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Unhappy for Different Reasons

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If you have ever listened to a Dennis Prager radio program, you know he often talks about the differences between liberals and conservatives. And you would also know that he dedicates one hour to what he calls “the happiness hour” where he explores why people are happy or unhappy.

So it is not surprising that he recently wrote a commentary on the subject: “Liberals and Conservatives Are Unhappy for Different Reasons.” He says that unhappy conservatives generally believe they are unhappy because life is difficult and tragic or because they made some unwise decisions in life. Liberals are unhappy generally because they believe they have been persecuted.

 

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BreakPoint: Remembering Billy Graham

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The world’s greatest evangelist died early Wednesday morning. Here are some thoughts, including from the late Chuck Colson, on the Rev. Billy Graham.

Here’s a story that could be repeated by any one of a million Americans:

“At age 45 I attended a Billy Graham Crusade in New York City and responded to the call. A man took me aside to counsel me after I went forward and I really felt Christ was in that conversation.

“I knew it was all different from that point on,” this man continued. “I was going to church before then but I didn’t have the personal relationship.”

That testimony belongs to Tom Phillips, the man who, several years later led Chuck Colson to Christ. At the Colson Center, Graham’s passing represents more than just the end of an era. It’s something like the loss of a grandfather.

Rev. Graham ministered to every U.S. president since Harry Truman. He was instrumental in the Civil Rights movement, even posting bail for Martin Luther King, Jr. and personally removing the barrier between the white and black section at his crusades. And he appeared on Gallup’s list of most admired men and women more often than anyone else in the world.

His sixty-seven years of evangelism, not only in tents, churches, and stadiums but also through innovative use of new media and technologies, would deliver a simple Gospel message to more people than any other Protestant minister in history: an estimated 2.2 billion.

In response, millions surrendered their lives to Christ to the contrite strains of “Just as I Am.”

Chuck Colson first met the Reverend Graham in Nixon’s White House. In a 2006 tribute, he recalled the minister’s pastoral care and concern for the President and his staff. Chuck also felt a debt of gratitude to Graham for offering counsel and support when he was released from prison, and he credited Graham as a mentor who shaped his ministry from the beginning, and even joined him in the prisons to share the Gospel.

Chuck recalled seeing Rev. Graham, the celebrity evangelist to millions, sitting cross-legged on the floor in a maximum security prison sharing Christ’s love with a single prisoner. Chuck later wrote, “He was as comfortable in that prison as he was in a palace.”

But still, what strikes me in all of this, is just how unlikely this story is. Some of Graham’s success can be attributed to extraordinary talent, oratorical skills, his strong team, and other things. But it can’t explain how this self-described “farm boy” would become—well—Billy Graham.

Timing is part of the story: God called Graham to ministry at an extraordinary time in American church history. After the Scopes trial of 1925, American evangelicalism had largely retreated from public life—perceived by a hostile public to be nothing but backwoods fundamentalism.

But then arose four faces of an evangelical resurgence: Fuller Seminary, Christianity Today Magazine, the National Association of Evangelicals, and most important of all, Billy Graham, who leapt onto the national stage in the unlikeliest of ways: a 1949 evangelistic crusade in, of all places, Los Angeles.

So what was it? His “golden” voice? His calm demeanor? His ability to connect with the powerful? His humility? His innovative use of new technologies? His impeccable integrity? All of these things certainly contributed to his life and influence. But his answer, when he was asked by CNN’s Larry King in 2005: “It’s the message…”

God raised Billy Graham up at a specific time and specific place to exalt Jesus. And that’s exactly what he did. This Christian hero came to Jesus “just as he was,” and he dedicated his entire life to telling others that, really, that’s the only way for any of us to come to Jesus: “Without one plea, but that His blood was shed for me.”

Thank you God, for Billy Graham.  And thank you, Reverend Graham. We love you. We’ll miss you.

 

Remembering Billy Graham: America’s Pastor Goes Home

He was a mentor to so many, and an inspiration to Christians around the world. Read more about Billy Graham, America’s pastor, by clicking on the links below.

Resources

Billy Graham (1918-2018): A Tribute by Chuck Colson

  • John Stonestreet | Colson Center | February 21, 2018
Dr. John Woodbridge and Dr. Timothy George Remember Billy Graham

  • John Stonestreet | BreakPoint podcast | February 21, 2018
Interview With Billy Graham

  • Larry King Live | CNN | June 16, 2005
God’s Billy Pulpit

  • Nancy Gibbs and Richard N. Ostling | TIME | November 15, 1993
Where I Am: Heaven, Eternity, and Our Life Beyond

  • Billy Graham | Thomas Nelson Publishers | September 2015

The Point: America’s Pastor Goes Home

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America’s pastor is with the Lord.

Billy Graham died Wednesday morning at age ninety-nine. A towering figure of the 20thcentury, evangelist to millions, an advisor to presidents and monarchs, and the face of the evangelical movement for decades.

But most of all, Billy Graham is remembered for his lifelong devotion to preaching the Gospel. Tens of thousands met Christ through his evangelistic crusades including a man who eventually would lead Chuck Colson to Christ. We’ve posted Chuck’s tribute to Graham at BreakPoint.org.

Graham’s work extends in countless ways through the lives changed through his preaching, who now minister to others in business, government, and in prison. He’s a grandfather-in-the-faith to millions.

Billy Graham will be remembered alongside Wesley, Whitfield, Spurgeon and others as voices used by God to change the world. He’s joined in Christ’s presence now by a multitude of converts, who are perhaps singing that hymn that Graham used to invite them into the Kingdom: “Just as I am, without one plea, but that thy blood was shed for me.”

 

Image: Wikicommons

Resources

Billy Graham (1918-2018): A Tribute by Chuck Colson

  • Colson Center | February 21, 2018

The Victor Marx Story A God Who Restores All Things

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Our God is a God who restores all things. And I want to tell you about an amazing restoration job the Lord has performed in one man’s life.

In Philippians 4, Paul reminds us to think about whatever is true, right, pure and praiseworthy. Because it’s all too easy to get sucked into the cultural craziness around us, or to succumb to the pain and suffering we witness or experience every day.

That’s why every Friday at BreakPoint.org, my colleague Warren Cole Smith tells a story about God at work in the lives of His people. To encourage us. To remind us that He’s with us.

And I’ve got one such story to tell you, about a man I know, and interviewed recently.

His name is Victor Marx. His father was a pimp and a drug dealer. Four stepfathers abused and even tortured him. To escape the emotional pain, he began taking drugs as a teenager.

You probably think you know how this tragic tale ends—but you’d be wrong. Today, that boy, Victor Marx, is an evangelical Christian who runs a ministry that helps traumatized children.

When he grew up, Victor escaped his tormented home life by joining the Marines. Sent to Iraq, he transferred his anger to enemy soldiers. He also learned martial arts so that nobody could ever hurt him again.

Victor was still in the Marines when his father got in touch with him. The last Victor had heard, he was a practicing warlock. He sent Victor a letter apologizing for failing him and invited him to visit. And then he gave Victor a real shock: He told his son he had turned his life over to Christ.

Victor went to church with his father, and heard the message that Jesus loved him so much he had willingly died for his sins. For the first time in his life, Victor regretted the bad things he had done. He broke into tears and surrendered his life to Christ.

And then Victor began to confront his past. God told him to find his first stepfather and forgive him—or he himself would stay hard, mean, and angry. Victor found the old man, whose health had been destroyed by drinking and drugs. Victor read him scripture and witnessed to him, and just before he died, the old man accepted Christ.

In the years that followed, Victor—now married with five children—began meeting with a trauma specialist, who helped him confront the memories of abuse. He learned to forgive everyone who had ever harmed him. And he embraced Romans 8:28: “All things work together for good to them that love God.”

This verse inspired the name of his new work helping trauma victims: All Things Possible Ministries.

“Often,” Victor says, “When the worst, most unfair, cruel things happen to a person, we can’t see what the result will be.” But if we love and trust God, He can redeem the evil and turn it for good.

And this is the message he’s given to the thousands of incarcerated kids he has spoken to, many of whom endured horrific childhoods, just as Victor did. His own story of childhood trauma helps him break down their resistance—and open them up to Christ’s love.

Victor and ATP Ministries have also taken high-risk trips to Iraq to minister to traumatized children rescued from the clutches of ISIS. His ministry has given more than 21,000 comfort toys to children traumatized by war. He’s even witnessed to captured ISIS soldiers.

One of the great questions people have about Christianity is why a good God allows suffering. Victor Marx has a personal answer to that question. “The worst things in my life,” he says, “the greatest injustices, have actually been turned around for good.”

Because our God is a God who restores all things.

Please come to BreakPoint.org every Friday for more stories of God at work.

 

The Victor Marx Story: A God Who Restores All Things

For more of Victor Marx’s story and info on his ministry All Things Possible, click on the links in the Resources section. And as Eric mentioned, check out Warren Cole Smith’s Friday feature at BreakPoint.org called “Restoring All Things” for more stories of God at work in the lives of everyday people. Click here to read his latest column.

 

Resources

Billy Graham was a sinner like all

LIKE ALL OF THE REST OF US, BILLY GRAHAM WAS A SINNER. BUT GOD TRANSFORMED HIM – AS HE DID MOSES AND DAVID AND SO MANY OTHERS — INTO A VESSEL HE COULD USE TO PREACH JESUS AS THE ONLY SOLUTION TO HUMAN AND NATIONAL PROBLEMS.

 

         GRAHAM DID THAT SO EFFECTIVELY OVER SIX DECADES THAT IT IS NOT A STRETCH TO SAY HE LEAD MORE PEOPLE TO JESUS THAN ANY HUMAN BEING IN HISTORY.

( Billy thoughts – The above is part of a commentay Cal Thomas did. How true Cal. Read more of the commentary  here or listen to the 

audio.)

Don’t judge when God’s amazing grace saves a sinner after all we are all sinners in need of saving grave

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I’m sure you’ve seen it all before. A so-called “terrible person” is saved by grace, and the commentary kicks in: “That couldn’t possibly be true.” “There’s no way HE could be a Christian now.” “I don’t buy it.” The religious cynics don’t take long to make their analysis. And you know, those cynics have always been around and they will always be around.

In the book of Luke, we read the story of Jesus’ friendship with the tax collector Zacchaeus.  When He first called Zacchaeus by name, Luke says, “All the people saw this and began to mutter, ‘He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.’” That is such a dangerous way of thinking, isn’t it? When we begin to question whom Jesus is befriending? When we think God’s grace should only come to certain people? Who are we to determine who is and isn’t deserving of grace? None of us deserve God’s grace- that’s what makes it beautiful. That’s what makes it Good News!

So don’t grumble when God befriends someone you might classify as the “worst of the worst”. Rejoice! God is working in powerful ways. This week, instead of grumbling about what God is doing, let’s be like Jesus, and befriend sinners to introduce them to Jesus Christ. You’ll never regret it.

 

This is Luis Palau.

A Good Samaritan with Zip Ties

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It’s easy to hate imaginary people. Until they fix your car.

In a fascinating article in the Charlotte Observer, liberal activist Ruth Mayer describes how much she hated the President and anyone who voted for him—until her Prius broke down on the way from the Women’s March in Washington DC.

“My fury,” she admits, “has been bottomless.”

But on her way home, when a part of her car’s undercarriage broke loose, a “good Samaritan” in overalls walked up and got to work, zip-tying the piece of her car back in place while ignoring her left-wing bumper sticker.

The man was a self-confessed “redneck” and, she assumed, a Trump voter. As Mayer put it, “the man at the side of the road…reminded me that we were all just people trying to get home safe.”

This good Samaritan, like the original one, shows us that our shared humanity is enough reason to show kindness, even to those who disagree with us. After all, it might be only zip ties these days that are holding this fiercely-divided nation together.

 

So my same sex marriage won’t impact you

 

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Here’s an outrageous proposition: Maybe Christian schools should be able to require their teachers to adhere to Christian teaching.

Peter and Paul Catholic School in Miami recently made national headlines for terminating the employment of first grade teacher Jocelyn Morffi. The reason was that Morffi had just announced her “marriage” to her lesbian partner.

“In their eyes I’m not the right kind of Catholic,” Morffi complained on social media.

According to the Washington Post, “dozens of angry parents” showed up at the school the following day and demanded an explanation. Local politicians took time from their busy schedules to likewise wag their fingers at the school.

“It’s 2018,” said openly gay Florida State House Representative, David Richardson. “But you may be surprised to learn that you can be fired from your employment not just because of gay marriage but also because you’re gay.” Although there’s nothing in the story that confirms the last part of his allegation, Richardson still thinks the whole affair “underscores the need” for state and federal legislation prohibiting discrimination.

Of course, Miami-Dade County already has a local ordinance forbidding discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. But there is a religious exception.

In response, a spokeswoman for the Archdiocese gently reminded the media that Morffi was, in fact, a teacher at a Catholic school. As part of her job, she signed a contract pledging to follow the Catholic Church’s teaching—including its teaching on marriage.

It may be that Representative Richardson needs reminding of the Hosanna Tabor case, in which the Supreme Court ruled that religious institutions have certain rights to control employment matters without interference from the courts—or legislatures and county councils for that matter.

Well, let’s set aside for a moment that this teacher made a promise to her employer, and that people ought to keep their promises. Is it really that shocking for a Catholic school to expect their faculty to teach and live the Catholic view on marriage?

As a father who has to make hard choices about my kids’ education, I say this with the utmost sincerity and respect: Parents, if you’re upset by this teacher’s termination, you might consider a different option for your children’s schooling.

If religious institutions don’t have the right to define themselves by their beliefs, they don’t have reason to exist. Period. They might as well send their students home, close up shop, and sell their buildings for office space.

But that’s not how America works, and that’s not how our Constitution treats religion. Religious institutions do have a right to define themselves, and to enforce those definitions, including beliefs unpopular to the broader culture.

The fact that actual legislators are pushing for laws to outlaw this most basic religious freedom is insane. And it puts the lie to that snarky question we were all asked a few years ago: “How does my gay marriage hurt you?”

This is how. Administrators of this Catholic school are now being bombarded with negative press. People like Barronelle Stutzman, Jack Phillips and Elaine Huguenin, as well as other business owners, artists, and charity workers have been taken to court. They’ve lost their livelihoods. They’ve faced brutal verbal abuse, and they’ve had their reputations ruined by LGBT activists simply because they wanted to live and work according to their faith.

Anyone who thinks Christians are overblowing this concern about religious freedom or that we have a persecution complex, should ask themselves: Do they really want to live in a country where one official view of life is enforced by the government, and there is no freedom for disagreement? Because that’s the kind of world we’re going to have if we insist that Catholic schools have no right to be Catholic.

 

The Wrong Kind of Catholic School: Do Christian Institutions Have a Right to Exist? 

While our constitution provides religious freedom for all, this story demonstrates the continual need to defend that right in the midst of a hostile culture. For more information on how to do just that, check out the links below.

 

A lesson from the Florida school shooting government is not the answer because laws can’t reach the heart

TO WATCH AND LISTEN TO SOME STUDENTS WHO SURVIVED THE PARKLAND, FLORIDA SCHOOL SHOOTING LAST WEEK IS HEART BREAKING. BUT TO HEAR ONLY ONE POINT OF VIEW EXPRESSED IN THE MEDIA IS VERY TELLING.

 

         ALL OF THE INTERVIEWS I’VE SEEN ON NETWORK TELEVISION AND READ IN NEWSPAPERS ARE OF THESE TEENAGERS CALLING FOR MORE GUN LAWS AND PLEDGING THE SHOOTING WILL BE THE LAST. THAT’S LIKE SAYING WORLD WAR ONE REALLY WAS “THE WAR TO END ALL WARS.”


(  The above was part of a commentary Cal Thomas did. Cal is right on. Read the rest of the commentary  here or listen to the  audio .