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In Other Words...

A Research Service Of Facts & Humor For Christian Leaders

March 2018 ~ Issue 1

COMMITMENT: In his correspondence with Horace Greeley dated August 22, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln stated his position on slavery and his commitment to the well-being of the United States.  At the conclusion of his comments, Lincoln wrote, "I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause."  That type of commitment will empower success in any business, government, church, community, team, or family. Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Volume 5, Roy Basler, Editor, 1953, p.388

ENVY: Unless you're a diehard Patriots' fan, the Super Bowl may have caused you to experience schadenfreude (Google the pronunciation).  The German word means finding joy in the suffering or misery of another.  More than a few people only cared about one thing; they didn't want Brady or Belichick to win.  Sometimes it takes nothing more than a football game to remind us of the heart's condition.  When Christ is not governing our thoughts, we can easily hold a subtle celebration for someone else's failure or misfortune, or quietly wish for it. What They Didn't Teach You In Seminary, James White, 2011, p.62

FOCUS: In a national survey, people were asked to finish this sentence, "For one day, I would like to trade places with..."  Over 1,000 people contributed and here are some of their responses: My autistic child, just to see the world through his eyes; My heart donor - I would love to know what he or she was like; Billy Graham so I can feel his faith; My husband, to see just how it is to live with me - I know I would learn a lot of ways to improve!  Uniquely, one participant's comment revealed a different perspective.  She said, "No one - I am happy to just be myself!"  Hopefully we're all happy to be our self, but it is helpful to consider how others might feel. Reader's Digest, February 2012, p.34

JESUS: In footage captured from his 1949 Los Angeles Crusade, Billy Graham made a statement he'd repeat in various ways for six decades.  At that historic series of revival meetings Dr. Graham said, "I do not believe that any man can solve the problems of life without Jesus Christ."  It's truth, which never changes. Billy Graham 1949

LORDSHIP: After his benediction at Billy Graham's funeral, Bishop George Battle gave instructions for what was to follow.  The minister from the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church in Charlotte, North Carolina confessed he didn't want to mess it up because he wouldn't get another chance so he asked for the audience's help.  Bishop Battle then stated what he'd been instructed to say, "Please remain standing until you're told to do the next thing."  It was a moment of levity as people laughed just before the solemn bagpipe recessional to Dr. Graham's gravesite.  Such words are fitting for every Christ follower.  Standing communicates both honor and readiness.  We can demonstrate the Lordship of Christ in our life by figuratively standing in continual anticipation of what He is about to tell us next. Billy Graham's Funeral

MONEY: In the 2010 sequel movie, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, a very brief but profound interchange about financial contentment occurs between Jacob Moore (played by Shia LeBeouf) and Bretton James (Josh Brolin).  Moore states, "I find that everybody has a number, and it's usually an exact number, so what's yours?"  James pensively ponders the question in seeming amusement, and then after a dramatic pause he replies with a confident yet uncertain smile, "More."  The lure of money has an insatiable effect that frequently leaves us longing for more. Everybody Has A Number

REVIVAL: Dr. Edwin Orr took a group of Wheaton College students to England for an educational experience in 1940.  During their visit of John Wesley's old home, which is now a museum, they were shown two impressions on the floor of a bedroom.  It was believed that's where Wesley regularly knelt in prayer as he pleaded for spiritual awakening.  When their visit of the Epworth Rectory was completed, Dr. Orr noticed one student had not yet boarded the bus.  He went back inside and found the student upstairs kneeling in those two indentations on the floor.  It was the young 21-year-old Billy Graham praying out loud, "O Lord, do it again!"  Revival could be as near as the earnest plea of God's people asking Him to do it again. Whisper, Mark Batterson, 2017, p.39

SUCCESS: Roger Bannister, the first person to break the 4-minute mile, died on March 3, 2018.  The 25-year-old medical student showed up at Oxford's Iffley track on May 6,1954 after his normal shift at St. Mary's hospital in London.  He was part of an amateur all-star team running against Oxford University.  The damp, windy day hardly seemed favorable for a record-setting run, but it was under those less than ideal conditions that Bannister ran the mile in 3:59.4.  It was a feat that hit front pages around the world.  He had reached what The New York Times described as "one of man's hitherto unattainable goals."  Two years earlier at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, Bannister was favored to win the 1,500 meters but finished in fourth place and was criticized for his poor performance.  He later said that had he won, he probably would have retired from running and wouldn't have made history.  Bannister didn't lead the race that day in May of 1954.  What propelled him to historic victory was his finish. He pushed forward with an explosive kick that taxed every fiber of his being, but he'd never regret the agonizing pain.  Bannister left competitive running later that year to concentrate on medicine.  He said he wouldn't have time to train properly so, "There would be little satisfaction for me in a second-rate performance, and it would be wrong to give one when representing my country."  History will remember him as a runner, but he had no doubts that his greatest satisfaction came from his long career as a neurologist.  He wisely put sports in the proper perspective by stating, "I think sport is a thing of growing up and being a student."  Success doesn't require ideal settings, it often occurs after failure, it requires effort that rises above mediocrity and seems impossible, and it should always been viewed from the perspective of what really matters most in life. Beaumont Enterprise, 3/5/18, p.4A; USA Today, 3/6/18, p.6C



CANDY: A woman said her parents stuffed her with so much candy that she wondered if they really wanted a piñata instead of a child. Reader's Digest, October 2014, p.101

GIVING: During the offering Patty whispered to her daughter, "Your father gives until it hurts, but he has a very low threshold for pain." Beaumont Enterprise, 12/24/17, p.SC3

TRIAGE: Bill Kerley read an article titled "100 Things To Do Before You Die" and was surprised that "Yell for help" wasn't one of them. Houston Chronicle, 2/25/18, p.G14

IN OTHER WORDS... began in 1991 and is produced by Dr. Raymond McHenry, Senior Pastor of the Westgate Memorial Baptist Church in Beaumont, Texas.  Subscribers receive full access to our Web site of over 5,000 illustrations PLUS two email issues per month filled with fascinating facts, quotes, humor, and spiritual illustrations from headline news.  All content is copyrighted.  Visit to start a new subscription or send inquiries to:

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We'll all remember this day and never forget where we were when we learned of Billy Graham's death.  Tears have come to my eyes multiple times today.  His influence in each of our lives is more than we can comprehend, and his loss will reverberate deeply for quite some time.

Knowing that Dr. Graham's death will not only be a part of our sermons on Sunday, but may very well be the central theme of what we have to say, I hurriedly went through all of my files to paste every illustration about him that has been used in In Other Words over the past 26 years.  Time constraints did not permit me to organize them any better than what you find below in this email.  I simply wanted to put this information in your hands as quickly as possible to supplement the many other things you already know about him and will find through your own research.

There are 10 pages of material so hopefully you can find a couple of illustrations that can be used for your sermon, Twitter, video messaging, newsletter, etc.  

With Gratitude,

P.S. Please feel free to forward this material to anyone who might find it helpful.

In Other Words...
A Research Service Of Facts & Humor For Christian Leaders

10 Pages of Material About
Dr. Billy Graham
1918 - 2018


A GREAT AWAKENING In 1934, Mordecai Ham preached in Charlotte, North Carolina and a great awakening took place.  A farmer was deeply concerned about the meetings so he invited a group of his Christian friends to come spend a day in prayer at his farm.  As they prayed, they felt compelled to ask God to raise up a man from their city to carry the gospel to the ends of the earth.  Although they didn't see an immediate answer to their prayer, the great awakening had begun.  The farmer's teen-age son was converted during the crusade and that boy has indeed carried the gospel to the ends of the earth.  His name is Billy Graham!  Good thing that farmer took time to pray for revival!
Dr. Billy Graham has said, "Anxiety is the natural result when our hopes are centered on anything short of God and His will for us."
COMMUNISM Before the fall of communism, Dan Rather once interviewed Billy Graham about the state of religion in Russia.  He asked Dr. Graham what he thought about the communists' success of obliterating religion in their land.  The evangelist quickly corrected the thought and said, "They haven't obliterated it, they've just oppressed it."  Dr. Graham was right.  Now religion is starting to obliterate communism.
CONFLICT RESOLUTION Hot heads and cold hearts never solved anything. Billy Graham
DANGER I believe the world is in a more dangerous situation now than before World War I or World War II. Billy Graham
ETERNAL LIFE Steve McQueen was a top-billing actor who led a life as tough as the ones he portrayed on the screen.  Success filled his life until alcohol and a failed marriage left him empty.  In his despair he attended a crusade led by one of Billy Graham's associates.  McQueen made a profession of faith and requested an opportunity to speak with Billy Graham.  A connecting flight in Los Angeles allowed Dr. Graham to spend a couple of hours with Mr. McQueen in the actor's limousine.  The great evangelist shared numerous scriptures in his quest to give spiritual hope and confidence.  Steve McQueen struggled with the thought of God giving eternal life to a man who had such a checkered past.  In Titus 1:2, Steve McQueen found his hope -"the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago"  He requested something to write down the verse but Billy Graham gave McQueen his Bible instead.  Later, Steve McQueen died in Mexico while seeking experimental treatment for his terminal cancer.  He passed into eternal life with his Bible opened to Titus 1 and his finger resting on verse 2.  Regardless of our past, we have the hope of God's eternal promise.
EVANGELISTIC BENEFITS Billy Graham wrote about a woman who had recently experienced a death in her family and sensed a strong urgency to share her faith.  The candidate for her renewed evangelistic zeal was a repairman servicing her furnace.  Upon completing his work, she backed him against the wall and asked, "If that furnace had blown up in your face and you had died, would you know for certain where you would spend eternity?"  The guy was so startled by the inquiry he forgot to leave her a bill.  So many people worry about personal disadvantages that witnessing may cause.  Here's a lady who shared her faith and got her furnace fixed free.
GOD'S WILL In 1945, a young associate pastor named Cliff married his fiancee, Billie.  They had very little money but scraped up enough to take a honeymoon.  When they arrived at the hotel they were told it was now a rehabilitation center and not available to overnight guests.  They hitchhiked to a grocery store several miles down the rode.  The owner was sympathetic to their situation and let them stay in a room over the store.  The owner quickly caught on that they were Christians and referred them to a friend with a nicer place to spend the rest of their honeymoon.  During the week their host invited them to attend a youth rally at a nearby Christian conference center.  The regular song leader was ill that night so Cliff was asked if he might take charge of the music service.  He consented and led the music before a young evangelist named Billy stepped up to preach.  Cliff Barrows met Billy Graham that night and formed a ministry team that has preached the gospel throughout the world for 50 years.  When your plans don't seem to work out, maybe God has something better in mind.  He sure did for Cliff and Billie Barrows.
GOD'S WORD A letter to Billy Graham was quite telling of some societal thoughts about God's Word.  The inquirer asked, "How many of the Ten Commandments does God expect us to keep today?"  To the chagrin of this desirous compromiser, the wise evangelist said, "All 10!"  Just because we have chosen to reduce our standards doesn't mean God has lowered His.
GOSPEL During 1991, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association was planning for their crusade in Buenos Aires.  A local coordination meeting was held in a small Argentine town.  The weather was terrible with heavy rains, strong winds, and hail.  Nonetheless, pastors were gathered from all over the region.  Halfway through the meeting a man slipped in who was drenched and looked exhausted.  The coordinators were concerned why he was so late for this critical meeting.  They later found out this man was tardy because he had actually walked 125 miles to attend the meeting.  He did not have money for transportation so he walked to make sure his town of 15,000 people was included in the evangelistic plan.  The gospel was worth that kind of sacrifice for this dear saint.  May the gospel move all of us to a similar commitment.
HUMILITY Billy Graham was interviewed on PrimeTime Live in December of 1992.  It replayed an impressive overview of his years in ministry and gave a very poignant conclusion.  Dr. Graham was sitting somberly in a chair when he was asked, "What do you want people to say about you when you're gone."  He responded by saying, "I don't want people to say anything about me.  I want them to talk about my Savior.  The only thing I want to hear is Jesus saying, 'Well done, My good and faithful servant.'  But I'm not sure I'm going to hear that."  His genuine humility is but one more reason why God has so powerfully used Billy Graham.
INFLUENCE In 1992, a store manager called his security officer with a problem.  Such calls were not unusual in this Portland, Oregon store but this time something very different was happening.  The manager explained how someone had been in earlier and confessed to once switching price tags and wanted to make it right.  One hour later another person came to the manager confessing, "I've stolen from your store.  If you feel you must arrest me, then that's what you must do."  In bewilderment the manager turned to the security officer and asked, "What's happening?"  In response the officer simply said, "Billy Graham is in town!"  Let's live in such a way that our presence has a radical influence on those around us.
OUTREACH 80% of all the people who have come forward to receive Christ during a Billy Graham crusade were brought by a friend or relative.  That is the figure Billy Graham's Association has determined through decades of research.  Elmer Towns affirms this statistic with his own research.  Dr. Towns has been taking a personal survey in his seminars for twelve years, all across America.  The results of these surveys reveal the following about how people have come to Christ: 2% through non-personal advertising (TV, radio, literature, etc.), 6% because of the personal influence of a pastor, 6% came to Christ through the intentional evangelistic efforts of a church, and 86% found Jesus as a result of a friend or relative.  Unfortunately, the Church appears to be missing this important truth because a recent Gallup poll showed that 63% of unchurched Americans have not been invited to church by their friends.  Slick marketing will never replace a personal relationship.
POLITICAL INSIGHT Billy Graham received some strong criticism for praying at President Clinton's 1992 Inauguration.  Regardless of party preference, we can all benefit from Dr. Graham's words of defense.  He said, "I'm praying for the president, not for a party or platform.  We're told to pray for the people in authority.  Jacob prayed for Pharoah and Daniel prayed for Nebuchadnezzar."  Christians, and political leaders, would all benefit from less complaining, blaming, and name calling, and a lot more praying.
PRAYER The three secrets to successful ministry are: prayer, prayer, and more prayer. Billy Graham
REPENTANCE In our quest to reach people for Christ, we must caution ourselves to never compromise the gospel's standards in order to accommodate those people who are not interested in repentance.  Billy Graham's sentiments on this concern are most appropriate; "We are dangerously near to saying to the prodigal son, 'It is not necessary to return to your father and home - we can make you comfortable in the pigpen.'"
SERVICE Unless our belief in God causes us to help our fellow man, our faith stands condemned. Billy Graham
RECREATIONAL ADJUSTMENT Retired sportswriter Jim Reed wrote a book, The Funny Side of Golf.  In these pages Reed tells of Billy Graham's comments on golf: "I never pray on a golf course.  The Lord answers my prayers everywhere except on the course."  Reed shares another experience where a guy had a terrible day on the course and finally lost it on the 18th hole.  He broke his putter, threw the rest of his clubs in the lake, and started screaming, "I've got to give it up!"  The caddie asked, "Give up golf?"  The duffer shouted back, "No, "I've got to give up the ministry."  The 79-year-old Reed says he's personally given up golf.  "I've taken up painting because there's a lot less strokes.
Criticism Have you ever imagined living without criticism?  Maybe you've thought greater success would usher in a life free of criticism.  If either, or both, of these fantasies have crept through your mind, just think of Dr. Billy Graham.  The good that God has delivered through this man is hard to fathom.  Nonetheless, he has known criticism all of his life.  In 1993, one fundamentalist leader said Dr. Graham "has done more harm to the cause of Christ than any other living man."  Doesn't that make you feel better about the criticisms you've received lately?
Evangelism The Middle Tennessee Billy Graham Crusade was held in Nashville during June of 2000.  Adelphia Coliseum, built to accommodate the Tennessee Titans, was used as a platform for the gospel and thousands responded to God's call.  In the shadows of this new stadium, a small band of believers gathered every Tuesday during its construction and prayed that God would use it for His purposes.  Indeed He has.  One 56-year-old man who accepted Christ on the second night of this crusade said, "I've been waiting for this all my life."  In our communities there are countless others like that middle-aged man who are waiting to hear the good news of God's redeeming love.
Healing Time doesn't's what we do with the time that heals. Billy Graham
Humility I have failed many times, and I would do many things differently. Billy Graham
Marriage How would you describe your marriage?  Billy Graham has a very insightful way of describing his marriage.  He says, "we are happily incompatible."  Dr. and Mrs. Graham are very different in many ways, but they have learned to see and use these difference to their advantages.  Countless divorces are finalized under the pretense of "irreconcilable differences."  It's refreshing to see an "incompatible" couple who has thrived for over five decades because they chose to be happy with their differences.
Marriage If there is any secret to our marriage, it's Ruth. Billy Graham
Peace During the Korean War, Billy Graham had the opportunity of ministering to American soldiers.  While there, he learned of an incident which stirred his heart.  On Christmas Eve, a young Marine lay dying on Heartbreak Ridge.  One of the chaplains climbed up to the young man and whispered, "May I help you, son?"  The Marine replied, "No, it's all right."  The chaplain was amazed at the soldiers tranquillity.  When he glanced down at the man's side he understood the source.  He was clutching a small New Testament in his bloody hand and his finger was placed on the calm assurance of John 14:27, "My peace I give to you..."
Repentance Billy Graham's son, Franklin, led a crusade in Australia during the Spring of 1996.  At one of the invitations, a fifteen-year-old boy told a counselor he came forward because, "I haven't been decent to Jesus."  Repentance starts with a confession that we "haven't been decent to Jesus."
Revival During his famous crusade in Los Angeles, Billy Graham demonstrated some of his keen wisdom at a press conference.  A young reporter said, "Mr. Graham, one minister told me that he thinks you have set the Church back 50 years, maybe 100 years.  What do you have to say about that?"  Dr. Graham paused to contemplate the question, then replied, "Well, I would ask the Lord to forgive me.  When I came here, my prayer was that He would set the Church back 2,000 years."  True church growth occurs when we return to the passion and power of Pentecost.
Satan Years ago, when Billy Graham's children were small, their family was enjoying a meal together when someone began singing the little chorus, "I've got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart."  The rest of the family chimed in on the song.  The young choir concluded their impromptu anthem with that famous verse, "And if the devil doesn't like it he can sit on a tack.  (Ouch!)"  When they finished, Dr. Graham sternly looked at his children and said, "I don't want you to sing that verse anymore."  The children quickly asked, "Why?"  The famous evangelist replied, "Because the devil is a good devil."  They looked confused so he explained further.  "The devil does a very good job being the devil.  He is real and powerful, and he is no joking matter."  That counsel from the 1950's is more relevant today than we can imagine, especially after reading the following information.  When the Barna Research Group asked Americans about Satan, they discovered 62% of the adult population believe Satan "is not a living being but is a symbol of evil."  The angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14) has masterfully disguised himself among the American populace.  As Dr. Graham's daughter, Gigi, has wisely said, "A sober warning at the dinner table so many years ago seems wiser than ever."
Suffering  In a interview about his Parkinson's disease, Billy Graham said, "I think God sent it to me at this age to show me I am totally dependent on him."  Suffering is a feared intruder to us all, but it can bring the benefit of greater dependence upon God.
Temptation The devil will always have a ship ready when a man wants to sail away from God. Billy Graham
PRAYER: Thomas Walter "T.W." Wilson was a life-long friend of Billy Graham.  T.W., his brother Grady, and Graham all accepted Christ as teenagers during a revival preached by Mordecai Ham.  Their friendship was sealed by that event and ultimately led to T.W. joining Graham's ministry team.  Upon his death in May 2001, it was said by Dr. Graham, "Ruth and I have lost one of the closest friends we have ever had.  He was a companion on most of the trips I have taken since 1962, all over the world.  We prayed, laughed and wept on hundreds of occasions."  As many others reflected on Wilson's death, another close friend, Cliff Barrows, noted a unique characteristic of T.W.'s prayers.  He said, "When T.W. was called upon to pray, no matter where it was, he would begin with the word 'And:'  'And our heavenly Father.'  It was as though he were carrying on a conversation with the Lord Jesus, and he was just adding this other petition, or this other statement of love and adoration, to his ongoing conversation with the Lord."  What a fitting description of public prayer...just an addition to our ongoing conversation with God.
PREACHING: A young, brash minister was often boasting about his preaching skills in front of other preachers.  One day his arrogance got the best of him as he told a group of pastors that some people were now mentioning his name along with Billy Graham.  An old wise pastor muttered to one of his colleagues, "Yep, they're saying, 'He's no Billy Graham.'"
EVANGELISM: On average, one person makes a decision for Jesus Christ every minute through the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
HEAVEN: This weekend, Billy Graham will be preaching what is expected to be his last crusade in America.  The New York crusade was originally planned for Madison Square Garden, but had to be relocated to Corona Park in Flushing Meadows to accommodate the expected crowds of nearly 100,000.  Graham noted it "will be the last in America, I'm sure."  He acknowledged a potential engagement in London during November but said his death "could happen any day."  The celebrated evangelist is now 86 years old and suffers from fluid in the brain (hydrocephalus), prostate cancer, Parkinson's disease, and the residual effects of a pelvic fracture in 2004.  At a press conference for the crusade, Dr. Graham said, "I look forward to death.  I look forward to seeing God face-to-face."  For Billy Graham, heaven is simply the greatest place to be and that is why he has given his life to telling people how to get there.
JESUS: "We don't have any possibility of solving our problems today except through Jesus." Billy Graham
TIME: "The greatest waste in all of our earth, which cannot be recycled or reclaimed, is our waste of the time that God has given us each day." Billy Graham
HOPE: On April 10, 2006, former President George Bush presented Billy Graham with the George Bush Award for Excellence.  Before a capacity crowd of 2,500 in Rudder Auditorium at Texas A&M, Dr. Graham accepted the award with his typical humility, and expressed his reluctance to receive it.  The 87-year-old evangelist then spoke of his concern for the world.  He said, “I’ve never seen so many problems dominating the television news and the front pages of our newspapers as today.  I sometimes feel that they are beyond us, and yet there is hope.  And that hope is true for every individual in the world.  It is the hope we have in Christ.”
SEXUAL TEMPTATION: "The devil seems to get seventy-five percent of God's best servants through sexual temptation." Billy Graham
ANNOINTING: "My greatest fear is that God would remove His hand from me." Billy Graham
SCRIPTURE MEMORY: In a recent interview with Billy Graham, the 88-year-old evangelist was asked about his daily faith practices.  He noted that Bible reading is still a vital part of his day, but acknowledged failing eyesight prevents him from doing the type of reading to which he is accustomed.  He mentioned he reads less and prays more.  He then spoke about Scripture memory and expressed gratitude that he had memorized so many passages from the Bible.  Dr. Graham focused on this important discipline and stated, "I wish we gave more attention to Bible memorization in our churches today."  Hiding God's Word in our hearts 'equips us for every good thing God wants us to do' (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
LIFE: In a recent interview, Billy Graham made the following statement: "We ought to live each day as if it were our last.  Someday it will be."
MARRIAGE: Ruth Graham left an amazing legacy when she died on June 14, 2007.  Part of that remarkable spiritual heritage stems from her 63-year marriage to Billy Graham.  As the child of missionaries, Ruth Bell spent the first seventeen years of life watching her parents minister in Asia.  This created a passion for missions so Ruth planned to become a missionary to Tibet and was determined never to marry.  When her relationship with Graham began to move toward marriage, Ruth understood what was at stake and realized her dreams of being a missionary would be dashed.  With a sense of prophetic insight she wrote the following in her journal: "If I marry Bill, I marry him with my eyes open.  He will be increasingly burdened for lost souls and increasingly active in the Lord's work.  I will slip into the background.  In short, be a lost life.  Lost in Bill's."  Her understanding of marital sacrifice gave tensile strength to their marriage, family, and global ministry.  Such sacrificial investment helps to understand why her daughter, Anne Graham Lotz, remarked, "Without Ruth Graham, there wouldn't have been a Billy Graham."  Their son Franklin reiterated similar sentiments when he stated, "My father would not have been what he is today if it wasn't for my mother."  The Grahams will be forever linked with evangelism, but may it not be overlooked that Dr. Graham's effectiveness was enriched by the sacrifices of a godly wife.  Marital sacrifice is one of the most powerful dynamics in life.
FATHERHOOD: Ned Graham recently talked about his famous father's propensity for making his children feel important.  Graham recalled a time when he was a young boy and Billy Graham was talking to President Lyndon Johnson.  Ned walked into his father's bedroom and his dad said, "Just a moment, Lyndon."  Dr. Graham then put the phone on his chest and motioned for Ned to come in.  Ned stated, "To me, that said I was more important than the president of the United States!  I'd crawl up on his bed, content just to lie there with my head on his chest."
FAMILY: Dr. Ed Young, senior pastor of Second Baptist Church in Houston, Texas is a long-time friend of Cliff Barrows.  When Barrows' first wife died several years ago, Young was asked to preside at the funeral along with Billy Graham.  In the midst of his remarks about Billie Barrows, the aging Dr. Graham made a unique parenthetical apology to all of those who were a part of his evangelistic team.  As he looked out over the many families and the various generations represented, he began to cry.  He then tearfully stated, "I want to take this moment to apologize to the families of all the members of my team and to apologize to my own children.  We stayed away from home too long - many times months at a time in crusades and trips around the world.  That was a critical mistake I made as a father and as an evangelist.  I want to ask for my family to forgive me, and for the families of all the team members who traveled with me to forgive me."  Family is irreplaceable and more fragile than we'd often like to admit.  Protect this sacred institution against anything that might undermine it - especially during the busy holiday season.
MARRIAGE: Ruth Graham was the beloved wife of Billy Graham.  They enjoyed six decades of commitment to each other even though they were very different.  Dr. Graham used to describe the secret of their marital success by stating, "Ruth and I are happily incompatible."  In response to a question about whether or not she and the famous evangelist agreed on everything, Mrs. Graham replied, "My goodness, no!  If we did, there would be no need for one of us!"  When Dr. Graham briefly entertained the thought of running for President in the 1950s, Ruth told him, "I don't think the American people would vote for a divorced President, and if you leave ministry for politics, you will certainly have a divorce on your hands."  The two soul-mates differed on a number of things but their love was never in question.  Mrs. Graham liked to say of her traveling husband, "I'd rather have Bill part-time than anybody else full-time."  That's a great example of what true love looks like.
FAITH: Billy Graham will turn 90 on November 7, 2008.  Because of his faith, people from all around the world will take note of this historic event.  In the 1940s Charles Templeton was the man destined for world-acclaim as an evangelist.  He had the skills and the charisma to communicate in a manner superior to Graham.  Bill McKay, the documentary filmmaker who produced the recently released movie Billy, explained that Templeton was the big draw who brought Graham alongside of himself as a junior partner.  Templeton was a brilliant young intellectual on a trajectory to be the renowned evangelist of the 20th century but he abandoned his faith after seeing the horrors of the Holocaust and became an atheist.  Billy Graham saw the same atrocities but trusted God for what he could not understand.  Graham's daughter, Gigi Tchividjian, said, "Daddy was able to say he accepts by faith the infallible Word of God even if he doesn't understand everything."  With such faith God empowered Dr. Graham to touch hundreds of millions of people with the gospel through fifty years of active ministry.  This next Friday the world will recognize the great evangelist's 90th birthday because he decided to let his faith override his doubt.
PRAYER: Billy Graham said, “The most eloquent prayer is the prayer through hands that heal and bless.”  A mother’s prayers must then be among the most eloquent intercessions of all.
FATHER: “A good father is one of the most unsung, unpraised, unnoticed and yet one of the most valuable assets in our society.” Billy Graham
CHRISTMAS: “Jesus came into the world so we could know, once and for all, that God is concerned about the way we live, the way we believe, and the way we die.” Billy Graham
PASSION: In the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College in Illinois, there is a quote about him from his wife Ruth: "He was a man in a hurry who wanted to please God more than any man I'd ever met!  He stood head and shoulders above all the others because of the depth of his commitment to Jesus Christ.  I knew I would always be second to God in his life.  But what better place to be!"
TRANSFORMATION: The late Ruth Graham understood that God's transforming work requires a lifetime so she chose to use her tombstone as a platform to affirm this truth.  The modest carved stone that marks her grave states, "End of construction.  Thank you for your patience."  From the final resting place of her body on the grounds of the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, North Carolina comes a great message about the process of transformation that Paul addressed in Philippians 1:6.
MINISTRY: Nearly twenty years ago, Diane Sawyer interviewed Billy Graham in the twilight of his ministry.  She recounted his accomplishments through fifty years of preaching to over 120 million people face to face around the world, plus his extended scope of reaching even more through television, radio and books.  She then asked the world-renowned evangelist if he was pleased with his "success."  His answer startled her and surprised the vast TV audience.  He replied, "I don't think of myself as successful at all.  I feel like a failure."  Sawyer sought clarity so she asked, "Did you think you could change the world?"  Dr. Graham softly responded, "I thought maybe, after a lifetime of preaching.  But the world is worse today than when I began my ministry."  Ministry for all Christians, regardless of their calling, is quite challenging and often discouraging.  Nonetheless, we must obediently persevere, as did Billy Graham, and follow his example of expectant faith.
ATHEISM: Back in the 1960s, when the Russian government dictated atheism, a cosmonaut returned from space and said, "Some people say that God lives out there.  I looked around, and I didn't see any God out there."  Billy Graham's wife, Ruth, responded to the published remark by noting he looked in the wrong place.  She explained that if he'd stepped outside of the space ship without his space suit, he would have seen God very quickly.
LOVE: Prior to meeting her future husband, Ruth Bell Graham planned to remain single as a missionary in Tibet.  They didn't rush to the altar because she understood the sacrifice that marriage requires.  After she accepted Billy Graham's proposal in 1941, she wrote these words in her journal: "If I marry Bill, I must marry him with my eyes open.  He will be increasingly burdened for lost souls and increasingly active in the Lord's work.  After the joy and satisfaction of knowing that I am his by rights - and his forever, I will slip into the background.  In short, be a lost life.  Lost in Bill's."  Two years later, she married him on August 13, 1943, and embraced the role of selfless, sacrificial love.  That kind of love gave life and meaning to their 63-year marriage, and it will do the same for any marriage.
PRAYER: Billy Graham wrote the following: "Someone once asked my wife, Ruth, how she raised our five children, and without hesitation she replied, 'On my knees!'"  Prayer is essential to successful parenting.
MARRIAGE: Billy Graham, married 63 years when his wife Ruth died in 2007, said, "A good marriage is not 'made in heaven,' but on earth.  Love is a fragile commodity which needs to be cultivated and nourished constantly."
CHRISTMAS: Billy Graham said, "One response was given by the innkeeper when Mary and Joseph wanted to find a room where the Child could be born.  The innkeeper was not hostile; he was not opposed to them, but his inn was crowded; his hands were full; his mind was preoccupied.  This is the answer that millions are giving today.  Like a Bethlehem innkeeper, they cannot find room for Christ.  All the accommodations in their hearts are already taken up by other crowding interests.  Their response is not atheism.  It is not defiance.  It is preoccupation and the feeling of being able to get on reasonably well without Christianity."


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