October 2012

Annual meeting is a big deal

October 22 2012 by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor

Scripture places high value on fellowship among believers. But wait – I’m not talking about shaking hands in worship or sharing food in the church fellowship hall. Reading the book of Acts, I understand fellowship certainly includes activities around the table and various types of greetings. It also involves an investment of time with believers at many levels.
The early believers were more connected with the larger body of Christ than we seem to be.
Over the centuries Christians have fragmented into countless fellowship groups or denominations. In addition, we have increased our inward focus toward our local congregations. There are good and bad sides to that.
The bad side is myopia or shortsightedness. It is a dangerous mistake to miss the big picture of God’s activity in the full body of Christ, while believing that God’s activity in my local church body is the complete picture. No matter the size, no local church fellowship is able to give believers an adequate perspective of the full body of Christ.
I cannot count the number of times I hear comments like, “We don’t get involved in the state convention or association because we have so much happening in our church.” I understand the temptation to limit our activity to our congregation, but I strongly encourage Baptists not to go there.
Enrich your understanding of God’s family. Attend the annual meeting to the North Carolina Baptist State Convention in Greensboro, Nov. 12-13. Participate in the Pastors’ Conference and other related meetings. Learn what God is doing through your sister churches.
This year’s annual meeting is important for many reasons. First, it is important because there is a sincere call for spiritual awakening.
There is a growing hunger for a spiritual awakening in our times. The theme of the meetings may be the catalyst to fan the flames of revival. The program committee has humbly focused on praying for awakening among Baptists. I’ve seen evidence that it is working.
Second, N.C. Baptists are at a critical point in history. I believe we are more focused on our mission. We have the quality of leadership to facilitate our Lord’s assignment of the Great Commission.
We have a more defined, biblical unity than I have witnessed in my lifetime. This is a strategic moment for us. We can capitalize on its value best by working together. The annual meeting facilitates this opportunity.
Third, there is a desperate need to penetrate lostness in N.C. The cultural composition of the state is more multi-ethnic than ever. There are more lost people living in N.C. than any time in our history. Local churches have a critical role in reaching our communities, but they cannot do it alone. Now is the time to work together to impact the state with the gospel.
Fourth, the foundational nature of our unity is both in a personal relationship with Christ and in a corporate, voluntary relationship with other believers.
Absent of a structured denominational hierarchy, every church chooses the level of participation and cooperation with fellow Baptists.
I have found great personal and kingdom value by intentionally choosing to work with other church fellowships at many levels. I have never regretted my choice.
I look forward to seeing you in Greensboro.
When you see me at the Pastors’ Conference or in the convention hall, let me know how the Biblical Recorder can bless your local church fellowship and support your service to the King and His kingdom.
We are your partners in the Great Commission!
10/22/2012 1:08:38 PM by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor | with 0 comments

Our responsibility to vote

October 8 2012 by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor

Matthew’s gospel records a very important conversation between Jesus and some Pharisees. They began with a question. “‘Tell us, therefore, what do You think? Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?’ But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, ‘Why do you test Me, you hypocrites? Show Me the tax money.’ So they brought Him a denarius. And He said to them, ‘Whose image and inscription is this?’ They said to Him, ‘Caesar’s.’ And He said to them, ‘Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s’” (Matthew 22:17-21, NKJ).
The Pharisees wanted to trap Jesus with words. They were looking for a crack in his theology. It was their perception that Jesus respected the law of the land but did not seem to have a high view of secular government. How could He, if He was a holy man of God and the Roman government was so ungodly?
They put him on the spot with a question. Is it right to pay your taxes to an evil government? In other words, “We are godly people and we cannot support an ungodly government, so should we really be paying taxes?”
It is easy to assume we know what Jesus would do. Instead of honestly and humbly listening to Him, we tend to inject our opinion into His world and make Jesus say what we want Him to say. That’s what the Pharisees tried to do.
In godly wisdom He asked to see one of the government’s coins. Jesus raised this question, “Whose image, seal or logo do you see on the coin?” They gave the obvious answer, “Caesar’s.”
His response to the Pharisees has been quoted and discussed by His followers since that day. “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” If it belongs to the government, respect what fits in their world and respond accordingly. If it belongs to God, acknowledge that He owns everything and respond accordingly.
Jesus’ response commands personal responsibility in both the arena of secular government and the arena of God’s vast universe. While the Pharisees seemed to be looking for a way to avoid paying taxes, Jesus made it clear that all mankind must accept their responsibility to earthly things which are temporal and heavenly things related to the eternal.
Pharisees are legalists. They find pleasure in nit-picking. They look at every fine point through the lense of the ego. In the end, it is not about the law, but about what fits their rule book. Frankly, their self-designed rule book always paints them into a corner.
Ultimately, legalism kills. It destroys the spirit of the law and the image of the Lawmaker.
Sadly, that spirit of legalism lives through another election cycle in America. I’ve heard a disturbing number of Christians stating they will not vote in the 2012 national elections, or at least they will avoid voting for the office of president. Most say they cannot support the theology of either presidential candidate.
I can’t support their theology either. I can honestly say that I have never fully supported the theology of any president. I doubt I ever will. And, I can say the same about governors, mayors, senators, representatives and judges.
But I will not allow the belief systems of others to excuse me from my responsibility to “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s ....” I am still eternally accountable to God to act responsibly in the arena of earthly government and in the vast sphere of eternity.
I never had the misconception that we are voting for a religious leader for America, my state or my city. We are electing men and women to serve in the public sectors of local, state and national governments.
Since those sectors are neither a theocracy nor the head of a church, we must vote for the people who have the highest standards, those whose experience seems appropriate for the job, those whose worldview is most compatible with the basic Judeo-Christian worldview, and the ones who have the potential for the strongest moral leadership.
As always, I have been studying the positions of the candidates and weighing the values that are most significant, such as their positions on life, freedom and stewardship. I am asking, “Which candidates do I want making the laws of my nation and community?” Ultimately, what is best for the kingdom of God and the glory of God?
I will fulfill my God-given responsibility and cast my vote. If we do not vote, integrity calls for us to remain quiet until the next election. I believe there is no room for complaint or disagreement if I fail to be responsible in the voting process.
I pray that all believers will take our responsibility seriously. I pray that we will be the salt and light necessary for the hour. The days are dark, and the light is desperately needed.
10/8/2012 2:33:04 PM by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor | with 0 comments