Unless you have been living in a deep, dark cave for the past week, or on a tropical island vacation, you probably heard that Rev. Billy Graham passed away.
What a life that man led! Living to the age of 99 is one thing, but looking back over his legacy is astonishing and inspiring.
I have found myself kind of emotional about his passing. I never met him or knew him, although I did attend one of his crusades while I was in college. I think it was in 2004, so that would put him at about 85 years old. He stood and spoke for a little bit before turning it over to his son, Franklin. I can't remember what he said, but I do remember that an entire football stadium, the Kansas City Chiefs' Arrowhead stadium, was filled to see him. A preacher packing football stadiums...cool.
As I have read over social media yesterday and today, I have seen some amazing quotes. The one in particular that stands out to me is this one.
"Someday you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it. I shall be more alive than I am now. I will just have changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God."
What peace for his family to know without a doubt that this is true! What hope for believers, and humanity in general, to know that this can also be true for them! For God's word says in Romans 10:9, "If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." If you have declared these truths, that means your future address will also be in heaven!
Besides his preaching abilities, which were definitely God-given, He was able to give counsel to the world's leaders and give Biblical input on some of the most controversial social issues. I mean, he counseled every president since Harry Truman. Truman served from 1945-1953. He even met with Trump on his own 95th birthday.
He had the respect of all political parties. He had wisdom from God. Most of all, he had a passion to lead people to know Jesus as their Savior. He preached the gospel; he preached the Good News.
Perhaps this is what makes me emotional. He was such a Godly man! Who knows how many people he led to Jesus! God gave him an important, huge platform, and he used it, without a doubt. I tear up thinking about him meeting Jesus in Heaven. Can you even imagine the words shared by the two of them? The excitement when Billy Graham met the man who saved his soul and helped him save the souls of many? I get chills thinking about them I as picture the two embracing.
Now, not everyone is a preacher, and not everyone has the kind of stage that Graham had. But we all have a God-given platform. We all have a special gifting from God. How will we use it?
It is every Christian's goal to hear the words that I'm sure Graham heard: "Well done my good and faithful servant" (Luke 19:17). Are we working at our callings? Are we being fruitful?
This challenge and inspiration that I feel from Graham's passing has me praying, "Use me, too, God." I want to share the Good News too.
I just heard an excerpt from an interview of Kathy Lee Gifford on Megyn Kelly's TV show. She said something that struck me. It was something like, "If I have the cure for cancer, am I going to keep it to myself? No, of course not. Well, I have a cure for the despair and hopelessness and malignancy of the soul. It's about a relationship with Jesus, not about religion. We need more Jesus."
Yes, Jesus is the answer. He is the Good News. Graham knew this cure that Gifford mentioned. We know it too. Will we share what the world needs? It is our highest calling and privilege. We get to share this Good News.
****If anyone has questions or would like to know more, I would be more than happy to share more! Please comment if so! We all have to start somewhere in our relationship with God, just like you have to start off with a new friend. And Jesus desperately wants to be your friend.
You all have probably guessed by now that I enjoy reading and am usually always reading something. In fact, I'm reading three books right now!
Anyway, sometimes you just come across something that is too profound not to share. As I mentioned in my last post, I'm reading Anxious for Nothing by Max Lucado. It honestly just keeps getting better and better. Here's another plug for it. If you are struggling with fear, worry, or anxiety, this book is for you. Also, if you are going through trials and hard times and doubt, this book is for you. If you want to daily trust God more, this book is for you. Did I leave anyone out? Hopefully not!
Lucado bases his book around two verses from Philippians.
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)
This verse is pretty familiar and has been one I've tried to really apply, especially lately as I've been battling anxiety. But something in verse 7 stood out to me this morning. It was like a revelation to me!
In verse 7 it says, "And the peace of God..." See that little, bold-print word? The peace of God, not the peace from God. Stay with me, it's about to get good! When we pray in every situation and pepper our prayers with thanksgiving, God gives us His own peace.
Let that sink in for a second. I know I had to stop and consider those words.
Lucado explains it so well. He writes that God's very own peace, the peace He is experiencing right now on His throne in Heaven, is the peace that He gives us. No wonder it transcends all understanding. No wonder it has the power to guard our hearts and our minds. No wonder believers can be immersed in life-threatening, heart-breaking situations and say they feel God's peace. That's because it is the very peace of our own God.
So amazing! What a trade off! If we actually do what those verses say, we receive such a gift.
It's hard, I know. You know why? Because one of Satan's most effective tools is fear and worry. He knows if we are afraid, we are no threat to him. Fearful people don't step out of the boat to walk on the water. Fearful people stay safe in their comfort zones.
Let's take some territory from Satan! (I love that phrase!) Stand with me on the promises in Philippians 4:6-7. Pray about every anxious thought or fearful situation. Thank God for who He is and what He has done, is doing, and will do. Then, let God take over and give you peace in that situation. And not just any peace, no. His very own, all-encompassing, indescribable peace.
"I am leaving you with a gift--peace of mind and hear. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don't be troubled or afraid." John 14:27 (NLT)
,I just want to share a little about my struggles. You are not alone.
I have always been a nervous person. I can even remember having nerves when I was a child. I can picture myself, walking into my first day of dance classes for the year, (not even my first classes ever) and feeling nervous to the point that it affected me physically. I had to use the bathroom several times before I could go in the room, and my stomach felt as if it were twirling and whirling just like a dancer.
I was also the kid that asked my parents if the doors were locked. Every. Single. Night. In my town of 2000 people. Any noise in the dark sent me out of my bedroom to ask my dad to check on it. Yes, I have always been "on edge."
Fast forward 25 years or so, and anxiety is still with me. I can usually stay on top of it as long as its friend, "Stress," doesn't accompany it. The two of them can do a number on me.
This fall, harvest time for my family, as you know, I had a particularly annoying encounter with the devastating duo. The harvest season brings stress to a head, as my husband works around the clock to beat the weather, and I work around the clock to keep our kids functioning in their own schedules.
The stress and anxiety attacked. My appetite decreased and my stomach acid increased. I felt yucky most of the time. I was not able to exercise like I wanted. I felt tired a lot. My body and my mind were under attack.
And I was done.
I sought the wisdom of my doctor. (And luckily, she is so wise.) We agreed to try to increase my anxiety medication and try a probiotic to help my stomach. But she said, "You will never get rid of that stomach acid if you can't get rid of that anxiety. Your body will just continue to secrete adrenaline which then makes more stomach acid."
Yuck, I got it. I needed to stop battling anxiety. And if you noticed above, you read that I said "increase" my medication. Yep, I was already on something. Birthing three children sure messes with your body and your mind! But realistically, sometimes battling anxiety does necessitate medication. And there is no shame in that! God created doctors who created these medications to help us. I think it's okay to take advantage of that.
But on the other hand, I still felt anxious at times. My smart mother said to me, "Have you ever asked God about why you have anxiety? Maybe He's trying to teach you something."
I had prayed, of course, that God would help me feel better, but I had not prayed asking Him what I could learn from my anxiety. My mom opened my eyes.
I shared this with a mentor of mine, and she agreed with my mom. All three of us began praying about it. In no time, God answered me.
I mentioned it in my last blog. God asked me, "What are you thinking? How are you going to be fruitful without me? How are you going to do all that you want without me?"
He was calling me to more. My anxiety opened my eyes. I needed Him so much, and greater still, I needed communication with Him. God was calling me to a devoted prayer life. Since I have been doing what He called me to do, I have been victorious over my anxiety.
Since that revelation, I have began reading a couple of books about anxiety, and you know what I discovered? Many, many people struggle with anxiety and fear in one way or another. Let's be honest about that! There is no shame. God was prepared for this! One of His most used phrases is, "Do Not Be Afraid!" He knows that humans are prone to worry.
One book has been incredibly helpful to me and offers practical ways to combat anxiety. It is Anxious for Nothing by Max Lucado. The book is fabulous, easy to read, and encouraging; I highly recommend it! He uses Philippians 4:6-7 as an action plan to fight worry and fear.
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
Lucado's action plan is the acronym CALM: Celebrate God's Goodness, Ask God for Help, Leave Your Concerns with Him, and Meditate on Good Things.
Such practical application in this book! Check it out if you struggle with fear and anxiety, like me! Really helpful!
My reason in telling you my story is so we can all feel we are not alone. Our minds are a battle ground. Our enemy wants our thoughts to NOT go to God. Our enemy wants us to feel worried. When we live in a state of fear, we are not effective at what God called us to do. That makes our enemy happy.
But can I remind you of this truth?
"For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline."
I love that verse. In other versions (like NKJ) it says "sound mind" instead of "self-discipline." Our mind is not to be consumed with fear, anxiety or worry. God's Spirit gives us power over them, and He gives us a sound mind.
What do we have to give Him? Control. I could explain it for fifty paragraphs, but I think one line from the song "In Over my Head" by Bethel says it the best.
"Then you crash over me and I've lost control but I'm free."
Exactly. We give God control, which is hard, but in turn we are free from fear and worry and anxiety.
Praise God! This battle with anxiety is one I, we, can win! Give Him control, pray, and chains will be broken!
See below for a chance to win a copy of Max Lucado's book: Anxious for Nothing!
Hi, I'm Kristen! Just a girl who loves all things Jesus, family, music and food!
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