April 2014

So, what’s your authority?

April 22 2014 by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor

Everyone has a beginning point for what they believe. You may call it a foundation or an ultimate authority. It is the source for how one behaves and what a person really believes is true.
For some that authority is oneself. This person makes up the rules of life as they go along, with pleasure, desire and personal preference at the center of their world. It’s all about “me.” Self is the ultimate authority. Human intellect and personal experience are held high. They worship the god of reason. The problem with this authority is so obvious and problematic that it does not need an explanation.
For others it is tradition. The traditions of religion, culture or family habits are the final authority for every question. This life is all about “the way it’s always been done.” Their authority may be the traditions of the Catholic church, the traditions of a Baptist church or family traditions that have no connection to any church or religion. This flawed source of authority shifts like the sands on a beach. It is man-centered. It is a moving target, impossible for anyone to hit accurately. Endless futility is its only reward.
For the follower of Jesus Christ the authority is divine inspiration, the Bible. There should be no argument. It is the sole authority for our faith and practice, says the Baptist Faith and Message. It is God’s revelation of Himself to us. In the Bible He describes Himself so clearly that the individual has no opportunity to invent Him or customize Him according to our wishes.
Jesus Himself loved the scriptures. Soon after His resurrection from the grave He walked with some followers along a road toward the village of Emmaus.
In the conversation He chided them for their failure to believe the scripture: “Then He said to them, ‘O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!’” (Luke 24:25, NKJ). The word “all” is significant here.
They did not understand the events of the day because they did not fully embrace the truth of scripture. Perhaps they believed portions of the scripture, but they did not believe all of it. The scripture did not fail them. They failed the scripture.
The longest chapter in the Bible is Psalm 119. This powerful psalm overflows with the significance and the power of God’s Word. Verse after verse, for 176 verses God describes both the importance and the practical application of the Bible.
The headline story on the front page of this issue is a stark reminder that we live in a time when most do not believe that scripture is God’s Word. This biblically illiterate culture is a scandalous indictment on our failure to believe and live the Bible.
Those who believe the Bible have promoted education more than any religion in the world.
Christians were the first to establish schools in America. The Bible was the primary textbook. Later the schools were overtaken by the government. Eventually the Bible was deviously excluded from use, then from possession, and now from mention. Education has prospered greater in societies where the Bible is revered.
According to a recent Barna Group survey 82 percent of Americans believe, “God helps those who help themselves,” is a Bible verse.
At least 12 percent of adults believe that Joan of Arc was Noah’s wife. A survey of graduating high school seniors showed that over 50 percent thought that Sodom and Gomorrah were husband and wife.
Popular opinion concludes that everybody goes to heaven – if they believe in heaven at all – except of course the worst criminals and a few “Hitlers” of the world.
The public does not know that heaven has limited access. Furthermore, most believe access into heaven is completely by one’s good behavior and accomplishments on earth.
I often wonder if pastors understand what the Bible says about heaven. Most funerals seem to “preach” everyone into heaven. By contrast, the Bible says, “Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:14).
The scripture also says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Is the scripture-less America of 2014 a commentary on our ineffectiveness or is it a fulfillment of the prophetic Word?
Paul gave Timothy a warning in the third chapter of 2 Timothy that holds true for us. He talked about the last days being “perilous times.” People will be “lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. ... always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
He concluded, “But as for you, continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”
Then the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write that great text on the authority of scripture, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
4/22/2014 1:05:50 PM by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor | with 0 comments

Hypocrisy dominates culture wars

April 8 2014 by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor

For more than 20 years secularists have been saturating American minds with their list of the ultimate evils.
Their propaganda machine has successfully convinced many that the enemies of a great nation are the intolerant, bullies, narrow-minded and hate mongers. And let’s not forget the recent addition of “homophobes” to the list.
Name-calling and using offensive labels are effective battle tactics when there are no reasonable weapons in your arsenal.
Of course, most of these descriptors are aimed directly at Christians. In their crusade to criminalize Christianity, secular leftists have identified those who follow Jesus Christ as the enemy of all that is alleged to be best for America’s true progress.
If you pray in Jesus’ name, you are said to be narrow-minded and intolerant of other religions.
Therefore, you should be denied your religious freedoms.
If you don’t embrace culturally preferred deviations from biblical marriage, you are a hate monger and an intolerant homophobe. Therefore, you should be bullied into isolation and denied constitutional rights.
“Disingenuous” hardly begins to characterize the stench of hypocrisy that has surfaced from the bullies of the new world order.
Apparently they are exempt from their own message.
One of the most glaring examples is the case of Brendan Eich, the chief executive of Mozilla, owners of the Firefox® web browser.
He resigned April 3 amid protests surrounding his $1,000 donation to support the passage of California’s Proposition 8, which defined marriage as the union of a man and a woman.
Eich made the donation in 2008 – more than five years ago.
His gift was revealed two years ago when he held a senior role at Mozilla. Last month he was elevated to CEO.
At that time half of Mozilla’s board quit and some company employees publicly voiced their disapproval. A public campaign called for his removal.
Ironically, the Mozilla executive is guilty of holding the same view president Barack Obama held before he ‘evolved.’
Apparently, if you disagree with others, your voice is not tolerated, and you should not be allowed to hold a job in this country, even if you were instrumental in the success of a company that created jobs for others.
It is fair to say that the intolerant rose up, created a bully campaign, launched a narrow-minded crusade against one who disagreed with their agenda and stirred up hate against the businessman.
Absent of all basic ethical standards, the self-appointed cultural police assumed the role of judge and jury, minus the trial.
Eich lost his job. It’s enough to enrage those with minimal standards of decency.
So, here is where we take a deep breath and pause, lest we get drawn into the vortex of cultural disarray.
We are tempted to rise up and fight the battle of Jericho. Or like Simon Peter, we want to draw our sword and cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant!
Eich’s case exposes serious problems with the secularists’ agenda. We cannot overlook the grave realities of civilization’s demise.
But we must hear the words our Savior gave us:
Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you ...” (John 15:20, NKJ).
But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44, NKJ).
Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:11-12, NKJ).
I confess that I am not prone to turn to these texts first. I am convicted by Jesus’ standards.
He does not bless the enemy, and He does not endorse the actions of the persecutors. He just says to expect persecution.
I would prefer a more comfortable world – one like Christians have enjoyed in America for several hundred years. It is not easy to bless those who revile us, persecute us and lie about us. It is hard to pray for those who spitefully reject us. It is even harder to rejoice and be “exceedingly glad.”
But Jesus said to take this posture. It is the superior path.
The suffering-less brand of Christianity is no longer the norm in America.
Don’t read into my commentary that I am waving the white flag over America.
I have not lost the conviction that there are principles on which we must stand.
I only want to remind us that the resurrected Jesus told us to expect the things we are seeing, and He gave us principles for handling such a crisis.
As we celebrate His resurrection, remember the way the world opposed His holy life. Remember how they rejected His truth.
But most of all, remember the result – He arose in victory! Sin is defeated.
There are ‘Sauls’ all around us who believe they are doing the right thing. Their hypocrisy is obvious to us.

We are called to pray for their salvation. God is still able to do a ‘Damascus road’ experience today.
Pray every day for our country. Pray for our elected leaders. May 1 is National Day of Prayer. Hold prayer meetings in your home, office and church as believers unite our cries to God for the healing of our land.
Be salt and light in a dark, decaying world. Vote in the primary elections on May 6.
Our influence is necessary.
4/8/2014 2:03:20 PM by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor | with 2 comments