USA Today Bestseller List. Many have written about Billy Graham, the evangelist. This is the first book about Billy Graham, the father, written from the perspective of a son who knew him best.
As a beloved evangelist and a respected man of God, Billy Graham’s stated purpose in life never wavered: to help people find a personal relationship with God through a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. This was a calling that only increased over time, and Billy embraced it fully throughout his active ministry and beyond. Yet Billy pursued his life’s work, as many men do, amid a similarly significant calling to be a loving husband and father.
While most people knew Billy Graham as America’s pastor, Franklin Graham knew him in a different way, as a dad. And while present and future generations will come to their own conclusions about Billy Graham and the legacy that his commitment to Christ has left behind, no one can speak more insightfully or authoritatively on that subject than a son who grew up in the shadow of his father’s life and the examples of his father’s love. This vulnerable book is a look at both Billy Graham the evangelist and Billy Graham the father, and the impact he had on a son who walked in his father’s steps while also becoming his own man, leading ministries around the world, all of it based on the foundational lessons his father taught him.
“My father left behind a testimony to God,” says Franklin, “a legacy not buried in a grave but still pointing people to a heaven-bound destiny. The Lord will say to my father, and to all who served Him obediently, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant’ [Matthew 25:21].”
|Publisher:||Nelson, Thomas, Inc.|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 8.70(h) x 1.30(d)|
About the Author
Franklin Graham, president and CEO of Samaritan’s Purse, is also president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. The fourth of Billy and Ruth Bell Graham’s five children, Franklin is the author of several books, including the bestselling autobiography Rebel with a Cause and the 2013 release of Operation Christmas Child: A Story of Simple Gifts. He and his wife, Jane Austin, live in Boone, North Carolina, and have four children and twelve grandchildren.
Donna Lee Toney, a colleague of Franklin Graham for more than thirty-seven years, has been involved in the ministries of Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and has been in literary collaboration with them since 1982, most recently on the release of the New York Times bestseller Where I Am and the bestselling The Reason for My Hope: Salvation with Billy Graham.
Read an Excerpt
My Father in Heaven
They desire ... a heavenly country. Therefore God ... has prepared a city for them.
— Hebrews 11:16
* * *
My home is in heaven. I'm just traveling through this world.
"I will travel anywhere in the world to preach," my father once said, "if there are no strings on what I am to say." And travel he did: on ocean liners and in postwar automobiles before interstates rolled out across America. Then the jet age roared into the mid-twentieth century, and my father became known as a globe-trotter for God, but it wasn't without turbulence. He determined early in his journey that the Word of God was the only road map he needed to guide him along the highways of life, spattered with potholes.
"Ruth and I have said goodbye many times in our life together," my father wrote. "Sometimes we were separated by oceans and time differences. But the absences made the homecoming much sweeter."
It may seem a little strange, then, to say that as a boy I lived many exciting moments through my father's eyes, since he was gone so much. My mother would share stories about what he was doing wherever he was in the world, grabbing our attention with the slightest detail. When he returned home, it felt in some ways as though we had been with him the whole time.
I can recall him describing a voyage on the SS United States, recounting the ship as it sliced its way through the Atlantic storms. His hand glided through the air, demonstrating how the vessel maneuvered into dock at Southampton, England. He was a great storyteller. Every scene he described I saw clearly through his penetrating eyes, as blue as the sky over North Carolina where we lived.
Through my father's eyes, I was introduced to six of the seven continents of the world: Asia, Africa, North and South America, Europe, and Australia. Learning about different cultures and exotic locations inspired my childhood imagination. My father and mother exposed me to the possibilities of serving God with my life, and their example molded and shaped me to follow in step where the Lord would lead.
As I learned about the world through my earthly father's eyes, little did I realize that someday I would experience for myself the world's diversity through the eyes of my Father in heaven.
A Father's Forgiveness
The parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15 is a message my father and I both have preached many times. There is much in the story I could relate to in my late teens. Not that I rebelled against my father as the prodigal son did, but at that time in my life I certainly did not share my father's commitment to serving the Lord with all my heart, soul, and body. I respected everything he believed, preached, and lived, but I was not about to follow in my father's footsteps. I was not interested in seeing the world through his eyes anymore. I wanted to feast my eyes on what the world could offer me — and I did for a time.
I will never forget the day I drove home to North Carolina after being expelled from LeTourneau College in Texas. Dread swelled as I approached my parents' log home in the Blue Ridge Mountains. I imagined my father's look of disapproval when he would fi x his eyes on his eldest son and namesake, who had failed to make him proud.
But when I rounded the last curve, my father's long legs stepped off the porch and he walked toward me with arms wide open. Following a gripping hug, I looked into my father's forgiving eyes.
I often think of that moment when I stand in the pulpit and watch as men, women, and children answer God's call to repentance. When they bow in prayer, confessing their sin to God, and receive His salvation, surely they look into the forgiving eyes of the Savior, who loves them unconditionally and provides all they need to begin a new walk in His steps.
Though I never had visions of following in my father's footsteps, his world travel sounded exciting to me. I recall hearing a friend of his talk about two missionary ladies who needed a four-wheel-drive Land Rover for their hospital work in northern Jordan. When my father agreed to buy one for them, I immediately devised a plan to pick it up in England and drive it across Europe and into the Middle East. When I shared the idea with my father, I thought I could fool him by using a spiritual-sounding excuse to not return to college. "If you'll buy the Land Rover, Daddy, I'll deliver it to Jordan and stay and help those missionaries finish building their hospital."
His eyes glared. Mine stared — waiting for his response. After my parents discussed the pros and cons, my father concluded that maybe an experience like that was just what God had in mind for my troubled soul. In his wisdom, my father understood that I was probably going to sow some wild oats. He was smart enough to realize that some seed just might fall on fertile desert sand, opening the door for the Holy Spirit to blow a seed of faith into my calloused heart.
My father was a true Southern gentleman. When he was not in the pulpit, he spoke softly. His words were tender, gracious, and kind. In contrast, when he preached, his eyes snapped with passion and were fixed on one thing — the proclamation of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. His heart was anchored to his calling to preach the Word of God.
My father was a friend to presidents, a counselor to world leaders, and a confidant to royalty. In his early interviews with the media, they ridiculed and acclaimed him. I have learned through my father's eyes that the all-important thing to hold on to in good times and bad is the Anchor — Jesus Christ. I believe my father's steadfastness found favor in the eyes of the heavenly Father because God granted him more than seventy years in service to the King of kings.
The foundational message my father preached became a banner for his meetings. In John 14:6, Jesus said,
I am the way, the truth, and the life.
In bigger-than-life letters, this Bible verse was stretched across the platform, symbolizing the crux of what would be heard from the pulpit: "No one comes to the Father except through Me" (the Lord Jesus Christ). Billy Graham never wavered from this singular message. It wasn't, however, without criticism. His steely blue eyes stared beyond it and fastened with assurance to the Author, who penetrates men's hearts with this same message today.
Andraé Crouch wrote lyrics to a song that most Christians can identify with:
I thank God for the mountains,
This is certainly true of my father. There were many times that my father struggled to understand God's truth, but the outcome was always the same: he learned to depend upon God's Word. His worldwide travel proliferated a global awareness of the message he preached — the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Until the day he died, my father held tight to the claims of Christ that confront the human race about the ultimate choice — where to spend eternity. He preached on heaven many times, warning listeners to prepare to meet Almighty God. Every soul will meet Him someday, either in heaven, where Christ reigns, or at the throne of judgment, where all those without Christ will be doomed.
To proclaim the truths of heaven is thrilling. The reality of hell is daunting, but it also must be preached. My friend Dr. John MacArthur has boldly stated, "The most loving message a preacher of the Gospel can proclaim is the reality of hell, because it sounds the alarm — warning sinners to repent and turn to the Savior — the hope of heaven." The Bible says, "How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?" (Hebrews 2:3).
There are many things I have learned in my own ministry by observing my father through the years. I have drawn from his example and have learned important lessons on how to handle the good that comes and, even at times, the snares. Believers in Jesus Christ will face traps throughout life; this is Satan's clever method of stealing joy and victory in the life of a Christian.
One of the last print interviews my father did was with Jon Meacham, managing editor of Newsweek. In his cover story, Jon went right to the heart of evangelism when he asked my father if "heaven will be closed to good Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus or secular people." The printed reply from my father stated, "It would be foolish for me to speculate on who will be [in heaven] and who won't."
WorldNetDaily dissected this interview with blasting judgment, stating, "Meacham describes Graham's embrace of universalism in glowing terms" and "calls Graham 'a resolute Christian who declines to render absolute verdicts about who will get into heaven and who will not' and as someone who 'refuses to be judgmental.'"
My father was dismayed when he saw this statement in print. He was deeply discouraged that after a life of preaching God's truth, it appeared that he had failed to complete his answer.
Jon Meacham's evaluation, in part, is actually true. Billy Graham cannot render absolute verdicts about who will be in heaven and who will not, but he preached and wrote about the One who will make those judgments, based on the heart and soul of the Gospel: all who receive eternal life must repent of sin, accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and follow Him in obedience. If there were any other way, there would have been no need for the ultimate sacrifice of Christ on the cross and there would be no Gospel. This is what my father preached his entire life.
Jesus said, "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven" (Matthew 7:21).
What is the will of the Father? "Jesus Christ ... gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father" (Galatians 1:3–4). "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).
So will some perish? "The Lord ... is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9).
What about those who do not repent? "In accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who 'will render to each one according to his deeds'" (Romans 2:5–6).
So, then, the answer is found in Scripture to the question, can those who reject Christ as Savior be saved? "This is the verdict: Light has come into the world" (John 3:19 NIV). "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life" (John 8:12 NIV). "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me" (John 14:6).
It is important to point out that religions do not reject Christ; people do. Religion is a belief system built upon man's ideas. Nowhere in the Bible do religious systems have a claim on heaven. Men's souls are bound for heaven or hell. Christians do not follow religion; they follow their Father in heaven by obedience and absolute faith in His Son Jesus Christ according to the Word of God — this is our road map to living life in His name.
These truths are contained in the body of work — in spoken and written form — compiled by my father that thoroughly answers these questions that pull at the heartstrings of all people. From the crusade pulpit to the press conference podium, my father clearly stated his position through the years. In his book Facing Death — And the Life After, he wrote,
Some teach "universalism" — that eventually everybody will be saved and the God of love will never send anyone to hell. They believe the words "eternal" or "everlasting" do not actually mean forever. However, the same word that speaks of eternal banishment from God is also used for the eternity of heaven.
The person being presented for entrance into heaven must be admitted on the basis of God's grace alone, not by any good works or noble deeds done on earth. Our only right for admission to heaven lies in the provision God made for our sins: His Son Jesus Christ.
Will a loving God send a man to hell? The answer from Jesus and the teachings of the Bible is, clearly, "Yes!" He does not send man willingly, but man condemns himself to eternal hell because of his blindness, stubbornness, egotism, and love of sinful pleasure. He refuses God's way of salvation and the hope of eternal life with Him.
Some believe God gives a second chance. But the Bible says, "Now is the day of salvation" (2 Corinthians 6:2). The Bible teaches there is hell for every person who rejects Christ as Lord and Savior. "The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth" (Matthew 13:41–42 NIV).
The Blood-Stained Label
In answer to Jon Meacham's question, there will be no religions or sects in heaven — only the redeemed, those who are washed in the blood of the Lamb. "You were not redeemed with corruptible things ... but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot" (1 Peter 1:18–19).
Many have been steeped in philosophies instead of the truth, trapped by "another gospel," thinking they will go to heaven by believing half-truths. The apostle Paul told Timothy,
Command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer nor to devote themselves to myths. ... These promote controversies rather than God's work — which is by faith. ... Some have wandered away from these and turned to meaningless talk ... and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me. (1 Timothy 1:3–4, 6, 10–11 NIV)
This was a continual theme in Paul's preaching, indicating the confusion caused by preaching "another gospel":
See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority. (Colossians 2:8–10 NIV)
When men and women are saved out of darkness, they no longer identify with their former belief systems. Receiving Christ means a complete turning away from heresy to the absolute truth.
In my father's book Hope for the Troubled Heart, he wrote, "I believe that if people paid more attention to death, eternity, and judgment, there would be more holy living on earth." The Bible says, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new" (2 Corinthians 5:17).
My Father's Friend and Mine
A close and dear friend of my father, Roy Gustafson, became a father figure to me as a young man. My father encouraged me to travel and spend time with Roy.
Roy had a profound impact in my life. My wife and I named our second son after him. I was honored to preach his memorial service in 2002. I miss him still today.
Roy was well traveled. A gifted preacher in his own right, he became an ambassador to the land of the Bible for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA). Not only did he have an in-depth understanding of Jewish history, but he was also able to dissect the trappings of world religions and unravel their claims.
In a message Roy often preached, he said, "There are thousands of religions, but there is only one Gospel. You see, religions come as a product of the reasonings of the human mind. The Gospel is the revelation of God's mind. Religions originate on earth. The Gospel originated in heaven. Religions are man-made. The Gospel is the gift of God. Religions — all of them — are the story of what sinful people try to do for a holy God. The Gospel is the wonderful story of what a holy God has already done for sinful people. Religion is mankind's quest for God. The Gospel is the Savior-God seeking lost men and women. Religion is the opinions of sinful people — the Gospel is [God's] Good News."
My father and Roy are now in heaven. No longer do they travel from city to city. They are now permanent residents in the city of God.
Excerpted from "Through My Father's Eyes"
Copyright © 2018 Franklin Graham.
Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Foreword: From the words of Billy Graham, v,
1. My Father in Heaven, 7,
2. Made in China, 19,
3. The Bible Says ..., 41,
4. For Those Watching by Television, 61,
5. Pray, Pray, Pray, 87,
6. Preach the Word, 109,
7. Just Write to Me ... That's All the Address You Need, 135,
8. About My Father's Business, 159,
9. You're Not Coming to Me ..., 185,
10. In His Steps, 211,
11. From Stepping-Stones to Milestones, 235,
12. High Noon: The Hour of Decision for America, 253,
13. Legacy, 277,
Afterword: Beyond the End, 301,