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Devotion

Finishing Well

Most people probably have heard of Billy Graham, but how about Chuck
Templeton? What about Bron Cliffort? Have you heard of them?

Did you know that they were also packing out auditorium in 1945
when Billy Graham first preached to large crowds? Here are some
thoughts prompted from the book FINISHING STRONG by Steve Farrar.

All three of these young men rose to prominence in their middle
twenties. One seminary president after hearing Chuck Templeton – a
brilliant, dynamic preacher – called him the most gifted, talented
young preacher in America. Templeton and Graham became very close
friends. Then started preaching together with the Youth for Christ
Organiszation.

Most observers thought that Templeton will be the one who go to the
top. One magazine wrote a features article calling Templeton the
"Babe Ruth of evangelism."

Bron Cliffort was another gifted, young fireball evangelist. Many
believed that Cliffort was the most gifted, powerful preacher to come up
in the church for may centuries. People lined up for hours to hear Him
preach. When he went to Baylor University to give a discourse, they
actually cut the ropes of the bells of the tower. They wanted nothing
to interfere with his preaching. For two and half hours the students of
Baylor sat on the edges of their seat as he gave a dissertation on
"Christ and the Philosopher’s stone" At the the age of
twenty-five, Cliffort touched more lives, influenced more leaders, and
set more attendance records than other clergyman in American history.
National leaders vied for his attention. He was tall, handsome,
dashing, intelligent and sophisticated. Hollywood actually tried to
cast him in the role for the famous movie, THE ROBE. He seemed to have
everything.

Graham, Templetion and Cliffort launched out of the starting block
like Olympic gold medalists in 1945. Why haven’t you heard of Chuck
Templeton and Bron Cliffort? The answer may surprise you.

By 1950 Templeton had left the ministry. He pursued a radio career.
He became an announcer and a newscaster, telling the world that he no
longer believed Jesus Christ was the son of God. He become an atheist.
By 1950, this future Babe Ruth of preaching was not even in the ball
game.

By 1954 Cliffort had lost his family, ministry and health.
Eventually he lost his life because of his addiction to alcohol.
Financial irresponsibility left his wife and their two Downs-syndrome
children penniless. This once famous preacher died of cirrhosis of the
liver at the age of thirty-five in a rundown hotel on the edge on
Amarillo. He died unwept, unhonored, and unsung. Some of the pastors
from Amarillo, Texas, got together and collected enough money to buy a
cheap casket. They shipped his body back to the east coast, where he
was buried in a pauper’s cemetery.

In 1945 all three of these young men with extraordinary gifts were
preaching for the purpose of multiplying the church by thousands of
people. But within ten years only one of them was still on track for
Christ.

In the Christian life it’s not how you start but it’s how you finish
that counts.

A recent survey shocked me, it’s reported that only one out ten who
start ministry at the age of 21 serve the Lord to age 65. They fall
away from ministry due to immorality, discouragement, liberal theology,
and love for wealth and the things in this world.

Probably you will say "it is a really an interesting story but
I can’t relate to it because I’m not in ministry". May I respond
by suggesting that if you are Christian and are serious about Jesus
Christ, then you are in the ministry. All Christians are in the
ministry (Eph 4:11, Col 3:23). Whatever your profession, you work for
Jesus. Jesus said that you are salt of the earth and light of the world
(Matt 5:13-14). You are only thing flavoring and saving this world. We
are co-workers for Jesus.

Here are questions for you:

  • Will you finish strong for Christ?
  • Will you be a multiplier for Him throughout your life?
  • What will keep you from being one who leaves the race?

You see, those who finish strong are the exceptions. Why? because
when it comes to finishing strong, there so many strong odds against
you. The devil is against you and so are the flesh and the cares of
this world. You could become your own enemy as you place your personal
wants and desires above seeking the kingdom of God. Although not
impossible, finishing strong is possible. You will be required to make
some tough choices.

The church need Christians who are committed to the call of Christ
and the Great Commissions. Such Christians will choose:

  • Marriage and family over divorce and brokenness.
  • Teaching children God’s way and not the world’s way.
  • People over policies and programs.
  • Enlarging instead of reducing their circle of love.
  • Risking much for God rather playing it safe.

To finish strong, we must choose…..

  • To stand for truth when critics are the loudest.
  • To release not control people in ministry.
  • To pray and fast and pray again.

Joshua 24:15: ‘Choose this day whom you will serve… But as for me
and my house we will serve the Lord.’

Discussion

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  1. […] If youre thinking, oh well, Im not in the ministry think again. if you are Christian and are serious about Jesus Christ, then you are in the ministry. All Chr… […]

    Posted by Ministry Workers « It's Personal | June 23, 2011, 11:33 am