Monday, November 11, 2013

A Tribute to Dr Billy Graham

This is a beautiful tribute to Dr. Billy Graham written by Bob Russell, retired minister of Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, KY.  Any thoughts to share? Has anyone been to one of Dr. Graham's crusades?

Bob Russell Ministries
November 10, 2013

Last Thursday evening after watching the Billy Graham television special, I was moved to tears. The program, “My Hope America,” was outstanding. It’s scheduled to be used as an evangelistic tool in thousands of churches across the nation in the future.

Dr. Graham, who just celebrated his 95th birthday, told his family that he wanted to preach the gospel one more time before he died. Although his mind is alert, his flesh is weak and he’s not physically able to stand behind a pulpit and preach the way he once did. So The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association decided to sponsor one final, nationwide crusade through the medium of television. The producers interviewed him seated in a chair, talking/preaching about the power of the cross and pleading with America to turn to Christ.

While watching that simple but effective presentation last Thursday evening I was asking myself, “What is it that made Billy Graham so effective?” What is there about him that enabled God to use him in such a magnificent way for over fifty years?

He’s certainly a very gifted preacher. When segments of old crusades were played during the program it was inspirational to once again witness Billy Graham’s dynamic preaching style. He commanded attention by his intense and charismatic delivery. And there was no doubt he believed every word he preached.

He’s a man of integrity. At the conclusion of the television program, a commentator pointed out that after sixty years of a high profile ministry there was no accusation of moral impropriety against Billy Graham’s name. That’s rare. William Barclay once observed that a man’s message will always be heard in the context of his character. Billy Graham’s character was always above reproach.

He’s also a uniquely humble man. The Bible promises that while God opposes the proud, He gives grace to the humble. You never get the impression that it’s the Billy Graham show. It’s all about exalting Christ.

The first time I met Dr. Graham in person we were preparing for a crusade in Louisville. When I thanked him for all the positive ways he had represented Christ, he immediately deflected the credit to God, “Oh, I’m just a sinner. Don’t give me credit for that. It’s what God did.” When he was introduced to a seminary professor I overheard Dr. Graham say, “I wish we had more time together, I’d like to ask you some questions.” The world’s most famous evangelist had a humble, teachable spirit.

Maybe the most important, but oft-overlooked quality that determined Graham’s effectiveness was the anointing of God. The Lord chooses to pour out a double measure of His Holy Spirit on a few chosen people. He blesses them with an extraordinary charisma. The old-timers used to call it the “unction” of the Spirit. Billy Graham had a special anointing that people felt, not just when he preached, but just by being in his presence. There was an undeniable sense that God’s hand was on this man.

One evening during the Louisville crusade I went behind the platform to pray with Dr. Graham prior to the evening service at Papa John’s Stadium. When I placed my hand on his shoulder and started to pray I got so choked up that I blubbered through an inaudible and incoherent prayer. My friends later teased me and insisted, “Russell, You blew it.” I don’t think so. I think I was just overwhelmed with the presence of the Spirit of God at that moment. Romans 8: 36 assures us “…the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.”

Gigi, Billy Graham’s daughter, recently related to a group of us meeting at The Billy Graham Training Center in Asheville, N.C. that her dad is still very much alert and actually doing quite well physically. She grinned as she added, “However, Daddy actually likes being in the hospital because they pamper him there. When the Doctor tells him he can go home, he might protest, “Well, I still have considerable pain in my hip!” Then his son Franklin, or one of his daughters will say, ‘Come on, Daddy, you need to get home and go back to work on that book you’ve been writing.”

At age 95, it probably won’t be long before the Lord will say, “Time to come home Billy: I’ve got more work for you to do.” That will be a sad day for his immediate family, close friends and the millions of us who have admired him from a distance. But since he’s worked so hard to prepare one last sermon, the rest of us need to go out into the highways and byways and compel them to come in to our churches or living rooms to hear him preach one final time, so that God’s house might be full.

-- See original article at Bob Russell Ministries

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