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Billy Graham: Faithful to the end

(Billy Graham Evangelistic Association)




Listen to the 10 min audio

Read the transcript:


TOM LAMPRECHT:  Harry, last Wednesday at 7:46 a.m., Billy Frank Graham went to see his Savior face to face.

DR. REEDER: Tom, as a Gospel minister, this has great significance to me, but it also does personally because our families were entwined in the Charlotte area. Billy Frank, as he was called growing up, was a “rebellious teenager” who came to Christ as a result of some revival meetings that were being held in Charlotte in 1934 under an evangelist by the name of Mordecai Ham. He and some of his buddies — Grady Wilson was one, T.W. Wilson was another — were brought to Christ and Billy began to be a testimony for Christ as a young man. He later goes off to college, really grappled with his call to the ministry and he ends up in Youth for Christ — he actually became president of Youth for Christ for a while — but sensed the Lord’s call to evangelism.

It has to be said that Billy is the most singular figure in evangelical Christianity in the 20th century. His parents were very much involved in church. For those of you that might be familiar with Charlotte, there’s an extraordinary growth area called South Park and that’s really where the Graham dairy farm was. There — and my family was actually involved in this — were prayer meetings that were being held for a revival. In fact, the prayer request in that dairy farm living room was, “God, would you please do another revival in Charlotte?” Then they went on to add, “Would you do something in Charlotte that would touch the world?”

Well, the son of Franklin Graham, who hosted that prayer meeting, Billy Frank, was playing in the next room as a little boy. These same men would be involved in calling this evangelist, Mordecai Ham, and his preaching all these young men would come to Christ. Twenty-seven notables — I won’t name them all — were converted in Charlotte that later went on to extraordinary ministry in missions, in college, in churches, pastors, etc. Billy, and T.W. Wilson, and Grady Wilson came to Christ and were called to ministry.

Late 1940s, Billy was absolutely convinced that God had called him to be an evangelist and his preaching was extraordinary. One guy said, “It is a gust of words that were understandable and overwhelming when he preached.” He always kept his message Biblical and simple. He came back to Charlotte and, in the church that had begun out of the Mordecai Ham revival, he was invited back and he held an evangelistic meeting in 1948 and a newlywed 18-year-old couple went forward and gave their life to Christ holding their baby. Their baby was me and that was my dad and mom. They had moved from my grandfather’s involvement in this to now my father and mother being blessed by it and me, “being carried along” as it were.


My grandfather, who was a scout for the Washington Senators, became involved in 1948 with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association that was initiated and Billy went to Los Angeles to do the great Los Angeles crusades that really launched him. Granddaddy was part of the team that went around and visited churches to get their support and Randolph Hearst, the great publisher that owned all the newspapers, was so impressed by what happened, he sent a message to his publisher “Huff Graham,” meaning, “Give him immediate attention.” And then seven notable conversions took place — a Hollywood actor, Louis Zamperini — and it became noteworthy by their testimonies and the meetings just kept expanding there in 1948 and into ’49 in Los Angeles.

He goes on to hold meetings in New York, other cities invited him, and then his mass crusade evangelism was birthed. Out of that came other ministries. He went on to start the magazine Christianity Today, The Billy Graham Evangelistic Center at Wheaton College, and we could go on and on of the various things that he did.


He was most notable — and rightly so — for two things. One, his singular commitment to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Gospel should be preached to everyone everywhere and, therefore, he on the basis of a theological commitment to the Gospel, became an instrument to undo segregation. He actually came down off the platform, removed the ropes at the Chattanooga Crusade, and then stood there when they tried to put them back up and said, “If you put them back up, the crusades will end tonight,” and also brought integrated crusades to Birmingham. He was asked by a columnist named Drew Pearson, to come and hold a crusade in what at the moment was the most volatile racial division in the United States and that was Clinton, Tennessee, this small town.

Billy, who was going to much bigger cities, went there because of that, insisted on integrated seating and the president of the Alliance of White Citizens came the first night and was converted and his life totally changed. I hear people talking about the social justice issue, the social Gospel issue and I think of Billy who just kept preaching the Gospel, but he impacted social issues because he was always consistently focused on the fact that whatever we do must be framed from the Word of God and our lives must reflect the Gospel and honor the Gospel throughout all of our life and be an instrument and a platform to proclaim the Gospel.


In Youth for Christ, he was No. 2. — No. 1 was a man by the name of Charles Templeton, who went to Princeton Theological Seminary and began to embrace liberalism and question the Bible. And they had a big debate and Billy said to him, “I must be faithful to God’s Word. I just know it’s God’s Word. I may not be able to answer all of your questions, but I rest everything on the integrity of God’s Word.” And that’s when the phrase “the Bible says” began to penetrate all of Billy’s preaching.

Chuck Templeton went on to become the evangelist for the World Council of Churches and the National Council of Churches, which were theologically liberal. He eventually not only questioned the faith, but denied the faith and he died a very broken man and Billy never took him off of his prayer list and kept writing him notes the rest of his life.

You’re hearing a lot of virulent tweets against Billy. I can tell you what Billy would do — as you said, Tom, when we were talking, he would put his arm around them to tell them about the love of God in Christ for them and the more virulent they would become, the more gracious and sweet would he become in his Gospel communication.


In 1958, Billy came back and we had an integrated crusade in Charlotte at the Charlotte Coliseum. My dad was part of that. He actually allowed me to go with him to be an usher. I can still remember the offerings with the big buckets, and the big choir, and Cliff Farrows there at the Charlotte Coliseum and then, in 1996, I received a really sweet letter from him, sharing with me how much my grandfather had meant to him in the early years, the great memories of my grandfather’s service. He wrote a nice note in Granddaddy’s Bible that I inherited when my grandfather went to be with the Lord. And then, finally, I was able to be a part of the committee where we brought him back for what we thought might be his last crusade in 1998, there in the Carolina Panthers stadium.


Billy went on to preach until 2005 with amazing crowds in New York, where he ended up, which is, in a sense, where he began in the late 1940s. He was a friend to presidents and he was a counselor to presidents. He most notably had a marvelous relationship with Queen Elizabeth that began when he went over in the 1950s for the crusades in England.

But what might be most notable is the glorious truth that he finished strong — not physically, he was very weakened at the end — but he finished strong spiritually. When I think of Billy Graham, I think of Paul’s words to the Philippians: “It is my earnest desire and expectation that I will not put Christ to shame in anything but, by all means, I might honor him in my body, whether by life or by death.” Billy finished the way he lived: with a singular focus upon the Gospel of Christ.


When it was asked, “How do you want to be remembered?” he said, “That I was faithful to my Savior, to my wife, to my family and to my calling to preach the Gospel.” I can’t imagine what would have happened in our country without the effective ministry of Billy Graham, but I do know that much more needs to happen in our country and may God bring another revival to our land that would not only transform the landscape of our culture, but also touch all the nations of the world.

Billy reframed the quote from D.L. Moody: “You are going to read in the paper that I have died. Don’t believe it. The day you read that, I will never be more alive with my Savior.”

Praise the Lord for all that he enjoys in the presence of the Lord and now may we take up that same banner of the Gospel of Christ, lift high the cross of Christ and may the Savior do a great and glorious work with the Gospel throughout our nation and build upon this marvelous legacy of this man who was a sinner saved by grace and a preacher of the Gospel that saved him.

Dr. Harry L. Reeder III is the Senior Pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham.

This podcast was transcribed by Jessica Havin, editorial assistant for Yellowhammer News. Jessica has transcribed some of the top podcasts in the country and her work has been featured in a New York Times Bestseller.

36 mins ago

Alabama native and former Marshall quarterback Reggie Oliver dead at 66

The Marshall University quarterback who was part of the team’s return after the 1970 plane crash that killed 75 players has died.

Reggie Oliver was 66.


Marshall President Jerome A. Gilbert said in a release Tuesday that his “heart is broken” at the loss of Oliver.

He added that Oliver was “an integral piece of the fabric that makes up Marshall’s story.”

Marshall Athletics said in a release that Oliver “was one of Marshall’s true legends.”

The Herald-Dispatch reported Oliver was hospitalized in Huntsville, Alabama, last week after suffering a head injury in a fall.

Oliver grew up in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and became a quarterback for the Young Thundering Herd, as the team was known.

In the school’s first home game after the crash, Oliver connected with freshman fullback Terry Gardner for a 13-yard touchdown on the game’s final play to upset Xavier 15-13.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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15 hours ago

Gov. Ivey appoints interim finance chief — ‘Thorough search’ underway for permanent appointee

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey on Tuesday named longtime state employee Kelly Butler as acting Director of the Alabama Department of Finance to replace outgoing Director Clinton Carter, who resigned this summer to become the Chief Financial Officer for the University of North Carolina System.

According to a press release by the governor’s office, Butler began his career with the Alabama Department of Revenue more than thirty years ago and has since worked for the Legislative Fiscal Office and the Alabama Department of Finance as Assistant State Budget Officer, State Budget Officer and, most recently, Assistant Finance Director for Fiscal Operations.

Now, a “thorough search” is underway for a permanent Finance Director.

Outgoing State Treasurer Young Boozer has emerged as the clear favorite for the appointment, as he leaves office in January due to being term-limited. Former Congressman Jo Bonner, who recently left his role as Vice Chancellor for Economic Development at the University of Alabama System, is also on the shortlist. Another possibility that has been floating around is state Rep. Danny Garrett (R-Trussville).

Until then, the state is in experienced hands with Butler.


His duties as Assistant Finance Director included overseeing the State Comptroller’s Office, the State Purchasing Division, the State Debt Management Division, and the State Business Systems Division.

“Kelly Butler has more than two decades of experience working with the state’s budgets and more than three decades experience as a fiscal analyst,” Ivey said in a statement. “I know he will do an excellent job leading the Alabama Department of Finance during this interim period.

The governor added, “I appreciate him stepping up as acting director and his commitment to my administration.”

In addition to handling his new job responsibilities, Butler will continue to work on crafting the Ivey administration’s budget proposals leading up to the 2019 Legislative Session. He accepted the new role with graciousness and thanked the employees that work with him for making the department run smoothly.

“I am honored that governor Ivey has asked me to lead the Department of Finance,” Butler announced in a statement. “The department has many talented employees who work hard to provide excellent services to other state agencies and to the people of Alabama. I look forward to working with them to continue those excellent services.”

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

16 hours ago

Alabama’s state climatologist John Christy rebuts claims of recent fires, heat waves being caused by human activity in in-depth interview

There is one particular word that Dr. John Christy turns to frequently for describing climate science: murky.

It’s a point of view foundational to his own research, and a message underpinning each of his twenty appearances before various congressional committees.

“It’s encouraging because they wouldn’t invite you back unless your message was compelling and not only compelling, but accurate,” Christy, Alabama’s state climatologist, told Yellowhammer News in an interview.

Christy, whose day job involves doing research and teaching as the Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Science at the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH), has gained notoriety over the years for dissenting from mainstream climate scientists and policymakers who argue that climate change is anthropogenic, or man-made, and that something must be done to stop it.


A “working-stiff” scientist

Dissent has gained for Christy the characterization as a “climate change skeptic” or “denier,” as critics refer to him, but he himself rejects those terms.

“I’m a working-stiff atmospheric scientist,” he said, “as opposed to those who support modeling efforts, those who use data sets that other people create and analyze them, but they don’t build them themselves.”

According to Christy, the result of fewer “working-stiff” scientists contributing to the prevailing climate debate is more frequent misuses of data.

“They’re not aware of what goes into it,” Christy said, referring to the data.

“Here we have a science that’s so dominated by personalities that claim the science is settled, yet when you walk up to them and say prove it, they can’t,” he said.

Christy spoke at length about what can be proven and what cannot in his self-described “murky” field, referring often to principles of the scientific method.

“You cannot prove extra greenhouse gases have done anything to the weather,” he said, responding to claims made by many scientists that more greenhouse gases have caused extreme weather patterns to intensify.

“We do not have an experiment that we can repeat and do,” he said.

Christy outlined another problem with attempts to implicate greenhouse gases: a failure to account for things countering trapping effects.

“We know that the extra greenhouse gases should warm the planet,” he said. “The weak part of that theory though is that when you add more greenhouse gases that trap heat, things happen that let it escape as well, and so not as much is trapped as climate models show.”

Economics of climate policy

Though his scientific arguments are primary, Christy also frequently discusses in interviews and testimonies the economic consequences of proposed climate change mitigation policy via carbon reduction.

“Every single person uses energy, carbon energy, and relies on carbon-based energy,” Christy said. “None of our medical advances, none of our technological advances, none of our progress would have happened in the last hundred years without energy derived from carbon.”

Christy contrasts that reality within the modern, developed world with the world he saw working as a missionary teacher in impoverished Africa during the 1970s.

“The energy source was wood chopped from the forest, the energy transmission system was the backs of women and girls hauling wood an average of three miles each day, the energy use system was burning the wood in an open fire indoors for heat and light,” Christy told members of the House Committee on Energy in 2006.

Broad availability to affordable energy enriches countries, Christy said, praising carbon.

“It is not evil. It is the stuff of life. It is plant food,” he said.

What about the fires and heat waves?

According to the National Interagency Fire Center, fires were burning in fifteen states as of Tuesday, August 14.

Alaska reported seventeen fires, Arizona reported eleven, both Oregon and Colorado reported ten, and California reported nine.

Much of the news media’s discussion about these fires over the past few weeks has established a correlation between the many fires and anthropogenic climate change, a correlation that Dr. Christy rejects.

Christy argues that exacerbating fires out west, particularly in California, results from human mismanagement. Such states have enacted strict management practices that disallow low-level fires from burning, he said.

“If you don’t let the low-intensity fires burn, that fuel builds up year after year,” Christy said. “Now once a fire gets going and it gets going enough, it has so much fuel that we can’t put it out.”

“In that sense, you could say that fires today are more intense, but it’s because of human management practices, not because mother nature has done something,” Christy said.

Data from the Fire Center indicates that the number of wildfires have been decreasing since the 1970s overall, though acreage burned has increased significantly.

As for the heat, Christy said there’s nothing abnormal going on in the United States.

“Heat waves have always happened,” he said. “Our most serious heatwaves were in the 1930’s. We have not matched those at all.”

Christy continued, “It is only a perception that is being built by the media that these are dramatic worst-ever heat wave kind of things but when we look at the numbers, and all science is numbers, we find that there were periods that were hotter, hotter for longer periods in the past, so it’s very hard to say that this was influenced by human effects when you go back before there could have been human effects and there’s the same or worse kind of events.”

Though Christy didn’t deny that the last three years have been the hottest ever recorded globally, he doesn’t concede that the changes are attributable to anything other than climate’s usual and historical erraticism.

@jeremywbeaman is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News

16 hours ago

Alabama state Rep. Standridge on ‘In God We Trust’ legislation: ‘It’s a simple message, but I believe it’s a powerful message’

Alabama state Rep. David Standridge (R-Hayden) was interviewed Tuesday on “Fox and Friends First,” where he discussed the state’s new law that allows “In God We Trust” to be displayed in public buildings.

Standridge, who sponsored the legislation in the state legislature, explained that the idea came in part out of recent debate about school safety. He said he views displaying the national motto as a way to bring added comfort to students, teachers and staff while they are at school.

Along the way, Standridge was shocked by the number of people who were afraid to touch the subject, due to what he views as a modern-day culture of hypersensitivity and “political correctness.”

Media outlets like and the Associated Press reported that legal challenges are “expected,” but, like Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall, Standridge does not see an issue with simply displaying the national motto – which he points out was passed by Congress and is featured on American currency.

“It’s a simple message, but I believe it’s a powerful message,” Standridge said on “Fox and Friends First.”


Standridge’s wife, Danna, is a former teacher at Hayden High School in Blount County, which is being viewed as the guinea pig county for the new law.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

17 hours ago

The media, including some in Alabama, continue endorsing aggressive action by liberals that will lead to violence

During the rise of the Tea Party, the American media pretended the group was violent and was going to get people hurt. There are multiple instances where the media disingenuously tied violent acts that were unrelated to the group or others on the American right; the facts didn’t matter.

Now, liberals are in the street punching reporters, cutting audio cables, yelling at people while they eat, showing up and screaming at town halls and throwing items at U.S. Senators like Doug Jones over Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court, while shouting, “You can kiss my ass if you vote yes. You can kiss my ass if you vote yes. You can kiss my ass.”

If the woman who committed this act were Republican, we would know every single thing about her and she would have been fired from her job.

But because she is fighting the liberal’s fight, the Alabama Political Reporter’s Josh Moon praised this ridiculousness:


This comes on the heels of CNN’s Chris Cuomo endorsing violence by Antifa in a “fight between good and evil”:

The violence is going to get worse. It is being fueled by bad people for bad reasons. The cowards in the media will make excuses for these people, and they will tell those who might be considering action that they are morally right. It implies doing nothing is complicit, and that it is more important than ever that Americans resist — even if that means violence.

It is easy to see that Josh Moon and Chris Cuomo aren’t going to get out in the street and start throwing hands, but rather, they will praise violent acts from behind their keyboards and from their televisions studios as they benefit from the carnage.