The moon is the brightest it's going to be all year and it's the Feast of Purim! Purim is when Esther and the Jews were able to defend themselves from the Anti-Christ Haman that were politically out to kill them.
Thanksgiving is one of the most special family times of the year. The roads are packed with travelers, and the airlines are at full capacity as grandparents, parents, children and other relatives journey across the country to spend a few days together. And that leads me to reflect on a very simple question: Is America more family-friendly today than it was in the fairly recent past? Are we, in 2018, more innocent or less innocent than we were, say, in 1962?
The opening lines of a 2012 article in The Saturday Evening Post say it all: "How much has America changed in the past 50 years? Imagine kids in American public schools now starting each day with a prayer."
Without a doubt, America was far from perfect in the early 1960s. In much of the nation segregation was the law of the land, and women certainly had far fewer opportunities than men, just to mention two of society's most glaring inequities. And it's true that the first issue of Playboy, featuring Marilyn Monroe in the nude, was published in 1953.
At the same time, there's no denying that America back then was a far more innocent, family-friendly country than it is today.
And so, 50-plus years ago, when we sat together and watched Leave It to Beaver, we didn't say to ourselves, "How corny! There's not a family in the nation like the Cleavers." Instead, it was as normal to us as it was entertaining (at least, it seemed to normal to many of us growing up in many parts of the country).
In a word, Americans in the late '50s to early '60s enjoyed watching Father Knows Bestand The Andy Griffith Show. Today, we enjoy watching Keeping Up with the Kardashians and Secret Diary of a Call Girl. (For the record, in contrast with Bruce-Caitlyn Jenner, the patriarch of the Kardashian family, Robert Young, who played the father on Father Knows Best, was never crowned "woman of the year.")
In the late '50s to early '60s, Annette Funicello was a popular, young female star singing songs like "Pineapple Princess." Today it's Miley Cyrus, singing songs like "Wrecking Ball"—in the nude, riding a wrecking ball, on her music video.
What happened to our nation? How did things change so radically? Is there a spiritual answer that compliments the many valid, sociological answers?
Allow me to present a spiritual perspective.
Christian historian David Barton has argued that America suffered a steep decline in morality and education once organized public prayer was removed from our schools in June 1962. (For example, see this article on declining SAT scores, with relevant links. You can be the judge.)
For many years, this 22-word prayer had been prayed corporately by millions of schoolchildren: "Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence on Thee and beg Thy blessing over us, our parents, our teachers and our nation."
In religious terms, it was generic (a Jewish child could say the words as readily as a Christian child), and the child of an atheist could choose to remain silent.
Still, without any clear legal precedent, the Supreme Court ruled against the prayer, and that has been the law of the land ever since.
What did Billy Graham have to say about this?
Early in 1962, he warned readers of the Postthat, "The issue of prayers in public schools is now before the Supreme Court and, if the Court decrees negatively, another victory will be gained by those forces which conspire to remove faith in God from the public conscience.
"American democracy rests on the belief in the reality of God and His respect for the individual. Ours is a freedom under law. But it is also a freedom that will evaporate if the religious foundations upon which it has been built are taken away."
He believed that the attempt to remove school prayer was part of "a movement gathering momentum in America to take the traditional concept of God out of our national life. If this movement succeeds, 'In God We Trust' will be taken from our coins, the Bible will be removed from our courtrooms, future presidents will be sworn into office with their hand on a copy of the Constitution instead of the Bible and chaplains will be removed from the Armed Forces."
He also argued that, "The Preamble of our national Constitution speaks of 'the blessings of liberty.' The men at Philadelphia could never have written that document if they had not had faith in God."
Was he right?
On the one hand, presidents still swear on the Bible when taking their oath, Bibles are still present in our courtrooms, "In God We Trust" is still on our coins and chaplains are still in our Armed Forces.
On the other hand, our essential Christian freedoms are under constant assault, and in spirit, the Bible is being increasingly removed from our courtrooms.
As for our Armed Forces, could Rev. Graham have imagined a military that paid for sex-change surgery for transgenders and that penalized chaplains for refusing to facilitate a same-sex "marriage"? And how about this for a headline? "Religious Freedom of Military Chaplains Under Attack for Event Saying Religious Freedom of Military Chaplains Is Under Attack."
In my view, Billy Graham was absolutely right in describing "a movement gathering momentum in America" which desired "to take the traditional concept of God out of our national life."
But there is a solution, and it is not found in simply bashing those who differ with our views. Instead, if each of us who claims to really know the Lord can demonstrate the beauty of our faith to a watching world, we can show the nation that God, in fact, has a better way.
Let's do it during this holiday season, let's continue through the end of the year, and let's make 2019 a year when millions of Americans see our faith and are provoked to turn to the Lord themselves.
Only a vibrant, consistent, holistic, life-giving movement like this can turn the negative tide.
Walk With Me - Steve Martin. Franklin Graham book signing. Billy Graham Library. 11.07.18 (#6 of 9)
Timothy Wilkinson tells stories of the Graham family back in the 1950's.
Videos filmed and shared by Steve Martin - to give appreciation to and love for those we support, through Love For His People, Inc.
How Will Graham Prepared to Play His Grandfather, Billy Graham, in 'Unbroken'
9/14/2018DeWayne Hamby Charisma News
Will Graham, grandson of famed evangelist Billy Graham, stepped in front of the cameras in Unbroken: Path to Redemption to play a crucial part in the life story of Louis Zamperini, Olympic runner and prisoner of war.
The film, a "spiritual sequel" to the 2014 Unbroken, was directed by Harold Cronk (God's Not Dead, God Bless the Broken Road), produced by Matt Baer and executive produced by Luke Zamperini, son of the main character.
Zamperini, played in the film by Samuel Hunt, battled alcoholism and post-traumatic stress disorder after returning to the states following his time in a Japanese prison camp, but eventually turned his life to Christ at a Billy Graham tent crusade.
"I'm grateful to have a chance to play my granddad and to tell the bigger story of how God changed Louie and Cynthia's (lives)," Graham said.
Graham, who is quick to point out that he's "not an actor," studied his grandfather's sermons, which he said often were as quick as a "machine gun," with the evangelist rarely taking a breath.
"He went eight weeks, preached every day, and twice on Sunday, and so I didn't get to listen to all those sermons, but I try to pick out the few that were meaningful to Louis," he said. "Actually, we used his sermon as my script in the movie."
Luke Zamperini, whose character appears as an infant in the film, never knew his father before his conversion, but jokes that he saw flashes of his anger when he was disciplined. He's grateful for the chance to continue telling his father's story, specifically his transformation.
"I'm disappointed that we couldn't tell the whole story in the first [film] but elated that we're able to tell it in Unbroken: Path to Redemption," he said. "Because this was the right team to tell this part of the story to focus on his struggles with PTSD and being able to overcome that through faith in Christ at the preaching of Will's grandfather."
Unbroken: Path to Redemption releases Friday from Universal 1440 Entertainment, The WTA Group and Pure Flix Entertainment.
To see an exclusive interview with Graham and Zamperini, watch the video.
DeWayne Hambyis a communications specialist and longtime journalist covering faith-based music, entertainment, books and the retail industry. He is also the editor of the White Wing Messenger, director of communications for the Church of God of Prophecy, and author of the book Gratitude Adjustment. Connect with him at dewaynehamby.com or on Twitter, @dewaynehamby.
“As for you, every hair on your head has been counted.” (Matthew 10:30, Complete Jewish Bible)
Just As I Am, ((HarperOne/Zondervan, 2007) the autobiography of Billy Graham, is a massive book of 801 pages (with many more pages of historic photos). I started reading it a week ago. One thing I particularly noticed is the numerous names of people met and the numbers of attendance records that Dr. Graham gives attention to. Wanting to be as accurate as possible, with no “evangelistically speaking” stretching of the truth, he commits to writing the decades of crusades and countries where the Gospel of Jesus Christ was preached by him and his team. In reading these accounts, it gives me even more respect for Billy Graham, along with his wife Ruth, who stood with him through many of his 99 years.
When it comes to names, like myself, you too may have trouble remembering one when a person you haven’t seen in several years comes back into your world. Try as you might, you search the memory banks, seeking to recall something that will help the process. When success does come, gratitude for needed assistance follows. It is especially important when that person happens to be a relative or friend whom you haven’t seen in ages.
Billy Graham preached the simple Gospel – the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. He learned early on to focus primarily on the Cross of Christ, bringing truth into a world filled with lies and deception. Of the millions who responded to his message, life sprung forth for eternity. Each person who acknowledged the redemptive work of the cross received the resurrection power to overcome death and despair.
At times we feel we get lost in the crowded population. Just having a number as the record keeper of our file isn’t enough to bring the needed feeling that we are worth more than just being another number in someone’s storage cabinet. Having a personal connection with our Creator is what so many long for, realizing it or not. That is why He Who created us sees us more than just being another name, another number. He wants us to know Him intimately, to realize that our very purpose and place means so very much to Him. His desire for us is one of the very precious factors that draw us to Him day after day.
Writing of these simple truths may not bring many accolades or seem to be accomplishing much among the great scholars and works out there in the published world, but at times a simple word is much more appreciated than a complicated, complex dissection of matter that just doesn’t seem too personal. Our God is a personal God. He knows us each by name. And as the Bible also says, He has each of our hairs numbered. Simple truth. Simple love.
Next time you feel a bit lost in a crowd, or thinking you have been forgotten in a mass of names and numbers, know that the One who brought you into this world cares deeply for you. He promises to never leave you nor forsake you, and will see you through to the promised end.
Your name, and your number among the billions, are very personal to God the Father. We can rest in His trusted Word that we will not be lost in the masses, but will receive guidance and provision in our daily walk with Him.
Shalom and ahava (peace and love in Hebrew).
Now think on this,
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Pastor Jim and Lori welcome special guest Rabbi Jonathan Cahn as they discuss the prophetic parallels fulfilled between American presidencies and the Old Testament reign of King Ahab.
In many ways the mainstream culture is a post Christian or anti-Christian culture. -Rabbi Jonathan Cahn
When righteousness is not ruling the culture we have to be prophetic. We have be more radical. We have be bolder. -Rabbi Jonathan Cahn
Isaiah 58:1 MEV Cry aloud, do not hold back; lift up your voice like a trumpet, and show My people their transgression and the house of Jacob their sins.
1 Thessalonians 4:16 MEV For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.
1 Kings 16:29 MEV In the thirty-eighth year of Asa king of Judah, Ahab the son of Omri began to reign over Israel, and Ahab the son of Omri reigned over Israel in Samaria twenty-two years.
1 Kings 21:19-20 MEV You shall speak to him, saying, “Thus says the Lord: Have you killed and also taken possession?” And you shall speak to him, saying, “Thus says the Lord: In the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth, dogs will lick your own blood!” Ahab said to Elijah, “Have you found me, my enemy?” And he answered, “I have found you, because you have sold yourself to work evil in the sight of the Lord.
1 Kings 12:27 MEV If this people go up to do sacrifice in the house of the Lord at Jerusalem, then shall the heart of this people turn again to their lord, even to Rehoboam king of Judah, and they shall kill me and go again to Rehoboam king of Judah.
1 Kings 21:29 MEV “See how Ahab humbles himself before Me? Because he humbles himself before Me, I will not bring the disaster during his lifetime, but during his son’s lifetime I will bring the disaster on his household.”
2 Kings 8:16 MEV In the fifth year of Joram the son of Ahab, king of Israel, Jehoram the son of Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, became king.
2 Kings 9:20 MEV The watchman reported, “He came to them, but he is not returning. The driving is like the driving of Jehu the son of Nimshi, for he drives furiously.”
2 Kings 10:15-16 MEV Then he left there and found Jehonadab son of Rekab coming to meet him. He greeted him and said to him, “Is your heart right with me, as my heart is with yours?” And Jehonadab said, “It is.” “If it is, give me your hand.” So he gave him his hand, and he pulled him up to him into the chariot. 16 He said, “Come with me, and see my zeal for the Lord.” So he made him ride in his chariot.
Jeremiah 35:8 MEV Thus we have obeyed the voice of Jonadab the son of Rekab, our father, in all that he has charged us, to drink no wine all our days, we, our wives, our sons, nor our daughters.
2 Kings 9:30 MEV When Jehu came to Jezreel, Jezebel heard about it. She put black paint on her eyes, adorned her head, and looked down through the window.
2 Kings 10:27 MEV They broke down the sacred pillar of Baal, and tore down the house of Baal and made it a latrine to this day.
1 Chronicles 12:32 MEV From the sons of Issachar, those having understanding of times and what Israel should do: two hundred of their captains with all their brothers at their command.
1 Corinthians 1:18 MEV For to those who are perishing, the preaching of the cross is foolishness, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.