May 2016

Reflecting on 50 years of ministry

May 31 2016 by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor

Life is one continuous learning experience, or as my friend Marty Dupree says, “Life is a mission trip.” There’s a lot to learn in life, and there’s even more to learn in ministry.
On the first Sunday in May, 50 years ago, I publicly announced God’s call on my life to enter vocational Christian ministry. After clear confirmation of that call through a series of events, I shared with my pastor, Vernon Helms, and my church family at New Hope Baptist Church in Charlotte that I was confident in the direction God was leading me. I must preach the gospel!
They supported me and prayed for me as I journeyed through Wingate College (it was a junior college in those days, but now it is a university), Carson Newman College and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Each of those schools handed me different challenges, but God’s clear call gave me confidence to press on. Seminary years were especially powerful in the development of God’s call on my life. The experience exceeded all of my expectations.
My father and mother stood with me and sacrificially supported my education and my calling every step of the way. I could not have asked for more from my parents.
God blessed me with a wife around the time I was beginning seminary, and He blessed both of us with a son at the end of that treasured adventure. They are two of the Father’s supreme blessings on my life that continue today.
Priceless friendships were established with so many people throughout my ministry. There are not words to accurately describe the treasure trove of valuable friends the Father has placed in my path.
At this point in life we like to list the lessons has God taught us in our walk with Him. I’m not prepared to give you “50 lessons I learned in 50 years of ministry.” I would like to do that some time, but for now I will highlight a few of the lessons learned on this journey. I think I have done some things well, but there are some things I would do differently.

  •  I would spend more time with my family. They are much too valuable to risk losing, and there is so much that God has been accomplishing in their lives. Time holds treasures that are lost with every tick of the clock, never again to be recovered. Don’t miss those moments God provides with your family. Next to my relationship with God, the call to be faithful to my wife and son is top priority.

  •  I would spend more time in prayer. I need the spiritual power – always! Of course, prayer does not make sense apart from scripture. Through prayer the Holy Spirit gives understanding to the truth of God’s Word. This is where I have found strength, wisdom, clarity, hope, direction and purpose.

  •  I would invest more time in disciple-making and less in committee meetings. Making disciples in one-on-one relationships is the biblical model that must be taken seriously. It’s that simple.

  •  I would focus more on teamwork. Nothing we do in ministry is supposed to spotlight one person, other than Jesus. Lasting ministry involves everyone on the team. That one person who thinks he or she is the most important person in the church is living in deception. Everyone on the team has an essential role to live out. There are no levels of value among the people of God.

  •  I would ignore critical people and find ways to embolden the encouragers. Criticism is a good thing when it is constructive and shared for godly edification. We need to learn from others and grow in grace. But some people live to be critical. The great deceiver has convinced them it is their calling. The criticism of others should never define us. The majority of believers are positive encouragers who tend to quietly press on. They’re not looking for a fight. They just want to serve God. I should have looked for more ways to energize those good saints.

  •  I would give more energy to supporting missionaries. They may be church members who are trying to reach their neighborhood, church planters in North America or career missionaries who live overseas – I should have given more energy to encouraging them and spending time with them.

  •  I would build accountable relationships with other men into my life. I believe my walk with God and the ministries where I served would be much more effective and fruitful today if the discipline of a personal accountability system was standard fare.

In addition to these things I would do differently, there is an important lesson I learned about all people. I share this observation with the hope that it will help us better understand each other and be more patient with each other.
Maybe it will help us live out Ephesians 4:2-3, “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
Here it is: Everyone lives in a bubble.
A bubble is a world view. My bubble is my world. It’s what I know, see and experience every day. It defines what is valuable to me. It is the place where I am comfortable.

A bubble is not a bad thing. But it is a reality that we should be honest about. I live in a bubble. You live in a bubble.
There is deacon bubble, a choir bubble and a pastor bubble. There is a youth group bubble, a college student bubble, a seminary student bubble and a senior adult bubble. Some live in a large church bubble and some in a small church bubble. There is an IMB bubble, a NAMB bubble and a LifeWay bubble. Every church, association, state convention, and university operates in a bubble.
There are some dangers with bubbles. They impose limits on the way we live. We tend to assume that everyone’s bubble is exactly like ours, that they think like us. They don’t. We may believe our bubble is superior to others’ bubbles. We’re wrong. We may assume that our world is complete inside our bubble, that we don’t need anyone else’s perspective. Wrong again.
We need each other in the body of Christ. The term ‘body’ implies many different parts – each one doing its unique assignment, with all parts working together in precise cooperation. Our bubbles can prevent us from serving together in harmony.
This lesson in bubbleology could explain many of our communication problems, cultural conflicts, church divisions, political wars and turf battles. Everyone lives in their own world, assuming it is the same world of others around them. But it’s not.
If we wonder why everyone doesn’t see the world our way, maybe we need to consider the possibility that our individual bubble is not sovereign. It may be painful when our bubble bursts. The temporary comfort of pinning the blame on a specific person or institution will likely transition to the infection of bitterness. There is no eternal value in that.
So, let’s deal with it.
We cannot allow our bubble to become a hindrance to God’s purpose and work in our life.

5/31/2016 11:40:53 AM by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor | with 1 comments

Mark Harris exposes Human Rights Campaign

May 2 2016 by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor

In the 50 years since God called me to ministry I have never seen the extreme barrage of vicious deceit like that which has been organized against the legislators and citizens of North Carolina. After the passage of House Bill 2 (HB 2), a campaign of severe misinformation began flowing to corporate leaders, media outlets and other targeted groups. The media should know better, but most are blinded by their own depravity.
Christians should not fall into this trap of deception.
Scripture gives sufficient warnings including Paul’s warning to Timothy. “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron” (1 Timothy 4:1-2, NKJV).
At a rally in support of our governor and legislators on April 25, Mark Harris delivered a speech that I want to share with our readers.
Harris is the pastor of First Baptist Church in Charlotte and is running for N.C. Congress to represent the 9th district (see item below).
The text of Harris’ speech expresses his views and his concerns over attacks against the state’s leaders. He began with a question he is frequently asked. Where did the conflict surrounding HB 2 originate?
“That’s an important question. You don’t think the North Carolina General Assembly just decided to create HB2 for no reason. Do you think our legislators just awoke one morning and said, ‘I think I’d like to ruin my Spring, threaten my re-election and draw the wrath of a bunch of misinformed CEO’s and celebrities, see my name on the front page of biased newspapers, passing opinions for news every day’? I don’t think so. No, when you ask where this began, the answer is, all of this began in Washington, D.C., with a lobby group called the Human Rights Campaign. When they embarked on a strategy to take the nation city-by-city, pouring millions into elections and ad campaigns. This group has never been able to get traction statewide in North Carolina, and it is driving them crazy.
“North Carolina overwhelmingly defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman in 2012 despite the millions of dollars that was poured into opposition of the measure by the Human Rights Campaign. They then turned their attention to North Carolina’s largest city, Charlotte. And just as they had done in Houston [Texas], the lobby group identified candidates friendly to their agenda and got them elected, which led to enough votes on the Charlotte City Council to enact the group’s radical agenda of creating a special class of protections for certain sexual behaviors, as well as the infamous bathroom section of the ordinance.
“It is worthwhile to just take a moment and understand the degree to which the Charlotte City Council had to ignore the citizens it represents in order to pass the ordinance. The numbers will tell you the story. Over 250,000 emails were collectively received by the city council and the mayor in opposition of that ordinance. Over 20,000 people signed the petition in opposition to their ordinance. Over 700 people – reported by the Charlotte Observer, I might add – gathered in the driving cold rain and wind in a rally in opposition to the ordinance. And of the 140 speakers at the city council meeting the night of the vote, the vast majority opposed [the ordinance]. That’s the true numbers.
“Last but certainly not least, Mayor Jennifer Roberts and the members of the city council who voted for the ordinance ignored the fact that they were told their actions were not in line with the North Carolina constitution and would likely be overturned.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I beg you, do not be deceived by the claims now being spread by Mayor Roberts [saying] she had no idea that the state would overturn her bathroom bill. When the city council voted to approve the Charlotte ordinance in February of 2016, they did so knowing absolutely that the state would likely take action to overturn it.
“When people ask me – reporters and all – ‘What do you think about the economic challenges being faced as a result of this?’ I am quick to point out, any economic loss for North Carolina due to this issue must be placed squarely at the feet of Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts and the members of the Charlotte City Council.
“So somebody has to ask, ‘Why? Why, when the numbers tell such a story? Was it because gay couples were being denied accommodations at restaurants and hotels? Well, apparently not, since the Charlotte Observer reported that the lesbians who filed suit against HB 2 stated that they had never been denied accommodations anywhere. So, Why?
“Was it because homosexual individuals were being denied employment? Not likely since asking about relationships and marital status is already illegal in job interviews under federal law. So, why then would they defy such amazing numbers?
“Because a powerful special interest group told them to. And because a powerful special interest group benefits from being able to call our state legislators and our leaders “haters.” Because a powerful special interest group, above all else, no matter how much our state may suffer, wants Roy Cooper elected governor, because he advances their own narrow agenda. This group pumped nearly a million dollars into congressional campaigns in 2014, including nearly $10,000 to Kay Hagan in her failed bid for re-election to the United States Senate. You see, today you need to know the facts.
“Because of a powerful special interest group that claims to be for tolerance and diversity is so intolerant and unmerciful that it celebrates as county clerks go to prison, family-owned bakeries go out of business and pastors sermons are subpoenaed for daring to live and work in accordance with their faith.
“I’m here today, in closing, to say to you, the members of the North Carolina State Legislature on the other hand, did what they were elected to do. They acted swiftly, they acted effectively and they acted constitutionally. They did not impede the right of any business to enact any policies it wants in regards to sexual orientation or bathroom use. They just protected us from the heavy-handed assault on religious liberty that always occurs when these special interest groups get their way.
“I am here today to ask you to join me in simply saying, ‘Thank you to the legislature. Thank you to the lieutenant governor, thank you to Gov. McCrory. Thank you for standing strong.’”

5/2/2016 2:43:43 PM by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor | with 2 comments