Four Life Lessons from Billy Graham

This deserves to be reblogged. Billy Graham was and is an example of who we should be in Christ. Enjoy the Post. What are your take aways?

As we all know, last week, Billy Graham passed away at the age of 99. He had almost seven decades of faithful and fruitful ministry. What Paul said about his own life aptly applies to Billy Graham: “For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:6 (NIV)


He influenced so many lives, including my own. My claim to fame is I had the privilege of personally talking with him (very briefly) in Urbana, Illinois, at a Missionary Conference.

Billy’s life was focused and consistent. Because of that he was able to accomplish a great deal. Here are four values that impacted his ministry and can shape ours today.


He focused on one thing – preach the Gospel. None…

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LOVE – Truth in Action



This month the central theme has been obedience and dependence, and today we add a third, love. I consider these three actions as defining elements in our lives.


Two require submission and one action.

Love is one of the three things God gave us: Faith, Hope, and Love. We abide in Love through Faith and Hope. Obedience and Dependence are the vehicles in which Faith, Hope, and Love operate.

“Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 NLT

Obedience and dependence do not require outward interaction, they are a state of being. Love, on the other hand, requires a second party and is an action taken.

God’s love is eternal and our wellspring. It never dries up, we never have to search for the living water. He loves us and it is our place as Christians to love others.

The first step in loving others is loving yourself. The question is, if you are commanded to love your neighbor as you love yourself, how can you love others if you do not love yourself? To love others, you have to first forgive yourself for all your actual and perceived sins that haunt you. Once you have accomplished this and believe you have been forgiven, then and only then can you show God’s truth, which is love, through your actions. 

It is important to note that, we are not saved through our works, we do not live in the Old Testament dispensation. Through the New Testament, we are new creatures in Christ and live through GRACE. We cannot be saved through this action, we are saved by grace and only grace. The action is only a demonstration of our faith.

“God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:8-10 NLT

Further, we should not misinterpret this act as a deed, it manifests itself as action. It is not a work that we do to receive Gods love, it is a gift. God loved us first, and because He loves us, we love others and act to meet their needs. We love others sharing Gods love for us through our actions.We are a branch of His tree. Our actions are demonstrations of God’s love for us.Love4

Fruit of the Spirit3Love is the most important Fruit of the Spirit, Galatians 5:22. Without agape love, Christ-centered love, we cannot show the other Fruit listed. It is through the action of Love that all other Fruit of the Spirit is given life.

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Galatians 5:22-23 NLT

Christian love

As Christian Warriors we must all strive to love others as an action. This simply means we step out of our comfort zone to assist others in need of help; others can be a co-worker, friend, family member or stranger.

I find that when I am nudged by the quiet voice of God, I need to step out of my comfort zone. Take a moment to discover when God nudged you and caused you to pay greater attention to others. We should all become more aware and present in the moment. It is important that during these moments we take immediate action. If we do not take action, i.e. the failure to take action, you will find these moments tend to haunt you.

Practice displaying God’s love through your actions. As we do so, we become more Christ-like and mature in the Word as Christian Warriors. You’ll become the person others speak about saying, “I don’t know what it is about Sam, there’s a warmth and caring I sense when I am around him.” This means others are beginning to sense the Holy Spirit dwelling in you. It also is a sign that you are doing God’s work.

Love is truth in action!


From Verse-by-Verse Commentary, 1 John 3:18, by Grant Richison, June 17, 2001,

Scriptures –;;

More on Fruit of the Spirit from Lisa Blair: – Change Your Filter, Hear His Voice, Feb 22, 2018; Valentine’s Day, Temporal Love, Feb 21, 2018 Punishment to Correction and Healing, Feb 21, 2018; Core Values Early In Life, Sept 23, 2017; Children-Fruit of the Spirit, Sept 22, 2017; Activating the Fruit of the Spirit in Children, Sept 19, 2017
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Blessing + Instructions = Fulfillment of Gods Promise


“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.”

Galatians 5:13 NIV

I know without question, God unconditionally loves us. Remember Summer Bible Camp singing, ‘Jesus Loves Me this I know, for the Bible tells me so…’, what I didn’t know as a child was, God always blesses us, but wants it to be an interactive experience, hence the blessing is accompanied by ‘instructions for proper use’.

Most of the time, we receive the blessing, forge ahead and later ask, why is the blessing less than I expected? We see the blessing in its fullest. We acknowledge the blessing. We do not follow the instructions associated with the blessing.

If we unpack the scripture, we read:

  1. We are called to be free.
  2. We should not indulge our freedom in the flesh.
  3. We should humble ourselves.
  4. We should serve one another in love.


The Instructions Mean:

1. We know we are called to be free and received Jesus as our Lord and Savior on our own recognizance, we were not forced to ‘saved’, it was our own passion to desire more of God,  we chose to be saved. We think this gives us a license that emboldens us. Spiritually we are emboldened and equate it to its root, to encourage. In the flesh we are not emboldened, we translate the term as, empowered, generated by self-endowed, blazon, and self-righteous attitudes.

2. We know we should not indulge in our freedom through self-indulgence, yet becoming emboldened we forget it is not our own doing, but a gift from God, and is intended to be used to serve others, not ourselves.

3. We know we should be humble, but instead, we insert ourselves as the subject of the equation. This means we omit our Lord as the subject, rather giving ourselves the credit. Being humble takes practice and requires honesty to give credit where it is due.

4. We know we should serve one another in Love. Loving our neighbor and treating them as we treat ourselves in the Great Commandment, Jesus said, “this I leave you…”

These four steps will maximize our blessing. Yet being human, we get caught up in our own aggrandizement and forge ahead without using the instructions. How many of us have bought something and when it arrived we unpacked it, separate the parts and began putting the item together only to find that we should have read the instructions? Prayer is much the same, we can receive the prayer without applying the instructions and receive part of what God intended, or we can gratefully receive the blessing, thank God for answering our prayer, and follow his instructions to fulfill the blessing as intended.

Our problem is that we are not selfless people as God desires, we are self-absorbed people. We tend to follow the instructions but seldom through to the end. As we mature in the Word through our actions and deeds the instructions become involuntary and becomes one with us. We are free, but should not indulge the flesh, and should always be humble and loving.

Big order, but one we should work to strengthen and apply throughout the day because we will never meet perfection on earth, but we can continue to strive to be ‘on the way’.


One practice in learning to pray is to strengthen our understanding and application by memorizing scripture.

I’ve included a few, but do not stop here, search the Bible for other scriptures to help you mature in the Word. I view this process as a lifelong commitment.


“We love because [God] first loved us.” John 4:1

“Since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”  John 4:11-12

“Because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we are dead in our transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.” Ephesians 2:4




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Ugliness In The Midst Of Beauty

Grace Over Pain

It’s one thing for life to be difficult for everyone around you. But it’s a more difficult pill to swallow when it seems as though everyone else’s life is in order except for yours.  Everyone thinks your city is one of the best places to live in because of the opportunities there. But this isn’t the same story for you. You are getting discouraged because you don’t know what you’re doing wrong. You coach people for interviews and they get jobs easily. However when you go, you get rejected. You have the degrees, and qualifications to do better but it’s as though your life is ugly in the midst of beauty.  Have you ever found yourself in a situation like this?

Each time i study Acts 3:1-9, i try to imagine what the life of the lame man was like. I find the story very interesting because of the name…

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Change Your Filter, Hear His Voice


My refrigerator has a water filter symbol that changes color to let me know it’s time to change the water filter. Its purpose is to remove toxins and purify our drinking water. As I ventured to the garage to get the replacement filter, God quipped, ‘filters work, write about how you can filter out the voice of the evil one and change in your life’6B8123ED-07EF-4863-A450-AD942066208C

This could be a figurative process, but my recommendation is to take out your calendars and place a weekly or monthly reminder to evaluate what happened throughout the week or month and how you approached it. It is easier to jot down the day’s events, highlights, good and bad, so at the end of the month, you have a plus/minus chart or checklist. A plus referring to Gods voice and minus to the evil ones’ voice. 1EFF2914-4406-4CC8-AA4D-F1ED7AFB8488

What are we looking for when evaluating the chart or checklist? 784A3D0E-B85D-493A-AB76-5CDA5C051C23We are looking for our level of dependency on the Lord and whether we heard his voice and instructions and acted accordingly. This is a process, but first, we must ask ourselves, do we know how to identify Gods voice because if we cannot, we cannot be obedient.

Filters have agents in them to filter our specific toxins. The Word are the agents. Our filter is the same, filtering out sin. We need to learn how to identify Gods voice and then filter out the activities of the evil ones’ impact on our lives. We must learn to avoid the wiles of evil one, known as sin. Sin is not just listed in the 10 Commandments but every one of the components of the Fruit of the Spirit. It’s our behavior and how we approach life’s situations. The toxins are the grunts of the evil one and our folly. To eradicate the toxins, we must learn to identify and listen to Gods voice.B25734C6-BAAE-4776-B03B-AB1DD6E8BAEB Jesus said, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”
John 10:27 NIV

I read something that explains how sheep learn to recognize the shepherd’s voice. Lambs, baby sheep, are not born knowing the shepherd’s voice. They are conditioned to hear his voice. Initially, the lambs simply follow the flock wherever they go. Over time they become conditioned to move towards the sheepherder’s voice, they learn that his voice equates to feeding time. When sheep hear a new voice,  their conditioning begins again. “Even sheep that are introduced to a new flock will follow the other sheep until they too recognize the shepherd.” *

We must learn to differentiate between


God’s voice, the evil one’s voice, and our own foolish folly. We must become familiar with the Word of God by reading the Bible, and studying the scriptures. Samuel, could not identify the Lords voice the first three times he called him, and Eli told him it was the Lord that had been calling him. He began to recognize the Lords voice over time. The same is true today, we must learn the Lords’s voice through trial and error until it becomes a norm.

In 1 Samuel 10:3,1-10, we see Samuel, a young bondservant of Eli’s, learning to identify God’s voice. The chapter is about Samuel’s conditioning. One night everyone was asleep, and Samuel thought he heard Eli calling. He went to him, and Eli was asleep. Samuel asked Eli, did you call master? Eli said, no. This happened two more times, each time Eli said, go back to sleep, I did not call you. The Lord called Samuel’s name a third time, again Eli told him to go back to bed, but before he left, Eli said, if He calls again, answer ‘Speak Lord, for Your servant hears.’

“Go, lie down; and it shall be, if He calls you, that you must say, ‘Speak, Lord, for Your servant hears.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. Now the Lord came and stood and called as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel answered, “Speak, for Your servant hears.”
1 Samuel 3:8-10, NIV

When God first spoke to Samuel he did not know His voice, he learned to recognize his voice just as the sheep learn to recognize the sheepherders’ voice. Samuel learned to recognize Gods’ voice, and we must learn to do the same.

Both the Old and New Testament informs us that our Lord wants to have a relationship with us and to do so, we must learn to hear His voice. This is not as easy as it sounds, it is a process. 31500D9A-5D1C-449C-85C2-C20490C1FACDAt times we hear the evil one mimicking the Lord’s voice nudging us to do or say something that is not consistent with the Word of God, and sometimes we follow the flock that does not belong to the Lord.





So, the question becomes, how do we know it is Gods’ voice? We know his voice because God will never tell or suggest anything that is not consistent with His Word. This means that when you hear the quiet voice if it is not the Word of God, it is not His voice. If the voice says, call in sick and go with your friends (lying); take the change off the counter, no one will see you (stealing); look at your friends test and copy their answers (cheating); refusing to help a co-worker (lack of gentleness); lying (dishonesty); and gossiping (lack of self-control).* it is the evil one’s voice you are hearing. His commands or suggestions never impart the Fruit of the spirit 2Fruit of the Spirit or Gods’ laws. We have to learn to identify which voice we are hearing. It is not exactly black or white, there is a third voice, our own, which sends us down a pathway fit for fools.  You may ask, how do we avoid the pitfalls? The answer is, we learn His voice by reading the Bible, studying scriptures, researching commentaries, going to Bible Study and discussing the Word with others more mature in how to apply the Word of God in their lives. This is a lifelong process, but like Olympians, we may fall, stumble or fail, but we get back up and correct our weaknesses.

Changing our Filter

07579BE1-ACE8-4ED8-8686-730F7E87CF6AEach week or month, recap your experiences that you have written down. How often did you identify the quiet voice as the evil one, how often was it the folly of your own making, and how often was it the quiet voice of God. Applying this process provides you the tools to manage your behavior while eliminating negative behavior. This process is similar to the steps Harm Reduction uses  where you identify the attributes you want to maintain as those you want to eliminate.

As you are assessing whose voice you are hearing and following, you will begin to quickly acknowledge whose voice it is. If it’s the Lord, you will follow him, if it is another voice you will reject it and move on. And, as you read scriptures in the Bible, you will more readily begin to understand how the Word applies to our daily activities and become stronger Christian Warriors.

Changing the filter gives you the power to eliminate the toxins that make you ill, weak and subject to the wiles of the evil one. We learn to say and do what is right, not because people are watching, but because we are Gods’ children. We learn to be obedient and not act in a way that is comfortable to the flesh; as the Bible says, ‘not as men-pleasers but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from our heart’. (Eph 6:5,6)

The voice we follow directs our path. Our goal is to become active in the Word, act obediently, and ultimately become wholly dependent on the Word of God. As we regularly change our filter, we will find fewer toxins existing in our lives. God’s voice will be acknowledged earlier and we will become more dependent upon his love for us. Our relationship blossoms and we become radical Christian Warriors.


Note, I mentioned in yesterdays Post that God often speaks to us three times to get our attention, this is another case of speaking three times before Samuel identifies his Voice and acknowledges the Lord.

Images-Google Images; Bible

* Learning to Recognize the Shepherd’s Voice. Carol Pipes. 2/21/2018

See my Post, From Punishment to Correction and Healing for more about the Fruit of the Spirit.

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One Step is Enough


One Step is Enough. One step begins your journey with the Lord. When God challenges us to take a step in uncharted territory remember, all great things are accomplished one step at a time. God commands us to be strong and courageous. The saying, ‘the third time is a charm’ must have come from the Bible. God knows we are a timid people. He told Joshua 3x’s to cross the Jordan and he would be with him like he was with Moses. Is there anything God has commanded you to do and you remain timid and unsure? Remember one step in the commanded direction will lead you to your finish line.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
‭‭Joshua‬ ‭1:9‬ ‭NIV‬‬‬‬‬‬

“That assurance-which we may all have if we cling to Jesus, in whom God comes to be 0391271B-7143-4099-8C4A-65896EF6C43Cwith every believing soul-is the only basis on which the command to Joshua, thrice repeated, can wisely or securely be rested. It is mockery to say to a man conscious of weakness, and knowing that there are evils which must surely come, and evils which may possibly come, against which he is powerless, ‘Don’t be afraid’ CAF1F4E5-2A86-4F89-8DD3-CE01E47AFEBAunless you can

show him good reason why he need not be. And there is only one reason which can still reasonable dread in a human heart that has to front ‘all the ills that flesh is heir to,’ and sees behind them all the grim form of death. He ought to be afraid, unless-unless what? Unless he has heard and taken into his inmost soul the Voice that said to Joshua, ‘I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee: be strong and of a good courage,’ or, still more sweet and peace-bringing, the Voice that said to the frightened crew of the fishing-boat in the storm and the darkness,’ It is I; be not afraid.’ If we know that Christ is with us, it is wise to be strong and courageous; if we are meeting the tempest alone, the best thing we can do is to fear, for the fear may drive us to seek for His help, and He ever stretches out His hand to him who is afraid, as he ought to be, when he feels the cold water rising above his knees, and by his very fear is driven to faith, and cries, ‘Lord, save; I perish!’”* 


As I mentioned in the last Post, Caught in the Thought, our focus for the upcoming days, maybe weeks is, ‘dependence upon the Lord’. We can do nothing without the Lord. Our full submission to the Word is the only way we will become active Christians, Christian Warrior’s if you will. It is the only way we can develop radical faith and take the first step as commanded. As we walk with Jesus just as Moses, Joshua, Peter, and others did, we will become confident and strong because we will rest in knowing he is always with us.

Billy Graham was one such man, he was walking down a dusty road to work when Jesus called him. Will you follow the Lord? Add your name to the list.

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* The New Leaders Commission. Joshua 1:1-1:11. McLaren’s Expositions.

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Caught in The Thought

Have you ever been caught saying something under your breath, only to be ‘called out’ by a person nearby, and your immediate response is, ‘I didn’t say that’! God is somewhat like us, only he hears our inner thoughts. In fact, I believe at times he has a ‘belly laugh’ when he is focusing on us and listens in to our thoughts.

Sarah-GettyImages-171408769-57066c8b3df78c7d9e980d24Genesis 18:1-15 is one such instance when he, to use a colloquialism of the day, ‘called someone out,’ no doubt tickled and laughing. It takes place in the Story of the Three Visitors. Three Visitors visited Abraham. One says to Abraham, Sarah will have a son by next year this time. [If she was of child-bearing age, it would be believable, but she is not, Sarah was I her 90’s.] The hilarious part begins in verse nine.

“Where is your wife, Sarah?” they asked him. “There, in the tent,” he said. Then the Lord said, “I will surely return your way about this time next year, and Sarah, your wife, will have a son.” Now Sarah was listening from the entrance to the tent, which was behind him. Abraham and Sarah were already very old, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing. So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, “After I am worn out, and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?” Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.” Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, “I did not laugh.” But he said, “Yes, you did laugh.”
Genesis 18:9-15 NIV

One visitor, the Lord, asked, where is Sarah? Abraham responded she’s in the tent. Sarah was not with the men and was listening from the tent.

Then the visitor said,  she will have a son next year this time. When she heard him, she said to herself, why now, I’m too old and so is Abraham.

The Lord asked Abraham, why did Sarah laugh and say, “will I really have a baby now that I’m too old?”

Recognizing that the Lord heard her thought, she lied and said, ‘I did not say that.’ What an internal conversation. She was most likely in a state of shock and disbelief at this time. How could someone hear her most inner thoughts? Still not fully convinced, but frightened, Sarah heard the Lord reply, “Oh, yes you did laugh.” 

Throughout the Bible, there is a reference to the fact that God hears all of our thoughts. There is nothing we voice, internal conversations, or actions we take that He does not hear or see, and yet, we think we hold secret thoughts from God.  Most of us have been put on notice by God during the course of our lives letting us know He hears and sees EVERYTHING. Like Sarah, we hear his voice say, why did you say that, or why did you do that? The Lord hears all and knows all. We, humans, are arrogant and egotistical, thinking we are smart enough to keep our thoughts to ourselves and from God.

Let’s laugh with our Lord about our immaturity and then begin to pay more attention to what we think, take control of our thoughts and shift our actions, which are given life through our self-talk. Let’s work to hold honest conversations with God. Let’s begin to pray earnestly.

In my earlier Post, The Trinity, Consecration, and Lent, we discussed the premise of Consecration and Lent. Both require we enter into prayer with God, still our minds, and have honest conversations with Him. 

Now, all humor aside, I am entering Consecration today, and the issue of dependence is weighing heavily on me. I have been in prayer about how to proceed with my Blog over the next several weeks and it seems we need further discussion about what dependence means to us spiritually. Everything we do, as Christians, rests on Jesus Christ, our cornerstone. Dependence requires radical faith.

Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.’
Psalms 37:5-6 ESV

Spiritual dependency does not mean sit and wait for the Lord to take over and do our work for us, it means, ask for his direction and when you hear from Him move forward. His way may not seem logical in human context, but it will forge our path and direct us to our purpose.

radicaljesusTo unpack this, we are talking about radical change. You may ask, how does this relate to Consecration or Lent?  Keeping in mind that no one can tell you what to pray about, this is a suggestion – If you plan to take part in this time of introspection, you may consider entering into prayer to discuss your radical change in becoming an active Christian Warrior with God.

Psalm 36 and 37 focuses on Radical faith. “Godly living is radically different from the way we learned to live while in the world. It requires the supernatural assistance of the Holy Spirit” because it is not part of the logical, earthly way of doing things. Living a Godly life requires that our speech, and conduct changes; that we refuse to respond with anger; that we let God fill our thoughts and avoid wickedness; that we honor commitments even when they may be personally costly to do so; that we think and speak in a way that pleases the Lord; and that we understand that righteousness actively rejects wrongdoings.

Radical faith in the Lord requires energy, perseverance, dedication, and concentration. When we enter this process, we have to be aware that the evil one will enter into attack mode because we have become active threats to his existence. We no longer aimlessly commit sin, we stop to think about what we are preparing to say or do instead of strategizing about how to circumvent what you know in your heart to be true. The evil one lives on the plots against the ungodly and we are entering the realm of godliness. Once we have radical faith, we become radical warriors.

Radical warriors walk by faith and not by sight. Radical warriors believe in God’s Word and not what they see with their eyes and feel with their senses. God’s Word is the only true reality.

Martin Luther said, “Rest in the Lord; wait patiently for Him. ‘In Hebrew, ‘ Be silent to God and let Him mold thee’ Keep still and He will mold thee to the right shape.”

Whether you join others in Consecration or Lent or not, it is time for all of us to enter into radical, life-changing faith with our Lord and Savior and become Radical Warriors. To accomplish this, we must enter into prayer, and as Martin Luther said, ‘be silent’ until we hear God speak to us and lead us to a place of dependency where we stand on the cornerstone of our very existence.

Images – Google Images; Rembrandt –, Public Domain, Link“>

Resources –; Hayford’s Bible Handbook, Jack Hayford, General Editor, 1998, pp. 142,43; Nelson’s Quick Reference, Warren Wiersbe, 1991, pp 330,31

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