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Bookending the Day!

Psalms 92:1-2 says, “It is good to give thanks to the Lord…to declare Thy lovingkindness in the morning, and Thy faithfulness by night.”

I often think of this verse when I awaken in the morning because I want to do what it says – declare God’s lovingkindness first thing. I have wondered if the Psalmist had it backwards – to remember God’s faithfulness in the morning and His lovingkindness at night – but he didn’t get it backwards. I can do both at both times!

To me night is a time to reflect on His lovingkindness during the day just past. His provision and care for me. His protection through all the activities of my day. And in the morning I remember His faithfulness during the night. Good rest. Safety. Shelter. Warmth – especially this bitterly cold winter!

God cares for His children. I talked with a man this morning who felt God had abandoned him. There was nothing I could say to him to make him feel differently. And since I had a period in my life when I felt abandoned by God, I was sympathetic with his feelings.

The scripture is clear that God does not abandon, forsake, leave, forget His children. Ever. No way!

The awesome Almighty God, Creator of the universe, Redeemer of mankind thinks of me! Now if that doesn’t make you sing of His lovingkindness in the morning I don’t know what will. And this same dynamic God has me engraved on the palm of His hands, protects me with His strong right arm, guides me with His eye, inclines His ear to me, carries me when I am weary. I can sing of His faithfulness all the time.

It’s good to bookend my day with praise. It corrects my focus – off of me and onto Him. It enlarges my vision to see the world in need of Him. It tenderizes my heart for others. It humbles me to recount His many blessings in my life. And yes, sometimes blessings do “come through raindrops”, but even those He uses to strengthen me.

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Martin Luther King and My Father and Howard Jones

This is reprinted from Christian Broadcasting Network. It is important to revisit history for the events that helped shape our lives and determine our future. We must not forget nor fail to remember the truth of events.

Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. used to say that the most segregated hour in the country was on Sunday mornings at 11 a.m.

However, that all began to slowly change in 1952 when the Reverend Billy Graham made a decision to stop holding segregated crusades.

He faced an insurmountable amount of criticism for this decision, but with the guidance of King and other leaders such as Reverend Howard Jones – the first black evangelist – Graham changed the face of religion in America as we know it.

The year was 1953. America’s borders were filled with racial tension and uncertainty.

Graham was sailing uncharted territory when he did the unthinkable. He held a crusade in Chattanooga, Tennessee where hundreds of thousands of men, women and children of all races sat together and worshiped the Lord.

“When God looks at you, He doesn’t look on the outward appearance; the Bible says He looks upon the heart,” Graham said. And he took his fight to end segregation to the streets.

Graham had been preaching at Madison Square Garden to thousands nightly, but very few blacks came. So, at the suggestion of a colleague, he asked Jones for help. Jones recommended that Graham take his message to the streets of New York, and that’s exactly what he did.

Jones said, “I decided I was never going to speak to anymore segregated audiences and he said, ‘I want it to be that way. He said, ‘What do you mean?’ I said ‘Go to Harlem.'”

Graham preached at Salem Methodist Church to thousands. The next week, he went to Brooklyn. And slowly, but surely, the crusades in New York became increasingly integrated.

Prominent singer Ethel Waters attended the event and re-dedicated her life to Christ.

Enter… Martin Luther King

Graham even invited his good friend King, to one of the events.

“We thank Thee this evening for the marvelous things that have been done in the city through the dynamic preaching of this evangelist. We ask Thee, oh God, to continue blessing him and give him power and authorities. divine influence,” King prayed.

Graham faced a flurry of criticism from both blacks and whites, but that did not deter him.

“Some whites wanted to know why you would fool around with these people. And some said if you’re going to integrate your team we will not support you. We will not give you money, so they used all kinds of pressures on him, but he said ‘I don’t care. I’m going to stick by my guns,'” Jones said.

On the black side, Graham found himself facing criticism that he wasn’t doing enough so support the black community and that he “didn’t speak enough about civil rights,” BGEA associate evangelist Dr. Ralph Bell said.

Graham went to King for advice.

Graham recounted his conversation with King: “Martin Luther King suggested to me that I stay in the South and hold integrated meetings and that he was going to take to the streets and that he would probably get killed in the streets. ‘But I don’t think you ought to because you are going to be able to do some things that I can’t and I’m going to be able to do some things you can’t, but we’re after the same objective.'”

And so he did, holding crusades from Arkansas to Alabama.

“So here we were with neighborhood after neighborhood after neighborhood in my state on the verge of violence, and yet tens of thousands of black and white Christians were there together in a football stadium,” recalled former President Bill Clinton.

“And when he issued the call at the end of this message, thousands came down holding hands, arm in arm crying,” Clinton said. “It was the beginning of the end of the old South in my home state. I will never forget it.”

He even went to South Africa preaching before an integrated audience in 1973.

Graham also worked closely with Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon – urging them to ensure equality for all.

“Then there’s the race problem, and it seems to me should be put in its proper perspective” Graham said. “It is a world problem… there is greater improvement being made in America than perhaps any great nation in the history of the world because we are at least attempting to solve the problem through understanding, through dialogue, through legislation.

In the end, Graham’s legacy is one that is filled with a message of love, togetherness, and unity.

Jones said, “I think Billy has proven the fact that in Christ there’s no east or west and no north or south. We just love Him.”

Graham said, “The human heart is the same the world over. Only Christ can meet the deepest needs of our world and our hearts. Christ alone can bring lasting peace — peace with God, peace among men and nations.”

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My Father’s 95th Birthday!

We celebrate my father’s birthday on Thursday, the 7th. (I’ll post my personal pictures at some point.) There is to be a big party Thursday night in Asheville but there are several parties ahead of time – and one after – he’s going to be partied out! But you don’t turn 95 every day! For him, he may just as soon have a quiet day but I know he loves the excitement and attention, at this age. At one time in his life, he told my Mother about another occasion, “I dread looking forward to it.” Have you ever felt that way, just so tired, pressed, that it sucked the joy out of life? I think Daddy felt that way far too often. When you think of all that he carried…the schedule, pressures, decisions…

I will go to Asheville for the festivities. I have heard that there are between 600-900 guest invited! I don’t think that’s just family! Although we could have that many if we added all the cousins, and all the “second removeds, 3rd removeds” (I don’t follow how that works…) and great-grandchildren and one great-great!! In other words there are a lot of Grahams. By in large, we are a nice lot! There are some I’d rather not go on vacation with but we all seem to have a good sense of humor, love the Lord and are busy contributing. Some I enjoy, some I don’t. Typical family.

We do not sit around praying and reading our Bibles all day. We don’t wear halos. We are really rather ordinary but have an extraordinary relative. That does not make us special – it just makes us different. And Daddy is extraordinary because he has followed God’s call on his life in a single-focused way. Everybody has that opportunity. Most of us slip along the way – I sure did. But my father gave me extraordinary grace. To each one who has slipped, he gives grace. We have had divorces, affairs, unwed pregnancies, drug abuse, jail time…not a pretty picture except that God’s outrageous grace has been our comfort and His faithfulness, our security.

And look at God’s family! What a messy lot we are.

My father is loved around the globe. But nowhere as much as at home. (I think that is a tribute to my Mother. Had she been a bitter person… But no, she was a loving, joyful lady who saw her supporting role as important as his.) His family loves him. He is “Daddy” to his children and “Daddy Bill” to his grandchildren. We will celebrate him and in our memories, my mother. He wouldn’t be who he is without her. He misses her terribly and probably it is exacerbated by any celebration where she is absent. They will be reunited soon in an even greater celebration.

Any celebration we have here on earth is but a shadow of what is to come!! All of glory is ahead!