevenson would go on to share, “What she was saying wasn’t that she was just physically present. She was saying, I may be old, I may be poor, I may be black, and I may even be afraid but I am here because God gave me a peace and a purpose and a clear mission to speak up about justice that compels me to stand up against injustice. It was on that day when the tide for the case turned.

If we never were afraid, if we never battled fear, why would one of God’s favorite commands to His people be, “Fear Not!” It is at those very moments when our knees are shaking and our hearts are breaking that we need to dig deep and ask the Lord to show up big to us by providing all we need for Him to work through us. Anyone can be a happy camper when everything around us goes our way. But only those who have an inside peace that passes understanding can be properly equipped to face the constant barrage of outside bullets that want nothing more to paralyze us and render us useless at just the moment God wants to make us His instruments of choice. Do you want peace of mind? Give the Lord every piece of who you are and even though nothing on the outside may be altered- who you are on the inside will never be the same again!


18 08 2020

Whatever Became of Sin? - Biblical Counseling Institute

Speaking In The Light with Pastor Rudy

Like many others in the Cape May County area, we lost power during the recent tropical storm. The electricity disappeared early Tuesday morning and finally reappeared Thursday night. By the time things were restored to normal, when we opened the refrigerator, it was obvious that the perishables didn’t survive the outage. We did what any intelligent individual would do. We threw out what went bad. If we only added new food to mix in with the old stuff, the new wouldn’t influence the old but it would be just the opposite. When there is something rotten in the State of Denmark, it will all be awful until we evict that which is the bad influence. The same is true with our hearts. Religion only tidies things up from the outside. It is like spraying deodorant on a dirty shirt. Instead of smelling bad body odor; you now smell body odor mixed with perfume. God doesn’t want us to cover up that which keeps us separate from Him. He wants to have unconditional access so He can transform that which is dying to something alive and brand new.

What exactly is sin? Here are some suggestions: “Sin is like a bad case of shingles. No one likes a shingles, nor should anyone like sin.” Sin is like being diagnosed with a disease that has a 0% survival rate.” “Sin is like weeds in a garden; if not rooted out properly and presently, they will soon overrun it and the beauty disappears!” “Sin is like a bow and arrow and shooting at a clear target and missing it every time.” “Sin is like trying to jump over a canyon and doing so even though there is no way to make it to the other side.” “Sin is like a fly in the middle of a spider web; trapped to be devoured.” “Sin is like the bee, with honey in its mouth but a sting in its tail.” “Sin is like gravity. It is an ever-present force but it will only bring you down. “Sin is like numbing your heart with too much booze only to wake up to the biggest hangover on record and there is no relief.” “Sin is like a sudden but unknown leak in a gas pipe; it’s only a matter of time before the constant breathing it in will steal your life.” “Sin is missing the challenge of being as holy as God on your own.”

Still we find ourselves, more often than not, actually entertaining and giving free reign to a clear and present danger. There was a song sung by Al Wilson that hit the top 40 back in 1968 simply entitled “The Snake.” The record tells the tale of a tender-hearted woman who saw a poor half frozen snake and rescued him, nurtured him and took care of all his needs. The snake repays her kindness by biting her and filling her with deadly venom. The last verse goes like this, “I saved you,” cried that woman and you’ve bit me even, why? You know your bite is poisonous and now I’m going to die. Oh, shut up, silly woman, said the reptile with a grin, you knew darn well I was a snake before you took me in.” If you play with fire, don’t be shocked when you get burned.

In the Bible, we are told the story of how the Lamb of God came into the world to make it possible for sinful people like you and me to have an eternal relationship with the Lord. In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve chose lunch over their closeness to the Lord and they allowed a slimy serpent to deceive them out of forever. Nobody had to teach us how to do wrong. We like to change the name of sin to justify our bad behavior but rationalize how we might, sin will do us in every time. Only in the Kingdom of God can the perfect sacrifice of a slain Lamb serve as the anecdote all mankind desperately needs. Jesus did what He did out of great love and yet we still do all we can to mess up the gift. On our own we can’t help but get stuck in the sin this world is steeped in. But we are not alone if we don’t want to be. The Good Shepherd has taken care of the hungry wolves. Will we submit to the only solution that has the real power to save us?     

The idea of exactly how to be holy has suffered from many false concepts. In too many churches, holiness is measured by how out of fashion and uncomfortable a man or woman can look on any given day! If women wear potato sacks and men never go tieless, they must be holy. In other circles, holiness happens by all the things we don’t do rather than celebrating the deeds done via the power of God now alive in a believer’s heart! A Christian is not someone who doesn’t drink, doesn’t smoke, doesn’t swear, doesn’t dance and so on and so what! A Christian must be defined by how in love with Jesus they are. When we follow the “list” approach to holiness, we are in danger of becoming just like the Pharisees who were so enamored with their own ego, they couldn’t see God when He was standing right in front of them. Holiness is expressed when we behave what we say the Bible has taught us to believe. It has more to do with who you worship than what your wardrobe looks like. What good is it if all your entire faith can be summed up by the conclusion that you talked big but came up very small. You had the content but not the character of Jesus. When you should have been separate from sin, you decided that you’d rather put distance between yourselves and the very sinners that Jesus came to rescue!

Make no mistake, every Christian has a battle on his or her hands but our fight is not with flesh and blood but against the power of the presence of unchecked sin. If you don’t fight it, be very sure that you won’t right it! The worldly system longs to lure us into conformity to its patterns and priorities that contradict clearly the lifestyle that Jesus invites us to experience. Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also and while believers should be seeking first the Kingdom of God, the temptation of luxury, over-indulgence, greed, the accumulation of more and more things, personal gratification over the service of others and playing in the playground of pleasures get more Christians off track more often than not. God’s Word clearly says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2).

When we choose to view life by looking through the eyes of the Lord, its fruit is that we do things, we live places, we make decisions that make no sense on earth but actually reap lots of cents translating into eternal treasure in Heaven. If followers of God don’t pursue holiness with vigor and courage, we will end up championing the temporary and forfeiting the forever. Pursuing holiness may very well alter your destiny and legacy because at the altar you surrendered your ultimate direction to God, no matter what the crowds may say! Trivial pursuit is a game we should not waste precious days living. Trivial pursuit is defined as an infatuation with something that is actually valueless. I challenge us to give up on our trivial pursuit of sin so we can let the Savior fully in! Lord please make holiness a priority in our churches today. Let us admit that we have failed so that You can succeed in Your will being done on earth as it is heaven. Just because we don’t talk about sin doesn’t mean it has gone the way of the rotary phone. We need to dial in so that as we number our days, God becomes clearer to see in you and in me!


11 08 2020

take a vacation....from your problems !


I love the classic Bill Murray Movie, “What About Bob.” In it, Bill Murray plays Bob Wiley, a deeply disturbed, neurotic and manipulative man who has a habit of clinging onto his therapists. His last Overseer, not being able to last another minute with him, refers Wiley to an egotistical Psychiatrist named Leo Marvin who is played to perfection by Academy Award winning Actor, Richard Dreyfuss. After only one session together, Dr. Marvin is off with his family for an extended time away in Lake Winnipesauke.

Leo Marvin has just written a Book entitled, “Baby Steps,” and is anticipating being interviewed soon on Good Morning America. Bob uses whatever means necessary to get the location of where Dr. Marvin is off to and the hysterics begin when he finally does find his trusted Counselor and intends to never leaves his side. When the unstable Bob befriends the other members of Dr. Leo’s family, it pushes the good Doctor over the edge. When Bob Wiley gets off the bus in New Hampshire, Dr. Leo does try to get rid of his newly discovered nuisance by writing out a very clear and specific prescription. The medicine involves no drugs but simply a mental exercise that allows the mind to take a break. What Bob needed to do was to “Take A Vacation from His Problems.”

Every time I look to take some days off, I declare to my Family, “I’m on a vacation from my problems.” I was hoping that to be the case last week. How wrong I was when my whole experience included one problem after another! The origins of the word “vacation” go back to the Latin root vacate, which means “to be empty.”

A true vacation involves emptying ourselves, freeing ourselves from the details of our daily grinds. I would propose that this goal might just be impossible to accomplish this side of Heaven. The more I tried to get away, the more I failed to find that place of real rest. I don’t think that “vacation,” can be discovered in a place as much as it happens by emptying our unreasonable expectations to a Person who offers us rest in the middle of chaos.

While I try going, God keeps coming to my side at just the right moment to offer His peace as an inside work in spite of outside turmoil. Is it possible to humble ourselves to the practical but powerful premise that if I long to discover any remnant of paradise this side of Glory, I must surrender my agenda to His perfect will? If there is going to be less of me that allows for more of Him, the work that must be avoided is my hands getting in the way of what my Lord longs to accomplish.

Let me try my best to give you a shortened recap of my so-called time away last week. Tuesday we all battled a Tropical Storm that proved to be much more annoying than we were first instructed. Like many others, our power went out in the early morning and when that happened, we were without water and use of the facilities. At my age, I am frequent visitor to the bathroom so this was not going to be an easy fix. Like many other times, I went to the Lighthouse Church to crash and live until the lights went back on again. In a time when many have found themselves working from home, I was not “homing from work!”

I have observed many an attendee taking a snooze during a sermon here and there so I knew that sleeping at church was not that difficult. The power stayed out on Wednesday and I had previously booked a parasailing adventure for my daughter Leah and I in Ocean City, so off we went in spite of the fact that I hadn’t slept that well the night before. The waiting for the challenge to begin would be the happiest moment of our parasailing experience! My poor Daughter! Even after taking Dramamine, I got so seasick on the boat as we crossed over from the Bay to the Ocean that by the time we were flying, so was everything in my stomach. I threw up time and time again at 500 feet in the sky!

It didn’t end in the air. When I got back down, there were still three more pairs of parasailers to go and I held my barf bag close to my heart. I felt like I was in Hell! I never wanted something to end so badly. If vacation meant to empty myself, let’s just say that I let it all hang out!

The power was still out through the day on Thursday. I was still camping out at the church. I wanted to feel sorry for myself, but battled through it choosing to just be grateful I was on solid ground once again. When we did go back home late Thursday night, our refrigerator was vacationing because it was empty! I was still hoping to salvage the last few days being officially not at work. In searching for the proverbial “Silver Lining,” I told the Lord that I would settle for some appropriate gift sent from Heaven in aluminum foil, but Saturday turned out to be no better. Because I normally preach four Services every weekend at the Lighthouse, I miss many of my Son’s baseball games, but because I was on vacation, I could actually see him play this day. But while I was on my way to Joel’s baseball game up in Riverside NJ, when I stopped to get a Wawa coffee, I proceeded to spill all 24 hot ounces all over me! It was wet, hot and incredible sticky! I burned my legs and soaked my clothes. I had to turn around and go home to change. I never made it to see Joel play and once again, my heart ached and my soul felt null and void.

To cheer myself up, after I put on dry clothes, I went out to a Hallmark Store to see the new Christmas ornaments for the first time in person. I had a question about one of them and when I went looking for assistance, the Clerk took it upon herself to humiliate me publicly for not wearing my mask properly! I tried to tell her that because of my severe sinus issues, I can’t breathe with both my nose and mouth covered. She proceeded to heap more shame upon me and already feeling rejected, I went quickly for the door. Please family and friends, take the time to be sympathetic with others before you beat them up!

As I drove home, I looked up again for any sign of acceptance and approval. God filled my aching spirit with these life-giving words. “Kindness… Caring… Compassion… Grace and Mercy… Patience… Understanding… Love… Positivity… Not judgmental… Not self-righteous… Not superiority… Not prejudiced… Not holier than thou… Let us lead with life! Let us listen seeking light! Let us be those who make a difference!” I couldn’t take a vacation from my problems because our world is filled with them. But I could empty myself of me so there would be more of Jesus to see. I’m going back to work again. Hey, I know there’s power in the place and I am not just talking about electricity.

The same Holy Spirit who allowed Jesus to vacate the tomb is there to lead us in leaving our desires behind so we can dream a new destiny that won’t end in defeat but victory in Jesus. If the ultimate result of the word “vacation,” is to be free, then I can report that God did some necessary refinements in my heart last week. I can’t need this world to be enough because it never will become that. But a relationship that walks with the Lord no matter what, no matter where and no matter when, well, that’s a whole new ballgame. Some glad morning, when this life is over, I’ll fly away and when that time comes, it won’t be Hell. It will be the open door to Heaven!


4 08 2020


This is no time to be apathetic when it comes to practicing your faith. If one chooses to travel the middle of the road in such a time as this; prepare to be roadkill. The happenings of 2020 do not contradict what we read in the Scriptures. The Bible makes it very clear that it will get worse before it gets better! Paradise comes with a price. Will we follow the Lord no matter what it costs? The only person who can answer that question for you; is you. Jesus challenged every potential disciple to follow Him. For that to happen, movement is necessary. You can’t stay where you presently are and expect to go where God is inviting you to be. Going to church is so much more than gathering information. Being the church by the Spirit is all about transformation. If that isn’t inspiration to your ears which will result in some holy perspiration down your back then you aren’t involved in cooperation with your whole self, pursuing Heaven’s anointing.

If we aren’t in the word of God with a passion and a hunger, how will the word of God be in us? Our comfortable American culture has allowed Christianity to be reduced to nothing more than just another hobby in the many compartments that make up a man or woman’s life. Jesus has never enjoyed sharing the spotlight with anyone or anything. If an individual is choosing to call Him the Lord, then there can be no other idols standing in the way. History has proven that the biggest weakness for the flesh has been a compromising heart, wrongfully giving its worship to that which takes but never gives back. God has always bestowed so many blessings upon His children and we fall more in love with the presents rather than desiring His Presence. We demand the gifts and abandon the Giver! As long as God doesn’t get personal, we will pledge a fickle allegiance to the Cross.

Let’s face facts people, apostasy is defined as a falling away from the absolute truth in the Bible. There will always be a contingent of wolves looking to feed upon the sheep by providing the flock what they want over the healthy nutrition they really need. Just because a self-proclaimed scholar comes along and claims that God has changed His mind about right and wrong doesn’t mean it is so. The Bible has stood the test of time. Egypt has no Pharaohs still ruling. Babylon has come and gone along with their impressive but temporary wonders. Greece and Rome no longer have a home. Why would Christians not know their history? Is the human race doomed to make the same mistakes over and over again? Pure observation doesn’t bode well for the people.

Let me make something very clear here. I am not preaching legalism. When the church starts championing inerrancy as they should, the church also makes the mistake of wearing the holier than thou garments that hold them back. Rather than practically putting the Scriptures to use in every day life, while showing people Jesus up close and personal, it is used as a weapon to beat unbelievers over the head. Coming down from Mount Sinai, it wasn’t God who hit Israel over the head with the commandments; it was Moses who threw the tablets at the flock. What was supposed to be truth that set people free became tragically used to keep the crowds away from Christ!

When we behave what we say we believe, actions speak louder than words and those presently fumbling aimlessly in the dark are properly invited into the light. Why would the Body of Jesus ignore the greatest commandment? In case there was any confusion, what was taught clearly was, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and love one another as yourself.” As the times get more chaotic, our purpose as Jesus followers should be as clear as a chiming chapel bell! If I want others to hear what I say, I better be modeling my steps after the Master! It isn’t about us using God for our own agendas. It is about God using us to show the world the way home.

As we embark upon the future, you can be sure that unadulterated evil will continue to be unleashed in record proportions. Sin will forever be in vogue because mankind is selfish in nature. Woodstock could only be a pipedream because we won’t have peace externally until the Holy Spirit is allowed to recreate us internally which is our one and only key to eternity. We live in this world but we are citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven. Politics can’t save us and popularity will only blind us. Preachers are only as effective as they stay committed to Genesis through Revelation. Unless we walk between the lines that the Lord has so graciously and mercifully provided for us, we have no hope and no future.

Wake up every morning with the attitude that today is the day the Lord has made and let us be glad and be ready to rejoice in it. We need to understand that people are not the enemy and it should never be an “Us against Them” scenario. “For God so loved the world that He gave His One and only Son that whosoever would believe in Him would not perish but have everlasting life.” God did not send His Son into the world to condemn us but to complete us! When will we stop trying to stuff pieces that don’t fit into the mark that belongs to God? We won’t have a message if we deny the Master who is the Creator of masterpieces.

Revival is what we need to be praying for day and night. Renewal of hearts is the business that should be occupying the priority of our time. Redemption is the story that brings God the most glory. Repentance is necessary if we are going to experience the turn around that we desperately need. Rejection should be our response to the lies that lead to compromise. Ready and willing is what I am– to follow Jesus until the day He calls me to His Arms. This is no time to run and hide but it’s a perfect season to set up a life saving mission a yard from the gate of hell. I’m weary of the daily news but I’m waiting on God’s daily bread. Our Father is still in control and Jesus is still the answer to whatever the questions might be. This little light of mine, your little light, everyone who claim to be Christians need to allow the Holy Spirit to ignite the flame like never before. The future of America depends upon it!      



29 07 2020
Where to Ski This Season | Outside Online


We all expect life to be easier than it really is. We plan for everything to fall into place just as we dreamed it to be. Unfortunately, this earth is littered with too many banana peels that we have all slipped at least once or twice upon. As much as we desire sunshine, it does rain on our picnics. No matter how deep we may love someone, there is still the possibility that we will be jilted without much warning. People eat healthy and still suffer from sickness. Runners even drop dead of heart attacks! Earth this side of heaven is far from paradise. Why do we believers still seek to discover solace in abandoned palaces and refreshment in empty wells? Will we ever learn that we need God’s presence more than the presents we constantly demand from His Hands? When answers aren’t enough, God shows up ready to accompany us so that we make it to our real home where we belong.

When will we realize that if we never experienced mishaps, we would also miss out on God’s miracles? We will all face troubles along our daily path, but we must remember the divine Troubleshooter is only a prayer away. Even weddings are known to go terribly wrong. Because they did in Cana, Jesus was able to do His first miracle. Running out of wine almost caused an argument before honeymoon bliss. I can hear the Bride say, “I thought you ordered the wine, Sugar Bear!” The Groom responds, “No, I told you to get it, Lover Lips!” But before it got dicey and dangerous, Mary opened the door for Jesus to come to the rescue. If everything went according to plan, there would have been no room for God to raise His mighty Hand. When we are weak, it sets the stage for our Lord to be strong.

None of us could have predicted the unpredictability of 2020 before it began. The conditions have changed drastically from day to day. We may never return to life as we once knew it. Believers must not allow the surrounding circumstances to squelch their joy. This is no time to hang our heads low. This is not the season to run away from God and allow doom and gloom to block the light. Christians are known to sing songs of praise even when they are wrongfully persecuted and treated badly. It’s not our surroundings that give us a reason to believe. It’s the incredibly awesome size of our Savior. Have you forgotten how mighty and majestic our God is?

Woe to those who try to live life without the Author of it all leading the way. Woe to those who buy the lie that the created has the right to tell the Creator to mind His own business. Woe to those who forfeit eternity in Glory for a measly fifteen minutes of fleeting fame here on earth. The sweet ride for humanists is heading for a crash. Mankind’s leader of the pack is going to end up in the back. If you want to finish strong, then make sure that the Lord is along for the ride. Flourish within the faith that seeks first the Kingdom of God and stop investing heavily in the stuff that is eventually going to pass away. This is not the time for the Church to concentrate on the outside facades when the real goal should be the Lord’s transforming power being free to change us from the inside out!

Yes, we will all experience moments when our flesh may fail us. It is then that we need to be honest with God about what is really going on in our hearts. I love the man in Scripture who was vulnerable enough to express to Jesus, “I believe Lord, but I need You to help me in my unbelief!” The cry of our spirit should be similar to the lyrics from the Elevation Worship song which sings, “Give me faith to trust what you say, that You’re good and Your love is great. I’m broken inside, I give you my life.” Surrendering to Heaven is the only way to be victorious here on earth! Our ultimate answers that will satisfy the yearnings of a hungry heart will never come from Washington D.C. or Trenton or any political movement claiming to be the solution to the satisfaction we seek. I will never stop waiting on God to show up and bring holy justice to the nonsense we call fairness on this planet. As long as human pride and personal ego drive our decisions, we will always miss the destiny that the Lord created us to experience. I want to remember Who is really in charge—and praise Him!

I need to desire a humble heart. I long to pay more attention for God to cleanse my own faults rather than magnifying the flaws of others. I want to forget about myself, concentrate on Jesus and worship Him. 

I have a hunch that the times ahead might be getting worse before they get better. If I want a simpler road, it might mean that I would have to compromise my faith in God’s unchanging, absolute truth. But I won’t do that , so I am right in knowing that I can’t do this in my own strength, but I am wrong in thinking that it can’t be done at all. I believe that faith is the victory that overcomes the obstacles attempting to put out the pilot light in the engine room of my heart. God doesn’t take away the difficulties. He gives me what I need to negotiate my faith through the rugged terrain.

Several years ago, Dennis Hall and Will Morey invited me on a ski trip to Vail, Colorado. I love snow and I enjoy skiing even though I am far from an expert in this outdoor sport. As many of you know this about me, I am not always good at paying attention to the details. I was so enthralled by the beauty of God’s creation all around me, I didn’t get off of the ski lift until I was as high as the journey would allow us to go. When I finally woke up to where I was, I noticed that the only available routes down the mountain was via what is labeled as “Black Diamonds.” Now the most challenging trails are one thing in Pennsylvania but this was not Camelback. I was on the top of the Rocky Mountains. I was in way over my head. My face didn’t hide the fear that I felt.

A gentleman who looked like an Olympic Champion came over to me and said, “I see you are in trouble.” I didn’t disagree. I was praying for a helicopter ride back down to the lodge where I could sit by the fire with a mug of hot chocolate filled with marshmallows. That option was not to be.

This experienced Skier said to me, “Watch me and follow me closely and do what I tell you to do and I will help you navigate your way through this challenge.” I never paid closer attention to anyone better in m y entire life. I zigged when he zigged and zagged when he zagged. I kept my eyes fixed on his every move. I was never so happy as when I arrived at the bottom of the run still in one piece.

God is not going to let us skip the tough stretches of the journey and neither should we expect Him to. But it is time for God’s people to follow Him more intensely than we ever have before. If we ever needed guidance and direction and purpose and power, it is now. God is up for the challenge, that’s a given. The real question is, “Are we?” Let’s stop with the complaining and start with the committing and discover that even in the worst of circumstances, we are not alone and on our own.

It is time for fear to become faith and burdens to become blessings. God’s got the compass. Are you willing to go all the way He leads?