Max Lucado, Christian Author

(photo taken last time I met Billy Graham in 2010; Cliff Barrows, Music Director for BGEA is in background )

They were born within two years of each other, yet no one took notice. No headline announced the baby in South Africa, the girl in Macedonia, or the arrival of the infant in Poland. And the little boy born on the farm in North Carolina? His arrival garnered no headline.

But his departure certainly does.

Billy Graham was the final of the four to depart.

Mother Theresa.

Pope John Paul II.

Nelson Mandela.

Their faces form a Mount Rushmore of faith. Their legacies will be long cherished.

I keep three framed letters hanging in my office: an acceptance letter for my first book from my publisher, a kind note from President George W. Bush, and a letter from Billy Graham complimenting a sermon. Each one a treasure, a compliment from Mr. Graham felt like a blessing from the Apostle Paul.

Of Billy Graham’s many noble qualities, there are a few I seek to emulate:

He had convictions without being divisive. His deep belief in God, his high regard for Scripture, his complete dependence on the message of grace; no one questioned where he stood. But nor did anyone feel threatened by his beliefs. It is one thing to have an opinion; it’s something else to have a fight. There was no doubt that Mr. Graham had the former. I can’t imagine him having the latter.

His life matched his message. One can hardly watch a newscast without hearing of another scandal involving another public figure. Politicians, pastors, priests, coaches, Hollywood elites–is anyone able to simultaneously maintain a public posture and a high level of integrity? Mr. Graham did. By no means was he perfect. He had his share of regrets and missteps. But he led a life beyond reproach.

He never took himself too seriously. I first met Billy Graham when he came to San Antonio in 1997 for a Crusade. I served on a prayer team which met backstage with him prior to each evening’s event. On the first night, I was escorted to the room and told that Mr. Graham was already inside, waiting for me. I expected to find him in prayer or reading his Bible or, if nothing else, reviewing his notes. He wasn’t. He was joking around with his brother. He had snatched his brother’s baseball cap off his head and dared me to rub his brother’s head. The evangelist was only minutes from addressing 60,000 people and he was joking around about his brother’s scalp.

Such joy is refreshing. We religious folks tend to be so serious that we repel. Billy Graham was contagiously happy.

He enjoyed a right-sized ego. Sometime ago I partnered with musician Michael W. Smith for a ministry weekend in Asheville, North Carolina. The retreat was held at The Cove, a beautiful facility owned and maintained by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

A few hours before the event, Michael and I met to go over the weekend schedule. But Michael was so moved by what he had just experienced that he hardly discussed the retreat. Michael had just met with Billy Graham. The famous evangelist was, at the time, ninety-four years old. His thoughts turned to what might be said about him at his funeral. He told Michael that he hoped his name would not be mentioned.

“What?” Michael asked.

“I hope only that the name of the Lord Jesus be lifted up.”

Billy Graham has preached to 215 million people in person and hundreds of millions of others through media. He has filled stadiums on every continent. He has advised every U.S. president from Truman to Obama. He has consistently been near the top of every most-admired list. Yet he doesn’t want to be mentioned at his own funeral.

The Bible says: “God resists the proud, but he gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5).

It’s easy to see why. God resists the proud because the proud resist God. Arrogance stiffens the knee so it will not kneel, hardens the heart so it will not admit to sin. The heart of pride never confesses, never repents, never asks for forgiveness. Indeed, the arrogant never feel the need for forgiveness. Pride is the hidden reef that shipwrecks the soul.

The humble heart, however, is happy to do what pride won’t. The humble heart is quick to seek God’s help, grace and strength. God gives grace to the humble because the humble are hungry for grace.

God certainly graced the life of Billy Graham. And the world is better because of it.

Billy Graham.

Nelson Mandela.

Mother Theresa.

Pope John Paul II.

May the One who gave us them, give us many more like them.

©Max Lucado

 

 

 

44 comments on “Farewell, Mr. Graham

    1. I was thinking the same. Blessings Mr Max and all the lives of people you touch. God has blessed you with such a gift for writing and speaking that leads people to Him.

  1. Touching words, no doubt, Mr. Lucado! He will be missed, but what give us comfort is knowing that he is in the Father’s arms!

  2. Growing up in the 1950s, I watched many of Rev. Graham’s Crusades on our black and white television wishing I could hear him in person. His message was just that powerful. When I listen to any of your audiobooks Rev. Lucado I feel I am hearing from another man of God. God bless Billy Graham and Max Lucado. “Well done, thou good and faithful servant”.

  3. Beautifully said Max! And yes, you are one of them! When I was a “baby” Christian at 36 years of age I literally “ate up” all the books you had written! You write so the common person gets a visual that is understandable to anyone! You are leading many to Christ thru your written words and now that we have live-streaming video, we can hear your sermons too! Thank you for being another mighty soldier of the cross!

  4. I love your books, many have blessed me and have enriched my spiritual life. Dr.Graham was very special to me as well, I have many great memories of the times I attended his crusades over the course of my lifetime. For you to compare him to Pope Paul II and Nelson Mandella is a great injustice to his memory. We can agree to disagree.

  5. Max, thank you for this. You too are an inspiration to many, myself included. Your words keep me grounded. Sometimes, people (like myself) cannot always comprehend Bible passages without someone like you putting them into practical context for today’s world. So keep on writing, please! God bless you always.

  6. He gave us you, Max! And for that, I am grateful. For many of us, you are San Antonio’s “Billy Graham”. May God continue to bless you and your heartwarming ministry.

  7. I believe that Max Lucado will be on that list as well. When Billy stepped into the presence of Jesus, it was just walking into another room. He has lived in the presence of Jesus continually. I am grateful for his legacy and I am equally grateful for you and your faithfulness to His Word and to preaching/teaching. Thank you for being obedient as Billy Graham was….

  8. In my time, you are my Billy Graham. Thank you Max for sharing your memories and for the love of the Lord you display…

  9. What a wonderful salute for a wonderful man! Thank you as your words are what we all feel but are unable to express!

  10. Praise be to God for the life of Billy Graham. A humble person who submitted his life to the will of God Almighty.

  11. What a joyful remembrance of a life well lived for God’s kingdom. What a joyful day it must be in heaven! Thanks “Uncle Max” for your calming presence that points us to Jesus. God bless you and R.I.P. Billy Hraham

  12. Beautifully stated. May God help us to have humble hearts always seeking His grace. And may the name of Jesus be glorified and lifted up so during this time of remembering Brother Graham that many come to know Him as a result.

  13. Max (may I call you Max?)

    I echo the sentiments of the previous commenters. From the time I read my first Max Lucado book some 10 years ago, I have looked forward to hearing your hopeful message and profound simplicity in devotionals, books and FB messages. You have been my go-to resource when my heart has been broken by mass-casualty events and, today, with the celebratory home-going of a giant of Christianity.

    Thank you, Max.

  14. He had his heart stayed on the Lord and the principles of the bible lived out during his time on earth,humbly obeying Him who created him.I guess that explains why he was never involved in any scandal.He took heed of wisdom’s voice and was served at her table.
    A life well lived .

  15. Very inspiring story with the late Rev Evangelist Billy Graham. God bless you more Mr. Max Lucado, You are as equally called by God, honored and respected because of evangelizing the world through your writing. Nothing matters except to share the love, peace and hope in God through Christ.

  16. I liked the parts you wrote to honor Billy Graham, however, I could never put him in the same category as The Pope?!! All of my family doesn’t have salvation because of the false teaching of the Catholic Church and the Pope! I hardly think he’s in the same category. Same with Nelson Mandela. Although he was a good man, he was not an evangelist! What you’ve written could be very misleading to an unbeliever.

  17. I love everything about this. But, as a Cuban, I am not a fan of Nelson Mandela. However, I am aware that grace and forgiveness is given to me -freely- and I need to do the same…except we are but stupid humans and so I continue to work at it…

    This *is* a lovely read, though.
    xo

  18. What a beautiful story about Billy Graham. I have two ministers that I look up to one is Billy Graham and the other is you. Both of you have given me such a peace in my heart because of what you write, how you preach, and the love and faith that you have. I Saw Mr. Graham in person once and I hope to someday have the opportunity to see you in person.

  19. He was one in a million. A man of absolute integrity , above reproach, sold our to his Lord Jesus Christ without fanfare. Yet today there is fanfare in heaven as he meets his savior and Lord. Well done, thou good and faithful servant.

  20. Mr. Lucado, What you have written about Rev. Billy Graham is so beautifully said in every way. Thank you for expressing so well what so many of us all over the world are feeling. Thank you also for your example of faithfulness to the Lord. Your sermons, your books, your Bible studies have enriched my life & helped me grow bountifully in my walk with Jesus in countless ways. God bless you!

  21. Agree whole heartedly with what your wrote about Billy Graham. He was a household staple in our house, not because of him, but because of who he represented, Jesus Christ. May my live so emit the light of Christ, so that others who know me see Him.

  22. I am a faithful fan of you!
    I have your books and listen to your daily devotionals. Raised Catholic, now Episcopalian.
    I have been married for 39 years to the son of a Methodist Preacher who went to Heaven 4years ago. I miss my father in law very much!
    I am now reading the Bible and beginning to really know Jesus. You and others have helped me in so many ways. Today your words are so thoughtful, caring, words of love, Faith & GOD’S Presence.
    Thank you Max Lucado for your Words & Saving Grace

  23. Moro no Brasil. No momento em que eu soube da morte do sr. Graham, pensei: “tenho que ver o que Max escreveu sobre isso”. Dois gigantes, pra mim. E Max não desapontou. Max nunca desaponta. Lindíssima homenagem. Deus nos abençoe a todos.

  24. I was blessed to be with you and Michael W. Smith on that ministry retreat at the Cove in September 2015. Your words in each meeting were a blessing. Please keep writing and being a blessing to the Body of Christ. Dr. Graham was certainly a True Man of God!

  25. Awesome trubute. On a hot summer night in 1968 I sat in the den of our home watching a crusade on a small black and white TV. I met Jesus that night. As I grew I read many books Billy Graham wrote and felt that he was my mentor and friend. I look forward to meeting him on the other side!

  26. What a beautiful tribute to Billy Gram. I believe he was the “Paul” of our time. I was fortunate enough to be singing in the choir for his 1994 Atlanta Crusade with Cliff Barrows directing – it was an awesome experience, and made me feel so small, all the time wondering what it would be like to sing in Christ’s choir in heaven! An additional blessing was that my husband, even though also growing up as a Christian, went forward that night and re-dedicated himself to the Lord! God is good! You, Max Lucado, have been a constant source of growth in our spiritual lives since then, as we have read many, many of your books and daily devotionals. Thank you for your blessings on our lives, also.

  27. Nice touching tribute, Max. I will not forget his interview on 60 Minutes, and two things he said. “Don’t look at me, because I will disappoint you, God won’t.” When asked what he wanted most, when he got to heaven, is to hear God say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant. . . but I don’t think I will.” (both paraphrased but close to the original comment). It was that humility, that right sized ego as you say.
    Thanks, Max

  28. And now who will take up the banner that is left to share with the world? One of us? Our children or grandchildren? Who will go? It is our duty to pray and serve faithfully as Billy set forth as an example. May his life’s work continue to inspire us to bring glory only to God.

    Thank you for telling this good story..as always!

  29. Well said, Max. I read your devotion daily but almost missed this. Billy Graham was truly an amazing man. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on him.

  30. Since I first heard Billy Graham preach, I have tried to hear every thing he has said on television; even interviews, etc. The dates have eluded me but at 85 years of age, I can honestly say, that even though some of his sermons were on the same subject as I had heard before, they were always fresh, honest and touched again this heart of mine. Being in the presence of my Lord seems to be very near. I anticipate a hug from Jesus, seeing my precious husband of 50 years, family and friends and spending time with Billy Graham (and you when you get there). Thank you, Mr. Lucado for being honest with the life-giving Word. Perhaps I can see you some day before I go home. God bless you and the family who so graciously share their time with you so others can be fed the truth from our Savior.

  31. Since I first heard Mr. Graham, I have tried to hear everything he said publicly. The dates elude me, but at 85 I can honestly say that although some of his sermons were on the same subject already heard, they were always fresh, honest and touched again this heart of mine. My homegoing is very near and when I arrive, I hope to have a hug from Jesus, see my husband of 50 years and spend time with Mr. Graham. God bless you and your family, who graciously share their time with you, so others may be fed the life-saving Gospel. Your words are also fresh, truthful and leave us anxiously awaiting the next publications. Keep up the challenge.

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