27 10 2020
Going to Church Every Week Should Not Be an Option- Even If You've Been  Offended February 7, 2020 — Seele


I know the church has been getting a bad rap lately. It seems everyone has an opinion lately and not all of them are positive. This pandemic has been more about division than bringing people together and that is a shame. There are those who think that the church should meet and others who believe the wisest move is to stay apart. There are many who vote for masks on and just as many who say masks off. Some want us to meet only outside and others can’t understand why everything isn’t inside. We at the Lighthouse Church have done our best to provide entry points that cover all the bases by offering 4 Worship Services every weekend but even that has not satisfied the masses. And at a time when the church needs to be keeping it all together, there is way too much attempting to tear it all apart.

The church is not an organization. The church is a living organism. The church is not made up of a work force. The church is made up of the family of God showing the world how it is done! Because no matter what, programs will never give us what only God’s power can provide! Big budgets don’t promise the Holy Spirit has freedom to move. Flashy worship may be entertaining, but if the music showcases the band over the One we should be singing to, there will be a short circuit in the electricity department. We need to let our light shine so people can see Jesus whether they know the Pastor’s name or not. God initiated vision prevents believers from looking in the wrong direction when it comes to prioritizing their most important purpose. I believe the Bible tells us that it all has something to do with love.

In the Gospel of John 13:34-35, Jesus told us, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Loving God will only strengthen our love for Him because we learn that He loved us long before we ever loved Him. The more we allow God’s love to invade our hearts, the more we will begin to care for those around us. This world is all about taking “selfies.” The church should be all about making “other-ies” more important than even our own desires. All humans stand on level ground before the cross of Christ.  Young and old, male and female, Jew and Gentile, rich and poor, black, white, and every other nationality that has ever walked the grounds of this planet; we are all sinners in need of salvation.  

This is not the season that we should be about barriers and barricades. Why are we constructing walls that our Lord and Savior already tore down? Only by living the love of Jesus and only by genuinely loving one another, will the world ever see the real Jesus! It is to brothers and sisters that the world is drawn. The church is the bride of Jesus. Are we attempting to be more factory than family? Actions always speak louder than words. For God so loved the World that He gave us Jesus and in Jesus we should finally discover the value of being around one another!

God made it very clear that without the church, there would be no Christianity! So much of a believer’s spiritual formation must occur primarily within the context of community, that’s where people mature in their faith. There are so many things you can’t accomplish as a solo entity. How can you do all the “one another’s” of Scripture if there is nobody around you to practice with? People who stay committed to the truths that Jesus was committed to will experience all that God has in store for His creation. We must learn to work through conflict, practice holiness partnered with hospitality, forge through forgiveness, fight the good fight of faith and stick it out when running away might be the easier option. I have always said that I would much rather have pew jumpers than church hoppers! I love when I see God’s people become the people of God!

In my 24 years here in Cape May County. I have seen many people come and go and come again and go again and so on and so forth. We all know people who are very critical of the church. Unfortunately, they are not committed enough to be part of the spiritually led solutions! Aren’t you glad that Jesus doesn’t give up on us? He wants us to bloom and blossom where we become planted, but there will be no eternal fruit if faith doesn’t dig deep roots. Like trees repeatedly transplanted from soil to soil have a challenge to establish a real root system, so are Christians who don’t dig in and make a lasting statement about who they are and what they really believe in.

You can’t ignore the importance of church! Nobody is perfect and there is no infallible place of worship this side of heaven. Wherever we go, flesh will always attempt to squash faith. The enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy. God has promised that His explosion of colorful creativity would be displayed through the church. Not everything is black and white. There is unity around the truth but there is diversity in the way that faith is expressed! What a time for the watching world to see the church at its best. This is the day that God wants us to become the rock that He proclaimed the gates of hell would not be able to stand against.

I love being a Pastor because it keeps me real. Traveling speakers can preach their five best messages over and over again and come into town only to leave just as fast. But when the shepherd makes his home in the middle of the sheep, you can’t fake it because you will be exposed quite quickly. The church is God’s idea so I wouldn’t abandon it too quickly. God didn’t commission the angels to share the good news of Jesus. He gave His Holy Spirit to redeemed men and women. Instead of opting out, it is time for us to surrender all to our Savior who gave us nothing less than His best. Get all excited and let’s lift up Jesus. It is not about denominations or political parties. It is about believing on the Lord Jesus Christ and allowing Him to shine through us. It’s getting too dark in our world and now more than ever it is a season for the church to shine! Come and be part of what God is doing. It is a miraculous adventure! Let’s stop going to church and let’s be the church!


20 10 2020
Microphone - Wikipedia


I have always been drawn to the stories behind the songs. I am fascinated by the paths that it took to get much of our favorite music to the public forum. Let’s just say that passion is born out of pain. God has taken our trash and turned it into true treasure. So many beautiful melodies were produced from being originally being battered. Creation proves that not all done in the dark has to remain there. When I felt like my heart was shattered into pieces, God gave me a song! How many of us are not merely surviving but actually surviving because we have learned how to sing when we felt like sinking into oblivion. 

Let me tell you how one such horror story became a hymn of great inspiration. It happened to a man named Joseph Scriven. Just a tad before my time, in 1842, this Irishman graduated from Trinity College in Dublin and like so many other young men before him, he fell head over heels in love with a girl from his neighborhood.

They got engaged, planned their wedding and began dreaming about the future that they would experience together as husband and wife. But tragedy invaded their tomorrows! On the night before their wedding, Joseph’s fiancée saddled a horse to go and see him. It would turn out to be one of the last things she would ever do.

Joseph saw his wife-to-be riding toward him, and he couldn’t wait to kiss her! But suddenly, just as she was crossing the bridge over the river, her horse bucked and threw her like a rag-doll down into the river below. Joseph ran with everything he had, jumping wildly into the river, calling out her name. He soared deep into its icy waters, but his efforts would not help. By the time he got to her, the woman he loved was already dead. He thought that he would be going to a wedding but ended up present at a funeral.

If that wasn’t enough to steal the breath from his faith, Joseph moved to Canada. While he was there, he fell in love yet again. In 1854, Joseph and Eliza Roche planned to become husband and wife. The wedding had to continually be put off because Eliza was ill and even with all the hope and prayers said on her behalf, she never got better! She actually became worse and eventually Eliza died too.

Joseph Scriven never did get married. Joseph’s mother was deeply concerned for her heartbroken son but the faith that he had was established and unsinkable. It wasn’t his Mother that lifted up her son. It was the absolute opposite. Joseph composed a poem to strengthen her, little knowing that it would become one of the best-loved songs of all time. Several years later, a friend found it in a drawer at Joseph’s house and was deeply moved. “The Lord and I wrote it together,” Joseph explained. That poem, forged out of so much disappointment and pain, continues to cause Believers to look up when they probably feel like giving up! The words go like this:

“What a friend we have in Jesus, All our sins and griefs to bear!

What a privilege to carry- Everything to God in prayer!

O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,

All because we do not carry- Everything to God in prayer.

Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere?

We should never be discouraged- Take it to the Lord in prayer!

Can we find a friend so faithful, Who will all our sorrows share?

Jesus knows our every weakness—Take it to the Lord in prayer!”

As I am writing this, I want to pray for all of us. I believe this is no time for us to continue to be held hostage by the fear of what might be. God has showed up to equip us for what is. When Scripture uses the word comfort, it doesn’t mean what we think it does in English. It is not so much about how a Mother holds a crying Baby to her chest, as it is God preparing us properly for the ride of our lives. When Christians are begging for a pillow and blanket, perhaps we should be looking for a crash helmet and a new pair of Nikes.

The problem with America’s church today is we waste too much time thinking God is going to fix all that is unpleasant when we should be gearing up for our next adventure. The Lord wants to work in us more than He wants to change the stuff around us. Jesus is looking to get us ready for the challenges that are still to come. We can’t settle for anything less than following our Savior the entire way that He leads, even if it means a bumpy ride.

Are we pretending that the kiddie rides are the safe option when we might need to fasten our seatbelts for the roller coaster with the twists and turns that make our stomach queasy? Can we escape so great a calling by playing it safe when we know that to live means to risk great pain and heartaches? If we don’t need Jesus, we won’t trust Him. If we are fooling ourselves by thinking that the little boat ride with the string that makes the bell ring that we sit in which does nothing more than go in a safe circle is the journey Jesus has invited us too- we will be sadly mistaken and spiritually off track! Getting our heart crushed is nobody’s idea of a picnic, but the reality is that without our willingness to surrender our way to God’s will, we might never learn to sing the sweet song of salvation.

If our walk contradicts our words, we lose our testimony. Our “walk” and our “talk” must agree!

A yielded heart is necessary for this Sinner to be made into a Saint. Too many Christians today emphasize guarding the truth, but they sadly downplay living the truth. One of the best ways to guard the truth is to live what we say we believe! It is good to be defenders of the faith, but we must not forget to be demonstrators of the faith. Joseph was able to articulate his union with Jesus because it stood the test of how living on this planet can wreak havoc in your heart. Stop just singing praise tunes. We followers of Jesus should be writing new verses to expound upon how being connected to God does not just fix life. It is life!  


13 10 2020
Guide To Spotting Fake Rolex Watches vs. Real Ones


Think about a time in your life when you were deceived. Can you remember a time when someone knew what they were doing when they purposely conned you? Lying to you was on the agenda. Getting you to do something that was not best for you was the priority. It wasn’t fair and it wasn’t right, but it was still done. There was even the sense that others were experiencing some unbelievable satisfaction in your going down the wrong road with no brakes to keep you safe.  

Some of you might think back to a time when you were deceived by someone close to you. A friend, a family member, a so-called boyfriend or girlfriend, a spouse, or a business partner proved to be someone other than who you thought they were. They were acting a part that did not match up with conviction in their heart. As you reminisce, it is still hard to fathom how someone who claimed to care about you could be so cruel. The memory of the pain of living with that deception is still almost more than you can bear to think about even today. This was not the way you were raised to believe was the way to treat another. It certainly was not something you learned in Sunday School!   

Have you ever been burned by outright lies when it came to a purchase?  Just because it happens all the time, doesn’t take away the sting from the soul of the victims that have been through this ordeal. Sometimes people get cheated out of just a few bucks. Sometimes you buy something you think is genuine only to learn later that it is a cheap knockoff. You cannot buy a Rolex for $5 and you should not expect to receive something for nothing especially when cheap comes wrapped up in expensive packaging.  There are no “great deals” when you attempt to sell your soul for rip offs in return.

There will always be wolves decked out in the disguise of sheep. Flesh parading behind the facade of Jesus does not transform darkness into instant light. Unfortunately, there are way too many deeds of deception being done in places where devotion to Jesus is expected. This is the worst kind of counterfeiting being practiced on our planet. Preachers who appear on television promising you health and wealth if you only invest your last few dollars to finance their million-dollar mansions built by the sea. Jesus didn’t even have a roof over His head and yet His servants are living high on the hog. There is something rotten in the State of Denmark and it isn’t kosher by Heaven’s standards.

Any kind of deception can break your heart, mind, and bank, but spiritual tomfoolery can crush your soul. A hypocritical pastor, an abusive church, a legalistic maniac or phony friend can cause long-term psychological and spiritual damage in a person’s life. Such toxic deception has opened the door to pure atheism. I have always tried to challenge those who have been burned by this Bible thumping practice to not blame Jesus because some of His so-called disciples are deeply disturbed. If you are going to walk away from the Lord, make sure it is the real deal before you book a ticket out of Dodge! Of all the knockoffs living here among us are the painful peddlers who pawn off a watered down Gospel that has no good news in it at all. Just because some belief systems receive the majority of the crowd’s approval on television and radio, in bookstores and media outlets, and even behind pulpits and in classrooms of well-respected churches and Christian institutions, none of that makes it the truth. If you want to know for sure what is the authentic Word of God, then you best be sure to have the one and only God of the Word residing inside of you.

Impostor is a person who practices deception under an assumed character, identity, or name. Ferdinand Waldo Demara Jr was a prison warden, a monk, a lawyer, a sheriff’s deputy, cancer researcher, teacher and a religiously oriented psychologist, a Baptist Minister and a Surgeon but in reality, he actually was none of those things. He did possess a fascinating photographic memory that fueled his ability to be known as, “The Great Imposter.” This man named Demara who was born in Massachusetts literally faked his way through life. His most famous exploit was to masquerade as surgeon Joseph Cyr aboard the HMCS Cayuga, a Royal Canadian Navy destroyer, during the Korean War. During his time as a surgeon on the Cayuga, Demara actually performed surgeries. He performed surgery on 16 injured soldiers. Demara would disappear to his room with a textbook on general surgery and proceed to speed-read the type of surgery he was to perform, including major heart surgery. Amazingly, none of these patients died as a result of his surgery. Ironically, it was because of his skill as a surgeon that Demara was exposed.

According to this article, the removal of a bullet from one wounded man made the papers, and when the mother of the real Dr Joseph Cyr read that her son, who operated a civilian practice, was now in the war, she proceeded to contact him, only to be assured by him that he was indeed not in the armed forces. Hearing this, she immediately contacted the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and Demara was exposed for the fraud that he was. What was hidden in his closet was exposed in the light. Deceivers hate to be exposed!

Unfortunately, masks are not only popular in pandemics. The enemy of our souls loves to portray himself as something he isn’t. The devil has a prime advantage because nobody believes in him anymore; and that works in Hell’s favor. The devil is the master of illusion and an expert in deception. The influence of darkness has turned angels into demons, kings into animals, pastors into predators, and sheep into wolves. It can swagger with self-importance one minute before writhing in self-contempt the next. Lies have hats that can be worn for almost every occasion. Christians have no business putting any of this nonsense on their heads or into their hearts!

Growing up, I used to watch a game show on television called, “To Tell The Truth.” The premise of the program was that three people claimed to be a person. The job of the panel was to ask questions to determine who was telling the real truth about his or her identity. There would almost always be someone who was fooled by a feeling and duped by some deception. This is no time to be taking those chances when it comes to knowing Jesus. God did not play hide and seek with us. He invites every single man and woman to enter into a real relationship with Him. Our eternal destiny comes down to the simple reality of whether we know Him or not. There are many who claim to be experts about Jesus but if it doesn’t match up to the One we can read about in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John- it isn’t really Him. This is no game. This is a matter of life and death. Jesus will say to many on that day who claimed to even do great wonders in His Name to depart from Him because He never knew them. Salvation has nothing to do with what we know, but everything with who we know. Jesus claimed to be the Way, the Truth and the Life. Jesus has stood up and made Himself available to all of us. Will you make a stand with your heart and make sure you are not being fooled by cheap imitations? There is nothing phony about God’s love for you. There is no fine print, just eternal grace for all who willingly follow Him.


7 10 2020
Kicking Shoes Off Stock Video Footage - 4K and HD Video Clips | Shutterstock

Speaking In The Light with Pastor Rudy

A Denver magazine reports a disastrous fire in that city during which a large warehouse, containing thousands of tons of ice, was destroyed. The editor points out that the building actually contained thousands of gallons of a potent extinguisher, but it was frozen. What an eerie picture of the apathetic condition of many of our local churches today. While sin runs rampant throughout the country, fiery faith has become ice cold!

There is a biblical word that describes the rebellion to the truth happening even in places of worship today. First, God has been banished from society and social life and now there is a movement to even have Him evicted from churches. Our English word “apostasy” describes the widespread departure from the faith that will occur in the days leading up to the return of Jesus. Congregants will desire only positive upbeat messages coming from their pulpits. Topics like sin, hell, salvation, and judgment will be deemed as “hate speech” and prohibited from being preached to the masses. Any mention of the blood of Jesus will be outlawed as offensive. Only State approved sermons will be given the go ahead for presentation. If you think that this philosophy is far-fetched, one only needs to study the history of what happened to the German Evangelical Church in the midst of Hitler’s reign.

We are living in an age where a sense of doom is looming. We feel the threat of terrorism now invading even our local neighborhoods. We have all experienced the effects of diseases like Covid and the pandemic that has stolen any normalcy of life in 2020. Politics has become volatile as hatred is spewed between the different parties. There is the ever present insecurity of the economy. We hear of devastating earthquakes and tsunamis, and overhead, even the climate is threatening our existence. Add to these things the ever quickening pace of the moral decline of our nation, the defunding of law and order and it all begins to feel like the prelude to something big, dare I say something even worse is on the horizon. It’s almost like one big shoe is about to drop and indeed it is!

We have all heard the saying, “Waiting for the other shoe to drop.” This modern idiom traces its origins back to the way that tenements in larger cities were designed and built back in the late 1800s, often with bedrooms stacked atop one another. It was common to hear the neighbor above you take of his or her shoes at night and drop them to the floor; first one, then the other. “Waiting for the other shoe to drop” is to “await a seemingly inevitable event, especially one that is not desirable.” The Bible says that at a time of great turmoil, while the world is groping for peace and security, “destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape” (1 Thessalonians 5:3).

The Bible also says, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring the Good News to those who need it!”  I’m not ready to take my shoes off yet! It’s time to live like we are Citizens of Heaven! This world is not our real home, we are only passing through. For too long, God’s people have tried to play both sides of the fence by attempting to serve two masters when only one can be placated. As Joshua proclaimed years ago, “Choose this day whom you will serve!” Yes, following Jesus may cost you popularity and position but the alternative will never satisfy the yearning for eternal love and belonging that is in every one’s soul. Maybe we need to learn how to wait for the best so we don’t sell out for the temporary quick fix. As long as I have life and breath, I want to lace up my Nikes, which by the way, means “victory” in the original Greek language; and run the pace of the race in introducing the love of Jesus to every face that I see until I finally gaze upon my Lord in person!

The enemy loves to get us to doubt the fact that the One who is the Truth will set us free! The enemy loves to get us to live in an alternative universe where we think that we know better than God in deciding what way we should go. The enemy also wants us to forfeit forever for some immediate thrills right now. Jesus said clearly that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Maybe rather than settling for a religion, we should seek a real relationship with the One who created us in the first place. You got to know the One who made you because He certainly knows you and is inviting you to find your forever in Him.

I am startled by the fact that we haven’t acted like we have learned anything from history. When I see mob mentality, it only causes my soul to grieve. God is calling us to experience His perfect love which casts out fear. Intimidation, manipulation, bullying and name calling, labeling and lying can’t lead to paradise. It never has and it never will. So I refuse to wait for that other shoe to drop. Keep those who claim to know Jesus with their running shoes on. God has called us to a race that is not so much about finishing first as much as it is about finishing well. Some people want to live in a place of perfect peace. God is preparing that place for us but it is not here. So while I am here, I want to bring Him honor and glory by showing others Jesus. He is the true treasure. He is the Lord we all need to follow. This shoe is not dropping until I am done breathing. How about you?


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


I know that if you just mention the word abortion, like it or not, you have lit a stick of dynamite. If someone desires to polarize a room into two passionate camps of strong feelings and cries of emotional angst, just bring up the topic of Roe Vs. Wade. I remember being in grade school when the term defining the procedure to terminate a pregnancy entered the mainstream of American language. The words of a dear Sister who was my teacher at Notre Dame Catholic School still ring in my ears. She said, “The word causes raised eyebrows now, but one day it won’t even evoke an individual to bat an eyelash.” Even though she would have rather been wrong, she turned out to be oh so right!

I’m a Pastor who doesn’t believe in abortion because I am very pro-life. My understanding of the Scriptures shows me that life begins at the moment of conception. Even while we were still in the wombs of our mothers, the Bible explains that God had specific plans for our lives. John the Baptist was filled with the Holy Spirit while Elizabeth carried him inside of her. God called Jeremiah to be a prophet form his conception. A baby is not a fetus or worse yet, just an it. A baby is a miracle. And even if the pregnancy happened in less than perfect circumstances, it doesn’t mean that the product of that union was a mistake. Every life is a gift. Even the lives of those precious children who never saw the light of day here on earth, each and every one is waiting for us in God’s presence.

If all of our children would have lived, Terri and I would have 9 children today. Before our son Rudy was born in 1986, we experienced 2 miscarriages in 1983 and again in 1984. I say we because even though as a man I didn’t have the honor to carry those children inside my own body, they will forever hold a place in my heart and soul. After Rudy, Leah and Abbie were born in 1986, 1988 and 1991, tragedy would once again rear its ugly head in 1995 and 1999 when two of our sons, Nicholas and Benjamin would be born to only survive a short time on this earth. Nicholas may only have been with us for a total of 90 minutes, we spent a whole lifetime in an hour and a half. And when it was apparent that déjà vu was occurring with our son Benjamin, Terri and I wondered if we ever would recover from such excruciating heartache. The length of their moments with us didn’t lighten the power of the impact to us. To this day, there are moments when I believe my heart is going to explode because we miss them so much.

When Terri found out that she was pregnant again in 2002, all the medical professionals thought we were absolutely crazy. I remember my wife and I sitting in conference with a doctor at Cape Regional as he very soberly and seriously rationalized all the reasons we should do the responsible thing and terminate this baby and save ourselves from the harsh reality that because of our history, chances for a healthy birth were a million to one. I know now why many choose abortion. The tension as we were meeting with that physician was so thick, it would have taken a chain saw to cut through it. But we knew that there was no way we could take matters into our own hands. I went into the chapel of our local hospital and literally poured my heart and soul out to God. On July 30, 2003, Joel Thomas Sheptock was born. I was 43 and Terri was 41 but we had another son to raise and today he is 17 and a Senior at Cape May Tech. I couldn’t imagine our lives without him.

Still there would be more tragedy ahead for us. A 9th child was born way too early in June of 2005. And on the very day our oldest son Rudy was graduating from Middle Township High School, another Sheptock child was ushered directly into the presence of God. I remember someone saying to me that day, “Are you still going to stay a Minister? I mean, look at how many kids you have lost.” I replied with tear stained eyes, “It is my faith in God that gives these children purpose. Because I believe God is who He says He is, I will see them all again.”

Every life matters. I grew up in a family where my Mom and Dad had 7 children of their own and went on to adopt 30 more children. Many of my brothers and sisters ended up Sheptocks because nobody else wanted them. I have siblings that include many children that society has labeled as severely handicapped. The Sheptock Family is made up of kids with no arms, one arm, cerebral palsy, learning disorders and two wonderful brothers who have down syndrome. Martin and Issac exhibit more love coming through their pinkies than some so called healthy people display in their whole bodies. Nobody can convince me or either of them that their lives don’t matter. I can’t even imagine what this world might be had they never been given the opportunity to be born. As a matter of fact, if you ask any of my brothers or sisters if they wanted to continue to live, I know they would all give you an exuberant, “Yes!” None of these human beings are accidents. God loves and has a plan for each and every one.

I do not picket abortion clinics. I don’t scream hate at those women who have had abortions. I have no desire to be known as a Christian by just what I am against. I am for life. I am for all life. I fight for every life until God says it is time to take that person home. I don’t believe that inside the womb you are an it and all of a sudden, after your journey down the birth canal, that only then are you a human being. I felt prompted to write about this topic because there may be somebody reading this today who is confused and overwhelmed by the predicament they may find themselves in. God loves you. God is a God of grace and mercy and new beginnings. I want to speak up for the unborn. If all mankind is created equal, then these babies are just that, fearfully and wonderfully made by God. I close with some lyrics from an old Phil Keaggy song. “Who will speak up for the little ones; helpless and half abandoned. They have a right to choose, life they don’t want to lose, I’ve got to speak out, won’t you?” The World Health Organization estimated that between 40 and 50 million abortions were done in 2018. I write this article in honor of each and every life that never got the right to see the light of day. Choose life. Please!


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

Speaking In the Light with Pastor Rudy September 23 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


1 09 2020

JUMP - Potentash


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

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

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

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

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

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


25 08 2020

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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