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Foundation of Christian Life 

    A young couple is sitting on the front porch drinking iced tea and enjoying the evening breeze on a hot day in July.  A storm is approaching from the West and it promises relief from the heat for the next couple of hours.  As the radio played softly in the background, the wife leans over to her husband and gently says, honey I have some news I think you will want to hear.  Giving him long enough to set down the glass of tea she whispers, “We’re going to have a baby.”  With all the excitement he could muster he jumps in the air and shouts with glee.  “Are you sure?”  She nods her head in affirmation.  They begin hugging and kissing just as the rain begins to fall.    

    This couple will start asking all the great new parent questions.  Will we have a boy or girl?  Will he have hair Will she be healthy?  Will he play baseball in college?  Will she get good grades?  These are great question, but they all fall short of the ultimate question.  “Will my child live forever?”  Hang on just a minute.  Live forever?  That is not a question you will ask, or is it?   

    When does the conversation of salvation begin, and how can we do it with purpose?  It is always best to begin with what the Bible teaches.  Deuteronomy 6 tells us that it begins with whoever lives in the in the home.  All the family should be fully immersed in the teachings of God.  So, a new baby living in the home will begin with daily rituals that lead Him toward Christ.  When our children were young they were read or were told Bible story after Bible story.  When we put them down for the night we sang every hymn we could think of.  We are to instruct our children about God at every opportunity: at church, on the ball field, at dance class. We are to show them God in everything.   

    To help start the conversation we offer a parent-child dedication service on Mother’s Day.  In this service it is made clear that salvation does not happen for the child at this time, but rather we enter into an agreement with the parents as a church to do all we can to bring this child to an understanding of salvation, and when she decides to accept Christ we will be there to help her grow spiritually.    In this brief service, I read from 1 Samuel and Luke where it states that every child should grow in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man.  The parents and congregation affirm their willingness to follow God in this way.    

    The church uses programs to help in starting, or keeping gospel conversations going.  For instance, it is in Sunday school where we learn the Bible stories.  Through song and story our children learn about every book of the Bible in age appropriate lessons.  They will learn to worship, pray and apply their lessons in life in Children’s Church and Kid’s Worship.  They will learn to use their God given talents to worship in our Worship Arts Ministry.  On Sunday nights, they will learn that everyone can be a missionary.  The church also offers basketball and soccer through Upward.  Two times a week we offer Christian Karate.  We have support groups for homeschoolers and their parents.  If you wanted to, we can help you almost every night of the week.  But these are not to be the end.  They are the starters of conversations that should continue in the home. 

    The real question though is what is being done in the home?  In a recent Lifeway study it suggests that regular Bible reading is the largest indicator of young adults owning their faith as adults.  This is followed by family prayer time.  All of the other indicators are well down the list.*  The Good News of Jesus and His gift of salvation starts in the home and should be centered on these two objectives.  It is through this that people gain a true relationship with Christ.  There will be a time where the child will have to own their own faith.  The child will have to understand sin and what that does to our relationship with God, but until that time comes we are to live our faith so they can clearly see the way when it comes.  In the next article we will look at what the introduction of the Gospel to children looks like, but first we are to bring up our Children in the Lord and introduce Him to our children when they are young.  Let us be faithful to the task.       

*”Nothing Less Study.” Lifeway: Nashville, 2017. 

Posted by Jason Hoke with
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    As someone who was alive all during the ministry of Dr. Graham, I was asked to recall the memories I have of him.  I remember as a youngster listening with my parents to his radio program “Hour of Decision.”  Then, my parents purchased their first TV in 1952, and I recall seeing his “crusades” on TV.  The year I graduated from high school, my friend Dale and I decided to attend “A Youth for Christ” camp at Winona Lake, Indiana.  Dr. Graham (who was one of the founders of Youth for Christ), Cliff Barrows, and George Beverly Shea were there for the entire week.  As a special guest, Ethel Waters was there.  It was certainly a blessing I’ve never forgotten. We’re talking sixty-four years ago, so Dr. Graham was 35 years old, and I was 17.  You might say it had a lasting impression on me.

    The next time I attended a crusade was around 1968 in Hartford, CN.  By that time, I had spent four years in the Air Force, was married with children, and was working at a bank in Hartford.  I had drifted away from the Lord but hearing there was a Billy Graham Crusade in town, I felt compelled to go.  On that occasion, I felt very convicted, but stubbornly refused to admit my guilt and condition.

    In the year 2000, the Billy Graham Crusade came to St. Louis.  I had totally given my heart to the Lord in 1982, so this time I wanted to really be a part of it.  A friend of mine here in this church decided we would not only sing in the choir, but we would also volunteer to be “counselors.”  I learned what really went into one of these “crusades.”  The crusade asked churches in the community to form groups who would pray for the crusade weeks before it started.  They sent people to have choir rehearsals and train counselors.  They also had people committed to follow up with those who made “decisions” during the crusade.  A lot of prayer, work, and cooperation went into the effort.  It always amazed me to see the number of people who came forward at each invitation, but now I was beginning to understand why.  The Holy Spirit was asked to be there, to touch hearts and lives, and the Bible says, “When you ask, you shall receive”.  I remember hearing Kurt Warner, the quarterback for the St Louis Rams, give his testimony of faith. I remember music by Charlie Daniels, Michael W. Smith, and of course, George Beverly Shea. 

    When Dr. Graham gave his message, people would listen.  I believe most people considered him a “Man of God.”  He always spoke with a passion and conviction, and his message never deviated.  He would emphasize that “God Loves You,” whoever you are, whatever you’ve done. He always included the “Gospel” as it says in I Corinthians 15:3-4: “that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the scriptures”.  Dr. Graham didn’t hesitate to say that heaven and hell were real places and people were given a choice.  “Now” is always the time to make that choice.  There was no guarantee of a “tomorrow.”  Although there were thousands of people attending the crusade, you felt like he was speaking directly to you.  How many came to know Jesus because of Billy Graham—only God knows.  But, looking back on his life, no one can say he was not faithful in “planting the seed,” and praying for the Holy Spirit to do His work. 

    One other thing I remember, Dr. Graham always wanted the same Invitational Hymn…. “Just as I am, without one plea, but that His blood was shed for me, and that thou bidst me come to thee, O Lamb of God, I come!  I come!”

    Yes, Dr. Graham had an impact on my life, and continues to have an impact.  He was a humble, devoted, disciplined, passionate servant of Jesus. He was a rare “Evangelist” who “walked the talk.”  The media thinks we should “mourn,” but I rejoice for Billy Graham.  I know he is having a great reunion with his wife, Ruth, and her parents (who were missionaries in China), with George Beverly Shea, Cliff Barrows, and thousands, perhaps millions, of saints who are there because they heard his message.  If you are a believer, you have the promise of joining that group someday—praising, rejoicing, and fellowshipping with all the saints of heaven.

    By the way, “the Graham Team” (Billy, Cliff, and George B. Shea) were blessed with long lives.  Cliff Barrows (92 years), Billy (99 years) and George Beverly Shea (104 years).  It pays to follow God’s will!!

Posted by Dan Hubbell with

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