November 2016

IMB reset is working

November 29 2016 by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor

Getting Baptists to agree on mission priorities is like the proverbial task of making sausage. Everyone wants their favorite ingredients in the mix, and by the time it's finished, we don’t necessarily want to know what’s in it. We just hope everyone will find it agreeable when the work is done.
Such is the case with international missions. Each church has unique preferences for the way they want to do missions, the country that they want to serve and the specific ministry organization(s) they select for mission engagement. That is the nature of local church autonomy.
Among Southern Baptist churches the dominant organization of choice is the International Mission Board (IMB).
One year ago this month Southern Baptists faced a tall mountain, wondering if it could be scaled. Budget deficits exceeding $200 million forced our beloved IMB to ask missionaries to consider the option of stepping down from their positions.
When the final numbers were tallied, more than 1,100 valuable members of our international mission team no longer had a job at IMB. The overseas mission force lost 983 team members. The stateside staff trimmed another 149 people from the payroll.
Drastic monetary shortages required radical cuts in personnel, and most Baptists understood. But we still grieved over the reduction of our international missionary presence. We evaluated our giving and recognized that the dollars flowing from the people in our churches to the people serving overseas was not what it should be. Gratefully, many Baptist churches responded with generous gifts to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions (LMCO).
We commend churches and individuals that modeled generous giving to international missions last year through this annual offering.
On page 14 of the December 3, 2016 issue of the Biblical Recorderwe published a chart that identifies churches in North Carolina that led the way through their generous support of missions through the LMCO. The column on the right side of the page lists the 50 churches in the state with largest offerings.
The left column identifies the per capita giving of the top 50 churches in N.C. This measuring rod allows churches of every size to be recognized for their extraordinary support of spreading the gospel through LMCO.
It is especially noteworthy that five churches are in the top ten of both lists. This is exceptional. The churches are Parkwood, Gastonia; Mount Vernon, Boone; Idlewild, Matthews; First, Cary; and First, Durham.
A total of 23 churches showed up in the top 50 of both lists. Again, this is unusual and highly commendable.
Every individual and every church that gave to LMCO is important. Without the participation of all Southern Baptist churches last year’s all-time record offering of $165.8 would not be possible.
As we enter the week of prayer for this year’s LMCO, I am praying that Baptists around the world will ask God to use us to impact the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ through the most generous, sacrificial gift we have ever invested in international missions.
We hope you receive a week of prayer brochure from your church to guide you through your daily prayers. The IMB website also provides resources for the week of prayer. Please use these resources.
As David Platt recently reported, IMB is now operating with a balanced budget. Next year’s budget, combined with another generous LMCO, will keep our international mission agency working in the black. This is an important part of our testimony to a lost world.
This editorial is like Lottie Moon – it’s short. But if these few words can have only a tiny fraction of the impact of this woman’s life on eternity, God will be glorified. Let’s give generously.
About Lottie Moon
• Name: Charlotte Diggs Moon
• Birthday: Dec. 12, 1840
• Attended Albemarle Female Institute, female counterpart to the University of Virginia
• One of first women in South to receive a master’s degree
• Taught school in Kentucky, Georgia and Virginia
• Sister, Edmonia Moon, was appointed to Tengchow, China, in 1872, a year before Lottie
• Served 39 years as a missionary, mostly teaching at a girls’ school
• She mostly served in Tengchow and P’ingtu.
• The smell of her cookies drew people to her house
• She was 32 years old when she left for China
• She had turned down a marriage proposal and left her job, home and family to follow God’s lead
• Her letters home detailed the hunger for truth among the Chinese and the struggle of so few missionaries taking the gospel to the 472 million Chinese in her day
• She challenged Southern Baptists to go to China or give
• By 1888, Southern Baptist women had organized and collected 43,315 to send workers needed in China
• In 1918, Woman’s Missionary Union named the annual Christmas offering for international missions for Lottie Moon

11/29/2016 1:31:17 PM by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor | with 0 comments

The Trump shock

November 14 2016 by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor

The election of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States has been called a shock wave, seismic tremor, social tsunami – and many other adjectives that describe radical surprise.
There has been an abundance of analysis and over-analysis about the election results since Tues., Nov. 8.
The presidential election was not a landslide. It was an even split, indicating there is a serious divide in our cities and towns. Some of that is fed by militant movements like LGBTQ activists, progressives, socialists and some far right extremists. Misguided radicals always exist across all spectrums.
The greater problem comes when “mainstream” leaders and journalists abandon reason in order to embrace radical ideologies – especially when those ideologies reject time-tested standards and moral absolutes.
One of the most consistent post-election themes I have heard is that the media has done an incredibly poor job of covering the political campaigns.
Analyzing Trump’s victory, Jim Rutenberg, a writer for The New York Times, wrote the day after the election, “It was a failure to capture the boiling anger of a large portion of the American electorate that feels left behind by a selective recovery, betrayed by trade deals that they see as threats to their jobs and disrespected by establishment Washington, Wall Street and the mainstream media.”
There you have it. Those who make up  the media are completely out of touch with grassroots Americans.
They are taking a beating over their failure to deal with the facts and their severe lack of judgment. They earned this rebuke.
Blind to the basic values of most Americans and deceived by a doomed progressive agenda, media elites and career politicians simply don’t get it. They are not in touch with the average worker, average student, average family or average retiree.
To the media elite, it is unthinkable, laughable, even impossible that Donald Trump’s supporters, who Hillary Clinton called a “basket of deplorables,” would have a remote chance of influencing the election. But they did.
Though crass, Trump tapped into the anger and sense of betrayal most Americans believed Clinton and Washington insiders represent. The public resisted the arrogance and crassness of the elite – media, academia, entertainment and Washington insiders. This is the group that is known for their prejudice against the rural residents of our country, those without a college degree, those who embrace Judeo-Christian values, those who are Christians and those who are generally different from the elite.
Southern Baptist pastor Mike Huckabee served as the governor of Arkansas and is a two-time candidate for the presidency of the United States. In a post-election email he said, “Two years ago, I released a book, God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy, that detailed what I was observing in the great divide between the people in the ‘bubbles’ of New York, Washington and Hollywood and the people living in ‘flyover country,’ or as I coined it, the land of ‘God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy.’  
“It was not geographical, nor racial, nor ethnic, nor gender based. It was the raw, seething anger felt by people whose lives were being devastated by policies and politics of the Ivy League-educated ruling class who looked with derision and bewilderment at the millions whose jobs had disappeared or were paying less, whose pensions had been obliterated, and whose future appeared bleak and hopeless.
“The press largely snickered at my message and thought it overly simplistic. It was intentionally simplistic because it didn’t have to be complicated to explain what was happening in the lives of the working class. If the shell-shocked elites are now wondering how they missed it, I still recommend their reading the book. It really will lay it out for them.”
Todd Starnes, conservative columnist and occasional guest on Fox News said, “Our long national nightmare is over, and the Republic has been saved.”
Whether you agree with Starnes or not, do you hear the sigh of relief in his statement? He speaks for a large segment of people who have deep concerns about the future of the United States of America. There is a strong sense that we would not survive another four years of leftist elected officials.
I want to be quick to acknowledge that there is also a sigh of despair among many who greatly fear Trump’s presidency. There are some very scary unknowns to deal with. I understand that, but my point is not the fears, reservations and concerns of voters across the scale. My emphasis is that mainstream media and other elitists have failed us.
The state of North Carolina produced a map that shows which counties voted for established liberal candidates.
For the most part, the map looks like a diagram of the state’s largest universities and urban centers. That underscores the view that much of academia has graduated into the artificial world of the elites, out of touch with most Americans.
I’m thankful that North Carolina Baptists have a growing presence in these collegiate communities.
Clearly this is a significant mission field. Kudos to all who serve in this field and those who live out a biblical vision to impact academia with the gospel.
I pray for every believer who is employed by our colleges and universities. May God use you in powerful ways!
I’m also grateful that Baptists have a vision to impact lostness in the urban centers of our state. People of every imaginable race and language are neighbors to believers in these large cities. Many of our established churches are intentional about sharing the gospel, and many new churches are being launched in these concentrated areas of our population. I pray God will tremendously bless all who live for Christ and proclaim His truth in the urban mission field.
But I’m also thankful for the effective ministry of the many churches in rural communities. Both small and large, these churches have a great influence. The recent election illustrates this point. Rural churches are important to America. I pray that every Christian in these communities will take heart and stand strong for the truth of scripture.
The Biblical Recorder is honored to partner with all of our Baptist family to proclaim the gospel in North Carolina, North America and the world. Our mission of providing news and information with a biblical worldview is more important to our churches than ever before. Be sure the people in your church know who we are and what we do to serve them. People need to know!

11/14/2016 1:14:31 PM by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor | with 0 comments