Today, I am an evangelical Christian.
I have wondered, in some recent days,
whether I want to be called an “evangelical.”
The term has been so politicized, so pejorative.
But today, on Good Friday, how can I be otherwise?
It is not that I hold a privileged position,
Or, am a political activist.
Or, that I hold a certain set of beliefs.
It is that I am upheld, by the evangel, the good news,
that by the grace of God I am what I am,
a child of God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
who loved me and gave himself for me,
who became obedient to death, and rose,
that I might live in him, fully, now and forever.
Today, and every day, I have the assurance
of living in that grace, and of telling others:
Jesus Christ is alive … and well!
March 30, 2018
Now to the gate of my Jerusalem,
The seething holy city of my heart,
The saviour comes. But will I welcome him?
Oh crowds of easy feelings make a start;
They raise their hands, get caught up in the singing,
And think the battle won. Too soon they’ll find
The challenge, the reversal he is bringing
Changes their tune. I know what lies behind
The surface flourish that so quickly fades;
Self-interest, and fearful guardedness,
The hardness of the heart, its barricades,
And at the core, the dreadful emptiness
Of a perverted temple. Jesus come
Break my resistance and make me your home.
From Sounding The Seasons by Malcolm Guite, Canterbury Press. Used with the poet’s permission.
I feel it is most appropriate, when talking about Reconciliation today, to honor Billy Graham who did more than anyone else in our lifetime in proclaiming worldwide the message of reconciliation.
BILLY GRAHAM WAS THE GREATEST PEACEMAKER IN RECENT CHURCH HISTORY
Ø He insisted on integrated crusades
Ø He included RC & Orthodox leaders of the countries in which he preached on the platform with him.
Ø He called for and raised for funds for the Lausanne Congress of 1974 which resulted in the Lausanne movement which still challenges evangelicals to work together in the task of World Evangelization.
Ø He planned several Evangelists’ conferences to especially train national evangelists
Ø He refused to be “politicized” – and when he made statements he later regretted having made, he apologized.
Ø He was a model of moral and financial integrity
As we remember his life and honor him in his death let us commit ourselves to emulate his exemplary lifestyle.
Several years ago Jeanie and I went to visit her brother Billy in his mountain home above Montreat, North Carolina. At that time he was still able to converse. While Jeanie and he had a brother-sister talk I went outside for a stroll around the house.
I was struck by this old wooden gate standing open in a stone fence, looking out to the far mountains.
It was a powerful symbol. I thought of Jesus saying he is the gate for his sheep. That Billy had directed so many through the narrow gate that leads to life. That Ruth had already gone through the gate to the far heavenly hills beyond.
I took some photos, and later painted this original watercolor.
Billy himself has now entered through Jesus the gate, and is with his Lord and his beloved Ruth.
That old wooden gate has since been removed. But the gate to God is still open. And Jesus still says, “I am the gate. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.” (John 10:9)
Watercolor. 14” x 20”. 2014.
Order via Mikehillcommish@yahoo.com
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“The heavens are telling the glory of God …”
Psalm 19. The Lectionary reading for the day.
I have been thinking much about him these days,
the earthly part of him,
that long, lithe frame,
lying in a pinewood box.
I’ve been picturing him as he was,
standing tall, confident, humble,
with those piercing blue eyes,
those well-groomed hands clutching his Bible,
jabbing them out to make a point,
lifting them up in a gesture that said,
“Come. Come now.”
A distant relative of his, an artist, reflects,
“He looked as if he knew something,
something he had to share.”
He did that.
Now he lies still.
Nearly a hundred years ago
the breath of life came into him,
as later the words of life came through him,
as clear as the whistle of a train
across miles on an early morning,
with a hint of thunder.
Today that breath is all breathed out.
His voice is silent.
In the Psalms for today I read that
“The heavens are declaring the glory of God.”
They are not silent.
Neither are the stones, which Jesus said
would cry out if his disciples didn’t
announce his kingdom.
They will not be silent.
How can we?
I can hear another voice saying
“It’s your turn. Lift up your voice.
A hundred of you, a thousand, a million of you.
Lift up your voice and say,
‘The Lord reigns.’
Lift up your voice and sing,
‘To God be the glory, great things he has done.’”
And could that be his voice I hear, from not far off?
Singing, as he never could before,
with his true and lasting voice:
“Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
let the earth hear his voice.
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
let the nations rejoice.
O, come to the Father,
through Jesus the Son,
and give Him the glory,
great things he has done.”
March 2, 2018