The Bible

This past weekend the Museum of the Bible opened an exhibit about the Bible’s impact on my father’s life and ministry and the emphasis he always put on the Bible. They were gracious to ask me to say a few words about my father “the man” while my nephew, Will Graham, was to say a few words about his grandfather’s “ministry.”

It sort of got twisted around – he thought he was to talk about his grandfather “the man”, and I was to talk about “the ministry.” It didn’t matter. We both shared the impact of the Bible on my father’s life and ministry.

We teased each other because we had both decided to tell the same story about my father. I told Will that since I was going first, I got to tell it! Well, the man who introduced us, got it mixed up and Will got to go first…so he told the story! (Maybe Will bribed him – wouldn’t put it past him!)

I love my nephew, Will. And he told the story much better than I would have, anyway. So it was fine by me.

My two girls, their husbands and seven of my grandchildren joined me in D.C. and we all took the opportunity to tour the museum on Saturday.

It is fabulous. We learned so much about the Bible – but there is so much more to know! It is a fascinating look at a living book. The museum is the most technologically advanced of any museum in the world. There are six floors – chucked full of treasures, antiquities, scrolls, tablets, Bibles – all presented in such an excellent way. (Even the impact of the Bible on high fashion!) One of the most convicting displays was the “library” representing the Bibles already translated into a known language – but also, representations displayed of all those that have yet to be translated…Oh my! There is work to be done. Many who have yet to hear the story of Jesus and His love for them.

The museum wants you to engage with the Bible. And we did! It gives a grand overview of the Bible on a first visit then you can certainly dig deeper and take much longer. I felt a bit overwhelmed as we toured eager to linger.

But it truly engaged my grandchildren! Most of them enjoyed the “fly over Washington” which simulated a helicopter, or drone, ride over the city and into it’s building highlighting scriptures that are etched into our nation’s official buildings. However, some in our group suffer from motion sickness…that wasn’t fun for them.

There is a biblical “village” with actors living as they did in biblical times. There are interactive videos. There are light displays. As you enter the lobby, if you look above you, there is a 200 foot LED ceiling that changes displays. There is a permanent collection from the Vatican. There are loaned collections… So much.

Go! And don’t hesitate to take the kids.

 

Will It Be Too Late?

Sunday night I attended a concert “Melody of One” sponsored by the Comfort My People ministry of Advancing Native Missions. They encourage and advocate for Christian ministries in Israel like evangelism, pregnancy care center, sending of humanitarian goods, discipleship program for Israeli soldiers who have finished their term of service and other vital areas. It is exciting to hear what God is doing.

The music by Aaron Shust (Love Made a Way) and Joshua Aaron was outstanding! What a concert they gave – in a small intimate setting. Very special. Their music is so worshipful because it is biblical. You cannot confuse it with a popular love song, like so many contemporary worship songs, because it powerfully proclaims God for Who He is in His holiness, and majesty. And Jesus as the Redeemer of mankind. No soft fuzzy Jesus – but sin defeating, Satan destroying Redeemer who is coming back.

It seems clear to me that we are in the end days before the Lord’s return. So many signs…The question is, are we ready?
Are we about His work as we watch eagerly for His return? Or does it even cross our minds as we scurry about our day-to-day business?

He is coming. Maybe not today or tomorrow. But He is coming. Either when He comes in power riding a white horse with His eyes of fire or when He comes to you in death. He is coming. You will see Him face to face. Either with horror because you weren’t ready or in great joyful anticipation.

You make the choice this side of heaven. When you see Him, it will be too late. Make your choice now by asking Him to be you Lord and Savior today. It will be the greatest decision you ever make.

 

A Servant’s Heart

It’s been almost six weeks since my surgery for hydrocephalus and I am enjoying a new quality of life! So thankful. I still need stamina…it will come.

Last weekend my oldest daughter and I drove to North Carolina to attend the 70th birthday party of a man who helped my family for over half of his life. He sacrificed his life for the lives of my parents and us – even the grandchildren.

He knows everyone! They’re were about 200-300 people there. It was so much fun to see many people I had not seen in a long time – many people connected to my family in some way.

He is the most positive person I know. Anything you ask him to do he acts like it’s the greatest thing in the world. He always has a smile and is full of enthusiasm. He is always thinking of something he can do for others. If ever someone had a servant’s heart, it is Maury Scobee.

He has a special place in our family. My younger brother, Franklin, met him when they were at LeTourneau College in Texas together. They became friends and one day Franklin took him to meet with my parents and as my father said, “Franklin never came back to pick him up.” We are glad he didn’t.

He babysat the grandkids taking them on fun adventures. He had to find Revlon’s “naked pink” lipstick for my mother. He went to the grocery store. No task was too small or too large. He travelled with my father around the world, giving of himself to my father’s needs of any sort. He was always smiling and laughing. He was at my father’s hospital bedside many, many times. My father trusted Maury and relied on him in so many ways. A world-wide ministry takes a toll but Maury eased the load for my Father. We are grateful to and for him.

Along the way he made countless friends – some famous – some just regular folks – it doesn’t matter to him. He loves them all and stays in regular contact with them. I don’t think he has an enemy.

He accompanied Mother and my 2 older sisters and me to China back in 1989. He was the only man along and we counted on him for so many tasks – hauling our luggage which, at that time did not have wheels, and we didn’t pack lightly, photographing our journey as well as being the videographer creating documentation of our trip back to the place of Mother’s birth. On the first night back to Hong Kong after an arduous journey through China, we dispatched him to McDonald’s to get us cheeseburgers! Even though he was as tired as we were he did it cheerfully. It was a trip of a lifetime and he was integral to it all.

It wasn’t easy and sometimes very difficult but I never saw him angry or upset. He usually was cheering up someone else. He’s had his share of heartaches – losing a brother to cancer, losing his own mother. But he never wallowed in his sorrow instead he looked to find someone he could help. He is a very special man.

He never married – though we tried to set him up more than once. He was married to the ministry to my family. He is someone who had our backs – over and over again. He was always a constant. We could count on his smile and laugh and his prayers.

The whole family loves him. Maury Scobee is an example of a servant’s heart, if ever there was one. God blessed my family with Maury.

Miracles

I told you I was having surgery for hydrocephalus – I did. Not pleasant but it’s like a miracle. I no longer walk side to side like I’m drunk. I no longer fall dawn. I no longer drag my feet or have to crawl up the stairs. I walk with strength and confidence.

It’s amazing and I am so very grateful. I can look forward to doing things with my family – not being on a bench watching. I will be able to travel freely. I have a new lease on life! How long I have been struggling with this! It’s been 4 years since the symptoms appeared and I began to see a number of fine doctors.

Along the way I felt like the woman in the Bible who suffered many things at the hands of many physicians. I spent a lot of money trying to find out what was wrong but finally was diagnosed with hydrocephalus, had the surgery a week ago and now feel ever so much better. Yes. There is healing time and a “re-learning” of certain routines but it is 1000% better and I am so relieved – not to mention grateful.

Thank you for your prayers and concerns.

I must tell you of one sweet thing the Lord did for me while I was in the hospital.

I wanted a private room but with all else on my mind, I did not think to pray for one. I guess I sort of just expected one. Well when I got back from the OR – after waiting 4 hours in the recovery room – I realized I was in a double room. At that point I didn’t really care. My “roommate” was an older lady who seemed to be hard of hearing. Everything was loud: conversations, the TV, the doctors, her family…everything.

As you know, I live alone with a cat. Everything is very quiet! How was I ever going to rest…

I tried to settle in and when things seemed to quiet down, a smiling face peeked around the curtain. I was surprised and wondered what it could be about. He introduced himself as the son of the lady in the next bed and asked if he could pray for me. I was surprised but readily agreed to have him pray. He explained that the Lord prompted him to pray for me because I “needed encouragement.”

I couldn’t thank him adequately because my heart was full of emotion. I was deeply touched. God saw my need and sent this young man, a stranger, to touch my life at a point of need. A young man whose presence I would not have had if I were in a private room. God knew my need so much better than I did. That’s the kind of God we have!

Before his mother was discharged I tried to thank him again, but, again, was too emotional. I pray he got the message in spite of my inadequacy.

How grateful I am that this young man obeyed the prompting of the Lord to touch and encourage my life. God is so good, so faithful, so gracious, so kind… I am humbled and grateful.

Peace Before Surgery

This is Sunday night before the surgery on Monday morning…Thank you for your prayers. I have a deep sense of peace. I feel God’s presence and am grateful for His tender loving care.

What do people do who don’t believe in prayer? Or trust the Lord?
I do not know. I am so glad to know God is in control and He loves me. He promised to give me peace…He has.

Again, thank you for your prayers.

I’ll keep you posted on how I do.

 

Anxiety and Fear

I have written a book about fear: Fear Not Tomorrow, God is Already There. I base it on the fact that Jesus is the exact representation of God. So I took a look over Jesus’ shoulder as He interacted with real people in real time as recorded by the Gospel writers. I wanted to examine how people reacted to Him. Were they afraid? Was He approachable? Was He harsh? Did His presence bring comfort?

It was a great book to write – I think it is my favorite.

Well, I wrote it. I taught it. Now God wants me to live it! Funny how He does that…

For a long time I have struggled with balance issues. Doctors have proposed Parkinson’s, hydrocephalus, etc. I have seen all sorts of doctors and physical therapists. Finally they discovered a large, benign tumor in my spinal column. You will remember that a year and a half ago, I had back surgery to remove it. There were complications – no fun.

My balance did seem to get better after that but then the issues came back and gradually got worse and worse. I was afraid people would see me walking down the street and report that they saw Ruth Graham drunk! That’s how I walked. I went back to my neurosurgeon for a check up and told him the things I was experiencing. He sent me to another neurosurgeon.

This doctor did not want to do a spinal tap to determine if it was hydrocephalus because I’d had so much work done in my spinal column and he didn’t think it would be good to poke another hole in it. He examined me and determined the best explanation for my symptoms (falling, lack of balance, small script…) was hydrocephalus. He was very concerned about my falling…I was too as I’d already chipped a front tooth and split my lip.

So, all that to say, I am going to have a shunt put in my brain with a catheter which will take the extra fluid from my brain to my abdomen where it will be absorbed. Not an uncommon surgery – my own father had it done years ago.

Last week I spent the day in Richmond to have all the pre-op work done at the hospital where I will have the surgery, hence the title of this blog: “Fear and Anxiety.” I experienced both!

To have them shave part of my head, drill through my skull and place something in my brain…is anxiety making. I’m usually quite calm and not anxious. But I am experiencing a new level of stress and anxiety. And fear.

All the things I wrote about, I will practice. I do believe God is in control. He has a purpose and it is good. I will trust Him through this. When I was in the hospital after my spinal surgery I remember hearing Chris Tomlin’s song, “You’re a good, good Father.” I found that to be so true. He was with me.

And He knows my weaknesses and remembers I am but dust. I wish I could declare with courage that I am not afraid…that would not be authentic. I am not sure I’m as afraid as I am anxious. Back surgery was one thing but messing with my brain is another. I know I have a good team of doctors and a fine hospital. So I have taken care of the possible and leave the impossible up to Him!

People who have this surgery usually show a remarkable difference afterwards so I am looking forward to walking with confidence. Looking forward to getting my balance back. Wow. It has been a long struggle but the end is in sight. And I have a new empathy for those who do struggle with balance and walking. It is very hard to feel so insecure and not be able to do the things you once enjoyed.
I have a new appreciation for simple things – like walking, gardening, even grocery shopping!

I thank the Lord that we seem to have found the problem and it can be corrected –next Monday, June 11th. Please pray for my surgeons, my nurses, my recovery and that this truly will be the answer to my stumbling and falling…

And if it isn’t, that God will give me the grace I need to live fully for Him.

 

Divorce and Remarriage

Divorce within the Church has been controversial. I have talked to so many who have been wounded by Church teaching. I thought it was the “unforgivable sin.” Some church traditions have taught that divorce is not permitted unless there is adultery or a divorced person is not allowed to remarry and if they do, they are committing adultery. A divorced person cannot serve in the Church.

Many have been wounded by such legalistic teaching. We must remember that Jesus broke principles over people – not people over principles. If I err it will be on the side of mercy and grace because I believe that is the side Jesus stands on.

II Corinthians 3:13 says we live in the freedom of Christ – but that is not to mean we can use our freedom as a license to do what we want. Galatians 5:13 warns us not to turn our freedom into sinful opportunity.

God’s original plan for us was that marriage was to be a lifetime commitment between a man and a woman. It was to illustrate God’s relationship with His bride – the Church – therefore it is sacred, not to be treated lightly.

Marriage is not necessarily for our happiness alone but is an instrument for spiritual growth and development. It is a sacred covenant that should never be broken. That is His ideal. It is our ideal. But we do not live in an ideal world.

I believe legitimate grounds for divorce are: infidelity which includes pornography, homosexuality, sexual perversion; abandonment which can happen while you are living in the same house, no communication, emotional isolation and not supporting the family; and abuse which can be physical, emotional and verbal as well as neglect.

Malachi 2:16 is used as a definitive statement, “God hates divorce.” God doesn’t hate the piece of paper the judge signs. He hates the breaking of the covenant bond which can be adultery, abuse or abandonment. God may hate divorce but He loves the divorced person.

This may be news to you but divorce was God’s idea! (Deuteronomy 24:1-2)

There are 2 different words for divorce in Hebrew but there is only one in English. One word means “abandonment” having no legal right or standing in the community – not a legal divorce. Desertion. It was like being in “no man’s land.” Divorce was God’s mercy for those abandoned. The other word is to cut marital bonds – a legal divorce giving equal rights for both parties to remarry.

In the new Testament there are the same two concepts but Paul introduced another: “leaving”, not a legal divorce. If they leave they cannot remarry because they are still married. In Mark 10:12 there was no legal divorce. With a legal divorce one was permitted to remarry.

In Corinth there was such a climate of immorality Paul taught that each was to have their own wife or husband – no wife-swapping or polygamy. When Paul said it was better to remain unmarried it wasn’t because he was opposed to marriage or thought marriage was a lesser state, he thought Jesus’ return was imminent. He didn’t want anything to distract from serving the Lord.

When he talked about church leaders being married to one person he was talking about polygamy not divorce. How many good people have been banned from Church leadership or ministry over that one statement!

I have struggled with this issue because I have been divorced and remarried. It was not easy. But I do know God’s grace in manifest ways. Divorce is ugly involving loneliness, rejection, sense of failure, loss of self-esteem, criticism, financial problems, the children suffer…it goes on and on.

Divorce may be necessary but it is always a tragedy. It is tragic with difficult consequences but staying in a toxic marriage is not necessarily better or more godly.

I’ll write more about this issue in the coming weeks!

What Happens When We Die?

As you can imagine, I have been thinking about heaven and what happens when we die in the last few weeks. The fact that my Father and Mother are together in heaven brings it closer. It gives me a warm feeling to know they are there with Jesus and fellowshiping with all the Saints. I don’t know all that it entails but I know it must be wonderful.

But what do they see or know of us here on earth? No one knows. No one has ever gone and come back to give us a report. Lazarus came back but never spoke of it – or we have no record of it. Saint John is the only one who got to peek into heaven and wrote quite a spectacular account of it. Some of it is hard to understand and some of it is symbolic. There were others who had visions of what it was like and they are all similar – it is spectacular, beyond imagination, dazzling!

Far greater minds than mine have tackled this subject. I’m not interested in all the theology of it…I’m interested as a daughter who lost her “Daddy” and wants to know if he is still present with me in some way. Does he know what’s going on? Does he see my heart; know my struggles?

People tell me they are sorry for my loss. I didn’t lose him – I know where he is. I’m confident of that – and I am confident that I will join him one day. I grieve his absence from “now”.

What about now? There are times, I will admit, that it seems lonely when I think that he is not at home. No. I didn’t get to see him all that often but I knew I could – anytime. Now I can’t. I knew I could pick up the phone and hear his voice. But it’s been a long time since that happened. (And the recordings you hear of him when he was younger does not sound like him, to me. They sound “tinny” and too Southern. Maybe back then that’s what he did sound like and I just don’t remember his voice that way. When he did that CD called, “My Hope” – that’s how I remember his voice.)

And there are times I feel his presence. It’s a warm presence – gentle, kind – like he was.

I shared with the world at his service that my Father showed me what God was like. I see God as warm, kind, gentle. I’m glad I do. So many see Him as harsh and vindictive. I don’t think the Bible teaches that. Yes, He hates sin. He is a holy god and sits in judgment on sin. But when you are washed by the shed blood of Jesus, there is no fear.

Paul tells us that when we are absent from the body we are present with the Lord – like stepping into another room or dimension. We will step into a warm, gentle, kind Presence Who is glad to see us and welcomes us.

 

Taking Daddy Home

These have been remarkable days as we have seen the outpouring love for my father which overflowed to me. Such a blessing to all of us. If you haven’t seen the coverage then I suggest you go to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and watch.

Quite incredible from the motorcade from The Cove to Charlotte – then on to the Capital in Washington where Daddy was honored by “Lying in Honor” in the Rotunda. An honor given to only 4 other people in our history and Daddy is the only clergyman to do so.

Then back to Charlotte to take him home. One final plane ride…it was emotional to see them unload his casket into the hearse for his final trip into Charlotte for the memorial service on Friday.

It was freezing in the tent! Daddy started in a tent in Los Angeles and Franklin thought it would be appropriate. Fortunately, my older sister brought an extra coat for which I was grateful.

Each of us had 3 minutes to speak. I asked the Lord to help me and He did. I felt the freedom from the Holy Spirit to talk of my father’s lasting legacy to me. It touched many hearts for which I am grateful. I want to pass on my father’s legacy of grace.

I stayed until he was buried – even though it was so cold – but I didn’t want him to be alone. I went back the next day to see it all finished and landscaped. At long last Mother and Daddy are side by side!

And they are enjoying all the splendor of Heaven talking with God face to face.

But how do I feel? To be honest I am sort of numb. While it wasn’t unexpected, it was a surprise. I haven’t begun to process all my emotions. I am in “survival mode” doing what needs to be done.

On top of everything else, a tree fell onto my daughter’s house so they have no heat and are staying with me. My refrigerator is on the “fritz”. Not good timing.

So there has not been a quiet time to think. Reflect. But God has been working in wonderful ways and I praise Him that I have seen His hand in a multitude of situations that could have been difficult. God just paved the way.

He keeps His promises of Isaiah 40:4-5.