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Pastor Rudy Sheptock

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When I was a new Christian living in northern New Jersey, I would listen daily to Family Radio, an FM radio station. The teachings and music on that dial almost discipled this kid who couldn’t get enough of the Jesus that he had just asked into his heart.  

Unfortunately, through the years, a man named Harold Camping did his best to destroy this vehicle of faith with his heresy, but the word of God conquers the lies of the enemy every time, and I am happy to say that Family Radio is back on the air and still ministering to my hungry heart some 45 years later. 

The other night, somewhere in that state of not being awake and not in a deep sleep, a story I heard hit me like an arrow to the heart. Unfortunately, because I was not alert when I was listening, I didn’t fully remember the details. I even forgot the main premise of the devotional.  

I was wracking my cluttered brain, searching for a clue until when I woke up early one morning and it returned to me in all of its glory. 

A young lady named Abigail related an experience she had in a Bible class she was taking at the Christian college she was attending. One day, the professor of her class developed an elaborate object lesson that hit the bullseye in the middle of the soul.  

When Abbey entered the room, hanging on the adjacent wall was a huge target. On a nearby table were countless darts. Abbey’s teacher proceeded to ask the students to draw a picture of someone that they disliked or someone who had made them angry, and when everyone finished their artwork, he would allow them to throw darts at the person’s picture. 

Abbey didn’t hesitate when it came to the person living under her skin. She immediately drew a picture of a two-faced friend who stole her boyfriend. 

It was finally time for the class to line up and begin throwing darts. Some of the students threw them with such force that their artwork ripped into pieces flying off the board. Students began looking at the clock, not wanting their chance to let off some steam pass them. 

Normally, they wanted out early, but today, nobody was in a hurry to leave. Abbey was one whose countenance was filled with clear disappointment when, because of time limits, was asked, along with other students who didn’t get to throw, to return to their seats. As Abbey was mulling over how angry she was because she did not have a chance to throw darts at her target, the professor began removing the target from the wall. 

Unbeknownst to anyone, underneath the targets was a picture of Jesus. A hush fell over the room as each student viewed the mangled photograph; holes and jagged marks covered Jesus’ face, and His eyes were pierced. Before dismissing the class, the professor said, “In as much as you have done it to the least of these my children, you have done it to Me" (Matthew 25:40).  

No other sermon was necessary, and no other summary was added. Tears quickly filled the eyes of the students focused only on Christ's picture.  

Abbey caught the conviction - you cannot love God and hate His creation. The darts of Christians must not be the reason people don’t get a clear picture of Jesus. 

Christmas is all about the Savior who was sent to rescue those who were willing to admit their inability to accomplish this feat without the aid of divine intervention. God’s love does not come with strings, conditions and boundaries. He is not waiting for you to deserve the attention He freely gives.  

God sees a need and meets it. Shouldn’t His followers be willing to do the same? 

We have all been hurt, mistreated, lied to, cheated on, and taken advantage of. The people who should have been looking out for us couldn’t wait to stab us in the back. However, remember that the Jesus we celebrate forgave the hands that were used to nail Him to the cross.  

None of us have the authority to determine who receives God's love rather than a dart to the forehead. Let hell throw the darts, and let heaven be ready with gifts of grace and truth.  

Without grace, we cannot be saved, and without truth, we will never be free. We are not God’s dartboard, and neither should He be ours. 

Let us be more like the Jesus we claim to celebrate. Let us be those who present a presence that changes hearts and willingly forgives others as we have been forgiven. That's what Christmas is about. 

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

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