Monthly Archives: April 2017


Fellowship Begins With an Invitation

And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. (Mark 16:15)

FellowshipIn his book, Evangelism in the Early Church, Michael Green reminds us that when Jesus was crucified there were only 11 men left to carry on his work and bring the gospel to the entire world!

Undistinguished, poorly educated, and with no influential supporters, they were nobodies living in a second-class province on the Roman frontier.

How could they possibly succeed? And yet, they did. By one estimate, Christianity grew from about 1,000 believers in 40 AD to 5 to 8 million in 300 AD — a growth rate of 40% per decade and the dominant religion of the Roman Empire! Today, Christianity is the world’s largest religion, with about 2 billion followers.

The rise of a secular judgmental culture challenges our efforts to spread the Good News. When it comes to discipleship, today’s church-going American Protestants often struggle in their efforts to share Christ with non-Christians. A recent survey of 2,930 Protestant churchgoers in the US revealed that a majority agreed it’s their duty to share their faith. Yet, over the preceding six months just 25% had shared their faith once or twice, 14% had shared at least three times.

The survey also asked how many times they personally “invited an unchurched person to attend a church service or some other program” at their church in the last six months?

  • 48% of church attendees responded, “zero”
  • 33% had personally invited someone one or two times
  • 19% at least three invitations

Inviting someone to join you in attending church is probably the easiest form of outreach. And it may be one of the most effective based on the findings from a survey of 15,000 Americans who were asked to list the best of 13 approaches when a church wants to be heard.

Getting them to visit a church:

  • 67%: a personal invitation from a family member would be very/somewhat effective
  • 63%: a personal invitation from a friend or neighbor would be very/somewhat effective

Get them to receive information about a local congregation or faith community:

  • 63%: very/somewhat willing when it comes from a family member
  • 56%: very/somewhat willing when it comes from a friend or neighbor

Bent Creek Baptist has a history of commitment to missions and community outreach. As we gear up to increase our efforts it might be best to remember that a simple straightforward invitation to come to church is one of our best God-given tools.

That said, please consider this an invitation to our neighbors living in the Bent Creek area, as well as residents in Buncombe and Henderson Counties to join us for Sunday worship service at 11 am.


Passion Week: The Resurrection of Christ

Whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

The Empty Tomb by George Richardson

The Empty Tomb by George Richardson

This is the last in a BCBC in Action series remembering Christ’s final earthly days.

Day 8: Easter Sunday

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the most important event of the Christian faith — the foundation of all Christian doctrine is based on the truth of this event.

Early Sunday morning Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, Joanna, and Salome go to the tomb and discover that the large stone covering the tomb’s entrance was rolled away.

There’s an earthquake. As the guards shake and become like dead men, an angel proclaims…

“Don’t be afraid! I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen.” (Matthew 28:5-6)

Learning of the event, John and Peter run to the tomb. Peter enters and sees the linen cloth and a neatly folded handkerchief. Among Jews of the time a master let his servants know whether he was finished eating or coming back to the table by the way he left his cloth napkin. If he tossed it aside, he was finished. If he folded it, he would return.

The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. (John 20:7)

On the day of his resurrection, Jesus Christ makes at least five appearances. The first person to see him is Mary Magdalene.

she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).

Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” (John 20:11-18)

Jesus then appears to Peter, then to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, and later that day to all of the disciples, except Thomas, while they gathered in a house for prayer.

After that he was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that he was seen by James, then by all the apostles. (1 Corinthians 15:5-7)

These eyewitness accounts in the Gospels offer undeniable evidence that, in deed, the resurrection of Jesus Christ happened. However, the resurrection of Jesus is not our ticket to “abundant life” in this age. Today, we die. In the age to come, we live. As Jesus said to Martha…

“I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 25-6)

Do you believe this?

Click here to begin reading this series with Day 1: Palm Sunday.


Passion Week: Holy Saturday

Peace be with you. (John 20:19)

Joseph of Arimathea providing a tomb for Jesus’s body

Joseph of Arimathea providing a tomb for Jesus’s body

This is seventh post in a BCBC in Action series remembering Christ’s final earthly days.

Day 7: Holy Saturday

After the crucifixion, with hopes dashed, undoubtedly Jesus’ followers questioned all that happened during the past 2 years.

It’s been said that faith isn’t something that arises after moments of understanding. Rather, faith is what you cling to when understanding and reason lay dead.

Faith is what Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea showed during those dark hours of Holy Saturday.

They were closet followers of Jesus, as well as members of the Sanhedrin, the court that condemned Jesus Christ to death. Before this day they were too fearful to publicly profess their faith because of their prominent positions in the Jewish community. Now, deeply affected by Christ’s death, they come forward and risk their reputations and lives because they realize Jesus was, indeed, the long-awaited Messiah.

Joseph asks Pilate for the body of Jesus… With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. (John 19:38-40)

The Pharisees, on the other hand, are uneasy. They remember what Jesus said.

Jesus answered and said unto them destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? But he spake of the temple of his body. (John 2:19-21)

They turn to Pilate.

“Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.” (Matthew 27:62-64)

And Pilate responds.

“Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard. (Matthew 27:65)

Through growing faith Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea play their role in the Passion. In contrast, the Pharisees, who just a few hours earlier engineered the death or Jesus, are now powerless to block the unfolding events. Not even Roman guards can help them.

Tomorrow: Easter Sunday

Click here to begin reading this series with Day 1: Palm Sunday.



Passion Week: Good Friday

Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:1-5)

This is the sixth in a BCBC in Action series remembering Christ’s final earthly days.

Day 6: Good Friday

Yes, it’s Friday, but as Pastor S. M. Lockridge tells us, Sunday is a comin’.

 

Praise the Lord!

What a mighty God we serve. Amen? Amen!

 

Tomorrow: Jesus in the Tomb

Click here to begin reading this series with Day 1: Palm Sunday.


Passion Week: The Last Supper

I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. (John 13:16)

The Last Supper. Leonardo da Vinci (1494–1499)

The Last Supper. Leonardo da Vinci (1494–1499)

This is the fifth in a BCBC in Action series remembering Christ’s final earthly days.

Day 5: The Last Supper

While at Bethany in the morning, Jesus sends Peter and John to Jerusalem to prepare the Passover. Later, Jesus comes from Bethany into Jerusalem to eat the Passover with the Twelve.

On the road, the Disciples argue about greatness. But greatness is serving, as Jesus shows by washing the disciples’ feet, beginning with Peter who is sitting at the last place at the table.

Then, he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. (John 13:5)

This day, which has been called “Maundy Thursday” or “Holy Thursday” commemorates this act of service that took place during the Last Supper of Jesus Christ with the Apostles and the command Jesus gave them to love and serve one another.

Jesus says one among them will betray him. He dips bread and hands it to Judas, who took first place at the table. After Judas leaves, Jesus breaks bread and lifts a cup of wine, signifying his broken body and blood.

Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. (Matthew 26:26-28)

Around the table, Jesus predicts Peter’s (and all of the disciples’) denial.

Peter is adamant.

“Even though all may fall away because of you, I will never fall away… Even if I have to die with you, I will not deny you.” All the disciples said the same thing too. (Matthew 26:33, 35)

Jesus answers.

“Truly I say to you that this very night, before a rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” (Matthew 26:34)

Jesus tells them not to worry.

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that here I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” (John 14:1-4)

Later, Jesus and the disciples leave the Upper Room and go to the Garden of Gethsemane. Here, Jesus prays in agony to God the Father.

“his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” (Luke 22:44)

Late that evening in Gethsemane, Jesus is betrayed with a kiss by Judas Iscariot and arrested by the Sanhedrin. He’s taken to the home of Caiaphas, the High Priest, where the council has gathered to begin making their case against Jesus.

Meanwhile, in the early morning hours as Jesus’ trial is getting underway, Peter denies knowing his Master once, twice, and then three times. The rooster crows.

One of the slaves of the high priest, being a relative of the one whose ear Peter cut off, said, “Did I not see you in the garden with Him?” Peter then denied it again, and immediately a rooster crowed. (John 18:27)

Tomorrow: Good Friday

Click here to read Day 1: Palm Sunday.

Click here to read Day 2: Jesus Clears the Temple.

Click here to read Day 3: Ambush in the Temple, the Mount of Olives

Click here to read Day 4: Holy Wednesday — A Day of Plotting and Betrayal


Passion Week: Judas Agrees to Betray Jesus

But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. (John 6:64)

The Sanhedrin plotting to kill Jesus.

The Sanhedrin plotting to kill Jesus.

This is the fourth in a BCBC in Action series remembering Christ’s final earthly days.

Day 4: Holy Wednesday — A Day of Plotting and Betrayal

The Bible doesn’t say what the Lord did on Wednesday of Passion Week. Scholars speculate that after two exhausting days in Jerusalem, Jesus and his disciples spent this day resting in Bethany in anticipation of the Passover.

In contrast, the Great Sanhedrin is busy this day. This supreme court of ancient Israel includes 71 members. It’s constituted with a Chief/Prince/Leader called Nasi,  a vice chief justice (Av Beit Din), and sixty-nine general members. At this time the position of leader (High Priest) is held by Caiaphas.

So the chief priests and the Pharisees convened the Sanhedrin and said, “What are we going to do? This man is performing many signs. If we leave him alone, all will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our land and our nation.” (John 11:45-48)

They have powers to try Jesus.

They plot to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him. But they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar among the people.” (Matthew 26:3-5)

The price negotiated with Judas to identify the One of inestimable worth is 30 pieces of silver (wages for about 4 months). Judas agrees to betray Jesus and says…

“What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?” And they paid him 30 pieces of silver. (Matthew 26:15)

Tomorrow: The Last Supper

Click here to read Day 1: Palm Sunday.

Click here to read Day 2: Jesus Clears the Temple.

Click here to read Day 3: Ambush in the Temple, the Mount of Olives.

The Sanhedrin plotting to kill Jesus.

The Sanhedrin plotting to kill Jesus.


Passion Week: Ambush in the Temple, the Mount of Olives

He said to it, “No longer shall there ever be any fruit from you.” And at once the fig tree withered. (Matthew 21:19)

The vine Dresser and the Fig Tree. James Tissot.

The vine Dresser and the Fig Tree. James Tissot.

This is the third in a BCBC in Action series remembering Christ’s final earthly days.

Day 3: It’s Tuesday

Peter and the other disciples see the withered fig tree on their way back into Jerusalem.

As they passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. (Mark 11:20)

Once in Jerusalem, Jesus engages in the final confrontation with the Jewish leaders whom he confounds.

While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them,  “What do you think about the Messiah? Whose son is he?”

“The son of David,” they replied.

He said to them, “How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him ‘Lord’? For he says, “‘The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.”’

If then David calls him ‘Lord,’ how can he be his son?”

No one could say a word in reply, and from that day on no one dared to ask him any more questions. (Matthew 22:41-46)

Later, Jesus leaves the Temple, officially ending his public ministry.

Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple.

But he answered them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another, that will not be thrown down.”

He withdraws to the Mount of Olives and instructs his disciples.

As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us,… what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?”

And Jesus answered them, “Take heed that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not alarmed; for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places: all this is but the beginning of the birth-pangs. (Matthew 24:1-14)

Tomorrow: Plotting to Kill Jesus.

Click here to read Day 1: Palm Sunday.

Click here to read Day 2: Jesus Clears the Temple.

 


Passion Week: Jesus Clears The Temple!

“Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him… In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; he will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth. In his law the islands will put their hope.” (Isaiah 42:1,3-4)

A painting of Jesus using a whip in the temple. Giovanni Antonio Fumiani, 1678.

A painting of Jesus using a whip in the temple. Giovanni Antonio Fumiani, 1678.

This is the second in a BCBC in Action series remembering Christ’s final earthly days.

Day 2: Monday in The Temple

Upon leaving Bethany in the morning, Jesus is hungry. He finds a leafy fig tree with no fruit and curses it.

And he said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard it. (Mark 11:14)

Jesus then enters Jerusalem and cleanses the Temple, just as He did at the opening of his public ministry.

And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the moneychangers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. (Matthew 21:12)

Children in the Temple laud Jesus. He quotes Psalm 8 to the sneering Pharisees, again declaring His divinity.

“Do you hear what these children are saying?” they ask him.

“Yes,” replies Jesus, “have you never read, ‘From the lips of children and infants you, Lord, have called forth your praise’?” (Matthew 21:16)

Repeatedly, Jesus openly proclaims his divinity. And the Jews knew who he claimed to be — not just the Messiah.

Jesus declared that he (the Son of Man) has authority to…

  • Forgive sins (Matt 9:6; Mark 2:10; Luke 5:24)
  • Raise the dead (John 5:21,28; cf. Php 3:21)
  • Even raise Himself from the dead (John 2:19; 10:18)
  • Grant eternal life to others (John 17:2; Matt 25:34, 46)
  • Declare those are saved and which are rejected (Luke 12:8–9; Matt 10:32–33)

“I tell you, whoever publicly acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the angels of God. But whoever disowns me before others will be disowned before the angels of God.” (Luke 12:8–9)

And, in a kingdom not of this world (John 18:36-37)…

  • Act as an authority higher than the Law and the Sabbath (Matt 12:8; Mark 2:28; Luke 6:5).

Then, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” (Luke 6:5)

Tomorrow: Ambush in the Temple and the Mount of Olives.

Click here to read Day 1: Palm Sunday.


Passion Week: Remembering Christ’s Final Earthly Days

Have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who… made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death — even death on a cross! (Philippians 2:5-9)

The entry of Jesus into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week.

The entry of Jesus into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week.

Passion Week (aka Holy Week) is the time from Palm Sunday through Easter Sunday (Resurrection Sunday). It is so named because of the passion with which Jesus willingly went to the cross in order to pay for the sins of his people.

Follow BCBC in Action this week as we remember Christ’s final earthly days.

Day 1: Palm Sunday

After 2 years of ministry, Jesus begins his final journey to Jerusalem for the Passover. He and the disciples are not alone. Pilgrims from far and wide are entering Jerusalem for the Passover. They meet Jesus along the road and begin to cry “Hosanna!”

“Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” (Matthew 21:9).

Hosanna is often thought of as a declaration of praise, similar to hallelujah, but it’s actually a plea for salvation. The Hebrew words yasha (“deliver, save”) and anna (“beg, beseech”) combine to form the word that, in English, is “hosanna.” Literally, hosanna means “I beg you to save!” or “please deliver us!”

Palm Sunday at Bent Creek Baptist Church

Happy the preacher and happy the hearer who find their theme and their attraction in the atoning death of our Lord and Savior. Thomas Griffith

Riding on a donkey to fulfill prophecy, the King of Israel wails loudly and pronounces judgment on Jerusalem.

And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, (Luke 19:41)

Arriving late in the day, Jesus enters Jerusalem through the eastern Susa Gate, directly into the temple courts. Jesus looks around for any who bear the fruits of repentance, and then returns to Bethany with the disciples.

And he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple. And when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve. (Mark 11:11)

Tomorrow: Jesus openly proclaims his divinity.


Passion Week: Remembering Christ’s Final Earthly Days

Have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who… made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death — even death on a cross! (Philippians 2:5-9)

The entry of Jesus into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week.

The entry of Jesus into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week.

Passion Week (aka Holy Week) is the time from Palm Sunday through Easter Sunday (Resurrection Sunday). It is so named because of the passion with which Jesus willingly went to the cross in order to pay for the sins of his people.

Follow BCBC in Action this week as we remember Christ’s final earthly days.

Day 1: Palm Sunday

After 2 years of ministry, Jesus begins his final journey to Jerusalem for the Passover. He and the disciples are not alone. Pilgrims from far and wide are entering Jerusalem for the Passover. They meet Jesus along the road and begin to cry “Hosanna!”

“Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” (Matthew 21:9).

Hosanna is often thought of as a declaration of praise, similar to hallelujah, but it’s actually a plea for salvation. The Hebrew words yasha (“deliver, save”) and anna (“beg, beseech”) combine to form the word that, in English, is “hosanna.” Literally, hosanna means “I beg you to save!” or “please deliver us!”

Riding on a donkey to fulfill prophecy, the King of Israel wails loudly and pronounces judgment on Jerusalem.

And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, (Luke 19:41)

Arriving late in the day, Jesus enters Jerusalem through the eastern Susa Gate, directly into the temple courts. Jesus looks around for any who bear the fruits of repentance, and then returns to Bethany with the disciples.

And he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple. And when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve. (Mark 11:11)

Tomorrow: Jesus openly proclaims his divinity.


You are Blessed

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)

I Am So Blessed to Have Found You. Yvonne Coomber

I Am So Blessed to Have Found You. Yvonne Coomber

We all know if we sat down to really think about it, we would say that we appreciate what our spouses do each day.

Life is busy and hectic. Just remember, you’re blessed to have food to clean up when it spills, you’re blessed to have your hampers runneth over, you’re blessed to have customers or a boss to please. And you’re blessed to have each other. 

Edited from Lisa LaFortune: Families! Change the World.