Sheptock, Rudy

Pastor Rudy Sheptock.

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Let’s face it; we all have issues that make tissue companies profitable. It’s that, and the fact that I am allergic to almost everything, except for cats and dogs.

In this week's column, I want to encourage everyone that if you are feeling distressed about life not turning out better, it’s not entirely your fault. Look at what we have to work with.

The earth only is a hint of what it was before Adam and Eve chose poorly in the Garden of Eden. We can exercise, be in great shape and still get hit by a drunk driver. We can love children beyond measure and still end up with more heartbreak than hallelujahs.

Believers can be faithfully following Jesus and be hopelessly devoted to His word and way, and still be the target of injustice, hatred and cheap shots. The craziest part is that many of the punches come from those who are supposed to be on the same team.

There is nothing worse than when someone finally dares to go for their dreams, they are met with words like, “That’ll never happen.” Teachers, coaches, pastors and parents who deal with personal insecurities decide that the best they can offer is to rain on a parade that hasn’t taken off.

No woman should be compared to another. I have two adult daughters, who are beautiful and are the apple of their daddy’s heart. If you mess with them, I am going to come to their defense.

Men hear words like, “Big boys don’t cry, real men don’t show emotion, athletes don’t play music, and musicians don’t waste time pitching no-hitters.” I was someone who never fit the stereotype of any particular group.

All my life, I was told by my mom, priests, coaches and Christians that I wouldn't amount to anything. My preaching professor in college gave me D's because I wouldn’t stand still when I gave a sermon. He was so put off by the package that he never took the time to appreciate the contents.

Aren’t you glad that God is not looking for cathedrals to dwell in, but simply those empty and cracked jars that will make room for Him to invade the space?

I'm 60 now, and while random words still sting, I am glad I improved on ignoring the crowd. The Lighthouse Church wouldn’t be on Route 9 if I listened to the self-appointed know-it-alls. Isn’t it ironic that those who talk the most usually do the least?

What is easier? Is it to be the individual who writes the song, paints the picture, puts themselves out there and shares their talent, or the one who sits in the bleachers yelling insult after insult while they never lift a finger unless it’s to stuff another hot dog into their mouths?

By the way, in all of history, no one has built a monument for a critic. Only those who get up and go for it get there, and I'm cheering you on.

I hate the old “sticks and stones” chorus because it isn't true. Words can hurt, and when they come from those who are supposed to be nurturing you, they can cut quite deep. It is not constructive criticism unless the result is that somebody is built up after the encounter.

Truth with grace, shared in love, plants promising seeds of faith and hopeful happenings, and there is nothing more wonderful in a world that is so disordered than seeing a beautiful garden growing in the concrete. God can use us to transform junkyards into art exhibits.

Isn’t that what amazing grace is about? Taking what is left to be trashed and transforming it into true eternal treasure.

Why is the church playing roles when the most powerful part we can share is being real? Jesus continually tried to get the religious rulers to loosen up when it came to relating to their flock.

This has nothing to do with poor behavior and misusing God’s love as permission to get away with wrongdoings. It has everything to do with pretending you are one person when you are really another.

Everyone is broken and messed up. Even as Christians, we are in the process of progress, and while we should celebrate the steps of success, we can’t hide the dismal failures.

I beg people not to place me on any pedestals. I don’t need anything new to fall off of. I take my responsibility and calling as a pastor seriously, and I know that many people turn to me as an example.

To clarify, I am a learning, active follower of Jesus, who still battles depression, anxiety and frustration. I am a recovering perfectionist who, for so long, believed that I could live like I was already in heaven, but that’s impossible in my present address.

Jesus was heaven on earth, but he didn’t build his kingdom here, at least not yet. He was preparing us for the real deal. Why would I ever want to settle for make-believe, when God has promised true authenticity?

Recently, I talked to an old friend, who I've known for almost 40 years. He was at my wedding, and I performed his. We haven't seen each other for a long time, and yet, it didn't take long to move beyond the niceties to the nitty-gritty.

We didn't attempt to one-up each other. We both clearly expressed that life has not turned out the way we both thought it would.

Yet, in the midst of all that went wrong, we highlighted the moments that went right. Our kids, adventures, faith and friendship were true gifts worth valuing. Also, we remembered that we aren’t finished, and reminded each other to keep trucking.

It was what faith, community and family should be about. We didn’t exchange empty flattery or skirt reality. We continued to love each other, knowing that neither of us has arrived.

What does it take to be real? What needs to happen for the Body of Christ to be open, honest and share what we feel?

Weekend services are not events to attend. They are not places to practice anonymity. No one should be looking to sharpen their acting skills while intervening with the congregation.

Believers are not consumers. They are challenged to be the Lord’s disciples.

Jesus knew who He was talking to when He bantered with the woman at the well, defended the lady caught in adultery and invited the dishonest tax collector, who He knew was hiding up the tree, to dinner. Jesus never condoned poor behavior, but He didn’t condemn the honest and seeking heart.

God won’t work with a façade. Stop playing games, and let’s be the hands, feet and heart of Jesus amidst a world that desperately needs to taste the original recipe.

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