Conquer Your Fears

Today, many frightening events are happening in our world that can tempt us to feel overwhelmed with fear and worry. Amid this environment, we find that in the entertainment industry apocalyptic stories are incredibly popular. Millions of dollars are made on books and movies with “end of the world” themes – everything from alien invasions to natural catastrophes such as asteroids on a collision course with our planet and earthquakes that bring devastating destruction.

When the Mayan calendar ran out on December 21, 2012, 10 percent of the population believed that something dire was going to happen to the earth. But nothing happened. Lots of people were filled with fear and worry over nothing! Our 24/7 access to technology fuels this fascination with impending disaster. Life hasn’t always been this way, however. Mankind has never had instant access to world events the way we do today.

A hundred years ago, if a disaster happened in Africa or China, for example, weeks would pass before news of the event appeared in newspapers in other parts of the world. In the period from about 250 years ago back to the beginning of time, people rarely heard about disasters and wars outside their local areas. But all of us, including our impressionable children, can see all sorts of tragedies happening in real time – such as the shooting of several police officers in Dallas, Texas – on our cell phones, TVs, or computers.

This instant access to the news gives a new understanding to what Jesus said would happen in the last days of the Tribulation:

“And there shall be signs in the sun,…moon, and…stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity;…Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for…those things which are coming on the earth…” Luke 21:25–26.

Fear and worry are now a part of our daily lives. But God does not want us to live in fear – even in these perilous times. The same God who gave each one of us life can also be trusted with the details of our lives.

Topics to worry about are big news – the possible collapse of the economy, Iran getting nuclear weapons, or North Korea building a rocket that actually works and launching a nuclear missile at the United States. If we search online to find what are considered the 10 worst natural disasters in history, information appears about floods that killed millions in China as well as the Black Death of Europe in the 1300s that killed 1 million to 200 million people.

Historians may disagree on which events belong in the top 10 list, but Christians agree that the biggest natural disaster that ever occurred was the worldwide flood in Noah’s day. What is the evidence of a worldwide flood? Flood-caused fossils that have been discovered on the tops of mountains all over the world. Even Mount Everest has clam fossils at its summit. Read more about this at the following website:

www.icr.org/article/did-noahs-flood-cover-himalayan-mountains/

People groups throughout history have created written records describing events that happened during their time on earth; more than 200 worldwide flood legends have been found in ancient writings. In addition to fossils at high elevations, further physical evidence of the worldwide flood is the Grand Canyon, which was carved out by the flood’s spill waters! Evolutionists say that Grand Canyon was formed by the Colorado River, but they have a problem: the top of the Grand Canyon is more than 4,000 feet higher than where the Colorado River enters the canyon. That means the river would have had to flow uphill – for millions of years. And the evolutionists mock our faith as not being scientific! To learn more, see these online resources:

www.answersingenesis.org/geology/grand-canyon-facts/startling-evidence-for-noahs-flood/

www.creationtoday.org/grand-canyon-proof/

As Americans, we tend to worry about the wrong things. Back in 2012, some Christians came to me who were worried about the Mayan calendar ending in 2012. Why would anyone today be concerned about the Mayans? The Spanish conquered them 300 years ago. My advice is to stop worrying about the daily news!

Here’s an example of how the news media can direct people to worry about the wrong things. A few years ago, experts said that the number-one threat to the world was the bird flu. But the bird flu has not killed one person in America. In the past 10 years, less than 400 people worldwide have died from bird flu. But the regular flu – the boring kind – kills thousands.

Widespread fear and worry are not just 21st century problems. During His years of ministry on earth, the Lord Jesus Christ often taught on the subject of worry. As recorded in Matthew 6 and other passages in the New Testament, Jesus told us not to worry.

The creator of all human beings, the Lord Jesus Christ, said…

  • Don’t worry about food or clothing (Matthew 6:25)
  • Don’t worry about today’s news (Mark 13:7)

“And when ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars, be ye not troubled….”

Note: It is a very good idea, however, to curb young children’s exposure to the news.

  • Don’t worry about tomorrow (Matthew 6:34)
  • Don’t worry about persecution (Matthew 10:28) “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”
  • Don’t be worried about dying (John 14:1–3)

Jesus warned that “…the cares [the worries] of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things…” will choke the word of God out of our hearts (see Mark 4:19). Worry can strangle us and take the joy out of life.

What are we so worried about today? Fifteen years ago, a Gallup poll said that the number-one fear of Americans was snakes, followed by public speaking, heights, being closed in a small place, spiders, and getting medical shots. For many years, my top two fears were like those of Moses – snakes and speaking in public.

Chapman University is now conducting annual surveys of the top fears of Americans. See below for a look at how technology has changed our ranking of fears.

The Top 10 Fears of 2015

Fear Fear Domain Afraid or Very Afraid
Corruption of Government Officials Government 58.0%
Cyber-terrorism Technology 44.8%
Corporate Tracking of Personal Information Technology 44.6%
Terrorist Attacks Manmade Disasters 44.4%
Government Tracking of Personal Information Technology 41.4%
Bio-warfare Manmade Disasters 40.9%
Identity Theft Crime 39.6%
Economic Collapse Manmade Disasters 39.2%
Running of out Money in the Future Personal Future 37.4%
Credit Card Fraud Crime 36.9%

If we don’t follow the Bible’s teaching on how to deal with fear and worry, these strong emotions will strangle and choke out joy from our lives. In what other ways does worry affect us? When we worry,…

  • We have unfocused thoughts. (All we can think about is what we fear.)
  • We avoid others. (All we want to do is to be alone.)
  • We don’t get things done. (We can be consumed with fear.)
  • We turn to ungodly behavior. (Because we don’t know how to deal with fear in a healthy way, we turn to unhealthy ways of coping.)
  • We have more health problems. (Fear strains our bodies and nervous systems. We experience stomach trouble, muscle tension, and headaches.)
  • We gradually lose closeness with God because fear erodes our ability to have intimate fellowship with Him. (We may even blame God for causing our trials, and we may view Him as being mean to us or uncaring.)

Now that we are thoroughly convinced that this is a relevant topic for life and faith, let’s follow God’s plan for overcoming fear and worry. I’m confident that every Christian can believe and practice the principles found in the New Testament book of Philippians, chapter 4.

How to Have Victory over Fear and Worry

Let me condense Philippians 4 to one simple phrase:

Worry about nothing; pray about everything!

Say it out loud: Worry about nothing; pray about everything! Write it down, believe it, live it.

God says, “Don’t worry!” In the Bible, the phrase “be careful for nothing” means “don’t be anxious about anything.” But life is filled with worries – at work, home, and school. It’s just natural to worry. But we are not called to live natural lives. Instead, God calls us to live supernatural lives through His power.

What qualifies as a worry? It’s anything that drains our gas tank of joy – something we cannot change, something (or someone) that frightens and torments us, that keeps us awake when we should be asleep. We need to learn how to switch these items from our Worry List to our Prayer List. Through frequent practice, we can learn to give each worry – one by one – to God.

God’s Guidance from Philippians 4

We see in verse 4 of the chapter that we are to rejoice in God’s blessings. We are to worry about nothing, pray about everything, and rejoice!

Worry is wrong thinking, which brings wrong feelings. Can we have wrong feelings? Certainly! Dr. Charles Mayo wrote, “Worry affects the circulation, the heart, the whole nervous system. I have never known a man who died from overwork, but many who died of worry.”

When Paul says “Don’t worry, rather rejoice,” he is not advocating living irresponsibly, neglecting our duties, or accepting second best. His message is just the opposite: when we do our jobs and do our part with all of our hearts, we can trust God to do His part in our lives. We must accept the outcome as His will. We may have to do some reaping for some sowing we have done in the past. In fact, today we are reaping what we planted yesterday. But be encouraged! Today we can begin to plant what we will reap tomorrow.

We might feel like Rick Majerus, a basketball coach at the University of Utah who captured a common concern: “Everyone’s worried about the economy this year. Hey, my hairline is in recession, my waistline is in inflation, and my bank account is in depression.”

The Bible encourages us to rejoice, but how can we rejoice when we have so many things to fear?

We can rejoice when we…

  • Take God and His Word much more seriously and ourselves a lot less seriously. Don’t be offended so easily! When we fear God, we will have nothing else to fear. The Bible contains 365 “fear not”s – one for each day.
  • Trust God today and don’t fear tomorrow. We don’t need to fear tomorrow, because God is already there. Someone has pointed out, “It ain’t no use putting up your umbrella till it rains.” One fellow, trying to be an encouragement, said to his friend, “Life’s too short for worrying.” His friend answered, “Yes, that’s what worries me.” We have to make an effort to trust the Lord with the future. II Timothy 1:7 reminds us – “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
  • Thank God for His gifts. Gratitude is the foundation of joy.

What has God given us? Salvation, eternal life, health, family, church family, America, freedom, His love, joy, peace, and all the promises of God.

Above all, we need to focus on what God has given us, not on what He has not given us. Let’s be thankful for what we have. We also can be thankful for what we don’t have. Think about it. Many of us do not deal with diseases, disabilities, severe trials, etc. It’s true. There is someone who has it worse than we do.

We can learn from the example of others in history who have had it “worse.” Though Franklin D. Roosevelt was president of the United States during very difficult years, he never seemed to worry. He displayed an exuberance in both his public and private life. Once he was asked if he ever worried. He replied by referring to his battle with polio – a battle that had left him crippled. “If you had spent two years in bed trying to wiggle your toe, after that anything would seem easy.”

Here are some facts about the blessings we enjoy:

  • If we have food in the refrigerator, clothes on our backs, a roof overhead and a place to sleep, we are richer than 75% of this world.
  • If we have money in the bank and spare change at home, we are among the top 8% of the world’s wealthy.
  • If we woke up this morning with more health than illness, we are more blessed than the million or so people who will not survive this week.
  • If we have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pangs of starvation, we are ahead of 500 million people in the world today.
  • If we can attend church without fear of harassment, arrest, or death, we are more blessed than 3 billion people in the world.

To help counteract feelings of fear and worry, it’s important to take time to laugh. God has a sense of humor. Just go to the zoo and look at all the different kinds of animals He made. Better yet, go to the mall and sit on a bench and look at all the different kinds of people He made.

Laughter is a God-given emotion, and it has many benefits. In Proverbs 17:22 we read, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.”

It’s good for us to have fun with family and friends. We should enjoy good fun, clean fun! Share funny stories with each other! A spirit of cheer spreads rapidly. Choose joy; choose to “Rejoice!” Paul says, “Again I say rejoice!”

In verse 5 of Philippians chapter 4, we are encouraged to relax in God’s peace. We are to worry about nothing, pray about everything, and relax!

Verse 5 speaks of “moderation,” which means gentleness and being patient or easygoing. It refers to a sweet reasonableness and carries the idea of being relaxed. Learning to get along with others is one of the most important qualities that a boss is looking for in an employee. And God is looking for that quality in His children as well.

Worrying will make us sick or at least make us feel sick. The Harvard Business Review reported that 60% to 90% of medical office visits involve people who see the doctor because of stress-related symptoms.

We need to relax and lighten up. Studies show that 90% of what we get nervous and jumpy about never happens.

We are to rejoice, relax, and…
Rest! Verses 6–7 of Philippians chapter 4 advocate resting in God’s promises. We are to worry about nothing, pray about everything, and rest!

Why should we worry when we can pray?

Here are three words that describe different ways we are to communicate with God:

1) Prayer – a general word for prayer, worship, and praise.

2) Supplication – a term that means asking with a deep desire and fervency; we are beseeching God to hear us.

3) Requests – this is also asking, but doing so with specific details.

All of this – prayer, supplication, and requests – is to be done with a spirit of thanksgiving.

Our Heavenly Father enjoys hearing His children say “Thank you.” When Jesus healed 10 lepers, only one returned to thank Him. Only one was praised by our Lord for giving thanks. When we take the time to say, “God, I want to thank you for a new day, my family, my church, my job,” it helps us to get our minds off our problems and focus on God. We can be assured that this is better than yoga. Say “No” to yoga and “Yes” to prayer! Remember, when we worry, it’s because we believe more in our problems than in God’s promises.

In Philippians 4:7 we have a promise attached to prayer. The verse says that “…the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” What happens when we pray as described in verse 6? God’s peace is like a soldier that stands guard marching around our minds and emotions. As we transfer our troubles to God, He calms us with a perfect peace – a heavenly, divine peace. Words cannot describe how wonderful this is!

This is not something we do just once or twice a year. This is something we do dozens of times a day. We give our cares and concerns to God. I can’t tell you how many times I have become tense, uptight, and overwhelmed by things out of my control, and when I turn each situation over to God, He replaces the anxiety with a quietness of my spirit, a calming of my mind.

We are to rejoice, relax, rest, and…
Remember! Meditate on God’s Word. Philippians 4:8 lists the subjects that God wants us to think about. These items (things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, praiseworthy) cancel out about 90% of what’s broadcast on television – day and night. I’m not going to sit down and watch a movie called “Snakes on a Plane.” That’s not going to edify my soul and calm my spirit!

For years, my family and I have used a clearplay DVD player, and now we use vidangel.com. It cuts out the dirt from the programs we choose to watch!

Right thinking leads to right decisions and right living. Here are three actions to take to help keep right thoughts in our minds:

  1. Memorize the Bible verse of the month (see the church bulletin) or choose a favorite verse to work on learning.
  2. Look for one truth in God’s Word every day.
  3. Share that one truth with someone else – a family member or friend (via a short email – not a sermon – a thought for the day).

We are to rejoice, relax, rest, remember, and…
Respond! Simply obey God’s commands (see Philippians 4:9). Why are many saints enamored with the academic and intellectual side of Christianity and Bible study? They substitute knowledge and learning for obedience. The apostle Paul says to the young pastor Timothy in the New Testament, “Do it. You know what I taught you, now do it!” Too many saints (every saved person is a saint, according to the Bible) are educated way beyond their level of obedience.

Christians were asked, “What is your greatest hindrance to witnessing?”

9% said they were too busy.

28% said they didn’t know what to say.

12% said they were not right with God.

51% said they feared how the other person would react!

Now let’s think this through logically. If I share my faith and I plant a seed that leads a person to Christ, I get a reward in heaven, right? It’s called “The Crown of Rejoicing” (see I Thessalonians 2:19).

But if I share my faith and I get a negative reaction, what do I get? Good question. Look at what Jesus said in Matthew 5: 11–12: “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven….”

What do I get for sharing my faith with others? I get to rejoice now and I receive a reward later.

Sharing our faith is the ultimate Win/Win scenario! Whether the reaction is positive or negative, God says, “I will reward you in heaven!”

I’ve noticed that the folks who believe Satan’s lies are extremely vocal. It’s time for us who believe the truth to begin speaking up as well!

Here is a summary of the apostle Paul’s plan for believers to overcome fear and worry, as described in Philippians chapter 4.

We are to:

  • Worry about nothing and pray about everything. How?
  • Rejoice in God’s Blessings, verse 4
  • Relax in God’s Peace, verse 5
  • Rest in God’s Promises, verses 6–7
  • Remember to Meditate on God’s Word, verse 8
  • Respond with Obedience to God’s Commands, verse 9

When we do, God takes over and gives perfect peace. It’s called the peace of God.

If you are not yet a Christian, you can experience peace with God when you trust Jesus Christ as your Savior. And the peace of God comes as you continue to trust Christ (without fear) moment by moment throughout your life.

 

Scott Wendal
Senior Pastor | Valley Forge Baptist

Help for Parents

Help for Parents

Parenting Classes – Every Wednesday 7;15pm

Technology is a two-edged sword for parents.  Smart phones and tablets bring the information of the world to the finger tips of our children.  But we are all very aware of the dark side of the internet.  WebMD lists the top Four Dangers of the Internet for children and teens:  1)  Cyber-Bullying,  2) Sexual Predators, 3)  Pornography, and 4)  Damaged Reputations.

If there was ever a generation of parents looking for guidance in this very complicated and complex society this is the one.  NYMetroparents.com lists the top current parenting philosophies.  These trends reveal how confused and bewildered so many parents are in this “new day” of parenting.  As you review the list, see which one is most closely associated with your parenting style:

  • Authoritarian Parenting – “Because I Said so!”
  • Authoritative Parenting – “Because I Love you!”
  • Attachment Parenting – “Because I Need you!”
  • Free-range Parenting – “Because I Trust you!”
  • Helicopter Parenting – “Because I Don’t Trust you!”
  • Permissive Parenting – “Because I Believe in you!’”

God has provided the best parenting book ever written – the Bible.  From the Word of God we learn “common-sense parenting” principles that are ageless.  God created the family and the Heavenly Father Knows Best the roles and responsibilities of each family member.  Of the most common parenting philosophies trending today, the “authoritative” style is the one most closely associated with what we find in the Scriptures.  Sadly, too many parents desire to be their child’s best friend during a time they simply need a loving dad and mom not a BFF.

There are basically four different stages of parenting depending on the age and maturity of the child.  1)  Disciplinarian Stage, 2)  Trainer Stage, 3)  Coaching Stage, and 4)  Friendship Stage.  These different stages build upon one another.  If you skip the first or second stage, then you are creating problems for the third and fourth stages.  Add to that the challenge that God has created our children with their very own unique personality.  What delights and motivates one child may have no impact on their brother or sister.  For the Christian, we discover that God “gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6).  When a mom and dad look to the Lord for marriage and parenting help, God will give it.  Yet, His help is contingent upon our belief and obedience to what He has given us in His Word.

Come join us for our “Help for Parents” classes every Wednesday night at 7:15pm for one hour – meeting in the Chapel.

 

 

Beyond Repair

I grew up in a home where both of my parents professed their belief that Jesus Christ is their personal savior. From the time I was a young child, I attended an Episcopal church with my parents every Sunday. I was always told that I was a “good kid.” I didn’t get into the kind of trouble that others around me did. I continued attending church each week through my teenage years and up until the time of college. I looked the part of a Christian and talked the part of a Christian. I believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, but I would spend little time during the week outside of church thinking about God.

When I wasn’t around people in my church, I would have a more worldly approach to how I interacted with people. My friends at high school probably didn’t really know I was a Christian. I would go to parties where there was alcohol, I used foul language on a daily basis, and I started hanging out in places that weren’t the best. I had become very adept at changing my outward appearance to suit the particular situation.

While attending the University of Pittsburgh, I met my future wife, Jill. She and I continued dating throughout college until we graduated. At school I was partying, drinking, and participating in a lot of worldly endeavors. The partying continued even as I moved back to the Philadelphia area and began my career.

Jill and I had become very serious throughout the years and had plans of getting married after we graduated. Finally, three years after graduation from college, we were married. We had lived a very worldly life. Our thoughts were filled with trying to gain material wealth in order to provide a good living for a family that we planned on having in the future. However, we were hanging out with the wrong crowd, going to clubs on the weekend and drinking more heavily. We even had times where we would go out separately for a guys’ or girls’ night out. This was a recipe for disaster in our marriage.

At this point we had our first child, Devon. Jill and I were going through a very tough time in our marriage due to wrong choices we had made. I realized that I had strayed far from the Lord and found that past sins were now coming back to haunt me with a vengeance. The trust that we had in our marriage was almost broken beyond repair. We were separated for a short time and headed for divorce. The funny thing is that before everything came to a head, Jill and I knew that something was very wrong in our marriage. We both felt the need to begin looking for and attending a church on a regular basis.

God was leading us during these tough times. The Lord finally led us to Valley Forge Baptist. It was during a sermon that Pastor Wendal was preaching when he presented salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ that I raised my hand at the invitation. I knew I didn’t want to continue down the road I was on, and I remember feeling so broken and unworthy, almost to the point of despair. Pastor Wendal spoke of knowing where a person would spend eternity and that by trusting in Jesus Christ and asking Him to be your personal savior, you could go to heaven. I knew the path I was on before I accepted Christ that day was surely leading to eternal separation from God.

But as always, God had a plan. Jill accepted Christ shortly after I did. We then began counseling at the church with Pastor Eifert. He took the time to show us, from the Bible, how a marriage truly is supposed to function, how a man and wife and children are to function with God as the center and focus of their lives. Looking back on our lives thus far, I believe that even with all of the sins we committed, God never turned His back on us and led us to want to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. You see, only God can make so much of the good things of life from all of the pain I created from my sins.

I cannot begin to express how much of a difference Jesus has made in our lives. There was a point where we weren’t even sure if our marriage would make it another month. Now we have, with God’s help, put our marriage back together…stronger than it was before. Is it perfect? I will be the first to tell you, “No it is not.” However, we have seen God do amazing things in not only our lives but the lives of our children. Yes, after all of that pain God has even blessed us with another child, Rylan. How remarkable is God that He put back together something we thought was completely broken beyond repair. To God be the glory!

 

By Ryan Fitzpatrick
Church Member | Valley Forge Baptist

The ShareJOY Run

Do you desire to help make a life-changing difference in other people’s lives? Many do, and most recognize that in helping others they too are blessed. In fact, Jesus said in Acts 20:35: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

The ShareJOY Run is just such an opportunity to help others and be personally encouraged. It’s a 5K run and 1-mile walk campaign that helps to raise financial support for others in need, both globally and locally. Specifically, the donations help to build freshwater wells in third-world countries and financially support fire stations in our local community. The ShareJOY Team recognizes that Together Everyone Achieves More. One person certainly can make a difference, but thousands of people working together to promote the same cause can change whole villages and communities.

Globally, this year we have teamed up with missionaries in Cambodia and Burma who live and serve in these countries and who will oversee the water well installation projects. Locally, we will financially contribute to help fire stations in Upper Providence Township, Pa.

Will you join us on the Saturday after Thanksgiving and Share the JOY? By running in the 5K or walking the 1-mile course, you’ll be helping others by providing life-giving water!

Not a runner, or not in town that weekend? No worries. You can give anytime at www.thesharejoyrun.org. Give once, give often. One drop of water doesn’t make much of an impact, but thousands of droplets can save a life, and tens of thousands can transform villages. Donate today!

With your financial support, a new well will bring fresh water and new life to a needy village and its inhabitants, as well as financial support to fire stations in our community.

For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward. —Jesus, as recorded in Mark 9:41

But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. —Jesus, as recorded in John 4:14

Date and Location

The ShareJOY Run – Saturday after Thanksgiving – November 26, 2016, at Lower Perkiomen Park, Oaks, Pa.

Water = Life

Being a Godly Leader

Do you have a clear understanding of leadership?  Do you believe you are a leader?  How would you describe the term leadership?

John Maxwell, a prominent leadership author and speaker says, “leadership is influence.”  Some studies estimate that even introverts influence 10,000 people over the course of their lives. Our influence can be accidental or purposeful. We may never know the influence we are having on people so we should attempt to make it the most positive influence we can.  That’s why God put you on this earth; to be a positive for Him to all you meet.

The famous president of Tennessee Temple University, Dr. Lee Roberson, once said, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.”  If this is true, it begs the obvious question: “What kind of leader are you?”  Do you elevate people to higher places by your leadership influence or do you bring people down so that they underachieve in their God-given talents and abilities?

Below are five characteristics of a Godly leader that we can learn from the life of Joseph from Genesis 39 in the Old Testament.  It’s not an exhaustive list but a powerful one to help each of us today be a more effective leader in our world that is crying for strong godly leadership.

God is the Controlling Influence of a Godly Leader’s Life (Genesis 39:1-2)

Joseph was just a Hebrew slave to Potiphar at first (39:1).  Do you think Joseph saw himself as a leader at this point in his life?  How much influence could a 17-year-old Hebrew boy have in a foreign land with a powerful political figure in Egyptian society? Potiphar would have just seen Joseph as a simple slave like any other slave. Joseph was a strong, healthy young man who had a long life in front of him and was a wise investment for Potiphar, nothing more than that.  Joseph would be someone he could make a lot of money from if he lived long as a slave.  How could Potiphar ever have his mind changed about a simple Hebrew slave boy?  He was a piece of equipment to operate his business.  Enter God.

The first half of Genesis 39:2 says that God was with Joseph.  That’s the deal breaker in Joseph’s life and in any of our lives as well.  God would take a lowly Hebrew slave, good only for menial, labor intensive tasks and make him one of the greatest leaders in the Jewish faith and even the history of the world.  What made the difference for Joseph?  “And the Lord was with Joseph and he was a prosperous man.” (vs.2). Do you sense that same powerful presence in your life?  Do really know that God is with you?

When God removed the house of Eli from the priesthood, he did it by allowing the Philistines to capture the Ark of the Covenant.  Eli fell back on his neck and died when he heard the news of the Ark. His son, Phineas, died in that battle. Upon hearing that news, Phineas’ wife also died in childbirth, but in her last breath named her son Ichabod.  Ichabod means “the glory is departed.”  God and his glory departed from Israel and as a result they were continually beaten down by the Philistines.

Consider Romans 8:31b, “If God be for us, who can be against us?” He said the same thing to Isaac, Jacob, Joshua, Moses, Gideon, Isaiah, Ezra (7:28), and to New Testament believers in general (Heb. 13:5) and guess what?  God used these men greatly in their lives.  God must be the controlling influence of any Christian leader!

A Godly Leader Displays God to Others (Gen.39:3)

Genesis 39:3 tells us that Potiphar knew the Lord was with Joseph.  How could this be?  Potiphar didn’t know the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob!  How could he know God was with Joseph? It must have been how Joseph conducted himself while under Potiphar’s dominion. Potiphar perceived by the ingenuity of Joseph’s mind, by his ready and speedy learning of the Egyptian language, by his business savvy and administrative capabilities, and by the prudence and faithfulness with which he did everything, that he was highly favored by the divine Being Joseph must have spoken of. He made great achievements in a relatively short period of time, and was an extraordinary person for his age. Potiphar took knowledge that Joseph had a special relationship with his God.  It reminds me of what the rulers and elders of Israel said about Peter and John after Jesus’ resurrection in Acts 4:13.

“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:13)

Joseph was a living witness by his work ethic.  Joseph must have been a verbal witness by letting Potiphar know that he was a servant of Jehovah God.  Joseph must have identified Who he ultimately served.  When Potiphar saw the blessings on Joseph’s life and his own business prosper as a result, he couldn’t deny that Joseph was an extraordinary young man, like no one else he had ever met.  How did Potiphar respond to Joseph’s stellar character even though he was a slave?  Genesis 39:4 tells us, “And Joseph found grace in his [Potiphar’s] sight.”

Proverbs 16:7 says, “When a man’s ways please the Lord, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.” A godly leader unashamedly displays God to those around him!  Could you recall a time when standing for God brought favor to your life and career?

A Godly Leader is Honest and Trustworthy (Gen. 39:4-6)

Joseph was willing to serve (vs.4).  When someone has a servant’s heart, they are not usually a threat to the leaders above them.  Why?  They want to please their master.  They are secure in themselves so nothing is too menial or below them. The master never has to worry about what that servant will do.  He is loyal and faithful.

  • He did what he was supposed to do.

“Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it.” (Proverbs 3:27)

John Wesley once wrote…

Do all the good you can,

By all the means you can,

In all the ways you can,

In all the places you can,

At all the times you can,

To all the people you can,

As long as ever you can.

This was Joseph’s heart!

  • He didn’t take advantage of his master.

“And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.”  (Colossians 3:23-24)

  • He never gave his master a reason to doubt.

Joseph won the confidence of his master because he gained credibility (vs.4,6) Credibility is the quality of being trusted and believed in.  How did Joseph gain credibility with his master?

  1. He displayed a close relationship with God. (vs.3)
  2. His boss, Potiphar, saw the prosperity in Joseph’s life. (vs.3)
  3. He was a trustworthy servant. (vs.4)

Potiphar left everything in Joseph’s hand (vs.4,6,8).  This is emphasized three times in the first ten verses of the chapter. Potiphar could trust his servant because Joseph’s God was in him and directing him.  Shouldn’t this be said of all of us who know Christ?

  1. Joseph was promoted as a result. (vs.3,5)

He was both cheerful and obedient and this set him apart from everyone else in the house.  Guess what happened as a result? Potiphar made Joseph overseer of his house and over all Potiphar had.  God even blessed a pagan man because a man of God was present in that home.  This goes back to the promise to Abraham, “I will bless them that bless thee…”  America is blessed because we have been a strong ally of Israel. We are the beneficiaries of the Abrahamic covenant!

A Godly Leader Has Moral Convictions (Gen. 39:7-9)

Talk about being a desirable man!  Verse six in the Hebrew would read like this, “Joseph was a beautiful person and extremely good looking.”  In English, “he was a hunk.” Potiphar’s wife came on to this fine specimen of a man. But Joseph didn’t fall.  He was prepared for victory.

He refused an immoral opportunity (vs.8).  It would have been so easy for Joseph to do this with Potiphar’s wife since she had come on to him so aggressively! But he refused.  That’s the character of a leader! He rehearsed his loyalty towards his master (8,9).  He resisted temptation (vs.9).  He remembered to give God the glory (vs.9).  He said, “How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” He knew God was right there in the room with him.  He knew God would not approve of playful misconduct with his master’s wife.  He knew that what she was requesting of him was great wickedness and sin against God.

Godly leaders don’t live in the moment nor do they live for self-gratification.  They carefully consider the consequences of their actions before going forward with a decision on that matter.  They live by their convictions.  Our convictions come from our hearts.  God must be the primary influencer of our hearts in order to make godly moral decisions.  The beautiful temptress was no match for the godly leader’s moral character and conviction!  May we all have that type of commitment to God!

A Godly Leader Doesn’t Cave Under Pressure (39:10)

There is a strong contrast between Joseph and Lot (Abraham’s nephew and Joseph’s distant cousin). This contrast is found in 2 Peter 2:7-8, “And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;)”

Joseph faced the daily propositions of Mrs. Potiphar who clearly wanted to seduce Joseph.  Joseph had to continually fend off this serious and persistent seduction until it escalated into a physical accosting while alone in the house.  Joseph wisely responded with the only safe thing to do…he fled and got out!  This loyal, faithful, disciplined, and godly leader didn’t fall into the devil’s trap.  He escaped!  Even though he would be framed and cast into prison, God would use this second imprisonment to get Joseph in front of Pharaoh to display his wisdom and character and ultimately elevate him to second in charge of all of Egypt.  Only God could do this!

Sadly, Joseph had to suffer in prison due to false accusations (39:19-20).  Joseph had similar lies and mistreatment at the hands of his brothers who had sold him into slavery.  He was lied about here and imprisoned a second time.  He was forgotten later by the butler and baker and left in prison for another year or two!  That’s three times he was mistreated by those over him.  But God used this to elevate Joseph because he maintained his integrity and godly leadership through it all!

Based on the character qualities Joseph displayed in Genesis 39, would you say you are a godly leader?  Strive to emulate the life, actions, and attitudes of Joseph.  You will make a difference in the lives of those around you.

Discipleship 101


I’ll call him George. I had never met him before that day. He walked through our church doors one late Sunday afternoon to “catch the evening show” as he called it. George managed a printing press crew that worked through Saturday nights and therefore he slept on Sunday mornings. That Sunday we met and started a friendship that would last the rest of his short life.

Our church was just inaugurating a discipleship ministry, and George was the first participant. We were challenged by the Scriptures to make disciples of Christ. Disciple means more than pupil or learner; it is an adherent. A disciple is one who accepts the instruction given to him and makes it his rule of conduct. Our effort was not only to be followers of Christ but also to make followers.

What is Discipleship?

Discipleship is a distinctively Christian term. Culturally, we may call it mentoring or coaching (as in having a life-coach). The goal of our discipleship program is to help people learn God’s way of living as recorded in the Holy Scriptures. The Scriptures, also called the Bible, is the manual for living that the Creator gave us. It teaches us how life is best lived.

A few years ago, I purchased a new and improved lawn mower, and it was delivered to my house with a comprehensive booklet titled Operator’s Manual. I read the manual and found instructions for running the machine, a preventative maintenance schedule, a parts list, and even a troubleshooting guide. After all, machines have mechanical problems. I could have run the mower without reading the manual because I know how lawn mowers basically work. However, following the manual will generally result in fewer mechanical problems and a longer lifespan of the equipment.

The same is true for life. Following God’s Operator’s Manual, the Bible, has tremendous benefits. God does not seek to minimize our happiness, but much the opposite, He desires to maximize our joy of living.

Christian Mentoring from A to Z

Our discipleship program is called Christian Mentoring from A to Z. It covers 26 key teachings in the Scripture—26 core lessons that can make life better. Those who participate are assigned a personal coach—man to man and woman to woman. The instructors are caring individuals who are simply further down the road in their spiritual journey.

George and I started the mentoring relationship unaware of what was soon to occur in his life. His progress in understanding the Bible was remarkable—not by baby steps but in quantum leaps. Life improved on all fronts—relationships with his wife, children, and co-workers, victory over addictive behaviors, etc. Yet decades of smoking had taken its toll on George’s health and eventually took his life. He didn’t blame God for cancer; he acknowledged his error of ignoring too many warnings by family, friends, and doctors.

God’s Instruction Manual for Life

Life contains many twists and turns, sometimes within our control but often beyond it. In each case, God’s Word provides instructions and/or answers. A discipleship relationship with a trusted confidant is a tremendous asset.

Jesus Christ chose 12 disciples to pour His life into. After He was ascended to heaven and the disciples were on trial for their faith, the verdict was reached, “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John…they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus” (Act 4:13). The disciples had learned from their Mentor.

If you desire to know more about our discipleship program, please contact the church office. We are ready to help.

Is Your Faith Real?

Has there ever been a time that you doubted your salvation? Have you ever wondered: “Did I say the right words… Did I pray the right prayer… Was I sincere enough?”

I asked the Lord to come into my heart at the age of 15 in the fall of 1975. My parents and my brother and I had been attending church for about four months, and the Holy Spirit had been convicting me of my sin. During an invitation prayer, I prayed to receive the Lord as my Savior. I was baptized and began growing in my faith. At the age of 16, I read through my Bible for the first time. A year later, an evangelist visiting our church said, “If you don’t know the date of your salvation, you’re probably not saved.” That made me think, “What was the date of my salvation?” I had no clue – I could only remember that it was in the fall.

For the first time, I began to doubt my salvation. I began to think these thoughts:

  • Am I really saved?
  • Will Jesus say to me, “I never knew you!”?

It really bothered me – deeply. I remember getting on my knees by my bed and praying, “Lord, I love you. I believe Jesus died for me and rose again. If I’m not saved, I trust in you right now. I believe in Jesus Christ. Please give me assurance of my salvation and peace in my heart.” Do you know what? He did. I didn’t write that date down either, but I know that I’m saved.

In 2 Corinthians 13:5 the apostle Paul says, “Examine yourselves,…prove your own selves….” In essence, he was saying to the believers in one of the early churches, “Test yourselves to make sure your faith is real. Make sure you are solid in the faith. Don’t just pretend that you are a Christian; make sure you really are on the road to heaven!”

There are only two kinds of people in the world – saved and lost; believers and unbelievers. To paraphrase what Jesus said in Matthew 7:13–14, “Those on the narrow road are headed to heaven; and those on the broad road are headed for hell.” He couldn’t be any clearer! You were not born a Christian, and getting baptized does NOT make you a Christian. You become a Christian by calling on the Lord, making a personal commitment to follow the Lord, and trusting in Him and only Him for forgiveness.

The sad truth is that many churches deny the Bible’s teaching on assurance of salvation. They claim that if you say you are going to heaven with confidence, then you are prideful or presumptuous. Nothing could be further from the truth. God in His Word gives us His promise “…that [you] MAY KNOW that [you] have eternal life…” (1 John 5:13).

What if I doubt my salvation? Does that mean I’m not saved? The answer is NO. Doubt can show up as fear, anxiety, and worry. How many of us have been on a plane and, for whatever reason, worried that the plane was not going to make it safely to its landing. Years ago, two young couples from our church were flying back from vacation and their plane was hit by lightning. That’ll make you think twice about your safety! They did make it back safely, and their worry or fear did not jeopardize the integrity of the plane or the skill of the pilot. All the passengers on the plane were safe, even though the storm and the turbulence made them feel unsafe.

Why do Christians doubt that they are really saved?

They Are NOT Genuinely Saved

If you are not truly born again, that will make you doubt your salvation, because you don’t have it.

False Teaching/Lack of Bible Knowledge

This one hit me. I was given wrong information by the evangelist who said “You have to know the date of your salvation to be saved.” That statement is not true. Some religious teachers believe that you can lose your salvation, but Ephesians 4:30 promises that we “…are sealed unto the day of redemption [the return of Christ].”

A Strained Relationship with One’s Parents

Our first impression of God the Father is from our earthly father. Some of you have great impressions of God the Father from your dads, but some of you project a false view on God that you picked up at home. It’s easy to confuse conditional love from your earthly parents with unconditional love from your heavenly father.

Sin

As a Christian, sin breaks my fellowship and sweet communion with God. If I don’t regularly practice 1 John 1:9 and regularly confess my sin to God, then I will feel distant from the Lord and begin to doubt my salvation.

A Faded Memory – “I was so young I can’t remember it.”

Sometimes when a person is a young child at the time he or she accepts the Lord as Savior, later on that person is unsure of the decision and has doubts.

An Overly Sensitive Conscience

An overly sensitive conscience can result from several things: influence of parents, reading the wrong materials, a lack of faith to fully accept and embrace God’s forgiveness. The key to being spiritually healthy and rejoicing in Christ is to know the truth about God and yourself.

Truth – God loves you and Christ died for you.

Truth – God will save you when you trust Christ alone.

Truth – You cannot lose your salvation.

Truth – You don’t deserve to be saved, but you can live with peace, confidence, assurance, and joy every day of your life as a Christian.

God wants us to live with peace and assurance, yet we live in a world that has so many voices that tell us to doubt and deny Christ.

What’s the Truth about Doubt?

For some Christians, having doubts creates a crisis for them. They begin to wonder if they can truly be Christians with the doubts they are feeling. Do these doubts mean they are not Christians? This question makes some Christians afraid to express their doubts.

Don’t confuse faith with feelings.

Some people mistakenly think that faith brings with it a continuous religious high. When that religious high or feeling wears off, and it will, these people begin to doubt whether their faith is real. They begin to think, “Maybe I don’t have faith, because my feeling of euphoria is gone.” When dealing with doubts, don’t confuse faith with feelings.

It’s OK to ask honest questions.

Some people think they should never ask questions about their faith, but that is wrong. Jesus did not rebuke John the Baptist for expressing his doubts and questions as described in Matthew 11:2–11. John had sincere questions, and Jesus answered them by telling John’s disciples to return to John and tell him about all the miracles they had seen, which verified that Jesus was the Messiah.

Sometimes doubt is intellectual.

John the Baptist may have needed simple reassurance about the puzzling questions he had, such as: “Why isn’t Jesus overthrowing the Roman government?”

Sometimes doubt is emotional.

Perhaps John wanted to know the answer to a few “why” questions. John may have been thinking, “I was the forerunner, and yet why have I been arrested for my faith?” If you’ve had plaguing doubts, I recommend to you two books by Lee Strobel: The Case for Christ and The Case for Faith.

Doubt is not the problem, but unbelief.

There is a difference between doubt and unbelief. “Doubt is can’t believe; unbelief is won’t believe. Doubt is honesty; unbelief is obstinacy. Doubt is looking for light; unbelief is content with darkness.”

Some people have legitimate doubts, but others hide behind their doubts as they’re trying to poke holes in Christianity, because they don’t want it to be true. Their “doubts” are not honest. The reason that they doubt is that IF they discover that Christianity is true, their immoral and selfish lifestyles would have to change.

Jesus is not the least bit afraid of honest doubters. In the Scriptures we see Jesus coming to honest doubters such as Thomas and John the Baptist and answering their questions. Christianity is not so fragile that it can’t stand up to a few questions. Questions CANNOT poke real holes in something that is true.

The apostle Paul challenges Christians to “prove ourselves.” What’s the proof? Let me share four evidences that are in the life of a genuine Christian:

Do I Have a Desire…

To Confess My Sin?

“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” Matthew 5:3. People in the kingdom of heaven are poor in spirit. That means they have a sense of their own spiritual bankruptcy and spiritual poverty.

For Righteousness?

“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled” Matthew 5:6. Genuine Christians desire to be like their Lord and Master, who is holy.

To Obey God?

“If ye love me, keep my commandments” John 14:15. Is there a compelling desire in your heart to submit to divine authority?

To Love?

“By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” John 13:35.

God Wants You To Live with Assurance of Heaven

“These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God” 1 John 5:13.

What is the next step? Share your good news. If God gave you assurance of salvation, share it. If God saved you, then get baptized in a Bible-believing church, as described in Acts 2:41. Don’t drift along spiritually taking everything for granted. You need firsthand evidence, not mere hearsay that Jesus Christ is in you. Test it out. If you fail the test, do something about it.

To watch the entire message “Is Your Faith Real?” which includes 10 tests of salvation from the book of 1 John, go to www.thecaringchurch.com/media/services/sunday-morning/ and select January 24, 2016.

Top 5 Reasons Your Child Should Attend Day Camp!

Fantastically Friendly

Our professional staff provides campers with a positive environment. We ensure personal care and attention with 1 Counselor to every 4 Campers! Counselors demonstrate sincere care for your child because they love being with kids!

Completely Clean

Our camp facilities offer complete amenities, including air conditioning and up-to-date equipment to ensure your camper’s time with us is memorable. Professional cleaning staff keep our buildings and grounds clean and safe at all times, and that helps make drop-off and pick-up easy and convenient for parents on the go!

Awesome Activities

Valley Forge Baptist Day Camp offers themed activities that aim to foster new relationships, promote teamwork, and build creativity. Our camp will have an impact on your child for a lifetime and give him or her memories to cherish forever. Activities include swimming, outdoor fun, games in our gymnasium, and field trips to exciting destinations.

Enthusiastically Engaged

Valley Forge Baptist Day Camp offers your child a break from technology so that he or she can be physically active. Your child will build creativity with real people, real activities, and real emotions. We include core values in many activities, demonstrating relationship skills such as caring, honesty, respect, and responsibility.

Amazingly Affordable

Our “pay as you go” payment plan makes Valley Forge Baptist Day Camp doable for any budget, because you pay only for the days your child attends! The weekly cost is one of the most affordable in the area. The combination of our fantastic staff and modern facilities makes this a great value for every household.

visit http://valleyforgedaycamp.org for more information

Let God

This can be a great year for you if you “Let God” have His way in your heart and life. The Lord knows how to direct our lives so much better than we do ourselves.

Last year I had the opportunity to fly a single-engine plane from Allentown to Collegeville. It was a lot of fun to fly over my house and our church and snap some pictures. This was my first time to fly a plane. Sitting right next to me was an experienced “Life Flight” pilot with many years of flying experience. I took the controls – just like a student pilot would – but the whole time the master pilot had his hand on his set of controls and steering wheel. I was the co-pilot as I sat next to the licensed pilot. Yes, he let me fly the plane, but the entire time he had complete control.

So it is with our lives – God is our pilot and we are the co-pilots. When we learn to follow the directions of our “Spiritual Pilot” and “LET GOD” control our lives, we can soar above our problems and trials and enjoy the beauty that God has planned for our lives.

Please take a moment to look at our church’s theme graphic for 2016. I want you to see those dark clouds. That’s life. Life’s hard – life can be black and white. Trials, sickness, debt, sorrow, pain, anger, grudges, upsets, consequences of sin – lots of bad things happen to us and those we know and love. But this is what happens when you “LET GOD” take the controls of your life. He brings color to your world. The dark clouds are still there, but when He is with you He brightens your day – even those hard and difficult days. Psalm 16:11 says, “Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” What a wonderful promise!

How do we LET GOD direct our lives?

One way is to read God’s Word. In Psalm 119:105 the writer declares, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” The more you know, believe, and follow the Bible, the greater will be the peace, power, joy, and contentment you experience day by day and even hour by hour. Jesus said, “…I am come that [you] might have life, and that [you] might have it more abundantly” John 10:10.

Another way is to obey God’s leading through the Holy Spirit. When you are filled with the Spirit, God will prompt you to do good things – for Him and for others.

If you want to experience the fullness of God in your life, you are going to have to “LET GOD”… Let God in… Let God lead you… Let God guide you… Let God forgive you… Let God cleanse you… And Let God have His way in your life. You will not regret it.

Join us at 9:00 a.m. or 10:30 a.m. every Sunday as we discover the Scriptures that will show us how to “LET GOD” be the pilot of our lives.

The Power of the Tongue

Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.
Proverbs 18:21.

A Tale of Two Frogs

The story goes that several frogs were hopping contentedly through the woods, going about their froggy business, when two of them fell into a deep pit. All the other frogs quickly gathered around the pit to see what could be done to help their companions. When they saw how deep the pit was, they agreed that it was hopeless. They told the two frogs in the pit that they should prepare themselves for their fate, because they were as good as dead.

Unwilling to accept this terrible end, the two unfortunate frogs began to jump with all their might. The other frogs shouted into the pit that it was hopeless and that the two frogs wouldn’t be in that situation if they had been more careful, more obedient to the froggy rules, and more responsible. The other frogs continued sorrowfully shouting that the doomed frogs should save their energy and give up, since they were already as good as dead.

Still struggling to free themselves, the two frogs continued jumping as hard as they could, and after several hours of desperate effort were quite weary. Finally, one of the frogs took heed to the calls of his fellows. Spent and disheartened, he quietly resolved himself to his fate, lay down, and died as the others looked on in helpless grief. Undeterred, the other frog continued to jump with every ounce of energy he had, although his body was wracked with pain and he was completely exhausted. His companions began anew, yelling for him to accept his fate, stop the pain, and just die. The weary frog jumped harder and harder and – wonder of wonders – finally leapt so high that he sprang from the pit!

Amazed, the other frogs celebrated his miraculous freedom and then, gathering around him, asked, “Why did you continue jumping when we told you it was impossible?” Reading their lips, the astonished frog explained to them that he was deaf, and that when he saw their gestures as they shouted, he thought they were cheering him on. What he had perceived as encouragement inspired him to try harder and to succeed against all odds.

Speak Life with Your Tongue

This simple story contains a powerful lesson that echoes Scripture: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” Your encouraging words can lift someone up and help that person make it through the day. Your destructive words can cause deep wounds; what you say might become a weapon that destroys someone’s desire to continue trying.

Make it your habit to speak life to (and about) the people who cross your path. Words have enormous power. If you have words of kindness, praise, or encouragement, speak them now to (and about) others. Someone, somewhere, is waiting to hear your words. The truth is we don’t always know that the people we meet may be trying to escape from some sort of emotional, financial, or spiritual pit. Your words, coming from a genuine and sincere heart, could be the ones to help them out.

Before we can help others, though, we ourselves must first and foremost fill our hearts and minds with the truth of the Word of God. Jesus said, “A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things” Matthew 12:35.

What’s on your mind (and lips)? Use your words to lift someone’s spirits today!