January 2013

Where is the wisdom?

January 28 2013 by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor

There is a famine of wisdom in the land. One can find very little evidence that wisdom is a desired commodity in the twenty-first century. The culture, the halls of education, the houses of government, the homes, the world of entertainment, and even churches seem to have pressed wisdom into obscurity.
 
We have knowledge, but wisdom is not gained by increasing knowledge, and the two are certainly not synonymous.
 
The present culture is obscenely rich with knowledge. We know more than any generation in history.
It is estimated that about a half million books are printed every day, and about 2,000 pages are added to man’s scientific knowledge every minute. It is estimated that the world’s store of knowledge doubles every 6 months.
 
We have more knowledge than we can get our arms around. We can’t buy a computer hard drive large enough to store all we know. Having enough knowledge is not our problem.
 
Where can wisdom be found in our world? Certainly not in Washington. Forty years ago the Supreme Court abandoned wisdom in legalizing abortion. In recent years the landslide of foolish legislation and executive orders far outweigh the few wise actions coming from politicians. We are swimming in foolish debt. We defend the “right” of citizens to violate basic moral code. More laws are rooted in greed, arrogance and human lust than those founded on the solid rock of wisdom.
 
The abundance of foolishness seems to be equal to the measure of spiritual darkness. That should not surprise us since God says He is the only source of wisdom. If we do not get wisdom from Him, we don’t have it.
 
The Bible – that’s the book that MSNBC News commentator Lawrence O’Donnell said absolutely no one believes any more – says, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments. His praise endures forever” Psalm 111:10.
 
Job said, “With Him are wisdom and strength, He has counsel and understanding” Job 12:13.
 
Solomon wrote the book of Proverbs for this purpose: “To know wisdom and instruction, to perceive the words of understanding, to receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, judgment, and equity ...” Proverbs 1:2-3. Wouldn’t you say this is something we desperately need?
 
Foolishness is not confined to the “secular” and those in darkness. Christians have seen our share of it in the mirror. How many times have we who are believers shamefully admitted that something we did was foolish? We only wish we could relive those moments and apply wisdom.
 
If you have held a place of leadership in a local church, you’ve seen foolish decisions by the pastor, church staff, deacons or committees. There have been foolish actions by those who believe they own the church and scheme behind the scenes to get their way.
 
The blind nature of pride prevents us from seeing our own foolish behavior.
 
I would like to suggest at least three steps we can take to stop the famine of wisdom.
 
First, acknowledge the source of wisdom. A certain amount of “good sense” comes from experience, but God is the absolute source of all wisdom. “For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding” Proverbs 2:6, NKJ.
 
No measure of experience will produce wisdom. A high IQ is not to be equated with wisdom. No amount of education will guarantee the acquisition of wisdom. It comes from God.
 
Second, actively work to acquire wisdom. Addressing believers, James writes, “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him” James 1:5, NASB. Before we say the wrong word; before we make the wrong decision, ask God for wisdom.
 
The growth of wisdom in our lives requires the removal of anything that resists wisdom, namely pride. I’ve never met a proud person who was wise or a wise person who was prideful. Sin is foolish in any form. And, sin will keep us from asking God for wisdom. A strong dose of humility, followed by repentance must introduce the process of asking.
 
Third, deliberately exercise wisdom. Apply it to the functions and activities you have control over. “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom” James 3:13, NKJ.
 
Conduct that is meek and wise must be intentionally cultivated. The epidemic “blame game,” the rampant disrespect for life and the blatant rejection of God’s standards reveal a shortage of wisdom, deficiency of character and the absence of teachability.
 
Maybe we who are believers can ask God for wisdom and show the rest of the country how it works.
1/28/2013 2:36:14 PM by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor | with 0 comments



Recorder marks 180th anniversary

January 14 2013 by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor

On Jan. 17, 1833, Thomas Meredith published the first edition of a newspaper that was the forerunner of the Biblical Recorder. It was entitled “North Carolina Baptist Interpreter.” One year later the name became Biblical Recorder and Journal of Passing Events.
 
The opening statement of Meredith’s paper read, “The publication of which the first number is now presented to the public, as its name implies, is designed to contribute to the interests of the Baptist denomination in this state.”
 
He added, “As the utility of such a paper, under almost any circumstances, if properly conducted, is sufficiently obvious and as the situation of our denomination in this state is such at present, as to render such a vehicle of communication absolutely indispensable, it is hoped that those friendly to its existence will exert themselves to give it a general circulation and liberal patronage.” The initial cost was $1.00 per year.
 
In other words, the first editor hoped Baptists in the state would be willing to invest $1.00 annually to stay informed on issues, needs and news in the world of Baptist-related current events.
 
The present editor carries a similar hope. I hope churches and pastors in N.C. will see the paper as  “...absolutely indispensable...” and “...will exert themselves to give it a general circulation and liberal patronage.”
 
As we mark the 180th anniversary of the Recorder, take note that this newspaper is older than the Chicago Tribune, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Kansas City Star, the Los Angeles Times and the Denver Post.
 
The Recorder is the fourth oldest newspaper among Baptist state papers, preceded by The Christian Index (Georgia, 1822), the Western Recorder (Kentucky, 1826), and the Religious Herald (Virginia, 1828).
The advance of the Internet has been a serious threat to the survival of printed newspapers and magazines. Some, both secular and religious, have ceased publication, moving exclusively to online content.
 
The Recorder has suffered decline more than most Baptist state papers in the last 30 years. Circulation has gone from 120,000 in 1979 to 20,000 last year. Thirty years ago we were one of the top five Baptist newspapers in the nation. Today we are not even in the top 15. It does not take a marketing analyst to know that electronic communication is not solely to blame.
 
North Carolina Baptists regularly lead the nation in gifts to the Lottie Moon and Annie Armstrong offerings. We are consistently one of the largest givers through the Cooperative Program. We are one of the leading conventions in the number of churches and the number of church members.
 
But our state paper is not getting into the hands of most in our congregations. This is a disadvantage both to those who lead the great ministries of the state and to kingdom work in general. Baptists need a strong means of communicating news, information and resources to our constituency.
 
The printed page is not dead. Actually, you will be surprised at the large number of young adults who are turning back to the relaxation of a printed newspaper, needing a break from electronic sources. And, the annual cost is less than the cost of one cup of coffee every two months in your local coffee shop!
 
On the positive side of the equation, the Biblical Recorder’s website, BRnow.org, has become a strong resource. The daily visitor count on our website has grown from a few thousand in 2011 to over 31,000 by the end of 2012. This is incredible growth. It verifies the hunger for accurate information.
 
The Recorder’s staff is working hard to keep the website fresh and relevant. There is no charge to access the information there. We hope you will list BRnow.org in your weekly church bulletin and in other printed material. Link to us from your website. We believe your church family will be better servants in the local church, better informed on the issues and more kingdom focused by visiting our website regularly.
 
Eight months ago, a third member of the Biblical Recorder family was born. We introduced BRweekly, a free e-newsletter that is sent to your inbox every Wednesday morning. This is a brief summary of breaking news, prominent stories of the week and brief comments from the editor. Please encourage everyone in your church family to sign up for this free, weekly resource. Visit the website to subscribe.
 
So, 180 years ago the sole resource of the printed Biblical Recorder was available. Today you have three ways to get the news you need: the Biblical Recorder, BRnow.org and BRweekly.
 
An important clarification needs to be noted. Each of these three mediums has a defined uniqueness.
 
The material in one is not necessarily in the others. They are NOT duplicates. So, we hope you stay connected with all three.
 
Information is more important today than it was two centuries ago. We pray that the ministry of the Biblical Recorder will be a regular part of your congregation’s information diet, and that your church’s ministries will be stronger for it.
 
Please join us as we celebrate 180 years of ministry this week. We commend the vision and dedication of Thomas Meredith. God used him to establish a strong communication tool for North Carolina Baptists.
We want to build on this rich heritage with emphasis on being biblical, focusing on the Great Commission and glorifying God as we serve to advance His Kingdom.
1/14/2013 1:36:35 PM by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor | with 0 comments