Saturday, June 25, 2005

thank you billy graham

i watched this video mike highlighted last week and have been pondering a post since then. billy graham was integral in changing my father's life as he knelt front of the television way back in 1973. my family did an about face that year and i owe much to this man.

i have heard him preach live, and on television and his grace, passion and love sends tears rolling down my face even now.

the bbc noted that mr. graham preached his last sermon recently in new york city. the world will not see his likeness again. i know many will fill different roles, but i believe his uniqueness, heart and call were exclusive to his time and his personality.

he spoke these words:

"The greatest need in the world today is for the transformation of human nature to make us love instead of hate," Mr Graham told the crowds.
this other article in the bbc caught my eye as i read this morning. it tells of the fluid on mr. graham's brain and the recent surgery performed at mayo clinic that didn't allow him to even broadcast to the amsterdam convention where 10,000 awaited his words. his son passed on some of his thoughts via satellite:

"We must go back and search the word of God to discover what we need to do for the extension of the Kingdom in our day,"

"We must go back 2,000 years to discover the future."

In another statement, Mr Graham said that some at the conference were from areas in the world "in the grip of resurgent religions or ideologies which deny the heart of the Gospel".

"Others of you face rampant secularism or materialism, with their indifference or even hostility to the Gospel," he wrote.
i truly pray he is able to expound or write on these thoughts. i've never heard of him speak of the 'kindgom in our day' or 'ideologies which deny the heart of the gospel'.

i think one of the biggest failures of evangelical theology is it's narrow definition of 'the gospel'. the good news is more than the sinner's prayer, more than a 'get into heaven free card'. i know much of this has come from things like crusades and revivals. people so passionate and gifted in 'evangelism' that they tour around and hold altar calls - something is lost - those things have their place, but the rest of the 'good news' has somehow been overlooked.

important parts have been left out, and i fear it is the cause of the ugliness we see in the church and the world today. what could cause us to love instead of hate? not just one-step conversion - not just a simple transaction. how can we redefine the real good news of jesus - how can that misused, ill-defined word, gospel be brought to this new generation, and transformed in the thinking of the old one?

one of the elements that sticks in my throat at our church is the way in which they 'do evangelism'. they use the '2 question' method, visiting strangers in their homes or at the mall - bullying them into heaven, and marking their belts or their bibles and riding the wave of adrenaline that comes from such a powerful transaction of saving someone's soul. many of our youth are involved in this process (separate from my husband's ministry as it leaves dust in his mouth too).

how can the true elements of the message of christ be unlocked and opened up to these so passionate about 'saving souls' and growing the church?

that's why mr. graham's words stir my soul - growing the kingdom instead of churches? transforming lives to love and not hate? or to free those in the pews "in the grip of resurgent religions or ideologies which deny the heart of the Gospel". (i know he probably meant other religions than christianity, but i truly feel this is true in most churches today too...)

please don't take my thoughts as disparaging mr. graham or his work, i adore him. i just wonder if he has any reqrets? feels that somehow all he has done might not have given the full definition of the good news to the hundreds of thousands of people he's been able to speak to. i pray that those who follow in his footsteps hear the depth of these words at the end of his life.

thank you billy graham. you changed my life. i owe you much. most of the families i grew up with had mothers who had a faith walk, but father's without any spiritual dimension to their lives. my father is a different man because of your ministry. for that i will be eternally grateful.

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