Roger Marsh: Welcome to Family Talk, a listener supported division of the Dr. James Dobson Family Institute. I'm Roger Marsh. Whether it's a child who's lost a grandparent or is exposed to death on the TV news, it is essential that we as parents equip our kids with the hope of heaven. Otherwise death can be pretty terrifying for children. In this classic conversation from 2012, Dr. Dobson talks with Anne Graham Lotz, the daughter of the late Reverend Billy Graham about her beautifully illustrated children's book entitled, Heaven, God's Promise For Me. Believe me she does not sugarcoat the truth. This is straight from scripture, but presented in childlike terms and accompanied by whimsical illustrations and reminds us that our children and grandchildren can have the peace and security that heaven can be their home if they've placed their faith and trust in Jesus Christ. So let's listen now to Dr. Dobson's conversation with Anne Graham Lotz here on this special edition of Family Talk.
Dr. Dobson: I'm so very pleased to welcome a very special guest and a friend with us who will help us understand what heaven is and what it's like and how we can convey it to children. Mrs. Anne Graham Lotz is with us today. An evangelist and the founder and president of Angel Ministries, she was named one of the five most influential evangelists of her generation by The New York Times and has published more than a dozen books, including a children's book that's called, Heaven, God's Promise For Me, which we're going to talk about today. Mrs. Lotz is married to Dr. Danny Lotz and she has three grown children, three grandchildren and lives in Raleigh, North Carolina. That's not exactly a conservative cross strong hold is it, with the universities around there. But welcome, and I'm so glad to have you here.
Anne Graham Lotz: It's just a joy to be here, Dr. Dobson. It's my pleasure. Thank you.
Dr. Dobson: Shirley and I have admired you and respected you. I told you a few minutes ago, we saw you on the Mike Huckabee show not too long ago and boy, you laid it down straight, you didn't back off at all.
Anne Graham Lotz: One of the freeing things for me is that I'm really not aiming to be invited back. So I figured if that's my one time, then I'll just go ahead and say what God has put on my heart and not try to couch it so that I would be somebody that they would turn to again. But the interesting thing is that I get calls from time to time and they want me back. I think they want somebody who will say it out.
Dr. Dobson: I feel the way. I don't long for that, then the publicity of it and so on. I just soon not do it. And so if I'm going to go there, I'm going to take advantage of the opportunity. And sometimes you get re invited back and sometimes you don't.
Anne Graham Lotz: Right. And you always say it like it is too, so.
Dr. Dobson: You and Franklin always manage to find a way to get the gospel in and no matter what the subject is, you do that. And you did it on that show that we saw just about six weeks ago, something like that. And you were talking about the subject for today. The subject of heaven. Has the Lord specifically laid that on your heart for this time?
Anne Graham Lotz: He has Dr. Dobson. And because I'm talking to you, I will tell you that I believe we're living at the end of human history as we know it. I think it's a very critical time.
Dr. Dobson: I do too.
Anne Graham Lotz: And so it just occurred to me when my mother went to our father's house, when she died about four years ago and I was trying to talk to my grandchildren about where she was, and just helped comfort them when we looked past death to where she is now. And then I thought of all the little children out there who wouldn't have somebody to ask questions of, or maybe adults who would know how to give the answers. And then I thought at this particular time in human history, who knows that we have tomorrow, who knows that we have next year, and maybe we're not looking at the return of Jesus, although I believe we are, but maybe it's just some sort of cataclysmic disaster on America where all of a sudden life changes. And I've thought about little children who may be on the brink of eternity, and they don't know it because of their age. They think they're going to live to a ripe old age.
Anne Graham Lotz: I really believe the Lord put it on my heart to write this book and the whole purpose is to bring little children to Jesus and to help the parent or the adults at the Sunday school teacher to be able to facilitate that. But even without them, a child can read this and understand.
Dr. Dobson: I can't tell you how much I appreciate this emphasis. And it's obvious that it came from the Lord, because it seems to me that even those that are committed to Christ have lost a theology of the afterlife. They don't believe it anymore. Certainly don't believe in hell, although I do. And they don't know what heaven is really all about. And yet when I was very young, I grew up with this. Heaven was very much a part of my life. And I learned to pray before I learned to talk, because I imitated the sounds that my parents made. But it was my grandmother and my great-grandmother who talked about heaven all the time. They filled my life with it, and I grew up with it. Did you?
Anne Graham Lotz: Yes. It's our hope. So I don't know why we've become silent and the church itself, this is another distressing thing I've noticed. And I think of my daddy, Billy Graham, who's preached all over the world, had stadiums packed and millions of people in his meetings and in South Korea and other places. And our world is worse off, Dr. Dobson. So I've thought to myself, "Where are these people who were converted and where are their children and their grandchildren?" And I know we've heard a lot of stories of that first-generation and they truly have been born again. I know daddy's meetings have made an eternal difference, but somewhere we're not passing it onto the next generation somewhere. And I don't know if parents think they're not capable, if they want to leave it to a pastor or an evangelist, and then they're not getting it from their church or the people that are supposed to be telling them. And some churches don't even think a little child can understand this to the point they could make a decision like this.
Dr. Dobson: I want to do a program with you today and another one tomorrow and tomorrow I want to talk about the adult scene because adults aren't getting it either.
Anne Graham Lotz: If adults are like that then that is passed down to the next generation. Then it's really lost. And so my aim for this children's book is just to try to reach down. It wouldn't even be my next generation. It would be the next to the next. It'd be my grandchildren's age and try to reach that generation and let them know that heaven is for them too. It's not just for adults. Heaven is for children. A child can have the hope of knowing they're going to have, and they can have peace. They can know that there's security because Jesus is preparing a place for them. My children are grown. In fact, my son just turned 42. And so they're grown, they're married and you almost lose touch with the little people. And then when my little girls came along, I have three little granddaughters who are ten, eight, and five, and it just reawakens you to little children and to that stage.
Anne Graham Lotz: And so it was while I was talking to my little girls about death and heaven and just saw their questions and what they wanted to know. And my daughter has done a fabulous job because she's taught them a lot of those hymns, Dr. Dobson. So that my grandchildren are learning some of those hymns that just aren't sung anymore and taught them about heaven. And so it just awakened me to the fact that little children have questions and they want to ask them, but sometimes adults don't have the answers to give, or they'll want to comfort a child when they're faced with death. And they tell them foolish things. I mean, things that are fun, but they're not true. And I don't think that's doing the child a service. So this little book is based on what the Bible says. I put the scripture references in the back, so the adult can read the scripture and see what the Bible says, but it's true. It's just that I've made it user-friendly for little children so that they can wrap their little minds around that.
Dr. Dobson: Your book is just beautiful. Again, the name of it is Heaven, God's Promise For Me and the woman who did the art here. I don't know her Laura Bryant.
Anne Graham Lotz: I haven't met her. She actually lives in Asheville, North Carolina, which is real near where my daddy lives and so one day I'll make a point to go meet her, but she did that. And we discussed the drawings and some of the illustrations. And I wanted her to think outside the box. And I believe she did.
Dr. Dobson: This is one of the most beautiful books for children that I've seen.
Anne Graham Lotz: It was very fun. There's an angel on every spreadsheet. So, little children like to find things like that. And so we've put a little angel in different places so that they can look for the angel, but then the words are based on what the Bible says so that it's true, even though it's very whimsical and imaginative.
Dr. Dobson: I'm sure that you knew Adrian Rogers, pastor of the Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee. He was a great friend to me and I to him and we were like brothers although he influenced me probably more than I influenced him. And he was on my board, but when he was dying, I called him and I was on my way to the airport. And I just wanted to talk to him, see how he was doing. And he said, "Well, Jim, it's not so bad because if I do go on to be with the Lord, I'm going to heaven. Look what awaits me there. But if I don't, I get to stay here." I said, "It's win-win, I can't lose."
Anne Graham Lotz: It's like Apostle Paul.
Dr. Dobson: Yeah, you have that attitude you can deal with whatever life throws at you.
Anne Graham Lotz: And I think little children, they want that too. And they can grasp that. And they need something that they can understand that's written like a child would be able to grasp because they have questions, but they don't know how to articulate them and adults don't know how to answer them. And so just like Dr. Rogers, who had the comfort of knowing if he died it's okay, children need that too. They're faced with death on the news, on videos.
Dr. Dobson: And then grandparents, great-grandparents
Anne Graham Lotz: Oh, grandparents. My granddaughter, who is now 10, but the year I've wrote this, her father is a football coach and his assistant coach's wife suddenly died and then she had a classmate who died. She had another classmate whose parent died. Her next door neighbor died, and she was surrounded. And then my mother went to heaven. And so within 10 months, there were five people in her life that died and she, you talk about questions, she wanted to know, and it's frightening to a child, unless you give them the answers and you can help them look past that and see that when you put your faith in Jesus, which you and I know is the key that heaven is for God and his Son and for those who love him and put their faith in his Son and come by way of the cross. And when you do that, then death is not something to be afraid of. I'm afraid of the needles in the hospitals, some of the things that you know, but the actual moment of death is something and stepping into eternity for a believer is not a frightening prospect.
Dr. Dobson: My first encounter with death was when I was three years old and I had a little friend who was two, and he came over to my house to play. His name by the way was Danny. The same as your husband. And Danny and I played guns. I remember him bang, bang, and two days later he died and my dad was the pastor. And we went to what I now know was a funeral home. And they left me in the car and I waited in the car for a long, long time. And then they came and got me and they brought me in and my dad held me up so I could see Danny in the casket. My very first encounter with death. I remember saying, "Danny won't you open his eyes." I thought if you could reach over and open his eyes, he would be okay.
Dr. Dobson: And I don't remember the conversation that followed, but I imagine that my parents use that to describe a little bit in a three-year-old's terms, what death was like, and about going to heaven. But I know my grandmother and great-grandmother would have done that because I was blessed with those kind of people in my family.
Anne Graham Lotz: It's wonderful to have godly heritage like that, that teach you the truth.
Dr. Dobson: Anne, I asked before the program started, if you would read from your book. It's poetic. It's in a poetic form and I've opened it to the first page. Why don't you read about 10 pages of it?
Anne Graham Lotz: Sure. It's a story of a little boy and a little girl, they're brother and sister, and it starts out and just says, "I have a little brother he's as cute as he can be. We do everything together. And he always looks up to me. We couldn't fall asleep last week when we went to bed, we had so many questions. Thoughts were swirling in our heads. We wondered when our granny died, where did she really go? It's lonely here without her and we just miss her so. Then we whispered a little prayer that only God could hear, give us some answers, please. We want to feel you near. In the quietness of the night this is what we heard. This is what God said to us, right from his Holy word. 'Don't let your hearts be troubled. There's nothing you should fear. In my home that I call heaven. Our loved ones are always near.'.
Anne Graham Lotz: "He said his home is a great big house with lots of room and space, filled with gifts and laughter and love with smiles on every face. Jesus, his son is preparing a place with treasures from above, our favorite foods and colors and the special people we love. Whatever makes us happy, whatever makes us glad, we'll find it all in heaven where no one will be sad. If there are tears on your face when you arrive on that day, Jesus himself will wipe them away. Inside there is no crying. Inside there is no pain. Inside there are no bad people and you'll never be lonely again. Your home in heaven is so wonderful. It's much than you can dream. There'll be no sickness or sadness and everything will be clean. There'll be no more crutches or hospital stays. There'll be no more hunger. He will take it away. You will walk and run, you will play and sing.
Anne Graham Lotz: You will have many friends. Heaven won't never be boring. You'll be safe and you'll be free. Nothing will hurt you. Not even a bee. You can pet a lion. You can swim with a shark. You can fly with an eagle and it will never get dark. But light is always on because Jesus is waiting for you. The very best part of heaven is that he's going to be there too." I'll just stop with that.
Dr. Dobson: That is so good. You read about half of it. Now this is intended for children between probably-
Anne Graham Lotz: Four to ten.
Dr. Dobson: And one or two of your grandchildren gave their heart to the Lord before their third birthday.
Anne Graham Lotz: That's right.
Dr. Dobson: I thought I set a record. Mine was three, but that-
Anne Graham Lotz: And we can tell that it was real because you can see the differences made in their lives and how the Holy Spirit has worked to give them a love for the scripture to have them quickly aware of sin that needs to be confessed. And so this little book, the purpose is to bring little children to Jesus. One of the things we did is put at the very back of the book an envelope on the hard cover. And inside the envelope is the invitation for my Heavenly Father, where they can... He invites them to live with him forever in their heavenly home. They can sign it, date it, and it's really for the parent or the adult to record that decision the child makes to help them know for always that they invited Jesus in their hearts.
Dr. Dobson: Did you lead them through that? Did you get down and pray with them?
Anne Graham Lotz: Well, for my children, I did, but not for my grandchildren. My daughter and her husband actually prayed with them, was they prayed that prayer.
Dr. Dobson: Do you have a recommendation for parents in regard to allowing them to come to that decision themselves? It's three, four, five, six, seven years of age, or do you deliberately attempt to teach them what they need to do?
Anne Graham Lotz: My daughter, since this was our recent experience with the little children, she would explain to them about Jesus. They knew about Jesus. They knew about the cross. They knew about heaven. And then it's funny how the Holy Spirit would just begin to work in their hearts one by one. And they came to her. Each one at a different time would come to her and say, "Mommy, I want to ask Jesus in my heart." And she would quiz them. "Do you know about the cross?" And she would have them explain to her what it meant that Jesus died for them. And so one of my little granddaughters, my daughter said, "Are you willing to confess your sin? And do you know what sin is?" And she said, "You mean when I pushed my little baby sister off the bed?" My mother said, "Yes, that's right." So she was confessing her little sin. And so they understood. And so I think a parent just needs to be alert to take the opportunity when it comes.
Dr. Dobson: What do you say to a child where a grandparent or a parent has died? Do you take them to an understanding of heaven at that time? And that the one you love is there waiting for us is still alive?
Anne Graham Lotz: For my little grandchildren, when my mother died, that would be their great-grandmother, then that's the way we did it for them. And we knew my mother had gone to heaven. I think if they are children and they don't know the person who has died, has gone to heaven, I think that's one of the things that we trust Jesus with. He's the judge. We're not. So we can just bring that person to him and the child and tell them about heaven. And the point is we believe we'll see our loved ones again if they put their faith in Jesus. But for us, nevermind the loved one, but for me, is heaven my home? And is it my home? Do I know that because I've put my faith in Jesus. So the emphasis in this little book is to give that child the assurance that heaven is that child's home, that they can look forward to having, because it's been prepared for them.
Dr. Dobson: Before we leave the children, I've failed to ask you about the story involving Dwight L. Moody, which is so beautiful. Can you share that?
Anne Graham Lotz: I loved too. That was a true story. It was told by this little boy who'd been grown up and told my mother, but he said when he was a boy living in London, he had heard that Dr. Moody was coming to preach and he wanted to go hear him. So he went across town and the doorkeeper grabbed him and spun him around and said, "Where do you think you're going?" And the little boy said, "Well, I'm going inside the church. I want to hear Dr. Moody preach." And the man said, "Not you." And he looked at his uncombed hair and his unwashed face and his unshod feet and he said, "You're too dirty to go inside this church." And so the little boy thought, "Well, I'll find another way inside the church." So he went around the church, but the windows were too high to climb up and the doors were all locked.
Anne Graham Lotz: So he came back and sat on the front steps and he began to cry. He was so disappointed. And just then this distinguished looking man was walking up the steps and saw the little boy crying. And he asked him why he was crying. So the boy told them. He said, "I've come to hear Dr. Moody preach, but they say, I'm too dirty to go inside the church." So the man looked at him and he just held out his hand and he said, "Then put your hand in mine." So the little boy did. And then they went and walked hand in hand up the steps, came to the door that had been closed. Now it's flung wide open. The man takes the little boy down the center aisle puts him on the front row. Then the man gets up on the platform and stands in the pulpit to preach.
Anne Graham Lotz: And the man was Dr. D.L. Moody. So the wonderful, in fact, the impact it's had on my life, because it just sets you free. The only way anybody gets into heaven is because they're holding the hand of Jesus. And the only way that little boy got inside that church was because he was holding the hand of Dr. Moody. And the only way anybody gets into heaven, it doesn't matter, Dr. Dobson, all your radio programs, your books, your ministry as fabulous as it's been, all my daddy's crusades, all the books, all the people he's led the faith, it doesn't matter. The only way we get into heaven is because we put our faith in Jesus. He extends his hand to us at the cross. And when we put our hand of faith in his, and we confess that we're a sinner, that he died for us and we claim him as our savior, invite him into our hearts, surrender our lives to him, he comes into our life.
Anne Graham Lotz: We're born again into his family. He walks with us through the steps of life. And when we come to that door of eternity, it's flung wide open and we can walk right into heaven. We're as accepted as he is because we're holding the hand of the Son.
Dr. Dobson: I wonder about that man who turned the dirty little boy away. Didn't he read about Jesus saying "Suffer the little children that come on to me." That's what it's all about unless you come as a little child, maybe a dirty one.
Anne Graham Lotz: And in a sense, we're all dirty in our sin. Aren't we? But the Father... You don't have to clean up to come to Jesus. You just come as dirty as you are in your sin and you put your faith in Him. He'll clean you up and take you through life and bring you into heaven.
Dr. Dobson: Our time has gone and I already said that we want to have you back tomorrow because we want to talk about this from an adult perspective. But I'm so pleased that this book is out and appreciate you being here and what you're doing and your love for the Lord. You had a ministry, Just Give Me Jesus and a book.
Anne Graham Lotz: Yes. Right.
Dr. Dobson: And so you still call it-
Anne Graham Lotz: You Just Give Me Jesus is our arena revivals for women. So our next one will be in Augusta, Georgia in September.
Dr. Dobson: Well, God be with you. Tell Danny that I sent my love to him. What a good man he is. He was a dentist and has retired now.
Anne Graham Lotz: I give you his greetings and my daddy's too.
Dr. Dobson: Oh, please do that. You were waiting for me. I was about 10, 15 minutes late today and you were waiting for me and I have pictures of Billy Graham all over the waiting room.
Anne Graham Lotz: He would be so honored to know that.
Dr. Dobson: You tell him.
Anne Graham Lotz: Yeah, I will. Thank you.
Dr. Dobson: God bless you.
Roger Marsh: You're listening to Family Talk and part one of Dr. Dobson's conversation with Anne Graham Lotz, the daughter of the late evangelist, Billy Graham. They've been discussing Anne's children's book called Heaven, God's Promise For Me and let me tell you, this resource will bless your children and grandchildren with the assurance of where their loved ones go in the afterlife if they've trusted Christ as their savior and Lord. It will also empower children to understand the concept of repenting of their own sins and having a right relationship with Jesus Christ as well. That's what makes the invitation for children in the envelope at the back of Anne's book so winsome. They're able to sign and date it in the moment they respond to their Heavenly Father's invitation to live with him forever. And that's about as good as it gets isn't it? It's a creative way to memorialize that moment when the doors of eternity literally fling open wide through Jesus Christ.
Roger Marsh: Now to learn more about Anne Graham Lotz and her children's book, Heaven, God's Promise For Me, visit our broadcast page at drjamesdobson.org/broadcast. That's drjamesdobson.org/broadcast. And by the way, if you missed any part of today's broadcast, you can also hear it when you go to that URL as well.
Roger Marsh: Now, throughout the romantic month of February, we are offering you a copy of Dr. Dobson's timeless book called Night Light, A Devotional For Couples. Whether you're a newlywed or celebrating your golden anniversary this year, you know the importance of needing regular quiet moments with your spouse to stay connected, not only with each other, but also with the Lord. Nightlight was written by Dr. Dobson and his bride, Shirley and will help you do just that. It's a daily devotional that offers personal, practical and biblical insights that have sustained the Dobson's marriage for over 60 years.
Roger Marsh: Let Night Light, A Devotional For Couples enrich your marriage as well. Now to receive your copy all you have to do is go to drjamesdobson.org/couples. We'll be happy to send you a copy as our way of thanking you for your gift of $20 or more in support of the James Dobson Family Institute this month. Again, that's drjamesdobson.org/couples, or you can contact us over the phone by calling (877) 732-6825. That's (877) 732-6825. 24 hours a day a member of our customer service team is standing by ready to serve you.
Roger Marsh: One final note. You can always drop us a line through the mail as well. You can write to us at The Dr. James Dobson Family Institute, PO Box 39000, Colorado Springs, Colorado 80949. Again, our ministry mailing address is The Dr. James Dobson Family Institute, PO Box 39000, Colorado Springs, Colorado 80949. Remember to join us again tomorrow for part two of Dr. Dobson's conversation with Anne Graham Lotz, about how to explain to kids what heaven will be like. I'm Roger Marsh. Thanks for tuning in. Be sure to join us again next time for another edition of Dr. James Dobson's Family Talk.
Speaker 4: This has been a presentation of the Dr. James Dobson's Family Institute.