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Why I Love My Church!

Literally millions of people in the world can genuinely say, “I love my church!”  These people have experienced the blessing of a church family that loves God, exalts Jesus Christ, and shows love and forgiveness to one another.  It is among this kind of church family that people come to know the Lord as their personal Savior and begin to develop a spiritual walk with God.  The results are amazing:  peace in their lives and joy in their hearts.

Unfortunately, too many people have had negative experiences at church. Sometimes it is their fault, but all too many times it is the fault of another.

One Sunday morning, a mother went in to wake her son and tell him it was time to get ready for church, to which he replied, “I’m not going.”

“Why not?” she asked.

“I’ll give you two good reasons,” he said. “First of all, they don’t like me, and secondly, I don’t like them.”

His mother replied, “I’ll give YOU two good reasons why YOU SHOULD go to church. First of all, you’re 59 years old, and secondly, you’re the pastor!”

That is a sad situation when the pastor is not thrilled about attending his own church.  My experience has been just the opposite. After pastoring the same church for 29 years, I am thrilled to say, “I still love my church!” I agree with the many in our church who have shared their reasons with me about Valley Forge Baptist – The Caring Church!

They have said to me…

I love my church because…

God is at work here!

We are a family!

I learn how to grow closer to God!

Jesus Christ is exalted!

We feed the hungry and give them the Gospel!

I love the music!

I love the people!

Do you have a church you can call “home”?  If not, come and experience what some of your neighbors have experienced at the corner of Black Rock Road and Rt. 113: people who love God and others. If the greatest desire of the human heart is to love and be loved, then you will certainly find that desire met in a church where Jesus Christ is worshipped!

Article by Pastor Scott Wendal

3 Steps That Lead to a Healthy Relationship

A healthy marriage is one in which you go through the stages of self-discovery and learn to identify your healthy and less-than-healthy expectations. Then you choose to take personal responsibility for your actions and reactions. Finally, you make the commitment to honor the marriage and your spouse.

If you’re waiting for your spouse to change first before you take personal responsibility for what you can change in yourself, you may never see an improvement in the state of your marriage. So be the change agent in your relationship and begin showing your spouse how committed you are. Here are three ways guaranteed to improve the health of your marriage.

Step 1: Build Up Your Mate with Encouragement

Your spouse may feel discouraged, frustrated, and tired—not just at the end of the day, but every day. He or she may be going through a season in life when everything seems too hard to deal with. That’s why it’s so important to be a source of encouragement and hope.
Paul reminded the Thessalonians, “Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). He is encouraging people to watch their words, love one another, and build each other up. That applies to everyday interactions, including your marriage.

Step 2: Pray for Your Spouse

When it comes to marriage, never underestimate the power of prayer. Over the years I have literally seen hundreds of marriages on the brink of divorce come alive with joy, passion, and new life because of the power of prayer.

Hebrews 4:16 instructs, “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” That’s right! The mercy and grace you need to love your spouse is available to you every day. Prayer is the key. Sometimes as you pray, you’ll see immediate changes in your spouse; but other times the transformation will be much slower. Often when you pray, the greatest change you’ll see is in yourself—in your heart, your perspective, your attitude.

Matthew 7:7-11 encourages us to be persistent. You have the opportunity to lift the name of your spouse before God every day!

It’s never too late to begin praying. All too often I have found that when my emotional and relational gauges are low, and I’m low on energy when it comes to loving my wife, there’s no faster way to refuel than spending time in prayer. It’s hard to stay disconnected from someone you are praying for on a regular basis. In fact, it’s almost impossible. You simply can’t harbor anger, bitterness, or frustration against someone and still ask God to bless him or her on a regular basis.

Step 3: Ask God to Let It Begin with You

A broken marriage begins to mend and communication is re-established when one of the partners is willing to make a breakthrough and say “Lord, begin with me. I am the one who needs to change, to love more deeply and more wisely.”

Even if you think your spouse is 100 percent wrong, when you stand in the presence of Christ, you will begin to see that you, too, have shortcomings. You will discern where you have failed to accept responsibility for your part in the marital relationship, and you will be able to say “God, change me.”

A Christian should be committed to follow Christ’s example. He went all the way in love, all the time. So, for a start, stop demanding that your partner change his or her ways. Let God start changing you.

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From As Long As We Both Shall Live
©2009 by Gary Smalley and Ted Cunningham. Published by Regal Books, www.regalbooks.com. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

What Saved Our Marriage

Sherwood and I met when we attended the same high school. We never graduated with our classmates; we quit high school to get married. I turned 17 in August and we were married in September. In February we had Chip, our first child. That spring we watched from our car as our classmates graduated from high school, and Sherwood made the comment that we had made a big mistake.

Our married life began with Sherwood working a full-time job and a part-time job. He went to night school to get his high school diploma, because his father told him he would need that to get anywhere in life. Four years later we had our second child, Shirl.

I went to work part time to help out with the bills. Sherwood worked part time too, and eventually we both had our own friends and didn’t do much together. After living like this for 10 years, we decided there had to be more to life than this. We were going to get a divorce. I followed the advice of my mother-in-law and sought counseling. During that time, I was introduced to Jesus and I asked Him to be Lord and Savior of my life. It was a life-changing experience for me.

Sherwood watched me and couldn’t understand what was happening to me. He mentioned one day, “Linda, you have done some pretty strange things already, but this is the strangest of all.” He said he had wanted a new wife, and now that he had her, he didn’t know what to do with her. Well, God had made a new person out of me by showing me how to love my husband the way Christ loved the church. After watching my life for six months, Sherwood decided the change must be real, and he wanted the same thing for his life. He also accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior.

After that, we had three more children — Martha, Sherri Lin, and Amanda. We believed that now that we were Christians, our children would be perfect. They weren’t perfect, but they had the privilege of being raised in a Christian home, and God has greatly blessed us and them.

Jesus Christ truly saved our marriage. We can never repay God for what He has done for us, but now we are gratefully and faithfully serving Him every day of our lives. In September 2012 we celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary, and we know that without Christ in our lives it never would have happened.

God has given us five wonderful children and seven wonderful grandchildren. We are very proud of all of them, and we thank God for our children’s spouses. We have been on some great family vacations and have many happy memories that we love to share again and again. In these 50 years, God has blessed us tremendously through our family and the many friends He has introduced us to. We are truly looking forward to what He is going to do in the future. To God be the glory!

JBP_Conrad50th-245

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Article by Sherwood & Linda Conrad. The Conrads recently celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary. They are faithful members at Valley Forge Baptist.

5 Things Your Pastor Shouldn’t Tell You

GOOD WORKS GET YOU INTO HEAVEN

This is one of the most common misconceptions in religion today. So many people believe that if they are good enough – if their good outweighs their bad – they will be allowed into heaven. This is simply not the case. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” Ephesians 2:8-9. The Bible also says in Titus 3:5a, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us…”

JESUS HATES BAD PEOPLE

Many people today believe that they are too bad to be saved. They think that they’ve done so many wrong things that God could never love people like them. Romans 5:8 states, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” In other words, it doesn’t matter to God what your personality is, what you look like, or what sins you’ve committed. God loves each and every person equally.

YOU CAN LOSE YOUR SALVATION

“And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand” John 10:28. God won’t allow anyone or anything to remove a person from His hand, to take away that person’s salvation. That includes you. You can’t even do anything to cause Him to let you go. Ephesians 4:30b promises, “…whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.”

GOD CHOOSES WHO IS SAVEDDoes-God-Love-Everyone

Some people in certain religious circles believe that each person is predestined to be saved before he or she is ever born. They think that God picks certain people, based on no exact requirement, who can go to heaven and others who will go to hell. The Bible clearly says that “[W]hosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” Romans 10:13. The Bible also proclaims in 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.” Salvation is a free gift to all who accept it. Notice the phrase “whosoever shall call.” Whosoever means anyone. It means YOU! You can call upon the Lord and accept Him as your Savior.

WHEN JESUS WILL RETURN

Many so-called “scholars” have tried to discern the “secrets” thought to be within the Bible about the return of Christ. For decades people have made various “numerical discoveries” in an attempt to claim the knowledge that God has never revealed, much less hidden: the time when Jesus will return. Never believe someone who purports to know the day Christ will come back to earth. Mark 13:32 declares, “But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.” No one knows. No one ever will. What we need to concern ourselves with is, are we ready? When Jesus does decide to return, will He be coming for us? for you?

 

Article by Josh Berg
Josh serves on the Media team at Valley Forge Baptist. Previously he was Youth Director in Maryland. He additionally has a Bachelors in Religious Education from West Coast Baptist College.

Making a House a Home

It was a plain house. The walls were off-white and the furniture was mismatched and worn. Not much insulation, and no indoor plumbing. The outside was no better. It certainly needed repairs and painting. And then there was the landscaping, or should I say lack thereof. Dirt, gravel and a few shrubs made up most of what would be considered landscaping.

But it’s strange. As plain and worn as the house looked, there was something about it—something that was warm and friendly, inviting and comfortable. But why? What would make such a plain, worn, and dilapidated house seem so hopeful, encouraging, and downright delightful?

Well, as I thought about it, it became clear. A house is a house. It’s a foundation, walls, roofing, insulation, finishing, etc., and those things are certainly fundamentally important to any structure. But this house was more than that. This was a home. A home is a place where a structure becomes a dwelling. A home is made up of people and relationships. A home is a place where more than brick and mortar, wiring and plumbing exist. A home is a place where living and loving and learning and growing can happen.

Now, don’t misunderstand me. A beautifully decorated house complete with all the necessities and then some is a wonderful thing. But even with those blessings, a house doesn’t become a home until relationships are allowed to take root, grow, develop, and bloom.

Just as it takes an architect, a plan, and craftsmanship to build a house, the building of a home has its own blueprint. And as I reflect on that plain, worn, seemingly unattractive house and consider what made it a home, the following characteristics stand out:

1) Acceptance – Without conditions, you are accepted at home.

2) Commitment – Without question, there is total security within relationships at home.

3) Forgiveness – This is the oil that keeps the relationship engine running smoothly.

4) Love – Love is a verb. It is action. Love in thought, word, and deed. Love is without conditions at home.

5) Grace – One type of grace is a disposition to be generous or helpful; goodwill, having mercy; clemency. But we also need God’s grace to enjoy full, complete, peaceful relationships. God’s saving grace is unmerited favor given as a free gift and offered to all through Jesus Christ. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8–9). We are also reminded in Romans 5:20 that “…But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” Oh, do we ever need grace for our relationships to be real and for us to genuinely dwell in more than just a house. Grace abounds in homes.

I’m sure you, like me, have seen a lot of houses but not so many homes. Many have a house, but it takes acceptance, commitment, forgiveness, love, and grace to have a home. This summer is a perfect time to begin construction on your new home.

 

Article by Greg Joyner
Associate Pastor | Valley Forge Baptist