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Glenn Beck

Now that the interview has aired on The Blaze TV I feel I can write about my time with Glenn Beck and his family.

Some years ago I heard that Glenn had invited 30 evangelical leaders to meet with him – 29 came. He had been shunned by one. I decided I would reach out to Glenn and ask him to meet with my father – knowing my father’s grace and love. I emailed Glenn’s program thinking he would never respond. Well, his “chief of staff” contacted me quickly and told me that the Beck’s would love to visit my father. I was able to make arrangements for Glenn and his family to meet with my father. As much as I wanted to be there to introduce the two, my schedule prevented it. But they had a meaningful time together. Daddy enjoyed it as much a Glenn did and felt a real love for Glenn – still does.

We had the opportunity to talk several times by phone as we shared mutual interests. Then when I had the opportunity to invite Glenn and Tania come sit with my family at my father’s birthday this past November I did so and, they readily accepted. I was looking forward to finally meeting him! I was told there was a VIP reception that evening to which my guests were invited. What I didn’t know was that there was a VVIP reception which my father attended to which we were not invited. That was where Mr and Mrs. Donald Trump, Bill Marriott, Sara and Todd Palin, Greta Van Sustern as well as other notables, and my father were. If Glenn felt slighted he didn’t show it, he was more than gracious. And he understands the “circus” that surrounds such an event.

Glenn and Tania sat with my children and me several tables away from my father. They were so engaging, gracious and kind. I was deeply impressed by his humility and tenderness – so much like my father’s own spirit. Many people were crowding around my father, trying to speak with him. I took Glenn and Tania over to greet my father who was happy to see them. Even as I approached his table the security gave me a “look”. I just looked back – this was my father! We sat together as the video, My Hope, aired. We were all moved as my Father gave the Gospel as clearly, as simply, as gently, and tenderly as one could. It was precious.

with Glenn and Tania
My children at Daddy's b'day party

My father enjoyed the evening and for days afterwards enjoyed reliving the occasion.

That evening as we sat there watching it all, I turned to Glenn and asked if his children hated the “circus” as much as I did. He said yes they did. When so many claim the time and attention of the one you love, it can be hard – you seem to be the one shut out. Though you are the one that has every right to be there!

Some days later, Glenn emailed me to thank me and asked if I would consider coming to Dallas to do an interview with him about growing up Graham. He has a deep appreciation and genuine love for my father. I was concerned about my father’s health at the time so asked to put it off until a later date.

Well, I went to Dallas at the end of January. It was so much fun and a delight to spend time with Glenn and his family. The interview was done in his home and afterwards he showed me his amazing collection of George Washington artifacts. Even the President’s compass! (Glenn and I share a deep appreciation and admiration for our first President.) It is like a private museum. Glenn was gracious to show them to me personally then he and Tania and I sat down to just visit – ask questions about each other’s views on things of mutual concern. Very comfortable. I am a sucker for genuine, authentic people. Glenn and Tania real. I was impressed with Tania’s wisdom and gentleness. They have quite an enviable partnership.

They invited me to join the family for dinner around the kitchen table. The conversation was interesting and included his children. Afterwards he brought each of us a Bible – King James Version – and we took turns reading around the table from Matthew 16 – the whole chapter. He would stop us after each verse and ask a question and discuss with us what we had read. He was teaching his children in a gentle, dear way. Oh that evangelical homes would do that so well and consistently!

I came away with deep respect and I love him like a brother.

Now, I am aware that there will be those that want question me about Glenn’s being a Mormon. I know he is. I also know God loves Glenn and has changed his life in significant ways which Glenn acknowledges. Glenn’s faith is very real and dear to him. I respect that – we have a mutual respect for each other. I know he has a tender heart and a gentle spirit – we respond to that in each other. God is at work in both of us.

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I heard on the news that Pastor Jamie Coots of the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Christ of Middleboro, KY died at his home as a result of a snakebite he received while handling a deadly poisonous snake. He refused medical treatment believing God would heal him. I am sad for his family and community. Not only have they lost a husband, father, friend, and pastor but no doubt they will struggle with their faith. God did not meet their expectations in this case.

They believed God would protect him when the handled the snakes. They believed God would heal him. He had survived other bites. They believe God’s Word when it says, in Mark 16:17, “And these signs will accompany those who believe in my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.” (This text is not in the earliest ancient manuscripts.)

That is an interesting scripture and difficult to understand. So what do we do with it? We can ignore it. We can take it literally. We can build a theology of snake handling on it. Or we can try to understand it. We can find corroboration in other scriptures about casting out demons, speaking in new tongues but nothing about picking up deadly snakes or drinking poison in other scripture.

A viper attached to Paul’s hand after he was shipwrecked on Malta. He shook the viper off and he suffered no ill effects. (Acts 28) I don’t think we can build a theology on the basis of one story. Yes, I know Moses’ rod turned into a snake and he picked it up…but that is quite different from picking up snakes and drinking poison on purpose to “prove God”.

We can be misguided and misinterpret what scripture says – that is why it is very important not to build a theology on one or two verses. I think Pastor Coots was sincere. I believe he believed he was serving God in some way. But I think he was wrong. Deadly wrong.

I pray his family will find comfort in God and His word at this difficult time.

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Reverse Direction

This morning I helped deliver Meals on Wheels with other members of my church – we take the month of January for delivery. I was paired with a terrific lady and it has been fun to get to know each other during these weeks. Since I have a station wagon, I drove while she navigated then both of us would get out to deliver the meals at the various homes or apartments.

We went to an area of town my Mother used to call, “the gentle side of town”. These folks appear to have been worn down by life, tired. They are grateful for what we bring. To be honest, today, it didn’t look very appetizing: sort of an orange colored piece of meat with a side of gray-green butter beans, a small carton of milk and a piece of bread – maybe a fruit though I didn’t see it.

Since the forecast is for snow we took an extra meal – something canned and prepackaged. Like I said, not very appetizing.

It takes a lot of work to get those meals out the door to each home. The ladies in the kitchen get up early each day to cook and have the meals hot for us when we arrive at 10:45. It takes organization to know who gets what taking into consideration dietary needs. It also takes patience to figure out the routes for each group. And each week there are some whose meals have to be held for whatever reason but we need to know which ones. Then we have to have the addresses…it is quite a job…they do it day after day, week after week, month after month.

But anyway, today we had a new person on the route. My partner grew up in town so I relied on her to tell me where to go…she relied on her memory of who this person was and where he lived. A couple of times that did not work so well and I had to back up or turn around. She apologized. I told her, “That’s why I have a reverse gear.”

When we went on our way, I thought about that. God has given us a “reverse gear” in life. (This is not a theological treatise!) When we are going in the wrong direction what do we do? Assess the situation and recognize we are in the wrong place. We are not where we intended or want to be. We have to stop. Then we have to turn around. Often that means putting it into reverse.

There is nothing wrong with that. As a matter of fact, there is a lot right with that! We all make mistakes and need to turn around. To pretend that we don’t will mean we get into a bigger mess farther from where God wants us to be. Or to continue down the road thinking we can correct it later…Or think we can figure it out on our own…It will be more painful and harder to make the correction. Not impossible – nothing is impossible with God – but harder and more painful.

What if the Israelites had recognized their error sooner and changed direction…they wouldn’t have had to wander in the desert for 40 years!!

Ok. We assess where we are, recognize we are wrong and decide to change direction. We stop. What’s next?

Look for signposts to tell us where we are and where we want to go. Ask for directions. Get help. Then move forward in the right direction and continue! In time you will arrive at your intended destination.

Don’t waste time beating yourself up for making a mistake! We all do. God allows us to begin again! He restores us and sets us on the right path – no matter how far off track we go!

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Dennis Rodman – North Korea

Well…I don’t like to stick my neck out..but here I go…

Dennis Rodman’s citizenship should be revoked. He is a traitor. His behavior flaunts all that America stands for – he is asking for us to stand up and say, “Enough”. He and his ilk are asking, “When will you draw a line?” I say, “NOW”.

Dennis has made a reputation as a “bad boy” – but now he has crossed the line from bad taste to treason. He is singing “Happy Birthday” to one who vows to destroy Americans, not to mention his own countrymen, and executed his own uncle for political power. Kim Jung Un is a bad guy. Really bad guy. It is disgusting. He is starving his own people. Denying them basic human rights. Kim Jung Un is not to be tolerated – nor is Dennis Rodman.

Why do we tolerate this? I for one do not.

Dennis Rodman is not the one to be our ambassador. Many have worked hard, long hours to dialogue with North Korea; to establish a diplomatic relationship in order to ease the hardships now suffered bu the Korean people. Dennis Rodman makes it all so much more difficult. I call on President Obama to deny him re-entry into this country. He has crossed the line. Let him live in North Korea if he loves it so much and is such a close friend of Kim Jung Un. I wonder how long his bad boy antics would last in such a repressive country.

Dennis…stay there!

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I happened to listen to an interesting conversation between two men over New Year’s. They used a word I was not familiar with: “prepper”, as in someone who is prepared for hard times – be it war, natural disaster or terrorism attack – a survivalist. The conversation was sparked by the book, One Second After, by William Forstchen. I have not read it yet but apparently it is about the United States being brought to its knees by electronic terrorists. The plot is quite plausible.

These two discussed the need to have guns with plenty of ammunition, foodstuffs to carry you through…being self-sufficient. I listened and asked a few questions. Neither of these men is on the “fringe” of society. They are believers. They said we’d have to have a car built before 1975 because that’s when the electronics were first introduced in cars.

I am not unfamiliar with the idea of being prepared for disaster…Years go when I lived in Texas, there was the same kind of discussion. There were programs where you could buy food that lasted for many years for a certain price. The Mormon Church sells food products that can be stored for long periods of time. I know I stored water, cans of tuna and rice during the Y2K non-event. I hear on the radio that we need gold and silver coins “just in case” – to be safe.

Later, I looked on the Internet to see what was being said about food storage and preparedness! Whoa! There is a lot! Lots of survival guides. Hundreds of blogs on the subject. Which ones are trustworthy?

King Solomon said, “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest. How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man.”” (Proverbs 6:6-10) So…

Do we build a theology on one passage? Where does trusting God come in? If I store food but my neighbor does not, do I shoot him if he comes after mine? If I have a car that doesn’t have electronics, where will I buy gas – the pumps won’t work. Think about it – everything has electronics.

Do I huddle in the mountains with other survivalists somewhere to band together, pooling our resources? There is a whole “prepper” community in Central Florida. Is that living in fear or is that being wise like the ant? I am far from an alarmist but I do want to be wise.

Living alone as I do, it is hard for me to think how I could prepare myself.

Where do you go with all of this? I’d appreciate some feedback on this. Do you think about this issue? How do you think about it? It might be a valuable discussion to have.

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Good morning and Happy New Year!!

(And welcome to all of you who are newly following my blog – there is a whole new group as a result of a TV interview I did this week. Welcome!)

2014 has arrived. Did you make a resolution?

I’m not one to celebrate New Year’s Eve because 40 years ago my eldest daughter was born on New Year’s Day! And what can top that? Ever since I have spent New Year’s Eve preparing for her day – to make it extra special. My birthday is just before Christmas. I know what it is like to have it overlooked – getting the “two-for-one” presents. So I determined that would not happen to her. And even though we were celebration weary I tried to make it very special. However, this year her husband gave her a “get away” trip which she desperately needed. The other grandmother is taking care of the 4 kids. As a retired, teacher, can handle them!

Anyway, back to New Years’ resolutions. Everyone seems to make them: lose weight, get in shape, quit smoking, clean out the closets… But come January 31st, they seem to be forgotten! We shrug our shoulders, go on and don’t beat ourselves up over it. We don’t really take them seriously. We need accountability – someone to do it with us or check up on us.

Last year I joined a group from my church to read through the Bible. We didn’t check up on each other but we talked about what we were reading during the week or referred to our readings in conversation. With all my traveling, it was a challenge to keep up – believe me. But I did it!! And let me tell you, to read through Revelation at the close of the year is such a thrilling experience. Once again I was reminded that God is in charge. He will do what He says He will do. History is moving ultimately towards Him and His rule over all.

With all the mess in the world – wars, bitter cold, floods, typhoons, disease, financial uncertainty, declining morality, lowering standards, attacks on faith, loss, rejection…God is very much aware. The victory is assured. He sits on His throne in power and authority. He has not abandoned us. He is a mighty God. He is a loving God. That, my friends, is security.

As the title of one of my books says, fear not tomorrow God is already there! Now, that is good news for 2014!

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Now What?

The baby was born. “The angels had gone away from them into heaven…and the shepherds went back…” (The 3 wise mean were yet to come.) Now what? Life would never be the same…but what would it be like? The baby needed to be cared for by a very young and, inexperienced (maybe she had taken care of younger siblings) girl. People were milling about the town due to the census – it was still crowded – they had to register themselves! They needed to find better accommodations – the stable was good during the emergency last night but it was no long-term solution.

Last night was magical but life’s realities closed in on them quickly.

Has real life crashed in on you this morning? The bills arrived in the mail today. The house is a wreck. The refrigerator is beyond messy. The kids are back to quarreling. You and your spouse have fought… You are disappointed with what you received or didn’t receive… Or maybe the house is just as quiet and lonely today as it was yesterday. Nothing changed.

How did Mary and Joseph do it? obviously, an angel told them what was to happen but we aren’t told if he gave specific instructions or for how long it would be… There was uncertainty – a lot of it. But I think it might help if an angel told me something. I wouldn’t know because I haven’t had an angel show up recently! That is not the issue. The issue for them was settled months before when they believed the first angel’s words. They decided to trust God. Period.

And that is where we must place ourselves today… deciding to trust God for the now and the unknown. He says He will never leave us or forsake us – He walks into our unknowns with us. He promises to provide for us out of His own storehouse – maybe not as we envisioned or planned but He will do it faithfully. He promises us His peace when all else is in chaos – draw closer to Him by trusting, depending on Him. And when things don’t go as planned or you are left with many more questions, choose to praise Him anyway. Praise Him in the circumstance.How? Praise Him for who He is and what He has already done for you.

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Phil Robertson

Well…I have resisted this because it seems everyone has something to say about it! But I have some thoughts about Phil Robertson so I will jump in!

Upfront I will tell you I have watched Duck Dynasty and it makes me laugh – there is not a whole lot on TV that can do that these days! However, recently the show has gotten a bit old – run its course.2013-03-13 09.51.13 Something is funny the first time, the second time but by the third time, it is getting tired! They have milked it for all it is worth. But when I just want to park my brain…

My concern before this latest brouhaha was that they were over marketed.

But let’s think about it…the show is about rednecks. They are proud of it. They market it that way. Jeff Foxworthy has made a killing with it and now the Robertsons. Good for them! Rednecks usually are good, decent, honest, God-fearing Americans. And they are opinionated. I have a few rednecks in my own family!

Whoever thought it would be a good idea to have Phil interviewed by GQ magazine? They are polar opposites. Phil is not a theologian, scholar, doctor or an expert on anything but duck calls and family. Certainly not an expert on fashion! Get serious people! His PR person should have advised him differently. Was his ego so big he thought he could pull it off? He is a smart man but he was thrown to the wolves who were salivating to sink their teeth in.

He was asked a question and he answered it like a redneck would. It was a bit crude, tasteless…But as far as he was quoting or paraphrasing St. Paul…that’s what the Bible says. They are not arguing with Phil Roberston but the Word of God. We may not like what it says but it is God’s Word and it is a hard word. But it is what it says. I don’t have to like it…I don’t have to understand it. But I trust what God says.

The press is attacking what God says and our Christian values under the guise of prejudice, phobia, crudeness…whatever. The attack is on the Word of God and the American right to voice an opinion which is guaranteed by our Constitution. They can attack Phil – in the grand scheme of things, he is just the latest target. He’s not the issue. But one day when you try to voice your opinion in your City Council or even your church but are silenced what then? Isn’t that what happened in Germany.

Folks wake up! We are loosing our freedoms. This is just the latest example.

I know this isn’t Christmasy…but life happens on the way to Bethlehem!

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Send the Crowds Away

In Matthew 14 there is a phrase that says, “He dismissed the crowd”.

Jesus had been teaching and preaching. Busy. Wanting to minister. That was His purpose but He dismissed the crowd.

No doubt He knew their need and the pressing issues. No doubt He knew the schedule and how late it was. No doubt He knew the expectations folks had of Him. Yet He dismissed the crowd. Why? Because His priorities were in order. His frist priority was His relationship with His Father. He knew He needed time with His Father. If He did, how much more do I?

It makes me think of the crowds in my life – the schedules, expectations, needs…Do I dismiss them? Send them away? No. I keep slogging on trying to meet the needs, keep the time-table and meet expectations until I am burned out, worn down, exhausted. Jesus didn’t do that. His work was far more urgent and important than mine…but He saw it necessary to dismiss the crowds so He could spend time alone with His Father.

If Jesus needed to send the crowds away…how much more do I? Phone calls, schedules, worries, anxious thoughts, expectations, obligations, needs…oh brother! dismiss the crowd – focus on what is important – vital.

This week I am trying to remind myself to “dismiss the crowd”.

Try it and let me know what happens!

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The Birds on the Runway

I spent the last week on Cayman Brac at the “barefoot and Breaking Free” retreat hosted by Mary and Russ Brandes – very special people.

The island is small – only 12 miles long! Each morning I got up to walk just as it was dawning. Even then it is hot and humid. My walk took me parallel to the airport runway. One morning after a storm I noticed puddles along my path. A fence separated me from the tiny airport but I could see the lights and the commotion as the early morning flight was preparing to board.

I continued my walk and came upon a flock of birds bathing in a storm- left puddle. The were inside the perimeter fence, just feet from the runway. They seemed to be having a grand time splashing in the water as well as picking at any bugs or grain they spotted.

They were oblivious to the airport activity. The folks who had gotten up early, packed their bags, ate a hurried breakfast, driven to the airport, said their goodbyes…I could only speculate but perhaps there was one rushing to the bedside of a loved one, another to the funeral of a friend, a harried business man concerned for the future, a grandmother eager to see a new grand baby…who knows the many and varied reasons the folks were traveling that morning.

As one who travels frequently, I am in an airport now, I can tell you if the stress of travel. I have written about it. No doubt that morning was stressful for some. Perhaps fear of flying over open water was causing stress…

But those little birds were carefree. They trusted the bounty of God’s care. They were secure in God’s love. I thought about that. Why can’t I trust God that way? Why do I add to my stress by worrying.

Even now with a 24-hr flight delay I am fretting about the days ahead. Can I get everything done in time to leave again on Friday?

I am reminded of the birds…”Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your Heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you more valuable to him then they are?” (MT 6:26 NLT)

Of course we are. He takes great care of our every need. Will you believe that for today? Will I?