The soundtrack of salvation


Billy Graham, London Crusade, 1989

Catch Ministry Television Advertisement – No Retreat
November 7, 2018
Soft choir music: “Just As I Am”
Fade in on a grainy black and white Billy Graham video….
John in close up. Takes a breath, looks left and right, leans into the camera. Choir still singing.
Our parents had Billy Graham and Tennessee Ernie Ford.

Fade in Jesus People scenes, outdoor concerts, Christian talking heads
We had Jack Sparks … Frances Schaeffer … Chuck Smith …
Change music, fade in on concerned looking young people in causal attire 
Who do they have?
Vignettes of rap videos, guns, shooting at a synagogue, pastors in jail for hate speech, journalists being beheaded, anti-Christian billboards – back up the camera to show all this being displayed on a smartphone. Back up some more, it is being held by a young woman on a subway.
New sounds of music, subway rolling on tracks.
Join us to give Christ a voice for this century. Give them what we had.

The next few Catches are going to pick apart our TV script starting with some thoughts on that great invitation hymn, “Just As I Am.” It will forever be associated with Billy Graham and his crusades, as it was sung by a huge choir made up of all the participating church choirs at the end of every service as Billy invited people from all over the stadium to come down front and receive Christ. There are seven verses to it, and the choir sang them all, and if people were still coming, they just rolled back to the top and did it again.

Because of this, it became, at least for my parent’s generation, the soundtrack of salvation. My father came to Christ during Graham’s first tent meetings in 1949. I can’t hear it without wanting to stand up and go forward when I hear that last line, “O Lamb of God, I come — I come!”

It was written by Charlotte Elliott of Brighton, England (1789–1871) and first published in The Invalid’s Hymnbook. Charlotte lived most of her life as an invalid in the context of a vibrant ministry involving everyone around her, which only drove her deeper into despair over her apparent uselessness — as eager as anyone to take up the cause, but physically fit for nothing. She picked up a pen and wrote these lyrics after a night of torment, doubt and struggle in her soul. It was her conclusion: she could do nothing else but come to the Lord in her anguished state, unable to change anything but come. “Fightings and fears within, without,” she wrote, “O Lamb of God, I come!” As a result, it’s the perfect invitation. Come, with everything that you are and are not … come. Charlotte never knew that her personal struggle that wrung these words as it were out of her own torment, would usher over 3 million people into the Kingdom of God.

“Just as I am” is a full, complete and personal expression of pure grace. I can’t change anything about myself. I can’t clean myself up — dust myself off; I can’t get rid of the doubts; can’t rid myself of the conflict in my soul; can get rid of the sins years ago, nor the ones today; can’t heal myself or my mind; can’t get over the barrier between me and God; can’t even overcome the thing that keeps me in my seat. Charlotte obviously couldn’t get up and go anywhere, but she could get up in her soul and go to God, and that is all that is required with grace.

But we all need the message of this hymn. We need to not let it get buried in old Billy Graham Crusade video archives. We need it for ourselves, for we are all, at all times, in need of God’s grace. We need God’s grace every day, because we are sinful and selfish and don’t have a clue how bad off we are without God’s grace. And we need the message of this hymn just to counteract the tendency to judge those around us. Do we remember that God receives anyone and everyone just as they are?

Remember, it’s Just as I am, not Just as I was, i.e., Just as I was before I went to jail, or Just as I was before I got divorced, or Just as I was before I found out I was such a jerk, or Just as I was on my birth certificate, no, it’s Just as I am. Just as I am right now, I come, and Christ receives me.

Just as I am can’t leave anybody out. It’s not for me if it’s not for everyone. It can’t be Just as I am, but not as she or he is.

This is certainly the critical role with our counseling services here at the Catch. It might as well be called, “Just as I am counseling,” for all the people Marti deals with who don’t think they are accepted in their local faith community. This is the advantage for us as an online community.

Robert, our MemberPartner who keeps a close lookout on things, just this morning wrote me: “I pray for compassion, comfort, and healing to all of LA for the tragedy that befell Thousand Oaks overnight. And I also pray that you will receive unique wisdom and guidance should your counsel be sought by anyone affected by this event. My tears and heartfelt prayers for Shalom, Perfect Peace to go out to you and your neighbors my friend…” Thank you, Robert.

Yes, Just as I am can’t leave anybody out — even the shooters in these awful tragedies. It’s a sick world that the grace of God has entered. But then, we wouldn’t need it of we were well.

Just As I Am

Charlotte Elliot

Just as I am – without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bidst me come to Thee,
– O Lamb of God, I come!

Just as I am – and waiting not
To rid my soul of one dark blot,
To Thee, whose blood can cleanse each spot,
– O Lamb of God, I come!

Just as I am – though toss’d about
With many a conflict, many a doubt,
Fightings and fears within, without,
– O Lamb of God, I come!

Just as I am – poor, wretched, blind;
Sight, riches, healing of the mind,
Yea, all I need, in Thee to find,
– O Lamb of God, I come!

Just as I am – Thou wilt receive,
Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
Because Thy promise I believe,
– O Lamb of God, I come!

Just as I am – Thy love unknown
Has broken every barrier down;
Now to be Thine, yea, Thine alone,
– O Lamb of God, I come!

Just as I am – of that free love
The breadth, length, depth, and height to prove,
Here for a season, then above,
– O Lamb of God, I come! I come!

The Challenge

The Lord has called us to speak with new relevance as older, wiser pioneers peering into a new frontier — a frontier destined to be led by our very own Catch Millennials and their generation. Are you in?

Your Vote

  • I vote “Yes” to putting off retirement and reinvigorate the same motivation that drove me to the message, which was about Jesus and how his gospel related to the deep, unresolved needs of our generation and that of the Millennials for love, meaning, community, peace and justice.
  • I vote “Yes!” and consider it a privilege to walk long side our Millennials as we step into a new frontier
  • I vote Yes! to supporting the Catch Ministry’s Accountability Commission and its oversight of several new Catch ministries designed to support our partnership [See below a brief description of the ministries in various stages of development.]
  • I vote “Yes!” as I recognize there is a $71,000 investment required over these next 6 months before these ministries are self sufficient.
  • I vote “Yes!” and salute the Accountability Commission for its wiliness to invest $58,000 provided  I, long with the rest of the Catch Community, contribute $15,000 now.
  • I vote “Yes!” and, according to my capability, will contribute toward the $15,000 and I challenge all of my Catch Citizens to do the same. 


[1] The following are only highlights of ministries in various stages of development that will be self-sustaining within the next 6 months.  I look forward to telling you more about each one, but briefly they include: “Johnny’s Café” — a place within the marketplace where we can interact with each other and participate in specifically designed classes, seminars, discussion forums, and roundtable dialogs with John and other thought leaders.  We have an enhanced MemberPartner program that includes a reserved table at Johnny’s Cafe for our “regulars,”our MemberPartners. We have been Beta testing our own radio station, Music that Matters Radio, that seeks to speak to the social and religious upheavals of the ‘60s and ‘70s and can bring the discussion forward for those in their twenties and thirties who are currently undergoing some of same societal stresses and asking many of the same questions. Over the next 12 months, Catch Publications will make available 4 new books by John.  Thanks to the generosity of Board Member Mike Boland, the rights to all of John’s books and recordings are purchased and being made ready for digital release. Newly formed Team Grace is our corps of volunteers. And finally, with a focus toward joining Millennials throughout the country, John and Marti are accepting speaking dates at Christian colleges and universities and honoring MemberPartner requests to speak in their locations.

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2 Responses to The soundtrack of salvation

  1. John A Fagliano says:

    Yesterday, I was thinking about the question you asked about millennials,”Who do they have?” Today I’m wondering who did Charlotte Elliotte have? Who was inspiring people in England in the early 1800’s? I don’t know. One thing for sure is that CHRIST WAS THERE. And he is no less here in America today even as it seems we are now living in a place where shooting massacres have become the new normal. Who do we have? We have the least of these. We have those in need.. of food, clothing, freedom, a home, good health, even their own sanity. In all of these we find Jesus and serve Him even if we don’t know it is Him. Yes Millennials will find Him and come to Him because like the hippy generation they are rejecting hypocrisy, pretension, and bigotry in the name of God. Let’s pray that they will see Him just as He is and come to Him just as they are.

  2. jwfisch says:

    Amen. Good word, John.

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