Are You Believing a Lie?

Have you ever been lied to? I’m sure you have at some point. Lies are misleading and very hurtful.  What makes being lied to even worse is when we believe the lie we’ve been told. The result? Mistakes, heartache, wasted time, and unnecessary suffering. In my own life, I have believed a few lies that left me with the feeling that I was going backwards.

The first lie I was told is that being “religious” will get you closer to God; in other words, life is about being a good person, and if you are one, you get to go to Heaven. So I completed each sacrament, respected my elders, was polite, and did well enough in school that I was accepted into the college of my choice.

I thought I would’ve been rewarded for my “goodness.” Instead, I found myself attending three funerals. One friend was murdered, another was killed by a drunk driver, and my mentor—my favorite teacher and life coach, the man I wanted to pattern my entire life after—had committed suicide. It was a difficult year to say the least.

I found myself asking a few questions: Why was this happening to me? What did I do to deserve this? Where do I go from here?

As a result, I stopped believing one lie and turned to another. I began listening to people who told me that life was about following your heart and making your own way. I began making choices that reflected that change of direction and made me happy. I started “enjoying” the college life and quickly found out that, at the age of 22, I was going to be a father.

I searched for the secret to having a great life and found a hard road. I was taking 21 credit hours of classes each semester, commuting three hours a day to get to school, and working 15 to 20 hours over the weekend to support my child. If I had time between parenting, class, studying, and traveling, I might find a few hours of sleep. I had dreamed of being a parent and sharing the news with my family and friends. This was not the story that I thought would play out.

A few years passed and I was still searching for answers. A friend invited me to a church service, and I gave it a chance, thinking Why not? It’s not like going to church could make things harder. So I went, expecting very little. What I received was far greater than I ever could have imagined.

The pastor delivered a message about surrendering your life to God. The Bible verses that really hit home with me were Matthew 11:28–30. In them Jesus says, Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

It immediately hit me! First I had tried living life my way, and then I had tried being religious; but during all that time I never went to Jesus himself. I was laboring and heavy laden for sure, and I realized that the rest that Jesus said He had for my soul was what I needed. But the questions I had were these: How do I receive it? How do I get Jesus Christ, the rest to my soul, and the light burden I desire?

The answers to those questions are found in verse 29 of Matthew 11. The phrase “learn of me” implies that there are a few things we must consider:

First, the Bible explains that every person is less than perfect and commits sins against God. Romans 3:10 and 3:23 say, As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.

Second, the beginning of Romans 6:23 adds that …the wages of sin is death. Because I was living a life where sin was present, I wasn’t, by default, living the life God wanted me to live. Death represents a separation between God and humans as a consequence of this sinful life of ours.

Third, Romans 5:8 says, But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Jesus loves us, so He died for you and me—not because we’re perfect, but because we aren’t!

And finally, the end of Romans 6:23 says that …the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

So, if we believe that Jesus Christ lived the perfect sinless life, died for us because of our sin, and was raised from the dead by God the Father (making Jesus our victorious Savior), each of us can start a new life as a follower of Jesus and know that Heaven is our eternal home. God is calling out to us to …believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved (see Acts 16:31). It’s very simple: ask Jesus for forgiveness and accept His free gift of salvation.

Now, as a Christian, I’m blessed to serve the God that died for me and rose again. I’m privileged to share the good news of Jesus Christ with people who find that this life has more problems than answers.

I’m so excited to see what God has for me each day. Every day is a wonderful opportunity to connect with God and people. I have a beautiful wife, three wonderful children, and friends who want to help me along the way. Above all, I have my best friend, Jesus.

Has it been perfect? a bed of roses? Have all my dreams come true? No. Actually, my Christian life has brought me a lot of challenges. The difference between this new life in Christ and what I had before I accepted Him as my Lord and Savior is that now I know God loves and accepts me as I am. Jesus Christ has added an eternal purpose to my life, and one day I will meet Him face to face!

I invite you to come to Jesus, as I did in 2010. Make Him your personal Savior today! Won’t you come? I’ve lived a life without God and now with Him. Living a life for Jesus Christ is beyond better, and that is no lie!

 

Finding the True Light

Growing up in the early 1970s was hard; during the Vietnam conflict, single mothers were commonplace. Eventually, my home life included a stepfather who was violent; he hated the children of a previously married woman—me and my two siblings. Beatings came weekly, if not daily. My mom said, “You kids will be grown one day, and I need somebody for me when I get old.”

When I was 13, my stepfather said to my brother, Kevin, and me, “If you come home with anything less than a ‘C’ in school, DON’T!” At the end of the semester, I received several “F’s” on my report card. Knowing that our stepfather meant what he said, we didn’t ride the bus home that night.

We began living on the streets of Redding, California; I was 13 and Kevin was 15. We couldn’t work, as we were under the legal age. Some friends of ours would sneak us into their bedrooms at night, but we had to be out before sunrise so their parents wouldn’t see us. Eventually this arrangement stopped, and we were on our own. Food came from dumpsters and garbage cans. At the end of the day, we gathered doughnuts from behind a bakery for the next morning’s breakfast.

We made our bed among the trees behind a drive-in movie theater and packed up our stuff before sunrise. Police patrolled the area, so we had to find the best hiding places. Other street people would tell police where we slept if they saw us with something they wanted or if they wanted our spot. Trying to get out of our spot in the morning or back in at night before police, residents and other street people saw us became a daily challenge.

In one sense, I was living a teenager’s dream: Every day I had doughnuts for breakfast, and I ate at fast-food places or nice restaurants every night. The reality was, I had to fight ants for doughnuts, fend off rats, cats, and stray dogs for dumpster meals, and check my food for mold. Although I enjoyed the weekly drive-in movie, I was constantly checking my sleeping area for scorpions and rattlesnakes; they liked the heat I produced.

Six years passed before my brother and I broke that chain of lifestyle. We were under the control of drugs and alcohol; we sold drugs to make a small amount of money to buy alcohol.  I believed that I wouldn’t live to age 20. I’d say to people, “We were all born to die; we’re just in a waiting period.”

My brother and I sometimes ate at the rescue mission on South Market Street. Shortly before my 17th birthday, we sat listening to the hour-long sermon to get the meal. At the end, a junior pastor saw a questioning look on my face and came over to talk to me. It wasn’t long before I stumped him with my questions. The senior pastor must have seen what was going on and came over to asked if he could help. We talked a bit longer about the Bible, and what that senior pastor said next changed my life forever. First, he asked my opinion of the Big Bang Theory. I said it made sense and was believable. He said, “Then where did the Big Bang come from?” I said it came from the universe. Then he said, “Where did the universe come from?” I said, “It was there!” He said, “From out of nowhere the universe just happened?” I replied yes. “Young man…who turned on the lights?” For that question, I had no answer. At 6 p.m. on October 21, 1983, I gave my life to the Lord and received Jesus Christ as my Savior and was baptized; however, my baptism was for the wrong reason; I was told that baptism was part of the process of washing away my past sins.

At age 19, I entered the U.S. Navy thinking my life would become better, and I’d grow closer to God. That was the furthest thing from the truth. Instead, I went into a downward spiral and fell victim to Satan’s lies. I stopped being a servant of God and was living a life of sin again. Not knowing salvation was forever, I believed I had fallen from grace. I thought God would never love a sinner like me. I lived this way for several years until I met Jennifer, the woman who is now my wife.

In May of 2015, a very good friend of ours took her own life; Jennifer and I felt overwhelming pain and sorrow.  As we watched a program on a Christian television network, the announcer said, “If you need help and don’t know where to turn, please give us a call.” My wife called and got a Baltimore extension (oddly enough, our good friend was from there). It was a cell phone number for a counselor who was from Baltimore but had moved to serve at the Christian counseling Center at Valley Forge Baptist. Jennifer began receiving counsel and was told, “You can be counseled, but you have to be in a church to do so.” We were desperate for help, so we started attending Valley Forge Baptist in October of 2015.

On November 23, 2015, I was diagnosed with a rare disease called Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS). I had never heard of it and became very scared. During the 48 days I spent in the hospital learning to walk again, our family members did not once come to see me or my wife. Jennifer stayed by my side the whole time, and every week—sometimes on a daily basis—I was visited by several of the pastors from VFB and received many get well/prayer greeting cards from church people.

As my walking improved, my wife and I decided it was time for a change. When I was released from the hospital, we both dedicated our lives to Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. I finally understood that salvation is forever, and baptism does not wash away sins but is an outward sign to others that a person is a believer in and follower of Christ. Pastor Scott Wendal baptized us on April 3, 2016. We sense a new feeling of family now that we’re members of VFB.

Since my illness would not let me return to a contract position, my contract was not renewed by my employer, and we were forced to move from our home within 30 days. Again, there was no sign of help from our family members. During the turmoil of our living situation, our new family in Christ stepped up to help us move. We are forever grateful for the life in Christ we now have. We know that without our Lord Jesus Christ and the dedicated brothers and sisters we would not have the life we are so blessed with today.

What will it take for the light to come on in your life? It’s very easy, but does require some effort and commitment on your part. Simply bow your head in prayer, confess your sins, ask to be forgiven of your sins, believe that Jesus died on the cross for you, and invite Him to come into your life to be your Lord and Savior.

Empowered by His Spirit

So much confusion and controversy surround the topic of the Holy Spirit. Most people don’t understand who He is. Yet the Word of God describes the Christian’s new best friend as the Holy Spirit of God. In John 14, Jesus told His disciples that He would be leaving the world to go to the Father, but that the Father would give them “another Comforter” who would abide with them forever. Jesus explained that the Comforter would teach them all things and bring to their minds all that He had said to them (see John 14:16, 26).

What does the Holy Spirit want to do for you and me?

Listen to how one Bible commentator describes the Holy Spirit’s ministry to us…

“He longs to empower us with His dynamic presence, change our attitudes, warm our hearts, show us how and where to walk, comfort us in our struggles and our sorrows, strengthen us in the weak places in our lives, and literally transform our journey from this planet to paradise.”

The Holy Spirit came, not to be studied but to be experienced. Every Christian can experience the presence and power of God’s Spirit in his or her life. I’m sad to say that, in the past five decades, fringe groups have monopolized much of Christian television, leading millions to misunderstand the Holy Spirit.

Who is the Holy Spirit of God?

The Holy Spirit is the third member of the Trinity, which consists of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is God living inside of us. We need to remember that the most powerful force in the world is something we cannot even see. His work is so powerful that we are eternally secured by Him until Christ returns; at that moment the Spirit of God turns our destiny into reality. And until that time He works within us and moves among us in such a powerful way that He literally transforms who we are. Because of God’s Spirit in us, we are becoming someone different: someone godly, someone godlike, and someone who is Christ-like.

In John 3, Jesus described the Person of the Holy Spirit like the wind – invisible, yet powerful. Never think that because something is invisible it is therefore weak or unimportant. You may be surprised to discover that the Bible talks a lot about air. The Old Testament calls it “ruach” (pronounced “roo-ock”). The New Testament calls it “pneuma” (pronounced “new-mah”). We get our English word “pneumatic” from it. We usually find the term translated “breath,” as in the Creation account in Genesis 2, where we read in verse 7 that “…God…breathed into [humankind’s] nostrils the breath of life….” The term also is translated “wind,” as in Acts 2:2, where we read about “…a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind….” It’s also often translated “spirit,” as in the “spirit of man” mentioned in Ecclesiastes 3:21 or the “Holy Spirit” in Luke 11:13.

What can the Holy Spirit of God do for me?

The Holy Spirit is described in the Bible as our Helper, our Advocate, our Comforter, Convicter, Restrainer, and Reprover. He is portrayed by symbols such as a dove at Jesus’ baptism, fire at Pentecost, wind, and even water. His power is called “living water” in John 7.

“In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given;…)” John 7:37–39

Jesus is explaining that from inside your heart will be a Person of enormous power, like a pool of water. This power will gush forth like a torrential river that causes rapids and waterfalls. Jesus is not picturing some passive force. The Spirit of God is a Person with energy and power. Like air, the Spirit may be invisible; but like the wind, He is not powerless.

How can we become empowered by the Holy Spirit of God? 

The key to becoming empowered by God’s Spirit is to surrender our will to God’s Will and God’s Word. You don’t have to be a biblical scholar, just a humble servant who loves God with all your heart and soul. By faith, you can believe and obey God’s Word. Like a sailboat that’s moved across the water by a gentle breeze, you and I can experience the Holy Spirit’s wonderful power to fill our lives and carry us along with God’s peace and strength to empower us.

“For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:  And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” Romans 8:15–17

The Year That Changed My Life

If someone were to ask, “What has been a life-changing experience for you?” what would you say? When I think of various experiences I’ve had in my life, one of the most life-changing for me was the opportunity to be a missionary teacher in Uganda, which was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream.

From August 2013 to December 2014, I lived and taught right in the heart of Africa in the beautiful country of Uganda, the “Pearl of Africa.” I taught in a Christian school for the local African children in the busy and growing suburbs of Kampala, the capital city. To summarize, here are three specific areas of my life that were greatly affected by my African adventure.

Friendships

One of the greatest blessings was developing lifelong friendships with the Ugandan people. My heart became knit with theirs. As a single American lady (and the only American teacher in the school), many times I needed assistance, and God always provided the right person to come alongside me, whether that was a companion for security, a car mechanic, a fellow teacher, or just a friend. I love the following quote by Miriam Adeney: “You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart always will be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.” I call Uganda my “African home” because it is, and it always will be. I still communicate with my friends and students, and since I left a few years ago, I’ve actually been able to go back and visit three times. What a joy it’s been to see my students grow and to continue investing in my friendships! To know that you have friends on the other side of the world loving and praying for you is a wonderful gift.

Faith

Living in a third-world country will automatically strengthen your faith, and there were several specific instances in which I needed to trust God more than I ever had before. I remember leaving my passport at immigration (to wait for them to approve my visa) and watching the secretary just put it haphazardly into the huge pile of other passports; I wondered if I would ever see it again. Driving on the “wrong” side of the road was an experience in itself, as was riding on a taxi-motorcycle weaving in and out of crazy, impossible-to-describe traffic. Being on constant alert because of thieves also was something I had to get used to, as well as living inside a compound with high walls and a locked gate.

My faith also grew as I saw God continually provide specific help for me. Countless stories of people just “showing up” when I really needed them will always humble me. One of the stories I love to tell was when Dr. Ian Clarke, an Irishman who was the mayor of Kampala and the founder of the International Hospital Kampala (IHK), just “happened” to be across the street from where I was involved in a car accident and had hit my head. He was able to attend to me right away and give me peace of mind while people swarmed around me. That, my friends, was just one of the stories I could tell you that helped grow my faith.

Focus

When we stop to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes and see how they live, it changes our perspective. Our world needs hope. Whether people live in America, Europe, Asia, or Africa, they are all seeking hope. Lasting, eternal hope can only be found in Jesus Christ. Yes, I was there to teach my students math, English, and other subjects, but my most important reason for living in Uganda was to teach my students about Jesus, because He came to earth to die for the people of the whole world, including them. I wanted them to truly know how much Jesus loves them, and that He has an exciting plan for their lives. Living in Uganda challenged me to stay focused on serving Christ and to show His love to those around me, because that’s truly what matters most. Living in Uganda changed my focus on how I view the world. It’s a big world out there, but at the same time it’s also small. I encourage you to consider visiting different countries and experience different cultures. Believe me, you will never be the same.

Can I Trust the Bible?

Do you already trust the Bible but want additional “evidence” to bolster your faith, or do you question whether or not the Bible is trustworthy and want to sincerely investigate the matter further? In either case, you’ll find help here.

Why do many intelligent and educated people trust the Bible? What have they discovered? In the depths of your soul, do you want to be a “truster”? Then launch yourself on this investigative journey:

Examine the manuscript evidence for the Bible

How did the Bible come into existence, and how was it passed down to us? How many manuscripts support the reading of the biblical text, are they reliable, and how much time elapsed between the writing of the original and the making of the earliest copies that we have today? Here is a comparison of the Bible and another ancient work.

The works of Plato date back to 400 BC. The earliest copies that still exist date back to 900 AD. That’s a span of 1,300 years, and 7 copies exist. The New Testament dates back to 75–100 AD. The earliest manuscripts that still exist date back to 125 AD. That span of time is only 35 years, and 24,000+ manuscripts exist. The Bible passes the bibliographical test—the manuscripts are reliable copies of the original, with little time-lapse between the original and copies, and attested by numerous extant (still in existence) copies.

Examine the archaeological evidence for the Bible

Far from being a foe, archaeology is a friend whose diggings defend the biblical record: The destruction of Tyre, the crumbling walls of Jericho, the existence of Pontius Pilate, the Hittite civilization, the Bible’s use of “politarchs” to denote the civil authorities of Thessalonica, and so on. The archaeologist’s spade has uncovered numerous sites that pertain to the Bible and innumerable facts that confirm Scripture’s accuracy. Noted archaeologist Dr. William Albright said, “There can be no doubt that archaeology has confirmed the substantial historicity of the Old Testament tradition.”

Examine the prophetical evidence in the Bible

Prophecy is often “history before it happens.” Because God is all-knowing, He knows the future, and occasionally He tells us the future before it materializes. This pre-telling often contains specific information as opposed to vague generalities. Examples include the destruction of Sidon and Tyre, the ascendancy of Cyrus to the Persian throne and subsequent actions toward the Jews. Numerous prophecies regarding Jesus Christ include His birthplace, genealogy, triumphal entrance into Jerusalem, betrayal by Judas, death, burial, resurrection, and much more. Prophecies often pre-date their fulfillment by hundreds of years or more.

Understand this: The Bible is trustworthy, yet not everyone will trust it. Trust depends not primarily upon the accuracy and authenticity of the biblical record, but upon the acumen (exceptional discernment) and appetites of the reader. A person recognizes the trustworthiness of Scripture when the Spirit of God convinces him or her that it is true.

1 Corinthians 2:14 says, “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

Seek truth and find God; that’s how it works!

Helping People Change

Do you like change? If you’re like most people, you probably don’t! Change can be disruptive to our schedules. It can be discouraging to our spirits or even destructive to our mental/emotional well-being! Let’s face it, some change can even seem, dare I say it, “diabolical!”   That’s how much we hate change!

But for some, change is good! It’s like what happened after a fire swept through a barn and burned it to the ground. The farmer surveyed the wreckage while his wife called the insurance company. She asked the company to send a check for $75,000 based on the amount of damage done to the structure according to her husband’s estimation.

“Oh, we don’t give you the money,” a company official said. “We replace the barn and all the contents and equipment in it so you recover with exactly what you had before.” She quickly replied, “If that’s the way your insurance works, you can cancel the policy I have on my husband.”

We chuckle at such stories but in reality, change is not always easy. We get set in our ways. We live in a comfort zone that we like and don’t want disrupted. Constancy brings us a sense of stability and security while change brings us a sense of uneasiness because we have to face the unknown. But if you really stop and think about it, change is good in many ways and we should learn to embrace it.

Imagine never learning anything new after age 8! Or consider going through life without the conveniences that modern technology has provided for us over the last decade or two: cell phones, tablet or laptop computers, GPS, microwaves, or the myriad of other electronic devices that make our lives more manageable. Changes in things like transportation, communication, and technology all have advanced the quality of our lives many times over. So change can be good!

Personally and spiritually speaking, God wants us to be changing and growing as well! He wants us to change in our mental, emotional, and spiritual character. We have all had or maybe still struggle with bad habits or stubborn addictions we want to break. Things like overeating, watching too much TV, or just having an inactive lifestyle can all be detrimental to our health if we let these things become the regular pattern of our lives. Perhaps it’s a bad temper, a sharp tongue, or depression that has taken control of your life and pushed others away. Even more serious is the use of dominating substances like illegal drugs, alcohol, or the overuse of medications to dull the emotional pain of the past. To change in these areas is not only helpful and necessary but potentially critical. So, change is good in many ways.

God is in the business of changing lives, and this compels us in our ministry to help people change for the better as well. He changes us by working on the inside where our thoughts, motives, will, and desires reside. If we respond properly to His promptings, we can first change our inner man, then the outer man can follow suit.

At Valley Forge Baptist we have a Biblical Counseling Center that serves the community with the specific purpose of helping people change and grow!

Our focus is to come alongside people struggling with a life event and lovingly instruct them in the Scriptures in order to evoke change on the inner man. We help them to change their thinking in order to ultimately change their behavior, which will, in turn, improve their feelings and help them find or return to a Christ-centered, joy-filled life. The order for true change is to start with one’s thinking, which will affect one’s behavior, which will then impact one’s feelings. In a nutshell, it’s helping people change and grow in their walk with Christ. The formal term for this pattern of change is called “progressive sanctification.”  Here is a purpose statement we follow for helping people when they come to our counseling ministry…

“To have one’s thinking patterns changed so drastically that we and our counselees automatically, unconsciously, and comfortably act like Jesus would act if He were in our shoes.”

Since what we think is who we are, it is vital that we have right thought patterns about life. This is the beginning stage of true change. The most basic of thought patterns focuses on the following questions:

• Why am I here?

• What is my purpose in life?

• What will bring me joy and meaning in life?

• What happens after this life is over?

• How do I have assurance of heaven?

Having proper answers to these questions can change your life for all eternity. Here’s how change works…

God’s Part

1. God convicts our hearts, telling us we are all sinners. We must accept the fact that we have all sinned and missed the mark of God’s righteous standard (Romans 3:23).

2. We must then recognize that our sin will keep us out of heaven, so we must have forgiveness for our sin in order to have right standing before God (Romans 6:23).

3. We must believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross to forgive us of our sin and then rose again to conquer sin and death. He paid our penalty for sin through His death, allowing us to go free (Romans 5:8, 2 Corinthians 5:21).

4. Next, we must receive Christ into our hearts by faith through praying and inviting Him to save us (John 1:12, Romans 10:9–10).

5. Once Christ (through the Holy Spirit) comes to live inside of us through our placing our trust in Him to save us, we now have the power of God living within us for victory over our old thought and behavior patterns (1 Corinthians 15:57).

Our Part

1. With Christ now living in you, though you will still be tempted to do wrong things (like mentioned above), you have the internal power to say no to temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13, Romans 6:11–14).

2. You must begin to practice the “put-off” “put-on” principle (Ephesians 4:22–24). After asking God for strength for victory, you determine to literally “throw off” the old desires of your sinful heart and “put on” the new desires of the Holy Spirit who now resides in your soul that please God.

3. We change by allowing the Holy Spirit to have more influence in our lives than our old sinful attitudes and desires.  This change happens in the heart first (Matthew 15:19) and then impacts our behavior, which then impacts our feelings.

4. So the three-step dynamic for change is this:

If we BELIEVE right – We will THINK right.

If we THINK right – We will DO right.

If we DO right – We will FEEL right.

True change happens when we allow the Lord to change us on the inside by having His Holy Spirit dwell within us. This happens by trusting in Him through faith. With His power now living in us, we can begin to change the way we think about our hurts, struggles, and challenges in life. As we learn to rely upon Christ to help us, our burdens don’t seem as difficult and our temptations are not as dominant. We are able to say “no” to sinful or lustful thoughts and desires because we know they will not please Christ who saved us and now lives in us.

By receiving Christ, into your life, the initial change is immediate! You instantly become a child of God. That’s a change in who you are. But the change in what you do is a process that takes place over time and is not immediate. It happens as you learn to apply biblical principles to your life. The more you learn about Jesus Christ, your faith in Him, and the Bible, which is man’s instruction book from God for life, the more you will find yourself changing from the inside out. A key Bible verse to consider is:

2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

What Keeps Us From Changing and Growing?

• Sinful habits

• Self-righteous attitude (“I’m OK” or “that won’t happen to me”)

• Stuck in the past

• Scared of the future and the unknown

• Small faith

• Set in our ways (same old same old; hard to make new patterns of living)

• Slow to respond to God’s conviction in our lives

• Sluggards (lazy)

• Surrounding ourselves with ungodly people and influences

• Sadness over our circumstances (can lead to self-pity and depression)

• Sinful actions of others done against us (creates bitterness and unforgiveness)

Consider all these factors. If you are dissatisfied with some area of your life and are looking for change, we want to be of help to you in guiding you through the change process. Please contact us at vfbcc.org or 866.828.9667. It would be our joy to assist you!

How Does the Bible Bring Comfort?

Some use the following acronym for the word BIBLE (Basic Information Before Leaving Earth) to describe its purpose. The Apostle Paul declared that the Old Testament Scriptures were written in the past to help provide present-day believers comfort and strength now. As Paul stated in Romans 15:4, “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.”

The Bible or Scripture teaches us the following truths: patience produces endurance, comfort produces strength, and the word “hope” in the Bible does not mean a “hope so”, but rather a “know so” or a confident assurance! The Bible is God’s Truth, and truth is what is true or the actual state of a matter. Truth is reality, a verified or indisputable fact, proposition, principle, or the state or character of being true.

Christianity is based on historical truth, which provides believers comfort or strength in the present time as well as in what lies ahead for them in the future.

Comfort is defined as to “soothe, console, or reassure; bring cheer to; to aid; support or encourage”. The Bible provides us comfort in what we face in everyday life and in how we can face eternity too!

The greatest comfort in the world is knowing where one will spend eternity and the most wonderful Comforter in the universe is God himself .

The two best-known scriptural passages in our culture that give tremendous comfort, help, and encouragement are Psalm 23 and John 3:16.

King David of Israel wrote Psalm 23, which has been bringing comfort and encouragement to people for 3,000 years! King David spoke of the LORD himself as being his very own personal Shepherd and David is like a sheep that belongs to God! God is One that presides over him by loving, watching, and caring for him. David in Psalm 23 claims that the Lord is his personal shepherd, his present shepherd, his providing shepherd, his protecting shepherd, and his perpetual shepherd!

When he states, “The LORD is my shepherd”, the word “my” demonstrates the LORD is David’s Personal shepherd. The word “is” signifies the LORD is the present shepherd who is with him at all times and is continually shepherding/presiding over him. David indicates in verses 1b–3 that the LORD is his providing shepherd by meeting both his physical and spiritual needs! “I shall not want (his needs will be met), 2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters (physical needs). 3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake (spiritual needs).”

And in verses 4 and 5 David states how the LORD is his protecting shepherd which indicates that he does not have to fear whatever he is facing, not even death, because the LORD as his shepherd, is always with him no matter what!

4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

And in Verse 6 David reinforces that the LORD is his Perpetual shepherd as He has been in the past, He is in the present, and He will continue to be his shepherd forever ! 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

Jesus himself said that He is the Good Shepherd that gives his life for His sheep, and Jesus himself spoke the best-known verse in the Bible, John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

People receive comfort and strength by first knowing and then personally receiving Jesus Christ, God’s Son, as the means by which they can be right with God in the present and for eternity! This is accomplished by childlike faith, as given in Romans 10:13 (which is a quote of the Old Testament prophet; see Joel 2:32), “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

The Bible clearly states anyone can receive the greatest comfort in the universe by putting their trust in God’s Son, Jesus Christ, by believing that He died for their sins and rose again from the dead (Romans 10:9–13). This then provides one with a personal relationship with the Lord himself, which results in the believer having the same promises that King David had in the LORD being his very own shepherd!

What is hindering or stopping you from trusting in and asking the Lord to be your personal Lord and Savior? Do so right now, and He will be yours and you will be His for now and for eternity!

Why We Know the Bible Is True

Many in our society falsely assume that the Bible is a religious book filled with superstitious stories about God working in people’s lives. The Bible is also mocked by atheists who claim to be more knowledgeable than the God who gave them life. For decades, scholars made the front page of newspapers and magazines with their accusations of “errors”; all the while the archaeologists continued to uncover thousands of items confirming the accuracy of the Bible.  A simple online search of the key words “Biblical Archaeology” or “Biblical Artifacts” will confirm this premise.

As a Christian I BELIEVE the Bible is true, but as a serious student of Bible prophecy, history, and archaeology I KNOW the Bible is true.

Fulfilled Bible prophecy is God’s proof to a skeptical world. In the Bible, God calls us to believe by faith, but He does not call us to believe in a “blind faith.”

Fulfilled Bible Prophecy—God’s Proof to a Skeptical World

Hundreds of books have been written to document the fulfillment of ancient prophecies regarding people, places, events, and nations (Search “reasons.org/Bible Prophecy”). It is a faith-building experience to read about Daniel’s prophecies of nations, Daniel 9:24-27; David’s prophecy of crucifixion before it was invented, Psalm 22:16; and the prophecy of a king named Josiah who would dig up and burn the bones of false prophets on the altar of King Jeroboam, 1 Kings 13:2, 2 Kings 23:15-18; and over 300 prophecies fulfilled by Christ (Search “Godandscience.org/Prophecies of Jesus”).

As amazing as it is to look back in history and see the accuracy of the Bible, it is even more astounding to look at events in our lifetime that confirm the Bible is true. When talking to skeptics – family, friends, or co-workers – what do you say to them? Ask them to consider the single greatest proof that the Bible is true: The greatest fulfillment of prophecy in our lifetime is the rebirth of the nation of Israel. Jesus predicted the destruction of Jerusalem which was fulfilled in 70 AD and documented in the Arch of Titus – just a few blocks from the Roman Colosseum. The Bible predicted that the Jewish people would be scattered around the world, Deuteronomy 28:64, “And the Lord shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other.” But it also predicts that Israel will be regathered and the Jews will return to their homeland, Israel. Ezekiel 38:8, “After many days thou shalt be visited: in the latter years thou shalt come into the land that is brought back from the sword, and is gathered out of many people….”

The Greatest Fulfillment of Prophecy in our Lifetime—Israel!

There are over 1,500 prophecies about the second coming of Jesus in the Bible. But one thing is clear – the Jewish people MUST return to the land before the coming of Christ. Old Testament prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel both predicted the return of the Jewish people to their land after being scattered around the world – Ezekiel 36:24, 37:12, 14; Jeremiah 30:11, 31:10.

In one generation the Jewish people went from having no homeland to being a recognized nation.  In 1948, when Israel took its place among the nations of the world again for the first time in nearly 2,000 years, students of prophecy recognized the fulfillment of the primary sign that the end of the age was upon us. Many Bible scholars view the rebirth of Israel as the budding of the fig tree, Matthew 24:32-33. Others see the retaking of Jerusalem in 1967 as the fulfillment of this event. Learn more by searching TheCaringChurch.com/Sunday-Evening (see “Be Prepared” Series).

Most music lovers are familiar with the “old spiritual” called Dry Bones. This song sets to music the prediction from Ezekiel 37 picturing the rebirth of the nation of Israel as a valley of dry bones that becomes a mighty army. The fulfillment of this prediction is found in the Jewish people returning to their land in our lifetime.

We live in exciting days! We are witnesses to the fulfillment of prophecies made more than 2,000 years ago. We can understand that the current crisis in the Middle East absolutely fits a biblical scenario of the last days. A leader will rise out of the European Union to broker a peace treaty between the Jews and the Arabs “in the last days” (Daniel 9:27). This “world peace” does not last very long. Jesus predicted a 3½-year period of “great tribulation” on the earth (Matthew 24:21) before His return to the earth to set up His one thousand-year reign upon the earth, Revelation 20:4.

Yes, I know the Bible is true. The proof is found in history, prophecy, archaeology, and even in science.  But the most important truth found in the Bible is the subject of your eternal destiny. Everyone has a living soul that will live somewhere forever!  God gave us an accurate record of His dealings with people for one major purpose – to love us to himself.

If you have never made a personal commitment to become a true and genuine follower of Jesus Christ, consider His offer of love and forgiveness today. Please take five minutes and watch “The Truth about Eternity” (TheCaringChurch.com/the-truth).

It’s a Mom’s Life

Dirty diapers, muddy shoes, mountains of laundry, filling the role of taxi driver, short-order cook, a nurse when needed…sound familiar? Yep, it’s a mom’s life and I can tell you that there are days when I feel overwhelmed by it. I will never forget the day when I had become so frustrated with my children asking me for yet one more thing that I had reached my limit. I turned to them and said emphatically, “I am NOT your servant!” Three little pairs of blue eyes just looked at me and I was instantly ashamed and had to walk away. I was reminded that actually, yes, I am like a servant (not a doormat, mind you) and I am to choose to serve them in love. How to do that? Well, here are a few mind-sets that I remind myself daily to maintain that have helped me greatly in this area:

1. Choose Joy
I have a personal choice each day when I wake up to choose to be grumpy or joyful; it’s a mind-set.

2. Choose Selflessness
This one is harder because we all have a sinful, selfish nature. There is no good in us (Romans 3:10) but God in His love (Romans 5:8) gave us a choice (John 3:16) to overcome our selfishness through Him.

3. Choose Growth
I can become a better person by committing to grow in many areas of my life. The most important growth stems from my quiet time each morning when I choose to read my Bible and spend time in prayer. My perspective changes and it is there at that time I see my life as God sees it: I am worthy, I am loved, and I have the most wonderful job in the entire world…to nurture and raise my children to love God and others.

4. Choose Encouragement
I have the biggest platform to be a cheerleader for my children! I can choose to build them up or tear them down. I must choose to look for the good more than I do the bad.

So, about those burdens I was talking about at the beginning? Hmmm…they don’t seem so bad after all when you look at the four choices we all need to face each day. Changing those dirty diapers can turn into a fun time of giggling and sweet kisses. Cleaning off the muddy shoes can turn into an opportunity to spend time teaching our children how to help mommy clean. Washing the never-ending mountain of laundry can turn into a time of thanking God that our children are alive and healthy. Serving as a taxi driver can turn into a very special time of conversation between mom and child. Being a short-order cook can turn into a time of teaching our children to set and clear the table, and it can result in the joy of knowing that you are giving them the most valuable time together as a family. The nurse, well, those occasions certainly can turn into moments for giving a comforting hug and kiss and having a chance to always say, “I love you!” After all, it’s a mom’s life and it’s wonderful!

A Remarkable Discovery

One of the greatest archaeological discoveries of modern times happened by accident in 1947 when a Bedouin boy threw a stone into a cave’s mouth high on the rock face of a Judean mountain facing the Dead Sea. Startled by the sound of breaking pottery, the boy summoned his tribe to investigate, and the sound of that breakage has reverberated throughout the world.

The Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS) are a collection 900+ ancient Jewish manuscripts, one-fourth of which are copies of the Hebrew Scriptures’ Old Testament.

Before discovery of the DSS, the earliest known manuscripts of the Old Testament dated back to the 9th century A.D. The DSS date to the 2nd century B.C., and thus moved the date of manuscript evidence back nearly 1,200 years! The DSS demonstrate that the Bible’s text is accurately transmitted, which is the distinguished value of this remarkable find. With what the DSS reveal, the charge that the Bible has been changed many times over the years dried up and blew away with a dusty breeze.