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Pastor Rudy Sheptock

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From the time I was a kid, if I see injustice, I say something about it. 

My kids always start getting nervous when they see this behavior in me because they know Dad won’t just walk away; he'll do something about it because God made him that way. I don’t do anyone any good by looking the other way or pretending it never happened. 

Whenever we condone taking a path that wasn’t authorized by the Holy Spirit, we only become tied up emotionally because Jesus already clearly taught us that true freedom is utterly impossible without truth. I’d like to hope that the Lord ignites that passionate light in me so it can shine through me. 

I was disgusted with how the Philadelphia Eagles ended their regular season. Don’t kid yourself, they didn't lose against the Washington Football Team; they outright quit on national television. They settled and took a dive.  

The media and fans can frame it however they please, and the experts might rationalize it until the cows come home, but what the Eagles did was worse than losing.  

It's just as bad as the 1919 Chicago Black Sox, who threw the World Series because eight of their players were sold out to gamblers. It wasn’t just bad enough for the guilty athletes, but it was unfair to the players who gave their best and the fans who thought it was all on the level.  

The Eagles front office should be ashamed, and it cost Doug Pederson his job. I have always taught my children to never compromise from doing what you know is right.  

In Pederson's case, you are probably going to get shot down anyway, so make sure that you have believed in the decisions you have made. Don’t let anyone lie to you and tell you that they can make you do something you don’t want to do.  

Stand in God's grace that saves you, and move forward by Jesus' truth that sets us free, no matter what the world may say or do. Because it appears disobedient individuals get away with their tainted deeds doesn’t mean they will forever. 

I got a message that almost summarizes our world's thinking. He wrote, “At the end of the day, no team in the NFC East had a chance of going forward, so this is all for nothing.” I couldn’t disagree with anyone more than I did with this statement.  

The ends never justify the means. Every coach who has ever told young kids to always give it their best would have to ignore that advice, and that is what is so wrong about this.  

At the end of any day, if you can’t look in the mirror knowing you didn't take shortcuts or bribes and stayed loyal to the Lord who loves you, the past 24 hours were wasted. I don't care who gets the number one draft pick and who might earn a million dollars; if you didn’t earn it honestly, it is morally wrong every time. 

Many religious people think they know Jesus, but what they know is more the stereotype than the genuine Savior. When you read the New Testament, you will conclude that Jesus could be a remarkably interesting person to be around. He made others uncomfortable, mostly because He wouldn’t leave lies prevailing where truth had to be taught. 

Jesus could mix righteous anger with godly behavior. He would not back down from the self-proclaimed “religious big shots,” who didn't have threatening ammo besides their press clippings. Compassion is a quality for which Jesus was famous, but make no mistake, that didn’t mean He was a “Mr. Softee.”  

Jesus had the perfect discernment to know when someone needed a holy hug or a sanctified shove. To those that most of society defined as outcasts beyond repair, Jesus would drop everything and give His undivided attention to them because they previously never knew love like this. To those who thought that they were already God’s gift to the world, our Lord challenged them to get their eyes off themselves and on those that needed love and direction who were already in their midst. 

Sociologist Rodney Stark argued that one of the primary reasons Jesus' movement spread was the way His followers responded to sick people.  

During Marcus Aurelius' reign, around AD 165, an epidemic of what may have been smallpox killed somewhere between a third and a fourth of the population, including Marcus Aurelius himself. Less than a century later, a second epidemic happened, in which at its height, 5,000 people were reported dying daily in Rome alone. For the most part, people responded in panic.  

You might label it as “pandemic panic.” Let me know if anyone might see the application for today in these facts. 

In ancient times, there was no guidance in Homer's writings, no commands from Zeus, the Greek God, to care for dying people whom you do not know while putting your own life at risk, but there was in the world where a body of Jesus' believers would touch lepers while they were unclean and where disciples were told to heal the sick. 

Dionysius, a third-century bishop of Alexandria, wrote about their actions during the plagues. “Heedless of the danger, they took charge of the sick, attending to their every need and ministering to them in Christ, and with them departed this life serenely happy, for they were infected by others with the disease, drawing on themselves the sickness of their neighbors, and cheerfully accepting their pains.”  

People took Jesus at his word. Even outsiders would notice when Christian communities responded to the hungry and sick. What if we obeyed Jesus like this today, valued every human as God does, and were less politically correct and more powerfully connected to the Holy Spirit who provides what is needed to make an eternal difference in the world?  

Let us minister to Christ’s needs. Let us give Christ nourishment. Let us clothe Christ. Let us gather Christ in. Let us show Christ honor. What are you doing? Who are you doing it for? Who are you doing it with? 

I just finished reading the book “Becoming Elisabeth Elliot.” They speared Elisabeth’s husband, Jim Elliot, and his four comrades. Still, Elisabeth heard God’s call to return to the Waorani and finish her husband's work.  

She knew what she was doing and understood the cost of obedience. She would be living with the ones responsible for making her a widow. The critics had no problem sharing their opposition. 

The comfortable religious organizations wanted no part of putting one of their people purposefully at risk. However, isn’t that an important ingredient of following Jesus anyway? 

Letters arrived regularly from Jim Elliot’s mother. She pleaded with her daughter-in-law not to go, and worse yet, to bring her only child. 

She penned, “Can’t you see this, Betty? Let’s not get carried away. I think your zeal is wonderful, but don’t do something so foolish.”  

You sit in church with such passion, but nobody expects you to take it outside this building, do they?  

I love how real Elisabeth was when she responded. “To hell with my zeal,’” Betty wrote, in her journal. She knew her words about loving Jesus would lose their meaning unless, most of all, she trusted His voice. 

If we don’t follow Jesus in 2021, we aren’t obedient to our call. As we measure out our lives and legacy, the test of faith comes down to, “Will we trust and obey?” 

Believers' only responsibility is obedience. Our daily bread is wrapped in this cry, “Lord, show me what You want me to do, and I’ll do it. I’ll obey, whatever it is.” 

“If a duty is clear, the dangers surrounding it are irrelevant.” - Elisabeth Elliot 

“I'll obey and serve You. I'll obey because I love You. I'll obey, my life is in Your hands, for it's the way to prove my love when feelings go away. If it cost me everything, I'll obey.” - Bill Drake 

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

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