Make Your Life a Witness for Christ~Billy Graham

Make Your Life a Witness for Christ

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Q: I'm a high school teacher, and it's been a very discouraging year for me. I can't even count the number of my students who've gotten pregnant, or are on drugs, or get drunk every weekend, etc. I can't talk about Christ in the classroom, and yet I know He's the only answer. What should I do? Sometimes I wonder if I should just quit. - Mrs. M.W.

  • (Photo: BGEA / File)

A: I sincerely hope you won't leave your position - not unless God clearly leads you to step away from it. After all, the situation in your school may be bad - but how much worse would it be if you (and others like you) weren't there? Jesus said, "You are the salt of the earth.... You are the light of the world" (Matthew 5:13,14).

What can you do? First, you can pray - and so can people in your church and teachers in your school who share your concern. Don't fight this battle alone; others share your concern, and you need to stand together. Pray for your students, and pray also for your principal and other administrators.

Then ask God to make your life a witness for Christ - even if you can't speak openly about Him. Do others see Christ's joy and peace in you? Do your students sense His love and compassion through you? Find ways to confront them with the dangers they face, and urge your school to develop programs to combat these.

Finally, encourage the young people in your church (and their leaders) to stand firm for Christ, and to reach out in His name to their fellow students. They may not influence everyone - but even one is important to God. Jesus said there is "rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents" (Luke 15:7).

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Affectionately known as the "World's Preacher" for more than 60 years, the Rev. Billy Graham is one of the most influential and respected spiritual leaders of the 20th century. He has been a friend and spiritual advisor to ten American presidents and has preached the Gospel to more people in live audiences than anyone else in history - nearly 215 million people in more than 185 countries and territories - through various meetings. Hundreds of millions more have been reached through television, video, film, and webcasts. Send your queries to "My Answer," c/o Billy Graham, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, 1 Billy Graham Parkway, Charlotte, N.C., 28201; call 1-(877) 2-GRAHAM, or visit the Web site for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association: www.billygraham.org.

Revival America: 'Rock the River' Draws 65,000 in St. Louis

'Rock the River' Draws 65,000 in St. Louis

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Around 65,000 youth and young adults flooded the Gateway Arch Grounds in St. Louis on Sunday to hear the sounds of Christian rock, hip-hop, and rap artists, as well as messages delivered by evangelist Franklin Graham.

“This has been a fantastic day. We’ve seen a lot of kids give their life to Christ. There’s been a sea out here of people,” reported Graham as counselors on the ground met with the several hundred people who expressed their decisions for Christ.

After kicking off the inaugural Rock the River Tour last month with nearly 11,000 young people in Baton Rouge, Graham and his team from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association made their way up the Mississippi River to their second of four stops to provide youth an opportunity to respond to the Gospel, be encouraged by trained peers and then related back to local caring churches.

The BGEA’s new, high-energy youth outreach was inspired by the vision that Graham shared last September after learning that more than two-thirds of those who made decisions for Christ in the last few years during the ministry’s large, evangelistic crusades have been youth.

So far, Graham says, Rock the River is “exactly what we prayed it would be – an exciting evangelistic event that would attract unchurched young people to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

“We just thank God for what He’s done,” Graham reported Sunday.

“We’ve come up the Mississippi River, right here behind me, fishing – fishing for the souls of America’s youth,” the evangelist added, “to bring these kids in, kids that maybe never go to church, kids that have never known that anyone loves them.

“This is what it’s all about – it’s about taking God’s love, His Son Jesus Christ, to another generation. Rock the River. That’s what we’re doing. We’re rocking the river.”

As the BGEA continues to make its way up the Mississippi River, with plans to stop by the Quad Cities on Aug. 8 and Minneapolis/St. Paul on Aug. 16, Graham is asking that people continue to pray for the effort.

“[W]e will be going against the currents of secularism, postmodernism, and the godless culture in which we live,” the evangelist reported.

“Please pray for us. Pray that the Holy Spirit will draw thousands of lost young people to each of these Rock the River Tour events,” he added.

While the festivals will appeal primarily to 12- to 25-year-olds, those under the age of 18 are the ones the ministry especially hopes to reach.

Christian music artists who are teaming up with the BGEA for the summer outreach range from Skillet and Hawk Nelson to Kirk Franklin and Flyleaf.


Churches Praying for Revival as 'Rock the River' Hits St. Louis

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Churches across St. Louis are praying that the high-energy youth outreach of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association will bring about revival in their city, which Washington-based CQ Press last year listed as having the fourth worst crime rate among U.S. cities.

“The Rock the River Tour is highly anticipated by our church and community because we sense the need for a revival among our young people,” said Andre Alexander, youth coordinator at Friendly Temple Church.

“We want to believe that all young people are not ‘bad’ and should be written off. We must be diligent about a way to reach them collectively, keep them connected by nurturing them, and equip them to disciple their friends,” he told the BGEA.

Church leaders across St. Louis are especially looking forward to the Rock the River event today following the “victory” that the BGEA chalked up with its debut event in Baton Rouge.

“In the battle for the souls of young people, God gave us victory in Baton Rouge,” reported BGEA president and CEO Franklin Graham after he and his team kicked off the inaugural Rock the River Tour last month with nearly 11,000 young people.

“Rock the River was exactly what we prayed it would be - an exciting evangelistic event that would attract unchurched young people to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” he added.

For seven hours on July 18, young people from all over Louisiana enjoyed the music of top Christian rock and hip-hop bands in America including Flyleaf, Superchick, RED, Hawk Nelson, Mary Mary, Da T.R.U.T.H., Dennis Agajanian, and Canton Jones. The same brew of artists are expected to perform today as thousands gather at the Gateway Arch Grounds in St. Louis.

“They loved the music from bands like Flyleaf and Mary Mary, and when I gave the invitation to receive Christ, hundreds raised their hands and surrendered their lives to the Savior,” recalled Graham.

“And that was just the start,” the evangelist continued.

“As we head up the Mississippi River to St. Louis on August 2, the Quad Cities on August 8, and Minneapolis/St. Paul on August 16, we will be going against the currents of secularism, postmodernism, and the godless culture in which we live,” the evangelist reported.

“Please pray for us. Pray that the Holy Spirit will draw thousands of lost young people to each of these Rock the River Tour events. The devil wants our young people in bondage to sin, but we’re not going to give up. We’re going to keep pursuing the lost. We do that by proclaiming the Gospel, which is ‘the power of God to salvation’ (Romans 1:16).”

Inspired by the vision that Graham shared last September, the BGEA’s new, high-energy youth outreach aims to provide youth an opportunity to respond to the Gospel, be encouraged by trained peers and then related back to local caring churches.

According to the BGEA, more than two-thirds of those who made decisions for Christ in the last few years during the ministry’s large, evangelistic crusades have been youth.

The Case for (Early) Marriage~R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

The Case for (Early) Marriage



Shifts in a culture are often signaled by unexpected developments that represent far more than may first meet the eye. The cover story in the August 2009 edition of Christianity Today may signal such a shift among American evangelicals. In th
is case the cultural shift is nothing less than an awakening to the priority of marriage. At the very least, it represents a public airing of the question of the delay of marriage among evangelical young people. In that sense, it is a bombshell.

In "The Case for Early Marriage," sociologist Mark Regnerus of the University of Texas in Austin argues that far too many American evangelicals have attempted to deal with sex without understanding marriage. In particular, he asserts that the "prevailing discourse of abstinence culture in contemporary American evangelicalism" has run aground. While not devaluing abstinence, Regnerus explains that his research has led him to believe "that few evangelicals accomplish what their pastors and parents wanted them to do" -- which is to refrain from sexual intercourse until marriage.

Regerus understands that many evangelical parents and pastors are most likely to respond to this reality with the reflex mechanism of an even greater emphasis upon sexual abstinence. Nevertheless, the data reveal that the majority of evangelical young people -- most of whom have been targeted for years with messages of sexual abstinence -- are engaging in sexual intercourse before marriage.

Regnerus's proposal is not to devalue sexual abstinence, but to address the fundamental issue of marriage. As he explains, "I've come to the conclusion that Christians have made much ado about sex but are becoming slow and lax about marriage -- that more significant, enduring witness to Christ's sacrificial love for his bride."

In reality, American evangelicals are not "becoming slow and a lax about marriage." To the contrary, this is now a settled pattern across the evangelical landscape. Regnerus gets the facts straight, reporting that the median age at first marriage is now 26 for women and 28 for men -- an increase of five years since 1970. As he notes, "That's five additional, long years of peak sexual interest and fertility." Though evangelical Christians are marrying at slightly earlier ages than other Americans, Regnerus correctly observes that this is "not by much."

At this point, Regnerus delivers his bombshell:

Evangelicals tend to marry slightly earlier than other Americans, but not by much. Many of them plan to marry in their mid-20s.Yet waiting for sex until then feels far too long to most of them. And I am suggesting that when people wait until their mid-to-late 20s to marry, it is unreasonable to expect them to refrain from sex. It's battling our Creator's reproductive designs.

Note carefully that Regnerus is not endorsing sex before marriage. In this context he is first of all reporting on research. In his 2007 book, Forbidden Fruit: Sex and Religion in the Lives of American Teenagers (Oxford University Press), Regnerus made this point with brutal clarity. But, as almost any minister working with high school and college students will tell you, the research simply verifies what is either admitted or tacitly acknowledged by Christian young people.

Back in April of this year, Regnerus wrote an op-ed column for The Washington Post arguing for early marriage. In his words, his article met with a "nearly universal hostile reaction." As one who has made similar arguments in public for years now, I can understand his pained reflection that even to raise this issue in public is to risk being heard as speaking a "foreign language." But this is not universally true. There are many evangelical young people, parents, and pastors who fundamentally agree that evangelicals are putting off marriage for far too long. More and more are speaking this language every day.

In making his own argument, Mark Regnerus helpfully dispels many of the common arguments against early marriage. Of equal importance, he also points to a concern peculiar to American evangelicalism. "The ratio of devoutly Christian young women to men is far from even. Among evangelical churchgoers, there are about three single women for every two single men. This is the elephant in the corner of almost every congregation -- a shortage of young Christian men." This is a sobering but very important observation. As Regnerus also notes, men often delay marriage believing that they can always marry when ever they are "ready." Meanwhile, their evangelical sisters are often very ready for marriage, even as they watch their prospects for both marriage and fertility falling.

All of this points to the fact that the delay of marriage has far more to do with the patterns of life adopted by many, if not most, evangelical young men, rather than those chosen by young women. Yet, at the same time, the parents of both young men and young women can, by either intention or default, make it difficult for their children to marry.

The most important contribution made by Mark Regnerus is to raise this issue in such a bold way. He is certainly correct when he asserts that the church "has already ceded plenty of intellectual ground in its marriage-mindedness." Beyond this, he is even more profoundly right when he argues that "while sex matters, marriage matters more." As he observes, "The importance of Christian marriage as a symbol of God's covenantal faithfulness to his people -- and a witness to the future union of Christ and his bride -- will only grow in significance as the wider Western culture diminishes both the meaning and actual practice of marriage. Marriage itself will become a witness to the gospel."

Yet, marriage has always been a witness to the gospel, even as it existed in anticipation of the gospel. From the very beginning of the Christian church, marriage has been an important dimension of our witness to Christ and to the covenant of our salvation. In so many beautiful ways, marriage points to the very character of God.

The vast majority of Christians who have gone before us would surely be shocked by the very need for a case to be made for Christian adults to marry. While the New Testament clearly honors the gift of celibacy for the cause of the Gospel, the eight out of ten evangelical young people admitting to sexual intercourse before marriage are clearly making no claim to the gift of celibacy.

The biblical case for early marriage is even stronger than Regnerus indicates. Our bodies are not evolutionary accidents, and God reveals his intention for humanity through the gifts of sexual maturation, fertility, and sexual desire. As men and women, we are made for marriage. As Christians, those not called to celibacy are called to demonstrate our discipleship through honoring the Creator's intention by directing sexual desire and reproductive capacity into a commitment to marriage. Marriage is the central crucible for accepting and fulfilling the adult responsibilities of work, parenthood, and the full acceptance of mature responsibilities.

Mark Regnerus certainly drives the point home when he argues that "when people wait until their mid-to-late 20s to marry, it is unreasonable to expect them to refrain from sex." Nevertheless, Christians are called to a moral standard that, by any secular standard, it is profoundly unreasonable. I would prefer to argue that the delay of marriage is unwise, not only because of the demonstrated risk of sexual immorality, but because of the loss of so much God gives to us in marriage.

At the end of the day, the most important fact about this article is that it appears as a cover story for Christianity Today. In that sense, the cover has been blown when it comes to the crisis of evangelical young people and the delay of marriage. It's about time.

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I am always glad to hear from readers. Please write me at mail@albertmohler.com. Follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/AlbertMohler for regular updates throughout the day.

Adapted from R. Albert Mohler Jr.'s weblog at www.albertmohler.com.
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R. Albert Mohler, Jr. is president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. For more articles and resources by Dr. Mohler, and for information on The Albert Mohler Program, a daily national radio program broadcast on the Salem Radio Network, go to www.albertmohler.com. For information on The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, go to www.sbts.edu. Send feedback to mail@albertmohler.com. Original Source: www.albertmohler.com.

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