I am convinced we can’t live without encouragement and accountability — at least not live well. Some people have an image of a spiritually mature Christian off on a mountaintop just me and my Bible alone with God. That might be a nice place to visit — but that’s not where God wants us to live. God uses many people in our lives to help us grow in our relationship with him and our effectiveness for him!
Along with spending time with God through his word and prayer, Christian fellowship is critically important for us to grow and be effective in our walk with God. Encouragement and accountability are two key ingredients of fellowship. We need both of those on a regular basis AND I’m convinced that God longs to use us to provide these in someone else’s life as well. Continue Reading…
My wife’s parents were role models in showing hospitality. Dinnertime was not only a social event, it was the main event! The food was always great and so were the welcome and the conversation.
This is the third in a series of posts honoring the life of a true encourager, my father-in-law, Joe De Ruvo, Sr. You can find Part 1 and Part 2 on the Encourage and Equip blog.
A Friend of People
My father-in-law was a friend of people, regardless of their church affiliation or absence. Let me explain.
As a kid growing up in New York CIty, I remember the occasional big holiday dinner around the table for hours but the normal daily routine was sitting on the couch with folding snack tables with the evening news on the television. When I made a dinner reservation at a restaurant, they would ask “what time?” so they could estimate what time the table would be available for the next guest.
While living in Italy many years ago, I noticed a key difference between American culture and Italian.
My daughter Cathy enjoying time with her grandpa after dinner.
In Italy, I quickly learned lingering at the table with loved ones was one of the rewards of making it through the day. When I made a dinner reservation in Italy, they only asked what day because they reserved the table for the evening. When you were invited for dinner at Joe and Rose’s (my wife’s parents) you were invited to linger.
Shortly after his ninetieth birthday, my father-in-law was given a few months to live. What would you do? Let me tell you what Joe did.
My father-in-law had the rare blessing of getting a “two-minute warning” so to speak. Shortly after his ninetieth birthday, he began experiencing unusual health complications that made treating one problem impossible without creating or escalating other problems. Long story short, the prognosis was a few months left to live. What would you do? Let me tell you what Joe DeRuvo did.
Among other things, he made the most of the opportunity to contact and say goodbye to friends and family–a rare blessing indeed. He also planned out his own memorial service with the help of long-time friends and pastors.
In the memorial service that he planned, my wife (his daughter) shared some of her personal recollections and a note that he left behind. Continue Reading…
One of the greatest influencers in my life passed away as that Sunday drew to a close after some weeks in hospice. My father-in-law, Joe De Ruvo, was truly a great and gentle man used mightily by God and will be missed by many. Earlier that morning, May 28, 2017, I preached my final sermon as the Intentional Interim Pastor for the First Church of Christ in Lynn, MA.
Joe De Ruvo celebrating his 90th birthday with homemade cheesecake.
My final sermon focused on the Last Words of Paul–not the last words he uttered in life but his last words recorded in the New Testament to a special young pastor in 2 Timothy chapter 4. Along with his command to Preach the Word and Keep his head in the midst of ministry challenges and persecutions, the older Apostle shifted young Timothy’s attention from implementing Paul’s teachings to emulating Paul’s life.
6 For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near.7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
Those words took on a special meaning for me as I read them in the context of watching a man who had walked with God for ninety years look forward to meeting his Lord face to face. That calm assurance comes from knowing that he could face death confident that it is merely a passage to the place Jesus has prepared for him.
I generally enjoy people but there is a handful of people in my life that are truly impressive and have made a difference in my life and the lives of many others as well. My father-in-law is one of a very rare breed. Thirty years ago, I married the love of my life. I knew I was truly blessed that day. But wait, there’s more! As a bonus, Joe De Ruvo transitioned from the father of my girlfriend to my father-in-law. I gained a faithful prayer warrior, mentor, and role model when Joe De Ruvo transitioned from the father of my girlfriend to my father-in-law.
This past Saturday, June 24, 2017, friends and family gathered to celebrate this special life. This memorial service was unlike any other I had ever attended. By God’s grace, I was able to record the service. I will post it here in four parts for those who were not able to attend. I also share the video for the benefit of those who never met my father-in-law but still want to benefit from the remembrances of those who were deeply impacted by his love for his God and his love for them.
As Christ-followers, our main task is to love God and to love people. I have learned that when we seek God first, we can trust Him to care for our needs, then we can focus on building into the lives of those God puts around us.
I live to help people live out that goal. My focus, here, is to encourage and equip as God gives opportunity.
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Rock and roll was my life! I was a disc-jockey on radio and in night clubs. I used to entertain people for a night; now I can impact people for eternity.
My background includes Christian radio, church-planting in Milan, Italy and local pastoral ministry in the U.S. My first book, Time with God is available on Amazon.
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