5 Lessons That Billy Graham Taught Us

By Shane Pruitt -February 22, 2018

Billy Graham taught

On February 21st, 2018 heaven gained another mighty worshipper of Jesus, and earth lost a great man of integrity, William Franklin Graham, Jr. More affectionately known as Billy. He was America’s Pastor, and lived 99-years as a shining example to us all.

I had the honor of hearing the legendary evangelist preach live one time. It was the 2002 Dallas Crusade at Texas Stadium. The stadium was filled to the brim with people, energy, and the Holy Spirit. Billy Graham, at 83 years young, stood up and preached the clear gospel with boldness, followed by hundreds, if not thousands, pouring onto the field to profess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

As a young man at the time, I was captivated by this living legend. But even more so, I was captivated by the Savior he proclaimed. It inspired me to watch this great man from a distance for the last sixteen years. Although I never met him, he still taught me many things about preaching, walking in integrity and constantly pointing people to Jesus. In fact, I believe this great pastor has ministered to an entire nation and has taught us all many things.

Here are at least 5 lessons that Billy Graham has taught us:

1. Live a focused life. Whether people believed in the Jesus that Billy Graham preached or not, everyone believed that he believed it. He had one focus to his life: to preach the love of Jesus to a world that desperately needed it. He once said, “God proved His love on the Cross. When Christ hung, and bled, and died, it was God saying to the world, ’I love you.’” He focused on the essentials, and was distracted by secondary issues. Many times it’s easy to be distracted by things that won’t matter a hundred years from now. If we were to be honest, most of the things that distract us don’t really matter in that very moment. If the enemy can’t make you fall into sin, he will distract you with silliness. We are here on the earth to know God and to make God known.

2. Stand with boldness. For many years, Billy Graham would preach to thousands while standing under a huge banner that quoted the words of Jesus, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” There is a lot of cultural pressure to kneel to political correctness. However, in the midst of a changing culture leaning more and more toward pluralism—a belief that there are many paths that lead to God—Billy Graham never kneeled or buckled to the pressure. He boldly stood and proclaimed that Jesus was the only way. As Christians, may we be emboldened by this same conviction!

3. Practice what you preach. Billy Graham was the epitome of integrity. He routinely preached, “If evil were not made to appear attractive, there would be no such thing as temptation.” It was no secret that he constantly surrounded himself with safeguards and accountability. There are numerous stories of him having the television removed from his hotel room. People were sent in to check his room, before he would enter. In over sixty years of ministry, there were no scandals attached to him. Conservatives and liberals both recognized that his ministry was always in line with his message. He taught us all that our calling is too important and the cost is too high to fall into sin. Nothing hinders the ministry more than hypocrisy.

4. God does extraordinary things through ordinary people. It’s easy to look at Billy Graham as a larger than life figure. Words like legend, spiritual giant, and super-Christian come to mind when you think of him. However, his daughter Anne Graham Lotz describes her daddy in a different way through a statement she released after his passing: “When I think of him, I don’t think of Billy Graham, the public figure. I think of my Daddy. The one who was always a farmer at heart.Who loved his dogs and his cat. Who followed the weather patterns almost as closely as he did world events. Who wore old blue jeans, comfortable sweaters, and a baseball cap. Who loved lukewarm coffee, sweet ice tea, one scoop of ice cream, and a plain hamburger from McDonald’s.” God is not looking for all-stars. He already has an all-star, named Jesus. He is just looking for ordinary people who will follow the all-star, Jesus, with unwavering hearts.

5. There are no perfect people. When you look up the word “Christian” in a dictionary, you would expect to see a picture of Jesus followed by a picture of Billy Graham. However, although Billy Graham was a godly man, he was not a perfect man. Dr. Graham often shared about his greatest regret, and that was not spending enough time with his children. He estimated “that he was gone approximately 60-percent of his children’s growing up years.” Preaching crusades and doing ministry would often pull him away for weeks and months at a time. This is a great reminder that the Savior Billy Graham preached about was the same Jesus that he himself needed. This should be an encouragement to us all. No one is perfect, and everyone needs Jesus.

What a great man Billy Graham is. (Yes, I intentionally said “is” instead of “was.”) The greatest lesson he taught us all is that he is not dead today. He is actually more alive than we are. Not because he was a great man, but because he worshipped a greater Savior. He spent his life walking in integrity while pointing people to Jesus. Today, he is getting to stand in the literal presence of the very One to whom he spent his life pointing.

Well done, good and faithful servant. Well done.

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States Prioritize Lives of Elderly with Stay-at-Home Orders, but Not These Other Laws…

 

By Teresa Haney | March 31, 2020

As we grapple with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, an encouraging truth is shining through: All human life has inherent value. Your age and medical history don’t make you more, or less, worthy of life.

As a society, we are prioritizing the lives of the old and the sick over our own comfort. We don’t see this as a burden, but as a necessary sacrifice. Out of care and concern for the vulnerable, we are participating in social distancing, closing our stores, and staying home to help slow the spread of the virus.

But the responses of eight states and Washington, D.C. are particularly noteworthy.

CaliforniaColoradoHawaiiMontanaNew JerseyOregonVermontWashington, and Washington, D.C., have all issued stay-at-home orders.

Why Do These Responses Stand Out?

These responses to the coronavirus might not seem like anything special. Many other states have taken similar steps, after all. And it is heartening to see responses that value the lives of the vulnerable so highly.

But these particular responses highlight an important contradiction.

As these eight states and D.C. rush to protect the vulnerable populations that the coronavirus hits hardest—the elderly and those with chronic medical conditions—their laws simultaneously target these populations.

You see, these states have legalized physician-assisted suicide.

And therein lies the contradiction.

On one hand, the response to COVID-19 shows that our society cares more about the needs of our community than our individual desires. These actions affirm the dignity and worth of every human being. And these states have shown they are willing to bear any cost to prevent the virus from taking more lives than it already has.

On the other hand, physician-assisted suicide writes off the elderly and disabled as burdensome. Insurance companies have failed to subsidize expensive, life-sustaining medical treatment, yet they have subsidized lethal drugs, encouraging vulnerable patients to end their own lives. Physician-assisted suicide offers death as the answer to sickness.

More than 3,000 individuals in the U.S. have lost their life by physician-assisted suicide. To date, 2,860 individuals have lost their lives to coronavirus in the U.S.

Unfortunately, it has taken a global pandemic for us to understand the value of each of these lives lost.

Lessons Learned

If we have learned anything from the last few weeks in our country, it is that our society is stronger when we value and defend the lives of the most vulnerable among us.

God-willing, someday soon our lives will return to normal. I hope we carry our renewed understanding of human dignity with us, and that we continue to show this level of care and concern for the vulnerable in our communities as we return to our daily lives.

Teresa Haney is the Alliance Defending Freedom’s Center for Life legal secretary.

Editor’s Note: This piece originally appeared on the Alliance Defending Freedom.

https://cnsnews.com/commentary/teresa-haney/states-prioritize-lives-elderly-stay-home-orders-not-these-other-laws

There Is a Reason Your ‘Worship at Home’ Doesn’t Feel the Same

By Mike Leake -April 20, 2020

There Is a Reason Your 'Worship at Home' Doesn't Feel the Same

We’ve held “online services” for for worship at home for a month now. I am still not adjusted. And I’m not growing to enjoy it. Yes, there are things that I’m learning. There are ways in which I believe this season has the potential to help us for the long haul. But I’m still not okay with not physically gathering as the church. Nor should we be. It wasn’t meant to be this way.

There is another aspect which I have missed considerably. Namely, worship through song. Now don’t hear me wrong. Our praise team has done a phenomenal job of still putting a few songs together each week for us to worship through. They’ve been fitting and helpful. But, it’s not the same. At all.

Part of this might be that I can’t carry a tune so I need louder music around me to actually feel like I can squeak out a few notes louder than a mumble. But I also believe there is a theological reason why your singing along with the television isn’t the same thing as your experience on Sunday morning. And I hope we remember this and carry it with us even after this thing is over. You and I are meant to “sing to one another” and you cannot do that as well with worship at home. It’s hard to live out Ephesians 5:18-19 in your living room.

As we sing theologically rich songs, like some of those precious hymns, we are proclaiming and teaching the excellency of God from one generation to another. Or maybe as we sing some of the emotionally encouraging modern songs we are encouraging one another to hold fast to Christ.

We must not forsake either dimension of worship. To only sing vertically is to forget that we were saved into a people. It isn’t just me and Jesus. My relationship with God is intimately connected to the vital companionship I share with my brothers and sisters. So we need to sing songs together. And to one another.

Likewise if I only sing horizontally I will be missing the personal aspect of my relationship with God. And eventually we won’t have much to sing. Our worship ought to be corporately Godward. There shouldn’t be a deep split between the vertical and horizontal. As we sing about the Lord and to the Lord we are doing this together and encouraging one another.

If there wasn’t a horizontal aspect to worship then we could have easily moved it to our living room without missing a beat. But we haven’t and we cannot. There is a horizontal dimension to our worship, and we would do well to remember this when we’re no longer providentially hindered from gathering.

This article about worship at home originally appeared here.

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New Spring Church turns campuses into blood donation centers during COVID-19 pandemic

By Samuel Smith, CP Reporter

The South Carolina megachurch NewSpring Church is hosting blood drives at its campuses across the state through a partnership with a local nonprofit that has issued an urgent call for blood donations amid the novel coronavirus outbreak.

The church is now partnering with The Blood Connection to convert its campuses into temporary donation centers that will allow donors to maintain a safe distance from other donors during the blood donation process.

In a Facebook post published Wednesday, NewSpring told its congregants that donating blood is “one way to help hospitals and serve those in need.”

“Blood donations provide hospital patients with essential treatments and transfusions,” the church’s post explains. “Your donation could be life-saving for many patients during this pandemic. So starting this week, NewSpring will host blood drives at campuses across the state.”

The Blood Connection, a South Carolina-based nonprofit, is an independent community blood center that provides blood products to more than 70 hospitals serving hundreds of thousands of patients across Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina.

NewSpring was founded by Perry Noble, its former pastor, over 20 years ago and now consists of 14 campuses lead by a team of lead pastors.

The partnership between the church and nonprofit comes as U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams issued an urgent call last month for Americans to donate blood. Due to stay-at-home orders nationwide, thousands of blood drives across the U.S. have been canceled in recent weeks.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, respiratory viruses like COVID-19 are not known to be transmitted through blood transfusion and there have been no reported cases of transfusion-transmitted coronavirus.

Blood drives at NewSpring began on Thursday at the church’s main campus in Anderson.

Other blood drives were held at NewSpring’s campuses in Powerdersville and Clemson on Friday, while two more are scheduled to take place on at NewSpring Spartanburg and NewSpring Greenwood on Saturday.

On April 30, NewSpring campuses in Aiken and Charleston will host blood drives, while campuses in Columbia, Myrtle Beach, and Rock Hill will host blood drives on May 1.

On May 2, the drives will be held at NewSpring campuses in Florence and Greenville.

Most of the NewSpring blood drives run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., while some run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. A schedule of the blood drives can be found here.

To give blood, donors must be at least 17 years old, weigh at least 110 pounds and be in good health while not taking any antibiotics.

“Although it may feel like there isn’t much that people can do to fight COVID-19, donating blood is one way to help hospitals and serve those in need locally,” a statement from NewSpring Church sent to media outlets reads. “Blood donations provide patients with essential treatments, surgeries, and transfusions. Because The Blood Connection supplies blood products for local hospitals, donors are making a positive, community impact.”

People in other parts of the United States looking to donate blood can find a local blood drive through The Red Cross, which is also seeking plasma donations for researchers studying whether antibodies from COVID-19 survivors can be used to treat patients.

The Red Cross has enacted new measures like the spacing of beds and social distancing practices at donation centers to ensure safety to donors and staff during the coronavirus outbreak.

Follow Samuel Smith on Twitter: @IamSamSmith

or Facebook: SamuelSmithCP

https://www.christianpost.com/news/new-spring-church-opens-campuses-for-use-as-blood-donation-centers-during-covid19-pandemic.html

Satan is using COVID-19 as ‘tactic to discourage God’s people’

By Leah MarieAnn Klett, Christian Post Reporter

Popular speaker and author Priscilla Shirer encouraged Christians to use the coronavirus pandemic as a time to “stand firm against the schemes of the enemy,” warning that Satan will use every opportunity to “discourage God’s people.”

On Wednesday, Shirer, the founder of Going Beyond Ministries, participated in the Q 2020 Virtual Summit, an annual event that equips Christian leaders to thoughtfully engage culture from a Christian worldview.

Opening her session, Shirer said Christians should have a perspective that gives them a way of approaching the global pandemic that is different from nonbelievers.

“God is who He says He is. He’s still seated on the throne, and He is not shaken by what shakes us,” Shirer said. “I don’t know how people who don’t have some sort of foundational bedrock level of truth in their lives are able to make it in these shaky times because everything is changing.”

“So in these changing times, there has to be something that we count on that is true, that is unchanging, that does not shift with the shift in times,” she said. “We’ve got to know our Bibles, we’ve got to know who our God is, and we have to anchor ourselves firmly in those truths now more than ever. That’s what provides us hope, even when other people are hopeless.”

Just as God can use even the worst tragedies for good, Satan similarly “will try to use everything that he can to turn it into a scheme or a tactic to discourage God’s people, to dissuade them, to make them feel like they’re defeated, even though we already have the victory,” Shirer stressed.

“We have to then choose: Are we going to operate like victors or are we going to operate like the victims that the enemy wants to use this situation to make us feel that we are?” she asked.

When an individual embraces Christianity, they aren’t just given a “ticket to eternity;” their identity is completely changed, Shirer said, adding: “That means, no matter pandemic or not, I am who God says I am, and I have access to every spiritual blessing that He has given me the privilege to access in the authority of His name.”

“I get to choose: Am I going to let fear run my life? Or am I going to let the hope that comes from the position I have in Jesus run my life?” she posited. “Do we make choices out of fear, out of anxiety, out of insecurity about the future, or do we say, ‘Wait a minute, that’s not who we are. That’s not what is wired into my spiritual DNA. I’m not going to let the enemy use this as a scheme to now make me start making decisions out of that place.”

“I’m a victor. I have access to all the authority and power of God. What kind of decision does that girl make? And then I make those choices and decisions whether I feel like it or not. I’ve got to stand on the side of victory and operate through that lens.”

Q Conference

Shirer said Christians have the choice to see the pandemic — or any other difficulty in life — as something that is a “hiccup in our plan,” or as an “opportunity for God to be glorified in a unique way,” and “for us to be strengthened, our character built, our spiritual backbone fortified.”

The time of isolation is also an opportunity to view others through a “lens of compassion and empathy toward others,” she added, as well as an opportunity to “stand firm against the schemes of the enemy.”

“How will we know what it is to feel like a victor unless we’ve had these circumstances in our life where there was clear obvious demonic opposition and we saw righteousness become a breastplate for us?” she declared. “How will we ever know what it’s like for the Word of God to become the dagger of the Spirit so that the enemy doesn’t stand a chance when he’s trying to come against us and our families?”

The mother-of-three said that during this time, she is standing in the gateway of her home saying, “Not today, Satan. Not on my watch, not while I’m here, I’m going to be someone who’s positioned in prayer.”

“And now we’ll get to see what it is to stand firm against the schemes of the devil in prayer for my family,” she said. “What a testimony we have when we literally, physically, practically, put on the armor of God by being righteous believers who gird our minds in the Word of God, who are found on our knees in prayer, who are in the Scriptures so that it becomes a dagger against the schemes of the enemy.”

In coming years, parents will be able to tell their children “what we did to stave off the schemes of the enemy, and they’ll be able to emulate our lives, not because they heard about it, but because we told them straight from our mouths that we’ve seen it work in our own experiences,” she said.

Founded in 2007 by Gabe and Rebekah Lyons, the annual Q conference seeks to equip Christian leaders to thoughtfully engage culture from a Christian worldview. The two-day event featured a number of influential thought leaders, pastors, and notable members of the Christian community. 

https://www.christianpost.com/news/priscilla-shirer-warns-christians-satan-is-using-covid-19-as-tactic-to-discourage-gods-people.html

10 Differences Between a Believer and a Christian

By Jarrid Wilson -August 7, 2017

what is a believer

What is a believer?

Warning: The answer might shake up your faith.

You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder. James 2:19

What Is a Believer and What Is a Christian?

Here are 10 differences between a believer and a Christian.

1. A believer believes in Jesus. A Christian follows his commands.

2. A believer goes to church on holidays. A Christian knows that a church community is the paradigm for their faith.

3. A believer reads their Bible when things get tough. A Christian reads their Bible regularly.

4. A believer prays when things get tough. A Christian gives thanks no matter the circumstance.

5. A believer twists the Bible to fit his or her lifestyle. A Christian works to make his or her lifestyle resemble the teachings of the Bible.

6. A believer will sacrifice when it’s convenient. A Christian will sacrifice no matter the potential outcome.

7. A believer tithes when there is no risk. A Christian will tithe no matter the risk.

8. A believer conforms under the pressure of culture. A Christian holds fast against temptation.

9. A believer will share their faith when it’s comfortable. A Christian will share his or her faith regardless of the scenario.

10. A believer knows about Jesus. A Christian knows Jesus as his or her Lord and Savior.

This article originally appeared here.

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15 Powerful Bible Verses About God’s Deep Personal Care for You

By Mark Altrogge -July 30, 2019

Bible Verses About God's Care

Do you ever feel like God is far off? Do you need Bible verses about God’s care for you? That maybe he has forgotten about you? That he isn’t that involved in your life? Do you ever wonder if God really cares for you? We will all be tempted to feel like that from time to time. I think we can all relate to how David felt in Psalm 22:

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? Psalm 22:1

We can feel like God has forsaken us. That he is far away. That he doesn’t see our pain or hear our groaning. One of the greatest challenges believers face on a regular basis, is what will we believe – our feelings and emotions or God’s Word. Our feelings are real. We really feel them. They are strong. But our feelings are a poor barometer of the truth. Though they are true feelings, they are not always the truth. God’s word is the truth, whether we feel it or not. So when we FEEL like God is not near, we must remember his Word. We must remember his promises.

Here are 15 powerful Bible verses about God’s care for us.

For I, the LORD your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.” Isaiah 41:13

God doesn’t simply send an angel to hold your right hand. The God of heaven and earth personally holds your right hand. This is a figurative expression of his closeness to us and his personal care for us. He says that we are not to fear because he personally helps us – “I am the one who helps you.”

fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

Here God says that he personally will be with us, strengthen, help and uphold us. For this reason we need not fear or be dismayed when facing or going through tough times.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. Isaiah 43.2

We will all “pass through waters” and rivers of hardship and uncertainty and walk through the fires of life. But God promises, “I will be with you.” Personally. Presently. In the midst of the fire, like he was with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. Psalm 32.8

This is one of my life verses. God himself, the fountain of infinite wisdom and knowledge, promises to personally instruct and teach his children. And he promises to counsel us with his eye upon us. He is watching over us every second. He never slumbers nor sleeps. And he counsels us step by step, day by day, with his eye constantly watching over our every step.

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Psalm 23.1-3

In this, one of the most well known passages in the Bible, God tells us he cares for us intimately and personally. He leads us. Feeds us, gives us rest in him. Our good shepherd feeds us and refreshes us in his word – in green pastures. He personally restores our souls when we are weary and drained. He personally leads us in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake – so that we will bring glory to his name.

He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young. Isaiah 40:11

Our good Shepherd gathers us in his arms and carries us “in his bosom,” a picture of intimacy and closeness and deep care, and he gently leads us.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5.6-7

God isn’t so busy running the universe that he doesn’t have time for our petty worries. He tells us to cast all our anxieties on him. Why? Because HE CARES FOR YOU. He cares about you. He cares about your children and grandchildren. He cares about you in your job. He cares about your church. He cares for you, that you would have joy and strength.

As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me. You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God! Psalm 40.17

The Lord takes thought for us individually – “the Lord takes thought for ME.” You personally are always on his mind. He knows us intimately when we’re “poor and needy” spiritually, emotionally, or physically. And because he takes thought for us he is our help and deliverer. So cry out to him!

When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Psalm 34.17-18

Are you brokenhearted? Crushed in spirit? The Lord is near to you. He is with you and identifies deeply with you. If God tells us to weep with those who weep, how much more does he feel for us in our sadness and pain. And he tells us to cry for help, because he hears the cries of those he has made righteous by the blood of Christ. And our personal Savior will deliver us out of ALL our troubles.

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. Ephesians 2.13

We were once far off from God, but when we believed in Jesus, God brought us near by his blood. How near? We are one with Christ, in union with him. Adopted as God’s children. No longer far off, but family.

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13.5

God will never leave nor forsake us. This is how we can be content in every circumstance. We have God himself, the fountain of life and every good thing, and he will never abandon us.

No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. John 15:15

Talk about intimacy! Jesus calls us his friends! Intimate friends. Friends are intimate and share with each other. And Jesus makes known his Father and his Father’s words and ways to us.

A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18.24

Jesus is closer to us than any brother, than any family member could ever be. And he sticks close to us.

“Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Isaiah 49.15

I love this verse. Human mothers have a deep care and affection and concern for their nursing children. Human mothers have deep compassion on their infants. Yet sometimes, they may forget. Yet God has more compassion and care for us than the most loving mothers on earth. He will never forget to care for us or fail to have compassion on us.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

When we are afflicted, we can run to “the Father of mercies and God of all comfort.” And there is no affliction he will not comfort us in – he comforts us in “ALL OUR AFFLICTION.” So much so that we can pour out God’s comfort on others in their pain.

I hope these verses encourage you as much as they have encouraged me through the years. Isn’t our God wonderful?

 

Original here