Pastor's Corner

21 Feb
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Mid-Week Challenge

Today we mark the death of a Christian hero of faith.  Dr. Billy Graham passed away this morning at 99 years old.  If you are 30 or older you will remember Rev. Graham with great admiration and respect.  I had the honor of attending his revival in Louisville and have listened to many of his sermons and read most of his books.  His legacy is one of influence for the Lord.  He was trusted enough to advise presidents and the Queen.  Although not everyone agreed with his message, he was welcomed everywhere he went.  I long for those times, for his message and for the culture to return to that period.  As a young man I looked to model my life after his because of his message but also because of the way I saw others relate to him.  He was the gold standard of examples.  “I might not be Billy Graham or Mother Teresa, but I love the Lord,” was a saying I have often heard.  Man, how the world has changed.  He was such an influential person that every news media outlet has to cover his passing but how they choose to remember him and report on his life varies greatly. 

From the Christian news outlets we hear about the selfless work of his ministry.  The millions he preached to, the countless saved.  The marriages mended and the lives changed.  From these outlets we hear from people who actually knew him. 

From the liberal media outlets, on the other hand, we read his story from folks who did not know him, nor do they support his message, although they all have benefited from it.  In their reporting of his death, their disdain for him and his message is obvious.  Samuel Osborne, writing for The Independent reminds readers of how Graham used the Presidency to attracted attention and votes.  He was anti-communist, dismissive of Vietnam War protesters, only later held non-segregated revival services and was not active in the 1960s civil rights moment.   As he grew older he watered down his message to attract more people and took a stand against gay marriage. And, oh yes, he supported Mitt Romney and we learned he was anti-Semitic in the 1970s. Although he was listed on Gallup’s annual US poll of most admired people 61 times, more than any other world figure - he never made first place.

What a vast difference in two sides looking at the legacy of the same man. One from this generation of leaders, speaking from personal experience, the other from the new emotionally charged generation of leaders who unfortunately were never directly exposed to authentic leadership like his.  No, by the time they came onto the scene Billy Graham was just a name. Yes, he was still around but he had become an old grandpa from a generation removed.  When he left the stage a vacuum of subpar, mediocre, softer side leaders filled the void.  The culture rapidly changed.  Parents lost the call of conviction.  Church attendance declined and conservative theological preaching waned in the denominations.  Preachers lost their fire and politicians lost their fervor for true public service.  This world is a different place than when I was a kid.

I don’t know if things are as bad as it was in the Old Testament prophet days but it reminds of those times.  When there was a strong Man of God on the scene the people feared the Lord, when he was replaced the people faltered in their walk and evil filled the void.  But just like then, today God is still on the throne and hope is only a generation away.  With the death of Billy Graham I am reminded of how important my role is in restoring a Biblical Worldview to our world.  In just a few years what was gained has been lost, but lost for good?  I don’t think so.  In the death of Saints like Graham we who are left behind should be mindful of our own responsibilities in our direct scope of influence.  People like Billy Graham made it easier for the Christians in his generation to be a parent, business leader or public servant, but he is no longer here and his influence is dimly felt, but the power in his message is still the same and still available.  

What are you doing to leave this place better than you found it?  Culturally our job today is harder than our parent’s generation but the tools we have at our disposal are greater.  So is the need!  What a challenge set before us, what a humbling thought to consider that the next “Billy Graham” is not a someone but a whole collection of Believers.  Today, as much as it depends on you, what are you doing to one day hear those words, “well done, good and faithful servant?”  What are you doing to change the minds of the liberals so that they too might give glory to our God?

Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. 1 Peter 2:12

Serving the Savior

Bro. Jonathan

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