Anne Graham Lotz: Jesus said "I'm preparing a place for you." And then in Revelation 21 it says, "It's prepared as a bride is for her bridegroom." And so, that preparation is very personal. For instance, my son, I know he loves barbecue spare ribs. I know he loves the homemade apple pie. He loved to play tennis with his dad. So when I knew he was coming home, I began to prepare those things. So when he walked in the door, he would know he was expected, he was welcomed, that he'd come home. And so, Jesus said, the heavenly father and He are preparing a place for us so that when we walk through heaven's door, it's a place that's been prepared just for us. We will know that we've come home.
Roger Marsh: Hello and welcome to Family Talk, a listener-supported division of the Dr. James Dobson Family Institute. I'm Roger Marsh. And you've just heard an excerpt from our guest today. Anne Graham Lotz, the daughter of the late Reverend Billy Graham and the author of the book Heaven: My Father's House. You know, it's sad that many churches today fail to address the reality of the afterlife from their pulpits, but heaven and hell are as real as day and night.
Anne Graham Lotz says that, for those people who have confessed their sin and trusted Christ as savior, going to heaven will not be an impersonal, bleak place. No, heaven will be a welcoming personal destination. For more than a decade, Anne Graham Lotz taught Bible study fellowship, a Bible study class for women in Raleigh, North Carolina that used a highly structured study method. Perhaps you're familiar with the ministry of BSF in your neighborhood. Well, it filled up with 500 people almost immediately. And there was a huge waiting list to get in. The class was that popular.
After leaving BSF, Anne Graham Lotz founded AnGeL Ministries to speak across America. She noted that, "Angels in the Bible were messengers of God and they went where God sent them. And I feel that describes what I do too." Anne Graham Lotz as the author of more than 10 books, including her best known called Just Give Me Jesus. For many years, Anne Graham Lotz was married to Dr. Danny Lotz, a dentist who went to be with the Lord in 2015. Anne herself battled cancer.
And Dr. And Mrs. Dobson and the team here at JDF have prayed with, and for her throughout her health journey. She is the mother of three children. She's been described by the New York Times as one of the five most influential evangelists in the United States. So, let's listen now to the second part of Dr. Dobson's conversation with Anne Graham Lotz, here on Family Talk.
Dr. Dobson: Well Anne, we had a wonderful conversation last time. You were talking about heaven for children and your book is about that subject. As I said, it's Heaven: God's Promise for Me. That makes it personal and the artwork and the publication itself is just beautiful. And your purpose is to begin to reach these kids with an understanding of heaven.
Anne Graham Lotz: To let them know that heaven can be their home too.
Dr. Dobson: Doesn't grieve you that many children do not know anything about heaven? They don't have that hope.
Anne Graham Lotz: It grieves me that parents, even within the church, that's where my grief is greatest. That even within the church, children don't know that because the parents aren't for some reason telling them. Either they don't think they can or they don't feel like they have the right answers. Like we'd said yesterday, if they asked a question, maybe we wouldn't know how to answer. So that really breaks my heart that there are children just running around that ought to know. But I think that the greatest child abuse is for parents not to be teaching their children about Jesus, not to be teaching them about this scripture, not to be teaching them about heaven and the fact that you can be with God forever, that He loves you and want you to live with him forever.
And to not tell a child the truth, to somehow feel like for whatever reason… I think that's spiritual child abuse that I would put right up there with anything. The New Testament talks about the resurrection is our living hope. The fact that Jesus is alive. And sometimes I think Christians we say these things and we celebrate Easter and we know He died on the cross and rose up from the dead on Easter Sunday morning. But somehow it doesn't compute that this is real, that Jesus is alive right now in a man's body in heaven. One day He'll come back to receive us to Himself.
In the meantime, He said, He's preparing a place for him that he called, "My Father's house." And somehow we just don't grasp the reality of that. And maybe in America we're seeing America unravel actually I think and I wonder if God would allow that because we've been so prosperous that almost it's like we have heaven here. So who wants to go to heaven when I can have a new car and a new house, and I can do this and that and make a name for myself? And maybe God would allow us to lose some of that so that we know that we begin to long for something more.
This life is not all there is. And if we treat it like it is, then we're going to lose out big time on… And I think this life is just ... In fact, I write in the adult book we're going to talk about, is just the narthex to what's coming. This is just the anteroom. This is just the bootcamp preparing us for eternity. So, to treat this like it's everything is very small-minded and short-sighted.
Dr. Dobson: Well, we were talking last time as we said about heaven from a child's point of view and teaching children about heaven. And today we want to talk about heaven from an adult point of view. What does the Bible say about it? What can we learn about it? There's really quite a bit in the scripture about it. Talk to people out there who really don't understand much about heaven. It's vague. It's kind of like it doesn't really exist. What do we know about heaven? What's it going to be like?
Anne Graham Lotz: You know, we know what the Bible tells us and Jesus, in fact, I will tell you this. About 12 years ago, I was speaking in Montreat to a summer conference where my daddy lives and my daddy came to hear me, and I was speaking on heaven. And afterwards my daddy said, "Anne, you need to write that down." And so, I did and then asked him to do the foreword. So, it became a little book Heaven: My Father's House. And it came out, it was published right after 9/11. And so, I was able to get it into the hands, for instance, of the women who were pregnant when their husbands died in that attack. And there were 120 mothers who were pregnant with babies who were born after that disaster. And I was able to get one of these books into each one of their hands.
I just had such a burden to get this little message out. Because I think people, they talk about heaven as though it's a "hope so." They talk about heaven as though it's maybe fanciful or whimsical. There've been books written since about heaven from this religious point of view or that religious point of view or whatever. But Jesus really, He's one who has died, He's come back to life. He tells us that heaven is his father's house. He talks about it in very personal terms that it's big enough for everybody to go.
And then later in the Bible, his beloved disciple John, who was so close to Him that he put his head on Jesus' shoulder at the Last Supper. They were intimate friends and that same apostle who wrote the Gospel of John and gave us John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believes in Him would not perish, but have everlasting life." That same John said in Revelation 4, "I saw heaven opened." And then in chapter 21, he describes what he saw. And of course, he starts out just looking at the beautiful city with a wall that went around and the city itself and the streets and the gates and the people inside, and he makes it…
So, it gives us a glimpse. It's not enough to satisfy our curiosity. But one of the things John said, he said the angel that was showing him this had a measuring rod and he marked it off. And, so he gives us the measurements. And I don't know if the measurements are to be taken literally, but I think what the angel was impressing on John, you can walk it off. It is a literal, physical place.
Dr. Dobson: As much as it tells us about heaven in the scripture, it also says it hasn't entered into the mind of man what I have prepared for. If God himself who made the beauty of this universe and of this Earth, the most beautiful places on this Earth, if he says it's so much greater than that, you can't even think about it. I'll take it.
Anne Graham Lotz: But one of the sweet things that I sort of parked on, because Jesus said, "I'm preparing a place for you." And then in Revelation 21 it says, "It's prepared as a bride is for her bridegroom." And so, that preparation is very personal. So I believe Jesus knows the colors I like, the people I want to be with, the scenery I enjoy, the music I want to hear. And He's preparing a place for me. So it's like when my children are gone, they're grown and they now live in my city. But for a while, they were gone, lived all over the place. And when I knew one of them was coming home after a long period of absence, I began for instance, my son, I know he loves barbecue spare ribs. I know he loves the homemade apple pie. He loved to play tennis with his dad. So when I knew he was coming home, I began to prepare those things. So when he walked in the door, he would know he was expected, he was welcomed, that he'd come home.
And so, Jesus said ,the heavenly father and He are preparing a place for us so that when we walk through heaven's door, it's not going to be this great big grand place where we're going to be lost in the mob. It's a place that's been prepared just for us. We will know that we've been expected, it's been prepared for us, that we're welcomed, that we've come home. And my mother pointed out that gold down here is one of our most precious commodities. In fact, right now it's getting more precious. I mean, the prices of gold are skyrocketing and you wear gold and you hoard gold, and you work hard for more gold.
She said in heaven, "You can tell what God thinks of gold because he paves the streets with it." It's like asphalt. And so, the application would be that some of the things we put a high value on down here are meaningless in heaven. And some of the things that heaven puts a high priority on are things we don't pay attention to down here. And so, I think it's a challenge to get our priorities straightened out, that we would know that we're living for eternity. And that's what we're investing our lives in.
What we're doing is for more than just this life. If we're just living for this life, then we're going to come up short in eternity. And I believe this life is just preparation for what comes next. And we need to really walk with God, to spend time in prayer, reading his Word, that He would let us know what's on his heart and mind that we can be a part of what he's doing. So that when we come to heaven, we'll have an abundant entrance and we won't have wasted our life down here.
Dr. Dobson: Anne, you mentioned the book that you wrote at your dad's suggestion. I have it in my hands and it says In Troubled Times, Looking Forward with Hope To... Heaven: My Father's House. Foreword by Billy Graham.
Anne Graham Lotz: You know, I was talking to my mother. I'll just give this personal example. About five months before she moved to our father's house, we thought she was dying, she had pneumonia and I was standing beside her and just stroking her head and patting her hand. And she couldn't speak she was so weak, but I felt like she could hear me. So I started talking to her about heaven and my mother loved England. She loved everything British. She had a big picture book of Princess Diana next to her bed. And she had a video of the queen getting ready for a dinner at Windsor Castle on her video machine.
Dr. Dobson: She was born in China, wasn't she?
Anne Graham Lotz: Yeah. She was born in China and she had a heart for the world, which I believe is where my daddy got it. But anyway, and so I was explaining to… I'd been recently to London and been to Westminster Abbey, which is the grand cathedral in downtown London. And it's where kings and queens are married. In fact, we just saw Prince William and Kate get married there. And I said, when I went to Westminster Abbey, and it's not like this now, because I've just been in it, they've changed it. But when I was telling mother, "You go through ordinary looking door, you came into a darkened room that was like a narthex. And in the narthex you bought your tickets and your guidebook. And then that would get you through the next door. And the next door would open up into the sanctuary of Westminster Abbey."
And so, I told mother, "I didn't see anybody going into the narthex who bought their ticket and got their guidebook, so excited going out on the streets, saying 'I've been to the narthex of Westminster Abbey and I've got my ticket." I said the whole purpose of the narthex is to provide that transition. So you get your tickets and the guidebook that tells you something of what you're going to see on the other side of the next door. Then you go through the next door and you go into the glorious sanctuary of Westminster Abbey. And I said, "Mother, this life is like the narthex. We get our tickets to heaven when we put our faith in Jesus. We get our guidebook, which is the Bible that tells us a little bit of what we're going to see on the other side. When death comes and we go through that next door, we give our ticket and it opens up into the glorious sanctuary of our father's house. Who wants to stay on the narthex when you go into our father's house?"
And so, my mother on June 14th, 2007 at 5:05 in the afternoon, I was standing right beside her bed right next to my daddy when she left the narthex, and went into the sanctuary of our father's house. And I'll tell you, Dr. Dobson, at that moment, it didn't matter she was Mrs. Billy Graham who had written best-selling books, was a poet, could play the piano, always asked by the president to sit at his table at a state dinner. The only thing that mattered was that she had put her hand to faith in Jesus' hand. And at that moment, He took her into his heavenly home and welcomed her into the sanctuary of our father's house.
Dr. Dobson: If that would be the most important thing then. It ought to be the most important thing now.
Roger Marsh: You're listening to Family Talk, the broadcasting division of the Dr. James Dobson Family Institute. I'm Roger Marsh and we have reached the midpoint of today's broadcast. Today, Dr. Dobson is talking with Anne Graham Lotz, the daughter of the late Reverend Billy Graham about the hope of heaven. This classic broadcast was originally recorded in 2012, but the subject matter is still very relevant today.
Dr. Dobson and Anne are discussing how Christians young and old can have unwavering hope and peace that they will someday live with Jesus in heaven. In describing why we can have hope in heaven, Anne says, "the New Testament talks about how the resurrection is our living hope. The fact that Jesus is alive." And that is good news indeed. Okay, let's rejoin Anne Graham Lotz and Dr. Dobson right now on this special edition of Family Talk.
Dr. Dobson: Anne, have you ever just let your mind sort of wander and you followed it wherever it went, and begun thinking about the people that you know and love who are over there on the other side?
Anne Graham Lotz: I have a little welcoming committee.
Dr. Dobson: Yeah. I've often said that we're going to have a reunion just inside the Eastern Gate and you're invited.
Anne Graham Lotz: But you know one of the things that I want to spend the first several million years doing is just gazing on the face of Jesus. If I could lift my eyes to his face, I don't know if I'll have the courage to do that. But I just want to gaze and gaze and gaze on the one who gave his life for me. The one who I've learned by faith through the scripture loves me, has a plan and purpose for my life, gave his own life that he could open heaven's gates for me. And the sweet thing about heaven too: the gates of pearl, each one, each pearl was big enough to be a gate in a wall that was 200 feet thick. And pearls are formed by oysters when a little grain of sand gets inside and covers that little grain of sand with a layer of mother of pearl.
And can you imagine how great the suffering of that oyster was to create a pearl that was big enough to be a gate in the wall that was 200 feet thick? And so, I think the pearls represent the cross and that the only way we get inside heaven… and people who say there are other ways to God. Even the gates speak of the cross. The only way we can get into heaven is through the death and the blood of Jesus Christ. And so, I want to spend a long time when I get to heaven just basking in His presence. I want to hear Him teach.
Dr. Dobson: Will you dare ask Him anything and if so, what?
Anne Graham Lotz: I wrote a little book entitled Why? Trusting God When You Don't Understand. It's when my son went through his first divorce and I didn't understand why. And I came to the conclusion that's done in this life, we just trust Him when we don't understand. And I believe when I get to heaven, I won't have any more why questions. I think He will be the answer to all my questions. I don't even think they'll come to my mind.
Dr. Dobson: You know even Jesus asked why on the cross.
Anne Graham Lotz: Yeah, that's right.
Dr. Dobson: "My God, my God, why-
Anne Graham Lotz: Why have you forsaken me?" That's right.
Dr. Dobson: Every single one of us hits a wall where we ask "why would you do this?"
Anne Graham Lotz: And to me it's not so much "why me," because I think it's like, "Well, why not you? It's like, God, "What is your purpose? What am I missing? I know you're allowing this for a purpose and what's the reason? How can I be a part of what you're doing in this horrific situation?" The book on heaven for me, Heaven: My Father's House, it just helped me refocus my priorities and my perspective. Because when you do a study of heaven, I'll tell you this life just doesn't seem so attractive. And you can think it's very important that you have this or you have this material thing, or you have this money, or you have this security for the future. And it's like that doesn't matter anymore. And eye has not seen, mind does not conceive, ear has not heard what God's we're preparing for us.
And when you begin to focus on that, then this life just doesn't… it matters because I want to serve the Lord and I want to bring Him glory, but I'm talking about the material things or reputation or relationships or money. So it just helps put that in perspective I think or at least it has for me. And we don't have to live for heaven, but the fact that God loves you, that He has a plan and purpose for your life, that includes living with Him forever when that time comes. But in the meantime, He has a plan and purpose for you right here and now. And He can put joy in your heart that's not dependent on your circumstances. Peace regardless of the war that's all around you and your family or in the world. Give you a sense of purpose that your life has eternal significance.
Your life is about something that's bigger than just you and just your job or just your immediate needs. And so, I feel like it's not so much the call of heaven, but the call of God himself to follow Him in a life of discipleship. And this is the sad thing, a lot of the churches are not teaching the Word. And so, they have to go outside the church in our city to get to the Word. Now there's some great churches that have cropped up, but… So, for me, it is sad because they're comparing themselves with each other. They're basing their eternal security on their works or their goodness or their morality or what they give to the church, or however many times they go or some perceived standard that is a very low standard because God doesn't measure us according to each other. He measures us according to his Holy Spirit.
And so, there's nobody who measures up and He says, "All have sinned, all have fallen short of that standard of perfection." So every single one of us are sinners, but sometimes when you're born and raised in the church or it could be another religion that you think your religion is enough to get you into heaven, but it's not. And God is not calling you and me to a religion, a denomination, an organization, institution. He's calling us to a personal relationship. And the only way you're going to have that is through faith in Jesus Christ.
Dr. Dobson: Anne, you are a born teacher. You really are. You have taught in Bible study fellowship, haven't you?
Anne Graham Lotz: That's right. I taught that for 12 years. Never missed a class because I wanted everything God had for me. And then He called me out of that to begin this itinerant ministry traveling around the world-
Dr. Dobson: And that's what you're doing now. You're really teaching.
Anne Graham Lotz: Yeah, exactly. I'm that more than an evangelist. I want to do the work of an evangelist and bring people to faith in Christ, but I really am a teacher or a messenger.
Dr. Dobson: Well, you have been doing some teaching today and last time. It's been a real pleasure having you here. I knew it would be. I've been looking forward to you being here for weeks. And so glad that you came. You are in Denver?
Anne Graham Lotz: Yes, in Denver.
Dr. Dobson: And you drove down to be with us.
Anne Graham Lotz: You know, it's such an honor, Dr. Dobson. I feel blessed. You've been a great man of God that so many of us have looked to for leadership, to say things into our culture that we would want to say, but don't have the opportunity. And so, you've articulated for us things that needed to be said and I just am so thankful that you're here and that God has opened this door for us. I told you before I think we still need to hear from you.
Dr. Dobson: You're very kind. I've looked to your family. I've been with your dad a number of times or I've been in the audience, or I have been on the platform with him a few times. And the one that I remember most is after the 9/11 bombing that took place and President Bush and his team put together a service in the National Cathedral and your dad came and prayed. I'm telling you, that rocked me.
Anne Graham Lotz: To see him teeter down the aisle and then stand up in the pulpit with the power of God and speak to the world.
Dr. Dobson: And his white hair gleaming. It was like an angel.
Anne Graham Lotz: And I told daddy, I said, "You used to be handsome, now you're beautiful." With just that white hair and still has a look of eagles. His character just come out on his face.
Dr. Dobson: We appreciate you so much, Anne. Give our love to your whole family, especially to your dad.
Anne Graham Lotz: I will, thank you.
Dr. Dobson: And I know there are a lot of people praying for him at this time.
Anne Graham Lotz: I appreciate that so much.
Dr. Dobson: And to your husband, Danny who has become a great friend to me so.
Anne Graham Lotz: Thank you.
Dr. Dobson: I appreciate you being here. Let's do it again, can we?
Anne Graham Lotz: I'd love to. Anytime you ask.
Roger Marsh: You're listening to Dr. James Dobson's Family Talk and our special guest, Anne Graham Lotz. You know, I love the picture of heaven that Anne painted in her conversation with her late mother Ruth Bell Graham. Anne compared this world to the humble narthex of Westminster Abbey in London, where tourists receive tickets and guidebooks before finally stepping into the glorious sanctuary. Here on Earth, we only get a glimpse of what heaven will really be like.
But hearing about the reality of heaven does indeed challenge us to get our priorities straight so that we can truly live our earthly lives for eternity. We have any eternal accountability for how we respond to Christ's offer of salvation. We are also admonished to demonstrate our gratitude to Him throughout good works, which God prepared for us in advance to do, as Paul writes in Ephesians 2:10.
Now to learn more about Anne Graham Lotz or her book Heaven: My Father's House, visit our broadcast page at drjamesdobson.org/broadcast. And by the way, if you missed any part of today's program or you'd like to hear part one of this broadcast in its entirety, you can find that information as well when you go to drjamesdobson.org/broadcast.
Now throughout this romantic month of February, we are offering you a copy of Dr. Dobson's timeless book called Night Light: A Devotional for Couples. This is the perfect book for you whether you're a newlywed or maybe celebrating a milestone anniversary, 10, 15, 20 years or more. Every married couple needs regular quiet moments with their spouse to connect with each other and with the Lord. And Night Light by Dr. Dobson and his wife Shirley will help you do just that. This daily devotional offers the personal, practical, and biblical insights that have helped the Dobson's marriage grow strong for more than 60 years. And so, we encourage you to let Night Light: A Devotional for Couples enrich your marriage as well.
Now, when you make a donation to the James Dobson Family Institute of $20 or more this month, we'll be happy to send you a copy of the book Night Light as our way of thanking you for your gift. It's tax deductible, by the way. So go online to drjamesdobson.org/couples. That's drjamesdobson.org/couples. Or you can contact us by phone calling 877-732-6825. That's 877-732-6825.
By the way, if you want to get a little taste of the Night Light devotionals, you can sign up for Family Talk's 10-day marriage series. Gallup polling discovered that churchgoers have the same 50% divorce rate as unbelievers. But if you pray out loud together as a couple, the divorce rate plummets to only 1%.
When you join the 10-day marriage series online, we'll be sending you mini devotionals for you and your spouse to do together and they'll come your way every day for the next 10 days. So go to drjamesdobson.org/marriageseries to sign up. That's drjamesdobson.org/marriageseries.
Well, thanks so much for listening and be sure to join us again tomorrow for another edition of Dr. James Dobson's Family Talk. I'm Roger Marsh. Thanks for listening.
Announcer: This has been a presentation of the Dr. James Dobson Family Institute.
Dr. Dobson: Hello, everyone. Do you need help dealing with the everyday tasks of raising a family? I'm James Dobson here and if you do, I hope you'll tune in to our next edition of Family Talk. Our main purpose in this ministry is to put tools into your hands that will strengthen your marriage and help you raise your kids. Hope to see you right here next time for another edition of Family Talk.