Christianity is growing in the U.S.

We are told routinely that, religious faith in America is declining. It’s just a matter of time until Christianity’s total extinction, according to the cultural elites.

Is this true?

No, it’s not, according to a study last year by Harvard University and Indiana University Bloomington.

Here’s a snapshot of Christianity today in America.

The percentages of Americans who are the most vibrant and serious in their faith is actually increasing. In 1989, 39% of those who belonged to a religion held strong beliefs and practices, vs. 47% of all the religiously affiliated.

Compared to other countries…

  • One in three Americans prays multiple times a day, vs. one in 15 in other countries
  • Attending services more than once a week is three times higher than the average comparable nation.

The United States “clearly stands out as exceptional,” and this exceptionalism is not decreasing.

How is it that these findings appear so contrary to what we hear in the popular press?

Author Glenn Stanton concludes, “It comes down primarily to what kind of faith one is talking about. Not the belief system itself, per se, but the intensity and seriousness with which people hold and practice that faith.”

Evangelical churches gain five new congregants exiled from the liberal churches for every one they lose for any reason. They also do a better job of retaining believers from childhood to adulthood than do mainline churches.

You can read more at The Federalist,




ABCCM Requests Donations of Food

And he answered them, “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.” (Luke 3:11)

ABCCM (Asheville Buncombe Community Christian Ministry) is requesting donations of cooking oil, sugar, canned meat such as chicken and tuna, salt, jelly, and jam in support of its assistance program for the poor.

ABCCM helps our neighbors in need, combining public funds and with local contributions to meet critical needs. You can learn more about ABCCM here.

The BCBC Young at Heart Sunday School Class will have a collection area in its classroom and will deliver all the items collected. If you are able to donate any of these items, or other things that could be used to help provide food for the homeless or those in need, please bring them to the BCBC Worship Center.  This is a continuing project sponsored by the class.

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.

Acknowledge Him Before Others

I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. (Psalm 16:8)

Being a role model for others is very important in Christianity. We are to be the light of the world. So, don’t ya just love it when a successful, gifted person puts their faith up front as a natural part of their lives! Not for show. Not to promote. Just a normal part of their existence.

Craig Hawkins

Craig Hawkins

Here’s a talented artist who does just that.

Artist, Craig Hawkins (who lives in Valdosta, Georgia) when asked about his favorite books listed…

  • The Gospel of John by John the Apostle
  • Recapture the Wonder by Ravi Zacharias
  • Refractions by Makoto Fujimura
  • Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
  • Love Does by Bob Goff
  • You are Mine by Max Lucado

Where do you find inspiration?

hymn99 (1)Sermons, books, podcasts, good conversation, and good art. Scripture, conversations with God, my wife, my kids, good art, and my job as an assistant professor of art.

What was the moment you realized you wanted to be a full time artist?

It became a commitment during my freshman year of college. Up until that point it was something I loved to do and couldn’t see myself not doing, but I didn’t know where to go with it. I became a Christian that same year and my walk with Christ is deeply connected to my art making.

Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:21)

Do you ever get creatively stuck?

Amber Cloud

Amber Cloud

If I believe that we are communal creatures designed for fellowship, then that belief will lead to developing work that shows this concept… For me this happens as my relationship with God grows… My intentional following of Jesus determines what content I entertain and invest my time in at the table of my ideas.

Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. (Matthew 10:32)

“One of the sins of this generation is to make religion a private thing,” says Dave Whitehead, Senior Pastor, “It never was meant to be private, and the discomfort of making our faith public proclaims God’s control in our lives.”

Do not shrink from this opportunity. Fortify yourself. Join us next Sunday at 11 am. Better yet, come to Sunday School at 9:30 am, and meet your new companions in faith.

Credit to Anne Nelson Fine Art in Charlotte for the quotes re-quoted here.

Pray for Those in the Massive NC Auto Accident

You, Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light. (Psalm 18:28)

The Times-News reports, “More than 100 cars and trucks were backed up for miles — and hours — Sunday on Interstate 40/85 in Alamance County following a chain reaction of collisions.” The incident was reported around 6:45 am Monday near exit 289 on I-40 westbound

You can read the article here.

Ambulances from Emergency Medical Services in Orange, Chatham, and Guilford counties were brought in to handle patients needing to be transported to area hospitals.

My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life. (Psalm 119:50)

According to this report, “There were no life-threatening injuries as a result of the crashes, despite one of the early ones involving a Jeep landing on top of at least one other car.”

Have a Sweet Ride You’d Like to Show Off?

Car showRegister today for the Bent Creek Vintage Car Show, Saturday, April 30th, 11AM-3PM!

We’d love to help you show off your pre-1976 car, truck, or motorcycle and help the Asheville Humane Society at the same time.

That’s right. All proceeds will go to the Asheville Humane Society.

Registration is $25.00 due by 3/31/16.

Space is limited. So, print the Car Show Registration Form, fill it out, and follow the instructions to submit to reserve your place at the BCBC Vintage Car Show.

See you at the Bent Creek Baptist Church, 1554 Brevard Road, Asheville, NC on April 30th for the Bent Creek Vintage Car Show.


Car show


Register Now

Car Show Registration Form is here.

Download it, fill it out, and follow the instructions.

The date is Saturday, April 30th, from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm.

The location is nestled in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains by the Blue Ridge Parkway and French Broad River.

Featured vehicles include pre-1975 American & foreign cars, trucks, & motorcycles.

Register early because only 60 entries are available for the car show. Each location will provide sufficient room for several chairs and a small table.

Registration fee is $25.00, with payment due by March 31st 2016. 

The Asheville Humane Society will receive 100% of the proceeds.


Car show


Antonin Scalia: “We Are Fools for Christ’s Sake.”

If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. (John 15:18)

Justice Antonin Scalia (1936-2016)

Justice Antonin Scalia (1936-2016)

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who died Saturday, was known for a sharp wit and a brilliant legal mind. Among other things, he was a champion of religious liberty.

Google “Scalia” and you will find many quotes by this man and articles on his impact on America.

Most true and reassuring however, is his observation of the cost of serving the Lord publicly.

“God assumed from the beginning that the wise of the world would view Christians as fools…and He has not been disappointed. Devout Christians are destined to be regarded as fools in modern society. We are fools for Christ’s sake. We must pray for courage to endure the scorn of the sophisticated world… Have the courage to have your wisdom regarded as stupidity. Be fools for Christ. And have the courage to suffer the contempt of the sophisticated world.

For the Lord will not forsake his people; he will not abandon his heritage; (Psalm 94:14)

If, because of sin, fools we must be, then for Christ’s sake let us resolve to be holy fools, whether of one kind or of the another, writes Randall Scott.

It’s really a small price to pay to enjoy the grace of the Lord.

The Legacy of Meadow Lemon

…but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31)

Meadowlark and his wife, Dr. Cynthia Lemon, 1994

Meadowlark and his wife, Dr. Cynthia Lemon, 1994

“Meadowlark” Lemon died yesterday. He was 83 years old.

For 22 years, people from around the world laughed at the antics of the kid from Wilmington, N.C. He was the “Clown Prince” of the touring Harlem Globetrotters basketball team. His name and patented hook shot are ingrained in the memories of multiple generations.

But more important than this, Pastor Lemon was a born-again Christian. He became an ordained minister in 1986.

“I have to keep moving,” Pastor Meadowlark once said. “The only time I wait is when I’m waiting for God’s correct direction. You can’t run ahead of God. If you are two blocks ahead of God and He turns off, you miss it and that can be a long distance in the wrong direction. I don’t want to miss it.”

In 1994 he and his wife, Dr. Cynthia Lemon, founded Meadowlark Lemon Ministries, a non-profit organization dedicated to “changing lives, to change the world.”

His most meaningful quote for Christians (and everybody, really) comes from his book, Trust Your Next Shot. “It’s the joy that counts in life…. I want you to always remember that life’s most meaningless statistic is the half time score, and as far as I’m concerned it’s always half-time. I wish you joy, my friends. In the great game of life, trust your next shot.”

Meadow Lemon III, rest in peace.

"Meadowlark" Lemon

“Meadowlark” Lemon

Happy Thanksgiving: Give Thanks for Fewer Abortions

Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. (Psalm 127:3)

Here are excerpts from an article in today.

According to newly-released statistics from the CDC, the number of abortions in 2012 (the latest year available) were at “historic lows,” with approximately 13 abortions per every 1,000 women.

This is a continuation of past trends, and the abortion rate has been effectively halved since 1974, the first year after the Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade that legalized the procedure throughout the country.

About 699,000 abortions were reported to the federal government in 2012 — about 31,000 fewer than the year before.

For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O Lord, from my youth. Upon you I have leaned from before my birth; you are he who took me from my mother’s womb. My praise is continually of you.(Psalm 71:5-6)

Have a happy day.

If Abortion Is About Women’s Rights, Then What Were Mine?

Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger. (Psalm 8:2)

Here are three heroes in the fight against infanticide (abortion). Gianna Jessen lives in Tennessee and Ms. Melissa Ohden in Missouri. Gianna loves music and has cerebral palsy. Melissa has a master’s degree in social work and is a wife and mother.

Gianna Jessen, left, Melissa Ohden, right, testify before the House Judiciary Committee, Sept. 9, 2015 in Washington.

Gianna Jessen, left, Melissa Ohden, right, testify before the House Judiciary Committee, Sept. 9, 2015 in Washington.

Both survived attempted saline abortions in 1977.

The third hero is Julie Roys, a reporter who explores and documents important issues facing Christians today. Her story is here.

On September 9th, Ms. Jessen and Ms. Ohden testified before the House Judiciary Committee investigating Planned Parenthood’s practice of harvesting and selling the body parts of aborted babies — even from those that may have been born alive.

“If abortion is about women’s rights, then what were mine?” Ms, Jessen asked the Committee.  “I was later diagnosed with cerebral palsy, which was caused by a lack of oxygen to my brain while surviving the abortion.”

Born after soaking five days in a toxic saline solution, Ms. Ohden miraculously survived her mother’s abortion. But, as she testified, “(I)f my birthmother’s abortion would have taken place at a Planned Parenthood, I would not be here today. Completing over 300,000 abortions a year provides them with the experience to make sure that ‘failures’ like me don’t happen.”

Pray for the babies.

The Book of Hebrews exhorts all Christians to hold fast their commitment. We must not lose heart. As Paul told the Galatians…

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. (Galatians 6:9)

You can read the entire report from the House Judiciary Committee meeting here. Extensive coverage of the abortion issue can be found on Ms. Roys’ website. Caution, the images of babies on some of these links are heart wrenching.

Julie Roys

Julie Roys




Faith, and the Friends Who Stopped the Train Attack

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. (Deuteronomy 31:6)

Everybody has heard about the three American men whom French authorities credit with disrupting a potential terror attack on a Paris-bound high-speed train.

Alek Skarlatos, Spencer Stone, and Anthony Sadler

Alek Skarlatos, Spencer Stone, and Anthony Sadler

Alek Skarlatos, Spencer Stone, and Anthony Sadler have been friends since childhood. After high school, their paths took them all around the world. Spencer joined the Air Force and was stationed in the Azores Islands; Alek served in Afghanistan with the National Guard; and Anthony is about to enter his senior year at California State University in Sacramento.

Did you also know that all three attended an independent Christian middle school, and Anthony Sadler’s father is pastor of a Baptist church in Sacramento’s Oak Park neighborhood?

The friends kept in touch, united by longtime bonds and a shared faith, said Peter Skarlatos, Alek’s older brother. “They’re all Christians,” he said. “They’re all very religious.”

The elder Sadler told reporters that he believes his son and his friends were used by God to disrupt what could have been a devastating tragedy. “We believe God’s providential will worked its way out,” he said. “I’m just thankful they were there and got things done.”

Us too.


Protestant Missionaries: Changing Lives, Changing History

Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. (2 Corinthians 3:17)

Steve Hafler (Highlands Baptist Church, Centennial, Colorado) preaching in Madagascar.

Steve Hafler (Highlands Baptist Church, Centennial, Colorado) preaching in Madagascar.

Protestant ministry is motivated by the love of God to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. Protestant missionaries also understand the importance of meeting daily human needs.

There’s more. Missionary work has historically exerted a profound impact on modern Western society, shaping societal changes for the better and influencing its spread and adaptation over time. What follows is an overview of research by Robert Woodberry, at the National University of Singapore, which supports that conclusion. Prof. Woodberry defines conversionary Protestant missionaries as those who…

  1. Actively attempt to persuade others of God’s gift of Jesus
  2. Emphasize Bible reading by the masses
  3. Believe that grace/faith/choice saves people, not group membership or sacraments

His research reveals that Protestant missionaries wanted common people to read the Bible in their own language and increase their religious involvement. Therefore, as they tried to spread their faith, they stimulated mass education, mass printing, and civil society.

Education. Protestant missionaries served as a catalyst in developing mass education, voluntary organizations, and most major colonial reforms such as legal protections for nonwhites in the 19th and early 20th centuries. These innovations fostered conditions that made stable representative democracy more likely.

Baptist Mission Press (BMP) in Calcutta, India.

Baptist Mission Press (BMP) in Calcutta, India.

Printing. To most elites, printing seemed ugly. They were afraid that giving books to those “not qualified” would erode elite status and control of public discourse. Catholics printed few texts. Jews, Eastern Christians, and trade companies only printed materials for their own consumption (mostly in “foreign” languages). When Muslims, Hindus, and Theravada Buddhists engaged in printing, it was usually in response to mass printing by Protestant missionaries or people they trained.

Korean translation in Hymns of Praise, a Presbyterian mission publication, 1894

Korean translation in Hymns of Praise, a Presbyterian mission publication, 1894

Protestant missionaries printed in local languages, forcing elites to respond. For example, within 32 years of importing a press to India in 1800, three British missionaries printed more than 212,000 copies of books in 40 languages. Along with other missionaries they created the fonts and paper that dominated South Asian printing for much of the 19th century.

Societies that excluded protestant missionaries started mass printing later, with slower expansion. In fact, the historic prevalence of Protestant missionaries predicted the variation in per capita newspaper circulation in different countries throughout the 20th century!

Stanley Pool (now Malebo Pool) is at the beginning of the navigable Congo River.

Stanley Pool (now Malebo Pool) is at the beginning of the navigable Congo River.

Civil society. Social scientists tend to ignore religion, but Prof. Woodberry states that historical and statistical evidence accounts for about half of the variation in democracy among countries in Latin America, Oceania, Africa, and Asia; and removes the impact of most variables that dominate current statistical research about democracy.

Among European-settler colonies, “Protestant-based” United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand have been more democratic than “Catholic-based” Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, and Costa Rica. This, despite the fact that these countries share similar precolonial conditions (eg, temperate climate, communal land holding, small indigenous populations). When Protestant missionary work is included, it over-rides theories based on climate or pre-Protestant class conditions.

Christianization of Poland on April 14, 966″ by Jan Matejko

Christianization of Poland on April 14, 966″ by Jan Matejko

Following the fall of communism, Eastern European Protestant (and Catholic) countries (Poland, Hungary, East Germany, Slovakia, Slovenia, the Czech Republic) had earlier, more stable democratic transitions than Orthodox Christian and Muslims ones (Albania, Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Bosnia). Similarly, Protestant and Catholic former Soviet republics (Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia) had earlier, more stable transitions compared to Orthodox and Muslim ones.

All of these countries shared similar pre-transition institutions and entered a similar international environment. All had large secular populations and comparable exposure to Marxist and Enlightenment ideas via monopolistic state education. It is religious differences that predicted who mobilized against communism and how smoothly states made the transition to democracy.

Moreover, the view of religion by leaders of Enlightenment-linked revolutions influenced subsequent events. Protestant English and Scottish Enlightenment, for example, were not anti-Christian; and where they spread, democracy flourished. The French Enlightenment (more Catholic by comparison), was virulently anti-Christian; and where it spread, stable democracy suffered through violence and totalitarianism.

Even in 19th-century Great Britain, suffrage and electoral system reforms were related directly to pressure from Evangelical Anglicans and Nonconformists — including nonstate Catholics. Similarly, in Sweden, Norway, and Netherlands, competition between religious groups with Evangelicals, Nonconformists, and Enlightenment elites spurred suffrage to the lower classes and facilitated democratic consolidation despite opposition by conservative defenders of the state church.

A century ago Max Weber, a German sociologist, philosopher, and political economist, argued that, “Protestantism helped spur the rise of capitalism.” Prof. Woodberry concludes, “Religious beliefs and institutions matter. What we consider modernity was not the inevitable result of economic development, urbanization, industrialization, secularization, or the Enlightenment.” Activist Protestant missionaries profoundly shaped the process of development.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, (Ephesians 3:22)

The ground shaking implication of all this is that the way to achieve the greatest social and cultural transformation is not to focus on social and cultural transformation. Rather, we should attend to the “conversion” of individuals to faith in Jesus Christ for forgiveness of sins and the hope of eternal life.

Professor Robert Woodberry

Professor Robert Woodberry

To learn more, listen here to Prof. Woodberry being interviewed about his work. Start at about 26:45 minutes.


Editor’s note: It took several years to publish this research. Skeptical reviewers asked Prof. Woodberry to include a wide array of variables in his analysis. Prof. Woodberry even had to provide the assistant editor of the journal (American Political Science Review) with his dataset, the code used to estimate statistical models, printouts of all the models in the article, tables from unpublished articles cited in the text, as well as the results from five custom-made case studies that don’t even appear in the article. After all this the results did not change and the journal published his research findings.

“Awake!” Western North Carolina 2015

He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. (Psalm 23:3)

Awake! Western North Carolina will be held on Friday, July 17 through Sunday, July 19 in Asheville’s Thomas Wolfe Auditorium. An optional pre-conference season of united prayer will begin Friday at 12 noon.

The focus of Awake! WNC is on repentance, restoration, and renewal. Here is background on the scheduled speakers.

Anne Graham Lotz

Anne Graham Lotz is an American Christian evangelist. The second daughter of evangelist Billy and  Ruth Graham, Ms. Lotz founded AnGeL Ministries, and is the author of 11 books, of which her best known is Just Give Me Jesus.

Richard Owen Roberts

Richard Owen Roberts is the President and a founding Director of International Awakening Ministries. Rev. Roberts has pastored churches in Idaho, Oregon, Washington, and California. He worked with the Billy Graham Association and Wheaton College to establish the Billy Graham Center Library. Mr. Roberts is a student of spiritual awakenings and has authored and edited books on revival and revivalism.

Dennis Sempebwa

Dennis Sempebwa

Dennis Sempebwa is pastor of the Sanctuary of Life Church, in Chicago, and President of Eagle’s Wings International — a global leadership development ministry. Pastor Sempebwa also serves as founder and chancellor of Eagle’s Wings Bible Institute, with campuses in the USA and Africa. His weekly radio broadcast reaches millions.

Isik Abla

Isik Abla

Isik Abla was born in Turkey and raised in a physically abusive Muslim home. In 1996, she fled to America from a violent husband. After years of struggle, Pastor Abla  went into intense depression. She had a personal encounter with God and redemption on the day she planned to commit suicide. In 2009, she began hosting a satellite TV program called Light for the Heart on the Kanal Hayat Turkish-language channel. This program includes a call-in segment that is simulcast on Turkish and Farsi channels in the Middle East and Europe where Pastor Alba delivers the message of love, healing, and freedom through Christ Jesus.

Admission is free, although donations are encouraged to cover the cost of the event.
More information about the speakers and the conference is here.
You may register for the program and receive your pre-conference materials, here or call 980-292-5362.

Empowered by the Holy Spirit, Transformed by God’s Grace

This past year the members of Bent Creek Baptist Church came together to clearly define who we are and what we believe as group of Christians living in the world today.

If you’re searching for a church home in western North Carolina, we invite you to read our vision and values. If you find they mirror your beliefs about what you want in your spiritual life, please accept this invitation to join us on Sunday at 11 am when you will learn more, first hand.

Start your journey with Bent Creek Baptist Church here to learn about our vision and values, and call our Administrative Pastor, Sam Bennett, for more information.

Thank you.

How Christians Should Respond to the Same-sex Marriage Decision

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)

State bans on same-sex marriage are no longer legal in America, according to the US Supreme Court. We are temped to go off and sulk, says Christianity Today. Or, we can choose to fight harder, lashing out in anger or despair.

But here’s a better option.

Let loving encouragement fuel our actions. As we pray for those caught in homosexuality, show them a love that makes Jesus proud. Show kindness and patience. Never resort to condescension. Never succumb to hate or bullying.

For all the law is fulfilled in one word, [even] in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. (Galatians 5:14)

Always remember that the Bible teaches that Christians must not condone homosexuality or gay marriage.

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, (1 Corinthians 6:9)

No matter how much we love our friends and want them to be happy, real love is shown through actions that bring those in sin to a saving relationship with Jesus.

Recognize what’s important. Our battle is for hearts, not causes. The foundation for love is truth and kindness, and it will take both to lead others to the relationship that saves.

Love is patient, love is kind… It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)


Pray for the Victims in Charleston

So much talk about the shootings at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, in Charleston, South Carolina: violence, race, madness. So much coverage about the shooter: terrorist, hatred, demons.

What about the victims? We pray for them and their families.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

Top left: Pastor and state senator Clementa Pinckney, Cynthia Hurd, Tywanza Sanders. Middle left: Myra Thompson, Ethel Lee Lance, Susie Jackson. Bottom left: DePayne Middleton-Doctor, Sharonda Coleman Singleton, Daniel Simmons Sr.

Rev. Clementa Pinckney: Four generations of AME pastors are on his mother’s side of the family. He received a master’s degree in public administration from the University of South Carolina. Senator Pinckney’s seat at the South Carolina statehouse was covered in black on Thursday.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:

Cynthia Hurd: A librarian and manager at St. Andrews Regional Library. “Cynthia… spent her life helping residents, making sure they had every opportunity for an education and personal growth.”

he leadeth me beside the still waters.

Tywanza Sanders: Recently graduated from the Division of Business Administration at Allen University in Columbia, South Carolina. He died while trying to save his 87-year-old aunt, Susie Jackson.

He restoreth my soul:

Myra Thompson: Wife of reverend Anthony Thompson, a vicar at Holy Trinity Reformed Episcopal Church.

he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Ethel Lee Lance: A sexton, who had worked at the church for more than 30 years. Jon Quil Lance said his granny was “the heart of the family.”

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me;

Susie Jackson: An 87-year-old who was looking forward to a large family reunion in mid-July. Her nephew, Tywanza Sanders, died when he tried to save her by diving between her and the shooter. Jackson’s cousin, Ethel Lance, was also a victim of the attack.

thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Rev. Depayne Middleton-Doctor: Mother of four daughters. She sang in the church’s choir and spoke at the pulpit. Her family posted, “Our hearts are troubled, but our faith remains steadfast, trusting and believing in God’s power to mend our broken hearts.”

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton: Mother of three, reverend at Emanuel AME Church, and high school track coach. Sharonda always ended a conversation or a message with “love you cousin.”

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:

Rev. Daniel L. Simmons: A 74-year-old who attended Bible study every Wednesday. He was the former pastor of several AME churches and a war veteran. His family posted, “Although he died at the hands of hate, he lived in the hands of love.”

and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever. (Psalm 23)

BCBC Congratulates our Graduates

“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)

From the left: Brian and Chris with daughter, Abigail Grace Jennings; Renee with daughter, Emily Nicole, and Paul Jenkins; Mike with daughter, Hailey Elizabeth, and Deborah Crowell; Kevin with daughter, Emily Grace, and Vicki Epley; Libby Davis is on the podium.

Today, Bent Creek Baptist Church celebrated Graduation Sunday. It was a joyful morning as we thanked God for these young people who are graduating from high school and moving on to college and greater service.

From the left, Libby with son, Nikolas Charles, and Brian Davis on the podium; Brent with son, Tanner Abraham, and Kathy Besosa.

We also thanked God for providing our graduates with loving, caring families and friends who bestowed good guidance and served as positive role models. Their efforts have been rewards many times.

Tricia Goyer’s blog is a voice of hope and possibility for young people. Her prayer below reflects our hope, that they will start each day in conversation with the Lord.

“Dear God, thank you for a new day and a clean slate. May my focus each morning be set on you. When I worry about my plans, remind me you have my future in your safe and loving hands. Thank you for the wisdom you give me through your Word and the guidance of the Holy Spirit!

The graduating class of 2015.

Tanner Abraham Besosa

Hailey Elizabeth Crowell

Emily Grace Epley

Abigail Grace Jennings

Emily Nicole Jenkins

Nikolas Charles Davis












Thanks to Doug Van Wirt for the photos.


Transgender: The Heart of the Issue

A woman shall not wear a man’s garment, nor shall a man put on a woman’s cloak, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord your God. (Deuteronomy 22:5)

Dr. Paul McHugh

It’s always useful to hear both sides of the story — a dimension lacking in the current transgender debate. So, here’s the view of Dr. Paul McHugh, former Chief Psychiatrist at Johns Hopkins University Medical Center. His thoughts on transgendered individuals are worth reading in the wake of the Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner revelation. His recent Wall Street Journal article is behind a subscription wall, but here is the gist of it.

First, Dr. McHugh asserts, “the idea of sex misalignment is simply mistaken — it does not correspond with physical reality. Second, it can lead to grim psychological outcomes.”

Johns Hopkins University was the first American medical center to venture into “sex-reassignment surgery”. Then, a study in the 1970s comparing the outcomes of transgendered people with and without the surgery revealed that although most surgically treated patients described themselves as “satisfied” by the results, their subsequent psycho-social adjustments were no better than those who didn’t have the surgery. As a result, Johns Hopkins discontinued offering the procedure.

Risk of various outcomes among sex-reassigned subjects in Sweden (N = 324) vs. population controls.

Perhaps the most disturbing evidence comes from a 2011 study at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden. This long-term study (up to 30 years) followed 324 people who had sex-reassignment surgery.

Beginning about 10 years after having the surgery, the transgendered began to experience increasing mental difficulties. Most shockingly, their suicide mortality rose almost 20-fold above the comparable nontransgender population (compare columns 3 and 4)

This result has yet to be explained, but the high suicide rate certainly challenges the surgical option.

At the heart of the problem, according to Dr. McHugh, is confusion over the nature of the transgendered. People who undergo sex-reassignment surgery do not change from men to women or vice versa. Rather, they become feminized men or masculinized women. Claiming that this is civil-rights matter and encouraging surgical intervention is in reality to collaborate with and promote a mental disorder!

If individuals seeking sex reassignment surgery are suffering from a treatable mental disorder — a form of body dysmorphic disorder – they might be able to recover without invasive surgery. Shouldn’t society encourage the less intrusive psychological therapy rather than the more intrusive (and irreversible) surgery?

And, if the surgery does not improve — but amplifies — underlying psychological disorders such as depression, doesn’t surgery constitute an unethical harm?

Finally, when children with transgender feelings were followed without medical or surgical treatment at the Vanderbilt University and London’s Portman Clinic, 70% to 80% of them spontaneously lost those feelings. Some 25% did have persisting feelings; and what differentiates those individuals remains to be discerned.

Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting! (Psalm 139:23-24)

For Christians living in a secular world it is of no matter whether the basis of gender distortion is genetic, hormonal, physiological, or psychological. The Bible views it as rebellion against God’s plan. The good news is that lives can be changed through faith in Christ.

And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:11)

Denzel Washington Puts God First

They were also to stand every morning to thank and praise the Lord. They were to do the same in the evening… (1 Chronicles 23:30)

Actor Denzel Washington telling graduates to seek God and credit Him with success.

Crediting God with all he has accomplished, the two-time Academy Award-winning actor encouraged the graduates of New Orleans’ Dillard University to “put God first” in all things. The Christian Examiner reports that the commencement address occurred earlier this month.

During his days as a young actor who was starting to ‘make it’, Mr. Denzel said to his mother, “Ma did you think this was going to happen that I’d be so big and I’d be able to take care of everybody.”

“Boy stop it right there, stop it right there, stop it right there,” she told him! “If you only knew how many people been praying for you!” Mr. Washington, a Pentecostal Christian believer, noted his mother’s account of “how many prayer groups she put together, how many prayer talks she gave, how many times she splashed me with holy water to save my sorry behind.”

Congratulating the graduates on their degrees and their families for supporting them along the way, his advice emphasized God as a priority.

“Number one: Put God first. Put God first in everything you do. Everything you think you see in me. Everything I’ve accomplished, everything thing you think I have – and I have a few things,” he laughed.

“Everything that I have is by the grace of God. Understand that. It’s a gift,” he said.

The actor advised the graduates to set goals for their dreams and embody gratitude but “don’t be afraid to fail big.”

As for money, the wealthy actor said, “It’s not how much you have, it’s what you do with it.”

“While you’re on your knees in the morning, say thank you. Say thank you in advance for what is already yours. True desire in the heart for anything good is God’s proof to you sent beforehand that it’s already yours… When you get it, reach back, pull someone else up. Each one, teach one. Don’t just aspire to make a living, aspire to make a difference.”

Bob Dylan: Property of Jesus

And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. (John 8:32)

Bob Dylan, 2009

Bob Dylan turned 70 years old last week (May 24th).

Al Kasha, an Oscar winning songwriter who gave his life to Jesus Christ in 1978, was with him when Jewish-born Dylan received Christ as his savior during a Bible study. His awakening had a massive impact on his music.

In his 1980 album, “Saved”, he demanded to know, “Are You Ready?” (Audio and lyrics are here. Singing starts after introductions at 2:15 minutes.)

His Christmas album of 2009, “Tempest in the Heart”, is full of religious Christmas music, including “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”, “The First Noel”, and “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem”. And “Tempest”, his 2012 album follows a similar vein.

When asked last year if Bob Dylan is still a Christian, Mr. Kasha replied, “Absolutely. Anyone who can sit and write 34 songs about Jesus Christ believes in Jesus Christ.”

Happy birthday, Bob Dylan. Still the “Property of Jesus”. (Lyrics here)

For those who chose to go when most wouldn’t

For those who knew it could cost them everything. For those who believed America to be the shining city on the hill, the last, best hope of Mankind. For those for whom duty, honor and country meant more than life itself. For those who gave the last, full measure of devotion and those who gave all their tomorrows that we might have today, for them we pray this day, gracious and merciful Father. Give them the peace that passeth all understanding, and may there always be Americans like them.

Here’s to a peaceful Memorial Day.



Precious Lord has Taken B.B. King Home

Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death. (Isaiah 57:1-2)

Legendary blues artist B. B. (Blues Boy) King died on May 14th. He was 89 years old. Mr. King was a Christian who, as a boy, sang in a gospel choir. “I believe,” he once said, “all musical talent comes from God as a way to express beauty and human emotion.”

“I believe God created everything. I’m awed by his handiwork, the forests and oceans and sky that surround us. I believe God made us. But our nature isn’t always godlike.”

About life and death, he said, “But God, like life or death, itself, is a miracle and a mystery that I’ll never fully explain or understand. I’m content to accept things the way they are.”

B. B. Kings Sings Spirituals was his fourth studio album released in 1960.

Precious Lord has taken B.B. King home (1926~2015).

And, one more for the road home.

Keep Your Heart Steadfast

They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the LORD. (Psalm 112:27)

The Christian share of the U.S. population is declining, while the percentage of Americans who do not identify with organized religion is growing. That’s the conclusion from a new survey conducted by the Pew Research Center.

There are many ways to cut the data, and plenty of opportunities for “the-sky-is-falling” crowd to crow the demise of Christianity. In fact however, the United States remains home to more Christians than any other country in the world, and a large majority of Americans — roughly seven-in-ten — continue to identify with some branch of the Christian faith. Also, the integration of Latinos from the south as a share of all three religious groups — evangelical Protestants, mainline Protestants, and Catholics — is growing.

What should Christians do in light of the recent poll?

For all Christians, let’s not worry about surveys. Salvation is not a popularity contest. Rather, be strong and consistent in declaring what we know. If we don’t do it, don’t expect anyone else to do it for us.

So, here’s the Good News.

First, our salvation (ie, deliverance from sin and its consequences in this world) depends solely on Jesus Christ. The work necessary for our salvation from a broken wicked world was fully accomplished by Jesus — the One who lived a perfect life, took God’s judgment for our sin, and rose again from the dead. If you have ever wondered, “what’s next after this life,” the Good News comes only from Jesus.

But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God (Hebrews 10:12)

Second, admit it. Our own works do not merit salvation. Don’t be fooled or misled. Nobody is saved because of righteous things they do. No matter how “good” you think you are, you will never measure up to God’s standard of holiness.

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23)

But beware, the Bible clearly states nearly 200 times that salvation is conditional. God will not save everyone. The one condition, the sole condition for salvation is faith in Jesus Christ.

Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God — children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. (John 1:12-13).

Accept this personal invitation from Pastor Sam. “We are so glad you found us and hope you will join us for Sunday worship!”

Don’t be influenced by surveys. The answer for your life is in front of you. All of us at BCBC hope you will accept this invitation to joint us this Sunday morning at 11 am and learn more about our beautiful Savior and about Christ’s promise for you.






Pray for the Earthquake Victims in Nepal

I will lie down in peace and sleep, for you alone, O LORD, will keep me safe. (Psalm 4:8)

Many people in Nepal were in church when the earthquake first hit. The power went out, followed by a long and violent tremor. Churchgoers began praying and crying out to God for protection and safety. The congregation ran to exit the building, reports The Baptist Standard.

“We stood up and had time to hang onto each other but were then thrown to the ground,” said a survivor. “I would describe trying to get out like being on a trampoline with people carrying it and you’re trying to walk from one side of it to the other — completely off-centered and unsettling, nearly impossible. We both prayed, ‘Lord, please let us get out of this building.’”

Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me, For my soul takes refuge in You; And in the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge until destruction passes by. (Psalm 57:1)

The 7.8-magnitude earthquake, which occurred last Saturday about 50 miles outside the capital of Kathmandu reached as far as India, Bangladesh, and Tibet. It has been followed by more than 50 aftershocks.

What can we do?

First, support the rescuers.

RELEVANT, a website for young Christian adults, advises that this is not the time for individuals to go to Nepal. “The best thing that people can do is donate cash to a reputable organization that’s working over there.” Samaritan’s Purse, for example, is deploying a team 16 people to Nepal. They will take supplies for 15,000 households and work out of emergency shelters and hospitals to help the victims. You can donate here.

Most importantly, commit to pray for those in need.

  • Pray for those who lost family members.
  • Pray for those who are hungry and need shelter.
  • Pray for those who have not yet been found.
  • Pray for aid workers who are going to and working in a devastating situation.

Dear Lord,

We need you now to calm the fear, stress, and anxiety of those suffering from the Nepal earthquake. Please take their heavy burdens. Replace them with your humble and gentle yoke so they will find rest for their souls. Be with them so they can lie down tonight in peace and sleep. Please keep them daily, Lord, in your perfect peace.

Go here to add your prayer for the earthquake victims.

Armenian Genocide: Pray for the Christian Martyrs

Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. (Romans 12:1)

Last Friday marked the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. It has been called the greatest symbol of Christian martyrdom in the 20th century.

Back then the Islamic Ottoman Empire dictated that Armenians, as Christians, had the right to worship but not freedom of religion (an important difference as discussed here). As second-class citizens, testimony against Muslims by Christians and Jews was inadmissible in court. They were forbidden to carry weapons or ride atop horses, their houses could not overlook those of Muslims, and their religious practices had to defer to Muslims. Punishment ranged from fines to execution.

Despite these obstacles, the Armenian community, which was concentrated in the eastern provinces of the Ottoman Empire, was better educated and wealthier than their Turkish neighbors. The Christians were resented for their success, and the Ottoman government believed that Christian Armenians would be more loyal to Christian governments (eg, Russia).

Starting in the mid-1860s, Armenians asked for better treatment. Peasants complained about looting and murder by Muslims in Armenian towns, improper tax collection, and criminal government behavior. The Ottoman government promised to punish those responsible, but little changed. The Christian minority continued to complain of widespread forced land seizure, forced conversions, arson, extortion, rape, and murder.

Then, in April 1915, the newly established Turkish government started massacring and expelling Armenians. Genocide (the term comes from this event) was implemented in two phases: wholesale killing of able-bodied men through massacre and forced labor, followed by deportation of women, children, the elderly and infirmed by death marches to the Syrian desert — along the way being deprived of food and water and subjected to periodic robbery, rape, and massacre. Other Christian ethnic groups such as the Assyrians and the Ottoman Greeks were similarly treated.

By the early 1920s, when the massacres and deportations ended, about 1.5 million of Turkey’s Armenians were dead, with many more forcibly removed from the country. Those who survived scattered to Syrian cities where they suffered new attacks. Others went to what became Soviet Armenia or to the West.

Turkey, as successor to the Ottoman Empire, denies that the word genocide accurately describes these mass killings. However, 23 countries and 43 states in the US officially recognize it as genocide, a view shared by most genocide scholars and historians.

Remember the victims of the Armenian genocide and the difficult time for Christians in this region. Many renounced their religion in order to save their lives. Others held firm to their Christian beliefs. Let’s show reverence for Christian martyrs a century ago, and let’s pray for Christian martyrs of today.

If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you… Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. (1 Peter 4:14-16)

Raising Attention to Christians Executed by ISIS

“Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:28)

Worshipers in American churches are beginning to wear orange — either in their Sunday best or on ribbons — to raise attention to the Christians executed at the hands of ISIS.

Orange represents the jump suits worn by captives of the terrorist group, including some 20 Egyptian Copts who were beheaded last month in Libya. Says Lydia O’Leary of the group, Ribbons for Rescue, “We call on people to wear orange daily.” It says “we’re standing with you on this — you’re not alone.”

The campaign follows remarks by Pope Francis who called attention to the modern-day persecution of Christians around the world.

Writer Rey Flores who declared ‘Orange is the New Color of Martyrdom’ in an article for The Wanderer  says the project helps the issue of the persecution of Christians stand out from a steady stream of violence in media.

When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” (Revelation 6:9-10)


Joanna Gaines: Testimony of Faith

The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time. (Psalm 145:15)

Joanna and Chip Gaines

Joanna Gaines and her husband Chip host the HGTV program, Fixer Upper. Perhaps you’ve seen it. In each episode they fix up, remodel, and flip homes. The show started its second season in January.

In this brief 4-minute video Ms. Gaines shares her faith and describes how, in his own time, the Lord guided and fulfilled her life in a way she never expected.