October 2018

Some questions asked in the Bible

October 29 2018 by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor

The 2018 annual meeting of North Carolina Baptists carries the theme, “Who is my neighbor?” The question is one of many in the scriptures that captivate my attention.
 
It was raised in the context of introducing the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10.
An expert in the law initiated the discussion when he raised another question. His query appeared to be sincere, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?
 
Jesus asked the man what he understood the scriptures taught on the subject.
 
The legal expert drew from an Old Testament text to answer Jesus. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind and your neighbor as yourself.”
 
Then, a sense of defensiveness surfaced. Luke 10:29 reads, “But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’
 
My mind travels back to the first book of the Bible where another important question emerged early in the history of man.
 
Genesis 4:8-9 records, “Now Cain talked with Abel his brother; and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him. Then the Lord said to Cain, ‘Where is Abel your brother?’ He said, ‘I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?’
 
Seriously? Cain’s lame question was riddled with guilt as he looked for a way to shift the blame! God not only nailed Cain, He found him guilty of murder and sentenced him with a grievous curse.
 
To summarize the scene, in the first family the first two brothers who lived on this earth had differences that led to the murder of one. The murderer lied to God when asked the location of his brother and followed with a question designed to excuse himself of any responsibility for his brother. “Am I my brother’s keeper?
 
Did God answer Cain’s question? Actually, He did. The rest of the Bible meticulously provides the answer over and over.
 
Yes! We do have a responsibility to others. That thread is woven through the Bible’s main message of salvation through faith in Jesus. That leads us to consider another question in the New Testament.
 
When Jesus’ ministry placed Him in the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” (Matthew 16:13). The conversation eventually led to Simon Peter’s accurate response, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
 
Not only did Peter get it right, Jesus pronounced a profound blessing on him.
 
These important questions and many others in scripture point to key elements of our theology.
 
We bear a responsibility for our brothers and our neighbors. We have a calling to introduce them to the One who is the Messiah, the Son of the living God. That calling cannot be delegated or ignored.
 
Please know that the Biblical Recorder’s staff is your partner in this calling. Our mission is to provide your church members with news and information that equip them to fulfill the Great Commission. I believe it provides encouragement and motivation to believers in a day when we are overwhelmed with discouraging challenges. The material we publish emphasizes the ministries of the local church, our Baptist associations, as well as our state and national Cooperative Program partners.
 
Thank you for allowing us to serve on your local church team.

10/29/2018 3:25:22 PM by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor | with 0 comments



My next chapter

October 15 2018 by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor

At the semi-annual meeting of the Biblical Recorder’s board of directors on Mon., Oct. 1, I shared my plans to retire as editor-president at the end of May 2019. As noted in the cover story of this print edition, I will complete eight years in this place of ministry at that time.
 
It has been an unbelievable honor to serve North Carolina Baptists and Southern Baptists in this role.
 
By the grace of God, I began ministry as a youth evangelist, served more than seven years on the staff of two churches and pastored two churches for nearly 30 years before coming to the Recorder. My plan was to eventually retire as a pastor, but our Father had another plan, which was a big surprise to me! He confirmed very clearly that I was to accept the calling to rebrand the Biblical Recorder and lay the foundation for an effective future of communication through North Carolina’s Baptist state newspaper and website.
 
I liken these eight years to one stage of a rocket. When that stage completes its task of taking the rocket to another level, it falls by the side so another booster can ignite and take the payload to the next level. The payload of the Biblical Recorder will be lifted by the next rocket stage under the leadership of a new editor.
 
I believe strongly in the mission and purpose of the Biblical Recorder. Independent journalism is an absolute necessity in Southern Baptist life. If we lose it, we will lose more than information. Our mission will be crippled by a shortage of communication that is necessary for the financial strength of the Cooperative Program and our mission offerings.
 
We must also be committed to policing ourselves with journalism that carries a biblical mission. We cannot depend on secular media outlets to report our news – good or bad.
 
In 1780, John Adams, one of America’s founding fathers and second president of the United States, said, “The liberty of the press is essential to the security of freedom in a state ….” The truth of his statement stretches beyond the secular state. A free, autonomous church also needs a free press.
 
I hope North Carolina Baptists will support the next stages of the Biblical Recorder’s vital ministry of communication and information.
 
I am not retiring from ministry. That is probably an impossible option for a God-called minister of the gospel.
 
After May 31, I will continue serving in Baptist churches and in Baptist life wherever God opens opportunities for ministry.
 
I appreciate your support and your prayers. Please pray for the Biblical Recorder’s search committee also as they do their work.
 

N.C. Pastor Andrew Brunson released


We prayed and asked N.C. Baptists to pray, so we are thrilled that North Carolina pastor Andrew Brunson was released by Turkey and is now back in the United States. Brunson was imprisoned in Turkey for almost two years over his alleged ties to an outlawed group, but was freed by a Turkish judge Fri., Oct. 12.
 
The 50-year-old pastor was facing terror and espionage-related charges and was detained by Turkey as part of a government crackdown following a failed coup attempt months earlier.
 
According to The Associated Press, he told the court in his final trial, “I love Jesus, I love Turkey. … We helped everyone – Kurds, Arabs – without showing any discrimination.”
 
Originally from Black Mountain, N.C., he lived with his family in Turkey for nearly two decades and led the small congregation of Izmir Resurrection Church. Brunson, who routinely denied all of the government’s claims over the course of his 18-month imprisonment, appeared at the hearing Friday wearing a black suit, white shirt and red tie, while his wife Norine watched from the visitors seating area, according to Reuters.
 
The Biblical Recorder reported several times that United States officials regularly rejected accusations against the American pastor as well, and amid mounting pressure, Brunson was moved from prison to house arrest in July.
 
Brunson was flown to Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany, a senior U.S. administration official said Friday night. After a brief stay, he returned to the U.S. aboard a military jet shortly before meeting with President Donald Trump, who had advocated persistently for Brunson’s release, leading to an intense economic showdown between the two NATO allies.
 
A memorable moment at the White House drew national attention when Brunson fell to one knee in the Oval Office and placed his hand on the president’s shoulder in prayer, asking God to give the president “supernatural wisdom to accomplish all the plans you have for this country and for him.”
 

Annual meeting


Pray for the coming annual meeting of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC), Nov. 5-6 and the Pastors’ Conference on Nov. 4-5. These are important gatherings that shape much of our mission. Between sessions, please drop by the Biblical Recorder’s booth to meet our staff and register for some really great giveaways. I hope to see you there.
 

Early voting


In the last issue of the Recorder, I wrote about voting early if you are planning to attend the BSC annual meeting in Greensboro. Election Day falls on Tues., Nov. 6, during the two-day yearly event. While you can no longer register to vote at this point, if you are registered, you have options on helping you research your vote.
 
There are two options you need to consider. You can take advantage of early voting or cast an absentee ballot.
 
Early voting in North Carolina begins Oct. 18 and ends Nov. 1. If you want to vote by absentee ballot, your application for the ballot must be mailed by Oct. 30. Your absentee ballot must be submitted by mail no later than Nov. 5. If you have heard the discussions about “Voter ID” laws, you may be confused about the necessity of proper identification.
 
This is all you need to know: no photo ID is required to vote. If you need to confirm that you are registered to vote, contact your board of elections, secure an absentee ballot, locate your polling place or identify the candidates in your precinct, visit ncvoterguide.org or ncsbe.gov. These are government websites.
 
If you would like to learn the views of candidates, the North Carolina Family Policy Council provides a list of the candidates for public office at local, state and federal levels. They also publish a voter guide on major moral issues. Visit their website and order voter guides for your church or Bible study group at ncfamilyvoter.com.

10/15/2018 2:38:53 PM by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor | with 0 comments



Voting is important

October 1 2018 by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor

Tues., Nov. 6 is Election Day. Where will you be? If you plan to attend the annual meeting of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina in Greensboro, you could forfeit your vote. Of course, you can – and should – plan to vote early. Your vote is important.
 
If your work, family responsibilities or other plans are likely to place you many miles from your polling place on Nov. 6, you can still insure the influence of your vote on your county, state and nation.
 
There are two options you need to consider. You can take advantage of early voting or cast an absentee ballot.
 
It is important to vote, so here is the information you need to know:

  • Be sure you are registered to vote. The last day you can register to vote is Oct. 12.
  • Early voting in North Carolina begins Oct. 18 and ends Nov. 1.
  • If you want to vote by absentee ballot, your application for the ballot must be mailed by Oct. 30. Your absentee ballot must be submitted by mail no later than Nov. 5.
  • If you have heard the discussions about “Voter ID” laws, you may be confused about the necessity of proper identification. This is all you need to know: No photo ID is required to vote.
  • If you need to confirm that you are registered to vote, contact your board of elections, secure an absentee ballot, locate your polling place or identify the candidates in your precinct, visit ncvoterguide.org or ncsbe.gov. These are government websites.
  • If you would like to learn the views of candidates, the North Carolina Family Policy Council provides a list of the candidates for public office at local, state and federal levels. They also publish a voter guide on major moral issues. Visit their website and order voter guides for your church or Bible study group at ncfamilyvoter.com.

 
In the Sept. 22 issue of the Biblical Recorder a guest column on page 3 appealed to our readers to be an informed voter in the coming election. If you missed this urgent request by Ray Waldbusser, please read it.
 
Another source for insights on Christians’ moral responsibility to vote is Daniel Darling’s excellent blog on the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission’s (ERLC) website on Feb 1, 2016. Darling, vice-president for communications at ERLC, gave three reasons why every American Christian should vote.
 
I want to summarize his main points with a few of my own personal comments.
 
Darling said he understands the temptation toward disengagement in the voting process, but believes every Christian should vote. I agree with him.
 
First, “We should vote out of love for neighbor.” No matter our geographical home, we live in a mission field. Most of our neighbors do not know Jesus as Savior and Lord. Don’t expect them to take a high moral position on values that shape the social and political climate of the nation. That’s our job. When we vote, we model the values of the Christian faith and we foster a climate for the gospel to spread freely within our communities.
 
Second, Darling said, “We should vote because God has given us a stewardship for which we will be held accountable.” Yes, we will be held accountable for the actions we take and the actions we deliberately fail to do. We are called to “render to Caesar, the things that are Caesar’s.” I realize Jesus said that in answer to a question about taxes. But surely no one believes paying taxes is our only responsibility to government. The Bible tells us to pray for those in government and other places of leadership. We should also exercise our influence for good in a broken, corrupt world.
 
Third, “We should vote because it can help speak up for the vulnerable and help gospel advance.” Can you think of anyone in our culture who is more vulnerable than the unborn child? That human being, made in the image of God, has no vote and no way to protect himself. He or she needs you to speak for them. We must elect pro-life candidates to office.
 
Please prepare to vote and please make every effort to vote. Be informed and pray for every voter to do what is right.
 

Hurricane Florence appeal

 
I received this important appeal from Richard Brunson, director of N.C. Baptists on Mission: Mud out and tear out teams are needed following Hurricane Florence. There are thousands of homes in Eastern N.C. that were damaged by Hurricane Florence. We need you and your church or civic group to come and help people do mud outs and tear outs of homes that were flooded. We have 15 different sites that are coordinating these efforts. Please sign up at baptistsonmission.org. Please help these hurting people.
 

10/1/2018 3:02:37 PM by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor | with 0 comments