Sheptock, Rudy

Pastor Rudy Sheptock.

The Lighthouse Church held its 23rd annual Beach Service this weekend in Wildwood. The highlight of the day was the individuals who chose to be baptized in the ocean as a way to give testimony to their faith in Jesus as Savior and Lord.

Over 30 people of all ages shared their stories of the differences the Lord has made in their lives. The strong winds and rip currents made the event a unique experience. I have finally learned what it is like to be inside a washing machine.

Nevertheless, I am happy to report that everyone who went in, came out. Many with faces glowing and excitement building for the days to come.  

It never fails that as the service is going on, someone walking by asks me, “What is going on?” It allows me to share my faith and talk about the Lord. When I get to the part about salvation, the phrase “Jesus saves,” begs the next question, “saves from what?”

Rather than quote a Sunday school answer, I try to develop an illustration that will make the reply come alive. This year was no different.

God always gives me an illustration just when I need one. 

I recalled a television show that I saw recently that featured this scene. A young boy begged his father for a snake. After much badgering, the dad gave in and purchased all his son would need to house and care for this unique pet. When it came time to feeding the serpent, things got interesting.

The twosome returned to the local animal emporium to buy snake food. If I can be more specific here, this turned out to be cute and cuddly white mice. This could have been the biggest mistake of the day, because it took no time for the youngster to bond with the menu.

Dinner time could only be put off for so long, and so with much hesitation, the son had to drop his new unsuspecting mouse into the snake's glass cage.

At the time of the alleged feeding, the snake happened to be sleeping amidst a bed of sawdust. I love how smart God’s creations can be. This tiny mouse somehow sensed that he had a serious problem on his hands.

At any moment, he could be swallowed alive.  The mouse needed to come up with a scheme to save himself. What did the terrified creature do?

He quickly set up work covering the snake with sawdust chips until it was completely buried. With that, the problem disappeared. The mouse apparently thought he had solved his problem. Another cover-up right before our eyes.

If there was going to be any rescue, it would have to come from outside. The boy couldn’t bear to see his silly little mouse devoured before his eyes.

As the snake awoke and was ready to pounce on the mouse, a hand swooped down and removed the rodent from the cage. The boy saved the mouse in time. His attachment to that industrious

but helpless little being kept him from being eaten alive.

Mankind too needs to be rescued and redeemed. No matter how hard we try to cover up, rationalize, and pretend that we have no enemy, the devil prowls around like a roaring lion seeking to devour us. Good works only cover up the undeniable elephant in our soul.

We all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. If there is no mediation, sin will eventually win. But because our Heavenly Father loved us so much, He sent His only Son to love us when we weren’t that loveable.

The Master's hand prevented us from being consumed. Love genuinely lifted us to safety. 

Believe it or not, the reason for the chaos and confusion that we are caged by, are the effects of the separation that occurs because we are not rightly related to God. Faith in Jesus is the only way for us to be rescued from the ruins of the sin that we are stuck within. God’s grace had mercy and compassion on us at just the right time.

Believing that we have a savior is not a pipe dream. Clinging to that hope is a sure thing. Just as the fangs of death are about to inject us with eternal poison, we are gathered into the grip of the One with nail-scarred hands.

It is in those hands that we never have to worry about death and separation again.

Becoming a Christian is about a change of address. I am no longer found in a cage of doom in a neighborhood near you. This mouse no longer has to dig up wood chips to cover up my mess. Jesus has wiped my slate clean. He can do the same for you.

You will never be good enough - nobody has ever been good enough. Only Jesus was good enough.

Becoming a Christian is a change in our relationship with God.  Jesus’ work, when it is believed and rested in, instantly changes our standing before God. Because we have been saved, we are forever “in Him.”

Several years ago, a man and his wife were found frozen to death in their car. A blizzard had dumped tons of snow in the area, burying their vehicle. Before she died, the woman scribbled a note on a piece of paper and stuffed it in the glove compartment.

The note read, "I don't want to die this way." Tragically, less than

six feet from their icy grave was a stranded bus, whose festive passengers remained warm throughout the night. So close and yet so far.

Where are you today?