Prayer is the starting point, not the endpoint, of our journey in helping people from darkness to light.
We are likely all familiar with Jonah, who was a prophet of the Lord.
Jonah lived during a time of relative prosperity for the nation of Israel; however, there was, of course, some trouble brought on by a certain city: Nineveh. As the capital of the Assyrian empire, Nineveh and those residing within her walls were known throughout the ancient world for their infatuation with brutality and violence.
Every Israelite from the tall to the small knew that the Ninevites were bad news— and so did Jonah. That’s why when God told him to go to the city to preach a prophetic message, he looked the other way.
Many of us read this story of the legendary man who spent time in the belly of the whale and wonder how he managed to disobey God so blatantly. We pat ourselves on the back whilst enthusiastically reassuring ourselves that we could never manage to behave that badly.
After all, if God called us to go and share his word we’d eagerly go, right?
The Ninevite in the Mirror
If we’re being honest, each of us has our own Ninevites— the sometimes unpleasant, occasionally disagreeable people whom God has called us to witness to. They’re our nosy next-door neighbors, unkind co-workers, and grumpy grocery store clerks.
Like Jonah, we might not feel like loving them or feel like sharing Christ’s message of redemption with them. Nevertheless, scripture is clear: “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation…” (Isa. 52:7).
Now, maybe some of us feel that we’re doing what we can right now to share the gospel. Instead of reaching out and trying to connect with our neighbors as we should, we choose ...
Following Rachael Denhollander’s Sovereign Grace claims, the former SGM president once again says he wants to avoid distracting from the event.
C. J. Mahaney announced today that he will back out of next month’s Together for the Gospel (T4G) conference to keep the controversy over Sovereign Grace Churches (SGC) away from the event.
“Given the recent, renewed controversy surrounding Sovereign Grace Churches and me individually, I have decided to withdraw from the 2018 T4G conference,” Mahaney wrote.
Over the past several weeks, Rachael Denhollander, the former gymnast whose Larry Nassar testimony went viral, has used her platform to address abuse in the church, particularly years-old allegations of abuse at Covenant Life Church, where Mahaney—the former president of Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM)—had served as senior pastor.
Currently the pastor of Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville, Mahaney has continued to state that he is innocent of the claims made against him and that the ongoing characterizations of Sovereign Grace are untrue.
“I categorically reject the suggestion that I have ever conspired to cover up sexual abuse or other wrong-doing,” he wrote on Wednesday.
Mahaney did not participate in the 2014 T4G conference due to the lawsuits against the ministry at that time, and he opted to once again to step away from the event he has put on for over a decade with fellow Reformed leaders Mark Dever, Ligon Duncan and Albert Mohler.
“This conference exists to serve pastors with the gospel and exalt the Lord Jesus. I want to do all I can to promote that purpose,” his statement said. “Mark, Lig, Al and the other ...
All of us can and should look for people to invest our time, efforts, and energy in.
Many people have been talking about Rev. Billy Graham since his passing on February 21, 2018, and appropriately so. Having attended his funeral and hosted the radio coverage on many networks, I spent much time brushing up on Billy Graham history to share as color commentary during the radio broadcast.
However, what was also helpful was that, in that preparation, I was able to share something at the Exponential Conference in Orlando related to ‘hero-making’.
The Exponential Conference this year was built around the theme of people who have invested their lives in other people and were not themselves the heroes, but made other heroes. Now, let me say first that I think Billy Graham's ministry has largely been defined by pointing to someone other than himself.
In my latest CNN article I explained that Billy Graham is famous largely for trying to make someone else (Jesus) more famous. In other words, his life was largely driven by the ministry of telling people about Jesus instead of talking about himself.
Elner Edman as a ‘hero maker’
However, one of the stories that may surprise many people is the story that I shared during my mainstage session at the Exponential Conference. My colleagues at the Billy Graham Center, Paul Erickson and Bob Schuster, shared with me one example of a hero maker by the name of Elner Edman.
Elner was the brother of V. Raymond Edman, a past president of Wheaton College. Elner and Herman Fischer, who was on the Wheaton Board of Trustees at the time, were on vacation golfing in Florida. There, they met Graham, who was then a student at the Florida Bible Institute, a then-unaccredited Bible college (today, it is Trinity College in the Tampa Area).
They listened to Billy preach, but ...
Born-again believers have kept the faith over four decades, while most religious switching has been between mainline Protestants and the “nones.”
Editor’s note: In 2014, CT reported how a massive survey by the Pew Research Center found that American evangelicals were weathering the “rise of the nones” much better than other Christian groups. Today, as Billy Graham’s funeral takes place, an analysis of social science data shows the movement the 99-year-old evangelist embodied remains surprisingly strong.
The religious landscape is a volatile one, with nearly 1 in 5 Americans switching their religious tradition from 2010 to 2014.
We’ve previously examined how Protestants and Catholics changed churches, as well as which segment of the religiously unaffiliated returned to church most, during that four-year window examined by the Cooperative Congressional Election Study (CCES).
However, what happens when the time period under study is expanded, from four years to more than four decades? Are evangelicals managing to hold on to their share of the US population? Have those with no religion made significant gains? And what is causing the shifts?
The General Social Survey (GSS) has tracked religious affiliation biannually, beginning in 1972. It provides an unmatched summation of a generation of religious movement. The visualization below, which displays the distribution of seven major religious traditions, tells a compelling story.
For smaller groups, the movement is relatively minor. Since the early 1980s, the Jewish share dropped by about a single point; black Protestants stayed relatively stable; and those with “other faith” remained about 6 percent of the US population.
Similarly, evangelicals and Catholics have almost the same proportions of the population as they had back in 1972. While evangelicals saw a surge in the early 1990s, that ...
The evangelist planned his own ceremony. Experts analyze the music he chose.
As Billy Graham is laid to rest in North Carolina today, the 2,000 invited funeral attendees will listen to—or sing together—six songs. Graham, who planned his own funeral, was the one who chose them.
In this, he seems to have taken the path of his longtime music director Cliff Barrows.
“I want a lot of music,” Barrows instructed Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) choir director Tom Bledsoe before he died in 2016. “And I want the people to sing.”
Graham’s six picks:
- “Until Then” (Stuart Hamblen, 1958), performed by musical artist Linda McCrary-Fisher
- “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name” (Edward Perronet, 1779), congregational singing led by Tom Bledsoe
- “Above All” (Lenny LeBlanc and Paul Baloche, 1999), performed by musical artist Michael W. Smith
- “Because He Lives” (Bill and Gloria Gaither, 1970), performed by Gaither Vocal Band
- “To God Be the Glory” (Fanny Crosby/William Howard Doane, 1875), congregational singing led by Tom Bledsoe
- Amazing Grace, bagpipe escort led by Pipe Major William Boetticher
CT asked several worship and hymnody experts what they thought of Graham’s choices:
John Witvliet, director of the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship and professor of worship, theology, and congregational and ministry studies at Calvin College and Calvin Theological Seminary:
Each of these songs echoes central themes in Graham's ministry: All glory be to Jesus, whose death and resurrection set us free from sin. There is also a steady focus here on life with Jesus in heaven, a hallmark of evangelical piety, a strong emphasis on one's own individual and personal affirmation of faith, and a warmth of affection. ...