|Sharing the Message | Posted October 15, 2013
Reverend Billy Graham is one of the world's most revered and beloved men. According to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, he has shared the Good News with "more people in live audiences than anyone else in history—nearly 215 million people in more than 185 countries and territories." Though Dr. Graham preaches before large groups, his message has always been delivered in a such a simple, direct, and personal manner that you feel you are having a heart-to-heart.
On November 7, Reverend Graham will celebrate his 95th birthday. Because he feels he has one last message to deliver to America, Dr. Graham and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association have coordinated an event to take place this November called My Hope America With Billy Graham. More than 25,000 churches are participating in the national outreach, in which individuals pray for their non-believing friends and neighbors and open their doors to them, sharing the Gospel and their personal testimonies.
Two special media releases help to kick off this event, a book from Dr. Graham entitled The Reason for My Hope: Salvation and a musical celebration and tribute to Reverend Graham, My Hope: Songs Inspired by the Message and Mission of Billy Graham. Let's talk about the CD release!
Newsboys take the lead with "We Believe," a song that is also included on their newest release, Restart. Since the track plays much like a modern-day Apostles' Creed set to music, it's a great place to begin a record centered on imparting the message of the gospel and the hope that resides therein.
"So Loved" starts with Reverend Graham reciting John 3:16. Here Matthew West vocalizes the hopeful message of this verse while sharing his personal story of coming to Christ. Though West is the son of a minister, it was Billy Graham's message that finally reached his heart.
Ladies and gentlemen, meet Lacey Sturm. Formerly the lead singer of Flyleaf, Lacey has been an integral part of Franklin Graham events in recent years, sharing her powerful testimony. Though she was an atheist, her grandmother took her to church where Jesus' love would eventually speak to her heart and keep her from taking her own life. Her story (as well as Lecrae's) will be part of Reverend Graham's upcoming television broadcast, The Cross.
Lacey contributes two songs to this project. The first, "The Reason," is an unflinchingly honest account of her own pursuit for meaning outside Jesus, and the pervasive emptiness that accompanied that search until she found the reason: She was looking in the wrong places; only Jesus could provide what she sought.
Kari Jobe leads worship and celebrates our redemption in "The Cross Is My Confession," proclaiming, "For I believe in God the Father / And in His Son, there is no other / His daily life living inside / This I confess, my righteousness."
Michael W. Smith's offering is inspired by conversations with Dr. Graham in recent years in which Graham expressed a deep longing for Heaven. "Take Me Home" is Smitty's imagining of Reverend Graham's talk with Jesus on the topic. A reminder to all that this earth is not our home, the song is also a fitting tribute to a great man of God. Though, selfishly, I hope not to hear Smitty perform it any time soon as a remembrance.
Though it's been years since Nichole Nordeman has released a full recording of her own, she has remained active as a writer. "Be My Rescue" is a welcome visitation from the songstress, who remains in fine form.
Israel Houghton continues with the soulful "Broken Pieces." This upbeat number is a fantastic distillation of Jesus' invitation to us all to receive His grace: "You're never too far / Come as You are."
Amy Grant follows with the gorgeous, hymn-like "Jesus Take All of Me (Just As I Am)." Perfectly sequenced here, Amy's song is our personal response to Jesus' call: "O Lamb of God, I come / I come."
Seizing the contemplative mood Grant established, Darlene Zschech and Tommy Coomes Band offer worship with "The Cross of Christ" and "My Hope," respectively. Though you may be unfamiliar with the latter, Tommy Coomes Band, led by the founder of Marantha Music, has played at Franklin Graham Festivals and other BGEA events for many years.
Don't miss "Mercy Tree," Sturm's second appearance. With this awesome song about the Cross, Lacey will bring you to your knees in awe of what Christ has done!
TobyMac concludes the album with what he has dubbed "a Reverend Billy Graham remix" of "City on Our Knees." Toby has expertly inserted Billy Graham's words into the hit song, creating a combination of music and spoken word focused on choice and the imminent need for personal decision. In effect, Toby and Reverend Graham wrap up this musical Crusade, together making the altar call: Come and receive Christ!
While it's difficult to imagine that a music CD could ever pay sufficient tribute to the life and work of an evangelistic giant like Reverend Graham, My Hope: Songs Inspired by the Message and Mission of Billy Graham handily delivers an engaging collection that communicates the crux of his message. From start to finish, the artists understand what Graham's work is about and ably translate the message of the gospel into music.
Highlights include Nichole Nordeman's "Be My Rescue", Israel Houghton's "Broken Pieces", and Amy Grant's lovely "Jesus Take All of Me (Just As I Am)". But if there is a featured artist here, it is without a doubt Lacey Sturm. This young lady has a captivating presence that is sure to affect many lives.
Though I'd like to hear more of Dr. Graham on the record, he would be the first to emphasize that this is not, nor has it ever been, about him. It's about Jesus. Still, while tobyMac's remix of "City on Our Knees" adds nothing new musically, its inclusion of Reverend Graham's preaching is an important and necessary addition to this record. Even those who may never have witnessed a Billy Graham Crusade will get a glimpse at how charismatic a speaker Dr. Graham was, and how life changing his message could be. For Reverend Graham, like few others, can really bring you to the feet of Jesus. His lifelong mission has been to share with the world the love of Jesus and the hope of the Gospel. And through the efforts of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, as well as the work of his children and grandchildren, Reverend Graham's legacy and mission will live on.
Song to Download Now:
"The Reason" by Lacey Sturm (Get it on iTunes here
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