Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Review of Nearing Home: Life, Faith, and Finishing Well by Billy Graham

There are two things a person can be sure of in this world: death and taxes.  I would like to add a third thing a person can be sure of and that is the faith Billy Graham has in Jesus Christ.

I have just finished reading Reverend Graham's latest book, Nearing Home: Life,  Faith, and Finishing Well and I can say that I am not disappointed in it.  This is not to say that there are a couple of areas in the book when I felt that the advice given by Reverend Graham seemed redundant and very basic to me as well as times that the focus of the book was more towards a more aged and elderly audience than to a general audience that included people of my age group or younger.  ( I am 43.) 

With that said however, Reverend Graham's emphasis is on Jesus Christ and the reader's relationship with Him and this is shown in every facet of his writing in this book.  Reverend Graham encourages the readers of this book to not drift away, nor fade away, but live strong as you age, passing down the accumulated knowledge and wisdom to those younger than the readers of this book.  The title of the book says it all: finishing well in life and faith. 

Reverend Graham still shows his love for everyone in this world as at least twice in this book he encourages his readers to pause and accept the free gift of salvation found in Jesus Christ.  Reverend Graham is best known as an evangelist for Jesus Christ and he is still going strong in his calling as shown in this book. 

Reading this book did feel to me like I was sitting down on the front porch with the grandfather everyone wants or needs and listening to the years of knowledge and wisdom being poured forth, and I listened to every word.  Yes, the book sometimes is a slow read, but bear with it; finishing the book will give you insight on how to best prepare for your years to come. 

I am giving this book four stars and am recommending this book to you.

Please note that this book was provided to me by Thomas Nelson Publishers for review.  I did not promise nor guarantee in any way a positive review.   This review is mine and mine alone and was not influenced by any outside party.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Back to Prison with Bill Glass

I am exhausted. 

This weekend was the Bill Glass' Prison Ministry's DFW Weekend of Champions event.  19 prisons. 12,000 inmates.  Over 850 men and women giving their time and money to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to those locked up behind the razor wire. 

The results?  3673 total responses to the Gospel including 1623 first time!  I had the privilege of leading one of those first timers to Christ, and challenged another to re-dedicate his life to Christ.

I was at the Dawson State Jail, right outside downtown Dallas and out of all of the prison units I have ever been to, this had to have been the most oppressive and depressive of them all.

Front of the Dawson State Jail
People waiting to visit their loved ones in the Dawson State Jail.

This prison unit is located in an 11 story building right across from the Dallas County Jail and Justice Complex and is run by the CCA, which is a private prison management corporation.  This is a state prison, but is run by this private corporation.   It is a coed facility with the men housed on floors three, four and five, and the women housed on floors six through 10.  Of course we had women ministering to women and men to men.

I was assigned to the third floor, pod C, which houses 54 men.  The spiritual oppression was thick, and was felt by all three of us as we walked in.  During the first hour or so of being in the pod, I watched as one of my fellow team mates talked with two of the men from the pod; I was sitting a few feet away from them praying under my breath, rebuking the enemy and praying for boldness and for God to send me those ready to hear his call.

I have to say that this had to be the most difficult unit to hold a ministry event in.  The platform speakers had to use their natural voices only; no PA system was available for some reason, even though we had one on the floor that was brought with us.  When the speakers did speak, they had to deal with flushing toilets, TVs turned on, domino games,  other inmates speaking, and sleeping inmates.  It wasn't impossible, but was difficult. 

After the first speaker, I was seated at one of the metal tables when I had first two, then three inmates sit with me, all of whom professed to be believing Christians.  I asked them questions about their spiritual beliefs and decided to go ahead and go through the tract we use anyway, as a "just in case" measure.  About halfway through this, we were joined by another younger, tattooed inmate.  I asked him about his beliefs and he said he wasn't sure about them.  I told the others at the table that I wanted to focus on the youngster, since he was not sure and they were and they all agreed with me.  It took about 20 minutes, asking him what he thought of each scripture that was read, then if he said he was confused, I did my best (with the Holy Spirit's help) to explain what each one meant.  At the end I asked him if he wanted to accept Christ as his savior he said he did.  We prayed together and we all welcomed him to the family!  I have to say it was one of the most rewarding feelings of my life.

A few hours later, I spoke with another inmate who confessed Christ as his Lord and Savior, but had fallen away in his faith.  After speaking for another hour I finally asked him why he was waiting to re-dedicate his life to Christ and he answer that he wanted to wait until he had his life straightened up.  I told him that today is the day of salvation, not tomorrow.  Finally I looked at him and told him, "You're doing a cop out and you need to quit.  Make your decision now and stick to it!"  He looked at me with a very startled look and told me no one had ever spoken like that to him until now, but that I was right.  He held out his hand which I took and he prayed right then to repent and re-dedicate his life.   I really like it when the Holy Spirit makes a move like that!

The rest of the weekend was about the same for us.  Lots of distractions, some seekers, but mostly it was lonely inmates who were very happy to just have someone new to talk to.  So that's what we mostly did.  Listen.  And in listening, I hope that we showed them the love of Christ.