Sheptock, Rudy

Pastor Rudy Sheptock.

Not everyone who calls themselves a Christian truly is one. Just being informed about God doesn’t result in being transformed by God. Information is not the same as inspiration.

Too many believers know all the right truth in their heads, but it hasn’t yet made a connection in the heart. The watching world doesn’t need more empty rhetoric. There are enough politicians who fit that bill.

I believe it is time for Christians to allow Jesus to show up through them by the power of the Holy Spirit. If others could see something attractive in the way that we live, church could become the place to be.

The Bible doesn’t say, “Taste and see that the Lord is boring.” Shame on us for making something explosive become too ordinary.

The early Christians were world shakers. Unfortunately, today’s disciples are becoming too intimidated by those who don’t hold the power over them that they claim to have. Nobody can make you do something that you don’t want to do.

Even if someone holds a gun to your head, it doesn’t mean that you have to do what another is threatening you to do. If there ever came a day when I would have to choose between staying true to my Lord or losing my life, I would hope that I would have the courage to stick to my conviction of following Jesus.

More Christians are being martyred for their faith today than at any other time in history. Just because it isn’t happening in America, doesn’t mean it is not occurring in other places in the world.

I do know that a time of crisis is not a time to begin praying. I challenge the Body of Christ in the United States to become proactive in their times of intercession for our nation’s revival.

We have become too proud and self-sufficient. We don’t take sin seriously, and many so-called churches don’t acknowledge bad behavior at all. Some have gone as far as rewriting the Bible.

They say “hell no” to any concept of eternal separation from God. What used to be wrong is now being repackaged as not too bad. I don’t know about you, but we best not put words in Heaven’s mouth.

Holiness doesn’t happen by us not getting in the game. Christians need to go after the promises that God has given us. However, the Bible won’t come alive in anyone who chooses to sleepwalk through life.

I wish it was as easy as having a big bowl of "Holy Spirit O’s" for breakfast with your coffee, but it takes more initiative than that.

Jesus has set the table for us to come and meet with Him, so we can be filled with the bread of life and take a drink of His living water, but this isn’t fast food on the run. This calls for setting a time and a place for devoting our full attention to the One who has much to share. If we are what we eat, who is choosing your daily diet of what you are allowing to fill your body, mind, heart, and soul?

I had a doctor look me straight in the eye and tell me that if I didn’t change my diet, I was not going to be around much longer for my wife, children, grandkids, and church. I love to eat, and it is easy for me to down a dozen donuts and devour a whole pizza in one sitting, if I just let my appetite go unchecked. I literally must deny myself and look for healthier options if I plan on seeing positive changes in my health.

I have to get out of my easy chair and exercise. I must push my lazy flesh if I am going to experience the energy and vitality that I was missing when I weighed almost 280 pounds.

When you think about it, American Christians should be the most on-fire believers on this planet, because of the amount of biblical teaching that we have been exposed to. We know this is not the case because until we practice what we preach, our story won't change.

Falling into bad habits doesn’t happen overnight. The enemy doesn’t walk up, pitchfork in hand, and ask with a shady and snarky grin, “How would you like to become an alcoholic or a drug addict?" He serves us poison dipped in chocolate.

The real facts are that if we head down a highway of self-indulgence, it is likely that we will become a thief and a compulsive liar supporting our urges. We won’t be able to hold a job, and we will exploit and misuse positive relationships with family and friends.

Do you still want to sign up? Even believers can get lured into a compromise with the darkness through sarcasm and subtlety.

Rather than it all being too much about self, maybe it is time that we forget ourselves and concentrate on Jesus, and look to obey Him no matter what.

We need to get a glimpse of sin through God’s lens. We need to admit the times that we have come up short, and grieved the heart of God by our behavior. It is only as we see His holiness and His absolute purity and moral hatred of sin, that we will finally understand the awfulness of sin.

Salvation is not a past occurrence. We are actually under construction, and while we may not be what God has intended us to become, we certainly should be making progress in the process.

As the old hymn says, “Just as I am, I come.” God has no intention of us staying what we were. He is making something wonderful and beautiful in us.

He is also restoring us to the original condition that we were created in before sin threw a wrench in the program.

Father Damien was a priest who became famous for his willingness to serve lepers. He moved to Kalawao, a village on the island of Molokai in Hawaii, that had been quarantined to serve as a leper colony. He lived in their midst for 16 years.

He learned to speak their language. He bandaged their wounds, embraced the bodies no one else would touch, and preached to hearts that would otherwise have been left alone.

He organized schools, bands, and choirs. He built homes so that the lepers could have shelter. He built 2,000 coffins by hand so that when they died, they could be buried with dignity.

Slowly, it was said, Kalawao became a place to live rather than a place to die, for Father Damien offered hope. Father Damien was not careful about keeping his distance. He did nothing to separate himself from his people.

He dipped his fingers in the poi bowl along with the patients and shared his pipe. He did not always wash his hands after bandaging open sores.

He got close. For this the people loved him.

One day he stood up and began his sermon with two words: “We lepers.” Now, he wasn’t just helping them, but he was one of them. From this day forward, he wasn’t just on their island. He was in their skin.

He chose to live as they lived, and he would die as they died. They were in it together.

One day, God came to earth and began His message: “We lepers…” Jesus was helping us, but he became one of us. He was in our skin.

Jesus loved us to the point that we were in it together.

The story of incarnation is a story of love. Many people didn’t recognize him as God, of course. They were looking for someone a little flashier.

They expected more in the way of special effects, not someone who would take on all our limitations. Many people saw him, but only a few recognized him.

Those who missed him did not generally do so out of a lack of knowledge. What blinded them was pride.

Don’t be so proud that you won’t allow yourself to be touched by the Savior. For because of Him, the earth is no longer known as a place of death, but as a place to be set apart to new life. Don’t settle for sloppy seconds, when Jesus set the table for you and I to dine with the Divine.

ED. NOTE: The author is the senior pastor of The Lighthouse Church, 1248 Route 9 South, Court House.