Monday, September 25, 2023

Speaking in the Light 2/22/2006

By Rick Racela

In light of the fact that my birthday is this Friday and we are having our sec-ond annual Oldies Party at the Lighthouse Church this Sunday night, I decided to use today’s article to remi-nisce a bit about all the wonderful things that have helped to make me who I am today. 
I remember back in the early 1980’s, as I was get-ting ready to speak to a crowd of about 1,000 teens crammed into the Music Pier in Ocean City, one of the young people came up to me and with the sincerest face I have ever seen asked me, “Who are you that I should listen to you?”
 Ever since then, I have tried to be as open as possi-ble offering insight with the details about who I am as a person with the hopes that if the messenger committed to being transparent, the message would stay real.  And if there is any quality that I have held as a high priority in my life, it’s to always try to keep it as real as possible.
If you care to know who this Pastor Rudy is that writes these weekly articles and talks to you on the radio on Praise FM and Oldies 94, and serves as the senior minister at The Lighthouse Church, then fasten your seatbelts be-cause in rapid fire fashion, allow me to introduce my-self.
  I am a sold-out disciple of Jesus…I would not be alive without the Lord.  He gave me a reason and a purpose to live and the best decision I ever made was to open up my heart to Him as a freshman in high school back in April of 1975.   Although I still get nerv-ous every time I speak in public, when I preach and share about the Lord and life, I know I am doing the very thing that I was cre-ated to do.  It is like I’ve got this fire burning in my soul and I’ve got to get it out and when I do, I feel the Lord’s pleasure.  If you have ever heard me speak- you need to understand that the passion and the enthusi-asm that I express myself with is not manufactured or choreographed — it’s the honest, real display of the raw emotion that God has stirred within my heart.
And it comes out com-plete with spit and sweat and a stutter or two —but it is the cry of my heart that I long to give the Lord my absolute best in all that I do.
I am married and am a husband to Theresa Ann going on 24 years and she is my best friend and there is still nobody who I would rather be with than her.  She has been God’s gift to me in helping give arms and legs and feet and struc-ture to our hopes and dreams.
 I am actually a father to nine children ¬— (five who have already gone on to glory and are waiting for us to join them someday in heaven) and four that Terri and I have been given the privilege to raise.  I love being a Dad and I think one of the things I still get en-ergized most by is just hanging out and doing things with my kids.
 We have had some wonderful adventures through the years and I have tried to do special things with each one be-cause I marvel at how God has wired them all with their own unique personali-ties complete with strengths and weaknesses. 
My oldest son Rudy is now at Philadelphia Bibli-cal University (my alma mater) preparing to be a youth pastor.  I am so proud of who he is becom-ing and it is so cool that God has already given us some chances to minister together. 
My daughter Leah has the same “Type A” person-ality as I do and I love her intensity and passion for excellence.  She is a gifted student and athlete and has taught me more about soc-cer than I would ever know if I didn’t have her in my life.  She will be graduating from Middle in just a few months and will be joining her brother at PBU in the fall with the hopes of someday being a teacher.
 My younger daughter Abbie is currently a fresh-man at Middle and we share the same spirit full of wonder and innocence and pure joy.  She has a huge heart for her friends and a strong desire for things to be better than people so often settle for and I call her my “high hopes” based upon the old Sinatra song — for I do not want this world to ever postpone the parade that God has created for her to lead.   And then there is Joel, our two-and-a-half-year-old son who reiterates to me each and every day that life is a gift and fairy tales still come true — they can happen to you- if we stay young at heart.  And half-jokingly I pray quite often that the Lord will allow me to still have all my faculties by the time Joel graduates from high school in the year 2021.
I love music and my ra-dio is always on.  I grew up pretending I was Cousin Brucie and Harry Harrison and all the disc jockeys on 77 WABC.  And from the time I was little, you could always find me with my record player.  Some of my favorite recording artists include:
 Barry Manilow, Frank Sinatra, Bobby Darin, Nat King Cole, Al Martino, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Jim Croce, James Tay-lor, John Denver, Eric Carman, Connie Francis, Joni James, Olivia Newton-John, Patty Loveless, The Beatles, America, The Sty-listics, Earth Wind and Fire, The Doobie Brothers and yes, even The Partridge Family.
In the world of sacred music- I enjoy everything from Handel’s Messiah and the Gaither Homecoming Specials to the current Pas-sion Praise and Creation Festivals.  God has used music to keep me singing and not losing my hope when the hard times and trials that come with living on planet earth tried des-perately to steal my song.   This is why I consider it a privilege to be able to play the music for a whole new generation to discover and grasp the reassurance that God has placed within the melody.
Very quickly, here are a few more of some of my favorite things:
 The New York Mets, Tom Seaver, a Baseball Junkie, the Philadelphia Eagles, Roman Gabriel, College Basketball and The Seton Hall Pirat, Pizza, anchovies, hamburgers, extra mayo on everything, a big bowl of Ice cream. anything Christmas, Mira-cle on 34th Street, the Macy’s Parade, It’s A Wonderful Life, snow on Christmas Eve, classic movies,   Jimmy Stewart.
 John Wayne. Gary Coo-per, Walter Brennan,   Humphrey Bogart, classic TV, the Honeymooners,   The Odd Couple, Ben Ca-sey. Phil Silvers, old time radio. Bob and Ray, Fibber McGee and Molly, Jack Benny, Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy,  Slap-stick Comedy, It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, The Marx Brothers, Abbott and Costello, Jerry Lewis, showstopper tunes,  musi-cals.
The Music Man, West Side Story, scenes filled with magic and wonder…  When You Wish Upon A Star, Jiminy Cricket,  Lady and The Tramp,   And the beat goes on and on and on and on…
When it is all said and done, I pray that my life would accomplish what my own father, Rudy Sheptock Sr., always challenged me to do.  He would tell me, “Show them Jesus and don’t fool around.”  So in not wanting to waste a day and on the verge of cele-brating yet another year on planet earth, I pray for an-other hour of music power and the chance to sing my song loud and live it proud.
Because one day soon I am going to the place where God says that there will be no more night and we won’t have to grow old and the party will never have to come to an end again and nothing would excite me more than know-ing that you will be there too.  Now turn the radio up and love the Lord and live this day with all your heart.
Pastor Rudy invites you to join him at The Light-house Church this Sunday night, Feb. 26 from 6-8 p.m. for the second annual Oldies Party.  For more info, call 465-6690.

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