God


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)


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.


Come, Lord Jesus

Pastor Tommy Bridges

Pastor Tommy Bridges

 Look, I am coming soon, bringing my reward with me to repay all people according to their deeds. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. (Revelation 22:12-13)

In Revelation 21 and 22 we learn that the Lord will return for us. He may come any day, or he may wait 10,000 years. What we can rely on however, is that he will keep his promise.

The Bible teaches that those who believe in Jesus will not be condemned for their sin (Romans 5:8-9 and 8:1, and, John 5:24).

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! (Romans 5: 8-9)

The Bible also speaks of “rewards” given to “everyone according to what they have done” (Romans 2:6 and14:12, 2 Corinthians 5:10, 1 Corinthians 3:12-15, and Matthew 16:27). Click here and here for more articles on this topic.

For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in this earthly body. (2 Corinthians 5:10)

There are several things to remember in our Christian walk while waiting for Jesus to return.

For Growing Christians

  • Growth is about the direction you are headed, not just the distance you’ve traveled.

For non-Growing Christians

  • Ask the Holy Spirit to arouse a renewed appetite for God.

For non-Christians

  • Know well that Jesus is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)

For Everyone

  • And let those who hear say, “Come!” Whoever is thirty, let him come, and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life. (Rev. 22:17)

Live your life in the grace of God, and cling to the Christ who died on the cross and rose victoriously.

Pastor Tommy and the congregation of Bent Creek Baptist Church invite you to join us each Sunday at 11 am in the worship sanctuary. Come early, and join us for Sunday School at 9:30 am.

 

 


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, GraceNYC.org. “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.


Daniel Bridges: Live Fully for Him

Because by his power he has given us everything necessary for life and righteousness, (2 Peter 1:3)

Daniel at Cerro Negro

Daniel at Cerro Negro

Monday, 6/20/16: I’m in Bethel; thank you, Lord.
I thank God for the smooth flight and travel to to Bethel and that I made it safely. Everything was seemingly perfect! Since I got in late, I didn’t speak with anyone from the team — just went straight to bed after getting to the Mission Center. There will be a bible study to lead and, before then, lots of other things to do.

Note: The team from Indianapolis and I started each day with coffee and a 30-minute devotional before breakfast. Marty, who heads the team from Indianapolis, is leading us through the Book of James.

Tuesday, 6/21/16: God is teaching me here.

Fruit Race

Fruit Race

After breakfast we had a fruit race. We went to the market, bought fruits, and delivered them to the widows of Bethel as a surprise.

After lunch we went to Santa Maria where the guys played with the kids while the women had Bible study with women in the village.

Girl from Santa Maria

Girl from Santa Maria

Then, we came back; and after dinner, young people from a local church came and led an event for us at the Mission Center. We worshiped, played games and enjoyed the company of each other. After they left, the team spent time together, and then went to bed to rest up for an early morning of volcano climbing.

God is teaching me here. Through a persistent feeling of loneliness and apprehension, I’m learning that his presence is sufficient for me, even though it isn’t comfortable or even fun to do His work sometimes. But He promises to give us more of Him if we seek His kingdom.

I pray. Even though I’m terrified about leading Bible study with guys I may or may not know, I recognize that He will show me more of Him. And even if I don’t know the team well, and sometimes feel alone, I understand that God will use my discomfort to bring Him glory. I have confidence that even though I long to see my friends from home, and my loved ones, this trip will be worth any apprehension.

Wednesday, 6/22/16: Living with feelings, unsettled

It’s a beautiful day. We hiked Cerro Negro, about an hour drive followed by a 45-minute hike. We enjoyed running back down the side of the mountain. After leaving Cerro Negro we ate at Hollywood Pizza and then toured the cathedral in Leon. My apprehension lingers, but it was a good day.

Cathedral in Leon

Cathedral in Leon

Thursday, 6/23/16: God has given us everything. Live fully for Him.
This morning our group set off with a large group of Nicaraguans in two trucks for the village of Jiquilillo. We played with the children, painting faces, throwing frisbee, and blowing bubbles.

This happened while all the sick adults and children went to a medical clinic set up by Doctor Michael. The village is right next to the ocean, and the view is beautiful. We are freshly caught fish for lunch, and it was delicious.

 Fishing Boat in Jiquilillo

Fishing Boat in Jiquilillo

Late in the afternoon we drove back to the project where the team from Indianapolis began to pack up to leave the next day.

During the ride back, my friend Marcos and I talked about how people don’t want to give their lives completely to God. We talked about how God has given us everything, so we must live fully for God and not ourselves.

Thank you, Jesus. This conversation eased a little of my anxiety over leading a Bible study group the next week. I continue to pray that God will speak to me through His Holy Spirit.

After returning from Jiquilillo, we ate dinner and, since it was their last night, we got ice cream in Chichigalpa.

Friday, 6/24/16: We are the clay, and God is the potter.
After breakfast the staff at the Mission Center played the pinata game. It was fun to watch! Then, we set off for Masaya, where there is a restaurant and a huge market for shopping. [Editor’s note: Has anyone noticed that eating is a highlight of David’s day.]

We stopped at the potter’s house on the way from Masaya to Managua. There, a man in a village who mostly does pottery spoke about how God is the great potter. He showed us how he takes clay and molds it into a usable mound, constantly changing it during the process.

Finally, when clay is fired, if the potter was unable to remove enough impurities, the fire will ruin it. We are the clay, and God is the potter. He patiently removes each impurity, cleaning and changing us into who he wants us to be. Then, he takes us and molds us into what he wants.

The key is allowing him to do so, answering His call to come to Him, and dedicate our lives to be used and shaped through His plan, so that when we go through the fire of death we will come out with Him and not broken.

It was a beautiful picture of our condition and how God sees us. My prayer is that He will mold me according to His plan and not mine.

Later, after this amazing time, we went to Managua. We said goodbye to the group from Indianapolis and headed back to the project.

In Him,

Daniel Bridges

North Carolina State University