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DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

How Billy Graham MIGHT Have Reviewed This Book

Written by: on February 22, 2018

In 1987, I took my mom (in her wheelchair) to a Billy Graham Crusade at Mile High Stadium in Denver, Colorado. I was 21 years old, mom was nearing the end of her life, but she wanted to hear this evangelist no matter what, so she could see with her own eyes folks “flood the aisles” to receive Christ as Savior. Cliff Barrows and George Beverly Shea participated. Because of the wheelchair, we got the best parking spot and a front row seat (grin). Mom had been praying EARNESTLY for weeks ahead of time for Souls to be saved. She would not be disappointed.

That one day 33,200 people attended the Crusade, and the Rocky Mountain News estimated 1500 people came forward to “profess their Christian faith.” [1] Even as a college kid, I understood the significance of this event and was thankful to witness history being made by God through Billy Graham. It is my prayer this week, even after Reverend Graham’s ‘s home going, many would hear his life testimony and put their faith in Jesus.

[2] Connecting this week to last semester, the visual ethnography of this picture speaks volumes. (Thank you Sarah Pink). A lifetime of preaching, laser focused on Jesus, to millions of souls, using the technology of his day, tsusamis of salvations through faith and prayer. To God be the glory!

Therefore, my Blog this week will review The Rebel Sell, by Heath and Potter, through how I think Billy Graham words might have sounded…

Many in our world are disenchanted. Consumerism and the American dream has not satisfied the human soul. There is a God sized hole in your human heart. Money, stuff and things have not been able to provide lasting fulfilment. No amount of purchases can replace God’s amazing grace. There is only one way to fill this void inside of us, it is with the love of Jesus Christ!

I understand some are saying our “culture cannot be jammed.” [3] In other words, our society’s maddening drive towards seeking power and militarism through being anti-government, anti-corporation and pro-media, cannot be stopped [4]. Today I will show you a different path, one that is less popular, but provides the lasting hope and peace you are desparately looking for.

Many people have been tempted to be “countercultural” [5] through celebrating radical types of music, others have attempted to be extreme “rebels” [6] by disrupting the norms of society, some have tried to show stubborn “resistance” to all who are part of any so-called system.

I am here today to give you an alternative to the pent up rage you feel in your heart towards others. I want to share with you the only way to offload your anger about your rights being constantly violated. There is an answer to the uncertainty you feel about your future. Here it is: God loves you! [7]

John 3:16 is my favorite verse and it says, “For God so loves the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

Unfortunately, your hard heart is separating you from God. The Bible calls this a sin. We are all sinners, as the Bible says in Romans 3:23, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” The price for our sin is death, but the gift of God, is eternal life through Christ Jesus (Romans 6:23). To receive forgiveness for our sins, we must confess that we are sinners, and believe that God raised Jesus from the dead (Romans 10:9).

Buddha said toward the end of his life, “I am still searching for the truth.” [8] But here was Jesus who appeared and said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

To put it simply, anyone who repents (who does an about face and turns to Jesus) and accepts God’s forgiveness (we call this grace), by putting their faith in Him, will be saved from their sins (Romans 10:13).

Your new relationship with Jesus will give you a peace that passes understanding. Some will tell you, “to make peace with the masses.”[9] However, Jesus is the only one who is able to provide this peace, because he has been described as the Prince of Peace. [10]

After coming to Jesus, the Bible teaches us how to live our lives to God’s glory. Just be “authentic” [11] in your faith for Jesus. This is quite amazing if you are a countercultural rebel who resists conformity, and one who subverts following the masses–that is EXACTLY what Jesus says to do. You do not have to follow the masses.  You do not have to conform. You are supposed to be countercultural. Jesus provides an answer for all of us rebels. I will close with these words from Scripture:

Jesus said, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Matthew 7:13-14

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2 

 

[1] McConnell, Linda. Billy Graham at Mile High Stadium. July 18, 1987. Rocky Mountain News: Denver, CO. Assessed February 21, 2017. denverpubliclibrary.com/.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Heath, Joseph & Potter, Andrew. The Rebel Sell: Why the Culture Can’t Be Jammed. Chichester: Capstone, 2005. p. title.

[4] “Culture Jamming Definition.” www.thefreedictionary.com. October 12, 1998. Accessed February 22, 2018. harpercollingspublishers.com.

[5] Heath, Joseph & Potter, Andrew. The Rebel Sell: Why the Culture Can’t Be Jammed. Chichester: Capstone, 2005. p. 13.

[6] Ibid., p. 108.

[7] Chismar, Janet. The Only Way. The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. August 13, 2008. Assessed February 22, 2018. billygraham.org/.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Heath, Joseph & Potter, Andrew. The Rebel Sell: Why the Culture Can’t Be Jammed. Chichester: Capstone, 2005. p. 321.

[10] Chismar, Janet. The Only Way. The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. August 13, 2008. Assessed February 22, 2018. billygraham.org/.

[11] Heath, Joseph & Potter, Andrew. The Rebel Sell: Why the Culture Can’t Be Jammed. Chichester: Capstone, 2005. p. 255.

About the Author

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Jay Forseth

Superintendent of the Western Conference of the Evangelical Church. Blessed with 28 years as the husband of my amazing wife who I can't make it without. Now three of four in our family are attending University, but both my children are way smarter than me.

10 responses to “How Billy Graham MIGHT Have Reviewed This Book”

  1. mm M Webb says:

    Jay,
    Billy Graham was big when the counterculture movement began. My parents used to listen and watch his revival broadcasts when I was a boy. I shared an Armor of God coin with his son Franklin Graham in Soldotna, AK a few years ago. Fast forward to the present and I was just in Rev. Graham’s home town of Charlotte, NC before I flew to the Middle East.
    I like your Graham style sermonic post as you analyzed The Rebel Sell, well done! I read the biography on Graham and remembered he was a key founder and speaker for the 1974 Lausanne Movement.
    How does the counterculture movement fit into or against your investigation into how Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University is “fleecing” the church?
    Stand firm,
    M. Webb

    • mm Jay Forseth says:

      Hi Mike,

      Dave Ramsey is part of the counter-cultural movement, at least as far as erasing debt is concerned. eliminating debt is “weird” in his words, as the rest of the consumer world says you can have it now, or have it all.

      What was your interaction with Franklin Graham like? Some in our Cohort are not fans of his…

  2. mm Kyle Chalko says:

    A wonderful reminder for all of us. A great man leaving a great legacy. I think his greatest gift to us though was his integrity. We never had to have the shocking news reveal of a moral failure or some scandal. This redeems some of the Christian reputations that he finished his race so strongly.

    thanks for the tribute.

  3. Loved your post Jay! So glad you honored such an amazing legend on the week of his passing and you did a great job reviewing this book through the eyes of the great Billy Graham. My favorite part was at the end: “After coming to Jesus, the Bible teaches us how to live our lives to God’s glory. Just be “authentic” in your faith for Jesus. This is quite amazing if you are a countercultural rebel who resists conformity, and one who subverts following the masses–that is EXACTLY what Jesus says to do. You do not have to follow the masses. You do not have to conform. You are supposed to be countercultural. Jesus provides an answer for all of us rebels.” I love the fact that Jesus was counterculture and He encouraged us to be fully in the world but not of the world.

  4. Thanks Jay for a creative post. I respect Graham’s lifetime of service and clear message to the world. The Netflix series “The Crown” follows the story of Elizabeth II, and there is a fascinating episode in season two where she meets with and is impacted by Billy Graham on his visit to London.

    It struck me as I read your post in the context of having read Heath and Potter that crusade evangelism very much aligns with their concept of countercultural movements. Graham is inviting the masses to choose a different path for their lives, and people stream forward. Once again we see this differentiation at play in our consumeristic world.

  5. mm Dan Kreiss says:

    Jay,

    Once again you bring us back to the essence of real life, peace and fulfillment in the life and resurrection of Jesus the Christ. If there ever was a countercultural agent it was him. I have little doubt that Billy would have found your review in his name pleasing. His witness and consistent testimony were what the authors for this week didn’t appear to understand. Genuine countercultural efforts will not be developed outside of an understanding of the witness of Jesus.

    This summer I was in Montreal NC teaching at a conference for a couple of weeks. As you may know Montreat is the home of Billy Graham and former home of George Beverly Shay. I happened to be there for the estate sale of George Beverly Shay and saw his vast collection of memorabilia from a lifetime of service with Billy Graham. I was even able to buy a campaign poster from the 50s to frame as a reminder to me of what it truly means to be countercultural over a lifetime. My prayer is that people will see in me Jesus through my life and witness as they did through Billy and George’s.

  6. Chris Pritchett says:

    Jay- What a brilliant reflection on the substance of this book through the lens of a possible Billy Graham response! I think you nailed exactly what he would have said. Even the direct and gentle tone, you captured so well. Thank you for encouraging my faith. And by the way, you were the best son a mother could have.

  7. mm Jason Turbeville says:

    Jay,
    Maybe the best thing I have read all week. Thank you for this great perspective. I loved reading it. I had the pleasure of working a Billy Graham crusade in the early 2000’s and it was a great experience. Thank you for bringing it back to mind, one more time. Great reflection of the book.

    Jason

  8. mm Jean Ollis says:

    Jay,
    Well done tribute to Billy Graham and great application of the text to his paradigm. I’m curious how you are seeing the counter culture manifest in Montana? Especially as non-natives are settling in..

  9. Shawn Hart says:

    I’m pretty sure it was Billy Graham that got me in trouble at the age of 6. I was watching Saturday morning cartoons when I turned the channel and found him preaching. The offer was that if you called the number and put your hand on the tv to let Jesus work in your life, then they would send you a free christian pin. Well, they forgot to tell me they would send me a whole lot of mail too. Mom and Dad were not pleased. Jay, I loved your comment regarding Buddha still looking for the “truth”. What a giant NEON sign to the problem. We have had the “TRUTH” standing right in front of us for over 2000 years, and people are still trying to find it. There is not a nation on the planet that does not know about Jesus Christ, and yet they are still “looking”. I guess that is why I am amazed when so many professed Christians still seem so lost for answers and end up looking in the wrong places for happiness.

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