Billy Graham, Chuck Templeton and Bron 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.
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 and preached together with the Youth for Christ Organisation. Most observers thought that Templeton would be the one to go to the top. One magazine wrote a feature 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 many 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 yielded 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.
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 became 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 as a youth but it’s how you finish.
* 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?
“But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
2 Timothy 4:7
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
For more information on FINISHING STRONG, read the book by the same title by Steve Farrar.
Need an evangelistic Youth Camp/ Bible Study Series with an Olympic Theme?
What is salvation all about? What does it mean to be saved? This sports themed Bible Study / Camp Curriculum uses the Olympic Flag to introduce the concepts of sin (black circle), forgiveness (red circle), purity (white background), spiritual growth (green circle), heaven (Yellow Circle) and (Baptism) blue circle.
-> Tell me about “Go for the Gold”
Need a Youth Camp/ Bible Study Series on “Running the Christian Race”?
The race as a metaphor for the Christian life is used in several places in the Bible. This series is a great follow up for new Christians or to re-emphasize the basics of our spiritual Journey in the Faith. This Bible Study / Camp Curriculum has a sports theme and is great for athletes as well as a tie in to the youth Olympic Games.
->Tell me about “Destined to Win”
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