Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Jerry Falwell, Larry Flynt and Ted Kennedy

I just finished reading Macel Falwell’s book on the life and legacy of her husband, Jerry Falwell. As most of you are aware, Dr Falwell has been, is and always will be one of my greatest spiritual heroes. So much of my life today was impacted by him.

When I was in Junior High School I would watch Dr Falwell and the Old Time Gospel Hour every Sunday morning on a little 6-inch black and white TV in my bedroom in Akron, Ohio as I got dressed for church. God used those mornings to begin a stir in my heart to become a pastor. When God confirmed that calling in my life during my junior year of High School, there was only one college that I knew I wanted to attend…Liberty! I arrived on campus for my freshman year in 1983 and was amazed that I was being able to sit under Dr Falwell’s teaching and vision…live and in person.

My four years at Liberty were exciting ones. That was the time of the Reagan reelection, Senator Kennedy’s address to the student body, and the whole PTL scandal among other things. I literally soaked up everything Liberty had to offer as I prepared for ministry. One of the two highlights of my college years was being chosen as preacher of the year in 1987 and being able to speak in chapel in front of all the faculty, staff and students. I still have a picture of me preaching with Dr Falwell sitting behind me listening (fortunately, he wasn’t sleeping). But the greatest thrill came my junior year when I met my wife (also a Liberty student).

As I read this outstanding book, my mind was filled with many wonderful memories and I realized how much of my life today came as a direct result of Dr Falwell’s vision and faith. This August, my wife and I will be taking our daughter down to Liberty where she will be an Education Major this fall. As Laura and I struggle with the bittersweet reality of sending our daughter to college, the fact that we are sending her to Liberty is like a healing balm on our hearts because it is very much like sending her home. We loved that campus. There is something special about that mountain. In the book, Macel tells of how Dr Falwell as a teenager, before he even became a Christian, said that one day he would own Candler’s Mountain. I’m so glad God brought that to reality.

I’m not sure what your perceptions of Dr Falwell were while he was alive. I have found that most people have misperceptions. Whether you respected him or maybe even found yourself appalled by him, this book will give you a real view of what he was really like from the person who knew him best…his faithful wife. You will read about some amazing behind the scenes looks at pivotal points in his life like when a kidnapping plot threatened his daughter or when he twice went on a forty day fast asking God for a financial miracle. You will read about his friendships with some of the most unlikely people such as porn king, Larry Flynt and liberal United States Senator, Ted Kennedy.

So no matter what your perceptions of Dr Falwell have been, I highly recommend this book to you to read this summer. I greatly appreciated the fresh look it gave at the life of a man who I will always view as one of my greatest spiritual heroes.

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