Sheptock, Rudy

Pastor Rudy Sheptock.

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I completely gave my heart to Jesus in April 1975. I was in High School at the time and was fascinated by this new relationship that saved my life.

One of the first events that I was invited to was a youth group Bible study, held Wednesday nights, in the Green Room. The room obtained its name from the famous green shag carpet that covered the floor.

To say I was overwhelmed when I entered for the first time would be an understatement. There were kids with their arms raised in the air, many not wearing shoes and everyone was praising Jesus.

As someone who grew up in the Catholic Church, this was a new experience for me. The youth pastor, Warren Was, encouraged us to call him by his first name. He certainly made the Bible come alive for me. I had questions for him every week, and he never got tired of answering them.

Wednesdays would begin with singing. A plethora of contemporary Christian music was not available at the time, so we used what was called "Jesus Music." These were tunes written and recorded by the young long-haired hippies coming to faith in California.

The Calvary Church movement, pastored by Chuck Smith, of California, thrived by making these new converts disciples because they weren’t welcomed into any conservative congregation. The music birthed here laid the foundation of my walk with God.

Larry Norman was one such pioneer of this new Christian Rock and Roll music that we blasted from our record players and sang from the top of our lungs. Songs like, “Sweet, Sweet Song of Salvation,” “I am a Servant,” “Righteous Rocker,” and his iconic tune about the second coming called, “I Wish We’d All Been Ready,” were staples of our praise gatherings. Come to think of it, many of the themes were about Jesus' return.

I was exuberant about the Book of Revelation that I truly expected our Lord to return at any minute. Every time I saw a sky filled with majestic clouds, I wondered if the trumpet blast could happen within the hour.

I’m not sure that we talk enough about getting ready for the "Rapture" these days. The Bible calls it, “The Blessed Hope,” and the early church would be reminded of it daily by greeting one another with the words, “Maranatha,” or “behold, He comes."

In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, Jesus would return, and the dead in Christ would rise first, followed by those who are alive, who would be snatched up to meet the Lord and be with Him forever. When was the last time you woke up wondering, “What if Jesus comes back today?” We talk about our present struggles and the future Heaven, but not necessarily encouraging each other enough with the next advent of the Christ.

When I was a youth pastor, I conducted “Rapture Practice” with the young people I shepherded. Like a school's fire drill, I would shout, “Rapture Practice,” and suddenly, everyone would climb onto our chairs, and after a count-down from three, everyone jumped. If Jesus returned, we would be soaring through the air. If not, we would hit the floor with a thud.

After much laughter, the point would be made and understood. We need to be ready for when it was real.

Finally, I have a wise word to share from a young theologian, who happens to be 5 years old. Remember, it was Jesus who said that we all need to become like young children when it comes to faith and wonder.

This fair-haired young lady went to Sunday school one day, and her teacher told her that Jesus would be coming back. When she got home, she went to her parents and asked, “Mommy, is it true that Jesus is coming back?”

Her mother said, “Yes, honey, it’s true.”

“Do you believe that?”

“Yes, honey, I really do.”

“Could He come back this week?”

 “Yes, He could come this week.”

“Could He come today?”

 “Yes, He could come today.”

 “Could He come at this very moment?”

 “Yes, honey. He certainly could.”

 “Mommy, could you please help me comb my hair? I want to make sure that I look my best for Jesus."

This little girl understood the vital truth of the Scriptures better than most adults. She wanted to look her best for when Jesus returned to take her to be with Him.

When He returns, and He will, she wants to be sure her hair was combed. I don’t have much hair, but I do have a yearning heart, and I want to make sure that nothing gets in the way of my waiting for God to keep His promise. How about you?

Is your hair combed, spiritually speaking? Are you ready for His appearing? That’s the urgent question confronting us as we learn to face tomorrow.

Because He lives, we should never get so comfortable on this planet that we wouldn’t trade it all in immediately when the cry goes out that it’s time to return to our eternal home.

Let me close with the lyrics of Larry Norman.

“Life was filled with guns and war, and all of us got trampled on the floor; I wish we'd all been ready. Children died, the days grew cold; a piece of bread could buy a bag of gold; I wish we'd all been ready. There's no time to change your mind, the Son has come, and you've been left behind.”

You won’t be left behind if you take care of your heart's matters. God so loved you that He gave His only Son to die for your sins.

If you would fully open your heart to Him, and receive Jesus as your Savior and Lord, you will never have to worry about your future again. Are you ready?

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