May 2013

Scandals, deception and truth

May 21 2013 by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor

Three significant scandals have been at the forefront of the national news in recent weeks on the heels of verdicts in the murder trials of Jodi Arias and Dr. Kermit Gosnell. The scandals center around the death of four Americans in Benghazi, the admissions by the IRS that they targeted specific people, and the government’s unauthorized investigation of The Associated Press. Arias killed her boyfriend. Gosnell murdered at least three helpless children with reports of hundreds of similar heinous incidents.
 
These are likely the proverbial tips of icebergs. Countless other crimes did not make the national limelight, but were just as tragic. It is time to face some serious issues with a sincere cry for the mercy of God on a nation overwhelmed with deception. The fatal element of the crisis is the failure of many to recognize deception when it stares them in the face.
 
Unacceptable incompetence and deception in several departments of the federal government have been exposed. Deceit is the heart of each of these news items – scandals and murders.
 
In our nation’s capital, inside the U.S. Department of Commerce, is The National Institute of Standards and Technology. They serve as a national bureau of standards. Somewhere within this agency you can find the official definition of an inch, a foot, a mile, an ounce, a pound and a ton.
 
They manage calibrations, measurement standards and everything related to standards of commerce. There are standards for buildings, chemistry, math, physics, information technology, transportation and more.
 
But no moral standards are defined by this government agency. Interestingly, one moral standard is assumed: truth.
 
Truth is the foundational premise of any bureau of standards. The word “standard” establishes the premise that a measurement of truth must exist. A standard is the acknowledgment of absolutes. Without it, the door is wide open for untruth and deception.
 
How would I know that a pound of potatoes is indeed a full pound without an enforceable standard? If the store that sold the potatoes to me violates the standard, they are guilty of fraud, because there is a defined standard.
 
If a can of beans on the grocery store shelf says it weighs 8 ounces, it is illegal for it to actually weigh 7.5 ounces. Anything more or less than 8 ounces is deceit. It is fraud. It is lying, because there is a standard.

The United States does not have an official government agency for moral standards. It would be a violation of the constitution to do so, since that would constitute a state church. Instead we have an accepted Judeo-Christian moral structure. One would have to be living the ultimate deception to assume otherwise.
 
The church, armed with scripture, must be the moral “bureau of standards” for the nation and the world. No other can claim that mantle.
 
In the scriptures, the central figure, Jesus the Christ, called Satan a liar and the father of lies. He defined the root of all deception in a conversation with some religious leaders.
 
He said, “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it” (John 8:44). 
 
Reading the Bible one reaches the conclusion that God’s core “commodity” is truth. All that He says is true. He cannot lie. Truth is His nature, character and modus operandi – the Latin phrase for  “method of operation.”
 
On the other hand, Satan’s core “commodity” is lies. All that he says and does is a lie. He is consumed with deceit, and all that he directs is deceitful. He deceives people with drugs, gambling, abortion, adultery, homosexuality, thievery, lying and endless deceptions from his bag of tricks. He is a liar and the originator of all lies.
 
Given the nature of truth and the nature of lies, we can draw this sobering conclusion from the recent headlines of scandals and murders.
 
The bias of secular media will not give coverage to truth unless it benefits their cause. In other words, their cause supersedes truth. Truth is sacrificed if it undermines their bias. Can they be trusted?
 
Most of those in the media define themselves as liberal and admit their bias is liberal. This explains why ABC News ignored the Gosnell abortion/murder trial for 54 weeks. Those concerned with truth will be watching to see how they handle the current scandals.
 
Scripture warns us to beware of false prophets and liars of all stripes. We must not be found in the camp of liars. Our message, our life, our words, all that we are must speak truth.
 
Furthermore, we must aggressively uphold the standard of truth in every sphere of our influence.
5/21/2013 5:25:34 PM by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor | with 0 comments



Gideons: impressive, effective, powerful

May 6 2013 by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor

They don’t seek publicity. They never advertise. In fact, they prefer to work quietly. But their impact is profoundly known around the world. The Gideons International is responsible for distributing Bibles in 190 countries. Last year they distributed 84 million Bibles and New Testaments around the world.

Jeff Audrain, a church ministry specialist with the organization’s Nashville headquarters, likes to remind supporters, “...every time your heart beats, two Bibles are distributed by a Gideon somewhere in the world.”
 
You may know them best for their placement of Bibles in hotel rooms. But hotel distribution makes up only 8 percent of their work. Gideon Bibles are in hospitals, convalescent homes, medical offices, prisons, jails and domestic violence shelters. They also give scriptures to students in the 5th grade and above, prisoners, police officers, firefighters, medical professionals and military personnel.
 
The Gideons will supply, free of charge, a New Testament to every member of the U.S. Armed Forces and to patients at U.S. Veterans Administration hospitals.
 
Bibles are available to chaplains for placement in day rooms, libraries, and guardhouses on military bases and military chapels. Hospital Testaments with Psalms are available for the bedside in base hospitals or in U.S. Veterans Administration hospitals.
 
This outstanding organization is driven by lay leadership. Only men in evangelical churches who are endorsed by their pastor can become a Gideon.
 
They believe all of the Bible, but underscore the verses which accentuate it’s effectiveness such as Hebrews 4:12, “For the Word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword...”
 
Recently the Gideons of N.C. held their annual convention in Raleigh. They invited me to teach two Bible study sessions and join them for the pastor’s banquet.
 
I’ve been a guest at more Gideon events than I can count. They always have thrilling stories, great music and solid Bible teaching. The Raleigh convention did not depart from the norm.

One testimony came from Mary Kay Beard, a self-described over-achiever who graduated from high school at 15 and nursing school at 18, but became a robber and found herself at the top of the FBI’s most-wanted list when she was 28.
 
In her solitary confinement cell of a federal prison, she read a Gideon Bible and trusted Christ as her Savior. Now she is the founder of “Angel Tree,” promoted by Prison Fellowship. Mary Kay and her husband, Don, founded Encourager Ministries in Birmingham, Ala. Her story is indescribably captivating.
 
Another testimony was Chamila Pannila’s. She met Christ as a college student after a Gideon gave her a New Testament on her college campus.
 
Born in Sri Lanka, her family moved to Houston, Texas when she was an infant. She did not question her very traditional Buddhist family’s religious traditions until she entered college.

Camilla’s spiritual search took her through the pages of the Gideons’ gift. She read about Jesus for the first time and followed Christ, in spite of rejection by some in her family. Today she spreads contagious enthusiasm for Jesus.
 
As a pastor, I have always been supportive of the Gideons. They were instrumental in my salvation. They believe in the strength of the local church. They neither conflict with nor compete with the local church. They support their pastor. Pastors should support them.

It has been my practice to lead the church to support the Gideons. When I left the pastorate to become editor of the Biblical Recorder, my last Sunday as a pastor was a Gideon Sunday complete with videos, testimonies and a Gideon speaker. I love the Gideons and thank God for them.
 
How effective are their labors? According to their website, Gideons.org, each Bible placed in a hotel room has the potential to reach up to 2,300 people in its estimated six-year life span. Research from the hotel industry says that approximately 25 percent of travelers read the Bibles in their hotel rooms. Many lives have been transformed and redirected because they read that Bible.
 
The Gideons International began in 1908. Today more than 300,000 members, the ministry’s women’s Auxiliary, and an untold number of supporters across the globe are making an eternal impact. They give their time and money to make it possible for others to have access to God’s Word and experience the love of God through Jesus Christ.
 
The Gideons are not the only ministry that distributes Bibles. It is commendable that the North American Mission Board is sending cases of Bibles to Baptist churches.
 
The Muslim Bible Day project places copies of scriptures in the hands of searching Muslims. There are other Bible distribution ministries.
 
If we are “people of the Book” as we claim, we must remember that God uses His Word. When doors are closed to missionaries, God speaks through His Word behind closed doors. While most of us own a dozen Bibles, many have never seen one.
 
As you hear so much bad news around the world, know that there is unreported good news. Quietly, diligently, the men and women who invest their lives in the ministry of the Gideons are distributing more than two copies of God’s Word per second, totaling one million Bibles and New Testaments every 4.5 days. The seed of the Word is being sown and lives are changing. Join them and celebrate with them.
 
“So shall My Word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it” Isaiah 55:11.
 
Visit Gideons.org to hear personal testimonies, learn how you can become a Gideon and to give a contribution for Bible distribution. Call (615) 564-5000 or email tgi@gideons.org. Mail: The Gideons International, P.O. Box 140800, Nashville, TN 37214.
5/6/2013 4:11:50 PM by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor | with 1 comments