A NEW WARDROBE FOR JOE!

6 09 2018

Joseph's Coat of Many Colors

I have been reading the Bible on a pretty regular basis since 1975. The one thing that constantly keeps me on my toes is that no matter how many times I have read the Scriptures before, there is always something new to see for a heart that is open to the Lord. I had just such a moment last weekend. I had read the Old Testament tale about Joseph more times than I can count. I thought I knew just about everything there was to know about the wonder boy who would end up saving his people from starvation. Not so! I was once again pleasantly surprised when the Holy Spirit showed me something I had never seen before.

 If there is one piece of wardrobe that even the non-Bible reader knows about, it is Joseph’s famous coat of many colors. Even the Broadway Show done in his honor was titled, “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.” Genesis informs us that Jacob gave this special gift to his son Joseph to make it clear to all his other Sons that only the Boy with the fancy threads was his favorite. Hebrew tradition should have had the oldest son wearing the honor garment. Jacob who actually swiped the birthright from his older brother Esau, was never known for playing life’s game by the rules. So, he is partly to blame for the schism that grew between his sons but Joseph was no angel either. He was a cocky little tattle tale who never knew when it was time to keep his big mouth shut. You can’t blame the rest of Jacob’s kin for not thinking so highly of the kid with the flashy wardrobe.

We are told of the day that Jacob sent Joseph to check up on the kids out in the corral. Joseph was no longer welcome working with the rest as his immaturity got on the nerves of his siblings and made it impossible for them to get any work done. Joseph now hanging out at the house became Daddy’s Western Union Man. When the rest of the Brothers saw Joseph’s loud jacket with him skipping obnoxiously from down the road, they were ready to kill him. Better heads prevailed though, and they only threw him into a pit. But they do something drastic before imprisoning their own flesh and blood. This is the key action that opened my eyes to some new truth for me. The Sons of Jacob ripped Joseph’s psychedelic covering off his body and he was never to wear it again. Long before Joe becomes God’s man of the hour, the coat comes off and a new suit of clothes are being woven by the Lord to replace his old go-to favorite article of clothing.

When Joe is in Potiphar’s house, there is no technicolor coat. When Joe is in prison, he is wearing the orange jumpsuit like every other inmate. When Joe is recalled to serve in Pharaoh’s Court, there is no resurrection of his boyhood super suit. The Coat of Many Colors was part of the old Joseph and not the new man God had equipped him to be. He didn’t need his old identity anymore. He was now God’s faithful Servant and he adorned himself in the cloak of humble obedience. Jacob’s choice of dressing his son almost killed him. Jehovah’s choice of dressing Joseph saved him and an entire Nation. The Coat of Many Colors might have been flashy but it was also fleshly. It was a part of his past but not necessary for his present and future.

What used to label us is not necessary to define our personality today. The Lord takes our self-righteous duds and declares them as nothing more than filthy rags. Our pride and our need to be noticed dies away so that our devotion and desire to glorify Jesus can come alive. When we open our hearts to the Spirit, we don’t need electric neon substitutes anymore. The colors of God’s love fill us to spill us with acts of life that don’t put ourselves on the pedestal but lifts up the Name of Jesus. When we tell the story of the redeemed Joseph, he is not wearing the wardrobe of his old life but he is dressed in the royal robes of being a child of God.

 I am not what I used to be. I am not what I will be. But I am under construction via the Holy Spirit. My closet looks different than it used to be. The gimmicks and the games I once played to get attention are no longer in my possession. If any man or woman be in Christ, he or she is a new creation. Old things like fancy coats are passed away. Behold, new things are in store and not storage anymore. Are you still depending on the old ways to get a new thing done? Stop it! Though our sins be as scarlet, the grace of God has forgiven us so that we may be as white as snow. And white looks good on those that have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. May your wardrobe be that which worships the God who made you and not the humans who dressed you!          

 

 

   





MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY AND REVIVAL!

29 08 2018

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Most of us are familiar with the story of the Mutiny on the Bounty. Many have at least seen one of the two film versions of the story. There was the one classic with Clark Gable and the other with an actor you may have heard of named Marlon Brando. But as usual, the movies fall short of telling the actual story as written in the book.

 The full tale begins much like the cinema portrays it, in the nineteenth century, crew members of the HMS Bounty took over the ship, set their captain adrift in a lifeboat, and ended up at last on Pitcairn Island in the South Pacific. But that is only part of the story. What happened to the mutineers after they landed is something else altogether. These rough and tough, godless sailors, together with the wives they had taken with them from the island of Tahiti, spent their days on Pitcairn drinking, gambling, carousing, and fighting among themselves. Soon the fighting led to battle. One by one they killed each other off until the colony was reduced to a handful of people. Among them was a man named Alexander Smith.

 Rummaging through his trunk one day, Smith found a Bible that his mother had put there. Thank God for our Moms who always pack clean underwear, extra socks and a Bible. Mr. Smith began to read it, and his life was transformed. As he read to the survivors, a dramatic change began taking place in their lives as well, and when that island was discovered by outsiders some years later,the inhabitants had become a model community. There was no jail because there was no crime.The citizens loved God and each other. The Bible read and the Scriptures lived had totally changed their lives and their society. 

What happened then could happen again if we would not only memorize verses but begin to allow the living Word of God to be seen loud and clear through us. This could be a season of Revival if the people of God would stop sounding the trumpet call of retreat! What if we charged into every day wholly devoted to allowing the Holy Spirit to write His story upon our hearts?

Pastor Rick Warren wrote not too long ago these powerful and timely words: “If we are going to have a resurgence in our nation, a revival, a reformation, a renewal, a re-configuration of the church, when you study church history it always starts through certain stages and the first stage is personal renewal.” Every major movement of God begins with men and women humbling themselves in the sight of the Lord. This inspires a thorough confession. When we stop pretending that we are something we aren’t and invite the Lord to clean us up both inside and out, we are made ready to become instruments in the hands of the Master. There can’t be revival in the community until there is a revolution in the heart!

I can always sense when it becomes more about Him and less about us. The church no longer cares what we do as long as we do it for the glory of One and that we do it together. One of the ways you know a church is experiencing Jesus is the singing gets better and louder and more personal and passionate. You also observe that people aren’t in such a hurry to leave. They linger and they pray for one another and share heart to heart connection. If you go to a church and there is more spectating going on than participation, you don’t have church; you are attending an event. I believe God is not looking for a crowd, but longing to lead a body of committed Believers.”

Revival always begins with human pride falling aside. People begin to confess their sins, and get right with each other, and that’s when the church starts growing more deep than wide. Christians are open to deal with their hidden issues, like finally admitting that racism isn’t a skin problem; it’s a sin problem! If God’s people want to be glad all over, we need to come clean with how we’ve been bad all over! God is not ready to bash us but rebuild us. Renewal, resurgence, revival, restoration, reformation, whatever you want to call it; it must be the shared heart of the Church family!

Mutiny is what human beings do best. Surrendering to the Holy Spirit is what we need to learn how to do. I have always prayed that God would make it hard to go to hell from Cape May County. We don’t need religion, we need to enter fully into the relationship we can have with the God who made us and now wants to save us. For too long it’s been too much about what we don’t do. Today is the day to make it about what we do and who we are and who God wants to make us. If God is at work, it changes more than a person. He changes the place and the pace of living we do. It is either mutiny on the bounty or the Bible in the county. I choose the latter! How about you?





WHAT’S YOUR STORY?

22 08 2018

What's Your Story

The more you get to know somebody; several things will happen. One of the best things is that when you invest the time, you learn their story. We all have a story. And there is no greater sin than to keep a story that was meant to be lived out in light, lost in the dark.

 

As a devoted Pastor, I want everyone reading this today to make sure that you allow God to write your story. As a committed Shepherd, I want you to live your story. As a Brother in Christ, I want to at the very least, know your story. Last week, I got to know a member of our Congregation a bit better via  a very difficult time. I was given the honor to walk with him through the Memorial Service for his Mother. The whole experience gave me a true deeper appreciation for the Man himself. Just like the Lighthouse Church, I believe that every place of worship is a Library of God’s word and work. Rather than seeing how fast you can get in and out of the building, decide to make some time and get to know God’s handiwork all around you. Your new best friend may be sitting in the same row as you!

 

God’s Word wasn’t dumped upon us by Heaven throwing books at us from Glory. We didn’t have to go to classes and take courses to learn the special truth that God revealed to us. God became flesh and became like one of us and literally moved within our neighborhood to communicate with us in terms we could understand. Throughout history, God has always communicated through human beings who look, talk, and behave just like we do.

 

How can we tell when God has really spoken and when we are hearing from a false prophet? The Scripture does not leave us without help in discerning the true from the false. First, we must remember that God’s actions in the world always agree with His words. The Bible states that God is its author, and that He is also the Maker of the physical universe and all the forces that are at work.\ He is the Controller, the King, the Lord over all of history and the affairs of men. If this is true, then we can expect experience to confirm what the Bible says. History testifies to the fact that God never acts contrary to His Word.

 

This means that if someone promises something that the Word of God does not verify, we can know immediately that we have heard false teaching. Furthermore, when a man or woman predicts that a certain future event will occur and it does not happen, the Bible declares that person to be a false prophet; the prophecy is to be disregarded, since it is not the Word of God. The Bible makes the amazing claim that every one of its predictions is 100 percent accurate. Measured by that standard, some of the secular forecasts we hear today are rather ridiculous.

 

Here are 10 Future Predictions made by the so-called experts that never came true. A lot of people claim to have the ability predict the future, such as the famous Nostradamus. There is something special about trying to predict future events and as such, people have been doing it or attempting to do it for centuries. Some of their predictions have probably come true, but many seem to be way off base. These predictions, whether small or big, have clearly been exposed by time. Here are 10 predictions about the future that didn’t quite come true. 

 

  1. Rail Travel At High Speed Is Not Possible Because The Passengers Would Die Of Asphyxia – Dr. Dionysys Larder In 1828
  2. The Telephone Has Too Many Flaws To Be Seriously Considered As A Means Of Communication – William Orton In 1876
  3. The Horse Is Here To Stay But The Automobile Is Only A Fad – The President Of The Michigan Savings Bank To Henry Ford’s Lawyer, 1903
  4. Television Won’t Last. It’s A Flash In The Pan – Mary Somerville In 1948
  5. Rock And Roll Will Be Gone By June – Variety Magazine In 1955
  6. The Beatles Have No Future In Show Business – Decca Records Executive To Brian Epstein In 1962
  7. The Internet Will Catastrophically Collapse In 1996 – Robert Metcalfe In 1995
  8. Next Christmas, The iPod Will Be Dead, Finished, Gone – Alan Sugar
  9. The World will End in December of 2012- The Mayan Calendar
  10. What anybody else other than God definitively says about you!!!

 

Who is going to tell you who you are and what you can do and what you were created to be? There is a big difference between believing that you were created by a Loving God and being nothing more than a product of evolution. The Bible shows us the way God reached out to us in spite of our behavior. What could have ended up a tragedy can become a triumph if you will just humbly allow God to direct your blockbuster. He wants the light of your story to shine bright so others may know that God never produces junk. The enemy wants nothing more than to see your footage become nothing more than wasted film left on the cutting room floor! I think I hear God yell, “Action!” The next move is up to you!





CHURCH IS NOT AN OPTION!

18 08 2018

Come to CHurch

A large majority of Americans will say that they believe in God, yet our American church attendance would not give evidence to that reality. If everyone who professed to believe in God were to go to church this coming weekend, there would presently not be enough room to hold them in all the worship buildings in America! So why do Christians neglect meeting together on a regular basis, even though the very Scripture they claim to adhere to tells them to do otherwise? It is hard to interpret Hebrews 10:23-25 any other way but challenging Believers to fulfill their responsibility to one another to show up so that they can grow up and connect with the very comrades they will need to run the race that Jesus is calling of us all to do with excellence! Those verses actually read, “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

 

I hear this phrase shared with me quite often, “I love Jesus but I don’t really need to go to church because I worship the Lord from wherever I am.” While it may sound hip and even logical, it is not what God desires of his Children. We are Family. We are His Bride. We are not an organization but a living organism. When two or three are gathered in His Name, Jesus is there in the midst of us. God inhabits the collective corporate worship of His People. You can’t be a group all alone. You can’t encourage others if you aren’t in their company often. You can’t be held accountable if you are not willing to be vulnerable with some special men and women around you. It is the heart of our Father to pray for one another, walk with one another, cry with one another, laugh with one another and love one another. But to pull off the “one anothering,” you can’t do so in a solo posture. Put your pride aside and join the team rather than attempting to play all the positions by yourself. You can’t do it and God knows it.

 

“The Church is full of Hypocrites.” When I hear that, with a smile on my face I reply, “That’s OK. We can always use one more.” We don’t come to church because we are perfect. We don’t gather together because we have arrived. We don’t make public appearances to show off our pride. We are here because God can only accomplish some things in a committed gathering that He hardly ever does when we are all by ourselves.

 

The Church in the Scriptures never refers to a destination constructed with bricks and sticks. The original definition of the Church means those that are called out of the crowd to come together to glorify Jesus as a family. And the world will know we are Christians by our love for the Lord and for one another. We have reduced going to church as nothing more than a weekly event we pull off mostly so we can feel better about our own personal walk with God. We go to glorify God as the sheep of His pasture. We are not singing the songs we like for us, but to express our devotion to the Most High. We dig into the Word of God together so that we can be filled to be spilled to bless those all around us. We get real with our struggles. We aren’t hiding our sins. We put the religion of pretending behind us, and get excited about offering our gifts, talents and abilities to the ultimate Coach whose words should matter most. What good is it if you can hit a 99 mile an hour fastball but refuse to offer your batting prowess for the best of those who need you?

I also hear many tell me that their Pastor is a TV Preacher or a Radio Minister. Do you understand that when Jesus described the specific relationship between a Shepherd and the Sheep, one of the prerequisites of that relationship being real is that there is a true personal connection between them? Jesus said, “My Sheep know my voice and I know their name.” A TV Preacher or a Radio Minister can be part of the peripherals of helping you sharpen your biblical skills, but if he doesn’t know you and you don’t know him, he is not your Pastor. He can’t be. God doesn’t expect him to be. You need a Shepherd who knows you personally. You need friendly sheep all around you so that as a group you may bring a sacrifice of praise that God wants to make known all over Cape May County.

 

Are you committed to being a unique and important participant in the Church that you are making the decision to belong to? You can’t do this if you hop from building to building every single week. You won’t ever live out the Hebrews verses above until you are ready to be obedient with truth and grace here below. It would be easy to stay anonymous. It would be comfortable to go secret agent with your faith. But the Day is coming and when Jesus comes back, He is not coming back for individuals but for His Church. Do you want to be totally ready? Don’t just go to church. Ask Him to make you be the Church!

 

Years ago, I was invited by our denomination to be a traveling itinerant Speaker. I would be able to see exciting places. I could really fine tune a few messages and present them in an excellent manner. But I said a quick, “No.” I was called to be a Pastor to a specific Flock of Sheep. For the last 22 years, it has been at The Lighthouse Church. My Church Family knows me and I know them. Like a Family, we have seen the good, bad and ugly of one another. But we aren’t strangers. We are able to experience Body Life together in its fullness. That is what I pray for all of you. This isn’t about coming to The Lighthouse Church. This is about your need to go and let fellowship happen all around you! Go to Church! Be the Church! Pray for the Church! It was and still is God’s idea!      

 

  





GOD AND A FEW GOOD MEN!

10 08 2018

Shepherd

It is time to wake up and rise up we Men of God and be done with the things that are futile and passing away. In this wild and wacky politically correct era that we find ourselves living in, now more than ever, I believe God is looking for more than just a few good men. He is calling guys that are ready to wise up! We need to be willing to step up so we may step out and step in to the assignments that God has for us. The Holy Spirit doesn’t live within us to lull us into apathy. Men must become movers and shakers if we are going to make a dent into providing a better way for the many that are too content to follow the Leader to nowhere worth going.

 

Sheep need shepherds or else sheep don’t thrive or survive. There are other kinds of animals that run wild: wild dogs, wild horses, wild boars. There’s no such thing as wild sheep.

Sheep need guidance. Sheep tend to make bad decisions, and we’re that way too. A few years ago, in Eastern Turkey in a village, there was a flock of sheep whose shepherd wasn’t with them. The lead sheep went off a cliff. Guess what the rest of the sheep did? You’d think one of them would have said, “This sounds like a baaaaad idea to me!” We live an overstressed, hurried, exhausted, no margin for error and not having nearly enough boundaries kind of life. Instead of daring to be different, we mindlessly take our place in the conga line and become a slave to what other people think about us! We flirt with a temptation or are too entertaining with our addictions that we know will harm us, we neglect God when we should be pursuing holiness and we become too blind to notice what matters most. And before you know it, we are nothing more than a statistic of another creature that has gone over that cliff.

 

I feel like a lifeguard blowing his whistle to warn swimmers of impending doom. There are sharks in the waters and it is not enough to just get you to safety but to inspire you to also become committed to those who are splashing all around us. Jesus said that the watching world will know we are His followers by our love. I think that we have all been a little too guilty of more selfishness than service. It is easy to get so comfortable up in the Lifeguard chair that we forget why we were put there in the first place. 

 

Here are three areas to immediately address in our lives. Number one is our need to work hard in whatever we do as if we were doing it for the Lord. Too many people have become lazy in the efforts they give to their daily profession. The Apostle Paul was a Pastor but he didn’t use his flock to provide him a mansion in Monte Carlo and a Cadillac Chariot! Paul humbly continued to serve with his hands by making tents! He was willing to do whatever it took to provide for the family of God. Even Jesus modeled for us that there was no job too menial for Him. Are you an example in what you do and how you do it? Do you bring excellence to every area you are associated with? Are you teaching others that we don’t do just enough to get by because we serve a God who never cut corners with us?

 

Number two is the way that we choose to walk. A man must live so that he is a positive example to those that God has positioned all around him. We need to live a life that is known for being blameless and above reproach. If there are skeletons in the closet, we can’t hide them anymore but must come clean about them! The manner in how we do business is on display for others to witness whether we like it or not. Your wife knows how you really feel about her by the way that you treat her. Don’t expect your kids to do what you don’t do. As a man, do you make sure that everybody is present and accounted for before you embark on a journey or are you in such the hurry that you actually leave key individuals behind? May it never be!

 

Finally, number three comes down to the words we use. A man must not only support the family by working and teach the family by being a good example, but he must also take time to speak to the family members. Paul knew the importance of teaching these new believers the truths that would help them grow in the Lord. Paul dealt with each of the believers personally. As busy as he was, Paul still had time for personal counseling with the members of the assembly. While it is good for church leaders to address the larger group, spending time with people on a one-to-one basis is also needed. Our Lord was never too busy to speak to individuals, even though He preached to great multitudes. To be sure, this is difficult and demanding work but it is the rewarding work that glorifies God. Paul not only made others feel better, but he made them want to do better.

 

Nobody wants to receive constructive criticism anymore. We all want the trophy before the season even starts. My Dad once witnessed me pitching a Little League Baseball Game where I was losing 29-0! It was the day before pitch counts and I think I threw over 400 that night. When the game was over, my Dad reiterated that he loved me no matter how I played. My relationship as his son was not up for grabs because I stunk up the joint that evening. We went out for ice cream and it was there that my Father went over specific ways that I could get better. He encouraged me as he challenged me. I became a better ballplayer and man because of his investment in me, his son. It does no good if we never correct or coach. Love doesn’t mean that it condones all behavior. Love keeps the relationship strong even as adjustments must be made. If not, we are destined to become sheep who will do nothing more than following another to a premature disaster!

 

So are you up for the adventure? Will you play it safe or will you allow God to insert you fully in the game. Who will be like Jesus? Who will have the same passion as Paul? Who will be willing to redetermine the destiny of a lost lamb out there? I hope and pray that it is you and me for such a time as this. Be willing to work! Be aware of how and where you walk! Be conscience of the words that come out of your mouth! Let’s build a bridge of faith, hope and love here in Cape May County!





“The Lord is My Shepherd”

1 08 2018

The Lord is my ShepardBack in the Summer of 1975, when I was a sophomore in High School, my Family moved from Chester NJ to a nearby town called Peapack. Even though it was still very much North Jersey, this incredible house that we acquired came with a pony, two goats and two sheep. I so bonded with Mama and Baby Sheep that I named them Sheep and Baby. Maybe I didn’t give these pets the most original of names but I did learn lots about sheep in general by just taking care of them both. As life would have it, Sheep died the day before I left for Philadelphia College of Bible where I was going to prepare being a Shepherd of people. Just a side note, when my Family sold the house on 44 Peapack Road, the powers at be tore it down to build three new modern monstrosities. I always wanted to let the owner of New Home number two that they built their residence right over my Sheep’s burial plot. I wonder if anyone has heard some bleating coming from the basement.

 

God had given me quality time working with real sheep. Real sheep do not just take care of themselves as some might suppose. They actually require more assistance than any other class of livestock. If you want to raise sheep, you must be prepared to do lots more giving than you probably will ever receive. But you do so because these creatures are so dependent upon you that you don’t mind giving them the endless attention and meticulous care they demand.

 

I also recognized the facts that Sheep behavior and that of Humans is similar in more ways than you might have ever thought. Both are susceptible to operating via mob instincts and crowd rule. It’s easy to get sheep and people to come together and act as a herd. Both are given to responding positively or reacting negatively because of fear, stubbornness and stupidity. Our habits parallel these wooly creatures in the manner of profound importance. God knew what He was doing when He called Jesus the Great Shepherd and we people the Sheep of His Pasture.

 

The title of Pastor comes from the Greek word “poimen” which means “shepherd.” One can’t truly be called to be a Pastor if he can’t stand people. Sheep have needs that include grazing on green grass, drinking fresh water, being lead to shade from the overbearing sun, moved to shelter in the midst of severe storms and being personally protected from ferocious predators who want to devour the flock in one big bite! A Good Shepherd is there to manage the sheep to life because on their own they have no chance to survive. Over the years, I have become increasingly aware of one thing when it comes to shepherding God’s children. It is this: the manner of ministry done by the Minister in the lives of those who encompass the church makes all the difference in the direction of the destiny the body of Christ will end up!

 

Jesus loved His Sheep so much that He gave us all Himself. It is in that divine love that we don’t find a program or a product or a process, but the only Person who will be the ultimate missing piece we’ve all been looking for. In Psalm 23 we read, “The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures.” The strange thing about sheep is that because of their very make-up, it is almost impossible for them to be made to lie down unless four requirements are met.

 

  1. Owing to their timidity they refuse to lie down unless they are free of all fear.
  2. Because of the social behavior within a flock, sheep will not lie down unless they are free from friction with others of their kind.
  3. If tormented by flies or parasites, sheep will not lie down. Only when free of these pests can they relax.
  4. Lastly, sheep will not lie down as long as they feel in need of finding food. They must be free from hunger.

 

It is significant that to be at rest there must be a definite sense of freedom from fear, tension, aggravations and hunger. The unique aspect of the picture is that it is only the Shepherd himself who can provide release from these anxieties. It all depends upon the diligence of the owner as whether or not his flock is free of disturbing influences.

 

Jesus makes it possible for us to lie down, to rest, to relax, to be content, quiet, and flourishing. A flock that is restless, discontented, always agitated and disturbed never does well. And the same is true of people. It is not generally known that sheep are so timid and easily panicked that even a stray jackrabbit suddenly bounding from behind a bush can stampede a whole flock. When one startled sheep runs in fright, a dozen others will bolt with it in blind fear, not waiting to see what frightened them.

 

As long as there is even the slightest suspicion of danger from dogs, coyotes, cougars, bears or other enemies, the sheep stand up ready to flee for their lives. They have little or no means of self-defense. They are helpless, timid, feeble creatures whose only recourse is to run. Two dogs have been known to kill as many as 292 sheep in a single night of unbridled slaughter. It is also a known fact that nothing so quiets and reassures sheep like seeing their Shepherd in the field. The presence of their master and owner and protector puts them at ease as nothing else could do, and this applies day and night. In the Christian’s life there is no substitute for the keen awareness that my Shepherd is nearby. There is nothing like Christ’s presence to dispel the fear, the panic, the terror of the unknown.

 

Finally, did you know that green pastures don’t just happen in Bethlehem? As a matter of fact, Israel, where David wrote this Psalm and kept his father’s flocks, especially near Bethlehem, is a dry, brown, sun-burned wasteland. Green pastures did not just happen by chance. Green pastures were the product of tremendous labor, time and skill in land use. Green pastures were the result of clearing rough, rocky land; of tearing out brush and roots and stumps; of deep plowing and careful soil preparation; of seeding and planting special grains and vegetables; of irrigating with water and caring for the crops that would feed the flocks.

 

Green pastures are essential to success with sheep. The Good Shepherd has supplied green pastures for those who care to move in onto them and there find peace and plenty. Every human being follows a Leader! Is your Shepherd worthy of that title? If not, it may be time to make a change! The Lord is my Shepherd and I lack nothing. I pray the same for you!

 





WABUSH OR BUST!

24 07 2018

Repent-turn-around-framedI have spent the last 36 years in full time ministry as a Pastor. I have observed Believers in almost every season of life. I don’t believe that I am going out on a limb when I say that most Christians expect to be hammered with some supernatural rod of judgment when they fail. Many people actually picture the Almighty loaded and ready to shoot lightning bolts of punishment at the first sign of failure or error. While I do believe that our God is holy and just in his nature, He more often than not chooses to respond to us with grace and mercy, actually sparing the rod as long as he can so that the child doesn’t end up destroyed by his or her own selfish immature choices in the long run. God is not one to mess around with, but he is no monster either.

Growing up in the 1960’s, corporal punishment was pretty much accepted and encouraged within our society. It didn’t just happen in the home, but schools too were pretty liberal with their slaps and their slams. I was actually 22 years old the last time my Mom attempted to use a wooden spoon on me. She demanded that I not drive from North Jersey to Lebanon, Pennsylvania to see my fiancé Terri. I told her I was going no matter what. She grabbed the spoon and began to whack me with it. I looked at her with my mouth wide open wondering, “Really Mom? I am not sure this is working!” The wood broke in two and so she proceeded to grab me by the collar of my shirt until it was ripped right off my body. I remember just shaking my head at the absurdity of what was happening. I went anyway, even without her blessing. I still believe I did the right thing as I honored my Mom by not fighting back in any way, even though she chose to treat me like a two-year-old. I still wish we could have done that whole crazy afternoon over again.

 If today, you choose to muster up the courage to approach God with humility and take full responsibility over the many ways that your behavior has been less than stellar in his sight, you don’t have to do so cringing in a pit of despair covered by guilt and shame. God never uses guilt to manipulate his children. As a matter of fact, nobody is cheering for you more than the Lord when we people come to the end of ourselves because with less of us we are now ready for more of him.

Believe it or not but your Heavenly Father desires you to come back to where you belong. He grieves for our pain, and his compassion is infinitely endless. He is waiting with open arms to embrace his wayward sons and daughters as they return to him. Salvation doesn’t culminate in a sermon but in a heaven wide celebration. All the angels in heaven rejoice when any stumbling sheep comes home to the fold. And do you know what? If we stop and think about it, the only way out is the only way in and it is the One who is the Way, the Truth and the Life.

Let me try to illustrate with the iron-mining town of Wabush, Canada, in Labrador Province which for many years was only accessible by railroad or airplane; there was no road leading to the town. Wabush was built in the early 1960s as a residential community for workers at the mines. But it wasn’t until the late 1980s that a road was built, making Wabush accessible by car. That road is still the only road into Wabush. If you want to leave Wabush, you must turn around and take that same road, moving in the opposite direction. Life is much like the town of Wabush. In our journey, if we attempt to do things only within our own strength, we will eventually reach the end of the road. We can go no further. It is a guaranteed dead end! If we want to get out of the place we’re in, we are going to have to turn around and go in the opposite direction. That’s what it really means to repent! It all boils down not to what we say but what we do. If we want to turn completely around and go back the opposite way, we must be willing to do a one eighty. Talking about it and singing about it doesn’t change our location. Turn around and instead of walking away, walk to the One who was willing to run to you. Jesus took our wooden spoon, the belt, the switches and all the other instruments that were used to beat us rather than build us back up.

Have you come to your own Wabush? Have you been going the wrong way, away from God? Now it’s time for you to stop, turn completely around, and take the road of repentance. God knows our pain and has tasted our bewilderment and has grieved over our tortured hearts! Can you be open to admitting that perhaps you have been wrong about God, wrong about life, and wrong about yourself. This is a tough lesson for all of us. There is no more bitter pill to swallow than the pill of finding you are wrong when you thought you were right.

Life has a way of changing our perspective as we grow older. Sometimes when people reach a certain stage of life, they look back on the convictions of their youth and the values they have stood for, the attitudes they have held and they realize that they have been wrong in their approach to life.

Looking back on your life, you may realize that what you thought was selfless love was actually self-centered pride and desire. What you thought was idealism was actually arrogance and egotism.

What you thought was truth was an illusion. In truth, it’s a difficult lesson for us all to learn. But if we don’t learn it, we will settle to be a slave to sin when we could have been a son or daughter of God!

 Anybody here want to correct some mistakes before it is too late?

Anybody here not wanting to spend all eternity stuck in Wabush?

Anybody here ready to turn around and come home?