December 2015

2015 editorials in review

December 28 2015 by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor

This first edition of the Biblical Recorder for 2016 looks back at the news highlights of 2015. It was an eventful year, especially with the Supreme Court’s decision to impose homosexual marriage on Americans, in what four dissenting justices called a “threat to American democracy.”
These justices said, “Those who founded our country would not recognize the majority’s conception of the judicial role. ... The Court’s accumulation of power does not occur in a vacuum. It comes at the expense of the people. And they know it.”
That is a very significant statement that should concern us deeply. It is one that every voter must consider as we elect a new president of the United States in 2016.
That president will choose the next members of the court if any current justices leave the court by death or resignation.
Newspapers write the first draft of history. Because we learn some of our greatest lessons from history, it is important to stay informed so we will be prepared to shape the next chapter of history.
I want to offer a brief review of the editorial commentaries I wrote in 2015.
In the first edition of the BR last year, my editorial was titled, “Will the Recorder be here in five years?” I raised a serious question that pastors and church leaders in North Carolina should consider. Congregations need pastors who take the initiative to tell their church members about the ministry of the Recorder and the value it brings to every congregation. Your flock is facing the onslaught of wolves every day. They need help. They need news from a Christian worldview.

Throughout the year some pastors responded to my plea by starting group subscription plans for church members or expanding the plan they have in place. I hope more will give their members the news they need to survive the spiritual and cultural challenges of the 21st century.
The most read editorial of the year was one I wrote in late January last year. I asked, “Where did your donation go?” North Carolina’s Secretary of State publishes a list each year that shows precisely where your dollars go when you respond to solicitors with a donation. The solicitations come by phone, email or “snail mail,” and they are usually for very worthy causes. But you may be surprised how much never reaches the organization you intend to support. If you missed that revealing information, you need to read the editorial.
In other editorials I responded to concerns about religious liberty, the Boy Scouts of America, untrustworthy media, Cooperative Program concerns and missions.
The second most read editorial of the year is “Has Dachau come to us?” After my visit to the Dachau concentration camp in Germany, I shared my reflections on the unspeakable atrocities that Hitler and his Socialist Party imposed on innocent people. This editorial was re-published by other news outlets more than any other commentary I wrote during the year.
Your Biblical Recorder staff welcomes your opinion and ideas for editorials. If you would like to see a subject addressed by the editor or another writer, please share your thoughts with us. Let us know how we can serve you.
I hope you enjoy a happy New Year, and I pray that you will experience God’s power, grace and blessing in abundance in 2016.

12/28/2015 12:11:00 PM by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor | with 0 comments

Celebrate the One who holds everything together

December 15 2015 by K. Allan Blume, BR editor

Take a few minutes in your Christmas celebration to look at Jesus Christ in a different way.

The apostle Paul described the incomparable nature of Christ to the Christians who met in the city of Colossae. In the first chapter of the letter to the Colossians he described Jesus as “the image of the invisible God,” in verse 15. Paul said Jesus created everything. Verse 16 reads, “... all things have been created through Him and for Him.” In the next verse he made an astounding statement, “... in Him all things hold together.”
The words “hold together” are one word in the original Greek language of scripture. The King James Bible translates this, “consist.” Here’s the meaning: Jesus is the glue that holds everything in place. The consistency of everything stays intact where He is worshiped as Lord. Without Him, everything falls apart; everything comes unglued.
Christmas is about the One who holds everything together. The child whose birth we celebrate is the One who keeps order in a rebellious society. He injects civility into the world of uncivilized men and women whose fallen tendency is to tear things apart.
Not only is Jesus the One who holds everything together, He is also the Divine Contractor who reconstructs lives that have been ripped apart by sin. That’s why He endured the cross. He paid the price for our salvation so we could be forgiven, put back together, restored.
Notice two important truths. First, no one and nothing can hold this crazy world together except Jesus. No politician, no ideology, no religion, no amount of money, no power – nothing keeps the world from coming unglued, except Jesus. Second, no one and no thing has the power to put broken lives back together, except Jesus.
So, when Jesus is welcomed into our lives and His principles are woven into our culture, we see order in both worlds. He holds everything together. When Jesus is uninvited, pushed out of our personal life or forced out of the social order, everything falls apart. The evidence for this is overwhelming.
Those who reject our celebration of Christmas are completely blind to the truth that they are rejecting the One who is “order.” In ignorance they are dismissing the One who keeps chaos from becoming commonplace. They do not know that God loves them enough to bring order into their bewildered lives. That’s why we proclaim Him!

Our international impact

Are we really serious about the Great Commission? We’re about to find out. The significance of the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering (LMCO) is being tested right now. In a few weeks we will know if our churches “get it” or if the LMCO is just another one of those routine things we do.
In 2009 Southern Baptists hit a high mark, supporting 5,600 missionaries on the international mission field through the International Mission Board (IMB). Since then, reduced financial support for missions through the Cooperative Program and LMCO has forced IMB leaders to decrease the number of missionaries to about 4,800. That number needs to be reduced again to at least 4,200 – perhaps to 4,000 – by early 2016 in order to operate within the offerings we give our missions personnel.
So IMB is cutting personnel at least 12.5 percent and up to 16.5 percent, depending on how many missionaries respond to the Voluntary Retirement Incentive they were offered in September, and depending on how many additional missionaries will be eliminated due to trimming some positions in 2016.
IMB has already reduced the work force more than 14 percent since 2009. Our low giving patterns now require another 12.5 to 16.5 percent reduction (4,800 to 4,200 or 4,000) this year.
If churches are serious about responding to the immediate crisis, each church needs an LMCO offering that is 12.5 to 16.5 percent higher than last year’s LMCO gifts. That does not allow for increasing our missionary force. It only permits the status quo.
If we want our missionary force to return to 2009 standards, churches should consider an LMCO that is 33 percent above last year’s gifts. Excessive? Impossible? Not at all. Our God specializes in doing the impossible.
IMB President David Platt reminds church leaders, “It’s actually the local church that is the agent that God has promised to use for accomplishing the Great Commission.” The cutbacks are not an IMB problem. This is a local church problem. The local church is both the source of missionary funding and the beginning point for the mission vision.
Remember, IMB does not send out missionaries. Local churches send missionaries; IMB’s role is to serve the local church by facilitating international missions. I hope we still believe that.
The staff of your Biblical Recorder wishes you a very joyous celebration of the birth of Jesus – the One who redeems and holds everything together.

12/15/2015 10:24:19 AM by K. Allan Blume, BR editor | with 0 comments