Remembering America’s Preacher

Billy Graham’s Last Facebook Post:

“If you went for a walk in the woods, but then decided to wander off the path, and found yourself surrounded by a thicket of thorns and poison ivy, who would you blame? Would you blame the person who built the path? No, of course not. Instead you’d blame yourself if you were honest, because you alone were responsible for wandering from the path. In a far deeper way, this is what happens when we decide to leave God out of our lives. For a time, it may seem like wandering away from Him doesn’t make any difference; it may even seem easier and freer. But eventually it catches up with us—just as wandering off that path and into the thicket caught up with you.”

This week we lost a mammoth of a man.

Billy Graham, nicknamed “America’s Preacher,” died at the age of 99. His influence was profound, not only here in America, but across the entire globe.

I thought about expounding on all his successes and accomplishments surrounding the spread of Christianity, but that would be too easy, and you can go to Wikipedia for that. Instead, I would like to talk personally about his influence on me and how his works and humble service has, and continues to mold the way I choose to preach and serve others.

Billy Graham was a master preacher, not because he used flowery language or wide and sweeping imagery, but because he kept it simple and allowed the message to speak for itself. He kept to the Bible and learned early on that he didn’t need to come up with anything new under the sun because the Bible already had everything he needed to spread the message of God.

He gave this bit of advice, “First of all, I would say communicate the gospel with authority. Preach it with conviction and assurance, knowing that faith cometh by hearing the message and the message is heard through the Word of Christ. … When you quote God’s Word, He will use it. He never will allow it to return void. … When I quote Scripture, I know I am quoting the Word of God. It is God’s authoritative message to us. It is an infallible book. Let’s never depart from that.”

I adhere to this principle each and every sermon I give. I know that I’m fallible, my words are not always perfect, nor is my stance on certain topics always correct, however the Bible is perfect, true, and God-Breathed. I won’t make a mistake if I simply stick to God’s word.

Graham also understood the human spirit and the deep needs of every human being on this earth. Graham once said, “To every group—whether it is at a university or on a street corner, whether it is in Korea or whether it is in a tribal situation in Zaire or in New York City or here in the Netherlands—I know certain psychological and spiritual factors exist. …These include:

  1. Life’s needs are not totally met by social improvement and material affluence;
  2. There is an essential emptiness in every life without Christ and only God can fill it;
  3. There is a cosmic loneliness in people;
  4. People have a universal sense of guilt;
  5. There is a universal fear of death.”

When I deliver God’s message, whether it’s on a conference call or in a hotel ballroom at one of our events, it is never lost on me that I am standing with my brothers and sisters and that we’re all, in some way or another, seeking to fill a void only God can fill. I can’t do it for them and they can’t do it for themselves. Only God’s word and will are at work here and that is truly powerful stuff.

Of course those are just two examples of Billy Graham’s vast influence over my life, but those two are truly soul changing.

I’m thankful for his work, his duty to God, and his service to mankind over the globe. May he now rest in peace with our Savior.

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