February 23, 2018
Hello Friends, it’s been a while. Since I last wrote a number of things in our world have occurred; two in particular in the past couple of weeks. I. Rev. Billy Graham passed into glory. 2. Once again, a mad man walked into a school in Florida and murdered over two dozen young people.
I doubt that I have much to add to the Florida massacre that has not already been said but if I can mention a couple of things by way of “de-politicizing” it.
Each time these things happen, the politicians, special interest groups and goofy people come out in full force to voice their opinion and to defend their “side.” I find myself someplace in the middle. I honestly do not see why the public needs to have access to weapons that can kill loads of people in a short period of time. Call these weapons what you will. There are clearly lines that need not be crossed. There is a reason we do not have access to rocket launchers, bazooka’s, grenades, or nuclear weapons, right? Or are some saying we should have access to those things? I just don’t see it. On the other hand no one can be sure that outlawing these “mass killing” guns will solve the problem of these insane people. But I’m willing to take that risk. If it will save the life of one innocent 15 year old, I’m good with that. But again please keep in mind… no matter how passionate you are for your side, we have no idea how to correct these problems. None. Yours is just an opinion, like so many others, including mine. Don’t misunderstand… I am not in favor of outlawing ALL guns. I get it… 2nd amendment, hunting… etc. And by the way, what sort of hunter needs a semi-automatic weapon?! Have a little pride in yourself! Filling the woods with lead as quickly as possible is sort of a sissy sport, isn’t it? If you have never read the short story “Bless the Beasts and Children,” you need todo so. Semi-automatic weapons that can do what was done in Florida? I suspect we can do without them. And arming teachers and administrators… um… Sadly, when does someone step up and say, “Our society and culture are going to hell in a handbasket?!” Literally “going to Hell.”
In the end, I believe this wickedness can be traced back to the demise of The Family and the continued shrinking influence of Christianity in our country. But knowing why these things happen and fixing the problem are two very different things! I’m not sure if this statistic is still correct, but it’s probably close enough. The school district in which I am located has approximately 2500 students from K-12. Any guesses on how many of them are involved in a church or Christian organization on a regular basis? Best guess… less than 10%. Less than 250 kids in my community have any exposure to the Gospel or the person of Jesus Christ. Please do not misunderstand… I clearly implied that the other 90% have NO exposure. That includes Easter, Christmas etc. Oh, they have lots of exposure to other things like alcohol, drugs, broken families, adultery, self-centeredness, violent video games, sexting, pornography, sports and other activities on Sunday mornings… but the Gospel… the Good News of Jesus Christ… nope. I see more brokenness down the road, not less… no matter what we do with guns.
On to more glorious things. My grandmother (the only one I knew) died when I was 12. She was the only person in my life as a youngster who I thought was “spiritual.” When she passed away my mother came into my room sometime after the funeral and said, “Your grandmother wanted you to have these.” (Honestly, I have no idea if that was true. My mother may have just been trying to comfort me.) So, what did she have for me? 3 books. One was a Bible commentary. One was a Bible dictionary. And one was a book by Billy Graham. I no longer have them. Honestly, I was thrilled that I was given something from my grandmother, but REALLY? No 12 year old is sitting around waiting for those kind of things! But of all the material effects that are gone from my childhood – my baseball card collection, my comic book collection, my baseball glove that I saved and saved for – nothing would be more precious to me to have than those 3 books. Not because I can’t go buy them myself. Actually I have dozens of books that are just as informative. But those books don’t remind me so much of the impact my grandmother had on me at an early age. And she was like so many others of her generation… she loved Billy Graham.
If you were not raised in my generation or older it will be hard to have any concept of his impact on our nation and the world. In the end, I suspect that is incalculable. But I would like to try and correct one thing that is bandied about by the press and others. “Evangelicals” have gotten a bad name in many circles recently. You may not know what that means… and that’s just my point. The word has been used to describe so many Christian groups that it no longer has meaning. It’s not unlike saying “I’m an American.” What does that mean? It may mean something about where you reside, but it says next to nothing about what you believe. When I was young the word “evangelical” described Billy Graham and others like him. He crossed all sorts of religious, cultural and political barriers because he exuded the love of Jesus, first and foremost. He seemed to be able to avoid political affiliation. But even that was not appreciated by some. When he came to Pittsburgh for his last crusade a couple of decades ago Pittsburgh Presbytery was the only Denomination or Christian religious group that did not endorse him. What a bunch of morons! Whoops, did I say that out loud. I meant to say, “Oh my, that was unfortunate.”
So, when you hear someone fussing about “evangelicals” or the press writing about them (and honestly who is less qualified to write about Christianity than the pagan press?); please know that the word means little. Until our terms are defined we can hardly use that one. When I hear “evangelical,” I prefer to think of Billy Graham. Those of us on this side of glory will never see another like him. EVER.
Thank you God for bringing servants like Mr. Graham to model the love of Christ for the rest of us!