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Paul, the Spirit, and Us

And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. (Romans 8:26)

Apostle Paul Writing His Epistles by Valentin de Boulogne, 17th century.

Apostle Paul Writing His Epistles by Valentin de Boulogne, 17th century.

Ethics (aka our rules of behavior) are the moral principles that govern our lives. For Paul, it was a theological issue empowered by the Holy Spirit and related to the known character of our God.

“Ethics have everything do with God, and what God is about in Christ and the Spirit,” says Prof. Gordon Fee.

For example, the purpose (or basis) of Christian ethics is the glory of God.

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31)

The pattern for such ethics is the Son of God.

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. (Ephesians 4:20)

It is Christ himself, into whose likeness we are to be transformed.

For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. (Romans 8:29)

“Because the Spirit of God is the Spirit of Christ,” says Prof. Fee, in his book Paul, the Spirit, and the People of God, “and since the first-mentioned fruit of the Spirit is love, the Spirit not only empowers the believer for ethical behavior, but by indwelling the believer also reproduces the pattern and the principle of that behavior.

Erica John, an American novelist and poet, once said, “Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer. The ethical answers to life’s issues are within us through the Holy Spirit. Access them.

JC Watts, the politician and football player at the University of Oklahoma, tells us, “Character is doing the right thing when nobody is looking.” The Holy Spirit is always with us. We need only to act like it is.


Pastor Sam Devotional: Worldly vs. Spiritual Wisdom

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. (James 1:5)

The Harlem Renaissance, 2016

The Harlem Renaissance, 2016

When confronted by peer pressure we have a choice: follow worldly or spiritual wisdom. For example, in 1 Samuel we learn that King Saul tried to kill David many times. Then, under comical circumstances, the tables turned, and David was given an opportunity to kill his king.

Saul took three thousand chosen men out of all Israel and went to seek David and his men…. He came to… a cave, and Saul went in to relieve himself. (1 Samuel 20:1-3)

David and his men were hiding in the back of the same cave, unseen by King Saul. They suggested that God had delivered Saul to them, and urged David to kill him. After all, if David killed Saul, David would become king and they could stop hiding.

And the men of David said to him, “Here is the day of which the Lord said to you, ‘Behold, I will give your enemy into your hand, and you shall do to him as it shall seem good to you.’” (1 Samuel 20:4)

The peer pressure tempted David, but he changed his mind as he advanced toward Saul who was unaware of what was happening. Rather than kill the king, David cut off a piece of Saul’s robe. Even then, despite great risk, David followed Saul out of the cave to apologize and swear his allegiance to the king. David overcame peer pressure, which seemed gratifying or practical in the moment. He managed to distinguish between worldly wisdom and spiritual wisdom from heaven. There is a distinct difference.

The wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure, then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial, and sincere. (James 3:17)

There are other examples of peer pressure in the Bible. In some cases, worldly wisdom (eg, Pontius Pilate, Peter at Antioch) prevailed, while in others spiritual wisdom from heaven (eg, Noah, Lot but not his wife) prevailed. The Bible makes it clear that the latter is the better path.

Finally, remember that peer pressure wasn’t limited to biblical times. It’s present today. It’s just as tempting and just as risky.

For example, earlier this year, Kiera Wilmot, a high school student, ran into trouble after failing to get approval from her teacher for a science experiment. Instead, her classmates persuaded her to perform it outside the classroom. After all, what’s the worst that could happen? Kiera combined aluminum foil and toilet bowl cleaner in a small bottle. After about 30 seconds, the reaction created pressure inside the bottle, blowing the cap off with a pop that according to witnesses sounded like firecrackers going off.

No one was injured and no property was damaged, but Kiera was expelled because she created a chemical explosion on school grounds. In addition, she was arrested and charged with felony (possession/discharge of a weapon on school grounds and discharging a destructive device). Though criminal charges were dismissed, it will take 5 years to clear her record.

Before we give in to peer pressure, perhaps Adelaide Pollard offered the best advice in her 1907 lyrics to this hymn titled “Adelaide.” The last verse is most pertinent and is presented here.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!

Hold o’er my being absolute sway!

Fill with Thy Spirit ’till all shall see

Christ only, always, living in me.

Marty Robbins sings Adelaide.

Is it Possible to Have it All?

And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. (2 Corinthians 9:8)

Indra Nooyi

Indra Nooyi

Indra Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCo, was recently interviewed about her struggles balancing motherhood with corporate responsibilities.

Ms. Nooyi says, “I don’t think women can have it all… Every day you have to make a decision about whether you are going to be a wife or a mother, in fact many times during the day you have to make those decisions. And you have to co-opt a lot of people to help you.”

Grace of God. Shweta Kanhai

Grace of God. Shweta Kanhai

It’s true. We depend on and give support to family, neighbors, and friends all the time. In fact, during the early years of the growth of the Christian church its enemies were confounded by the support and charity Paul and other Christians poured out to each other and even to those who didn’t share their faith. Pagans and Judaizers (first century Jewish Christians who followed Old Testament laws) wondered, “How do we discredit people who show such love?”

And that’s the secret to having it all. Grace. Grace from God. Yes, there are a thousand ways to be stretched thin. But there’s only one way to truly have it all… to have Jesus — and like Him — to give it all away.

Thoughts for Valentine’s Day

Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. (1 Corinthians 6:18)



Many women have discovered to their dismay that there’s an awful lot of bad sex out there, says Margaret Wente, writing in The Globe and Mail.

They’ve been told to have a superpositive sex life — unconflicted, joyous, casual, and abundant. “They’ve been told they should be able to have as many partners and initiate sex just as often as men do.”

They’ve tried all that.

And, surprise, it hasn’t worked out very well! “Instead of feeling superpositive, they feel sexually dissatisfied, emotionally disconnected, and more than a little used.”

The trouble isn’t men or culture. The trouble is that these women bought into a lie. Rick Warren tells us, “Some things are hard wired in us by God; we know they are always right or always wrong, no matter what anybody else says. Our conscience tells us this.”

And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left. (Isaiah 30:21

“A women’s best strategy is to be selective.” Something in the soul longs for meaningful relationships. The key is to take time, lots of time (three dates are not enough), to know someone and be known by them. Treasure the relationships that allow you to truly “be yourself.”

A woman sharing intimacy with a man is the most special thing she can offer. Never give it casually. Always remember that you are special in the eyes of the Lord.

Or don’t you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body. (1 Corinthians 6:18-20)

Thank You for Dirty Dishes

I have set the LORD continually before me; Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. (Psalm 16:8)

My mind was just blown…once again… while reading Secrets of the Proverbs 31 Woman by Rae Simons.

Many times the work of keeping up the house and family—the cooking, cleaning, putting away, cooking, cleaning, putting away…repeat…but also some giggles and joyful play with little ones—can feel menial.

WAIT! Menial?

Do you know what that word means? It’s earliest translation means “to remain, to dwell”.  Yes ladies (and gentlemen) that’s the Latin root for menial.

Don’t we take comfort in having a place to dwell and stay? Isn’t that the stability we all need deep down? Shouldn’t we take pride in creating a dwelling, a stable place for our most cherished people? Our family? To me these words bring up feelings of comfort and safety. I want to bring that into my children’s lives and my husband’s. So, why do we let our culture make it feel so minimized? So inferior?

Consider Psalm 123:2.

As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a female slave look to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the LORD our God, till he shows us his mercy.

“This verse,” say Ms. Simons, “puts God in the role of the housewife…God provides nourishment for us, clothes us, and opens loving arms to us. God watches over our affairs and is intimately involved in the physical details of our lives. So why do we find ourselves (sometimes or often) resenting the same sort of work we do for our families?”

Well, I don’t know! Perhaps we all just need a good nap! 😜

So in doing the redundant, but very necessary things that keep our lives in order and our families grounded and stable, let’s keep in mind that we were made in His image and have a big job to do and a very important job to do. Without which our most loved would be shaken and severely let down.


I almost ended here, until I remembered a question I was thinking about today. After a week of all 5 of us sick (ALL 5!!!) I was walking around putting the house back together and thinking why doesn’t anyone thank me? Where are the thankful hearts? HA! I feel like a fool.

So in closing, thank YOU, Lord, for your provisions, your constant care of me and my loved ones. Thank you for the dirty dishes because it means we ate well, for the dirty clothes and blankets because it means we were warm and cozy, and for the games and toys and just things to put away that we use to make memories and have laughs together.

Thank you God I AM grateful. 💜

Edited from Lisa LaFortune: Families! Change the World blog.


Blessed are the Meek


for they will inherit the earth. (Matthew 5:5)

A View of the Sea of Galilee from atop the Mount of Beatitudes

A View of the Sea of Galilee from atop the Mount of Beatitudes

Thousands gathered near the shore of Galilee and then up the mountain to hear Jesus of Nazareth speak the Beatitudes.

Question. Why does Jesus include the meekest among us for blessings? Why not achievers, perfectionists, geniuses, phenomes?

Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to save them on the day of the LORD’s wrath. In the fire of his jealousy the whole world will be consumed, for he will make a sudden end of all who live in the earth. (Zephaniah 1:18)

“Meekness,” says columnist Ed Morrissey, “is not weakness; it is the answer to sinful pride and avarice.” The meek, mourn their own sinfulness; they see the poor among us—the materially poor and those ignorant of the Lord. The meek know the Lord is with them through persecution and ridicule. The meek no longer fear loss of status or damage to pride.

He concludes, “We do not live in meek times, but then again, neither did the people of Jesus’ time.” Through meekness as our guiding principle, we shine the light of the Lord a little brighter. We can receive Christ’s blessings, and be Christ’s blessings in a fallen world.

The Time Challenge: Tanner Besosa Blogs from BMW

The Sovereign LORD is my strength; (Habakkuk 3:19)

Mark Lawrence Poster Print entitled Secret Separation. Matthew 6:6.

Mark Lawrence Poster Print entitled Secret Separation. Matthew 6:6.

College students must learn to deal with a relentless class schedule along with the stress of studying, relationships, and social events. The challenge is even greater because these provided quicker payoffs than time spent in spiritual growth.

In this post, Tanner discusses his time challenges, and how he navigates the Florida Free Bible, Mission, & Work Training Center (BMW) environment.

“Making time for devotions and prayer is pretty easy,” say Tanner, “because BMW sets aside 30 minutes each morning for quite time with God and prayer.”

Depending on the semester and the amount of homework due each week, Tanner tries to spend a good amount of time enjoying fellowship with his fellow students. “But first I always make sure to at least be caught up with all my homework.”

The time to put thoughts into action comes during discussions. In fact, says Tanner, the teachers “try to keep us away from debating about doctrinal topics, but do encourage us to study them and talk about them.” For example, during an Ethics class last semester, students were challenged to use the Bible to support their views on today’s controversial subjects.

Any environment for true learning requires that authority figures encourage growth through interaction. The faculty at BMW is open to different doctrinal views, as long as they are biblical and do not lead to a false teaching. There isn’t pressure to pick one doctrinal view over another. Rather, says Tanner, “We are expected to develop a doctrinal perspective, know it in depth, and defend it.”

Ultimately, learning and recognizing the time for application of knowledge is each student’s responsibility now and after graduation. Patience in this pursuit must not be overwhelmed by the need to speak.

Someone once said, “The day came when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” Trust in the Lord to reveal that day.

Love in Christ

Tanner Besosa

Habakkuk 3:17-19


Read more about Tanner’s college experience.

The diversity challenge

The faith challenge

The freedom challenge

His goals now and after college

Rejoice in What We May Become

Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19)

Charles Spurgeon was a British Baptist preacher who lived during the 19th century. It’s estimated that during his life he preached to around 10 million people and was a prolific writer.

Consider these words from Pastor Spurgeon, which are taken from one of his sermons.

I think I can say to every one of you—If you are already saved, then the work is only half done until you are active in bringing others to Christ.

You are as yet only half formed into the image of your Lord. You have not attained to the full development of the Christ-like life in you unless you have begun in some feeble way to tell to others of the grace of God: and I trust that you will find no rest to the sole of your foot until you have been the means of leading many to that blessed Savior who is your confidence and your hope.

His word is — “Follow me,” — not merely that you may be saved, nor even that you may be sanctified; but, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

Be following Christ with that intent and aim; and fear that you are not perfectly following him, unless in some degree he is making use of you to be fishers of men.

This Sunday join us at BCBC for fellowship  at 10:30 am and stay for worship at 11:00 am.

Disciples Path: A Life on Life Program at BCBC

And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ. (Acts 5:42)

In 2013, an evangelist, Philip, was teaching on the topic, small group ministry at the Kiev Theological Seminary in Ukraine.

Using an interpreter, he taught a group of church planters about the need and the process of small groups in their new churches. At one point, Philip says, he was convinced that they were just not getting it—not surprising given the cultural and language hurdles he needed to overcome.

While there, Philip learned something that is true everywhere.

  • Just because you speak does not mean that they heard you.
  • Just because they nodded their heads in affirmation does not mean that they understood.
  • Just because they said they understand does not mean that they agree.
  • Just because they agree does not mean that they will do it.

Using a lot of words should never be equated with people actually understanding and following through on what you’ve said. Plenty of explanation is always needed.

Whenever we lead, it’s critical to define our terms. We are regularly in churches across the country and speaking at conferences in which no one in the room has taken the time to define what they mean by the word “disciple.” We build a collection of buzzwords and everyone we lead just nods in support of our teaching. When it comes to identifying the meaning of the word disciple, We must do better.

Starting Sunday, January 29th and continuing through 2017

BCBC will begin a Life on Life discipleship series. Starting 9:30 am each Sunday in the Worship Center Library, Pastor Tommy, along with Elders Aaron, Brian, and Brent will teaching the class and share their stories.

All, church members and visitors, are invited to attend and participate in this important series.

Cost for the class is $10.00 for your student guide. A sign up sheet will be at the Welcome Desk.

Pastor Sam Bennett Devotional: Family and the Beauty of Broken


“The Prophet Jeremiah Mourning over the Destruction of Jerusalem.” Rembrandt van Rijn, 1630.

For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. (2 Corinthians 5:1)

Jeremiah is referred to as the weeping prophet because of the disheartening messages he delivered to the people of Israel and because of his poems in the book of Lamentations, which deal with the destruction of Jerusalem. However, God showed Jeremiah that no situation is irredeemable. No matter the defect, God remolded and reshaped the people of Israel into something useful and beautiful. All this occurred some 600 years before the birth of Jesus Christ.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

In the New Testament, the epistles of Paul echo many of the thoughts of Jeremiah.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (2 Cor. 5:17).

Thankfully, today the Lord is here to work in our broken families.

In her book, The Beauty of Broken, Elisa Morgan reminds us that the family is an imperfect institution. Broken people become broken parents who make broken families.

Broken is normal and exactly where God wants us.

Over the years, Ms. Morgan’s family struggled privately with many issues parents face, including alcoholism and drug addiction, infertility and adoption, teen pregnancy and abortion, divorce, homosexuality, and death.

It’s all overwhelming; but there’s hope for parents to grow and thrive with God.

Powerfully, she tells us, there’s no such thing as a perfect family. In one way or another, we all end up in broken families. Even God’s family was broken beginning with Adam and Eve.

God knows we are wayward. He’s not calling us to a life where everything looks perfect on the outside. He’s calling us to the other side of brokenness, because he loves us — the broken.

Hope and healing come when we discover that God accepts the beauty in our brokenness, and our Savior can remold and reshape his people into useful, beautiful creations.

The key is to be “in Christ”.

Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know. (Jeremiah 33:3)


Consider the Birds


Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? (Matthew 6:26)

Debbie Blue is a founding minister of House of Mercy, a church in St. Paul, Minnesota. She has published a book titled: Consider the Birds: A Provocative Guide to Birds of the Bible.

In the book, Pastor Blue covers the history, theology, and symbolism of birds discussed in the Bible: pelicans, eagles, vultures, ostriches, quail (and also pigeons).

Through these (usually) minor characters we receive poignant life lessons about humanity, faith, and God’s grace. Her thoughts on the sparrow — a common and somewhat nondescript bird — tell us of God’s love.

“God’s eye is on the sparrow. Our eyes are so often on something with a little more prestige… But the Scripture keeps pressing us to hear this: God loves what is ubiquitous. God loves the world — every single part of it — the bland, the ugly, the dingy squishy-faced, the monotonous and grating. There is no way in which God reserves God’s love for what the world finds beautiful or important. God loves the sinner. I believe God might like for us to have some of this love. Have it and share it — widely, all around.”

Jesus told us to consider the birds and recognize that we have nothing to worry about if we trust God to care for our daily needs. Amy Julia Becker reviewed Pastor Blue’s book and suggests that perhaps he also told us to consider the birds because they have much to teach and transform within us.

Christmas Gifts: Good Will Towards Men From God

Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests. (Luke 2:14)

Rick Walston, founder and president of Columbia Evangelical Seminary, reminds us of the primary meaning behind Luke 2:14. “People often chant ‘Peace on earth good will toward men,’ as a way of saying that we should have good will between our fellow humans during Christmas season.” They imply, says Dr. Watson, “have ‘peace on earth’ during this time.”

But what was actually meant by the angels on that night in the pasture was not “peace between men of good will” or even “peace and good will between men.” It was peace on earth and good will toward men from God. It was a gift.

Furthermore, says Pastor Mark Roberts of the Laity Lodge in the Hill Country of Texas, “Every modern translation of which I am aware appears to limit good will to those who please God, not to all people.” For example, The Message reads…

Glory to God in the heavenly heights, Peace to all men and women on earth who please him. (Luke 2:14).

Reading further in Luke reveals the true identity of the infant Jesus whom Simeon blessed along with his parents in the Jerusalem temple. Jesus’ objective went beyond to Israel — even to the world.

Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel. (Luke 2:29-32)

Simeon recognized that Jesus came to reveal God’s love to all people — Israel and beyond.

Christmas is a good time to reflect on Jesus Christ. His gift is available to everyone. Decide if you want God’s peace and his good will toward you. If so, accept his one and only Son as your savior. No one else can give you peace with God. No one else can cause God to pour out his good will toward you.

Only Jesus.

Christmas: A Time to Develop Selflessness

Rain Before Christmas. Leonid Afremov

Rain Before Christmas. Leonid Afremov

For God so loved the world that he gave…(John 3:16)

When we  ask our children “What do you want for Christmas?”,
we are asking a question that breeds selfishness.

In order to develop selflessness we should be asking
“What are you going to give?”

Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to. (Deuteronomy 15:10)

Christmas is the celebration of God’s great gift giving.

Robert Flatt

Christmas Emotion. Leonid Afremov

Christmas Emotion. Leonid Afremov

Christmas: Peace in Distant Hills

A Misty Morning -- Graham Edwards

A Misty Morning — Graham Edwards

Teach us to value most eternal things…


To find the happiness

that giving brings…


To know the peace

of misty, distant hills…


To know the joy

that giving self fulfils…


To realize anew

this Christmas Day…


The things we keep are those we give away.

M. D. Winsett

Pastor Sam Bennett Devotional: Love for One and Other

Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself. All the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40)

Rising Love. Robert Pavao

Rising Love. Robert Pavao

Aran sweaters from the islands off the West coast of Ireland are intimately linked to the clans who live there. In addition to repelling water, the complex, textured stitch patterns on each garment are purposely designed to identify the people who wear them. In fact, Aran sweaters have been used to help identify bodies of fishermen washed up on the beach following an accident at sea.

As Christians, we wear breastplates. They’re not tactile; they’re woven by faith and sewn with the love of our Heavenly Father. Our breastplates work best when we speak to others with love. That doesn’t mean we must harness our beliefs, but information, correction, and admonition to others must always be done in the context of love.

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. (Ephesians 4:1-2)

But was Jesus speaking with love or sarcasm when spoke to Nicodemus?

Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you don’t understand these things? (John 3:10)

Was Jesus acting with love or anger when he cleared the temple courts?

So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the moneychangers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market! (John 2:15-16)

From a 21st century perspective where sarcasm and anger prevail, it’s easy for us to interpret the words of Jesus with an “attitude”. So, how do we reconcile statements and actions read in the 21st century with the Jesus of the first century? How do we guarantee that we receive God’s message without the oppressive influence of 21st century culture?

The answer is through love, of course. Origen, who was Bishop of Alexandria during the second century, taught that most people fail to recognize the deeper truths enshrined in scripture, because they don’t realize that aside from a literal reading, we must journey into scripture’s very soul.

When reading the word of God remember the most important commandments. Interpret everything Jesus did as an act of love. Nicodemus didn’t understand; but rather than dismiss him, Jesus showed love by repeating his lesson 3 times. Jesus overturned the moneychangers’ tables, but there’s no evidence he caused physical harm to anyone in the temple courtyard. Lessons were stern but never punitive.

Each day, in all things, wear your breastplate — your beautiful heavenly Aran sweater — with love. So that everyone will recognize you as a child of God, always.


Participate in the ABCCM Honor Card Program

Are you looking for a gift for someone who is hard to buy for?

untitledGive an “honor” Christmas card through ABCCM and help meet the needs of the homeless in Buncombe County.  You make a donation to ABCCM in honor of the person and send them a Christmas card letting them know that a gift has been given in their honor.

You can get make a donation and get a card at the information desk.

The Diversity Challenge: Tanner Besosa Blogs from BMW

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)

The Minnow In a Sea of Diversity. David Larkins

The Minnow In a Sea of Diversity. David Larkins

College presents students with not only ethnic diversity but a confrontation between different beliefs, world views, and moral choices. In this post, Tanner Besosa addresses the third challenge facing college students: the diversity challenge.

How do you deal with challenges raised by alternative views to your own faith—both in the classroom and in the dorm room?

Most of the time when other views come up in class, as long as it is not against Biblical standards and is just a doctrinal view, I just let it go.

It is part of the Florida Free Bible, Missionary, & Work Training Center (BMW) rules not to argue those things, and in Paul’s second letter to Timothy he warns him to stay away from those arguments

Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. Their teaching will spread like gangrene. (2 Timothy 2:16-17).

Outside of the classroom it is a lot different because of the different views of faith. Also, there are a lot of challenges that come from BMW rules. This is because there are rules that don’t come from biblical standards. They are rules that the school put in place. So, it is difficult when I personally don’t believe something is wrong and the rules say otherwise, this can be a big challenge.

I would appreciate your prayers while facing this challenge while I am here, to have integrity in all things according to the rules and authority I am under.

Love in Christ,

Tanner Besosa


The first post of Tanner’s blog can be found here.

The second entry is here.

Read the third entry here.

Tanner Besosa: His Goals Now and After College

So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no manner of hurt was found upon him, because he believed in his God. (Daniel 6:23)

In this post, Tanner Besosa tells us about how he is using his time at the Florida Free Bible, Missionary, & Work Training Center (BMW) to prepare for life after graduation.

A major in bible and a minor in missions

“I am working towards a major in bible and a minor in missions,” says Tanner. BMW gives us a working knowledge of the bible as well as missionary life skills.

Fine medieval carving of Daniel in the Lion's Den, column capital, abbey of Sant' Antimo, Tuscany.

Fine medieval carving of Daniel in the Lion’s Den, column capital, abbey of Sant’ Antimo, Tuscany.

How is college going for you? 

As I like to say, “I haven’t failed yet so it’s going really good!”

In reality, all is going well. My most challenging class is probably my most meaningful one—the study of the books of Daniel and Revelation.

I knew both books pretty well before this class, which helped a lot. However, the challenging part is the teacher, a very wise and godly man. He pushes hard to get the very best out of us. This is also why it is such a meaningful class for me. These are difficult books by themselves, and pushing to dig deeper into them means that I get so much more from the books. I see things I just didn’t look hard enough to find before.

And after college?

My goal after BMW is to become either a preacher, youth pastor, missionary, or a calling in that arena. I, however, am first looking to get my aviation pilot license. Then to use my training to be a missionary to unreached people groups, bringing the Gospel to those who have still not heard the Word. Today there are around 6,500 people groups that aren’t reached yet, and I would like to make it 6,499.

Tanner Besosa

Tanner Besosa

Stay well,



The first post of Tanner’s blog can be found here.

The second entry is here.

Stephen Hyder: Prayer as a First Step Towards a New Job

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)

Stephen Hyer (second from right) with members of the BCBC youth ministry.

Stephen Hyer (second from right) with members of the BCBC youth ministry.

Losing a job is one of the most stressful life experiences. And today, nearly 94 million Americans are neither employed nor looking for work.

For them, it’s normal to feel angry, hurt, depressed, scared, and grief at all that they’ve lost. It’s normal to feel anxious about what the future holds.

Job loss and unemployment can rock your sense of purpose and self-esteem.

While it can all seem overwhelming, there are many things you can do to take control of the situation. And at the top of the list is prayer.

Pastor Tommy tells us, “Prayer is a cornerstone of life.”

On life’s journey, sometimes prayer is forgotten. It can get lost as we become overwhelmed by issues of the moment.

Stephen Hyder recently went through one of those times—the fear of a job slipping away followed by the trepidation of a job lost. But unlike many who in difficult times forget to pray, he turned towards prayer for support and guidance.

Here is his moving story.

Pastor Tommy Bridges Devotional: Do You Wish to Be Seen or to See?

1001133_575870899102572_1919314115_n“What do you want me to do for you?” he asked. (Mark 10:36)              


Marilyn Chandler McEntyre advocates for developing careful habits of reading and writing among Christians. In her book, What’s in a Phrase? Pausing Where Scripture Gives You Pause, Dr. McEntyre, who is Professor of English at Westmont College, in California, discusses the value of dwelling on passages of Scripture that grab our attention.

Pastor Tommy refers us to the meaning of two well-known bible stories in The Gospel of Mark, Chapter 10. In both, Jesus asks the petitioners the same question: “What do you want me to do for you?”

Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask.”

“What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.

They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.” (Mark 10:35-37)

Later, as Jesus and his disciples are leaving Jericho, a blind man, Bartimaeus, was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

And throwing off his outer garment, he leaped up and came to Jesus.  And Jesus said to him, What do you want Me to do for you? And the blind man said to Him, Master, let me receive my sight. And Jesus said to him, Go your way; your faith has healed you. And at once he received his sight and accompanied Jesus on the road. (Mark 10:50-52)

To both the apostles and the blind man, Jesus’ question was the same. “What do you want me to do for you?” In one case it was to be seen with Jesus in a position of authority. In the other, it was to see Jesus.

The issue for each of us is to recognize why we want to see.

Warm Sweet Junes

Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.  (Proverbs 31:10)

Cougar Adult Groomin beautiful amazing

Cougar Adult Groomin beautiful amazing

I’m reading Secrets of the Proverbs 31 Woman by Rae Simons. One chapter tells a great story picture about marriage that I thought I’d share. It’s about gaining perspective over time. About how marriage is in part about the art of reconciliation. Being able to reconcile differences and trusting each other with our intentions and our shortcomings.

This woman is totally faithful to her husband. He can have confidence in her, because she will not let him down….

He does not maintain jealous guard over her or keep his valuables locked up so that she cannot access them. (Proverbs 31:11)

Your husband needs to be able to count on your ability to love him no matter what and even give him a pass if he’s a little more self-consumed or preoccupied one day.

And husbands, giving your wife the benefit of the doubt when she’s just not herself, and building up a trust where she knows it won’t be held against her is crucial. This trust in one another is the bridge between you.

It is the only way to keep walls from going up. Walls that could block the sun when seasons change…

The author says, “Like the seasons, married love has cycles. Sometimes our marriages may seem cold and dead as January, but if we wait, if we’re patient, spring always comes once more… It would be easier to run away the first time November’s chilly gray skies settle over our marriages. But just think of all the warm, sweet June’s we would miss if we did!”

The author talks about the greater perspective after going through these ups and downs… and back ups. The marriage ceremony doesn’t “cancel out our selfish nature”. Instead it’s a continued understanding that things will get hard now and then, but it’s the dedication to reconciling differences for a lifetime that gets you through.

Waaaarm sweeeet Juuuuunes. ☀️🍡

Edited from Lisa LaFortune: Families! Change the World blog.



Fear the Lord

continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, (Philippians 2:12)

God the Father and the Sinner. Ladislav Záborský, 2007.

God the Father and the Sinner. Ladislav Záborský, 2007.

The Bible uses the word fear at least 300 times in reference to God. Today, fear usually refers to an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat. And it is used this way in the Bible as well.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. (Psalm 23:4)

But there are two sides of fear in the Bible. Yes, there is fear displayed as cowering in dread and terror in anticipation of displeasure. But there is also fear based on awe, reverence, and obedience.

Dr. David Jones in his audio lecture on Christian ethics describes fear of the Lord as reverent submission motivated by love. Love is key. It is love as it might be offered to a parent by a child because the little one knows that all needs will be met and life is safe from harm.

Eugene Merrill, a distinguished professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, assures us that “fear of God lies at the heart of successful living in the world. Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, a fear equated with the ‘knowledge of the Holy One’”.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise. (Psalm 111:10)

“To fear God,” continues Professor Merrill, “is to know him and to know him is to fear him. Such healthy fear enables one to praise God.”

He said in a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water.” (Revelation 14:7)

Reverent submission that motivates us to obey him — fear of the Lord — allows us to enjoy his benefits and blessings.

But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children — with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts. (Psalm 103:17-18)

Steadfast obedience that is motivated by love — fear of the Lord — is to rest in peace and security.

They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.  Their hearts are secure; they will have no fear; in the end they will look in triumph on their foes. (Psalm 112:7-8)

Fear that allows us to warm ourselves in his peace and security, offers, in the long run, a satisfying life.

The fear of the Lord adds length to life, but the years of the wicked are cut short. (Proverbs 10:27).

Praise our Lord, and fear him as a child towards a loving parent.



Deacon Means Servant

Paul and Timothy, the servants 
of Jesus Christ, to all the saints 
in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons. (Philippians 1:1)

Pastor Tommy Bridges with our new deacons, Don Fender and Daniel Byers

Pastor Tommy Bridges with our new deacons, Don Fender and Daniel Byers

Last Sunday, Don Fender and Daniel Byers were installed as deacons at BCBC. It is a noble undertaking.

Deacon, diakonia, means service at the table, and is mentioned 34 times in the New Testament. Don and Daniel join a long and distinguished group of men of the church in a service that has evolved since the early days of the Apostles in Jerusalem.

Here’s some history

Early on, the apostles, in dealing with the benevolence ministry problem at the Jerusalem church, told the congregation…

It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. Acts 6:2-4 (NKJV)

“Business” in this sense according to the Greek “chreia” means “need”.

Derek Gentle, writing in The Baptist Start Page, traces the history of Deacons. From the 2nd through 5th centuries, deacons were the real agents of charity provided through the church. They served the needs of widows and orphans. They visited the martyrs in prison and helped to train new converts. They watched over the church members, reporting to the bishop any who seemed about to fall away. They also attempted to restore the excommunicated.

Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. (Acts 20:28)

The Middle Ages 

For a long period from the 5th to the 15th century, the Office of Deacon changed and less resembled the New Testament model. Medieval deacons assumed an increasingly ecclesiastical role. It became a path to advance to the priesthood.

The Reformation

This again changed during the reformation, which started in the 16th century. Martin Luther stated, “The diaconate is the ministry, not of reading the Gospel or the Epistle, as is the present practice, but of distributing the church’s aid to the poor.”

John Calvin agreed, “Scripture specifically designates as deacons those whom the church has appointed to distribute alms and take care of the poor, and serve as stewards of the common chest for the poor.”

Similarly, in the early 1600’s, John Smyth, an early Baptist minister in England and a defender of the principle of religious liberty, and Thomas Helwys, one of the founders, of General Baptist denomination, saw the primary role of deacons as carrying out the benevolence ministry of the church.

An expanding role again

By the latter half of the 18th century however, the activities of deacons expanded this time to include serving as business managers for the church in order to relieve the pastor from the secular concerns of the church.

In 1846, R. B. C. Howell, an early Tennessee Baptist and editor, referred to deacons as, “A board of directors, and have charge of the all the secular affairs in the kingdom of Christ.”

Deacons today

Deacon Cross by Ron Schmidt

Deacon Cross by Ron Schmidt

By the 1950’s and intensifying in the 1970’s this role for deacons was rejected. In 1991 Jerry Songer, of the Chattanooga Central Baptist Church, wrote that, “The board of deacons and business manager concept is no longer a viable model”

Baptists today agree that God established the deacon position to provide servant leadership for churches. According to the Bible, the office of deacon is an honor and a blessing.

For those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 3:13).

We thank Don Fender and Daniel Byers for their service.


Thanks to Doug Van Wirt for the photo.

Baptists: A History of Discipleship

“teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 28:19).

Anabaptists of Philadelphia witness a full immersion baptism.

Anabaptists of Philadelphia witness a full immersion baptism. …

Missions and discipleship are an important part of what we do at Bent Creek Baptist Church. The roots of this calling goes back to the Anabaptists who came on the heels Martin Luther’s reformation.

Baptist, like other reform movements in the 16th century believed in four principles.

First, a person saved not by works but by faith alone.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. (Ephesians 2:8)

Second, religious authority is found in the Bible in the Word of God (not church authorities).

Every scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, (2 Timothy 3:16)

Third, the church is defined as the whole community of Christian believers, since all are priests before God.

Thus, all Christians are of that holy priesthood and can offer spiritual sacrifices to God. All have the right to go directly to God through Jesus Christ, our High Priest (Hebrews 4:14-16).

Finally, the essence of Christian living is found in serving God in any useful calling, whether ordained or lay.

Encourage younger men likewise to be self-controlled, showing yourself to be an example of good works in every way. In your teaching show integrity, dignity, and a sound message that cannot be criticized, so that any opponent will be at a loss, because he has nothing evil to say about us. (Titus 2:6-8)

To this day any classical description of Protestantism echoes those central truths.

The source of Baptist Protestantism, as told by Bruce Shelley in his book, Church History in Plain Language goes back to 1525 in Zurich, Switzerland. On a wintry night, like-minded individuals met and defined what it means to be baptized. Only four days before this meeting, the church warned all parents to have their babies baptized within eight days of birth or face banishment from the territory. This tradition, played out on a little baby, lacked meaning. For Anabaptists, baptism should be reserved as an informed statement of commitment to Christ—something impossible to expect from a baby.

and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, (1 Peter 3:21)

After discussion and calling on God to do his will, these brave men arose from prayer and took one of the most decisive action in Christian history. George Blaurock, a former priest, asked Conrad Grebel for baptism in the apostolic fashion—upon confession of personal faith in Jesus Christ. There he was baptized and proceeded to baptize the others. Thus, Anabaptism the forerunner of today’s Baptists and an important expression of the Protestant Reformation, was born.

In life, Baptists strive to demonstrate that those who live most devoutly for the world to come are often in the best position to change the world of the present. Accordingly, at Bent Creek Baptist Church, we are a family of disciples who do our best to live out faith as a model of God’s grace.

Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, (Matthew 28:19)

Join us each Sunday at 10:30 am for coffee and fellowship and stay with your neighbors for church service at 11 am.

The Freedom Challenge: Tanner Besosa Blogs from BMW

Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. (1 Peter 2:16)

Tanner Besosa

Tanner Besosa

Tanner spent time last week dealing with Hurricane Matthew. The Florida Free BibleMissionary, & Work Training Center (BMW) evacuated the students to one of their sister ministries in Indiana. They are safe, and are now back fixing the minor damage around campus.

The Freedom Challenge

Among the challenges faced by college students is the freedom challenge. Out from under parental guidance and restrictions, priorities can change. For Tanner this has “made my responsibility for school work and spiritual life increase, because I no longer have anyone to push me to do school work or my alone time with God.” The responsibility falls on him now, and this “forces” him to be responsible.

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. (2 Timothy 1:7)

Freedom in Christ III

Freedom in Christ III

Some of the challenges faced by a student at BMW differ from those confronted by students attending a secular college. For example, how do you say no to your friends when they choose to do something that you are uncomfortable with? “Most of the time,” says Tanner, “I do not have to say no to my friends, but every now and then I do have to say no so that I do not fall behind on school work. For the most part, none of my friends take part in immoral living.”

At BMW however, students have differing views of Christ. “Teen Missions doesn’t lean to one or another doctoral view, so people from different denominations can work together without one or the other being pushed aside. But it does sometimes make for debates on doctrinal issues. Yet, by the goodness of God, it never affects our ministry here.”

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma. (Ephesians 5:1-2)

Next time, we’ll discuss the diversity challenge for students.

The first post of Tanner’s blog can be found here.

Each of Us, Evangelists

For this is what the Lord has commanded us: “I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 13:47)

The Light of the World, Holman Hunt, 1853

The Light of the World, Holman Hunt, 1853

Over the past few Sundays, Pastor Tommy has described a vision for the BCBC congregation to take their faith to their neighbors as a natural part of our daily interactions.

Today, Pastor Erwin W. Lutzer, writing for Decision Magazine, made a similar plea.

Says Pastor Lutzer, “We want God to come in great power to convert people, but the Bible stresses the need for personal evangelism. I believe that America’s crumbling walls cannot be rebuilt until Christians—bankers, lawyers, nurses, factory workers—all see themselves as representatives of Christ wherever He has planted them.”

But here’s the challenge…

You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. (Matthew 5:13)

“One of my greatest disappointments,” he continues, “is the number of Christians who work next to unbelievers without ever making it clear that they are Christians. Lovingly and winsomely [sweetly, innocently, charming, winning, engaging], we must share the Gospel message through our lips and testify to its transformative power by our lives. Unless that happens, America’s walls will not be rebuilt.”

“We as the church,” he concludes, “through the power of the Gospel, have the seeds of renewal. Unless they are watered, cared for and cultivated, we will not rebuild our crumbling walls.”

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. (Matthew 5:14)

Wake up to the Importance of the Lord’s Message in Sunday School

For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. (Romans 15:4)

Some people might think that church membership alone is sufficient to save their souls. But realize this fact. Salvation requires knowledge of God, as well as obedience to him.

And Sunday School is the place to gain that knowledge. It’s the tool that guides a systematic study of the Gospel and ushers knowledge and joyful obedience to God by every father, mother, and child.

We have started new Sunday School lessons. Select the one that interest you. Each will be insightful and fulfilling.

  • The Meaning of Marriage based on the best selling book by Timothy and Kathy Keller and Spence Shelton.
  • Romans based on the Max Lucado Life Lessons.
  • Fundamentals of the Faith: 13 lessons by John MacArthur to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ.
  • Bible Studies for Life: targeted to senior adults and based on Unvarnished Truth by Blake Gideon and Unstoppable Gospel by Gregg Matte.

It all happens in BCBC Sunday School… Bent Creek Baptist Church Sunday School.

After Sunday School? Please linger a while for coffee, cake, fellowship, and the BCBC worship service at 11 am.

You’re Getting There, One Brave Day at a Time

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. (2 Timothy 1:7)

Brave mamas and papas. I used to think the “brave” referred to facing the long days, the tired babies, the relentless needs of our precious children. Teaching them and letting them go as they grow up. Braving the hard that comes with parenting and marriage.

I was wrong.

Brave mamas and papas you are brave because you’re staring Satan in the eyes each day and telling him he can not have your family. You’re standing up to the brokenness that surround your young ones. In the world and in your home. The competing themes that pull in you and your Godly intentions for your babies. We wake up every morning, and sometimes during the night, and we brave the chance that our reaction will be impatient, selfish, unloving, unkind. Whether you feel it each evening as you start the nighttime routine, or if you haven’t felt it in awhile, the opportunity for an impatient and tired response is there. But that’s not what God intended.

The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you. (2 Timothy 4:22)

It could be the subtle message you send your kids when you’re more concerned with updating your status on FB. The message that tells them they don’t come before others, or they’re not interesting enough.

It could be the way you treat your spouse when you’re tired and rushing to get out the door. When you ignore the moment it takes to kiss goodbye, or spend the moment being short with each other, instead of saying “I love you.” I’m guilty of this too.

It’s all disguised as a small, don’t-give-it-a-second-thought reaction to the hustle and bustle of the day.

Don’t be fooled.

This is Satan at work, slowly and systematically breaking down the safety net in your kids world. Playing with the subconscious of your spouse as they wonder why that moment wasn’t worth a friendly loving goodbye.

If we remember, God asked us to multiply, to have a family and be stewards to our little ones and to hold each other up as husband and wife. Satan would like nothing more than to tear our family down. If you suffer in your marriage, spend time reconnecting. Don’t let Satan have a clear shot at your children through a broken connection with your spouse. Pray for each other. Find time to spend together.

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:7)

If you can’t find the energy to marvel at your children no matter the age, get away for a morning and recharge your batteries. Then go back to them and stare at them closely as they tell you something about their day. It will come back to you. The wonder and amazement they bring to your heart. Think past the difficult season you might be in to where you want your family to be in the future. You’re getting there, one brave day at a time


Edited from Lisa LaFortune: Families! Change the World blog.

The Faith Challenge: Tanner Besosa Blogs From BMW

For the protection of wisdom is like the protection of money, and the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom preserves the life of him who has it. (Ecclesiastes 7:12)

Tanner Besosa

Tanner Besosa

The college experience reveals the quality and depth of a student’s faith. Hopefully, students grow spiritually and strengthen their faith through the challenges of the college experience. Sadly, others walk away from their faith or compartmentalize their faith as they struggle to navigate the complexities of college life.

Tanner Besosa has graciously agreed to let us go to college with him as he starts his second year at Florida Free Bible, Missionary, & Work Training Center. BMW trains missionaries and is underwritten by Teen Missions International, Inc. He is taking six classes this semester: Miner Prophets, General Epistles, Ethics, Daniel and Revelation, as well as Biblical Psychology. The sixth, Pauline Epistles, is the one he looks forward to most. Says Tanner, “The teacher of this class is one of the wisest men of God I know, who thinks through the deep spiritual matters of the Bible in the same way I do. It makes it easier and better for me to understand, and for me to get excited about.”

Teen Missions World Headquarters

Teen Missions World Headquarters

So, what are the faith challenges facing Tanner during this crucial time in his life? An article posted on the Cedarville University website lists ten challenges faced by Christian Students as they start college. Over the next few weeks we will explore each of these from Tanner’s perspective.

Challenge 1: Faith identity

In high school, faith was associated and supported by familiar places and people. Now those keystones are missing. Does it matter?

Tanner tells us that during his time at BMW, “There are some things that I do not hold the same as my father and mother, nothing major, but still small differences. [However,] I do find their faith very supporting and they are still my greatest teacher in the faith, and when I hit hard problems they always point me back in the way that I should go.”

When asked why he believes, Tanner replies, “This is a question that changed not too long ago for me. I used to say I have seen the change in my life and I feel Him inside of me, but Jeremiah tells us, “the heart is deceitful above all things,” so that I cannot trust what I feel.

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9

Beyond feelings, continues Tanner, “I have found that I must have faith in Christ above all things. That when the enemy tries to make me feel far from God and downcast, that my heart is lying to me, and I must hold on to my faith in Christ above all.”

His biggest challenge this year

You might think that the biggest challenge in college is the course load, but for Tanner the challenge is to measure up.

“The greatest challenge this year,” he says, “will be that we have a group of new Bible students. I want to be able to do as good of a job as those that helped me fit in and find the groove of everything when I had first started.” Beyond good works, Tanner has “been in prayer for the new students.”

In closing, Tanner wishes the best for those of us back home. “I’d like to thank all of you back home praying for me and supporting me as I am here growing in our Lord, and I pray that He is blessing your life every day!”

Next time, we’ll explore the Freedom Challenge faced by all college students living far from home.