Advertisements
RSS Feed

Tag Archives: Billy Graham

Seduced

The term seduced is usually applied to an unwilling participant who is beguiled, enticed and lured into some sort of sexual encounter.  This leaves a victim feeling betrayed, used and violated.  Beyond physical attractions, individuals can also be seduced by alcohol, drugs, fame, food, impulses, pornography, power, shopping, technology and wealth.  One of God’s greatest concerns in the Old Testament was that Jews would be seduced by high places, centers for Canaanite idol worship scattered throughout the Middle East.

And they have built the high places of Topheth, which is in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire, which I did not command, nor did it come into my mind, Jeremiah 7:31.

This connection became clear to me after reading an article written by a member of the Billy Graham Association.  High places is mentioned 117 times in the Bible; derived from the Hebrew word “hamah” referring to mountaintops.  In nearby hills, mountains and peaks, open-air altars on elevated knolls were built to pay tribute to pagan and secular gods.  When Israel entered the promised land in Canaan under Joshua’s leadership, God commanded his people to destroy and tear down these places.  Unfortunately, a lack of thoroughness left many behind as ancient idols slowly and subtly seduced God’s people year after year, unable to stay away.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places, Ephesians 6:12.

Today, with a click of a mouse, tap on your phone or voice to Alexia, the internet, a.k.a. the world wide net comes alive.  While this technology was created to advance, expand and further human development, new high places are erected daily.  Fueled by spiritual forces of evil, demons regularly seduce curious and vulnerable souls just like Eve succumbing to Lucifer’s reasoning.  This seduction often goes unnoticed until sin becomes full blown, leaving a trail of devastation and destruction.  Sure, there is forgiveness, grace and mercy, but humans don’t always see eye to eye, abandoning broken relationships to start anew.  Despite how far one may fall, in God’s eyes no one is too far gone.

by Jay Mankus

 

Advertisements

America is Only as Strong as Her Moral and Spiritual Forces

During a 1952 sermon, the reverend Billy Graham provided a prophetic message about the United States of America.  Using the passage of 2 Chronicles 7 to serve as his context, Graham compared the Israelites in the Old Testament with America.  When families, individuals or nations experience the misfortune of hardship, your degree of character will be revealed.  Thus, during times of disaster, drought or death, America is only as strong as her moral and spiritual forces.

If I shut up the heavens so that no rain falls, or if I command locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence and plague among My people, 2 Chronicles 7:13.

Ten years following this statement, the Supreme Court removed prayer from public education using the separation of church and state as it’s rationale.  One year later, public Bible readings over the morning announcements was also banned from public education.  Using each of these cases as predetermining factors, other states followed these rulings to weaken moral and spiritual forces in America.  By 1980, atheists, liberals and progressives waged war against the ten commandments, having these civil and ethical standards also removed from public schools.

And My people, who are called by My Name, humble themselves, and pray and seek (crave, require as a necessity) My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear [them] from heaven, and forgive their sin and heal their land, 2 Chronicles 7:14.

When you turn on cable news, follow social media sites and or listen to talk radio, current events are a by product of these past judicial decisions.  Instead of focusing on doom and gloom as society edges closer to the verge of lawlessness, the best course of action is to humble yourself before the Lord.  As you do, confess and pray for positive results, that revival will sweep across this land.  Billy Graham devoted 58 years of his life, from 1947-2005, traveling the globe to conduct 417 Bible Crusades in 185 countries.  This wasn’t done for selfish ambition or self promotion.  Rather, Billy Graham understood that America and the world is only as strong as her moral and spiritual forces.

by Jay Mankus

The Impact of the Bible

Ten years ago I began to see how high school textbooks were being scrubbed of all biblical references.  The revisionist history of the founding of the United States is nearly complete now with many Christians unaware of this radical plot to erase Christ from history books.  To make matters worse time is now defined as Before Common Era and the Common Era.  Before Christ and After Christ’s Death, BC and AD, isn’t even used at the new Museum of the Bible in Washington DC.  Nonetheless, the impact of the Bible on America and throughout the world can not be hidden from those who seek the truth about the history of this world.

“I cannot tell you how much I sometimes long for the Bible.  I read it daily, but I would really like to know it by heart and to see life in the light of that phrase, Your word is a light for my path and a lamp for my feet,”. Vincent van Gogh wrote this in a 1877 letter referencing Psalm 119:105.

During my first visit to the new Bible Museum, the second floor, Level 2, contains the most fascinating exhibits.  Entitled the Impact of the Bible, you can’t go 25 feet without seeing or reading quotes from civil rights leaders, presidents and scientists about the Bible.  Walking from one display to the next, my wife and I did not recognize several of the names of these influential spiritual leaders.  At one point I turned to my wife Leanne to reply, “I wish I would have read about these people in high school or college.”  I counted 7 presidents who I don’t consider to be religious, referring to the Bible as a vital source to education.

“No study is more important to the child than the study of the Bible and of the truths which it teaches,” Woodrow Wilson 1913.

The quote above is from the founder of the Progressive Movement in America.  Despite all of Wilson’s progressive policies, including the eventual formation of the Federal Reserve Bank, this president boldly professed how essential the Bible is within education.  Unfortunately, just as most colleges on the east coast were Christian based initially, liberal, progressive and social ideas have expelled the Bible from most campuses today.  During his life long ministry, Billy Graham stated, “the Bible will always be the center of controversy.”  In this politically correct age, anything offensive is attacked, targeted or completely banned.  While the impact of the Bible is currently fading in America, God always raises up a remnant of believers somewhere on earth to pass the Living Word of God to the next generation.

by Jay Mankus

A Thought That Moved Jesus

The gospel according Luke was written by a first century doctor.  In the book of Acts, also penned by Luke, he becomes a close friend to the apostle Paul.  This relationship gives Luke more credibility as if a physician really needed anymore.  Nonetheless, Luke is the only author who refers to an unnamed group of 72 disciples.  Either Luke was one of these selected servants or he observed their ministry, feeling compelled to detail the role these men played in relation to Jesus’ earthly ministry.  Like the 12 disciples, Jesus divided each into teams of two, preparing cities, towns and villages for future visits by him.  This strategy was adopted by Billy Graham, working with local churches nearby upcoming crusades so that new converts would have a place to develop, grow and mature as Christians.

Nevertheless do not rejoice at this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven,” Luke 10:20.

After delegating special authority to these 72 disciples, Jesus shares one final thought in the passage above.  To a certain extent, Jesus was concerned that some of these men might begin to think quietly, “look what I did.”  This reminder is spoken to help these individuals see the big picture in life.  It’s not about casting out demons or healing the sick.  The most important thing is whether your names are written in the book of life.  As Jesus verbalizes this message, this thought moved him as the words below suggest that Jesus becomes emotional and exuberant.  Perhaps, Jesus  is reminded that one of this own disciples, Judas Iscariot, is not a member of this book.  When something like this hits home, souls discard the meaningless aspects in life and develop a spiritual hunger to wins souls for eternity.

In that very hour He was overjoyed and rejoiced greatly in the Holy Spirit, and He said, “I praise You, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things [relating to salvation] from the wise and intelligent, and have revealed them to infants [the childlike and untaught]. Yes, Father, for this way was [Your gracious will and choice, and was] well-pleasing in Your sight, Luke 10:21.

According to Luke’s words, the Holy Spirit spoke through Jesus.  In the passage above, Jesus eludes to a child like faith, the importance of maintaining your innocence.  Young children rely on their parents for their basic needs in life.  However, when kids grow up, some pursue education and wisdom rather than God.  Just as liberal college professors can challenge and overturn the values you were raised with, the Holy Spirit is the only source you need to alter your course.  This invisible counselor enables faith driven souls to understand the real meaning and purpose for being born.  During this interaction with 72 disciples, the thought of eternity moved Jesus to open up about this spiritual matter.

by Jay Mankus

Staying Connected to the Right Things

When you add together all the live audiences, radio and television, Billy Graham proclaimed the good news about Jesus Christ, Romans 6:23, to 2.2 billion people during his 99 years on earth.  However, someone had to introduce Billy to Jesus.  Without this individual’s efforts, the spread of Christianity may not be what it is today.  Mordecai Ham was an evangelist who visited Charlotte, North Carolina while Billy was in high school.  Moved by Mordecai’s message one evening, Billy invited Jesus into his heart, Romans 10:9-10, as a teenager.  When people stay connected to the right things, spiritual fruits blossom.

At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment, He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly, Acts 10:1-2.

During the first century, the apostle Paul traveled throughout the Middle East on four different missionary journeys.  I guess you can say Paul from Tarsus was the Billy Graham of his day.  Yet, if it wasn’t for a man named Cornelius, Paul may have never become a Christian.  This military leader developed a stout reputation in his community.  This devout believer was grounded, fearing God, a faithful giver and dedicated to prayer.  These spiritual disciplines led to a vision from God that set the stage for Paul’s conversion to Christ.  Staying connected to the right things opened the door for an angelic encounter, as Cornelius immediately responded by faith.

One day at about three in the afternoon he had a vision. He distinctly saw an angel of God, who came to him and said, “Cornelius!” Cornelius stared at him in fear. “What is it, Lord?” he asked.  The angel answered, “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God, Acts 10:3-4.

Before writing the Book of Acts, Luke traveled with Paul on several of his mission trips.  In this case, it appears Luke interviewed Cornelius, recounting his recollection in the passage above.  Based upon this event, God has the ability to commemorate prayers and offerings from your past.  Thus, if you stay connected to the right things, blessings are bound to come.  Sure, nearly 2000 years later the apostle Paul receives most of the credit for fulfilling the great commission, Acts 1:7-8.  Nonetheless, God is searching for the next Cornelius and Mordecai Ham who are willing to stay connected to the right things.  While you may never get the attention of a Billy Graham or apostle Paul, those who stay connected to the vine, John 15:1-4, will receive honor and praise from God the Father.

by Jay Mankus

Relocating to a Permanent Address

Billy Graham viewed his life on earth as someone merely passing through, making the most of his ninety nine years.  I was in my car when I received the news of his death, listening to talk radio.  Upon hearing this update, Rush Limbaugh spent a few minutes of his next monologue reflecting upon Graham’s life and legacy.  Rush relayed the context of one of Billy’s famous quotes.  “When you hear reports about my death, don’t believe it.  I am not dead.  Rather, I have changed my address, relocating to a permanent destination.”

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life, 1 John 5:13.

In a spiritual sense, I am related to Reverend Graham.  You see, my mentor in high school, Ken Horne, dedicated his life to God at a Billy Graham Rally as a teenager.  This propelled Ken to become a high school teacher, coach and Fellowship of Christian Athlete’s director at Concord High.  I was too cool for God as a nineth grader, rejecting several offers to attend this small group Bible Study.  After a nervous breakdown in tenth grade, I accepted an invitation to an event on December 4th, 1984.  Ken paid for my ticket to a Fellowship of Christian Athlete’s Speakout featuring members of Philadelphia’s four professional sports teams.  Yet, it was a man in a wheel chair, Skip Wilkins who God used to lead me to surrender my life to Jesus Christ.

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved, Romans 10:9-10.

As the 2018 Winter Olympics come to a close this weekend, the 2020 Summer Olympics are just around the corner.  As Billy Graham officially retired Wednesday, its never too early to begin training, finding someone to pass the baton to in the name of Christ.  Reverend Graham wasn’t perfect, but as elders like Leonard Ravenhill began to offer constructive criticism to make sure new converts were being properly discipled following their conversions, Billy Graham’s ministry became a well oiled machine, producing permanent disciples.  May the legacy that Billy Graham Sr. has left behind inspire you to get moving, ready to fulfill the great commission so that those who do pass away are able to relocate to a permanent address in heaven.

by Jay Mankus

%d bloggers like this: