The Brevity of Life…
Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth. (Proverbs 27:1) Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. (James 4:14)
THIS WEEK, THE NATION HAS TURNED its attention to death of Billy Graham, who live just nine months short of a hundred years. When I was sixteen, my daddy had bought a new 1950 Ford pickup with a radio. One Sunday night I drove the truck home from church in Stevenson, AL and had the radio on. I scanned the radio dial and came across this fiery preacher who was laying it out. I listened to the end of the program and heard them say it was Billy Graham on the Hour of Decision and that I could hear him again next Sunday. So, I did…as regularly as I could. That was my introduction to Billy Graham.
In 1953 when he came to Chattanooga, I was enrolled in Tennessee Temple College and attended every meeting. As his ministry grew, he made some changes in who he would get to sponsor him, and this created division among pastors as to whether or not they would participate in his meetings. I leave the rightness or wrongness of that decision with the Lord because he is God’s servant and He will decide those things. That sure takes a load off my back if God is capable of judging His servants and telling them what to do. I don’t have the time nor the ability to do all of that.
I have listened to many of his recorded messages and he always preached Christ. When he gave the invitation, it was always to receive Christ as Savior and Lord and he included repentance in his messages. He focused on the gospel and never got into other issues such as abortion or the Jewish holocaust. I have wished many times that he would have taken up the cause of the unborn babies who are being murdered. He spoke often of the wickedness of America but was never specific.
There was never a hint of scandal against him in his personal living or in his handling of money entrusted to him. He left behind two strong children: Franklin Graham and Ann Graham Lotts who preach and teach a strong Bible message.
EVANGELIST MORDEDAI HAM was the preacher in Charlotte, NC who led 17-year-old Billy Graham to Christ. At the close of Mordecai Ham’s ministry, he was the guest speaker at Highland Park Baptist Church. His book was just out: “50 Years on the Battlefront.” I bought a copy. At the close of the service, Temple students lined up to get Dr. Ham to sign our Bibles. The young man in front of me was wearing charcoal trousers with a wide pink stripe down the sides.
HE HANDED HIS BIBLE TO DR. HAM AND SAID: “God has called me to be a big-time evangelist. Dr. Ham, didn’t bat an eye or flinch. He just signed the boy’s Bible and handed it back to him as he said: “You’ll never make it, son.” Then it was my turn to hand him my Bible. I wasn’t going to tell Dr. Ham… anything…. about what I was going to do. Nothing. I knew that in Dr. Ham’s meetings people on several occasions had died during the invitation when Dr. Ham would go to them and plead with them to be saved. So, I just waited to get my Bible back, so I could go back to my seat. That was the man who led Billy Graham to Christ. This was also the man who had tried to baptize a cat when he was a boy.
ALL THIS WEEK I HAVE BEEN A BIT WITHDRAWN AND MOODY as I have given some time to thinking how short life is. It was 68 years ago when I heard Billy Graham the first time. In those days it looked like revival was promising. I was young and excited that I could have a part in sharing the Gospel. Yes sir, I was going to help get it done. But along with that there are so many things I wish I could do over and things I wish I had not said and I’m not going to tell you what they were. In those days I knew a lot and then I began to discover that I didn’t know much of anything. So many times, I proved I was the Head Dummy.
FINALLY, I REALIZED THAT THE BEST I COULD DO was to let God do through me whatever He wanted to do and leave the results up to Him. The idea of working for God and getting Him to help me do His work was not the smart way of going about it. So, if I can keep Dan, straight, I will have it about right.
LIFE IS SHORT...BUT WHO KNOWS ABOUT IT? It’s a well-kept secret. Only the old people know about it. The young read about it but with them it is academic. Death? Yes, but it’s for somebody else. They can’t imagine the world being without them. Leave them alone and let them be children. They will find the secret in due time. Right now, the big deal is to be able to get their driver’s license and then they’re busy, busy, busy until they’re downsizing into retirement.
IT HIT ME HARD WHEN BROTHER ROLOFF WAS KILLED. A storm ripped off the wing of his plane at 20,000 feet. I played piano for him to sing at times in meetings and we talked on the phone. When Kent Kelly and I visited his home in Corpus Christi, TX he fixed a salad for us in his kitchen while he paced the floor with his long extension cord and talked with people in the U.S. and Germany. People wanting help with troubled youth.
WHEN PAUL FERGUSON WENT TO HEAVEN, I knew that life is short. I had had him in meetings where I was a pastor. I interviewed him for six days to jot down some things about his life. God did some things in his life that were unusual, to say the least. I wrote them down in the book: Paul Ferguson the Fighter. Dr. Roberson read the manuscript, wrote some in the front of the book and gave me the title for the book. While we were talking those six days, many times we were overwhelmed by the presence of the Lord and had to stop and weep in His presence. When Paul went home to Heaven, it was a powerful statement to me on how short life is.
THEN, DR. LEE ROBERSON WENT HOME. I didn’t go to his funeral. I knew it would be crowded. I went to his funeral at home. I still miss him. I met him one evening at 6:00 o’clock in his office with my pastor from Stevenson, AL. It was in the Spring of 1952. He was in his prime. He became my second daddy. Still is. He had some faults. I didn’t care. I still don’t care. Moses had some faults. I love to go back and visit with Moses. Those ornery hoodlums gave him a fit. He was always begging God not to kill them. Dr. Roberson was like Moses. I missed him…bad…when he went home. Life is short.
PASTOR KENT KELLY WENT HOME AND LIFE WAS GETTING SHORTER.
We spent many hours together discussing issues and strategies for dealing with government overreach into our schools and churches in North Carolina. We talked about Bible subjects and found we agreed so very much. A man whose heart was bent toward God and loved people as his own. When he went home, I was being taught how short life is.
WE'VE GOT FAMILY AND FRIENDS GOING HOME and their departure always reminds us that life is short. We’re talking about the brevity of life. Oh, my friend! Has it occurred to you that life is short and if you need to get saved, you need to get saved right now. Not tomorrow. Right now. If you are saved, are you walking with God and are you surrendered to Him? Because life is short, we can look forward to Heaven….soon. If you have to wait ten years, that’s soon. Life is short. Ω
Read Through the Bible in a Year
FEBRUARY 23, 2018 – FRIDAY
A.M. Numbers 8-10 P.M. Mark 5:1-20
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Good Verses to Memorize:
And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. (Deuteronomy 6:6-7)
Song for Today:
Just When I Need Him (2:47) (Dr. Lee Roberson)
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