This is longer than most videos I post. But it’s well worth the watch.
Billy Graham has written what he says is his last sermon. I think it’s worth pondering as we look ahead to the New Year in front of us.
Long before this election, I felt that our religious leaders had focused too much of their attention on helping political parties gain power and too little on preaching and teaching their followers to follow Christ. One of the commenters on this blog made the point that it seems as if we have “two different ‘types’ of Christians.”
I believe that is a direct result of religious leaders in the different denominations cutting the Gospels down to fit the party platforms of either the Democrats or the Republicans. They have taught this false Gospel to their trusting followers for decades. The result is a Body of Christ that doesn’t follow Christ. It follows political parties and calls that following Christ.
The following article from CNA Daily News quotes various pro life leaders as they try to deal with the new political realities. Part of those realities is that the decades-long strategy of packing the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v Wade is now officially a failure. Another reality is that the new administration is openly hostile to religious freedom and has already taken a huge step toward truncating it with the HHS Mandate. Yet another reality is that Christians’ over-concentration on party politics has not converted the culture. While our religious leaders have led us into the heresy of ballot box righteousness, the larger culture has been literally going to hell.
I’m going to spend a lot of time these next few weeks, encouraging Public Catholic readers to work together to examine these problems and gather our strength and resolve to move forward from here. But first, I think we should follow the advice that Billy Graham and the Catholic bishops have given us. We are called to repentance and prayer. That includes me and you and every single one of us. Before a Christian tries to do God’s work in this world, they get right with God.
It’s fortuitous that Advent is coming in a few weeks. I think that is the perfect time to examine our consciences in a deep and honest way and cleanse ourselves of the many ways in which we have not followed Christ. Until then, I would like to spend a couple of weeks, just re-hashing and healing. Thanksgiving is coming and nothing should dampen our joy at this uniquely American family holiday.
As for today, it is Sunday. The Lord’s Day. Do not waste it. Use this day to relax, pray and enjoy your life, your family and the sweet peace of knowing that you follow a risen Lord.
The CNA Daily News article says in part:
CNA Daily News 11/9/12 5:11 AM US
Washington D.C., Nov 9, 2012 / 04:11 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Despite pro-life setbacks in the Nov. 6 election, there is still hope and ample opportunity for progress in promoting a culture of life in the coming years, pro-life advocates are saying.
Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, explained that the election “confirmed for every pro-lifer that we cannot rely on politicians to abolish abortion.”
“We first must change the culture and then the culture will shape our politicians and laws,” she told CNA.
On Nov. 6, President Barack Obama was elected to a second term by the American people after committing himself to furthering tax-payer funded abortion without restrictions.
Deep political divisions between the U.S. House and Senate also make it unlikely that major federal pro-life legislation will pass in the coming years.
At the state level, a Florida measure that would have prevented taxpayer funds for paying for abortions failed, while a parental notification law for girls under 16 seeking an abortion in Montana was passed. An attempt to repeal the death penalty in California also failed to win voter approval.
But Hawkins believes there is still important work to be done in changing minds and hearts across America.
The election “showed that we can’t be afraid to talk about these ‘hard issues,’” she said, pointing to the Democratic Party’s strong emphasis on abortion at its national convention and throughout the campaign.
The Republican Party failed to respond with an equally strong emphasis, she said, and exit polls indicate that “there were a lot of pro-lifers missing” on Election Day.
“We need to march forward, courageously, doing what we have been doing for the past four years,” Hawkins asserted. She listed her priorities as reaching out to women in need, spreading the pro-life message and working through local efforts to expose and de-fund Planned Parenthood and remove its presence from schools.
“We need to work to develop better alternative and resource centers in our communities, so no women is ever forced to sacrifice her kids to and to put her life in the hands of Planned Parenthood,” she added.
Hawkins also stressed the importance of reaching out to young people. While support for Obama was down from 2008 among young voters, the president still captured a significant majority of the youth voting bloc.
“There is much more work to be done educating young people about abortion,” she said.
While Gallup polls indicate that this generation of young people is pro-life, it can be difficult for them – having been taught all their lives that truth is relative – to move from the understanding that abortion is wrong to the conviction that abortion should be illegal, she explained.
“We must continue forward, speaking to our young people about their worldview, why life is intrinsically valuable, and how making a horrific act such as abortion illegal is the morally right thing to do,” she said.(Read more here.)
Billy Graham wrote a letter to America after the election this week which I think we should all read. He calls Christians to repentance and prayer. He asks us specifically to pray for America, for our leaders and for one another.
He also announced that he and his son, Franklin Graham, are starting a ministry called New Hope. They plan to “bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to every possible place in America” during the next year.
This dovetails so well with the Year of Faith and the New Evangelization inaugurated by the Holy Father that I believe it signifies the Holy Spirit, speaking with one voice through the people He has given us as shepherds. It is time for Christians to unite and stand for Christ together. I feel the leadership to do this is stepping forward. It is up to us to be wise followers.
Here is Billy Graham’s letter in full. You can read more about it at Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
November 8, 2012 – A day after turning 94, Billy Graham writes: “I plan to spend the next 12 months, if God permits, doing all that I am able to do in helping to carry out a fresh vision God has given us—a vision to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to every possible place in America by the time of my 95th birthday.”
At the climax of My Hope one year from now, if God enables me, I want to call the entire nation to repentance and lasting hope in Jesus Christ.
From the Desk of Billy Graham
All of us care a great deal about our country. The intensity of opinions and feelings during the long political campaign showed the depth of that concern.
Now with the votes counted, it is important to remember that whether we are personally pleased with the outcome or not, God wants us to pray for those chosen to be our leaders—at the national, state, and local levels. The Bible urges us to do so with both respect and thanksgiving (see 1 Peter 2:17; 1 Timothy 2:1–3).
We must also remember that no election will ever solve America’s most basic problems. That is because the trouble, at its root, is in the human heart, and the only path to true restoration—for a person or for a nation—is through repentance. The Bible says, “Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19–20, ESV).
Only the Gospel, God’s Good News, has the power to change lives, heal hearts, and restore a nation.
I want that to happen in America, and I know you want that as well. I turned 94 on the day after the election. Although my age and health have limited me physically in recent years, I plan to spend the next 12 months, if God permits, doing all that I am able to do in helping to carry out a fresh vision God has given us—a vision to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to every possible place in America by the time of my 95th birthday. It’s called My Hope, and I pray that you will partner with us.
In the days of the Prophet Jeremiah, God commanded His people to “seek the peace and prosperity” of the land where He had placed them and to “pray to the Lord for it” (Jeremiah 29:7, NIV). I ask you to join me in committing the next 52 weeks to faithful, even fervent, prayer for this land in which we live. You can start by making a list of people you know personally who need Jesus Christ and then begin praying regularly for them, individually by name.
Pray also for your neighborhood and your city, asking God to bring men, women, teens, and children—people from your own community—to Himself during the next 12 months. And pray along with me for the nation, asking God for mercy on America and for a great spiritual awakening.
My son Franklin is spearheading this vision and outreach, working in partnership with thousands of churches across every state in the country (ask your pastor if your church plans to take part). Franklin will be sending you more details on how this will work through the coming months and how you can participate.
At the climax of My Hope one year from now, if God enables me, I want to call the entire nation to repentance and lasting hope in Jesus Christ. The message I give will be presented in a fresh format, different from preaching at a Crusade, but the same Gospel. I believe we will see God work in a mighty way.
It is my passionate, heartfelt desire to see God change hearts and lives in every community in America, and I pray He will stir the same desire in you.
Will you join Franklin and me in this bold venture?
May God bless you,
Click here throughout the Year of Faith, as the Catholic Channel at Patheos.com invites Catholics of every age and stripe to share what they are gleaning and carrying away from this gift of timely focus.
America suffered another tragic shooting today.
The Reverend Billy Graham published a letter to America a few weeks ago that seems almost to speak of it when he says, “My heart aches for America.” Here’s an excerpt of what he wrote:
Some years ago, my wife, Ruth, was reading the draft of a book I was writing. When she finished a section describing the terrible downward spiral of our nation’s moral standards and the idolatry of worshiping false gods such as technology and sex, she startled me by exclaiming, “If God doesn’t punish America, He’ll have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.”
She was probably thinking of a passage in Ezekiel where God tells why He brought those cities to ruin. “Now this was the sin of … Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen” (Ezekiel 16:49–50, NIV).
I wonder what Ruth would think of America if she were alive today. In the years since she made that remark, millions of babies have been aborted and our nation seems largely unconcerned. Self-centered indulgence, pride, and a lack of shame over sin are now emblems of the American lifestyle.
Just a few weeks ago in a prominent city in the South, Christian chaplains who serve the police department were ordered to no longer mention the Name of Jesus in prayer. It was reported that during a recent police-sponsored event, the only person allowed to pray was someone who addressed “the being in the room.” Similar scenarios are now commonplace in towns across America. Our society strives to avoid any possibility of offending anyone—except God.
Yet the farther we get from God, the more the world spirals out of control.
My heart aches for America and its deceived people. The wonderful news is that our Lord is a God of mercy, and He responds to repentance. In Jonah’s day, Nineveh was the lone world superpower—wealthy, unconcerned, and self-centered. When the Prophet Jonah finally traveled to Nineveh and proclaimed God’s warning, people heard and repented.
I believe the same thing can happen once again, this time in our nation.
I believe that Rev Graham is right. Revival can come to our nation. But we need to stop waiting for a politician or a preacher on a white horse to bring it. It’s up to us, Jesus’ followers, no matter who we are or where we live, to do our part in bringing the Kingdom. We know the antidote to evil. It isn’t something we can “give” to other people like a dose of medicine. We have to live it out in front of them so that they will “catch” it from us.
We can do that by living our faith in the simple dailiness of our lives. We can do it by not cutting corners, not cheating, lying, stealing, hurting others. We can do it by keeping our promises, including the ones we made when we said “I do.” We can do it by being there with our children in the dailiness of their lives.
We can do it by holding our heads up and being proud, not of ourselves, but of Our Savior, Jesus Christ. No American Christian should ever stand idly by while Jesus is insulted and degraded in front of them. Unlike many of our brothers and sisters, we do not face death for standing up for Jesus. We may be ridiculed or lose a few of the people we pal around with, but we won’t be burned alive or beheaded.
Don’t let anyone bully you into behaving as if you are ashamed of Jesus. Be civil. Be courteous. But also be resolute. Uncomfortable silence in the face of deliberate mockery of Our Lord is a form of assent.
We bring the Kingdom to those around us when we live it. Make no mistake about it; courage attracts, faithfulness slowly changes mockery into respect, and love heals. We should live our lives in such a way that other people know without being told that Jesus Christ is our Lord. That is our calling.