07 Aug In the beginning was the Word
“In the beginning was the Word; and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” Through the years, nothing has proven itself truer than this verse. God not only gave us His Son and sent us His Spirit, but through holy inspiration, His Word has surpassed the ages and continues to instruct, guide and speak to us today. His Word truly is God-breathed; the life-bread of my relationship with Christ, and a treasure I hold above all else, although, it wasn’t always this way.
Back in my years as a New York Police Officer, I didn’t have much of an interest in the whole church thing. Church and prayer were ok for women and children, but as far as I was concerned I didn’t need religion. My faith was in my skill and my police partner, and the camaraderie that our high-pressure jobs brought out in us. I didn’t need church at the end of the day; I needed to unwind at the bar telling stories and letting the stress of the day ease away with my fellow officers. My wife Jean used to say I was more interested in being with my police buddies than with her, and unfortunately, she was right. She never failed to ask me to go to church with her at first, but after the umpteenth refusal she finally she stopped asking and instead continued faithfully to take our children each week. She persevered on her knees, quietly praying and waiting as our marriage continued to disintegrate around us.
Meanwhile, God began to chase me down in ways I never could have anticipated. I was shocked one day when my partner, John, handed me a Gospel tract and asked me to read it. I couldn’t help but laugh; I thought for sure he must be kidding, but he wasn’t. John said Jesus had changed his life. I stuffed the tract in my pocket.
That weekend was one of the rare occasions I had agreed to a family outing, so off we went to go camping. As I stared at the dying campfire late one night, long after Jean and the kids had gone to sleep I pulled out the crumpled tract. As I read it, one question continually seared my mind: “If you die tonight, where will you spend eternity?” I knew the answer… but I didn’t know what to do about it.
The following week John invited me to a Bible study, which only brought a laugh from me. Bible studies were for ladies, not men and especially not a cop! But God knew the role His Word would play in my life and refused to let me go so easily. The next day I was working alone when a 19-year-old boy put a sawed-off gun to my chest. As I stood there with my hands raised all I could think about was the tract and that question “If you die tonight, where will you spend eternity?” As another pair of detectives came around the corner, the boy looked at them and looked at me, and I knew he was going to shoot me. But then, for some completely unknown reason, he dropped the gun and ran, only to be caught within the block. I stood frozen in the street unable to move, stunned by how I had so narrowly escaped death. Surely, this couldn’t have been a coincidence.
The next time John invited me to his Bible study I didn’t have to think twice. I may not be the brightest cop, but even I knew something else was bound to happen if I didn’t go! God was chasing me and He had won. It was time to face this once and for all. Sitting there that night, I ended the battle and gave my life to Christ and that very night our marriage was healed. As I began to read his Word every day, God began to sift bad habits that had become a part of me out of my life. His Word began to change me from the inside out. Within weeks I led several other people to the Lord and was used in several physical healings. The Truth of the Bible began to rewrite my belief system, give me faith I never knew I could posses, and teach me things unknown. Once after reading a passage about deaf ears, the Lord sent me someone who was deaf and they were healed – I was no longer the man I used to be; I was becoming a new creation.
One day on the job there was a serious crime scene where several victims were involved. The suspect came running down a two story landing with a gun, giving absolutely no sign of cooperation. Inspired by the Spirit and with my gun drawn I yelled loudly, “In the name of Jesus drop the gun.” I continued to say it repeatedly as he came closer and closer; my finger was within a second of pulling the trigger when he unexpectedly stopped and dropped the weapon. The miracles continued throughout the years – I once told my fellow police officers I was pastoring the biggest church in America: the streets of Syracuse, New York. I knew every call, every victim, every suspect needed to know the name and power of Jesus Christ and His Word.
No longer did I believe the Word was just a reading exercise or a crutch for the weak; it began to jump off the pages, speaking to my everyday life. It became so alive in me; it not only changed the way I lived, but what I wanted to do with my life. After 10 years (and 3 days) I left the police force, after holding a .357 on a teenage girl that desperately needed the Lord. In her broken eyes I saw the souls of countless youth crying out for a Savior. In that moment I heard the Holy Spirit speak to me that I would never arrest them again, but I would share the name of Jesus with them.
For the past 30 years I have strived to be faithful in presenting the wonderful name of Jesus and challenging our youth to get into the Word of God. The Word changes lives! Hebrews 4:12 says,” For the Word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any doubled-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (NIV) And that is exactly why Jean and I press on to encourage every student to get involved in Bible Quiz.
Bible Quiz is so much more than a Bible study or a sermon series – the ministry actually teaches students how to study and memorize Scripture. There is no weapon stronger, no resource greater; no guide brighter than the Word. Students that are involved in Bible Quiz not only learn the Word but internalize it; it becomes a part of who they are and structures their belief-system and worldview. In this fragile time of life when so many things are unknown and uncertain, Bible Quiz provides an immovable standard, an uncompromising Truth for students to shape their lives by.
Who are the students in your life? With so many opportunities to stumble and fall, we need to be providing more chances for students to grow. Bible Quiz leads to spiritual maturity, boldness, and Godly leadership. It is an invaluable asset for every church and youth ministry. It also provides ample scholarship opportunities, such as the 100,000 verse challenge and scholarships for post High School education. There is no time to waste – the enemy is in hot pursuit of this generation with his deceit and destruction. We must fight back by equipping students with the skills they need to grow in the Lord.
Back when I was on the streets keeping the peace in ‘the biggest church in America’, I never dreamed the impact God’s Word would have on the lives of me, my family, and my students. My son, a man of God who lives by the Word having memorized 13 New Testament books as a teenager, is currently pastoring in Syracuse, New York – a reality that, but for the grace of God, would have never come to pass. Who do you know that needs to hear the Word? The time has come to speak – a generation is waiting to listen.
To learn how to get involved in Bible Quiz visit penndelyouth.com/bq