Well folks, it’s time for a vacation. I’ve got plenty to keep me occupied here for the next few weeks, I’m heading out to visitmy family for a couple of weeksand I’ve got some other writing to do. So check back at Whirled Views in August sometime (or maybe September) and I’ll have some fresh stuff for you to peruse. Until then, feel free to go back into my archives and read some of the old stuff.
Archive for June, 2007
I’ve been watching a couple of threads on an Internet blogging site for the last couple of days where a few extreme fundamentalists have been using the opportunity of the death of Ruth Bell Graham to attack some of Billy Graham’s associations and some statements he made in the latter years of his ministry. I am on record regarding both issues, but find it in the poorest of taste to incessantly raise these issues when reasonable people express sympathy to a family during their time of loss. I would also note that Franklin Graham has stepped up to the leadership role of his father’s ministry in such a way that those who want to suggest that today’s BGEA is guilty of a murky gospel or even some of the associations for which it was criticized in the past end up looking out-of-touch and silly (among other things).
But if we could or would get a new macro-view of Billy Graham’s legacy, it might begin by reading an editorial a missionary friend of mine who minister’s in Liberia sent me. Take a moment and read THIS perspective. I think you’ll find it thought-provoking and honest.
Luke Pier is a fine young men who attends our church, Northside Baptist in Charlotte. I have known Luke since he was just a little tyke and he has grown up to be a fine young man. Not long ago, Luke was diagnosed with a rare and often fatal disease called Marfan’s Syndrome. Luke comes from a large family and they have not been able to afford traditional healthcare. Thus, his surgery costs are prohibitive and unless a miracle occurs through the generosity of others, he will not be able to have this life-saving surgery.
Luke’s parents are faithful members of the church. When I say “faithful”, I mean in church, serving, tithing, positive. The kind of members that are blessing to any pastor. They have had some tough times over the year including a very bad house fire that forced them out of their home for months and did loads of damage. Yet, their testimony has been strong and their faith has grown.
Will you please go visit the website for young Luke by clicking HERE and then will you give something to the fund that will help make his surgery possible? If you have a blog and would be so inclined, link the website or this article to yours so that others will know.
Luke loves the Lord, attends SouledOut Live at Northside, is homeschooled and just a great guy. Pray for him, give if you can and tell others if you would. You can find the Luke Pier Foundation at http://www.thelukepierfoundation.org/
Well, in the midst of life’s whirlwind, I haven’t had time to follow-up on my impressions of last week’s Billy Graham Library dedication and tour of the facility until now. The Monday following the dedication, my wife, my adminsitrative assistant and our two youngest kids went for the 90-minute tour before it the library was open to the public. We had a great time and it was a moving and inspiring tour.
Remember now…. all my life I grew up hearing Billy Graham cursed, not praised. In his latter years, I’ve joined the chorus of criticismon occasion when I didn’t feel like he represented the Gospel as well as he once did in media interviews and I’m personally strongly opposed to a pragmatic ecumenicism thatlinks arms with non-evangelical Christians who don’t have a firm grasp on orthodox theology.
Franklin Graham has taken the best qualities of his father and clarified some of the matters that had grown ambiguous or under-emphasized in recent years (like a clear emphasis on repentance, etc…). I have never heard Franklin speak wherein he did not give a clear gospel presentation that was as fundamentally sound as any presentation you could hope to hear.
But for for now, let me give you my “Top 10 Favorite Things About the Billy Graham Library”.
10. The Gospel was clearly and repeatedly presented throughout the Library.
From the opening video to the final presentation, the message that Jesus Saves, sin damns, heaven is real, repentance is an essential, Christ alone is sufficient, the Word of God is Truth was crystal clear.
9. In what was a most surprising touch, if you didn’t like Billy Graham’s presentation, there was an internet computer screen presentation of the Gospel by none other than John McArthur.
On a video touch screen there were two salvation questions asked and you could touch the screen to go to one of two explanations of salvation. One was written by Billy Graham and the other by the esteemed John McArthur.
8. The re-creation of the Los Angeles Tent was interesting.
I was born after most of the great tent revival days. There was a neat replica/display of the famous Los Angeles Tent Revival that launched Billy Graham’s rise to prominence. It was like stepping into a time machine and I found it very interesting.
7. The Grand Lobby and Cross
The way into the Library was literally through the “cross” and the cross was emphasized throughout from the giant windows to an usual set of flourscent tubed crosses that almost made you dizzy as you walked out of one of the displays.
6. The Presidential Memorabilia
All kinds of gifts, pictures, letters and even a $5 check from Richard Nixon repaying a loan that he had received from Billy when he didn’t have cash to give during the offering at a crusade are just a sample of some of the neat things that were on display.
5. It was about Billy, but really not “too much”
Billy Graham said at the dedication that his thought when he went through the library was “Too much Billy, not enough Jesus.” I don’t agree completely and no, we can never say enough about Jesus. Of course, Billy Graham was emphasized, but not at the expense of exalting the Lord first and foremost. Every video clip (and there are some WONDERFUL fiery clips of Graham in his youth) were exalting Christ, the Bible and the plan of salvation.
4. The Tribute to Ruth Graham
Throughout the dedication, Ruth Graham, who is a total invalid and in her final days, was remembered and honored. The marriage of Billy and Ruth is a genuine love story that is transparent and honest — brutally so at times. But the love they have for each other is emphasized in multiple places and is a stark reminder of deep and life-long love set against many of the tragedies we’ve seen in recent years.
3. Quotes, Quotes, Everywhere
There were many, many quotations from people around the world, letters, epigrams, and much more all over the walls. There was also a LOT of Scripture displayed. I love epigrams and personal quotations personally and I enjoyed this part of the tour.
2. Kid Friendliness
My two 10 year-year-olds were presented with a fill-in-as-you-go “map” of the museum asking questions that you would answer from the displays. This kept them interested and occupied and at the end of the tour, there was a fun cafe with free ice cream for any kids who answered all the questions. For everyone else there was ice cold milk (remember, it was a Dairy on which Graham was raised — thus the barn theme), a soda fountain, sandwiches and salads in a very warm and fun atmosphere.
1. And my number one favorite item to check-out….YEP, BESSIE the animatronic COW.
I’ve seen it criticized as schlocky, gimmicky, etc…, but the first thing my kids ran to see was the cow and they loved it. It was a fun way to start the tour, it wasn’t in poor taste at all and it was interesting. Definitely a fun touch and there is absolutely no reason to criticize it unless you are just looking for something to fuss about.
A couple of side notes…. the museum is self-guided, but controlled. You need to allow at least 90 minutes to get through it. It is free, but you do need to get tickets at the counter as they control the flow of traffic that way. They have a nice bookstore, though I found it pricey. Don’t forget to stop in an visit the Graham homestead located just outside the museum.
All in all, it’s really an important piece of history and will be an encouragement to Believers. I’m glad it was built (with private funds) and you should definitely go see if it you are anywhere near Charlotte. More information can be found HERE.
I just wanted to take a moment this evening and say “Thank You” to the hundreds of you who have taken the time over the last several days to write notes of encouragement or to give me a call. Between my wife and I together, we are close to five hundred individual expressions of love, encouragement and appreciation and we have taken the time to read or listen to every message. Indeed, you have ministered to us with your kind words and testimonies of how the Lord has used our ministry in some way in your life. Ithas also been gratifying to hear from some many of our friends from across the country and even around the world. It is deeply humbly and we are thankful for the privilege to have been His servants at Northside during these last seven years.
We are doing well and haven’t had a great deal of time to gather our thoughts. Please forgive us for being unable to answer all the emails and take the calls, but know that they haveencouraged us deeply as we look forward to the next phase of our ministry.
I am looking forward to preaching the Word to our church family this coming Sunday at our two morning services and I look forward to seeing our church family together for worship as usual. We are alsolooking forward to seeing some long-time friends who are passing through in the coming days.
In a few weeks, we will slip away for a few weeks of rest and rejuvenation with my extended family in the Midwest, some of our kids will be continuing their summer jobs and there is a missions trip punctuating that schedule as well.
Monday, we took our two youngest children for a delightful tour of the new Billy Graham Library and I look forward to sharing some of our observations with you in the next day or two on this blog. I’m spending some time this week with a few of our fine Northside teenagers and lining up several projects I want to work on as I approach my time of transition.
Again, I want to express my gratitude for the many sweet expressions of love and encouragement from our church family and friends around the world. As I mentioned Sunday during my conversation with the church family, I’m simply resigning and will be changing ministry directions — I’m not dying. But it is nice to receive the wonderful letters and testimonies of folks who have been touched by our ministry in Charlotte and we thank you for taking the time to write.
One downside in the coming weeks might be that I’ll have more time to write, so I suspect this blog will get more attention than it has in recent months. Brace yourselves!
Dear Blog Readers,
This morning, I announced my resignation from being the Senior Pastor of the Northside Baptist Church in Charlotte, NC effective September 1st. For seven-and-a-half years, it has been my pleasure to lead this historic ministry that is filled with wonderful and loving people. But through a variety of circumstances, I have reached a conclusion that it is time for me to step away from the Senior Pastorate at Northside.
Human curiosity what it is, I realize that some will be dying to know if there is a story behind the story, etc… So let me clarify a few things. I was not asked to resign. The deacons did not initiate this at all — Northside Baptist Church has a fine group of deacons and I love them dearly and consider them friends. There have been absolutely no allegations or disputes involving ethics, morality, theology, philosophy or any such matter. My resignation is not effective until September 1st and Iplan on preaching each Sunday in June, taking my vacation in July as planned and then closing things up in August.
I told our church family this morning that it is our intention to say in Charlotte for the foreseeable future. Our oldest daughter will be a junior at Northside Christian Academy this fall and we want her to graduate from this tremendous school with her sweet friends. The church has graciously extended the time we can remain in the parsonage until we have some additional direction and we appreciate that deeply. I am and want to continue to be on the best of terms with our church and school and I look forward to being not simply a supportive NCA parent, but a help in any way our Headmaster, Mr. Kilgore would so request.
Our Parking Lot project is on auto-pilot and advancing quickly. Most of it will be done by the time my resignation is in place. We obviously have some more money to raise in the middle of this and I hope all of our friends and members will continue to give toward our goals. As I mentioned this morning, I will be fulfilling the commitment I made to the project and to our missions giving for the year as well. I made those commitments by faith and I have every intention of keeping them.
I plan on taking some time off to do some writing and exploring where the Lord might want to use me next. Planning to stay local for these next two years (and hopefully longer), is a priority for us, but as always, we will be obedient to the Lord’s will in all things. I enjoy serving as an adjunct at several schools and as the Lord gives me opportunity, I intend on continuing that. Beginning in the fall, I will be available for pulpit fill-in or special conferences for churches or schools should anyone be interested.
For now, I want my readers to know that I am content in the Lord’s grace, excited about a change of direction for my ministry, absolutely committed to using whatever resources and gifts I’ve been given for the Lord’s glory and intent on walking in the joy of the Lord.
I will keep my blog readers informed as to my journey as appropriate and I truly appreciate the frequent feedback I get from the thousands (sometimes tens of thousands) of folks who read this blog each week. It is humbling and inspiring. I wish I had the time to be able to respond to every email I receive and do know that I plan on continuing “Whirled Views” as my little hobby.
Please pray for Northside Baptist Church during this time of transition. They will be looking for only their 4th pastor in 53 years. I am already praying for this man and the wonderful opportunity that awaits him.
I am not going to open this blog post up for comments as I will not be responding to any inquiries at all about my decision or on behalf of the church.
It was my privilege to be invited, along with my wife, to the dedication ceremony of the Billy Graham Library dedication service. I can think of no religious leader in American history who has had the access to those in national leadership, the media and the average citizen with the Gospel message than has Billy Graham. As a resident of Charlotte, NC, the birthplace of Billy Graham, I have gained a new perspective on the ministry of this evangelist in recent years. The purpose of this blog entry is to give a first-hand report of today’s ceremony. Later I will give some inside commentary and perspective in a separate article and then after I am able to tour the museum itself in a private preview on Monday, I will share my thoughts on that as a third article.
Last night hundreds of us had enjoyed a wonderful meal and ministry retrospective of the various ministries associated with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association at the Westin Hotel. It was so nice to see many old friends — yep…there were LOADS of Independent Baptists, IFCA guys and real-live-right-of-evangelicals there among the throngs of supporters and friends of BGEA.
Today was an oppressively warm day in Charlotte with mid-level humidity and temperatures in the mid-90’s. My wife and I decided to go a little early to try and get a decent seat. By early, I mean we left home at 11:00 and the ceremony started at 2:00. We live about 15 minutes away. We parked in the parking lot of the old Charlotte Coloseum (which wil be imploded on Sunday) and traveled by shuttle bus to the Library grounds.
I’ve been at the BGEA headquarters multiple times — at the original dedication, when I’ve spoken there, for lunch with church members who are on staff — and it’s just a beautiful, pastoral setting.
The staff was over-the-top friendly, there was loads of water and light refreshments, an air-conditioned area to get relief from the heat, media services that were phenomenal considering the huge number of satellite trucks and crews and reporters from around the world, gracious hosts and hostesses. There was a big tent open all around (but not a hokey circus style tent or one like Billy used to preach in when he was just getting started.) The platform end looked right at the giant barn atrium with the cross. There were about 1,500 chairs, I believe and they were hopelessly close considering almost none of us are 18-inches across any more. I struggle a bit with crowds and claustrophobia, so we chose to sit in the back row of the front section. Though we were really early, there were tons of people streaming in already.
I enjoyed meetin my old friend, Dr. Norman Geisler who founded Southern Evangelical’s Seminary in Charlotte. Here’s a brief list of people I saw that I knew: Cal Thomas, Max Helton (Founder of Motor Racing Outreach), Gordon Godfrey (Pensacola, FL), Jerry Falwell, Jr (had a chance to chat with him a while), Jerry Prevo (Anchorage Alaska/Chairman of Board, Liberty U), Marty Benton (Injoy), David and Al Janney (Orlando, FL), Ross Rhodes (Charlotte/former pastor of Calvary Church), Joel Osteen (I tell you about this in a later article) and a bunch of politicians and other folks.
The ceremony itself was awesome…here are some highlights:
- It is quite stunning to see three living ex-Presidents together.
- George Beverly Shea is 98 years old and still one of the best singers I’ve ever heard even at his age.
- I have never heard Franklin Graham speak unless he gives the plan of salvation (including repentance.)
- This was not about Billy Graham exalting. Jesus Christ was the focal point of every Believer speaker.
- Ruth Graham may not have been there in body, but she was there in spirit as many people mentioned her.
- Bill Clinton had the brightest red tie on I have ever seen in my life.
- Ricky Scaggs is a great singer.
- President G. H. W. Bush was very emotional during his speech losing his composure several times and it was just the right tribute. I think it is touching that as he has aged, he loses his composure when speaking. It makes him seem human.
- Billy Graham may be 88, but he has a sharp wit and great sense of humor. I do not believe his humilty is feigned at all.
- Christ was glorified and the Gospel was clear throughout the service.