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graham-bday-2013-editedToday marks the 95th birthday of world-renowned evangelist Billy Graham. And in keeping with his call to carry the Good News of Jesus Christ to people of all walks of life, over the next several days Rev. Graham will present a 30-minute broadcast on select cable networks and other television outlets. (Click here for TV listings.)

Through a year-long effort called ‘My Hope,’ the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) has enlisted the support and partnership of thousands of churches all over the United States and Canada to share the message of Christ’s redeeming love. Rev. Graham’s ‘lifetime audience’ (including radio and television) was, as of 2008, an estimated 2.2 billion! Through his pre-recorded broadcast message this week, the famed preacher will speak what he believes will likely be his final message to millions all over North America.

I’ve never had the opportunity to see Graham in person. However, I remember sitting with my family as a young child listening to the unmistakable timbre of the passionate orator’s voice as he delivered God’s Word right into our living room via our large wooden console television. Ah, yes, those were the days. His crusades were always packed with many thousands of people, and his invitations to ‘accept Christ as Lord and Savior’ resulted in some 3.2 million professions of faith. While times and technology have unquestionably changed, the timeless truth of the gospel remains as relevant today as it has ever been.

graham-quoteThough increasingly frail and weakened with age, Rev. Graham’s prayer life is as strong as ever. In recent years he has admittedly grown deeply concerned about the spiritual condition of our nation. One word summarizes the beloved evangelist’s desire to speak one more time: urgency. Essentially, Rev. Graham has sensed God calling him to deliver a message to the people here in the US and Canada. Click here to read a touching article about the filming process for ‘My Hope.’

You might have stumbled upon this post at random, but I can assure you that it’s no accident. Whether you’re a longtime fan of Billy Graham, or you’ve never even heard his name, I urge you to take just 30 minutes out of your schedule at some point over the next few days to watch ‘The Cross.’ Having seen the program in its entirety, I can tell you that it is an incredibly powerful message that I know God will use to change many, many lives. You can preview it here — or watch the full message by clicking the graphic below:

IT’S YOUR TURN!
How has the ministry of Billy Graham impacted your own life and spiritual journey?

2012reflections-shadowIt’s time to wrap up another calendar year and turn the page to a new one.

Our nation and our world have faced a plethora of challenges this year — many of them serious and challenging. While all the TV news programs have found a way to highlight the stories that mattered most, chances are that their stories were not the ones that most impacted your life.

Maybe you said goodbye to a loved one — through death or divorce.

Maybe you sent your first, last, or only child off to college or into the work force.

Maybe you lost a job — and/or took a new one.

Maybe you welcomed a new baby into the family.

Maybe you participated in a mission project — in your community or half-way around the world.

You probably did a lot of things that will never be mentioned in a ‘year in review’ report. But these things were meaningful to you because they were personal.

Tennyson wrote, “I am part of all that I have met.” We’d be hard-pressed to find a statement that rings more true. It’s true of the good things, the bad things, the ugly things. Whether we like it or not, everything we personally experience shapes us, our attitudes, and our perspective on life.

As we head full speed into a brand new year, I hope you’ll take time to reflect on the year that was. So often we fail to adequately process the events of this life. Instead we bounce like a pinball from one experience to another, taking no care to really think about how those experiences change us.

It has been said that pictures are worth a thousand words. Whether those are actual photos or mental images, I encourage you to take time to think through your pictures from the year that was.

Laugh.

Cry.

Meditate.

Grieve.

Give thanks.

Pray.

However you do it, acknowledge the impact of 2012, complete with its triumphs and its tragedies. Realize that there is absolutely nothing you can do to change what is past.

As a kid growing up, my parents had a plaque on the living room wall. Its message sticks with me even today:

Look to this day. Yesterday is a dream; tomorrow is a vision.

Jesus Himself took care to remind us that we can’t control everything. The older I get, the more I understand exactly how little I do control. Perhaps that’s why I’ve always found comfort in these words from Matthew 6:

Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. – Matthew 6:25-30, ESV

As we close the door on 2012, let’s look to the new year with anticipation of what God will teach us in the next 12 months. Give Him your fears, your doubts, your hurts, habits, and hang-ups. Know that He is absolutely trustworthy. You can depend on Him. He is never surprised and never uncaring. He is faithful, forgiving, and fully involved in the events of this life.

I’ll leave you today with an Irish blessing that is my prayer for you in the year that awaits:

May the friendships you make,
Be those which endure,
And all of your grey clouds
Be small ones for sure.
And trusting in Him
To Whom we all pray,
May a song fill your heart,
Every step of the way.

IT’S YOUR TURN!
What did God teach you in 2012?