The Countdown to Our 4th Season of ABC Has Begun!

I’ve already packed the car. . .I just can’t wait for the first worship service of our 4th season at Avalon Beach Church!

Tania and I would love to have you join us June 4th at 9am on the 30th Street Beach in Avalon, NJ. It looks like its going to be partly sunny and about 65 degrees, so bring your beach chair, a warm cup of coffee and maybe a jacket.

I can’t wait to share with you what I believe Jesus wants to do in our services this summer. Please pray with me that we will see a move of God where many come to faith in Christ, are healed of sicknesses or sadness and filled with the power of the Holy.

The COUNTDOWN has begun! As I write this, it’s less than 24 hours. Hope to see you on the beach.

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“You Ask Me How I Know He Lives. . .”

On this Easter Sunday morning, we will sing the “When I Survey/Oh the Wonderful Cross” medley, “Crown Him with Many Crowns,” and close our worship with “He Lives.” My message is on those last, strong words of conviction written by Alfred Henry Ackley in 1933:

“You ask me how I know He lives? He lives within my heart!”

That strong testimony made me think about the best-selling book by Lee Strobel that has been made into a movie in theaters right now: “The Case for Christ.” Let me give you some background on this true story. Lee Strobel is a graduate from Yale Law School. He was an investigative reporter that eventually became the Legal Affairs Editor for the Chicago Tribune. And Lee was a thoughtful atheist.

“As far as I was concerned, the case was closed. There was enough proof for me to rest easy with the conclusion that the divinity of Jesus was nothing more than the fanciful invention of superstitious people. Or so I thought,” Lee wrote.

Strobel determined that if there was no God, no heaven or hell, no judgment or accountability, then there was no reason not to live as a hedonist, looking for the next and best high possible. He had awards all through his office, but laid in an alley on a Saturday night in a drunken stupor. When he would come home at night, his little daughter would just gather her toys and go to her room. It was safer and more quiet there.

Then something happened that changed his life forever and propelled him into a two year investigation that became his most significant story ever. . .his wife encountered Jesus and invited him into her heart.

Strobel’s book, and the movie that followed, details the long and in depth process of investigation Lee began. His initial aim was to disprove the divinity of Jesus and hopefully get his wife back. He looked at the eyewitness accounts in the Gospels, the evidence outside of the Bible and in archeology, and then he focused on the resurrection. He interviewed people like: Ben Witherington, Gary Collins and D.A. Carson (all highly respected scholars). He focused on these questions: “Did Jesus think He was God?” “Was He Mentally Ill?” “Did He act like God?” and “Did He fit the Description of the Messiah in the Old Testament?”

At the end of his two year pursuit, Strobel gave in and encountered Christ for himself. He made the case and responded to the evidence. As I dove into this story for myself, I was taken by the most compelling evidence that served as the deepest catalyst in Lee Strobel’s investigation. It wasn’t the mountain of documentation from experts in the fields of theology and archeology; it was the impact Christ had in the heart and life of his wife.

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:6

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:16-19

Alfred Henry Ackley was so very right. . . “Ask me how I know He lives? He lives within my heart!” The most compelling evidence in the pursuit of God is still a personal encounter with the Risen Christ. On this Easter Sunday, you can encounter the living Jesus too.

Take a look at these clips on YouTube of “The Case for Christ:”

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This Is Why I Wrote “Scattered Sheep”: Falling Doesn’t Have to End In Failure

Scattered Sheep is written for those who know about the ditch of denial; those who know how it feels to be entangled in the thorns of confusion, discouragement or anger. This book is written for someone who has fallen. And here is the most wonderful truth you could ever imagine: Falling doesn’t have to end in failure.

Through this look at the life of Peter, I hope that we will find an ally who will encourage us to win the war for our heart, our marriage, our family and our ministry. So comrades, let’s take up our arms as we read. Let’s use the arsenal that is at our disposal to keep from falling. We’ve got the undying love of the Father, the resurrection power of the Son and the gifts and fruit of the potent Holy Spirit. We’ve got the precious Living Word of God, the angelic realm, the fellowship of the Bride which is the dynamic Church of Jesus Christ. We have unlimited resources that can keep us from falling.

But for those prone to wander, this book reveals a secret weapon that causes all of hell to shudder in anguish: Complete restoration through grace. Even when we fall, our faith does not have to fail.

Failure is simply this: An unwillingness to be restored.

As you read this book, I am praying that you will hear Christ speak about what He sees deep inside of you. I hope that you will encounter His passion to gather you in His arms and hold you close to His heart. Don’t let the enemy win. . .

And please, when you have been restored, strengthen your brothers and sisters.

You can go to the “Rich’s Books” page by clicking on the cover above. There you can purchase any of my books on Amazon by clicking its cover.

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Avalon Beach Church is Just 8 Weeks Away!

Get your flip flops and your beach chairs ready! The 1st Sunday of Avalon Beach Church is just 8 weeks away! We launch our 4th season on the 30th Street beach in Avalon on June 4th at 9am. We are believing for our best season ever in 2017! Come join us in the most amazing sanctuary of all for worship, message and prayer ministry.

As we prepare for this summer’s service, would you pray with us that some would come to know Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and Lord for the very first time? Would you pray that we would be able to baptize new believers in the ocean again following our services (so far we have baptized 24 people!)? Would you also pray that many Christians would be encouraged in their faith and healed of any sicknesses?

We are believing that Christ’s Kingdom will come on the beach this summer just as it is in heaven! It’s all happening on June 4th at 9am on the 30th Street beach in Avalon, NJ. Can’t wait to see you!

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Here’s a Sneak Peak at a Story from “Let’s Dance”

lets_dance_cover_for_kindleDancing with Blisters

I’ve had the chance in 30+ years of ministry to lay my hands on and commission hundreds of young leaders in missions and church planting. For a number of them, I’ve led them in a service of ordination for ministry. I have a prayer that I have prayed over many of them: “Lord, give them tough skin and a tender heart.”

That prayer is borne out of experience with Jesus and ministry to people. It’s a prayer that has proven itself. It is important. You are going to have to get tough skin if you stay with Jesus. The problem is that it is also easy to get a tough heart.

In the Winter of 2011, I had the privilege of leading “A Father’s Heart Forum.” It turned out to be one of the highlights of my ministry. My led the worship. I spoke at one of the main sessions and my father spoke at the other. Three generations led in ministry that day. I could not have been more proud of our family’s continuing heritage in Jesus.

My father spoke a message that I had never heard him speak before. It was entitled: “The Things I Learned from My Father.” He spoke about his father, his namesake: Harry Richard Stevenson, Sr.

My grandfather was a farmer and a master builder. He planted crops, built houses and made furniture. He worked three jobs during the depression to provide for his family. He was a stern disciplinarian. His hands were just one big callus. His heart was pretty hard as well. He didn’t give his life to Jesus until he was in his 70’s.

I will never forget hearing my dad tell this story about his father.

“I remember the first time your grandfather said anything encouraging to me. I had just finished building a room on to our cottage near the shore in New Jersey. He came to inspect my work. I just sat down and let him look at the room. I fully anticipated that he would come back and tell me where all of my mistakes were. When he came back into the room where I was, he sat down and said: ‘That’s a good job Harry.”

As my dad was telling me this story, he was in his 70’s and he was crying. He said: “that was the first time your grandfather said anything encouraging to me. I was 39 years old.”

My grandfather had tough skin and a tough heart. But my dad was different and I saw it clearly as he was preaching at our Father’s Heart Forum. He didn’t cover up my grandfather’s weaknesses as he spoke on the things he learned from him. But he had found the rays of grace that streamed through my grandfather’s toughness and he spoke with gratitude, not regret. He spoke not as a victim, but victorious because of Jesus.

That’s the power of a tough skin and a tender heart.

It comes from dancing with blisters.



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