Sheptock, Rudy

Pastor Rudy Sheptock.

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There is a story about an American who traveled to Paris. Wanting to buy his wife a gift, he purchased a phosphorescent mother-of-pearl match-box container.

The beauty of it was that in the dark, it was said to radiate a wonderful light. He packed it in his trunk, took it home, and after the family welcome dinner, asked for the lights to be shut off.

In the dark, he took the match-box container from his pocket to present it to his wife, but when he looked at it, it was as black as the darkness around him. Then he said, “That is just what they palm off on us clueless foreigners. I've been swindled.”

The next day, his wife, slightly curious, discovered that there were a few words written in French on the box. She took it to some friends who had a French maid, and they had it translated.

That night, in the darkness, it was all aglow, for she followed the instructions written on the box, which said, “If you keep me all day long in the sunlight, I will shine for you all night long in the darkness.”

I fear that too many believers have packed themselves away during this pandemic, so much that they have lost their godly glow. This world and the life we live in this side of heaven is not capable of keeping our lights ignited.

Like batteries in our transistor radios, the energy this planet provides us doesn’t grow stronger as we play the music, but weaker with each hour it is left on. To conserve its precious power, we hesitantly go without it when we need it to be on full-blast.

Our fuel as Christians must be the Holy Spirit, or sooner or later the bulbs of the Body of Christ will flicker and eventually burn out when we were needed to be the illuminating rays of our Savior for the surrounding shadows.

Like the moon, which reflects what radiance it receives from the sun, we, too, need to stop trying extremely hard to be dazzling disciples. We simply must surrender our hearts humbly and fully to the access of the glory of the Son of God.

Isn’t it ironic that we could do nothing to save ourselves from our sin, and we willingly received the finished work of Jesus on the cross by grace through faith to purchase our salvation but now, somehow, we behave like it is up to us to live holy and righteous lives?

This is why so much of Christianity is defined by what we don’t do, rather than be highlighted by how God is at work within our daily routine. Just because someone knows the Bible inside and out intellectually doesn’t relate to an individual who is madly in love with the Lord.

Many people have been properly informed but are still missing the supernatural work of the Spirit in their souls to be transformed. God promises that He will make us more like His Son when we choose to follow Him. It doesn’t occur by freestyling. We must constantly long to dwell in the shadow of our Shepherd.

Growing up, I was my dad's right-hand man. I was Little Rudy, and he was Big Rudy. The moments I was right by his side were my happiest and most courageous memories.

It didn’t matter what was happening around me. I was always secure and satisfied when I was beside my dad. I found my identity in the presence of being around him.

We need to do the same thing with Jesus. We can’t go off on our own trying to discover how to live a life of faith if we are not in the proximity of the One that we claim to serve. We run out of gas because we attempt to make God-sized works happen without the Miracle Maker in our midst.

If Jesus is not in the neighborhood, don’t expect to feed a crowd of 5,000 with a young boy’s lunch. Those feats only happen when we know our feet are marching in our Savior's steps.

Do we believe that God can still do awesome life changing affairs through His church, even while we are locked out of our sanctuaries? Do we believe that God can use us to impact those around us if we will only truly trust Him and accentuate what we can accomplish, rather than become frustrated about what we aren’t able to participate in?

How about the precedents set in Scripture when the God of the universe still arrived with Joseph in the pit, Daniel in the lion’s den, Paul in prison, and John on Patmos? Has our ability to live God's word been taken away from us? Can we still love our neighbors and pray for those who might think differently than us?

Don’t we serve the Lord who created all we see with just a word? Maybe, we need less complaining from us and more constructive input from the One who can affect the output. Is God on the disabled list? Can any human government hamstring the holy omnipotent power of our indescribable Lord?

Can they know we belong to Jesus by our buildings, our choice of Bible, our worship band, our beloved theologian? Of course not.

We can have the kind of faith that moves mountains and give away money, food, possessions, and speak in a tongue that makes angels jealous, but it is all bankrupt if there is not the unconditional, life-altering, no strings attached love of God enabling the acts of His devoted followers.

I pray every day for Cape May County. I am not just praying for those who believe like me. I pray for those who don’t believe anything at all.

Like the trees around us, producing life-giving oxygen without prejudice or bigotry, the grace and mercy of God should be flowing through us to touch everything in our paths.

As long as the Holy Spirit dwells within us, the light will never be extinguished. Let’s live like we don’t need any other power source to provide our daily needs.  

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