Friday, May 18, 2007

Dr Jerry Falwell

Growing up in Lynchburg VA in the 1970s I heard and saw much of Dr Jerry Falwell. He was a great citizen of Lynchburg. Jerry got things done, in the face of tremendous opposition in his hometown. In the midst of turmoil, he never lost his witness to Christ. He always smiled and pressed on. I always thought it ironic that many in Lynchburg seemed to despise the man and his mission. Of course a prophet is without honor in his own hometown. These days Lynchburg benefits tremendously (financially at least) from the presence of Liberty University. Also culturally and spiritually. Like him or not, Jerrry Falwell always stood for what he believed in. He was not scared of opposition. He stood at the front for many years taking shots from every direction for convictions that millions hold dear. He fought for decency and morality. I was touched on the day of his death when I heard Rev. Jesse Jackson refer to Falwell as a "great man" and a "great Christian." Jackson mentioned a time in his life when he and Falwell met and prayed together during a rough period for Jackson personally. This speaks to Falwell's character. He and Jackson seldom, if ever, agreed and they battled at opposite ends -- yet they prayed together and respected one another.
I am thankful for Dr Jerry Falwell. Though I didn't agree with every position he took, you cannot help but admire his tremendous vision and all that was accomplished in his 73 years. Even in the midst of great public accomplishments and battles, he never stopped being a great and loyal pastor to his congregation. I have seen him visiting in the hospital, I have seen him at homes of bereaved families, I have seen the lives saved in the crisis preganancy home for unwed mothers, I have seen the prison ministries, the home for alcoholics, and heard of the many many lives he touched personally with gifts and help. I also saw that even in the midst of "fame" that he was an ordinary guy -- pumping gas at the station, taking his family to eat, walking through the airport, driving around in his Suburban.
I am thankful for his years of faithfulness to his wife and family -- no hint of sexual misconduct. I am thankful that he never stole money from the ministry. I am thankful for his example of perseverence. I am thankful for his example of stepping out in faith, trusting God for everything. What you see on Candler Mountain today is "by faith." I am thankful that a university is filled with Christian teachers who believe the Bible, teach the Bible and love you as Christ loves the church -- not perfectly I know, but they know that is what is expected of them.
His political positions and gamesmanship I believe resulted from a deep love for his country and not wanting to see it slide to destruction. For that I am thankful.
I am thankful for his faithfulness to decalre the Gospel of Jesus Christ. His always wearing his "Jesus First" pin on his lapel. Would that more preachers would require bodyguards from the enemies of the cross.
Like him or hate him, at least he was in the arena, battling til the end. Thanks.


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