July 2012

Sin still pays its wages

July 30 2012 by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor

The world takes the concept of sin lightly. But God’s Word reveals the truth about the nature of sin. Sadly, every sinner is deluded into thinking that he or she will never be caught. The sinful heart confidently declares, “No one will ever know.” “I can get by with this,” says the arrogant man. The result is a marital affair, cheating on a test, lying on a resume, stealing from an employer, and the list goes on.
Can a person do wrong and never be caught? The Bible says, “No.” Numbers 32:23 records this chilling truth, “But if you fail to do this, you will be sinning against the LORD; and you may be sure that your sin will find you out.” You can be certain that your sin will find you out.
At the foundation of all sin is this statement from Jesus, “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44 NASB).
Jesus said the sinner wants to do Satan’s desires, and the sinner lives in the domain of lies. 
It is a lie to believe we can sin without being caught. The truth behind the proverbial “caught with your hand in the cookie jar” is published every day in the headlines. This is the story of Jerry Sandusky and the tragic consequences facing the Penn State athletic program. This is the story of John Edwards’ affair and “love child” while running for the office of president of the United States. Bernie Madoff’s securities fraud scheme, the Enron scandal, Watergate – the well-populated list is never ending – political scandals, academic scandals, sex scandals, sports scandals, religious scandals and corporate scandals.
Christians should remember that we are represented on those lists. We grieve to see names like Jimmy Swaggart, Jim Bakker, Ted Haggard, youth evangelist Sammy Nuckolls, and lesser known leaders among the exposed. Anyone can chose to believe the lies of Satan. Human pride shields the arrogant from the reality of inevitable accountability. You can be certain that your sin will find you out.
In 2 Samuel 11-12, King David’s failures are recorded. His sins of lust, adultery and robbery are exposed. David followed the desires of his flesh, probably convinced he was above being caught. After all, he was popular, successful, and a respected leader. Absent of a sense of accountability, he succumbed to sin’s lies.
We know David repented and was forgiven completely. But repentance does not ensure the removal of the consequences of sin. God did not remove the pain David would endure as a result of his wrong choices – the death of his child, his son’s incest, one son murdering another son, and a kingdom filled with violence. You can be certain that your sin will find you out.
You and I are not immune from Satan’s deception. While our personal failures may not make the headlines, they are just as real and significantly destructive. We will not escape the ultimate exposure. Jesus said, “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment” (Matthew 12:36, NKJ).
Someone has said, “If you don’t want it published in the newspaper, don’t do it.” With the presence of the Internet, we can say, “If you don’t want the whole world to know, don’t do it.”
Does everyone get caught? Ultimately, I believe so. Does it always show up in the media? Of course not.
But scripture is clear. There is a day of accountability. Reckoning will come. The word “judgment” may sound extreme to some, but it is a sobering reality. You can be certain that your sin will find you out.
Our confidence in this eternal principle should resolve any personal desires that may erupt within us to get even with those whom we know have done wrong, but have not been caught. We are prone to help God settle the score. Paul reminded the Roman church, “Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,’ says the Lord” (Romans 12:19, NASB).
This is a primary two-pronged truth of scripture. Sin will find you out, and God is in charge of the scorecard. Maybe we are not proclaiming this warning from the pulpit, but we should be. The responsibility for this prophetic word falls in the lap of the Christian church. No one else can or will do it.
7/30/2012 2:22:51 PM by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor | with 0 comments

Disciple making: the main thing

July 16 2012 by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor

(EDITOR'S NOTE – In the July 21 issue we focus on discipleship. What does it look like? Why is it important? Most importantly, we look at how you, your family and your church can get involved in making disciples. We hope you find the information in these stories to be helpful in that journey.)

The most basic challenge of any organization or ministry is staying focused on its purpose. It is easy to drift and lose our way in the maze of daily demands. But if we don’t “keep the main thing the main thing,” we are not effective.
Our “main thing” is to obey the final assignment our Lord left with us before he physically departed this world – make disciples. Failure to fulfill the Great Commission is inexcusable. We will be held accountable.
Maybe we are distracted. Maybe we are too busy with a million good things but missing our main mission. If we are honest, every Christian leader will admit that we’ve all been there. We have a dozen T-shirts to prove it.
Are we making Baptists, Calvinists and traditionalists, or are we making disciples? Are we making church members, deacons and choir members, or are we making disciples? Are we making converts, missionaries and teachers, or are we making disciples?
Am I suggesting that any of these roles are bad? Absolutely not! But any good thing is no longer a good thing when it either distracts us from the main thing or fails to contribute to the ultimate goals of the main thing.
Are we making disciples through Sunday School, worship services and fellowship dinners? Are we making disciples through deacon meetings, budget committee meetings and youth rallies? Again, these are not bad things. They may contribute to the disciple making process, but are these events getting the job done?
It seems to me that when Jesus said we must “make” disciples, he was describing a process that is neither incidental nor accidental. It is an intentional, personal, valuable investment of one person into the life of another.
So, what is disciple-making, and how do we become successful in the discipling process?
There are no short answers to that question. That’s why this issue of the Biblical Recorder is putting emphasis on how some leaders are trying to answer the most fundamental questions about disciple-making.
As we have listened to these leaders and attempted to convey their stories, we have not heard a “know it all” or “I have arrived” spirit in any of them. Each one has clearly stated they are still on the journey, but they are finding great satisfaction in seeing progress toward the ultimate goal of making disciples. They are discovering what is fruitless and what is fruitful. Their heart is to share what they are learning as an encouragement to you.
In years past, men like Dawson Trotman (Follow-up: Conserving the Fruits of Evangelism) and LeRoy Eims (The Lost Art of Disciple Making) have led the way toward a clear vision for disciple making. God has given us men like J. Oswald Sanders, Robert E. Coleman and Waylon B. Moore to flesh-out the vision. Their materials reveal a passion for obedience to Christ’s command.
But no amount of materials will work as long as they are on the bookshelf. Effective disciple making requires a living, breathing person like you and me to take action. We pray that the models and examples of this issue’s articles will motivate you toward an intentional, joyful pattern of making disciples.
Please notice that we have a list of the names and contact information for Baptist-related campus ministries across North Carolina (View list here). College students desperately need to get connected with a vital campus ministry. It is essential for this critical point in their lives. Please share this list with college students, the parents of college students, college class leaders and anyone else whom you believe will benefit from this information. Encourage them to contact the campus minister for their college or university. You will be doing them a great favor!

Related stories
The pursuit of disciple making
The church, discipleship and culture
How mentoring, discipleship changed the ‘most hateful man’
10 life-changing tips that will change a man’s life
Transforming women’s lives through discipleship
Discovering a life of discipleship
Church and family connect
7/16/2012 1:59:57 PM by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor | with 0 comments

Trust the trustees

July 2 2012 by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor

Southern Baptists are unique among religious denominations. We don’t work under a hierarchical system of polity. There is no one “at the top” who dictates policy and procedure to local Baptist churches or individuals within those churches. We like to remind each other that “headquarters” is our local church.
The Southern Baptist system is based on voluntary cooperation. It depends on each local church to elect messengers who participate in the annual meeting.
Those messengers elect men and women at a variety of levels to serve in places of leadership. The elected trustees give direction to Southern Baptist organizations (seminaries, mission boards, GuideStone, LifeWay and ERLC).
The paid staff of these organizations serve under the trustees, yet the trustees do not function as micromanagers of the day-to-day operations of convention staff. Trustees set policy.
The staff has the responsibility to carry out those policies.
It is not a perfect system, but it is a very good one, and it has served us well. It has given positive support to our great commission purposes.
However, we need to emphasize that it works best in an environment of openness and trust. Openness comes from the entity leadership. Trust comes from the messengers.
This environment does not preclude the freedom of the messengers to ask questions. Time is reserved on the program of each year’s annual meeting for the exercise of this freedom.
Most of the time honest questions are raised. Sometimes the questions are more skeptical.
During each annual meeting the presidents of SBC entities are given time on the program to give their report. In his report at this year’s meeting in New Orleans, Thom Rainer, president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources, was asked a question about LifeWay’s sales policy. His answer is worth repeating.
“We take our work seriously,” said Rainer. “... when the conservative resurgence began, I was a foot soldier in it. And one of the things that concluded was that if we were going to change the Southern Baptist Convention, it must begin with the trustees. Not one messenger or one person with one opinion, but collectively agreeing that trustees will represent us and our entities. 
“You see, you Southern Baptists have elected 57 trustees to represent you at LifeWay. … They are pastors, educators, directors of missions, homemakers, businessmen, businesswomen and so on. They have a common love for the Lord, the inerrancy of the Word of God and the commitment to you, the Southern Baptist Convention. They ask us the hard questions. They hold us accountable. … Please allow us to be represented by your trustees, some of the greatest men and women I have ever known. How do we decide certain books? How do we decide certain videos? How do we decide what we do? It is your trustees who hold us accountable. Trust the trustees. That’s how we make our decisions.”  
We should thank Dr. Rainer for his excellent description of the SBC process.
Having worked within the process for several decades, I learned that most trustees are outstanding Baptist men and women. I’ve encountered a few who did not seem to fit. But they are in the minority.
Most trustees are dedicated to the goals and mission of the entity. Their purpose is to make that entity effective in Kingdom work. Their desire for service is not motivated by prestige or power, but to see souls saved and lives changed. Board members give their valuable time without pay to offer wise counsel.

Blanket accusations against boards or general statements critical of the leadership are counterproductive.
We are free to disagree, but we do not need to be disagreeable.
Remember that the SBC is made up of an eclectic membership representing believers of diverse backgrounds, traditions and methodologies. Our commonality is set by parameters within the Baptist Faith & Message.
Paul gave some thorough instruction to the church in Corinth to guide them through a time of serious division. He concluded his counsel, “Let all things be done decently and in order” (1 Corinthians 14:40, NKJ). That’s what Southern Baptists aim to do.
7/2/2012 4:39:55 PM by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor | with 4 comments