January 2012

Super Bowl lessons for Christians

January 30 2012 by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor

With all of the seasonal attention surrounding the Super Bowl, this is a good time to point out an important correlation between sports and Christian living. There is a valuable lesson here!
 
Football is a team event. When points are scored the credit cannot go to one player. The game is not about a single quarterback, a single receiver or a single kicker. There will be no touchdown or field goal if no one on the field is blocking. If the center does not hike the ball, no points are scored.
 
The reason there are 11 men on the field at a given moment is because each one is important to the work of the team. A team has offensive players and defensive players on the bench because they will be needed for specific reasons at specific times in the game. There are coaches working diligently on the sidelines because they are essential to the team’s victory.
 
For generations now, western culture has been steeped in individualism – the ideology that elevates the value of the individual above all else. Even the church has not escaped its influence. There is too much evidence among us that we have lost sight of the scriptural truths which describe Christians as members of a “team.”
 
While there is value in every person as a creation of God, the universe does not revolve around any single individual. There is no evidence in scripture that the value of the individual is greater than the value of the “people of God.”
 
The Bible does not describe Christians as a mass of individuals who are each doing their own thing, demanding their own way, insisting that others bow to their selfish will. Individualism is not demonstrated in scripture – except in the context of disobedience and sin.
 
We are called the “body of Christ” (1 Corinthians 10, 12). That is a picture of plurality. It takes many parts to make a body. We are called a “holy priesthood” (1 Peter 2:4-8).
 
A priesthood is not one priest, but a plurality of priests. Jesus said he is the vine and we are the “branches” (John 15:5). The description is not of an individual branch, but many branches.
 
We are called an army, a flock, a kingdom of priests and the people of God – all plural metaphors.
 
So where do we come up with the idea that one person should have his or her way in the work of the local church? The answer to that question should be clear.
 
We have applied the non-biblical ideology of individualism to the operation of the body of Christ. We have refused to operate as a team.
 
By demanding our own way, disrespecting the role of the coach and disparaging the rest of the team, we undermine the potential for victory.
 
But the world of sports need not teach us the value of humbling ourselves in a team environment. We have a higher Authority who has declared His principles of “teamhood” to us.
 
Pride blinds us from His truth. Self-inflated individualism undermines our effectiveness.
 
Frankly, we need “the team” more than we are willing to admit.
 
If you watch this year’s Super Bowl, let it be a reminder to you that the New Testament church needs the kind of genuine revival that destroys selfish individualism.
 
Turn off the television during the commercials and pray for a humble, teachable heart in every believer in your church – beginning with yourself. Pray that our eyes will be open to the phenomenal power of humility.
 
Pray for a desire in your church to work in unison.
 
There is inestimable power in working together, giving together, praying together, worshipping together and proclaiming Christ to the nations together.
 
When the church serves together as a team, God gets the MVP award. All of the glory is His.
 
“For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen” (Romans 11:36).

1/30/2012 2:37:58 PM by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor | with 0 comments



Sanctity of Life Sunday: Jan. 22

January 16 2012 by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor

On January 22, 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its decision in the Roe v. Wade case opening an era of human devaluation. Each January, the Sunday closest to that decision date is reserved as a time of remembrance. We call it Sanctity of Life Sunday.
 
It is a moment to remember a terrible mistake by the leaders of this nation when 39 years ago, the Supreme Court of the United States of America legalized abortion. This is a time to deeply grieve over the denial of basic human rights to innocent children.
 
In the years since the Supreme Court legalized abortion, 55 million children have been denied the right to live. We have snuffed out a population equal to the size of Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming combined.
 
We Americans should highly value “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” as the Declaration of Independence clearly proclaims. Yet, if we do not highly value life, there is no potential for liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is impossible.
 
As God-fearing human beings we embrace the reality that God is the Author of life, and that as His servants, we are to honor, respect and protect life. We are to assign the highest value to human life because it is the peak of God’s creation. According to His Word, human life is inestimably precious. While a sanctity of human life ethic may be disparaged by the world, it is God’s view. His Word is clear: human life – at all ages and all stages – is precious.
 
While the culture in which we live promotes the view that human beings are merely enhanced primates, Christians serve a God who tells us clearly in His Word that we are made in His image. Likening God to a potter, a vocation that was common in biblical days, the prophet Isaiah wrote, “We are all the work of [His] hands” (Isaiah 64:8).
 
The Bible tells us God is intimately involved with the fashioning of every human (Psalm 139). As a creation of the Most High God, we are precious in His sight. Innocent human life is to be protected – no matter one’s age or condition. No government has the authority to override God’s purpose.
 
This Christian perspective on life is not negotiable. It is the basis of every value we hold dear. If this value is compromised, we demonstrate disdain for all that is valuable in the sight of God. The value of life shapes our convictions on all social or ethical issues which address life: the value of life during pregnancy and at birth, issues involving end of life with the aged or infirm, and the quality of life of the years in between.
 
Chuck Swindoll said, “Not since the controversial issue of slavery ripped America apart at the seams has one subject troubled our country like abortion. It is virtually impossible to pick up a national periodical or, for that matter, a daily newspaper without seeing an article, a column, a story, or an editorial either directly or indirectly related to abortion. Physicians and politicians, educators and newscasters, radio and television talk show hosts, feminists and lobbyists alike are never far from discussing the subject.”
 
Among all of these voices offering an opinion on this issue, the ones which should speak the clearest are the voices of Christians. As people of conviction, it is impossible to be silent. I challenge every serious follower of Jesus Christ to do all you can in the spirit of Christ to change the course that has been taken the past 39 years. Volunteer at your local crisis pregnancy center. Give financial support to these centers and encourage your church to include a center in the church budget. Clearly and graciously share your concerns with your elected officials. Vote only for those who will clearly commit to ending the grievous calamity of abortion.
 
This is a moral issue, not a political one. God have mercy on our nation, our world and on all who are silent on this evil holocaust of the most innocent and most helpless of all human beings.
1/16/2012 2:35:16 PM by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor | with 0 comments



Amazing Grace in a Dark World

January 3 2012 by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor

Scotland is one of my favorite places. Pam and I were prayerwalking the streets of Stirling, Scotland, several years ago with some of our IMB missionaries. We were in awe over the many displays of witchcraft, occult, and new age “spirituality” in the storefronts.
 
Everywhere we looked false religion was promoted. Churches were few, and those we saw stood more as monuments to the past than houses of worship for today.
 
Strolling down one street of this historically Christian country, we were praying for the people of Scotland when we happened upon a souvenir shop displaying a poster of the song, Amazing Grace. What a contrast to the displays of artificial religion!
 
I thought about Paul on the streets of Athens (see Acts 17:22-23). While he walked this city he observed idols and monuments to many different gods, but one altar read, “To the Unknown God.” The Greeks of this city had erected a representation of any god who is “out there” whom they might have overlooked.
 
Paul was observing an altar to an unknown god. I was looking at the words to a song about the KNOWN God, who was unknown to the present generation. Amazing Grace was written out of the personal crisis of John Newton. His miserable life as a slave trader was spared by the grace of God at a time when he should have died in a storm at sea. He knew first hand how God’s judgement was withheld by His mighty act of grace.
 
It has become one of the most recognized songs in the world and a clear favorite among Christians. But on the streets of Scotland it was little more than a sentimental, unofficial national anthem, telling a story the people of that city were not hearing. They had eyes that did not see and ears that did not hear. To be fair, we saw some pockets of great activity where God is working among the Scots. But just as in America, the streets of the cities do not reflect the proclamation of the gospel. The religion of relative secularism is the only acceptable lifestyle on the streets.
 
The challenge of living in a secular nation opens the door of opportunity for us to proclaim God’s amazing grace to people who are walking in darkness. A new year brings both challenges and opportunities, forcing us to reflect on our personal direction as well as the direction of our country.
 
Christians are saved by the grace of God and uniquely called to be His chosen people of light. Peter summarized it clearly. “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9, NKJ). As His chosen people, we must live as trophies of His grace and light in the darkness of a fallen world. When compared with the world, we should stand out as unique.
 
2012 will be a very important year for Christians to display our uniqueness. North Carolinians will vote on the definition of marriage in May.
 
The United States will elect a president in November. Other major decisions will be made throughout the year. Some of those decisions will be on a personal level. Some will be church decisions. Others will impact our nation and world.
 
How many of those decisions will be made after spending time in prayer? How many will be made based on truth from God’s Word?
 
How many will be made by listening to the deceitful claims of secularism or prevailing political views? Will our decisions be made and our votes cast from the perspective of the will of God?
 
I pray that 2012 will be a great year for the advance of the gospel and for the glory of God around the earth. It is my prayer that God’s people will be faithful to stand on the eternal truth of God’s Word. May the light of truth shine through us into a very dark world.
1/3/2012 3:40:34 PM by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor | with 0 comments