THANKSGIVING IN AMERICA- 30 YEARS LATER…

27 11 2017

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It was thirty years ago this week when I was still a Youth Pastor in Dayton, Ohio that my Senior Pastor came to me with an assignment for the Annual Church Thanksgiving Eve Service. He asked me to come up with a segment called “Thanksgiving In America.” I think that he wanted it to be more of a historical presentation but I approached it from my own unique angle. While I was waiting for the High School Students to get out of Centerville High School on Monday Afternoon becauseI  used to take a group of the Kids out to eat so I could spend some quality time together with them; I began to make my way through the alphabet. I began to literally make a list of all the things I was grateful for from A through Z! In two days I composed my list and wrote a melody and actually sang the song for the Congregation.

 This year I decided that rather than just bust out the old Rudy Thanksgiving Classic, in honor of it being thirty years later, I would revisit the area of my soul set apart for gratitude and see what my heart came up. I mean, in all this time that has passed, I should be able to come up with at least 26 new items to be grateful for, right? It’s not the quantity that is challenging but the limiting of being able to use only one letter, one time and let’s face it;  some letters don’t roll as easily off the tongue as others. Did anybody mention X,Y and Z?

 The reason I do this again is to encourage you, my precious and loyal Readers to do likewise.  We need to spread a little life and shine a lot more light for one another these days. Our Culture has become so spoiled and we all have a tendency to take the most treasured things for granted. We have become whiners and complainers and behave in a manner as if we were the center of the universe. There are so many who have already skipped right over Thanksgiving Thursday so they can get to Black Friday and go out and compete with other misguided shoppers fighting over products they don’t need to impress others who don’t care! But what if this year was different? It can be! We aren’t as helpless to our surroundings as we pretend to be. What if we set the tone rather than just reacted to the temperature? Let’s be trendsetters that lead others away from the self-centered “What’s In It For Me?” mirror to the other-centered banqueting table of “Loving God first and loving one another as ourselves?”

 So here we go:

Thank You Lord For:

Audiobooks I get to read, Bible Studies I get to lead,

CD music I love to play, Delicious Dinners at the end of each day,

Eagles Football with Merrill Reese, Facebook Contacts that never cease,

Grandkids Pop-Pop loves to hold, Hallmark Channel never gets old,

Ice Cream flavors by the dish, Jingle Bells is my constant wish,

Kids who always call me Dad, Loving Wife I’m blessed to have,

Mets Baseball Games that drive me crazy, Naps I take when I get lazy,

Office decorated like no other, POstables and my Signed Sealed Delivered friends,

Quiet Times and my times with Him, Radio Shows on Lift FM,  

Snow Days that shut things down, Twitter Family never lets me down,

Underdogs who don’t give in, Victory over darkness and sin,

WaWa Coffee I love to drink, XFinity.com is my email link,

Yoo Hoo reminds me of yesterday, Zealous Faith for whatever comes my way,

Thank You Lord from A-Z- Cause it’s Thanksgiving Day like it was meant to be!

 

Now it is your turn and I would love for you to share your List with me. You can email me at pastorrudytlc@comcast.net Happy Thanksgiving Family! Look up and Look Out because even 30 years later, the best is still yet to come.





LOVE AS IT SHOULD BE!

27 11 2017

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I officiated a wedding the other day. Carly and Shane both are blessed to come from strong and loving families and it was an honor to be part of their special day. I actually got very emotional at the conclusion of their ceremony as I got lost in the wonder of marriage. I am a few weeks away from celebrating 35 years of wedded bliss to my amazing wife Terri. While marriage is not easy, I couldn’t imagine my life any other way.   

The daily news seems to never be very positive anymore. Who is shooting who and what Politician hates the other dominates the headlines. And with divorce fast becoming the norm it seems true love is harder and harder to find than ever these days. But knowing that Carly’s Grandfather, Jack Bickel was a decorated Veteran and his undying devotion for his devoted wife Ellie never wavered and with last Saturday being Veterans Day, it inspired me to do some digging and I found this beyond romantic real life story buried beneath all the other daily banter that never brings much life or hope to our cynical society.

We all need to be ready to do some excavation work from time to time so we can go low below the surface and unearth some of life’s true treasure. This might mean some heavy lifting and a commitment to break out the big shovels and leave the tiny teaspoons behind. A granddaughter shared her letters about her grandparents and those notes unveiled the epic life journey about a one smitten couple who found a love so strong that it was able to endure even while they were separated during World War II.

Not only that, it lasted for a total of 77 years of marriage until they both died last month, he aged 96 and she aged 92, within just three short days of one another. But when you start to read their sentences, you realize the reality that any relationship would flourish with words exchanged like this! Here is a sample of the correspondence between Frederick to his beloved Elizabeth: “You are the most wonderful, marvelous, precious, beloved, lovable, adoring, adorable, and charming, divine loving sweetheart.”

They swapped passionate love letters like these and they didn’t end when the war was won! Frederick and Elizabeth kept on writing as they kept on walking through the years together. The collection of over 2000 letters was found by their family in an antique chest as they were sorting through the Couple’s furniture. These notes became a living testimony that when we are willing to invest our hearts, magic still happens in our selfie-centered world.
If one of the key ingredients to a successful marriage is constant communication then the challenge for all of us today is to never stop expressing the many ways that you cherish and treasure one another.

What if you wrote one love letter expressing words of encouragement to one another once a week from here on in? What if you performed a random act of service when it was least expected whenever the Spirit moved? What if you turned down the noise of the culture and just invested some quality time in doing nothing more than being together? How about surprising one another with simple little gifts that remind each other of the bigger present you have received in the company of each other? And never stop kissing one another hello and goodbye and holding hands and offering a holy hug at the moments you need it most!

Love only dies when people no longer put their heart and soul into the process. Isn’t it funny that when couples date they can’t get enough of each other but when they get married, they begin to take each other for granted? Sacrifice always accompanies the deepest unions. God so loved us that He gave us Himself. He has always offered us nothing less than His absolute best. What if we did the same? And you know what?  We can because He put that kind of love in our hearts. He fills us to spill us. And when we live to give, say “Goodbye” to the empty souls forever.

Carly and Shane are just beginning their journey. How about you? Does your spouse still see the look of adoration and appreciation in your gaze? Are you intentional about offering the very best of who you are to one another? Are you accentuating the positives and eliminating the negatives with the goal of building each other up without ever tearing your partner down. Love is not just a word or a sentiment meant for fairy tales. We were made to love and love was made for you and me. Today could be the start of something wonderful and that’s the kind of news that brings life and hope. If true love never dies then let’s stop wasting our time in the shadows of artificial dime store novels and let God write the masterpiece that we were created to experience.





The Power of ‘One Another!”

6 11 2017

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 Don’t ever underestimate the lasting staying power of a God moment. God can do more in an afternoon, than man could do in a hundred years. It is not about the amount of minutes that make up twenty four hours but the quality of life that is achieved in every day. Some people say that because they are only going to be around a short time, they don’t want to get too attached but I am saying that you can forge a lifetime bond in one positive afternoon together. The heart was made for relationships. And we are at our best when we dive right into achieving the “one another’s” of Scripture together.

 Did you know that there are 59 “One Anothers” in the New Testament alone? This is one of the biggest reasons that you can’t do “Church” alone. You need others to do “Body Life.” And when we allow the Holy Spirit to accomplish some supernatural connecting among us, miracles happen within our midst. Are you ready for the list? Why not read this prayerfully and carefully and be open and honest in your evaluation. Give the Lord permission to move powerfully within you so that he can work practically through you. What if our gratitude this November was because we actually were courageous enough to invest in the hearts of the people all around us?

 Here is that “List of One Another’s!” Ready. Set. Go!  1. “…Be at peace with each other.” (Mark 9:50) 2. “…Wash one another’s feet.” (John 13:14) 3. “…Love one another…” (John 13:34) 4. “…Love one another…” (John 13:34) 5. “…Love one another…” (John 13:35) 6. “…Love one another…” (John 15:12) 7. “…Love one another” (John 15:17) 8. “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love…” (Romans 12:10) 9. “…Honor one another above yourselves. (Romans 12:10) 10. “Live in harmony with one another…” (Romans 12:16) 11. “…Love one another…” (Romans 13:8) 12. “…Stop passing judgment on one another.” (Romans 14:13) 13. “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you…” (Romans 15:7) 14. “…Instruct one another.” (Romans 15:14) 15. “Greet one another with a holy kiss…” (Romans 16:16) 16. “…When you come together to eat, wait for each other.” (I Cor. 11:33) 17. “…Have equal concern for each other.” (I Corinthians 12:25) 18. “…Greet one another with a holy kiss.” (I Corinthians 16:20) 19. “Greet one another with a holy kiss.” (II Corinthians 13:12) 20. “…Serve one another in love.” (Galatians 5:13) 21. “If you keep on biting and devouring each other…you will be destroyed by each other.” (Galatians 5:15) 22. “Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” (Galatians 5:26) 23. “Carry each other’s burdens…” (Galatians 6:2) 24. “…Be patient, bearing with one another in love.” (Ephesians 4:2) 25. “Be kind and compassionate to one another…” (Ephesians 4:32) 26. “…Forgiving each other…” (Ephesians 4:32) 27. “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.” (Ephesians 5:19) 28. “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Ephesians 5:21) 29. “…In humility consider others better than yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3) 30. “Do not lie to each other…” (Colossians 3:9) 31. “Bear with each other…” (Colossians 3:13) 32. “…Forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.” (Colossians 3:13) 33. “Teach…[one another]” (Colossians 3:16) 34. “…Admonish one another (Colossians 3:16) 35. “…Make your love increase and overflow for each other.” (I Thessalonians 3:12) 36. “…Love each other.” (I Thessalonians 4:9) 37. “…Encourage each other…”(I Thessalonians 4:18) 38. “…Encourage each other…” I Thessalonians 5:11) 39. “…Build each other up…” (I Thessalonians 5:11) 40. “Encourage one another daily…” Hebrews 3:13) 41. “…Spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” (Hebrews 10:24) 42. “…Encourage one another.” (Hebrews 10:25) 43. “…Do not slander one another.” (James 4:11) 44. “Don’t grumble against each other…” (James 5:9) 45. “Confess your sins to each other…” (James 5:16) 46. “…Pray for each other.” (James 5:16) 47. “…Love one another deeply, from the heart.” (I Peter 3:8) 48. “…Live in harmony with one another…” (I Peter 3:8) 49. “…Love each other deeply…” (I Peter 4:8) 50. “Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.” (I Peter 4:9) 51. “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others…” (I Peter 4:10) 52. “…Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another…”(I Peter 5:5) 53. “Greet one another with a kiss of love.” (I Peter 5:14) 54. “…Love one another.” (I John 3:11) 55. “…Love one another.” (I John 3:23) 56. “…Love one another.” (I John 4:7) 57. “…Love one another.” (I John 4:11) 58. “…Love one another.” (I John 4:12)  59.“…Love one another.” (II John 5)

The classic song of the sixties promised us that if we put a little love in our hearts that this world would be a better place. Our world right now is in desperate need of a love resurrection. And just because we have been banged around a bit doesn’t mean we are disqualified. Some of the most powerful people come from a scarred past. Pain, suffering, brokenness, mistakes, and setbacks; these things can teach us patience, perseverance, compassion, and hope which are essential components of helping us become love carriers that are agents of change. We don’t have to be people pleasers to be people lovers. So now is the time to do what’s right before God and let people think what they want. But it is hard to argue with the results. Fasten your seatbelts and unwrap each day as the gift that it is!





AN EXPECTANT HOPE

30 10 2017

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A Believer’s faith in God was never meant to be stagnant or static. As a matter of fact, if you are not in a state of constant growth and moving forward, you end up going backwards.

One of the ways to evaluate whether your faith is genuine is that you are allowing the Jesus you believe in to transform you from the inside out. The God who works in you will also work through you and life will be different because of your connection to the Christ.

 Another striking bit of evidence that confirms you are the real deal and a true learning, active disciple of Jesus is the presence of the love of another kind coming to you and working through you. This love is not the superficial kind that looks good but has no depth of substance. This love labors and produces new life. It means the investment of your own precious blood, sweat and tears but in the end you give birth to something super. Childbirth is a great illustration of this process. No Mama to Be enjoys being in intense pain and allowing her body to be taken to the limit of what any human being should be able to stand. My dear wife had words come out of her mouth while giving birth that made me shudder but that was the cost to see our children be born into this world. When God’s love is alive and well within the Church, there are lots of new births happening all around. Love coming in and spilling out also equips the Body of Christ to gain constant spiritual stamina producing a gracious hope that keeps it running long after others would have fallen by the wayside.

 As many athletes will tell you, running lots now ensures that you will still be running strong later when you’ll need to run the most! Practicing the presence of the Lord now, keeps you pressing on when the pain will want to write a different story. We run and we run and we run again and we do so with purpose in every step. Why? Because Christians know beyond a shadow of a doubt that with Jesus, the best is still yet to come!

 Before an individual receives the gospel, they are stuck without hope and without God in their world. And when people don’t worship God, the best they can do is lift up man-made plateaus wrongly assuming that obtaining these goals will fill the holes in their hungry hearts. They worship these idols without realizing they are bowing their knee to a personal deity that will never deliver what is being expected of it.

 Psalm 115:3-8 gives a vivid description of what it means to worship an idol. It reads,
“Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him. But their idols are silver and gold, made by human hands. They have mouths, but cannot speak, eyes, but cannot see. They have ears, but cannot hear, noses, but cannot smell. They have hands, but cannot feel, feet, but cannot walk, nor can they utter a sound with their throats. Those who make them will be like them, and so will all who trust in them.” Those who make up their own gods will be like them. They are temporary. They are outwardly wasting away. The weight of true hope can’t endure when all you get from your man made worship is empty and disappointed hearts.

What is hope? Ordinarily when we use the word hope, we express uncertainty rather than certainty. We talk about the future in ways that we mean well, but we don’t the capacity to make it happen. It is out of our hands. It is beyond our control. Biblical hope is a confident expectation and desire for something good in the future. Biblical hope not only desires something good for the future; it expects it to happen. And it not only expects it to happen; it is confident that it will happen. There is a perfect certainty that the good we expect will be done.

 When the word says, “Hope in God!” it does not mean, “Cross your fingers.” If God has said it will happen, even though we don’t know when, we can live like we hope the Lord will because the Lord will! This allows us to have stability in our spirituality even under trials. We walk by faith with no intention of bailing out. Christianity makes us too legit to quit. For the Christian, hope is a confident expectation that the future is in God’s hands, and he is working all things for our good. 

 If we really believe the Lord is coming again, we will live our lives accordingly to that truth.

We should begin each morning wondering, “What if Jesus comes back today?” We need to be ready because God has told us to keep one eye on the task ahead of us and the other watching the skies. We will prove our faith and show our love by serving Jesus until we finally see Him face to face! Because we have God’s word on it, it is not a matter of “If it will happen,” “It’s a matter of when!”

You are more than what you have become. Remember, you are a child of the King! Put your complete hope in that! Hope in what God says about you. Hope in the truth of where God says you are going. When in doubt, remember what Jesus said. Remind each other that this world is not our final destination. It is a wonderful place to find God and grow in faith but it isn’t Heaven. Paradise is not a pipe dream. It is not a fairy tale. It is the promise that Jesus made to all who put their trust in Him. Hand over your burdens and put your hope in God. You can be sure that it’s the only sure thing around.

 





Great Pumpkins and Real Faith!

23 10 2017

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I won’t allow the Grinch to steal this time of the year away from me. I am adamant about sharing with you that the darker our culture might become around me, the brighter I want my light to shine. What difference can I make if nobody can see me because fear has me hidden away? How will anyone hear a message of faith, hope and love if I choose to be silent in politically correct times like these? The daily news contains chaotic happenings and acts of insanity almost every day. Our Country is more divided than it has been in hundreds of years. I have begged God to please give me the strength and courage to be able to minister as a living lighthouse looking to provide rescue and redemption. If ever there was a time for we who claim to be Followers of Jesus to start being the church as much as we claim to go to church, it is now. We need to be intentionally looking for opportunities to serve our Lord by reaching out to others. How can Christians show others Jesus if we are nowhere to be found when it matters most?

 The Lighthouse Church will be out and about tonight at the Middle Township Parade. We normally meet for our Midweek Services where we have classes and activities for every age, but not tonight. I can’t see us on the inside when everybody we want to impact is on the outside. I hope to see all of you who are reading this right now out and about all along Route 9 tonight. I know that I will be giving out my fair share of candy, walking along our Church Float which will resemble an “Autumn Hay Ride.” More often than not, I get so involved in the conversations; I end up quite a distance behind the rest of our group. It doesn’t matter though, because I know in the end that what I do is all about relationship!

 We will also be handing out tons of flyers advertising our annual “Trunk and Treat” coming up this Sunday October 29th from 4-6PM. I like to say that it is called “Trunk and Treat” rather than “Trunk or Treat,” because without the Trunks there can be no Treats! I am expecting fifty members of our Congregation to decorate their vehicles in true “Harvest” fashion and then entertain as many children and adults as we are able to in two short hours. There will also be games, food, music, bouncy toys and all of it absolutely free. If the good news of Jesus is free of charge then we need to provide random acts of kindness with no strings attached. We have been doing this a long time and it gets better every year. And yes, I am hoping that those who come through who presently don’t go to church will start the following week at The Lighthouse.

 Every year about this time I tune into “It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown.” Yes, I admit I am old enough to remember when it was on the very first time. I remember the next day, the good Sisters at Notre Dame School in Cedar Knolls had us singing ‘Pumpkin Carols.” What I love about this cartoon is the passion Linus shows about making sure that he is sitting in the most sincere Pumpkin Patch on Halloween night so that The Great Pumpkin will come with toys, candies and gifts. As Charlie Brown, Lucy, Snoopy and the rest of the Peanuts gang knows by now, Linus has done this every year but all he gets for his efforts is missing out on what they all call, “Tricks and Treats!”

 Charlie Brown’s little Sister Sally is finally ready for her chance to go out into the neighborhood. Her love for Linus plays havoc with her common sense and she ends up in a Pumpkin Patch where all she experiences is a chill and a beagle. Sally is incensed at her “Blockhead Beau,” because he robbed her of all the goodies and party. Charlie Brown in regular fashion goes out into the neighborhood to only collect a bag of rocks. We kids laughed at that year after year while more compassionate kids actually sent Charles Schultz their Halloween Candy to give to good old Charlie Brown. When it is all said and done, Linus has learned absolutely nothing. Next year, even though there has never been any evidence to the contrary, Linus will be out there again with passion in his gut and hope in his heart.

As God’s people, we’ve got way more than the Great Pumpkin to look forward to in our days to come. Faith isn’t a pipe dream and while we may at times have thick skulls, the Lord wouldn’t call us “Blockheads,” for standing on the Rock. Every time I see Linus, I want his innocence and faith. Our world is like Charlie Brown these days, living life and ending up with nothing but a bag of bricks. But with the determination of Linus and the reality that our God is a sure truth,  this is no time to miss the party. In a season of darkness, we are the ones Heaven will use to ignite the Light and others will want to come along to where we are going. Even the loud mouth Lucy’s of the world can’t spoil our joy. I’ll bring my Bible and you bring your blanket and we will spell security with the letters: J-E-S-U-S!

 





THIS IS FOR ALL THE LONELY CHURCHES…

16 10 2017

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The Beatles were right when they sang, “All You Need is Love,” but then they broke up. Captain and Tennille sang, “Love Will Keep Us Together,” until it didn’t. The band America challenged us to, “don’t give up until we have drunk from that silver cup.” The Supremes added that, ‘You Can’t Hurry Love,” because “Love don’t come easy as it’s a game of give and take. Tavares chimed in that, “It Only Takes A Minute Girl To Fall In Love,” but it takes a lifetime to make it last! Love labors and will require some blood, sweat and tears for it to be experienced and shared. Love is certainly worth the effort but one must not ignore the truth that it doesn’t blossom and bloom without personal sacrifice. If you have been looking for love in all the wrong places, maybe it is time to recalculate so that the Lord can point you in the right direction. There is too much to lose if you wait too late to love and be loved.  

Just this past summer, I was chatting with a woman who was visiting with us and she shared a frustration with her home church. She went on to tell me that after a Sunday Service she would get very excited about what she heard from the Lord and she was looking for anyone within the congregation who might be willing to sit and talk about what she was receiving. As she searched high and low, would you believe there was nobody to be found who would invest some extra time with this individual? This lady went on and made the remark that she felt like at times, her church was one of the loneliest places on this earth.                           

I can understand how this happens. If you want to grow up in the faith, you must be willing to dig deep into the matters of the heart. With those steps, people must be willing to be patient and vulnerable with one another. It also takes lots of faith and trust to soar higher in the stratosphere of relationships. Goals like comfort and ease need to be replaced by seeds of compassion and expectation. It takes a commitment of both regulars and newcomers to be open to knowing one another so we can be growing closer to growing with one another.

But there must be a willingness and plan to break the mold. Families and friends who normally seek each other out in such large crowds need to be open to adding new faces to their circle of cohorts. Rather than just sitting in the same seat week after week at church, participants must be open to rotating around the room to get to know those on the other side of the sanctuary. Small talk needs to be abandoned for bigger matters of life. And while I believe that there is no conscious thought of ignoring others around them, the truth remains that those sitting alone on the outskirts of such happy gatherings more often than not feel ignored and left out. It isn’t anyone’s fault. The blame can be leveled at both sides of this coin but I will bet all the change in my pockets that this is not how God intended his kids to treat one another.

If we are serious about putting into practice a higher love that is ignited by Heaven above, then we need to come to Church with intentions that extend beyond selfish reasons. The woman who I was referring to earlier, had also been thinking about specific ways that she too could be more proactive rather than reactive when it came to setting the temperature in her place of worship. Let me share with you what she emailed to me. Maybe you will try some of these as soon as this weekend when you head back to the body of Christ.

Pray before you go. Pray for God to open your eyes to notice the people around you. Ask God to give you Holy Spirit Radar to notice what is just below the surface. Invite the Lord to use you in somebody else’s life. Don’t be in such a hurry to get out before you genuinely get in.

Eye contact is so important.  You are never fully dressed without a smile Annie. Pray for a courageous boldness to approach strangers.  A quick hello, handshake, and name exchange takes a few seconds, but can leave a lasting impression. If you are an introvert, ask the Lord to make it possible for you to have at least one significant conversation with somebody new before you leave. If you are an extrovert, let the Lord use your personality to seek out those sitting alone or looking like they don’t belong. We never know who needs a hug, a word of encouragement, or a timely prayer. Get used to being used! It is exciting and life changing. It also changes the atmosphere of a big church into a close knit family.

Ask God, “How can I let you love me and to love others through me today?” We want to feel God’s love in our lives everyday; however, we need to be open to receiving His love.  Likewise, we can show God’s love to others if we allow Him to show us how best to offer that love.  Don’t limit God! There are so many more ways we can help others to feel welcomed in church. Just use your imagination and be sensitive to the Holy Spirit. You never know who He might direct you to meet. Your new best friend might be the stranger sitting next to you.

I am praying for your church as I ask you to pray for mine. But let’s allow the power of God to change the positions of people from feeling lonely to feeling loved. God is love and anyone who is born of God becomes fruitful in their love for one another. Let’s be the church that fills the places we meet with the kind of genuine connection and caring community that the world can’t provide nor can they take it away.            

So here is your challenge for the week: Think of somebody in the church that you would like to get to know better and invite them to lunch next week.

 





FIRE UP THE CHURCH!

12 10 2017

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There are no gimmicks when it comes to building and being part of a healthy church. I know there are tons of marketing strategies being published every day trying to sell Christians proven and easy “steps” to amazing growth.  But I have come to know that a church is a church to celebrate truly when it’s a church carried to God by those who take seriously their privilege and honor to offer up unceasing prayers on the behalf of one another. The people we share meeting together with to celebrate our common faith must be committed to the priority of praying! Prayer is the engine that should be driving everything the Body of Christ does. If not, then we will only see accomplishments that are done in man’s strength, forfeiting the supernatural power of God in our midst.

 There is nothing worse than a Preacher without conviction or a Leader without a commitment to the subject they are imparting to others. On a Website entitled “The Friendly Atheist,” they posed this question to Ministers: “What Should Pastors Do, When They Don’t Believe What They Preach?” The quotations from the pastors are heartbreaking. In some cases, they’ve been entrenched in their position for so long that they don’t know what else to do. As one pastor puts it, “It’s like trying to switch your major when you’re so close to graduating. Why not just finish up what you started? Once you’re locked into the role, it’s very difficult to leave.”

Here’s what another minister said: “Here’s how I’m handling my job on Sunday mornings. I view it as play acting. I kind of see myself as taking on a role of a believer in a worship service, and performing. I know what to say. I know how to pray publicly. I can lead singing. I love singing. I don’t believe what I’m saying anymore in some of these songs. But I see it as taking on the role and performing. Maybe that’s what it takes for me to get myself through this, but that’s what I’m doing.”

He calls it acting. I call it being a hypocrite. He’s lying to himself and everyone in his church. And to be quite frank, God is not blessing that clergyman or congregation in any way! When I do my midday Radio Show on Fridays on 106.3 The Shore, I have already made this stipulation about my role in advertising on the program. If I can’t be honestly excited about what I am supposedly selling, don’t ask me to push it on others! I am a Pastor and not a salesman and no they are not one and the same!

This past summer, I gave away gift certificates from the Italian Kitchen Express in Wildwood every day at lunchtime. The owner expressed deep gratitude to me because business was the best that it had been in a long time. Some asked me, what was my secret? I simply answered, I loved their cannolis! I affectionately called it, “Cannoli Heaven!” Listeners caught my enthusiasm and wanted to taste what I had already deemed delicious. I was preaching the “Good News of Desserts” and it made others hungry! How much more important it is to invite others to dig in to experience “The Bread Of Life!”                  

I don’t do what I do because I need a job. I am just as passionate about my love for Jesus today because after everything my wife Terri and I have experienced over the last 35 years, if I didn’t own a real and vibrant faith, I surely would not be here! Church is not just sitting through an interesting lecture.  It’s so much more than just singing and a sermon. I always envision Pastors, Elders, Teachers and Leaders as so much more than just another impersonal delivery service. The Good News of the Gospel doesn’t come that way to Believers. It’s not academic. It’s not dry.  It’s not going through the motions. Receiving the Good News, Jesus comes to dwell in us in the power of the Holy Spirit. It is similar to allowing divine dynamite to shake your soul.  And the real way that you can tell whether a church is part of a move from God is that when it is the Lord, you see transformation. When it is just about religious routine, it is nothing more than being given information. And most of us have been around long enough to have heard the difference, haven’t we? 

 It’s a tragic thing that so many times the Bible is discussed and talked about and lectured on and preached on and it is missing the Holy Spirit’s power. If your life isn’t right and you’re not walking in the Spirit and you can’t get excited about the Word of God and preach it in the power of the Spirit of God, then don’t preach the Bible because it’s the ultimate crime to bore people with the Word of God.  Preach something else. The Bible should come in the power of the Spirit or not come at all.

 Charles Spurgeon, when he went to preach on Sundays, always had the same routine. He’d climb those stairs to his pulpit, it was up high, and on every step he’d say, “I believe in the Holy Spirit, I believe in the Holy Spirit, I believe in the Holy Spirit, I believe in the Holy Spirit, I believe in the Holy Spirit.”  And when he got to the top, he knew he believed in the Holy Spirit.  And he preached in the power of the Holy Spirit, energized, and committed to the Spirit. What the world needs now, and what the church needs more than ever is Spirit-filled Pastors, Leaders, Elders and Teachers who are filled by God before they are spilled with God. When God cleanses a vessel, He uses it. When the instrument is pure and the call is clear and the Word is rightly divided, the message comes forth with power, passion, and personal conviction.  And that’s cause for celebration because you’re hearing God speak to you and through you in the power of the Holy Spirit.

 The most effective praying and the most effective proclaiming comes from those who live their passions out. They are the message in human flesh. And the reason we’re so grateful to God for our churches and the reason we will witness God’s blessing is because we pray and then proclaim the Word and set the pattern to be followed.