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Standing on the Giant’s Shoulders: A Tribute to Reverend Billy Graham

The old Graham family home on the grounds of the Billy Graham Library, Charlotte, North Carolina. It was here that the great evangelist’s body lay in repose during visitation by the public, February 26-27 ,2018.

In the summer of 1982 I crossed the Pacific Ocean for the first time to spend some time in Japan and China. The occasion was a Christian missions trip. After six weeks of ministry work in Tokyo, we concluded the trip with a few days of sightseeing in Hong Kong, Guangzhou, and Beijing. I thoroughly enjoyed China, but it was somewhat surreal walking around Tiananmen Square, through the Forbidden City, and over the Great Wall. As one of my companions said at the time, we wouldn’t fully realize until we were back home in America that we had been all the way on the other side of the world.My companion was right. We don’t appreciate experiences at the time nearly as much as we appreciate them years later, when we can see the impact they had on us and how they shaped the course of our lives. It’s the same with people. We don’t know how important they have been to us until years later. Maybe even decades or centuries later, when the full tale of their story can be considered in context.

A flyer used to get the word out about the 1972 Alabama Crusade. (Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, http://www.billygraham.org.)

The full tale of Billy Graham’s impact on my life is not yet told, but I have an idea what it encompasses now, nearly 50 years after I first saw him. That occasion was in the spring of 1972, during his second visit to my hometown of Birmingham, Alabama. It was just before my 11th birthday, and I had no idea at the time what a tremendous effect Reverend Graham had already exerted on my city. For some reason, my parents deemed it best to shield us from the momentous societal transformations wrought by the Civil Rights Movement. All I knew in my childhood was that Billy Graham, like me, was a Southern Baptist, that he loved Jesus like I did, and that he was a very important preacher. I did not know that it was he who insisted on having an integrated choir in his first crusade in my divided city in 1964, and that the crowd gathered at Legion Field in that year was the largest integrated audience in Birmingham history. He addressed a deep, deep wound with the healing admonition of Jesus Christ – one of many ministers of reconciliation the Almighty used in that era to right grievous wrongs, curb the worst of abuses, and prepare the next generation to carry the progress forward.
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Picture of the Week 11/15/17

Perhaps the greatest lesson in studying Scripture is questions asked in one part of the book have answers and echoes in other parts – but the sound doesn’t come through clearly unless we lay down our preconceived notions and listen as a little child.


© Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog, 2017.  Permission to use and/or duplicate original material on The Barking Fox Blog is granted, provided that full and clear credit is given to Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Picture of the Week 11/08/17

If we would study our Bibles the same way we studied for an exam in school, we might be amazed at the things that we never knew were there.


© Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog, 2017.  Permission to use and/or duplicate original material on The Barking Fox Blog is granted, provided that full and clear credit is given to Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Why Dylan’s faith is so misunderstood – Joseph Farah

What is the most significant indication that the Torah Awakening among Christians is becoming mainstream? How about when the founder and CEO of the world’s largest Christian web site publicly proclaims and acts on his opinion that the Torah (law, teaching, commandments) of God still apply to Christians?

That is the precisely what is happening with Joseph Farah, founder and CEO of WordNetDaily.com, the internet’s largest independent news site. He has even written a book about it called The Restitution of All Things: Israel, Christians, and the End of the Age. Farah’s book will be featured in an upcoming review on The Barking Fox. For now, consider this piece Farah recently wrote about another well-known person with a surprising faith journey.


Why Dylan’s Faith Is So Misunderstood

Exclusive: Joseph Farah identifies key to unraveling the mystery of famed songwriter
Joseph Farah
Published in WorldNetDaily, July 6, 2017

I was blinded by the devil, Born already ruined,
Stone-cold dead as I stepped out of the womb.
By His grace I have been touched, By His word I have been healed,
By His hand I’ve been delivered, By His spirit I’ve been sealed.
I’ve been saved by the blood of the lamb …

— Lyrics to “Saved” by Bob Dylan

It’s amazing to me how Bob Dylan’s faith is still so misunderstood. Thirty-seven years after he wrote and recorded the words above, I still hear people talking about this superstar songwriter’s spiritual beliefs as if there is some ambiguity about them.

Maybe, some suggest, Dylan went through a Christian “phase” in which he wrote and recorded dozens of fiery gospel songs and then moved on to other pursuits.

Yet, only those who have not really followed his career since could possibility come to such a conclusion, because those songs have continued to be part of his performance repertoire for the last four decades, during which he has continued to produce dozens of new songs that leave little doubt about where he stands.

That’s why I was so excited more than a year ago to read the manuscript for “Bob Dylan: A Spiritual Life” by Scott M. Marshall, one of the newest releases by WND Books.

As an admitted Dylan-phile, it had been a source of frustration for me for years that while there are many enigmatic qualities to America’s troubadour, there has been a rock-solid consistency to his publicly expressed view of God and man since 1979 when he released – to the shock of many of his fans – his “Slow Train Coming” album along with one of his biggest hit songs ever, “You Gotta Serve Somebody.”

And it was true, as the author of the new spiritual biography on Dylan shows, before that album. Dylan was searching for truth. Just look at the lyrics of one of my favorite, and shortest, Dylan songs before his “Christian period.” It’s called “Father of Night,” and he recorded it in 1970.

Father of night, Father of day
Father, who taketh the darkness away
Father, who teacheth the bird to fly
Builder of rainbows up in the sky

Father of loneliness and pain
Father of love and Father of rain
Father of day, Father of night
Father of black, Father of white

Father, who build the mountain so high
Who shapeth the cloud up in the sky
Father of time, Father of dreams
Father, who turneth the rivers and streams

Father of grain, Father of wheat
Father of cold and Father of heat
Father of air and Father of trees
Who dwells in our hearts and our memories

Father of minutes, Father of days
Father of whom we most solemnly praise

Dylan has written some of the most touching and powerful hymns of the 20th and 21st centuries – and people still don’t understand him.

Here’s the key to unraveling the mystery, in my opinion: Dylan was, is and always will be, a Jew. That’s the way he was born. He was, in the tradition of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, circumcised. He studied Hebrew so he could be bar mitzvahed. And, of course, he never renounced his Jewishness, nor did he need to.

That’s because Jesus was and is the Jewish Messiah. All of Jesus’ original disciples remained, throughout their entire lives, Jews. Some of them, including Simon Peter, were surprised to learn fairly late in their lives that this messianic faith they followed could be shared with non-Jews. All of the early “Christians” were Jews. And they were only “Christians” in the literal sense of that Greek term – which means followers of Messiah.

I have to admit that even I had doubts about Dylan’s spiritual journey back in 1983 when he saw his son, Jesse, bar mitzvahed in Jerusalem. At the time, many speculated that Dylan had “gone back” to Judaism.

Bob Dylan at the 1983 bar mitzvah of his son, Jesse.

It was only years later, as I studied the Jewish roots of my own Christian faith, that I realized this was a perfectly natural and appropriate thing for a messianic Jew to do. No Jew needs to embrace the “Christian” traditions and culture to follow their Messiah. In fact, I’ve come to believe those traditions and that culture can actually be a barrier and stumbling block for non-Jews who seek to follow the Jewish Messiah. They certainly were for me.

This is, in fact, the essence of my latest book, The Restitution of All Things Israel Christians and the End of the Age Christians and non-Christians alike are often confused by church traditions and the essential gospel message that brings all people – Jew and gentile alike – to the saving blood of the Lamb.

While he doesn’t like to give many interviews and he doesn’t seem entirely comfortable speaking publicly, I’m convinced Bob Dylan gets it.

Scott Marshall has done an amazing job comprehensively tracing Dylan’s performances, albums and interviews through the decades and showing there is a consistency in his devotion to God and His Son that cannot be denied. If you’re a Dylan-phile like me, you will find this book hard to put down. You will be surprised at how Dylan was treated by the church. And you will be appalled at the way he was treated by his fans when he embraced Messiah.

There are few musical superstars who rival Bob Dylan – as a songwriter, in fame, in longevity, in influence. This new spiritual biography will help you appreciate him even more.

Source: Why Dylan’s faith is so misunderstood


Joseph Farah is founder, editor and chief executive officer of WND. He is the author or co-author of 13 books that have sold more than 5 million copies, including his latest, “The Restitution of All Things: Israel, Christians, and the End of the Age.” Before launching WND as the first independent online news outlet in 1997, he served as editor in chief of major market dailies including the legendary Sacramento Union.


© Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog, 2017.  Permission to use and/or duplicate original material on The Barking Fox Blog is granted, provided that full and clear credit is given to Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Picture of the Week 05/02/17

Israel and Judah had a lot of bad kings, but how many of them got what they deserved?


© Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog, 2017.  Permission to use and/or duplicate original material on The Barking Fox Blog is granted, provided that full and clear credit is given to Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Picture of the Week 01/18/17

Is it possible that we spend all our lives waiting for God to act while He spends all our lives waiting on us to act?

bfb170118-ecclesiastes-9_10


© Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog, 2016-17.  Permission to use and/or duplicate original material on The Barking Fox Blog is granted, provided that full and clear credit is given to Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Astronomical Fact Check: A Review of The Bethlehem Star, The Star That Astonished the World, by Earnest L. Martin

BFB151218 Martin - Star that Astonished the World

Everyone knows when Jesus was not born.  Even the most devoted Christians understand that December 25 is not the date their Savior came into the world.  But when exactly was He born? 

The average person would say that no one knows.  That answer is incorrect.  It is possible to know when Jesus (Yeshua) of Nazareth was born – at least within a few days of the event, if not the actual day.  That is the message of Earnest L. Martin’s work, The Star of Bethlehem:  The Star That Astonished the World

If the book considered only the evidence of the Bethlehem Star, it would not be sufficient to establish the case with any degree of certainty.  The title, however, does not embrace the comprehensive nature of the work.  Martin delves into astronomy and the astrological practices of the ancient world, but that is only the beginning.  His quest for truth leads him to investigate multiple avenues of evidence, including Roman, Judean, and Parthian records and historical data, Jewish cultural and religious practices of the era, and clues hidden within the text of the biblical accounts.  In the process, he not only establishes with a reasonable degree of certainty when Yeshua was born, but also sheds light on a period that is considered one of the least known in Roman history.

This weight of evidence permits Martin to make this astonishing claim:

[The] historical evidence supports the nativity of Jesus in 3 B.C.E., at the beginning of a Roman census, and (if we use the astronomical indications of the Book of Revelation) his birth would have occurred just after sundown on September 11th, on Rosh ha-Shanah, the Day of Trumpets — the Jewish New Year Day for governmental affairs.  There could hardly have been a better day in the ecclesiastical calendar of the Jews to introduce the Messiah to the world from a Jewish point of view; and no doubt this is what the apostle John clearly intended to show by the sign he recorded in Revelation 12.

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Remembering ALL Our Roots

This is a season of reflection at The Barking Fox.  Part of the reason is getting settled at last in our new home in North Carolina.  There is no hiding the fact that I am a Southern boy, with roots growing to a depth of 200 years in Alabama and nearly three centuries in the Carolinas.  Hopefully I will have opportunity to explore those roots and share any findings that would be of interest to others.

bfb160918-keith-greenWhat has reminded me of a central part of my roots has been the opportunity to listen to worship music that has ministered to my soul for as long as I have been on this earth. Recently I shared one of those songs by the late Keith Green.  Now I share another:  an old hymn made new again as I pondered its meaning.  

In the Baptist Hymnal on my bookshelf its is called There Is a Fountain.  The lyrics come not only from Scripture (Zechariah 13:1), but from the life experience of William Cowper, an Englishman who penned these words in the same era that my Scottish-American ancestors began their contribution to the history of this continent. 

There is a fountain filled with blood
Drawn from Emmanuel’s veins
And sinners plunged beneath that flood
Lose all their guilty stains
Lose all their guilty stains
Lose all their guilty stains
And sinners plunged beneath that flood
Lose all their guilty stains

The dying thief rejoiced to see
That fountain in his day
And there may I, though vile as he
Wash all my sins away
Wash all my sins away
Wash all my sins away
And there may I, though vile as he
Wash all my sins away

Ever since, by faith, I saw the stream
Thy flowing wounds supply
Redeeming love has been my theme
And shall be till I die
And shall be till I die
And shall be till I die
Redeeming love has been my theme
And shall be till I die

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Keith Green – Nearly 35 Years Gone and Still Ministering

As The Barking Fox and others have noted in recent days, this is the season of repentance.  Why?  Because of all the Appointed Times of the Almighty (also called the Feasts of the Lord), the most holy day is Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.  The 40 days prior to that day are the best time for YHVH’s people to examine themselves and make every effort to remove any hindrances to their relationship with their God and with one another.

There are many excellent resources to help those who are taking this seriously.  One is the B’ney Yosef North America 40 Days of Repentance daily meditations.  Here is another:  a voice stilled long before it should have been, but never silenced.

Keith Green ministered to me and to multitudes of young people in the ’70s and ’80s.  He was the voice of those in our generation who longed for a deeper, genuine walk with Yeshua (Jesus), the Messiah who promised to introduce us to the Father of all life (John 14:6-7).  The seeds planted through Keith’s ministry in music are still bearing fruit.  Listen now to this offering from his works – the sound of a heart yearning for repentance.

 

 

 


© Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog, 2013-2016.  Permission to use and/or duplicate original material on The Barking Fox Blog is granted, provided that full and clear credit is given to Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Why Did Tolkien Care About the Jews? | PJ Media

The headstone at the Tolkiens' grave in Oxford, England.

The headstone at the Tolkiens’ grave in Oxford, England.

Somewhere in my boxes full of old photographs there is a picture I took in 1986 while on a pilgrimage to Oxford, England.  The purpose of that trip to England was not to visit Oxford, but to attend a conference with one of my oldest friends (who probably would prefer to remain anonymous).  I was stationed in Germany at the time, and he was in need of a vacation, so we met in England to join other friends at a Christian conference.  When it was over the opportunity arose to see Oxford.  Since we had met two very charming British girls at the conference, and since they shared some of my enthusiasm for Tolkien, they joined us on this journey.

Ah, Tolkien.  He was the attraction to Oxford.  J.R.R. Tolkien’s works have captured my attention since I first read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings at age 11.  Of the handful of authors who shaped my worldview, he and C.S. Lewis share the top position.  It was his grave I particularly wanted to see, after enjoying a pint in his honor at The Eagle and Child, the pub where he, Lewis, and others shared their literary ideas.  The old photograph lost somewhere in the boxes is the one I took of his grave.  One day I will dig it out and put it in an album of good memories.

Tolkien left us far more than good memories, of course.  He has made a lasting impact for good on four generations of English-speaking youth.  That impact shows no sign of slowing – provided youth of the present and future read him, that is.  Watching the cinematic adaptations of his works is not enough.  The depth of Tolkien is not in the action sequences of Elves fighting Orcs and Dwarves hunting dragons, but in the way he weaves the essence of humanity into his stories.  I view this as a gift from the Almighty. 

My guess is that David Goldman would agree.  In this article reposted from PJ Media, he investigates what appears to be a major motivation for Tolkien:  neutralizing the anti-Semitic messages of German composer Richard Wagner.  Anyone with even a cursory knowledge of Nazism knows the high place of Wagner in Adolf Hitler’s esteem.  It should be no surprise that Wagner, like Hitler, despised Jews.  Tolkien did not despise Jews; he despised those who twisted our historical and literary inheritance into something evil to justify the eradication of that which is good.  That is what Goldman relates as he presents the back story of a masterful author’s life work.

Why is this important?  The literary-minded understand.  Words, music, and images capture the soul and shape the mind.  Regarding Tolkien and Wagner, Goldman sums up the point this way:

Wagner’s legacy remains baleful.  Fortunately, many more people know Tolkien than know Wagner, and we may pronounce Tolkien’s project a success.  Unfortunately, Wagner’s hold on the cultural elite remains strong, and influences modern culture in ways of which the popular audience is unaware.  

How did he arrive at this conclusion?  Read on and find out.

And thanks very much to my anonymous old friend, who not only accompanied me on that Oxford pilgrimage long ago, but brought this piece to my attention.

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