October 2016

Where is the media’s integrity?

October 31 2016 by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the seismic cultural change that has swept over the United States of America. Through a recent nationwide survey, The Barna Group confirms that the nation’s values have declined dramatically. A majority of Americans reject God’s authority in their lives and embrace values that are contrary to the Bible including sex outside of marriage, homosexual relationships, same-sex marriage and doctor-assisted suicide.
 
I’m not looking for someone to blame for the present state of America’s cultural cesspool. Those of us who serve as leaders in Christian ministry are willing to admit our weaknesses and failures that have contributed to the current state of affairs.
 
But we need to hold members of the media accountable for their role in the demise of moral standards.
 
According to a Rasmussen poll, the majority of voters believe the media is more likely to influence the presidential election than Russia. The same poll reports that 79 percent of Republicans and 55 percent of voters that are not affiliated with either major political party believe it is more likely that media are helping elect the Democrats’ presidential candidate.
 
There are mounds of evidence that support the public’s view that secular media is no longer trustworthy. There is not enough space to review that material here.
 
This is not an endorsement for any candidate. It is an observation about the cancer of progressivism and the blind media that shamelessly spreads this destructive worldview without honest consideration of the truth.
 
Here’s a clear example.
 
If you read the big city newspapers and follow television stations’ endorsements of political candidates, you would conclude that the only issue on the ballot in North Carolina is House Bill 2 (HB2). As you know, state legislators passed this law earlier this year.
 
Here’s my question. Have you seen one newspaper or television station in North Carolina chide Charlotte’s mayor and City Council for striking the match that forced leaders in the state government to put out the fires of the LGBT movement’s one-sided agenda? Are you aware of any media outlet that has given fair consideration to the Christian worldview? If so, please tell me so I can congratulate them for having the courage to do their job.
 
On the contrary, major media outlets across the state have condemned every state leader who stands for HB2. The major argument is not the alleged correctness of the LGBT agenda. The concern addressed in secular media is the contrived damage to the “brand of the State of North Carolina.”
 
In other words, it’s about money – the same motivation behind the abortion industry and statewide gambling, also known as “the education lottery.” It’s all about sacrificing civility, order and decency for greed.
 
I just read another editorial from a Raleigh television station that repeated the same hollow, pied piper lingo that is regurgitated from media outlet to media outlet without rational consideration. The station gave their endorsement to candidates who do not support HB2. I have a serious problem with their logic.
 
The governor and state legislature passed and signed a bill that corrected the foolish, egregious ordinance forced on Charlotte’s citizenry by the city’s mayor and City Council last spring. HB2 provided the necessary statewide repairs and protections from serious damage to the state.
 
Yet, has a single media outlet rebuked Charlotte’s leaders? Has anyone considered that the damage to North Carolina’s brand lies at the feet of these misguided people?
 
Here is the picture I see. The media shows up at a house that is burning out of control.
 
Seeing the serious damage, and observing that the only people dealing with the raging inferno are the fire fighters, they conclude that the fire fighters must be at fault.
 
Never mind that the Charlotte mayor and City Council lit the fire and regularly fueled it with gasoline, it’s still the fault of the fire fighters, that is, state legislators who are putting out the raging fire. Where is the logic in that argument?
 
Where is the truth? Is there any courage in media? The public is justified in their distrust of secular media. Lacking the courage to ask honest questions and absent the moral standards that gave birth to journalism as we know it, media created the present environment of distrust. They earned it.
 
I see a tragic, inevitable conclusion to the present reign of media over the public mind.
 
One day they will discover that the government they elected will remove the privileges of free press. Journalism as we have known it will be buried forever in the annals of American history. Everyone loses.
This is the lesson of Proverbs 26:27. “Whoever digs a pit will fall into it, and he who rolls a stone will have it roll back on him.”
 
Some small town, independently owned newspapers and radio stations are bucking the conglomerate media outlets. If you live in one of those towns, congratulate the journalists who have the courage to respect the values of a free press. They need to know that you appreciate respectful consideration of proven moral values.
 
Please exercise your right to voice your biblical values at the polls.
 
Silence will only feed the flames of immorality.
 

10/31/2016 2:32:46 PM by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor | with 0 comments



The best among the worst

October 17 2016 by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor

In conversations with Baptist leaders in central and eastern North Carolina, I have been deeply moved by the devastation Hurricane Matthew unloaded on the people of our state. I’ve also heard many personal stories of hope and triumph that emerged after the destructive rain and wind move out. The material damage has not destroyed hope and the spirit of resilience within many of the storm’s victims.
 
Cameron McGill is the pastor of Dublin First Baptist Church and the first vice president of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. He shared with me some of the work God is doing in the Dublin area.
“Beginning Sunday (Oct. 9), we discovered there were small pockets of people in despair, migrant workers, and people in remote areas who were not expecting to be flooded were cut off from everybody,” he said.
 
The National Guard and North Carolina Baptist Men (NCBM) began to identify these pockets of stranded people. Two churches prepared meals and many others distributed the food – some by boat. “We discovered there were 300 migrant workers that were stranded,” McGill explained. “They were safe where they were, and there was no need to take them somewhere else. ... I’ve been here 15 years, and it’s an area I didn’t even know existed.”
 
As food was delivered, each person picked up their meal and just held it. Although they had not eaten in 24 hours, no one began to eat immediately, McGill said. “But as soon as the last person came through the line they all started clapping and cheering.”
 
“It reminded me of being on the foreign mission field and seeing people running out – whether you’re distributing shoe boxes or water. They were lining up calmly, orderly, respectfully and so grateful for the meals.”
 
Volunteers in Bladen County are operating like runners in a relay race. “We have one group going to the store,” McGill continued. “We have only one grocery store open in Elizabethtown – Food Lion. Their shelves have been bare. So people have been going to Fayetteville and other towns for grocery shopping. They come back and distribute the food, preparing the food – all of the churches are working together.”
 
The women are traveling to Lumberton to pick up prepared meals from the NCBM feeding unit while the men deliver the food and serve other needs closer to home.
 
Some of the food is served to first responders that are “working day and night,” he added. “They’re still discovering places where people lived that they didn’t even know existed. Their roads are not on a map. They’ve been rescuing people day and night.”
 
Volunteers are “coming from everywhere,” according to McGill. “A trailer filled with non-perishables is scheduled to arrive from Michigan in a few days. Beach Road Baptist Church in Southport is sending a load of food today (Oct. 14) and another load tomorrow. Westwood Baptist Church (Roxboro) where Gerald Hodges is pastor, is bringing a load today and a load tomorrow.”
 
Hodges is a Biblical Recorder board member.
 
Electricity has been restored to most of the area. Many church facilities are still flooded. There is much to do.
 
“Unfortunately while the storms bring out the best in most people, it brings out the worst in some people,” McGill said. Some churches and businesses have been robbed. A motorcycle dealership was almost emptied by looters.
 
A few miles northeast of Bladen County, Richard Weeks is discovering new ministry needs almost every hour. Weeks serves as director of missions for the Eastern Baptist Association.
 
“We’ve opened a recovery site for NCBM in the associational office of the Eastern Baptist Association,” he said. “We sent our first teams out [Oct. 13] and they completed five chain saw jobs, taking trees out of houses. Today (Oct. 14), I have assessors that are out looking at the 14 jobs that were called in this morning.”
 
The work ranges from chain saw work and putting tarps on houses, to moving damaged furniture out of flooded homes, according to Weeks. “We expect the number of flooded houses to increase as the river drops. We still have right much of an area that is still under water.”
 
The water is beginning to recede, but not enough to get into some areas. An area near the town of Garland experienced severe flooding. Center Baptist Church was completely destroyed with eight feet of water in the sanctuary.
 
The same church was destroyed and rebuilt when Hurricane Floyd hit in 1999.
 
The good news is that volunteers are stepping up. “We’ve had a great response,” Weeks said. “Teams from other associations and other churches have contacted us. They want to come in next week as we get the work orders in.”
 
Weeks said the NCBM feeding unit in Fayetteville has been a life-saver. “We’ve had up to three feeding sites in our association: one at Siloam Baptist Church in Harrells, one at Garland Baptist Church and one in Clinton at Grove Park Baptist Church.
 
“Originally we were having to go and pick up meals from the Fayetteville kitchen, but now they are delivering them to us,” Weeks added. “I was originally taking trips back and forth for two days. We are feeding somewhere around 3,000 meals a day.”
 
He said the volunteers that are delivering meals frees him to focus on ministry and other recovery efforts. Four recovery coordination sites are planned for the area.
 
“Once we get that going we’ll be able to handle more people that want to help,” Weeks added. “We’re in the early stages of the recovery. The feeding was the big thing the first few days, now we’re getting into the recovery stages.”
 
He said right now people need the “bare essentials.” Many churches and other groups are collecting essential items and bringing them to the area for distribution.
 
“Please keep praying,” Weeks requested. “When these rivers go down, that’s when we’ll have the greatest need.”
 
Those who want to serve in the area can all Richard Week’s cell at (910) 590-1720 or register online through NCBM, who is coordinating the recovery work.
 
More great stories will emerge from the destruction of Matthew. We can give thanks for the spirit of generosity and sacrificial service that is flowing out of the hearts of every church, every volunteer.
 
... for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’” – Matthew 25:35-40, NKJV 

10/17/2016 3:56:33 PM by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor | with 0 comments



Acts 1:8 gives no percentages

October 3 2016 by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor

After His resurrection, Jesus appeared to the early disciples and gave them an assignment that still belongs to all followers of our Lord in every generation, until He comes again. So, we are still working on Acts 1:8. Jesus framed His Great Commission with these words, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8, NKJV).
 
We often draw the distinction between the four areas of mission Jesus listed: Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the “end of the earth.” Some like to point out the high value of reaching one of those four groups above the other three. But that’s just not in this text. In fact, there are three other items that are not in Acts 1:8.
 
First, I do not see where any believer is excluded from reaching certain geographical areas. The regions are simply listed by our Lord, and we are commanded to be witnesses to all of them. We can do that. None of us can physically travel everywhere, but through prayer and channels of giving like the Cooperative Program (CP), we can go everywhere.
 
We should notice that “the mission field” is all four, not just the last one, as we often erroneously and habitually say. Lostness is everywhere. The witness of the gospel is desperately needed in all four fields.
Second, I do not see a priority list here. Jesus described the mission field in geographical sequence with no judgment on the value of each area. So, this scripture text offers no basis to say our resources must be devoted to one area at the expense of another.
 
I realize wisdom demands that we make the best use of our time and material resources in order to impact lostness everywhere. Mission strategists underscore the value of investing our Great Commission energies in places of receptivity and need. I have no problem with that. Score another point for Southern Baptists’ Cooperative Program and special mission offerings. These giving channels facilitate all mission fields. The location is not the priority; the gospel is.
 
Third, I do not read where Jesus told us what percentage of our time, energy and resources must be given to each of the four regions. Some like to focus on those discussions. I’m a “bottom line” kind of guy, so I see the bottom line of Jesus’ assignment is not to prompt arguments on what percentage we invest in each area. The goal is to get on with reaching all people everywhere.
 
The autonomy of local churches and our voluntary partnership through the Cooperative Program allows every church the freedom to determine the percentage that matches its biblical convictions.
 
It is problematic that many of our church members do not know how CP works. Two steps could remedy that. First, provide them with the Biblical Recorder so they can regularly read personal stories from the mission field – the Jerusalem mission field, the Judea mission field, the Samaria mission field and the end of the earth (international) mission field.
 
Next, show them this CP pie chart. This graphic shows how and where CP gifts are being regularly invested in all mission fields and how our six excellent seminaries are training our people to go to every mission field.
 
We illustrate how $1,000 is distributed when North Carolina Baptist churches support missions through CP. I believe you will find this helpful to everyone in your church family.
 
October has several important themes in Baptist life. It is Cooperative Program Month and we want our readers to know the great value of the giving plan that has allowed Southern Baptists to make a profound impact on lostness worldwide.
 
Also, this is the month we give special offerings to global hunger. The front cover of the Sept. 24 issue of the Biblical Recorder featured this great need. (See here.) Many of our mission agencies use your global hunger gifts to share the gospel. This is a significant offering.
 
Please remember October is also Pastor Appreciation Month. Honor your pastor and all of the ministers who serve the Lord as they faithfully shepherd the flock of God.
 
This month features a concentrated focus on prayer for our convention, our nation and much more. We gave our readers information about “Pray for 30 Days” of the Sept. 24 issue. (See here.) Pray!
 
Finally, Franklin Graham will close his 50-state Decision America Tour with a rally in Raleigh on Oct. 13 at noon. I hope many North Carolina Baptists will attend the rally and unite with other believers to make a profound statement about our convictions. Graham will challenge us and call us to prayer. Please come to the Raleigh event on the Capitol South Side at 1 East Morgan Street. 

10/3/2016 1:50:57 PM by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor | with 0 comments