THE WAY WE WERE

1 05 2019

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The longer I live, the harder my life seems to get and the more disconnected with my surroundings I seem to be. Don’t get me wrong, there are still many wonderful moments in any given day that I treasure deeply in my soul. And my relationship with my Lord and Savior, my amazing Family and my wonderful Friends are pure gold to me. I know I could not survive without them and I am glad that I do not have to. But with each year that passes, I am forced to say a word again and again that I have come to despise, “Goodbye!” Having battled abandonment issues all my days, each time I officiate a Funeral, or read about the passing of Someone who has played such a huge part in
making me who I am, I die a little bit more also.

As I write this, it is m y Dad’s Birthday. He would have been 87 years old today. He graduated to Glory some 19 years ago after a long battle with cancer. I am just a few years away from the age he was when he passed so to admit that I am sobered by it all would be an understatement. I miss my Father. I dream of him every night and that is no exaggeration. I hear his voice in my own and see him when I look in the mirror. I wish I could just talk to him again about all that is going on. He left a hole the size of the Grand Canyon in my soul and nobody can ever replace him.

But it is not just Dad that has me so melancholy these days. With every passing year, we are losing more and more of those special individuals that we looked up to and leaned upon for wisdom, strength and guidance. It’s no secret that we live in a totally different world than the one I grew up in. I wish I could tell you that I am excited about where our society is heading but that would be a fib. I have never been one who could stuff my real feelings very well. If you want to know what I’m thinking, just look at my face because I wear my emotions on my sleeve. Respect for the Elderly is a disappearing trait and cross generational interaction a lost art. How will we ever learn and grow if we don’t participate in life together?

I can remember listening to my parent’s records growing up. It opened the door to my love of Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Joni James, Al Martino and other crooners. But I remember Mom and Dad taking me to see “A Hard Day’s Night” with the Beatles at the Drive-In Movie only because I adored the Fab Four. Dad and I would watch Jerry Lewis Movies, Abbott and Costello, Laurel and Hardy and so many more classics. Mom and I would watch “An Affair to Remember,” “Love Is a Many Splendored Thing,” and countless other tear jerkers. We shared experiences together that helped shape me but also still influenced them. I am a passionate Mets Fan today because Dad opened that
door for me. Little did my Parents realize back then, but would soon come to understand, that when I got interested in anything it would soon become an obsession. I still never do anything without doing it with all of my heart.

Unfortunately, Political Correctness is sucking the very life blood out of humanity. People are ignoring the foundational intangibles while they make big issues out of nonsense. Take for instance the whole Kate Smith controversy. Here is a Woman who in her day did more for her Country than the average individual and made the song “God Bless America,” a National institution. For years, her rendition of this Irving Berlin classic was a staple at Flyers and Yankee Games. But along comes someone who claims that they were offended by a song she did in a Broadway Show back in the 1930’s and we are quick to cover her statue with a blanket. We shouldn’t and can’t condone everything done in our Nation’s past but we can’t erase it either. It was a different day. And we won’t continue to move forward in our race relationships if we resort to such backward thinking! I just see too much hypocrisy in the whole politically correct movement. Reconciliation will never happen if we cover up what needs to be addressed and learned from.

But is our present Culture open to such honest dialogue? Those who cry out and demand tolerance can be the most intolerant of them all. I feel like I’m back in Junior High when peer pressure controlled the cafeteria. If you want to fit in then you have to conform to what those in the majority have deemed cool to be. If there is another truth that I have learned along the way it is that ‘Crowds” make lousy “Leaders.” In the Bible, it was a Crowd that voted to not get on the Ark and the Crowd drowned. In the Bible, it was a Crowd that voted to not take the Promised Land that God was giving to His people and the Crowd died in the desert. In the Bible, it was a Crowd that chose Barabbas over Jesus and how did that turn out? I hate the phrase, “Everybody’s Doing It.” Maybe it is time to take a stand for what is true and with love, grace and the help of the Holy Spirit, live it out. Have the courage to say what you believe and not just bark out the party lines. I will never fit into a world that writes a script for me and expects me to read it line for line.

The way we were wasn’t all that good but the way we are now isn’t much better! At this point of my journey, I pray to live each day with my light shining bright with the hope that through me, others will see the Lord. I don’t claim to be perfect or have it all together. I know that I am still under construction but it is God who has promised to finish the project that He began in me. I pray for our Country and the need for revival and the return to being a Nation that wants to please God and not escort Him from the building. Sure, memories can always be a bit fuzzy when yearning for the “Good Old Days,” that were never quite as good as we make them, but we don’t have to settle for
what we know can be so much better. While we are here, I pray that we unwrap each day as the gift that it is and take nothing for granted. And let’s commit to us living life and not letting life push us around to places we know we don’t want to go!





It’s Your Move!

23 04 2019

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I’ve always liked Billy Sunday. He was an ex–baseball player, and he used his pulpit as a pitcher’s mound, winding up and letting go of his fastball, screwball, knuckleball sermons night after night in his huge revival tents. He would also slide down across the stage as if he was sliding into Home!
Billy Sunday was the quintessential American mass evangelist. He crisscrossed North America one hundred years ago with his flamboyant revival showmanship, which attracted enormous crowds.

One of the features of these tents was the sawdust trail. The wide aisle leading from the entrance of the tent down to the elevated pulpit from which Sunday preached was layered with a couple of inches of sawdust. It kept down the dust in dry times and moderated the mud in wet times.
But it also marked the trail from row after row of folding chairs to the altar at the front of the tent, just below the pulpit.

As Billy Sunday would wind up his sermon, he would give his famous “altar call,” calling men and women who had come to the tent that night to step out of their seats, walk down the sawdust trail to the altar, and, kneeling there, invite Jesus to be their Savior.

“Hitting the sawdust trail” entered the North American vocabulary as a synonym for repentance and conversion. Billy Sunday’s often-repeated formula for the Christian life was this: “Hit the sawdust trail, fall on your knees, and receive Jesus as your Savior. Then walk out of this tent, go out into the street, get hit by a big old truck, and go straight to heaven.”

You must admit, I think, that it’s a wonderful formula for getting to heaven the quickest and easiest way. And it is virtually foolproof. There is no time to backslide, no temptations to bother with, no doubts to wrestle with, no spouse to have to honor, no kids to put up with, no enemies to love, no more sorrow, no more tears. Instant eternity. Billy Sunday is an extreme case of what is more or less typical of the North American approach to these matters: “Get it right, but then get it done as quickly as possible.”

Again, and again, as we pursue our spiritual life, we must do battle with things like easy, lazy and apathy. We must fight against being careless and looking to arrive at our necessary destination too quickly. We need to be intentional about investing the proper amount of time and effort into knowing Jesus and growing in our intimacy and relationship with Him. You can’t fully have faith- fully express hope- fully grow in love- unless you are willing to go the distance.

For many of us the great danger is not that we will renounce our faith. It is that we will become so distracted and rushed and preoccupied that we will settle for a mediocre version of it. We will just skim our lives instead of actually living them. We suffer from what has come to be known as “busy sickness.” One of the great illusions of our day is that running full speed ahead will buy us more time.

I pulled into a Restaurant recently where the advertising slogan read, “We help you eat faster.” But what if my primary need is not eating faster? What if I actually enjoyed a meal and not just inhaled it? What if the Lord doesn’t want us to skim over the strategic moments of our every day? What if we allowed our bodies to be truly in tune with where are right now rather than consumed by where we will be tomorrow?

Advertisers know that we will buy anything that promises to help us hurry. The bestselling shampoo in America rose to the top because it combines shampoo and conditioner in one step, eliminating the need for that all time-consuming rinsing people used to have to do. Domino’s became the Number One name in pizza not because they serve delicious pizza but because the company promised to deliver in thirty minutes or less. “We don’t sell pizza,” said their CEO, “We sell convenience.” “Taking a cue from Domino’s Pizza, a Detroit hospital guarantees that emergency-room patients will be seen within 20 minutes or treatment is free.” The paper notes that since the offer was made, business has been up 30 percent at the hospital. That may be true in quantity but something tells me that the quality of care isn’t as top notch as it should be.

Hurry is not just a disordered schedule. Hurry is a disordered heart. You can’t do Christianity by skimming the surface. Resurrection is not just what Jesus did but what He has made possible for us. The Grave we should conquer is not just the one at the end of the journey, but the one that wants to rob you of living today. Jesus didn’t just come to do a job, but He showed us how to live a life. Believers today have largely traded wisdom for information, depth for breadth. We want to microwave maturity. And as I told you before, you can’t do that! Even God won’t allow sloppy short cuts on the journey to intimacy and reverence.

As we teach about Christianity, we correctly emphasize the redemptive work of Jesus, that through His death on the Cross we have been restored to God. But we don’t focus as often on why Jesus lived. He didn’t become a human and then live among humans for 33 years just to explain His death. Rather, I think His life was a message: “When you figure out why I died, here’s how you should live in your 33 years.” The Bible says, “Whoever claims to be in Him must walk as Jesus walked.” The more fully we grasp the significance of Jesus’ life and understand how His earthly ministry is a demonstration of God’s mission for His people: to put God on display in every way.

The Word became flesh and healed and fed and taught the crowds. The Word showed love and grace to sinners without compromising truth. The Word was a servant to all. Most of all, God’s Word in flesh showed us how we can showcase the Word through our daily walk and talk. Jesus did not just understand and explain God’s Word, but He also became the Word? Too many Believers today think by just talking a good game, this makes them an All Star! This is a grave mistake.

Real Christianity consists of what goes on between the moment we receive and fully realize and accept our identity as Christians and the time when we sit down to “the marriage supper of the Lamb” (Revelation 19:9). It deals with the way we live in the time being; the time that intervenes between kneeling at the altar and getting hit by that proverbial Mack truck. Does your sawdust trail include your footprints that prove you are actively following the Savior? Are you willing to make all the moves that are necessary to get us to the place that God is calling us to? It’s your move!





WAKE UP, IT’S EASTER!

17 04 2019

Ez 36.26
Not too long ago, I heard an old fairy tale about a wicked witch who lived in a remote cottage in the deep forest. When travelers came through looking for lodging, she offered them a meal and a bed. It was the most wonderfully comfortable bed any of them had ever felt. But the cost to experience a few sweet dreams didn’t come cheap.

You see, this was no ordinary mattress. This was a bed full of dark magic, and if you were still asleep in it when the sun came up, you would turn to stone. Then you became a figure in the witch’s statuary, trapped until the end of time. This witch kidnapped a young lady and forced the girl to serve her, and though she had no power to resist the wicked woman, she did have a real heart and it had become more and more filled with pity for her victims.

One day a young man came looking for bed and board and was taken in. Horrified at the prospects awaiting this valiant individual, the servant girl could not bear to see him turned to stone. So, she had an idea and put it immediately into practice. With no hesitation, she began to throw sticks, stones, and thistles into his bed. It made the bed horribly uncomfortable. This was going to be no ordinary night.

The young man was miserable. Every time he turned over; he felt a new painful object attacking him. Though he cast each one out, there was always a new one to dig into his skin. He slept very little, and when he concluded that there was no more sheep to count, he finally got up, feeling weary and worn, long before dawn. As he stumbled his way to the front door, the servant girl met him, and was shocked when he berated her cruelly. “How could you give a traveler such a terrible bed full of sticks and stones?” he cried and went on his way. “Ah,” she said under her breath, “the misery you know now is nothing like the infinitely greater misery a comfortable sleep would have brought upon you! Those were my sticks and stones of love.”

Jesus came from Heaven to Earth, and during His ministry to us, He never had a good night’s sleep. The Bible tells us that He didn’t even have a bed. But the Lord wasn’t here on vacation; He was on a mission. The enemy had been hypnotizing God’s creation into thinking that we needed to do things our own way in our own time to taste the good life. The result of that bad advice was our hearts not finding peace and quiet but our souls turning into stone. Jesus had compassion upon us and decided to take upon Him the curse that Hell had meant for us.

Jesus didn’t go to sleep; He went to the cross. He didn’t wear a night cap, but a crown of thorns. His body was beaten; splinters filled his crevices. Nails pierced His hands; a spear was thrust into his side; soldiers made sure that Jesus knew intimately every excruciating bit of pain and shame.

The irony was that Jesus could have checked out of our dumpy motel on his own any time He wanted. He traded in the praise of angels for the insults of our ignorance. He lived in obscurity and He died in what looked like the most tragic failure in history. Love chose Him and grace drove Him and because of Jesus, and because of Easter, we don’t have to fear nightmares anymore.

When I was a Kid, I used to be afraid of having to go to bed. First of all, my Parents sent me to bed way too early, long before I was sleepy. In those hours, until my eyes would close, I worried about what might happen if I should die before I wake. Sweat would pour from my 6-year-old self as I pleaded with God to not send me to Hell. I bargained and promised the Lord that I would turn over new leaves until my branches were bare. Eventually I would doze off and the anxiety would be put side for another night.

I remember my first Easter that I truly knew who Jesus was and what He did for me. Words can’t express how new my heart felt and how excited I was for the journey that God had laid out before me. Over the years, I have realized the hard way that love doesn’t allow me to sleep in. And I am at the age now where I can thank God for the sticks and stones of love that He put in my bed so that I would not snooze to lose. Easter has taught me to rely on Jesus and instead of turning to stone, He now rolls those rocks away! Easter promises a wake-up call like no other.

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26). Self-sufficiency, self-centeredness and self-salvation gives you night fever! God-sufficiency, God-centeredness, God-salvation takes us miraculously into a bright new day that no matter what happens here will never end there!





MEN’S RESURRECTION BREAKFAST

9 04 2019

Res BFThis year will be the fourth Annual Men’s Resurrection Breakfast held on the Saturday before Palm Sunday at The Lighthouse Church. The last three years, we have had the privilege of hearing from 1986 Mets World Series Champions Darryl Strawberry and Mookie Wilson and last year we were challenged by the words of Tony Evans’ Son, Jonathan. We opened up the door dividing our Sanctuary from our Gym and filled the room with Men of all ages. What an inspirational sight to see Fathers and Sons, Grandpops and Grandsons, Uncles, Cousins, Neighbors of all shapes, sizes, backgrounds and colors coming together. When Men have nothing else to talk about, it seems that sports have bridged the gap in ways that no other subject can. And for a few hours, we are able to see the fascinating worlds of sports and faith coming together.

 

As I write this today, I am missing my own Dad even more than normal. I went to Citi Field yesterday, home of my favorite Baseball Team, the New York Mets. I received my love for the Blue and Orange from my Father. He grew up a Brooklyn Dodgers Fan and when his beloved Bums left for California, there was no chance he was going to turn traitor and root for the Yankees. So, a few years after I was born, into the National League came this expansion team that we both fell in love with together. The highlight of my whole year was the day that Dad and I went to Shea Stadium together. I would wake him long before dawn so that we could be there hours before the first pitch! I cherish the many autographs I collected through the years because Dad loved me enough to show up so early.

 

There was one sentence from my Pop that would brighten up my darkest days and I experienced my fair share of them growing up. But when he said, ‘Hey Rudy, come outside and I’ll hit you some fly balls,” he would never have to ask me twice. I would want those moments to last forever. When we were out there together and I was doing what I loved best, all was right with the world. Today I wanted to ask my youngest Son Joel to go out and have me hit some fly balls to him. It didn’t happen as he was busy with other engagements. I felt a little sorry for myself but I understand. He had no way of knowing that my heart was breaking. I believe the old adage is true and that we never miss a real good thing until is out of reach! Still for a moment, I closed my eyes and I was seventeen all over again, drifting under that long fly ball from my Father’s bat. Oh, what I would give for another five minutes chance to play catch with him just one more time.

 

It’s funny that when Women get together, they are sharing the deepest longings of their soul within a few minutes of connecting. Men need a little more help and sports seems to do the trick. This year at our Breakfast, our very special Speaker is Lee Rouson. A graduate of the University of Colorado in 1981, Lee would go on to play Running Back for the New York Giants. The Giants were my Dad’s favorite Football Team, while I crossed over and became a Philadelphia Eagles Fan! The battles we would have when they would play each other are the stuff of legends. Lee was also a two-time Super Bowl Champion with the New York Giants in 1987 and again in 1990. Lee would finish his NFL Career with the Cleveland Browns.

 

Lee is coming to the Resurrection Breakfast to talk about more than just football. While it will be fun to hear the stories of his part in the victories against the Broncos and Bills, I know that everyone there will be challenged by the adventures that he has taken part in since those glory days. Rouson shares, “Throughout my life, I have made good choices, and I have made bad choices. The times that I made good, positive choices, my heart was in the right place, but I always did it for the wrong reasons. I also made bad choices based on fear and selfishness, and I suffered difficult consequences as a result. Then, I decided to put my full trust in God, and it has made all the difference. Now, I not only make positive choices for the right reasons, but I know I have a purpose when I place all of my trust in God.”

 

The one common message from every famous Athlete that I have ever heard from is that money, fame, power, drugs, booze, sex and attention never filled the hole in the heart. Why do we have to wait until its almost too late to finally admit that we need God to run the show? Why do so many men think that they can do it all by themselves? Even great Ballplayers have had to submit their talent to the decisions of the Coach! My life only began to make sense when I was ready to listen. Only my faith in the Lord has given me the wherewithal to survive the biggest losses that cut much deeper than a ballgame. Because of God, I know I will see my Dad again someday soon. Even today I shared with my wife Terri that I believe Dad will once again hit me fly balls in Glory. Just the thought made me smile.

 

This Saturday on April 13th at 9AM, I invite every Man reading this to come out to the Resurrection Breakfast. Other Churches hold these events and the tickets run as high as $25. We at the Lighthouse have made a commitment to never let money stand in the way of having their heart stirred in a good way. Tickets are only $5 and that is to just cover the cost of the Breakfast. If that is still too much, come anyway and I’ll buy you Breakfast! Make a memory and get an autograph. Have you and your Dad get a picture taken together. Invest in a morning together with the faith that what you do now will lead to a forever of life that never ends! 

The Men’s Resurrection Breakfast is this Saturday April 13th at 9AM. Tickets are $5 and available by calling 465-6690 or get them at the door!

 





A CHURCH OF ALL AGES FOR ALL AGES!

5 04 2019

A Church for all ages

Is today’s Evangelical Church making the mistake that in their well-meaning efforts of wanting to stay relevant and connected to the times they have done so to such the degree that the Body of Christ is actually not honoring their elderly saints? One only need to check out that most of today’s Christian bestselling authors, and those that are topping the charts in writing and singing contemporary worship music, the most popular conference speakers that believers are flocking to hear, and the hippest mega church pastors all seem to be younger, hipper, and very cool in both the way they preach and the clothes they wear. Is Christianity today guilty of actually putting their older Pastors out to premature pastures?

I’m not putting the younger generation down. The Bible clearly exhorts the older members of the Flock to not purposely look down on the younger just because of their age. I am just trying to make a point that there is a real danger if there is not enough maturity in the midst of the Church. How can you gain wisdom if everyone you interact with is also your age? Where is the attention due those who have lived life and experienced more of the journey in such the fashion that they have much to offer others who are still building their foundations?  Could it be that today’s Church experts have been guilty of not paying proper attention to the elderly? Are today’s Senior Saints being forced to dwell in the shadows of ministry, leadership structures, publicity campaigns, vision, and input?

When I began my life as a Youth Pastor, I was only 22 years old. I had much to offer the teens that I imparted life into, but also much to still learn from the older Servants in my sphere of influence. In 1997, I moved from a Youth emphasis to becoming the Lead Pastor at The Lighthouse Church here in Cape May County. When I got here, I was 37. Although at this point, I was now married for 15 years and the Father of three, I was still intentional about making sure that there were older Men on the Elder Board to balance out my age at the time. Today, I am on the verge of turning 60 years old and celebrating my 38th year in full time Ministry and now I am balancing out our Leadership Team at The Lighthouse Church with younger Men and Women who can relate better to the Youth and Younger Families and have so much more energy than I do.  

I know I will always be an advocate of making sure that today’s Church is cross generational. While I strongly support age appropriate specific ministries to the different Seasons of Life amidst a Congregation, I want the Celebration Service to be made up of God’s Children of all ages. I want the Young to interact with the Older Disciples. I want to keep the legacy of yesterday’s hymns alive while still championing the new worship songs of the present day. I want to provide a common avenue so that true interaction between the Saints of all ages and backgrounds takes place. If Believers get siloed into just sticking with their own, I truly believe the Church is weakened and watered down. Every tongue, every tribe, every color, every background and every age seem to be the precedence the Bible has set for the makeup of the local Family of God.

I love the up and coming Preachers like Steven Furtick, Mark Batterson, Kyle Idleman, Matt Chandler and David Platt to name a few. They are spot on Scripturally and powerful in their messages and delivery. But I also love Chuck Swindoll, John MacArthur, John Piper, Tony Evans and the late preachers like Dr. Robert A Cook and James Montgomery Boice. I would encourage all Believers to make sure you have a Paul in your life; that someone you can look up to and someone who has permission to speak truth into your life, even if it is difficult. We all also need a Barnabas, someone who is a peer and a confidant that we can run this race of faith side by side. But we should always have a Timothy–that individual we are mentoring and building into so they too can grow up stronger to be more like Jesus. Who is your Paul? Who is your Barnabas? Who is your Timothy? Make sure you have all of these types in your clubhouse before you step out onto the field ready to compete in the daily contest of living for the Lord!

Finally, I think we all need to be true to who God has called us to be. I am not cool nor have I ever been hip nor a trendsetter. I believe I still have the passion of a 17-year-old but make no mistake, my body lets me know I’m 59! I would look foolish wearing skinny jeans and there is not much I can do with the little bit of hair I have left on my head. I don’t use power point in my messages. I still preach verse by verse through all of the Bible and get quite animated while doing so. I provide thorough notes and prepare many hours for the weekend presentations that I have the honor to share with those who come on out to The Lighthouse Church. I hope to keep preaching until the day God calls me home. I never want to lose the wonder or take for granted what a wonderful occupation that God has empowered me to perform. I love when the other Pastors on our Staff also bring their best to the pulpit. We are all wired differently and I think that is a good thing. When it all comes down to it, it is not my church or your church–but it belongs to the Lord. So, if we want to keep being effective and successful, I think the goal for all of us is to make sure that Jesus gets all the applause. If we keep on lifting Him up, then people are drawn to Him and He never lets anyone down. And that is true no matter what day and year you were born!     

 

 





PEOPLE GET READY!

25 03 2019

“Ready or not Jesus is coming

I have been preaching these days about being ready when Jesus comes back for us. The Bible gives us more than enough heads up about the truth that soon and very soon, we are going to see the King. While God will keep His promise about coming back to get us, there is a catch before “The Great Snatch.” Nobody knows the day nor the hour when it will all take place.

 

Now there have been many attempts to name the moment when the Second Coming of Christ will occur. Self-proclaimed Bible scholars have boasted ignorantly to have figured it all out and then proceeded to publicly announce what the Scriptures clearly teach could never be known. You couldn’t even bribe an angel to snitch on the sacred secret. Matthew 24:36 teaches, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.” If Jesus hasn’t received the memo, I can guarantee you that some Preacher from Poughkeepsie has no clue what he is talking about.

 

Several years ago, I flew with Will Morey in his plane over our little area of Paradise here in South Jersey. I saw the beauty and at the same time I saw our vulnerability. Let’s face the fact, we are only one superstorm away to being obliterated! Now you and I still enjoy the daily blessings we experience by having our address here in Cape May County, but we can’t ever take the warning of a hurricane for granted. We should be ready that our world can change at any given moment. The same is true for Christians. We engage, live, move and have our being on planet Earth, but as Disciples of the Lord, our real citizenship is in Heaven. Knowing this, we should always live with an eye to the sky.

 

If we are believers in Jesus, we have nothing to worry about when it comes to dates and times. Our biggest responsibility is to just be ready. Christians should not react to the coming of our Savior as a negative thing. When a thief comes to our residence, we don’t celebrate our good fortune. We call the Police. If you aren’t looking forward to seeing Jesus burst through the clouds, it is probably because you aren’t expecting Him. God is coming back to get His kids! If you don’t join in with Him, then what He meant has a moment of divine rescue will only lead to a day of reckoning.

 

I’ve been watching lots of College Basketball this weekend and it is March Madness. As happens many times, you will see a player make a miraculous shot. The only problem was that the clock had already timed out. You made the basket, but you made it too late and what could have been a celebration is now a time of uncontrollable tears! The Gospel has made it possible for every man and woman to celebrate their union with Jesus not by achieving God’s love but by receiving the free gift of salvation. If I knew ahead of time that I win by being on the Lord’s team, why would I choose to wear any other uniform?    

 

I’m not going to lie to you. The price may be right in that Jesus paid it all but faith is not cheap. We are called to take up our cross, deny ourselves daily and follow Him obediently and faithfully. When people realize that Christianity is not about cramming God into their plans, many head for the exit. Another problem is that there are so many voices in everyone’s sphere of influence telling them to do the exact opposite of God’s will. There will always be an individual who will sell out and tell you what you want to hear. Only those who really love you will care enough to speak the truth, even when it hurts and especially when it helps. Finally, sin is easy. We do it with our eyes closed and we pull it off quite naturally. Nobody should fool themselves and pretend that sin isn’t fun. The real issue though is that the pleasure is temporary and passing. Again, it comes down to choosing between a quick fix or an eternal redemption! Many will forfeit Heaven because they decide to live like Hell. God has so much more for us. But the true treasure is when we allow the Lord to do so much more in us.

 

I love when God shows me new things in the Bible. Mark’s Gospel was actually influenced by the Apostle Peter. When I read this, I noticed in Chapter 13:35-37 these words, “Watch, therefore; you do not know when the Master is coming, in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster– or in the morning –lest coming suddenly He find you sleeping. And what I say to you I say to all, ‘Watch!” Did you see it? Peter adds the unique addition of “the crowing of a rooster.” It was Peter who boldly declared that he was ready and prepared. He shot off his mouth in front of his peers that even if everyone else fell away, he was going to be with Jesus until the bitter end. What was the sound that proved Peter wasn’t ready to back up his talk? It was the crowing of a rooster! I wonder if Peter cringed every time he heard a rooster for the rest of his days? I do know that after the Day of Pentecost, Peter lived with his life on the line constantly. No rooster’s rap was going to stop him ever again.

 

D.L. Moody, the great evangelist, was preaching in Chicago on October 8, 1871. Before him was the largest congregation he had ever addressed in the city. He concluded his sermon with a blunder that he called the biggest mistake in his life, one he vowed he would give his right hand to take back.  D.L. Moody gave the people a week to decide for Christ. That night the great Chicago fire broke out and many of the people who were there were killed. Moody said that was the last time he ever told anyone to postpone a decision for Christ.

 

If you are reading this today, my biggest hope for you is not that you win the lottery or marry the person of your dreams. More than anything, I wish you to know and love Jesus. I invite you to open your heart to the Lord and let Him transform you from the inside out. I know many will be tempted to put it off, but please don’t. There’s no guarantee that you have another day, week, month or year! There are so many voices. Many of them are the words of the thief, who longs to steal, kill and destroy any life that God wants to plant within you. Ignore the liars and deceivers and false teachers, and run away from the temptation to sink even deeper into the chaos of sin and unbelief. On your own, you have no guarantee that you can be rescued from any of that. This is why the Bible says, “Today is the day of salvation.” Ready or not, Jesus is coming back. I want to see you in Heaven!

 





WHEN THE HEART STILL CALLS!

18 03 2019

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The Hallmark Channel has become the “Go To Channel” for Family Friendly Television. It is now mid-March and huge audiences are still tuning in to the Thursday Night Christmas Movies being shown all year long. I grew up in a time where our family ate dinner together every single night. Then on Sunday’s, the whole extended Family gathered together to share a meal, swap stories, celebrate milestones and make memories. What is so missing from our lives today was once the norm. I believe Hallmark has found a scratch that needs to be itched. They have discovered a hole the size of a canyon in the hearts of a nation that is begging to be filled.

Watching a Hallmark Presentation stirs up the times that the whole family gathered around the television to watch shows like Carol Burnett, Ed Sullivan, Bonanza, The Waltons, The Brady Bunch and so on together. Today it seems every member of the household has its own personal gadget to engage with, but in doing so we miss the experience of community. I can still remember laughing with my Dad when a Jerry Lewis Movie came on or crying with Mom over an old Black and White Romance Movie. When you watch a Hallmark Series or Movie, you can choose to do so with the addition of social media by your side. You can now tweet with like-minded people from all over the country as you view the screen. Even the very individuals who are starring in the broadcast are joining in the fun. I absolutely love the interaction and look forward to sharing and receiving insights all along the way. Many wonderful friendships have developed between those of us who faithfully support our favorite Hallmark Programs. We live, laugh and cry over each 60 to 120 minutes of pure shared adventure.

If you are devoted to the Signed Sealed Delivered Series, you are branded a POstable. It was the collective cry of this committed army that moved the powers at be to add a new movie coming later this year. Sunday Night Hallmark Movie and Mystery Followers are called Sleuthers. The different presentations harken back to the NBC Movie Mysteries of yesteryear with Colombo, McCloud, McMillan and Wife and so forth. There is Chesapeake Shores with their Chessies. The bajillion Countdown To Christmas Movies with people like me who now keep their Trees up all year. What many call the crowning jewel though is the Series based on the Books by Janette Oke entitled When Calls The Heart which is presently in its sixth season. Their Fan Club goes by the name of The Hearties and they are many in number and passionate in spirit. I personally love them all and have had the honor and privilege to have interviewed the Stars, the Writers and the Audience of Hallmark on my “Rudy On The Radio Show.” I feel that in so many ways, we are family.

When Calls The Heart made headlines for all the wrong reasons this past week when one of its biggest Stars, Lori Loughlin was arrested in connection with her alleged involvement in a college admissions scandal. Had this been any other show, the actors and actress’ personal behavior in real life rarely interferes with what we expect to see on the screen; but When Calls The Heart holds its clientele to higher standards. It makes you feel pretty good when the Hearties are more than a product to be bought and sold. It is a faith-based way of looking at life where the intangible gifts like love, honor and respect are cherished and held in the highest of regard. Brian Bird, the Executive Producer of the Show, did the unthinkable when he put the Show on a temporary hiatus so that they could retool the upcoming episodes. The almighty dollar can eventually lose its power when Men and Women have the guts to stand up and allow right and wrong to finally reign supreme. It truly opens the door for life to imitate art.

It can’t be ignored that redemption plays a huge part in the storyline of Hope Valley. One of When Calls The Heart main players include former Mayor Henry Gowan who represents everything seedy and self-serving about life. It was his negligence that caused many of the men of what was then known as “Coal Valley” to literally lose their lives in a mining disaster. Played to perfection by Martin Cummins, his journey has been one of falling from the top in disgrace to presently learning in humility what true grace is all about. I know that there are going to be real consequences for the bad decisions that Ms. Loughlin has made but I can’t help pray that in playing the role of Abigail Stanton on the Show will give her the hope that there are always new beginnings available to those who are willing to admit that they have come to the end of themselves. The Hearties have been wonderful in their response to this messy situation. But because Brian Bird seeks to honor the Lord with his efforts, what disaster attempted to destroy and trash will ultimately result in producing true treasure. There is another man connected with this project named Michael Landon, Jr. and we know his heritage is filled with shows that made us laugh, cry and always feel good about the time we spent in front of the television.

Critics will always be quick to offer their so-called expert opinions but Hearties will dig much deeper with their contributions. They will search their souls and realize that if we have learned anything from our times together, it is that life will be hard at times, not everything turns out the way we had hoped, people will some days be amazing and other times be involved in disappointing circumstances but faith, hope and love are what matter most! Even the Bible teaches us that the greatest thing in all the world is unconditional love. It is not I love you because, or I love you if, but simply and yet powerfully I love you. Stay tuned Hearties, because I believe the best is yet to come and it won’t be long until we will be reunited on a Sunday night hanging out together. The wait will be worth the celebration. The mess will be redeemed into a masterpiece. There will be more opportunities for us to forgive and forge a new path that leads to bouquets blooming in the desert. Keep listening because when the heart calls, we will answer strong together!