March 2013

What are your convictions?

March 25 2013 by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor

Living in a social context that is more akin to ancient Babylon than biblical Jerusalem is challenging if you hold a biblical worldview. Christians are confronted with the tensions of living within the standards of scripture, while strong undercurrents pull us in the direction of secular ideologies.
 
There is the temptation to accept the secular in the name of “love,” wink at sin, and try not to offend anyone. Or there is the temptation to embrace that which God rejects, denying the basic tenents of the scripture.
 
There is a sure way to handle the problem of such temptations. It’s called convictions. That’s a word you don’t often hear.
 
Convictions are the values that you are so thoroughly convinced are absolutely true, that you take a stand regardless of the circumstances or consequences. A conviction is a convinced conscience. It is choosing what is right – when alone or in public – no matter what others may do.
 
Convictions differ from preferences. One may prefer a particular song above another, or one color above another. Preferences apply to one’s tastes in music, sports, furniture and cars, for example.
 
But convictions are not negotiable.
 
Convictions are not developed “on the fly.” They are the prepared result of our encounter with a specific truth from scripture. They are confirmed at the intersection of the voice of scripture and the crucible of life’s experiences.
 
The believer does not find himself giving birth to a conviction in the middle of a crisis any more than the athlete waits until game time to prepare for his contest. Convictions are the product of wise, careful, thoughtful preparation.
 
Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego are good examples. The book of Daniel tells how each was asked to do what they opposed by conviction. They were prepared before they confronted the challenge.

Given the command to eat the king’s food, Daniel did not cave in his conviction that God’s prescribed diet is superior to the king’s cuisine. He was trained in God’s truth. Respectfully, he proposed an alternate diet to the king, demonstrated the excellence of his God’s plan and won the favor of the monarch.
 
His three Hebrew friends refused, by conviction, to bow to an idol, even under the threat of the fiery furnace. They were not willing to adjust their beliefs to conform to the evils of Babylon. The threat on their lives was real. By conviction they stood firm and faced the consequences. They not only survived, they moved others to worship God.
 
The story of Joseph is chronicled in chapters 30 through 50 of the book of Genesis. His life is a model of maintaining holy convictions in spite of the prevailing culture or the actions of others.
 
We need convictions to sustain us in this world of perpetual challenge! The secular doctrines of tolerance, individualism, universalism, secularism, humanism and political correctness are the standards of our Babylon. The one who holds biblical convictions will oppose each of these destructive philosophies.
 
G.K. Chesterson said “Tolerance is the virtue of a man without convictions.” I will add that those who preach the other secular doctrines of the day are equally void of scriptural convictions.
 
In eight short verses of Psalm 101, David lists at least 12 commitments, or convictions, he has made. They include:
  • I will sing of God’s love and justice.
  • I will be careful to lead a blameless life.
  • I will set before my eyes no vile, worthless thing.
  • I will not adopt the deeds of faithless men.
  • I will have nothing to do with evil.
  • I will not tolerate the slander of a neighbor.
  • I will welcome the example of a faithful, blameless believer.
  • I will not tolerate those who practice deceit or false words.
  • I will daily find ways to silence the voices of evil.
If a believer is willing to build unchanging values, David’s list is a good place to start. Do you hold tight to biblical convictions? What are your convictions? Wait, don’t tell me what they are. Just live them. I believe our world needs it.
3/25/2013 3:58:24 PM by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor | with 0 comments



Hope for America

March 11 2013 by

On Nov. 7, 2013, Billy Graham will celebrate his 95th birthday. This is the man who may be responsible for more people coming to Christ than any single figure in the history of Christianity. He has carried the gospel to almost every nation in the world. He wants to be clear that his mission is not over.
 
Graham still passionately carries a burden for his homeland, the United States of America. It is his conviction that many do not know Jesus as Savior.
 
While his health and natural aging limits his ability to preach regularly, Graham, his family and his staff believe God can use the video recordings of his preaching to reach the lost. Coupled with current testimonies of changed lives, the evangelist’s sermons are being hailed as an effective tool to help believers reach their neighbors with the good news of Jesus Christ.
 
Labeled “My Hope with Billy Graham,” the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) has launched a major evangelistic outreach to America, culminating on the evangelist’s 95th birthday. Some organizers believe My Hope could be Graham’s “final call to America to turn to God.”

The strategy is built around relationships and has been used in 57 nations around the globe over the past decade. The BGEA believes more people have come to Christ as personal savior through this worldwide video outreach than all of Graham’s crusade ministry over a span of about 60 years.
 
The strategy has been a good fit in multiple cultural settings. When the vision to bring My Hope to North America was first considered, some were reluctant, believing it may not be effective in our culture. But the cultures of other nations are here on our shores. Maybe My Hope is ready for its day in the USA.
 
Biblical Recorder Managing Editor Shawn Hendricks interviewed BGEA’s Preston Parrish and wrote a story on My Hope, published in the Sept. 29, 2012, edition of the Recorder. Parrish is vice president of My Hope. In that article Parrish said, “North Carolina, and specifically North Carolina Baptists, represent a swing constituency that can help set the pace and develop the momentum for this gospel effort across our nation.”

“We’re asking every single person in North Carolina who loves Jesus Christ to begin getting involved right now with their prayers. We’re praying that the beginning, the epicenter of this great national movement, will indeed be right here in North Carolina,” Parrish said.
 
A powerful video entitled “Defining Moments” was posted on the ministry’s website recently, providing clearer definition for the movement.
 
In it, Billy Graham shares the timeless message, quoting Romans 6:23 “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
 
He repeats the appeal we have heard him proclaim over the years, “No matter how much time you have wasted in the past, you can still have tomorrow.”
 
His son, Franklin, says, “It’s going to be the largest evangelistic effort that this nation has ever seen. ... Let’s fight for every soul [in this nation.] Let’s tell them about Jesus.”
 
We believe sharing the gospel is not an option for Christians. It is our divine assignment.
 
Sharing the gospel is not limited to select Christians. All who have received the grace of God through salvation are called to share that same grace with those who have either not yet heard or not yet responded to the gift of eternal life. 
 
If we really want God to be glorified in our lives and through our lives, we need to seriously ask, “What gives Him glory?” Is it our impressive music or skillful preaching? Is it our attractive buildings and spacious parking lots? Is it the display of our talents and abilities?
 
I believe God is most glorified when the purpose of His Son’s mission to earth finds fulfillment in a repentant, changed life – a life that has completely abandoned to Jesus Christ, His death on the cross for our sin and His resurrection from the dead. Therein is God glorified.
 
In John 14:13 Jesus promised, “And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” Ask God for the salvation of your neighbors. Build relationships that will last for eternity. Be committed to joining Graham in bringing hope to America.
 
 Visit MyHopeWithBillyGraham.org for more information.
3/11/2013 3:57:55 PM by | with 0 comments