There has been a story in the news about an 18-year-old girl in New Jersey who wants to be free of her parents. She took them to court. She accused them of harsh treatment – not abuse, mind you, but stuff like obeying the rules in the same way her siblings were required to do. Nothing unusual. Curfew. Rules about dating. Things like that. But to her it was cruel and unusual.
She is an intelligent young lady who makes good grades. She just found her parent’s house rules too burdensome for her taste. She left the house of her own free will but now wants her parents to financially support her. She has a sympathetic friend whose father is a lawyer and sued her parents on her behalf.
I am making a complicated story very simple. I cannot begin to imagine the heartache… the wounds that have been inflicted on this family. I pray they will be able to move on in grace, mercy and forgiveness.
Most reasonable people would find this story bazaar. If a child is under your roof and you are paying the bills it is not unreasonable to expect certain standards of behavior. If at 18, she wants to go out on her own then she can make that choice but a parent is not obligated to support her or her lifestyle. She wants the goodies but not the rules.
Fortunately, there was a judge who had common sense.
There was much discussion about it. And as I listened to the discussions, I thought we treat God exactly the same way. We want His blessings but not His rules. We want our independence. We want own way. We want “freedom”, emancipation. We do not want restrictions. Like a good parent, God does not let us get away with that. There are consequences for our choices.
The sooner we learn that, the better it will be. God always wins.
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.
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.
This has been a busy week but I wanted to tell you the “rest of the story”…
As only God could do, I was in Middlesboro, Ky. this past Sunday for worship! It was not planned or even contemplated.
I am privileged to be part of a 4-generational family friendship. Our grandmothers were friends, our mothers were friends, we are friends and our daughters are friends. It has spanned continents and years. What a joy! My mother’s friend has been suffering from Alzheimer’s and her daughters, my friends, have been taking care of her – with the support of the other siblings.
It is a precious family and the grandmother, whom I call “Aunt Millie”, is one of the most cheerful, unselfish people I have known. No stranger to deep heartache, she has always been cheerful and giving. For several years she lived nearby and I counted it a privilege to care for her in small ways. And always enjoyed when her daughters would visit her – they were like sisters to me. They remember me in my crib – that’s how long the relationship – and how precious.
I was at Carson Newman University for a Friday – Saturday event for their Women of Vision of which I am the honorary chairperson. They seek to nurture truth, enhance beauty and enrich goodness on the campus and beyond. I am honored to be a part of such a great university. It is a joy to interact with their students and faculty and staff – lead by Dr. and Mrs. Randall O’Brien who have become sweet friends.
Anyway, my friend read my post about “snakes” and emailed me to say that she was visiting her sister in Middlesboro – only 1 and 1/2 hour from Carson Newman. So I decided not to let this opportunity pass me by. On Sunday morning I got up early, got the car packed up and drove to Middlesboro. We had a sweet reunion – I just don’t see these dear ladies nearly enough! The husband of the older sister is a pastor in Middleboro. I arrived in time to attend church at Grace Fellowship Church. Don Aven, my friend’s husband and the pastor of that church preached on the covenant God made with us and we enter into by baptism. He had us flipping back and forth through the scriptures as he gave a rich Bible study on the subject.
I couldn’t help but think of Pastor Coots who died from a snakebite in that same town two weeks before. Pastor Coots had only one reference on which he based his theology. My friend, Don, had many from both the Old and New Testaments. It is far better, safer, to let the scriptures corroborate themselves as we develop a theology.
And I will be back in Middlesboro the 26th of April to speak at Binghamton Baptist Church. We’ll see what God has in mind. Stay tuned!
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.
Wisdom seems to be in short supply these days. There is a lot of knowledge – almost too much information. We are overloaded. But not so with wisdom. It is a rarity.
Do you know a wise person? What are their attributes?
Wisdom has to do with discernment and insight. The book of Proverbs links it with understanding. In the first chapter it states the book’s purpose: “To know wisdom and instruction, to discern the sayings of understanding, to receive instruction in wise behavior, righteousness, justice and equity; to give prudence to the naive…” If that is its purpose and I want to gain wisdom, maybe that’s a good place to start looking for wisdom – read the book of Proverbs. There are 31 chapters…one for each day of the month.
How do we get wisdom? Does it come with age? Not necessarily – I see some very foolish older people and some wise young ones. Does it come with knowledge? No. I have seen some foolish knowledgable people and wise ignorant people. Does it come with power? Just look at Washington and you know the answer! Does it come with education? Some of the wisest people I know never got through high school and you have only to look at our university campuses today to observe foolish thinking! Sometimes I think education erodes wisdom. I read somewhere that “wisdom is knowledge applied”.
How do we acquire wisdom? Proverbs chapter 8 gives us a clue.
First wisdom is available to all. It calls out to us. Even to the naive and foolish. Wisdom is available to all – except to the lazy. One has to want it, be diligent to search it out. Don’t get discouraged and give up. One has to pay attention. Take heed. In Matthew 13, Jesus told the parable of the “pearl of great price” – the man sold all he had in order to gain it.
Along with that, one has to make right choices: to hate evil, pride, arrogance, perverted speech. Life is made up of choices. We choose to not just be uncomfortable with evil but, hate it. We choose to battle our prideful thoughts. We choose humble, not self-serving attitudes. We choose life-giving speech over negative, demeaning language. We cannot hold wisdom while hanging onto foolishness. Wisdom is a powerful, valuable treasure. It isn’t given to the superficial inquirer or merely curious.
We choose to love wisdom – seek it out. And when you find a nugget of wisdom, pay attention. Listen to it. Our mind is to dwell on the true things, honorable things, right things, pure things, lovely things, things of good reputation, excellent things, and things worthy of praise. That does not describe much of our culture.
I was traveling yesterday and picked up a People magazine to while away some time. What garbage! Why would I use my good, God-given brain cells to read that junk? (Not all of it was garbage – there were a couple of interesting human interest stories but most of it was about people who are doing nothing but indulging their lower nature.) I found no wisdom there.
Where is wisdom found? it is found in God’s word and it is embodied in the very person of Jesus Christ. We can know Him. He dwells within us by His Holy Spirit. His wisdom is available to us as is His power.
As a matter of fact, Proverbs chapter 8 is a picture of Jesus – read it with Him in mind. And worship!
Psalms 92:1-2 says, “It is good to give thanks to the Lord…to declare Thy lovingkindness in the morning, and Thy faithfulness by night.”
I often think of this verse when I awaken in the morning because I want to do what it says – declare God’s lovingkindness first thing. I have wondered if the Psalmist had it backwards – to remember God’s faithfulness in the morning and His lovingkindness at night – but he didn’t get it backwards. I can do both at both times!
To me night is a time to reflect on His lovingkindness during the day just past. His provision and care for me. His protection through all the activities of my day. And in the morning I remember His faithfulness during the night. Good rest. Safety. Shelter. Warmth – especially this bitterly cold winter!
God cares for His children. I talked with a man this morning who felt God had abandoned him. There was nothing I could say to him to make him feel differently. And since I had a period in my life when I felt abandoned by God, I was sympathetic with his feelings.
The scripture is clear that God does not abandon, forsake, leave, forget His children. Ever. No way!
The awesome Almighty God, Creator of the universe, Redeemer of mankind thinks of me! Now if that doesn’t make you sing of His lovingkindness in the morning I don’t know what will. And this same dynamic God has me engraved on the palm of His hands, protects me with His strong right arm, guides me with His eye, inclines His ear to me, carries me when I am weary. I can sing of His faithfulness all the time.
It’s good to bookend my day with praise. It corrects my focus – off of me and onto Him. It enlarges my vision to see the world in need of Him. It tenderizes my heart for others. It humbles me to recount His many blessings in my life. And yes, sometimes blessings do “come through raindrops”, but even those He uses to strengthen me.
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!