PRAYING FOR TOM SEAVER

12 03 2019

 

53476401_10218250394956377_2046747251656622080_n

There have been two constants in my life from the time I was a little Boy growing up in Northern, NJ. If you knew me then, you would recognize that they still play a huge part in who I am now. The first is Music. I didn’t go anywhere without my transistor Radio then and the songs are still playing loud and clear from the jukebox in my soul today. My love for the tunes is still expressed whether I am on the air on LIFT FM or choosing the worship chorus’ and hymns for another Lighthouse Church weekend of Services. From the time I wake up until after I fall asleep, its Motown, Soul, Showtunes, Country and Rock and Roll creating the soundtrack for my days. If you catch me out and about in Cape May County, chances are really good that you’ll catch me singing. I am a terrible dancer but I can hit the high notes of every Barry Manilow Hit even today.

 

The other mainstay of my journey is my devotion to Baseball. I remember vividly the day my Dad introduced me to American’s Pastime. I drank it all in as my Father shared his love for the Brooklyn Dodgers and going to Ebbet’s Field and the many years those Bums came close to beating the Yankees in the World Series. By the time I came along, there was a new National League in town called the New York Mets. We bonded immediately. I began to listen to every broadcast as Bob Murphy, Ralph Kiner and Lindsey Nelson described the action of these loveable Losers who if they didn’t finish last in the Standings, they finished next to last. I didn’t care! They were my Mets. Every day after school, I would play the game. Every night, I would follow the game. Let’s just say, I became a fanatic.

 

In 1967, the Mets added a Pitcher who I immediately connected to. He was brought to the Orange and Blue in a miraculous fashion. They were the Team whose name was picked out of a hat when a signing snafu kept him from playing with the Atlanta Braves. From the get go, this Ballplayer carried himself in a manner that just oozed “Winner.” George Thomas Seaver changed the whole climate of the Mets. When he was on the mound, he exhibited such a poise that you knew he was in charge. His fastball exploded into the catcher’s mitt. His slider was a thing of beauty. His cerebral approach to pitching made it a work of art. Tom Seaver was the Rookie of the Year with 16 wins.

 

My first game at Shea Stadium was in 1968 and I made sure that Dad was taking me to a Game that Seaver would be pitching. I remember driving to the Ballpark that day feeling like I was in Heaven. It was the first time I saw a Baseball Game in Color because we still had a Black and White Television. The Field was so green! Our Seats, although in the upper section, might as well been First Class because I was so enamored with everything I was experiencing. I wanted to be Tom Seaver. He was my Hero.

 

I had a Tom Seaver style Spalding’s glove when I played Little League. I wore the Uniform Number 14 because Tom wore 41 and our Team didn’t go that high. Tom Seaver’s Poster adorned my Bedroom Wall. I collected the Magazines that featured his stories. I could imitate his every move on the mound in my sleep. I drank Royal Crown Cola because Tom did. Everything about him was who I wanted to be.

 

And in 1969, the year Man walked on the Moon, the Mets pulled off the unthinkable. They not only won it all, they did it in unbelievable fashion. The Amazing Mets won the World Series. My Baseball Team was the best in the land. Tom Seaver was 25-7 in 1969. He won the Cy Young Award as the best Pitcher in the League. He nearly pitched a Perfect Game on a Summer Night in July of that Season. I cried the moment some Chicago Cubs Player named Jimmy Qualls spoiled the masterpiece. How could he do that to Tom Seaver?

 

Tom Seaver is the kind of Individual who could carry the weight of being a role model. He was a Patriot as he served in the Marines. He married Nancy and actually treasures her still as his closest companion. He was close to his Parents. He adores his Daughters. He was a real Family Man. He also was an Artist when it came to Pitching. He painted the corners of home plate. He would analyze every pitch and always think through what he was going to do next. There was no pitch count for Tom Seaver. He pitched into the extra innings. He would go on to win 308 Baseball Games. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame. Tom Seaver is everything I love about the Game.

 

In 1977, the Mets broke my heart when they traded my Childhood Hero to the Reds. In many ways, it was the day I woke up to realize that Camelot was not here on Earth. Baseball was a business. The Mets just banished The Franchise. It would never be the same and it wasn’t. The Mets brought Tom back in 1983, but once again dropped the ball when they left him unprotected and he would be gone again by 1984 pitching for the Chicago White Sox. He won his 300th Game in New York but at Yankees Stadium. What should have been could have been if only the Suits would treat the Game like us Fans do.

 

While the Mets would become World Champions again in 1986, the innocence had long since ended. And the other day, my heart broke yet again when it was announced that Tom Seaver was retiring from Public Life because of his battle with dementia. This Summer, my Kids had bought me tickets already to what was going to be a celebration of the 50th Year Reunion of the 1969 Mets. I was hoping to get another glimpse of the Man who brought me so much joy through the years. Now it doesn’t look like that is going to happen. Tears rolled down my cheeks when I began to come to grips with the reality that the older I get, I am having to say, “Goodbye,” way more often than I am comfortable with.

 

This past weekend at The Lighthouse Church, I preached in my Tom Seaver Jersey. I did so to honor Tom. I did so to also make others aware to pray for Seaver family and all who must deal with the horrors of dementia and Alzheimer disease. And I closed my eyes and for a moment, it was 1969 again. Dad was still alive and we were at Shea for a Mets doubleheader. It was a magical day that I never wanted to end. I kept score and cherished every moment. Unfortunately, when I opened my eyes, it was gone. But I am grateful to God that I was blessed enough to grow up in a time before technology and money and greed took precedence in our Country. I’m not against progress but I will debate anyone who says that it has led to success. I’m not so sure.

 

Please pray for Tom Seaver. Cherish the moments that you get to spend with Family. Enter fully into the life that is happening all around you today. It goes by way too fast. Because of my Faith I will someday go home. You see, Baseball really is life. 





LENT AND LOVE!

4 03 2019

Love Lent pic Bible crown thorns heart

Love is blind, but marriage sure is an eye-opener! God may have come up with the concept of romance and love in Heaven, but when it is lived out here on Earth, something seems to be lost in the translation. Maybe it comes down to jealousy, pride and self-centered sin natures. What if we actually lived the vows we made at the Altar. What if the Wedding Day wasn’t the pinnacle of the relationship, but the launching pad for it to be even be better? Do we treat Marriage as if it is the epitome of the hunt rather than just the first step in an ever-better process? Why are we willing to invest so many committed hours to one another when we are dating but once we tie the knot, we replace the courtship moments with time robbed by tyranny of the urgent?   

 

A husband was reading the newspaper and told his wife, “This article says that a woman speaks 30,000 words per day, while a man only speaks 15,000 words.” The wife replied, “The reason has to be because a woman has to say everything twice.” The husband looked up from reading the newspaper and asked, “What?” How do you listen? Do you multitask? Did you know that multitasking may not be a habit that is actually healthy for us? There is evidence that such a practice can actually be a pain in the brain. Is all the new technology a blessing or is it more of a curse dressed in sheep’s clothing? When was the last time you were all in with your face and not just your ears?

 

Why don’t we give our best to the ones we say that we love the most? The Bible says that Jesus should be our first love and while we may agree with that in theory, it is not always true in practice? How would our lives actually be different if we kept our eyes fixed on Jesus? Maybe it would keep our priorities straight in the importance of our other relationships. How much quality time would you say you spend with your significant other? Affairs are birthed when we start investing the prime rib of our attention to someone other than to the one we promised to serve the best of our love to. Seconds should not be settled for by our Spouse. Those vows you expressed when the heart was fully engaged at the wedding should still be setting the standard of excellence for the foundation being laid in constructing your cathedral of love.        

 

Last night I officiated a Wedding where the husband couldn’t wait to kiss the bride. He was chomping at the bit to have their lips locked. Yet as the years go by, smooching loses it luster. Just a simple reading of the Song of Solomon will teach you that God calls our lovemaking an act of worship. When was the last time your kids caught you stealing a kiss in the kitchen? Children who are raised in an environment where parents are still very affectionate to one another prove to be more secure than those who have never even seen their Mom and Dad holding hands. I have fond memories of my parents dancing together in the living room. Even now, when I hear those songs they used to sway to, tears fill my eyes. What is filling the eyes of your offspring?

 

I once heard it said, “Marriage is like a violin.  When the music stops, the strings are still attached.” God imparted symphonies to be sung deep within our DNA. Send her roses when she’s feeling blue, say the words he needs to hear. Marriage takes two friends whose love stays true when their vows are treasured through the years. Let her know that she is your Wonder Woman. Let him be assured that he is your Superman. If you are anything like most couples, you are probably opposites. One is an extrovert, the other an introvert. One is energized by projects, the other longs to be with people. She may always be moving while He is smooth and calm. In the covenant of marriage, God makes two individuals into one flesh. The question is not, “Which one do you become?” The miracle that the Lord does is weaving two unique lives into a majestic tapestry of a union that brings out a best that would be lost without the merging of your two hearts together.

 

Marriage is a lot like a Polar Bear Plunge. If you are going to dive into an icy ocean for a good cause, you aren’t going to make it in if you do it one toe at a time. It is accomplished by closing your eyes and running full speed ahead with no option of turning around. Here is the recipe for making a delicious sandwich that results in a happy marriage: “Just lettuce alone-and-meat in the middle!” What if you both made a decision to get creative about expressing, “I Love You,” to one another? What if you both tried to outdo each other by competing in an exercise of communicating concrete acts of kindness every single day? Don’t make the mistake that so many have made by waiting too late to resuscitate what could just use a healthy dose of fresh air now!

 

Ash Wednesday is this week. Way too often, and without much thought or prayer, we give up some token item for Lent. What if this year leading up to Easter, rather than abstaining from something, you promised to give your heart away each and every day? What if you loved one another like Jesus loved you? What if couples all over Cape May County were making sure that their marriages didn’t end up in the graveyard but actually became more alive than ever before? The Lord is still in the business of rolling the stones away. The next time I see you, let me catch you in an embrace. This might be the most powerful way God wants to make grace shine upon your face when you practice the look of love.   

 





DOING FINE AT 59!

25 02 2019

Fine at 59!

Is it me or does time accelerate to hyper speed as we get older? I am writing this on Sunday the 24th which just happens to be my Birthday. On the calendar, it is celebration number 59. When I was a younger child, that age seemed ancient. Now that I’m here, only my body reminds me that I’m not 17 anymore. On the inside, I still feel like there is a Kid longing to get out and experience every adventure still yet to come. To me, this gives great evidence that we are not just random accidents taking up space until we stop breathing. Just the awareness that my soul has of a deeper spiritual connection with life points me in the direction that we were created by a God who holds the answers to all of our compounding questions.

 

I spent most of my early days going to Church and in so doing I had a tremendous amount of guilt stirring in my conscience. I desired to do everything right and please those who mattered most. I desperately wanted to be loved. At the very least, I would have settled for just being liked. If that was my goal, let’s just say I fell miserably short! On the outside I may have appeared like the model straight A Student who conscientiously never swerved very far from the straight and narrow path of conformity to the agreed upon standards of being religious, but on the inside, I was lonely and longing for something or someone to fill the screaming void shouting from my heart. If there is a lesson here, it is to not always judge a book by its cover. What appears to be on the surface doesn’t always give you an accurate synopsis of what truly is.

 

When I turned my life over to Jesus back in 1975, I knew that I was a different person from the get go. At first, I thought all my problems were history and from that point forward, I was going to change the world for Jesus. With God by my side, what could stand in my way? I learned the hard way that my greatest enemy would be myself. I am stubborn when it comes to surrendering my will. I am defensive when others rebel against my vision. I am overly protective to those who try to successfully get close to me. I have spent way more hours alone than I ever could have predicted. My assumptions have come back to hurt me more than help me. Life has provided way more disappointments than I could have ever dreamed of. Still, without faith, I would have never survived. Without the reality of the Lord’s Presence, I would have lost my way amidst the dark nights of the journey. But on this my Birthday, against the odds, I’m still here. There may be serious scars on my spirit and enormous chunks of my heart that have been bombed by the enemy, but, I am not done yet!

 

Today I got to spend the day with 3 out of my 4 children. Leah, Abbie and Joel actually got me an old-time candlestick phone as my Birthday gift. I have been watching episodes of the classic old TV Show “The Untouchables,” and they knew I wanted to be like Eliot Ness. My one Son Rudy who couldn’t make it ministers with his wife Lindsey and their 3 kids in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Also present today was my Son-In-Law Jeff who is married to Leah and my daughter Abbie’s boyfriend, John. My amazing Granddaughter Lucia provided me moments of pure unadulterated joy. I melt every time she calls me “Pop-Pop.” The day would not have been complete without my wife Terri. Just when I think I know her so well, she is there surprising me all over again. Terri, Joel and I just got home from the Poconos where I was determined to teach my Son how to ski. Mission accomplished but not without another crazy weekend of forever memories. We went up to a Cabin where we forgot to pack any food, I didn’t bring with me any shirts other than the one I was wearing, we proceeded to get stuck time and time again in the driveway of the rental and my wife is afraid of Bambi. The deer were obviously domesticated and expected us to feed them. I wanted to harness them and get them to help us out of the driveway!

As I write this week’s article, I am admitting that I am resigning from attempting to make sense of this thing called life. In a world that wants to box up everything nice and neat and package it into a to-go bag, it just doesn’t fit and the “ajita” that we experience attempting to do so only steals the joy of the moment staring us in the face. This was not the movie I signed up to star in. I thought I’d be so much freer by now and finally untied from the old ball and chains. But even though there are more rigorous roads to travel by than recess to recreate, I know whom I believe in and I am persuaded that He is able to keep all that I have committed to Him until the day I finally graduate to Glory.

 

Speaking of sobering thoughts, turning 59 may not seem like a big deal to some, but my Dad only lived to be 67 and I’d be lying to you if I wasn’t aware that there are probably more days behind me than still lying ahead. I’m not going to get all morbid or melancholy, but I will wake up to the truth that I can’t waste the trails that must be walked upon now. I want to stop blaming God for the times that didn’t live up to my expectations. I’m sure the Lord is tired of my bargaining styled prayers. Ease doesn’t equal love and favor. From the rising of the sun until the going down of the same, I humbly long for the Name of the Lord to be praised not just by my spoken beliefs but by my behavior. So here we go again. I anticipate to be here the same time next year celebrating year number 60, but if I don’t get there, let it be said that Rudy went out in a blaze of glory that transferred all the applause to the One who got the rawest of deals on earth to open the widest of gates in Heaven!  





HAPPY BIRTHDAY TERRI!

18 02 2019

Happy Birthday Terri!

Last week my dear wife Theresa celebrated her Birthday. Whenever I asked Terri what she might like as a gift, she said, “Nothing! I have everything I need.” I truly wouldn’t expect my wife to say anything different. As a Preacher, I knew that we weren’t going to make millions doing what we do for a living; at least not in any significant monetary gain. Over the years, Terri has settled for a house that has been nicely furnished but with Thrift Store Specials and Bargains shared from Family and Friends getting rid of their old stuff to upgrade. We have been married for 37 years and we still use the bedroom furniture given to us by a Teen from Mendham, NJ who was in our very first Youth Group that we worked with.  I know other women might just complain, but not Terri. She has never whined about not having the latest gadget or the newest fashion. I did buy her a Salad Shooter for Christmas years ago, but that appliance was more hype than action.

 

I am beyond blessed because Terri always makes everything beautiful and turns the ordinary into wonderful as she mixes it with her devotion and love. Terri is an expert at multiplying much from a very little. This doesn’t mean that I wish I could shower her with something very special. She is not a big Traveler, so a Trip wouldn’t do the trick. I gave up buying my Wife and Daughters’ any kind of clothes years ago. I bought Terri a dress when we were back in College and she informed me that she would wear it the next time she visited Laura Ingalls on the Prairie. I am not very gifted with my hands. If you need something torn down, I’m your Man. If you need something built up, you would be much better off calling anybody else. I retired from cooking after giving almost 500 people salmonella poisoning when I served the Turkey Special in the Philadelphia College of Bible Cafeteria one Thursday in late April of 1982. I had no idea that the Bird was bad and so it wasn’t until after the fact that I discovered what I had done. I didn’t get sick. I never used to eat what I cooked. Now, I just never cook. On a positive note, Terri didn’t eat the turkey either. She got smart early in the game and so while the rest of our College Friends were battling the remnants of their stomach bugs, we got engaged! Now try to top the romance in that move!  

 

God did give me a talent with words and so that’s what I humbly offer today to pay tribute to one of the most giving women that I have ever met. Terri and I are opposites in just about every way. On paper, we don’t make a very good match. I am loud, she is quiet. I am aggressive, she is cautious. I love my music on always and am passionate about the artists and stories behind the songs, she likes tunes but picks her spots. I am a dreamer, she is a realist. I am people oriented, she is task driven. I lead others via vision and motivation, she serves behind the scenes. I may look successful but Terri makes the engine run. I couldn’t do squat without her. I am her biggest cheerleader and her biggest admirer. I know that when it all comes down; the Lighthouse Church is much better off because of all that Terri has done through the years. I might be able to see it happening, but Theresa makes it happen and for that I am forever grateful.

 

What would have done in so many other marriages have only made us dig in to our commitment to one another deeper. Terri has been through 9 pregnancies. I was by her side through the joyous birth of four of our Children, the birth and sudden death of two of our Children, the pre-mature birth and death of the last of our Children and the two miscarriages that occurred before Rudy, our oldest Child, was ever born. Terri is the Mom every child wishes they could have had. She is fiercely loyal to Rudy, Leah, Abbie and Joel and has always been there to support them in every endeavor. The Kids knew who to go to for help with their homework. I might have taught them the joys of Motown and Rock and Roll but Terri taught them the lessons they would hold on to for a lifetime. Together, we now have 4 Grandchildren and Terri is Nana to Jude, Gideon, Eden and Lucia. Let’s just say Pop-Pop may be the noisemaker but Nana keeps the pieces in place. She is tender yet firm. She is sacrificial with her time and her heart. I marvel at how much this Woman gets done in any given day.

 

Terri gets up about 5 AM every morning. She hopes and prays that I sleep in so she can have her quiet time with the Lord before I come bellowing along. She lovingly prepares the nuts and bolts necessary to make the Sheptock Family run. Terri also prepares the meals at home because mine would taste like nuts and bolts! Whether Terri is leading a Bible Study for Women, attending one of Joel’s Games at Tech, helping Leah with Lucia, sending Care Packages to Johnstown, Pennsylvania to Rudy, administrating the duties at TLC, she does it all with everything she has and more. If you have Terri Sheptock on your Team, you know her area of supervision is in good hands and will be done.

 

Terri is my Best Friend. I not only love her, I like having her around. As a Couple, we have been married 37 years, and we actually also work together daily in the same place. I always feel complete with Terri by my side. Not because she patronizes me because Terri doesn’t laugh at all of my jokes, if any of them, and she will always tell me what I need to hear and not just what I might like. I preach and teach better when she is out there in the Congregation. She is my sounding board and safety zone. She is the One that I would want in that Fox Hole with me! First because I know she would have my back and second because we might be able to sneak a kiss or two while we’re there!

 

One of our first dates ever was to Veterans Stadium when I took her to see a Mets vs Phillies Game. It was that night I learned that Terri grew up a Phillies Fan and also that she was deathly afraid of heights. Our seats were up in nose bleed land and the only way I could get her up there was by carrying her. Normally, I wouldn’t be that forward but when I put my arms around her, I knew I was never going to let this Girl go! I bought her a Mets Batting Helmet and the rest is history. She looks much better in blue and orange than she ever looked in Phillies red anyway.

 

Dear Terri, Thank You for being the best wife a man could have. You are way too good for me and to me. I don’t deserve your unfailing love, constant sacrifice and appreciated companionship. We may not have a barrel of money, maybe we’re ragged and funny, but we’ll travel along, singing our song, side by side! Thank You Jesus! Please continue to bless this Woman and hold her near and dear to Your side as You graciously share her with me. I know a Good Thing when I see One and I’ve got the Best! Happy Birthday Terri!

 





THE WAYS WE SAY “I LOVE YOU”

13 02 2019

heart clouds rays

All of us who have experienced the life of faith know that Christianity isn’t just a list of dos and dont’s. Unfortunately, too many Believers are known to their Family and Friends for all the things they don’t do and not enough for their many positive accomplishments. Following Jesus is so much more than just doing the dos and avoiding the don’ts. That’s much too shallow an approach for the genuine, deep, virtuous, free, Spirit-empowered living that we are called to live in Scripture.

 

Being filled with the Holy Spirit produces so much more than just staying away from what we shouldn’t be doing. God wants to ignite within us a whole new way living. He empowers us to conduct ourselves in such the manner that never would happen without Him calling the shots within our soul. Holy Spirit-filled living that is defined for us in Galatians 5:22-23 should make us stand out in the midst of a world that likes to fit in. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. God will never tell you to cut out the loving kindness. There is no stopping the flow of gentleness and self-control. We need to be constantly urged on to faithfulness and fruitfulness and warned against settling into the trap of faithlessness and fleshliness.

 

How can you evaluate whether someone has good character, possesses an active faith, is virtuous, and has a servant’s heart? When God evaluates a person’s soul, He looks for evidence that we have been with Jesus. Human Beings are susceptible to becoming like the company they keep. If we hang out more with the world than we do with the Word, then we shouldn’t be surprised when we come up short in walking tall. Compromise clouds our ability to see straight! Avoiding what is wrong doesn’t go far enough. Pursuing after Jesus keeps us in step with the Coach. I want to be known more for being like Jesus.    

 

Our English word for “character” comes from the Greek word “cherax” or “cherasso,” each of which refers to the chiseling that is done by a metal engraving tool. Character refers to things that have been etched so deeply into our soul that they become lasting marks, not easily changed or removed. Character is manifested in our holiness, honesty, morality, temperance, and commitment to the Lord. When we look into the mirror of our faith, do we see the masterpiece that He is making? When we are around others who don’t know our Jesus, are they intrigued by what they see or just plain turned off? Like all humanity is drawn towards a Museum of Art to observe the portraits of the Masters, I wish crowds would be drawn to church to see the miraculous work of our Christ.

 

People go to the local Gyms because they are impressed by what they see in others who are in much better shape after they have been there for a while. Others go to see Movies because of the glowing reviews they receive from those who have seen the show. We need to make it worth others while to worship God because of how they have seen it making us better. More often than not, religious experts come off as nothing more than individuals who are always bitter about something. There is not a person reading this who has reached perfection. None of us are sinless and everyone needs the marvelous grace of our loving Lord. If somebody were to observe you for a week, would it make them hungry to know more about what makes you tick or would they be hurrying for the door? 

 

And they will know we are Christians by our love. It’s Valentines Day week. Krispy Kreme is celebrating the day by making special donuts with words of romance sprinkled all over them. Sounds delicious to me! Lovers will spoil each other with candy and flowers. God will unleash wave upon wave of unconditional attention that none of us deserve but all of us should cherish. What are the specific ways you will say, “I love you” this week? Words are nice but instead of just practicing what we preach, maybe it is time we be more intentional about preaching what we practice. When I want to communicate my love for my wife Terri, I am not emphasizing the negative, I am accentuating the positive. I want her to see, hear, taste, touch and even smell evidence of my affections. I want God to experience the same senses from me. Whatever fills me, spills from me. If it isn’t love, then what will it be?

 

Church for too long has kept much too much to itself. What happens within the walls of worship should not stay there. We are walking billboards of what we believe. A while I ago I went up on the roof of the Lighthouse Church to make a point. I took a bullhorn with me and began to yell at the cars driving by on Route 9 to come on in and hear about Jesus. I literally cried out, “Hey You in the Ford Focus, we’ve got a chair with your name on it right through those doors!” I looked kind of ridiculous because that is no way to get the word out. The better method is to just show people Jesus! And when I flop and fail–to admit that I am still under construction.

 

God so loved the world that He came! He didn’t send us a Hallmark Card. He showed up. He brought us exactly what we needed. He told us the truth to set us free. He showed us the way to stop us from living lost. He made it real and we should do the same. Are you ready to love? Be creative in the ways you express your devotion. Do something beyond the norm? Make even yourself surprised. Let’s not just go to church. Let’s be the church! Let’s start now!    





WAKE UP TO GLORY!

6 02 2019

Wake Up Church1.2

Jesus asked a startling question, “When I come back, will I find faith on the earth?” Will Jesus find His bride waiting for Him or will He discover that His church stood Him up because she was too busy looking and longing for other lovers that would never provide what He has already faithfully promised. Why is it that we never realize what we have until we don’t have it anymore? Why is it that we are apathetic towards what should matter most and much too enthusiastic about what is passing away? Could it be that we are in danger of losing that loving feeling?

God loves His people with a honeymoon love that never cools down or runs out of steam. The only reason He expects us to love Him back with all of our soul, heart, mind and strength is because that’s the intensity with which He loved us first. When Believers start moaning, it is caused by the fact that they have misplaced what should be meaning most to them. God is always passionately pursuing us. Unfortunately, human beings are notorious for getting their priorities mixed up. Jesus longs to be our first love and not just another kiss on our list. The Lord longs to keep us on our toes so that our relationship with Him constantly grows. We all need to be aware that it’s impossible to be a Disciple and not really care.

We are living in a day when political correctness is attempting to lull our hearts and souls to sleep. Today’s tolerant movement has proved itself quite intolerant to anyone and anything that disagrees. God would rather have us fiery disagree with Him than just plain not care. To do or feel nothing is the proverbial way out. Life needs to feel like more than just a never-ending nap when the biggest move of the day is to keep hitting the snooze button! God is calling His Church to be made with more substance than a “Jell-O mold.” It wasn’t an accident that Jesus once said that if the human beings did not cry out in surrendering praise, the very rocks would have stepped in and done the job. It is quite embarrassing when the stones cry out while the people do nothing more than politely roll their eyes. We who should be the most animated become stale and stagnant. Scripture points out that the heavens declare the glory of God and the trees of the field clap their hands while the men and women who have benefited most from the goodness of the Lord need to be convinced to come out of hiding.

Could it be that we have been softened by a spirit of entitlement? American families have more Bibles than they know what to do with but are pretty good about ignoring them all. Yet, in the persecuted part of the world, our brothers and sisters gather all around just a tiny portion of the Word of God that they smuggled in because just having it in their possession has made them guilty of a death sentence. When will we too treasure the wonderful words of life like it was the purest of gold? When are we going to wake up and strengthen the aspects of life that remain the most important even when we treat it as cheap trinkets?

Last week I saw something in the Bible that I had never seen before. It is from the passage that defines the Transfiguration of Jesus. In the Gospel of Luke, we read, “About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray. As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus.  They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem.” You would assume that with all of this happening right in front of their eyes, Peter, James and John were having the time of their lives. They were probably so engaged that they were hanging on every moment of this miraculous experience. That is not what the Bible says. As a matter of fact, it is quite enlightening and almost alarming to read what Luke describes next.  Luke goes on to say,Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him.” Did you catch that? “When they became fully awake . . .” They were oblivious to what was going on until they woke up! Could we be missing what God is doing in our day and age because we are sleepwalking our way through what we should be wide awake to?

When we sleep, we are dead to the Word and hence blind to the scenery of the Savior that we should be savoring all around us. The very first time I went skiing in Colorado, I couldn’t wait to ride the lift because for the first time, this wasn’t the Poconos. This was the majestic Rocky Mountains. This was the inspiration behind so many of John Denver’s songs. I anticipated the moment for a long time. When I finally got there, it was after driving all night from Omaha, Nebraska. I wasn’t on that ski lift a minute before I was out like candlelight in a windstorm. I was so zonked that they had to shout at me when I never got off when I was supposed to. I didn’t even realize who or where I was until I woke up, but when I did, it was apparent I wasn’t at Camel Back anymore.  

 God is still very much at work all around us, but we are not aware of it and cannot engage with it when we are snoring rather than soaring. When we awaken, what we finally see is God’s glory all around us. This is no time to be looking for a pillow when the Lord wants us to be pillars of what He is about to do at such a time as this! Today I have the honor to wake you up in the Name of Jesus!





FREEDOM OF CHOICE FOR THE BABIES!

1 02 2019

I knew you before I formed you in your mother's womb

Call me whatever you’d like but I ache for a people that celebrate the decision to now make it legal to steal the lives of even full-term pregnancies as long as they have not left the womb! Back in the 1950’s, New York City would actually light up the Empire State Building with the sign of the Cross to celebrate new life and Easter. Now in 2019, we light up the Freedom Tower and call it a major victory for Women that now they can dispose of their unwanted children literally moments before entry into this world. Who sticks up for their right to choose lives they don’t want to lose?

I read a courageous Blog from one of our Lighthouse Members named Michele. Michele and her Husband Joshua serve with the United States Coast Guard based here in Cape May. Like my wife and I, Michele shares the amazing story about her Daughter Juli, who nobody gave much hope to and yet today she is a living and walking miracle. I thought it would be good to hear from a Mom bold enough to speak out against this absurdity we call, “freedom.” Thanks Michele, for giving me permission to share your heart. My prayer is that somebody who feels bullied into making a decision that will only lead to a forever of regrets, will receive inspiration from this article that there is another way! All we are saying is: “Give Life A Chance!”

MICHELE’S BLOG:

My heart has been heavy over the recent events in our country, especially as our family and so many others are about to miss another paycheck. However, even that could not top the sadness from seeing the Freedom Tower in New York City lit up pink to celebrate death. Take note of the wording used in the bill, “Life and Health” because they know that in late pregnancy abortion is never medically needed to save the life of the mother. Doctors do everything they can to save both and killing the baby beforehand is typically not needed. We have things in our country called Neo Natal Intensive Care Units where micro-premature babies are treated and survive! They needed to add the word “Health” which could mean anything, to eliminate any restrictions on when a mother can abort her child, which now in New York means even up to birth!

Every January 31st, I post my Omphalocele awareness pictures to honor my Juli girl, the other O-Warriors and the precious O-Angels. I am one of those women, who found out at my 20-week ultrasound, that something was very wrong with my baby. I was given all of the worst-case scenarios including “incompatible with life,” “still born,” “preterm labor” and “low quality of life.” Minutes after receiving the devastating news from a cold and calculated female specialist, who watched me cry without displaying an ounce of compassion, she told me “It’s too bad you weren’t here last week or you could have just had an abortion.” According to her, getting rid of the life growing inside of me would have made everything better, right?

I put aside my own fears and emotions to give my daughter the best chance possible. I was going to cherish every second I had with her, whether she passed in my womb or outside of it. There are those in similar situations who say they could not emotionally handle delivering a still born or find it cruel to bring a “damaged” child into the world and I sincerely ask you this, “Do you find it compassionate to lethally inject your baby with poison or to literally have them removed from your body with forceps, sometimes limb by limb? Do you find it humane the way they would handle botched abortions if that baby survives?” If someone can’t emotionally handle carrying a baby who may or may not live or decides ahead of time that they won’t be able to take care of a medically fragile child, I question whether you should consider even having children in the future. You will be faced with so many emotionally hard challenges as a Parent. Kids get cancer, they get seriously hurt, or have severe disabilities that push you to your absolute breaking point. And guess what? As a Parent, you deal with it! Somehow, you get through it. All of this responsibility comes with being a Parent! You are the reason that little one is here to begin with. Whether he or she is still growing in your belly or has just turned 2 years old doesn’t change the relationship. Even through the hardships, children bring love, joy and together you experience compassion, empathy and sacrifice!

I do not know everyone’s circumstances or the reasons for why anyone would choose an abortion. I don’t think women jump up and down at the chance to get one and many facing it end up doing so because they feel that they have no other option. There are options! There are organizations that will help women through the pregnancy and adoption process if they aren’t ready to parent a child! They will come along side of them and help however needed. Women don’t have to be alone!

I have been blessed by listening to the countless number of women who chose life even in the midst of poverty, rape and whatever other challenge they were facing. I have heard the testimonies of adopted children who were so thankful their birth mom sacrificed 9 months so they could have the gift of a life to live! I have witnessed the heartache of observing Moms who lovingly held their baby as they passed in their very arms. As confidently as they sometimes speak, Doctors aren’t always right, and while many of their diagnoses are right, some are very wrong. It is sobering to think how many women were encouraged to abort a completely healthy baby.

I understand that many will disagree with me and even call me intolerant and judgmental, but that is not my heart. It’s about right and wrong. It is about basic human decency. It is about giving a voice to the most vulnerable. I don’t point my finger at anyone who has gone through this and wish upon you to live a life of guilt and shame. I know that because of Jesus, forgiveness and grace are available for all of us! However, I will never tell you that what is happening in our culture today is empowering me as a woman! I will never go along with the lie that society has deemed ending the life of the unborn a woman’s “choice.” It’s not and it’s tragic that so many have bought into this myth and worse yet that many now celebrate it! If New York State Government can value the lives of criminals who have committed the most egregious crimes against another human being and find it immoral to institute the death penalty, then isn’t it logical for them to hold the same standard for a full-term baby?  As a Society, we have reached a new low in the name of Women’s Rights. And to light up the Freedom Tower while they take away the freedom for an unborn baby to fight for his or her chance to live can only be defined as evil.

The experts said that my Juli was “incompatible with life.” The medical professionals counselled me to abort her. Today, Juli is our pride and joy and I am grateful that the greatest gift my husband and I gave her was the chance to fight and live! Oh, that every child had that choice!