An enduring message

At 95, Billy Graham still stresses need for spiritual awakening

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Perhaps no Christian leader other than the pope has had more prominence in American culture in the 20th century and beyond than Billy Graham, who celebrated his 95th birthday last week.

Over the course of 60 years, Graham has spoken to 285 million people in 185 countries and on radio and television to millions more.

Graham’s popularity dovetailed with a new religious consciousness in post-World War II America. In the 1950s, church attendance swelled, and people swarmed to Graham’s crusades, where hundreds of thousands responded to his invitation to accept salvation. One such appearance was at Bell Auditorium in Augusta, where he spoke in 1967 in celebration of First Baptist Church’s 150th anniversary.

Although he now remains largely confined to his home in North Carolina, having been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1992, Graham continues to speak out.

“Our country’s in great need of a spiritual awakening,” he says in The Cross, a video released by his ministry on his birthday as part of his My Hope America series. “There’ve been times that I’ve wept as I’ve gone from city to city and I’ve seen how far people have wandered from God.”

But Graham’s message has been and remains positive. It is profoundly simple, delivered in his distinctive North Carolina accent with clarity, boldness and conviction: God loves you, despite your rebellion and rejection of him; that same love led to his son’s agonizing death on a cross in atonement for your sins; all you have to do is accept that, acknowledge your sinfulness and, with God’s help, change your life.

That cross, Graham says, is “not the cross hanging on the wall or around someone’s neck.” The cross of Jesus, he says, is an offense because it confronts us and demands that we acknowledge our own sin and vow to change.

“There are many things about the cross and about salvation that I do not understand,” he has said, “and I’m not told that I have to understand it all. I’m told that I’m to believe. And anybody can believe.”

That has been the ordained Southern Baptist minister’s core message since he began preaching in the late 1940s, a few years after his graduation from Wheaton College in Illinois.

In 1949 a group of Los Angeles businessmen invited him to preach a three-week revival in that city. As the revival neared its end and attendance began to dwindle, newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst attended one of Graham’s meetings. Moved by the evangelist’s words, Hearst ordered his newspapers to cover all of Graham’s meetings. The Los Angeles revival lasted another five weeks.

National and international acclaim followed, reinforced by television and by Graham’s association with American presidents and other world leaders. As his fame spread, he took up Jesus’ command to “go and make disciples of all nations.”

“As I look back over my life, it’s full of surprises,” Graham said in his recent video. “When I began preaching many years ago it was not with any thought that I’d be preaching to large audiences.

“God has done this.”

Billy Graham’s voice may be softened by age and infirmity, but his words still carry the power of the Christian message.

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InChristLove
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InChristLove 11/16/13 - 06:36 am
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An amazing humble man and

An amazing humble man and most assuredly when it's time for Mr. Graham to go home, God will say "Well done, my good and faithful servant".

TrukinRanger
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TrukinRanger 11/16/13 - 07:38 am
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another human treated like a
Unpublished

another human treated like a false prophet.

KasparHauser
368
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KasparHauser 11/16/13 - 07:44 am
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An amazing religous bigot and
Unpublished

An amazing religious bigot, and most assuredly when it's time for Mr. Graham to leave us all, the vast majority of the World's population will say something like "Did you know my son just bought an apartment in Shanghai!" Very few know what Kool-Aid is, and even fewer have drunk Graham's favorite flavor.

carcraft
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carcraft 11/16/13 - 07:52 am
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Amen!

Amen!

Riverman1
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Riverman1 11/16/13 - 08:16 am
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Southern Baptist

As a Southern Baptist he was my Pope growing up. No offense intended to Catholics, but I figured Billy Graham talked and looked like the way God must be.

effete elitist liberal
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effete elitist liberal 11/16/13 - 08:24 am
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Enduring message

The enduring message of Billy Graham is that you can make lots and lots of money selling Christian Evangelism. By many published accounts, Graham has accumulated at least $25 million in sales. Harry S Truman never suffered fools gladly: he called Graham a "counterfeit" who only wanted to get his name in the paper. It was Billy Graham who told Nixon that Jews were the "synagogue of Satan," and claimed Mormonism was a cult, at least until he supported Romney for President when he then decided maybe it wasn't! Graham is an opportunist who has spent 50 years laughing and shedding phony tears all the way to the bank.

david jennings
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david jennings 11/16/13 - 08:28 am
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His daughter also

I attended the revival at JBA Sept. 2012 hardly able to walk. A young Angel prayed for my knees and I can truly testify, I have been back at work now going on two years and am not in pain. I thank God everyday every step. My life is far from what it was before.

wondersnevercease
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wondersnevercease 11/16/13 - 08:36 am
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sad
Unpublished

EEL it must truly be sad to be you....I am sorry.

seenitB4
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seenitB4 11/16/13 - 08:45 am
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He can thank Hearst

As the revival neared its end and attendance began to dwindle, newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst attended one of Graham’s meetings. Moved by the evangelist’s words, Hearst ordered his newspapers to cover all of Graham’s meetings.

Hearst put him on the map--made him famous...without that written word we wouldn't know who Billy Graham was.....the power of free advertising....amazing what words can do.

Riverman1
90748
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Riverman1 11/16/13 - 08:53 am
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Interesting story, SeenIt.

Interesting story, SeenIt. Interesting experience, David Jennings.

GiantsAllDay
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GiantsAllDay 11/16/13 - 09:09 am
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David Jennings, I had a

David Jennings, I had a similar experience. Once I misplaced my car keys, so I asked God to remove his focus from this child in the Sudan and help me find my keys and I found them seconds later. They were in the exact location where I left them.
http://iconicphotos.wordpress.com/2009/08/12/vulture-stalking-a-child/

GiantsAllDay
10295
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GiantsAllDay 11/16/13 - 09:17 am
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2
D

D

GiantsAllDay
10295
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GiantsAllDay 11/16/13 - 09:16 am
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2
D

D

effete elitist liberal
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effete elitist liberal 11/16/13 - 09:11 am
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seenitB4

Yes, "amazing"! Hearst and Graham, two consummate hucksters in the best American tradition. Hearst sold newspapers and got very rich; Graham sold religion and got very rich. The old "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours...."

deestafford
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deestafford 11/16/13 - 09:19 am
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When I was stationed at Ft Jackson, SC in 1986 or 1987 I had

the privilege of participating in one of Billy Graham's Crusades that was held at the Williams-Brice Football Stadium. Even though there was a light rain falling that night the stadium was full. God has bless this man with the ability to bring His Word to 100's of millions and millions will go to heaven because of the salvation brought to them through Billy Graham.
As far as his distracters are concerned...even Christ had those who sniped at him. It is said one is known by whom his enemies are.

Thank God for Billy Graham.

effete elitist liberal
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effete elitist liberal 11/16/13 - 09:23 am
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7
deestafford

You think Christ had $25 million in the bank? Just asking....

effete elitist liberal
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effete elitist liberal 11/16/13 - 09:29 am
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those keys....

Brother GiantsAllDay, I'm sure others readers of your post join me in thanking you for your personal testimony. As everyone knows, there is Providence in the fall of a sparrow, and as you have testified, in car keys too. I read that God did get back to that poor child in the Sudan, but unfortunately He was too late....

effete elitist liberal
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effete elitist liberal 11/16/13 - 09:35 am
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light rain falling

Deestafford, Christian Evangelical missionaries and their revival meetings are like Post Office---through "snow...rain...or dark of night." The difference is the Post Office can't make any money.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 11/16/13 - 09:57 am
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EEL, yuk, yuk, yuk.

EEL, yuk, yuk, yuk. We can all make jokes about any religion there is. The enlightened, no matter their beliefs, may see beyond the belly laughs and appreciate the good and livable tenets religion provides that enhances society.

GiantsAllDay
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GiantsAllDay 11/16/13 - 10:01 am
1
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EEL, I just wish that Mr.

EEL,
I just wish that Mr. Graham would have asked God to spare those poor people in the Philippines. Oh wait a minute--never mind. My Christian friends tell me that god caused the typhoon in the first place.

effete elitist liberal
3173
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effete elitist liberal 11/16/13 - 10:09 am
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yuk, etc.

Riverman1: If you read my posts again, you will discover that my target is not religion per se, but rather the opportunists like Graham who exploit deep needs in people to make themselves very, very rich. Doesn't the Bible say something about rich men and eyes of needles? By the way, Franklin Graham and Anne Graham Lotz seem to be doing very well in the family business. Why don't you tell us about your views on what seems to be an inconsistency between true religion and huge bank accounts?

effete elitist liberal
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effete elitist liberal 11/16/13 - 10:16 am
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that typhoon

As we all know, GAD, God works in mysterious ways His wonders to perform. We are not to ask why God saw fit to destroy the lives of thousands of Filipinos, including many women and children, just accept that He saw it, and it was good.

Bizkit
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Bizkit 11/16/13 - 10:16 am
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Opportunist aren't all bad

Opportunist aren't all bad though right? Obama is opportunist to the nth degree. So he's bad too, right? God blesses people with wealth-David, Solomon, Moses, Nebuchadnezzar, etc. It doesn't mean they are crooks, or it is ill-gotten goods, it means they were blessed. Good golly bad cases of mindblindness. Obama has increased his wealth over 400% while in office so I know EEL will equally demonize Obama for being an opportunistic crook too.

Bizkit
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Bizkit 11/16/13 - 10:24 am
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Religion has nothing to do

Religion has nothing to do with bank accounts. Obama claims to be a "christian" and he is a very wealthy man. That is just a silly, naive, or ignorant relationship. The bible doesn't speak ill of wealth-just those who worship it-you can't serve two masters. I guess you neglected to mention Graham has "shared " his wealth and is also philanthropic. This is like the false argument that no Dem is a christian.

effete elitist liberal
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effete elitist liberal 11/16/13 - 10:29 am
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opportunists....

Obama must have learned something from his visit to Billy Graham in 2008: If you tell lies big enough, you can get rich. The problem for O is that so far he's chosen the wrong lies. To get really rich, you need to get into the business of religion, so after 2016, don't be surprised to read about Barack Obama Evangelistic Ministries and the announcement of its first World Crusade....

justthefacts
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justthefacts 11/16/13 - 10:27 am
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Bizkit-so I know EEL will equally demonize Obama

You are way to much of an optimist.

effete elitist liberal
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effete elitist liberal 11/16/13 - 10:28 am
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Bizkit

"Obama claims to be a 'christian' and he is a very wealthy man." Except so far as I know, the President has not made money as an Evangelical Minister.

Bizkit
34419
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Bizkit 11/16/13 - 10:30 am
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EEl another false argument.

EEl another false argument. The typical pastor in the US makes around 87K a year-far from wealthy. Your wealth envy is showing. Religion isn't the way to wealth-politics is as once in office lifetime benefits and wealth. So he made it as community organizer and president are you going to demonize him for getting rich at the expense of others. Or continue your hypocritical rant.

effete elitist liberal
3173
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effete elitist liberal 11/16/13 - 10:34 am
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false argument

Sorry, Biz, but Graham is very far from your "typical pastor." And that is really my point. Most pastors live quietly attending to the spiritual needs of their flocks. Billy Graham was much more interested in having his photo taken with U.S. Presidents. He was, and is, a self-promoting machine, the P.T. Barnum of Evangelicalism.

effete elitist liberal
3173
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effete elitist liberal 11/16/13 - 10:35 am
1
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demonize Obama?

No, JTF, I'll leave that to you.

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