Congratulations, America!

A Commencement Address

Among the many insights provided by the recent election results were the dramatic exposures of duplicity among the major media who attempted to topple the President. The deliberate dissemination of "news" that was knowingly in error exposed their prostitution of their mandate to "'inform the electorate."

It is always a painful blessing to have one's delusions dissolve, so for many it clearly revealed a media that attempts to shape opinion rather than inform it. But many of the pundits were surprised by the results. They took a gamble and their reputations tarnished as a result.

The Challenge to America

So the conservatives have another four years. The challenge before each of us now is...what will we do with them? That is the key question. One hopes that it may repair the damage to the Supreme Court, among other things. But the real challenges will be more personal .

We have just returned from a delightful time in Yorkshire, England, at a conference with Pastor Joe Focht (Calvary Chapel, Philadelphia), Malcolm Wild (Calvary Chapel of Merritt Island, Florida) and Ron Matsen (Calvary Chapel of Portsmouth, and head of Koinonia House Europe). At the conference, Joe Focht shared this provocative summary (which I like to call):

A Chain of Gold

A gentleman by the name of Edward Kimball had a burden for one of his Sunday school students to know Jesus as Lord and Savior. He went to see him at the shoe store where he worked and led him to Christ in that shoe store. The young man's name was Dwight L. Moody, who went on to become an evangelist whose ministry rocked two continents.1

While preaching in the British Isles, Moody spoke in a small chapel pastored by Federick Brotherton Meyer. In his sermon Moody told an emotionally charged story of a Sunday School teacher he knew who personally went to every student in his class and won them to Christ. The message changed Pastor Meyer's entire ministry, inspiring him to become an evangelist.

Over the years, Meyer came to America several times to preach. Once in Northfield, MA, a confused young preacher sitting in the back row heard Meyer say, "If you are not willing to give everything to God, are you willing to be made willing?" That remark led J. Wilbur Chapman to accept the call of God on his life.

Chapman went on to become one of the most effective evangelists of his time. A volunteer helped set up Chapman's crusades and learned to preach by watching him. His name: Billy Sunday. Sunday eventually took over Chapman's ministry, becoming one of the most effective evangelists of the 20th century.2 In the great arenas of the nation, Billy Sunday's preaching turned millions to Christ.

Inspired by a 1924 Billy Sunday crusade in Charlotte, NC, a committee of Christians committed themselves to reach that city for Christ. They invited Mordecai Ham to hold a series of evangelistic meetings in 1932. A lanky 16-year-old boy sat in the huge crowd one evening, spellbound by the message of the white-haired preacher who seemed to be shouting and waving his long finger directly at him. Night after night the youth attended and finally went forward and gave his life to Christ. That teenager's name: Billy Graham.

Billy Graham has doubtlessly communicated the gospel of Jesus Christ to more people than anyone else in the history of the world.

Remember how this sequence of events started: a nobody named Kimball, concerned for one of his students, visited him at his shoe store. In doing that, Kimball changed the world! Millions upon millions have been affected by his decision to go to that shoe store and millions more will continue to feel the impact. Can anything like that happen today?

One can regard the recent election outcome as due to the prayer closets as much as the ballot boxes. And, of course, President George W. Bush isn't the answer to America's problems: Jesus Christ is. We all know the coin of the realm: "Without God, we can't." But turn that coin over: "Without us, He won't!"

Have you ever pondered the strange resumés of the people God recruits for His missions?

  • Moses was 80 years old and wanted for murder.
  • Jacob was a schemer and a con-artist (you wouldn't buy a used car from Jacob!).
  • Elijah and Jeremiah both suffered from depression.
  • Hosea couldn't keep his marriage together.
  • Amos was a farmer with no ministry training (perhaps that was an advantage!).
  • Peter tried to kill a man with his sword.
  • John Mark was a spoiled young man and a quitter.
  • Paul couldn't get along with his partner, Barnabas, and couldn't stay out of prison!

God recruits an "Army of Nobodies": candidates under persecution or celebrated on talk shows; under unspeakable difficulties or walking on red carpets; despised or adored, ridiculed or consulted, cheated or honored, scorned or quoted, tortured or pampered, with frequent flyer cards or walking barefoot, unknown or known-ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary ends.

As we all will focus on resolutions and plans for the New Year, what are your priorities going to be in 2005? Pray seriously about them. Are you available for a special assignment from HIM?


  1. Dwight L. Moody (1837-1899) left the farm at 17 to work at a shoe store in Boston where he was converted from Unitarianism to Fundamental Evangelism. He moved to Chicago in 1856 and in 1860 gave up business for missionary work. He founded Moody Church and set the pattern for later evangelism in large cities. In 1899 he founded the Chicago Bible Institute (now known as the Moody Bible Institute).
  2. William Ashley Sunday (1862-1935) gave up professional baseball to become a YMCA worker and in 1896 began conducting religious revivals in major U.S. cities. He conducted more than 300 revivals with an estimated attendance of 100,000,000.