Safe Place with Ruth Graham

Safe Place with Ruth Graham

Historic Storm – Does It Mean Anything?

posted by Ruth Graham

Wow! We are being hit with an historic storm of major proportions. Apocalyptic? That word has been used. It is an important question to ask.

What is going on?

Have we ever seen so many troubling things at one time? Everything is in “historic proportions”. Earthquakes. Epidemics. New diseases, old ones returning. Greed and corruption. Storms. Floods. Financial crises. Famine. Disputes and quarrels. Wars. Terrorism. Disintegration of morals and families. An proliferation of war making machines. Lack of absolutes and truth. 

Yes, some of this has happened all through the ages but when all these things seem to happen together at the same time we need to take heed. Read Matthew chapter 24. It is very insightful.

 

 

What Happened to Confession?

posted by Ruth Graham

It takes courage to be honest about your failures and flaws. I admire those that can take ownership of their “stuff”. If we are honest, most of us like to put on the “I’ve got my stuff together” face and think we are fooling folks. Well, we may get away with it – for a while. But we are all flawed. We have all messed up somewhere along the way and if we think we haven’t, we are fooling ourselves.

Anyway, I like to be in the company of people who have messed up and are able to talk about it in appropriate ways. When talking about our stuff we can only talk about our own stuff – not someone elses’. That turns quickly to playing the victim blaming, gossipping, bitterness, resentment. It’s not a good place to be. (I read a great quote about resentment from Rick Warren, “When you hold onto resentment you let people live in youur mind rent free.”) I don’t know about you but I have only so much space in my mind and  can’t afford to let resentment use any!

Perhaps you have tried to be honest about your failures and got burned in the process. It is scary to open up to people – its a risk of being black-balled or marginalized. Someone once said “The Church is the only army that shoots its wounded.” My comment is that they are lucky if they  get shot  – usually they just get buried alive and are left to suffocate!

But last week I had a great experience with a roomful of strangers at the 3rd “Life-Giving Leadership Round Table”. It was held in Annapolis, hosted by Dr. Fred Antonelli and facilitated by Dr. Ted Haggard. I suppose there were about 50 folks there. Mostly pastors, counsellors, teachers…all concerned about how the Church can best minister to those who have messed up – especially leaders. It was great to be with folks that share my passion.  And each one had a story – we all do – some are messier than others but they are all messy – like mine. So many shared from their pain, their hearts – not for the sake of themselves but to showcase the outrageous grace of God.

Anyway, I have often though that Protestants should get back into confession. We were made for it. Not too long ago I had been emailing back and forth with a wise, seasoned pastor/counsellor friend of mine as I struggled with some issues. At one point he wrote, “You are forgiven in the name of Jesus”. How healing that was for me! The Bible tells us, “Confess your sins to one another that you may be healed.” Why do we ignore that? Or think maybe if it is for anything we think it’s a last resort for physical healing. When was the last time you confessed? It’s important to find a safe place. Ted told us that he was told by a wise pastor, “Never confess your sins to someone who won’t confess theirs to you.” Good advice.

But I learned about confessionbooth.com. What a great idea! Wish I had thought of it. A place on the web you can go and remain absolutely annonymous and confess whatever you need to. Try it and let me know…was it awkward? Was if helpful? Would you do it again? Did you hear from God in the process? Did it make a difference to you?

Remember God doesn’t have a junk pile but a restoration workshop and display case. Isn’t that great news?!

Who Am I?

posted by Ruth Graham

Well, now you know a little bit about being Billy Graham’s daughter! It is part of what I am, not who I am. I get a kick out of the way people view me – as if I don’t live in the real world! After my assistant started working for me the ladies in her church would ask questions like, “Does Ruth clean her own house?”, “Does Ruth go to the grocery store?” Yes, to both of those questions. And there are some days, I don’t even wear make-up!  I am a real person that does everyday things…I rather enjoy the mundane things of life, where there are no expectations.

I don’t live in some sort of spiritual bubble. I have to work to pay the bills. Weeds grow in my yard – that I pull myself! By now you know me well enough to know that my life didn’t turn out as I expected. Far from it.  But because of what I have experienced, I have learned of God’s grace and mercy in ways I could not have if all had gone according to my plan. I don’t like the hard times but for some reason in God’s economy that’s where we learn the deep things of Him. If we do not have those dark times in our lives, how can we appreciate the light?

But I have been thinking about the, “gray” in our lives. (Not the “50 shades” kind!)

Do you ever have this gnawing feeling that things just aren’t right? A disquiet? You can’t really put yor finger on it but it’s just here…like a fog that surrounds you. You wake up with a subtle sense of dread. Joy is hard to find in that fog…oh, you can carry on, go through the day, but everything is in shades of gray.

I have times like that, too. We have an enemy who is the great joy-killer.

I try to figure out what is wrong? I ruminate on stuff. Is it a sin? Am I feeling some sort of guilt? A conviction? Usually, it is a feeling that I just haven’t measured up. But what am I needing to measure up to? (Bad sentence structure.) What standard am I using?

If I use the fashion magazine’s standard, or Martha Stewart’s, or the church’s, or the gym mirrors, even family standards, I will come up short. I don’t measure up. Who am I trying to please? My neighbors? Myself? Strangers? Family members? God? All of that will be futile. Some folks I can never make happy and they see my flaws and are oh, so happy to point them out. Especially self. I can be so self-critical.

What’s the point? All this measuring is so futile and self-defeating. It creates the gray in my life. I have to use truth to combat it. And the only real truth is in the scriptures. The Apostle Paul wrote, “When they measure themselves by themselves, and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding.” In other words it is a waste of time. My oldest daughter is a marathon runner and she tell me that if she glances back to see how she is doing she can loose a step and the race. God loves me as I am and He will let me know any course corrections I may need to make. There is a difference between gilt and conviction. Guilt is the enemy’s tool to defeat me. Conviction is God’s way of correcting me.

And the great truth is that you can do nothing to make God love you more – not all those good things you do. And there is nothing you can do to make Him love you less. Not sin. He loves you as much as He ever will or ever has. His love is so total that it cannot be added to or subtracted from. We are loved – totally.

Think about that! The fog will begin to lift!

 

 

Living with Billy Graham

posted by Ruth Graham

BeliefNet is posting a piece I did about my father and his relationship to the various presidents he has know…all since Harry Truman. A unique position to have. His long career had him in relationship with the high and mighty and the low and powerless.

What was it like to be his child? I can only speak for myself, not my 4 siblings. But I can speak for all of us when I say we knew we were loved, felt secure in that love and missed him terribly when he was away from home months at a time.

As a little girl I read his absences as “abandonment”. Of course he hadn’t abandoned me but that’s whfelt felt like to a little  girl who just wanted her daddy.  As a result abandonment has been my “issue” all my life. I often feel insecure, lack confidence.  Oh,  I knew Jesus was my security and my confidence was in Him but  I wanted and thought I needed something more tangible. I have made poor choices in my life as a result. I don’t blame my father…far from it. He is my hero.

But I do recognize that his absences and fame had repercussions in my life. It would be the same for any one whose parent was absent from home for extended periods. It makes for dysfunction. But I take comfort that all of us are dysfunctional. All the families in the Bible were dysfunctional. Including Jesus’!

Yes, he traveled a lot. I  missed him. But I had a front row seat for something far bigger than I could comprehend. The impact of my father’s ministry on the history of the world and our nation is just being told.  I knew he was out preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ and lives were being radically changed by Christ. I got to travel to wonderful places – though generally I did not go with my father when he was holding meetings in a city. With a few exceptions. I met some fascinating people, especially the missionaries we had in our home frequently. Very few names you would recognize but they impacted me. I could size someone up by the way they treated me. There was one who came to visit my father who virtually ignored me.  I didn’t like him though he was admired by the world. Then was another another man, the radio broadcaster,  Paul Harvey, who treated me like a long lost friend – so warm and gracious.

But mostly I met folks just like me – just folks. My parents let me have as normal a life as possible. I am “different” but not special or entitled. I am a fellow pilgrim on an unpredictable path called, “life”.

 

 

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