Anne Graham Lotz, founder and president of AnGeL Ministries, has passionately carried the Word of God to people around the world for the past 25 years. The daughter of Billy and Ruth Bell Graham, Anne launched Just Give Me Jesus in the year 2000, a series of life-changing revivals held in arenas in cities across America as well as internationally with revivals held in England, Wales and Korea in 2003. Arena events scheduled for this year include San Juan, Puerto Rico, Chicago and Seattle. Anne is an award-winning and best-selling author of five books, including Just Give Me Jesus, Heaven: My Father’s House and My Heart’s Cry. She is the wife of Dr. Danny Lotz and the mother of three married children. Preaching editor Michael Duduit recently visited with Anne during a visit to the Nashville area.
Preaching: You have a new book out, Why: Trusting God When You Don’t Understand (W Publishing Group). Why were you interested in writing about the issue of pain and suffering?
Lotz: I’ve sort of been interested in that myself – why that would be on my heart. One obvious reason is what my parents are going through. Although my father is handsome and strong and has scheduled three more major meetings this year, and mother’s mind is still bright and sharp and she’s still positive, their bodies are just wearing out – mother’s more obviously so than my father’s. She’s no longer able to walk and she’s in a wheelchair. I think seeing some of the physical struggles they’ve gone through – and then piling on are some other struggles and problems that they’ve faced – and then in my own life, things that just don’t make sense.
When it started, my mother – right now my younger brother has moved home, sort of off and on. He’s in Seattle right now but he’s been living upstairs in my parents’ home and he’s organized their nutrition, their medication, their healthcare and it’s just made a huge difference. I feel like my mother has been resurrected under his care. She’s still very weak and frail but she’s not at all where she was two years ago when this book was being born in my heart and we were struggling so. She was in so many near death experiences. It was a rollercoaster ride for those around her. I just couldn’t take it anymore; I know a lot of people my age who are going through that with their parents. It’s huge. Right now the rollercoaster has leveled out a little bit. And I’m grateful to the Lord and grateful to my little brother, I can tell you.
For whatever reason, I feel that the Lord put John 11 (the foundation of the book) on my heart and I don’t exactly know why. In fact, I’ve wondered if something was going to happen nationally or internationally that would cause the publication of it to make sense – you know, why it would come out now. I think some things are so personal – it can be national and international in scope but also can be such a personal thing that maybe there’s just somebody out there who’s going through something really difficult that doesn’t understand and need some answers and it would be perfect timing. So I don’t exactly know but I’ve just had it on my heart.
I also know that from what I’ve seen in my parent’s life and in my life, some of the things are understandable and some are just not at all. They’re like mysteries. Those are times when God is silent and still, as He was when Mary and Martha prayed and asked him to come. He stayed where He was for two days and they didn’t hear from Him, they didn’t know He’d heard their prayer, they didn’t see any evidence that He was going to get involved and do anything. At that place in my life, what happens is you either can withdraw and get angry – be bitter and offended with God and your life’s turned into a blaming, complaining attitude – or you just fall back in trust of Him and know that He does care because the Bible says He does. He has heard my prayers because the Bible says He has. He will get involved in His own time and way because the Bible says He will. So what it does is strengthen your faith in what the Bible says to be true, not in any outward evidence that you might see.
I’ve asked the Lord for years if He would strengthen my faith, to get me to that point. I’m grateful, I feel like I’m growing during this time enormously just in my trust in Him. That’s not based on anything other than the word of God. But it brings you through from time to time and there’ll be a promise, there’ll be an encouragement, there’ll be a precious little thing that only He would understand would meet a cry in your heart. And so it just gives evidence that He is there and His arms are around you.
So there are things like that that have triggered it, coming out of my own working through this but based on scripture. I love the scripture and I love going to John 11 and living it out in Martha’s eyes and from her perspective, because she was going through things that we go through and God brought her through. I think He taught her what He would want to teach me. Just to face my faith in Him alone. Just to trust Him.
Preaching: As you have worked through this issue, are there any particular insights about dealing with pain that have been very meaningful to you?
Lotz: As I was writing through that chapter and writing through the whole book, it just stuck me how true the principle is that Jesus defines in John 12:24 – that if a grain of wheat abides alone it just remains a little grain of wheat. But if it falls into the ground and dies, the pressure of the soil crushes the kernel and the water of the rain saturates it, and the warmth of the sun causes it to sprout then it grows up and it bears many grains of fruit. That principle: that there needs to be a death before a life, and that blessing can follow brokenness, and that there’s a resurrection that follows the cross.
I think a lot of Christians – including myself – stop at the cross. We stop at the brokenness and we stop at the death and we don’t see the big picture – that there’s life after death and glory after the garbage of the consequences of our sin. There’s blessing that follows brokenness. I think it’s just getting my eye on the big picture. I don’t have to understand, I don’t have to judge what God’s going to do by this point in time. He has a bigger picture in mind, and what I’m going through is just a part of that big picture.
My lesson from the book – which was Martha’s lesson – is that you have to reach the point where you’re willing to trust in Jesus alone and place all your trust in Him. And that means we have to come to that place of total helplessness and hopelessness – that there’s no medication, there’s no counselor, there’s no financial backer, there’s no way out. It’s impossible except for Jesus and we put all our faith in Him alone. I think that’s one reason that for people in third world countries, God just seems to be so big to them. He does so many incredible things because He’s all they have, and its easy for them in a sense to place their faith in Him alone, because He’s all they have and He does incredible things for them. Here where we have so much, it’s difficult for us to place our faith in God alone. I think we fall short of experiencing the bigness of it of what He can do. I just have to wait on Him to come through, to wait and see the glory. I think that chapter eleven is enormously encouraging because it gives us a hope of the resurrection. Maybe in this life we won’t see the glory but we’re going to see it in the life to come and its going to make sense then.
Preaching: Because we put so much emphasis on avoiding pain, do you think we sometimes miss what God’s trying to teach us through pain?
Lotz: I totally do. I think that’s an American thing. In fact, I feel like in the rest of the world it’s not a question of if you suffer, it’s a matter of when and how bad it’s going to be. In America, we are surprised by our suffering. So we don’t deserve it and we have all types of resources to get out of it and to run away from it and escape it. Sometimes as believers we get offended with God – and maybe embittered towards other people – when our suffering is not alleviated.
There’s one little phrase that struck me in John chapter eleven when Jesus said of Lazarus – He said that Lazarus was sleeping and that He was going to wake him up, and the disciples said we don’t need to go; if he is sleeping he is going to wake up, he’s going to be fine. Then Jesus spoke very plainly and said that he had died, and He makes the most interesting statement. He said, “and I’m glad that I wasn’t there so you can see the glory of God.” And I thought, “Wait a minute. Jesus is saying He was glad He wasn’t there to help Lazarus! He was glad that He didn’t heal Lazarus; He was glad that He didn’t answer Mary and Martha’s prayer when they prayed it.” And what that led me to conclude was that from God’s perspective, there’s a lot more to life then being healthy, and wealthy, and happy, and prosperous, and problem free, and comfortable, and having our problems solved and our prayers answered when we want them solved. There’s something more out there, and He was glad.
Peter said you also rejoice that for a little while you’ve suffered all sorts of trials and temptations but these have been so that your faith will be refined, so it will be like gold that doesn’t perish when Jesus is revealed in your own life. The point is that suffering gives us the opportunity to not only know God in a deep way but display His character in and through our lives to other people in such a way that they want to know Him. It becomes like a platform.
Years ago I went to the Tower of London and saw the new display of the crown jewels. They’re just unbelievable; they don’t even look real. They’re the more spectacular because they’re in these show cases that are lined in black velvet. So the jewels are placed on the black and that just makes them absolutely stand out. And I think the glory of God in our suffering is like that black velvet – it enables Him to display His character and His glory and His purpose in our lives in a way that He couldn’t if our lives didn’t have the black velvet. I feel like as a believer our suffering doesn’t have to be wasted. The crime is when – in our bitterness or our anger or our offense – we allow it to be wasted and we don’t milk from it all of the blessings and the lessons and the purpose and the glory that God would have for us – that we would know him in a deep way.
Sometimes people think that Billy Graham’s daughter doesn’t have problems! As if I didn’t have problems and I had everything I wanted, God answers all of my prayers. I could tell people about Jesus and they would shrug it off because, you know, you’re just not in the real world! But its when we suffer and struggle and go through some of the same things everybody goes through, and at that point in time we’re experiencing the peace of God and His joy and we can still be thoughtful of others and reach out to our neighbor. Then the world sits up and takes notice, because they don’t know anything about that. When they suffer they take their drugs or their alcohol and they run to escape and they get bitter or they go into depression but they don’t know what its like to go through suffering and be moment by moment conformed to the image of Christ until they become almost translucent in their character – so people can see Jesus in them and God is working out His purpose for their lives.
Nobody wants to suffer – and I’m first in line on that – but God uses it for His purposes and one of His purposes is to develop our faith so we put our trust in Him alone. The other purpose is that we might use it to display His glory in our life. Not only in the process but in the end, when He works it out and it’s resolved and people see that our trust was not in vain.
Preaching: What can we do to help people better deal with those issues of pain and suffering and use them for God’s glory? Are there some things the church could be doing to help people in that area?
Lotz: Absolutely. We in the church need to teach our people to know God and to know Him for themselves, as they read the Bible for themselves and they apply it to their lives and they live it out by experience. To spend time in prayer for themselves, not just going through their prayer list to get answers but in prayer to get to know God, so that they’re actually communicating. We in the church need to make it our priority that every single person that’s in the church would develop a personal, one-on-one, growing relationship with the living God and to know Him. He is a God of love, He’s good, He’s kind, He wants your best. His will is good for you. When you’re suffering but you know God like that, you trust Him.
If you don’t know God like that – if you know God through hearsay, second hand information, what you’re pastor says, your Sunday school teacher says, what you read in a book, what somebody thought He might be like, what you’re parents said He might be like – then when you suffer you don’t really know Him and so you doubt Him. There’s an underlying doubt. You’re not sure He’s good. You’re not sure He really loves you. You’re not sure that you can trust Him with this situation.
I think the church, if it’s falling down in one place more than any other . . . We’ve brought in a lot of programs and a lot of what I call “the stuff” and we’ve left the fundamental basics that are absolutely necessary for a healthy Christian life, like Bible reading.
A woman that had come to our Lexington Just Give Me Jesus and she had just made a mess of her life. She’d been in an abusive relationship and then a divorce and something else and then remarried – just made a mess. And she’s come to Christ finally and just felt so ashamed and so guilty and so unworthy and is going to church and married now to a terrific guy. Anyway she just felt like if she’d come to our revival that she would somehow – actually she said if she could just get near me she would feel like God would consider her worthy. I won’t go into all of her story but when she left she said that she realized with an incredible force that her worthiness was found at the cross, her worthiness was in her personal relationship with God. She said at the end of her letter, “Why didn’t my pastor ever tell me to read my Bible for myself?”
That’s what we try to do in one day: to teach them to read the Bible for themselves, teach them to pray in a way that communicates to the Lord as well as putting your focus on Jesus. I feel the church is, as John Stott described it, “a mile wide and an inch deep” and we just lack what we need.
One of the messages of September 11 to the church is that we need to get serious about God and we need to get serious about our relationship with Him and about the gospel, and about a lost world, and about really living out our faith. And my concern is that the church hasn’t gotten the message. If September 11 wasn’t enough to get their attention, then what would it take? So that makes me afraid that September 11 is a prelude to something else that’s coming. I think when we put all this stuff in the church it served a purpose in the beginning – to enhance and further equip and explain our Bible study and our prayer and our evangelism and all that. Now it’s become distracting so people substitute that for the daily spiritual disciplines of Bible reading, application, obedience, prayer, witnessing. You don’t have to go to a seminar, you don’t have to go learn somebody’s formula – you just go next door and tell your neighbor about Jesus. We’ve made it into “I haven’t taken that course yet so I can’t do it.”
I don’t mean to sound so negative but we have Christian bookstores jammed full of books that we read and we adopt other people’s experiences and substitute that. We don’t have our own experience with God. What is our own testimony? Not from ten years ago but from this past week. I think we are living a virtual relationship through other people and it’s not quite real. I believe with all of our hearts we need to get back to the word of God. I think our preaching needs to get back to the word of God so that the preacher stands up and says, “Open your Bibles to such and such a passage,” and he reads it and he goes through it and he’s not just referencing it and then taking off to who-knows-where and never comes back to the passage. It needs to be exposition so he’s not telling the audience or congregation what he thinks they need to hear; he’s teaching them God’s Word and teaching them what the Word means in their lives today, facing all of these pressures and stress and uncertain future.
I just feel like we’re in desperate shape to tell you the truth. If we’re not getting it in church, where are we getting it? I know there are some great churches in America – don’t get me wrong – but they’re not in every city and they’re not in every community and it’s not every church. The world doesn’t understand the difference – a church is a church and they paint us all with the same brush. I just feel like the church as a whole needs to humble ourselves and pray and seek God’s face and turn from our wicked ways and maybe God would hear from heaven and forgive our sins and heal our land. I believe our church is in desperate need of a revival, a fresh touch from heaven and a fresh infusion of the Holy Spirit from the top down and from the bottom to the top.
Preaching: You lead large arena events speaking to people all over the country and all over the world. How did you get into this kind of ministry?
Lotz: I taught a Bible class for twelve years in my city and felt God called me out of that into just what I would describe as my ministry. He did it from scripture. Invitations came in from around the world inviting me to come to whatever the speaking engagement. So for twelve years I’ve done that. And then towards the end of that twelve year period I just began to be very restless, very dissatisfied in my spirit and one reason is because I’m always on somebody else’s platform – it’s somebody else’s organization, somebody else’s agenda. It can be wonderful and good and I’m honored to be a part of it but the restlessness began because I had never been on a platform where there was no other purpose other than the purpose of exalting Jesus.
In my father’s crusades, the whole purpose of that platform is to bring people to Christ but past that is there a conference or something that would be offered to Christians where it was not to promote products or to promote a ministry or to promote a person on a platform but just to promote Jesus? What triggered it finally was I was on a platform where I felt very betrayed; I felt they’d used my name to draw in a crowd and it was for their own personal self-promotion and some other things. It just made me sick because of the way I had been deceived and the way it had been described.
I was talking to the Lord about it and He just sort of whispered in my spirit “Anne, they’ve used my name, too.” And then the thought came to me that I just need to do it myself. If I was ever going to be in a program like that that I’d probably have to do it myself. That seed was planted. Over maybe a two year period, three different times I actually tried to do something myself. One of the big organizations came along side and said they’d help but in the end they wanted to charge admission and I felt like I couldn’t do that; they insisted and I felt God gave me His word that I was not to do that so I didn’t hear from them again. They just disappeared from my life. Two other times I attempted to do something and the door slammed.
It became more and more unbearable. I was speaking everywhere and had no heart for it. It was really not pleasant. So I told the Lord, “Either give me a platform or take away my burden. And He didn’t give me a platform and the burden increased. So finally I said, “All right, Lord. I’m willing to do this myself but I don’t know how. There was only one woman I knew who had put on a large arena event for women and had been successful; I asked for her. I’ve talked to her maybe once a year; she’s a friend but we don’t stay in close touch. So I asked the Lord: have her call me today. She hasn’t talked to me in about a year, and at 6:30 that night she called. She was on the road in a motel and she picked up the phone and called me to pass the time and I said, “Ahhh, let me tell you why you called and you waited all day.”
So then the Lord began opening the doors. He called me from His word to do it and I took the step of faith. After I did that by myself – take the step of faith by yourself – then He brought people to me that could help me. That first year we had five invitations for Just Give Me Jesus revivals, which I think were enormous steps of faith on the parts of individual committees because they had never seen one at that point. I was just telling them what I thought it would be like but I knew several things.
One, I knew we would not charge admission. Even if we went broke, I would rather go broke and fail and have tried to do it the way I thought it ought to be done than to be successful financially and feel in my spirit it was contradicting what God called me to do. So I knew we would not charge. I knew I would not pay anybody to be on my platform. I’ve been on platforms where other speakers get $10,000 or $20,000, and I go free of charge everywhere. I don’t ever have a fee. I’ve secretly enjoyed just being the best at no charge! But I wasn’t going to pay anybody to be on my platform, including the music. I finally went after who I really wanted and Fernando Ortega said he would be at every single one – and he has been. Jill Briscoe said she would be at every one. Kay Arthur helped me that first year. She hasn’t helped me since because she felt God called her in a different direction but they came along side of me. To this day Jill and Fernando help me; I never have even paid them an honorarium, just take care of their expenses to the best of my ability. And they come and we don’t charge and so that’s how we’ve done it.
Practically at the same time all those doors were closing as I was trying to do it. That’s when my three children got married within eight months of each other. My son went through his cancer. My parents were going through their health problems. At one time daddy had that shunt put in; he thought he was dying and asked me to come to Mayo. That was just about as hard as anything in my life. And my husband’s dental office burned to the ground! We had hurricanes that just devastated our property. I was speaking, writing. I told God that I didn’t want to escape life with drugs or pills or take Prozac or something. I didn’t want to quit ministry and just stop what I was doing for Him. I wasn’t even asking Him for a miracle. The cry of my heart was just give me Jesus. Just give me a fresh touch from Him, a fresh encounter with Him and I’ll be OK.
I don’t know how He did it, or why or what but I opened up my Bible where I knew I would find Jesus and I turned to the gospel of John. I studied the encounters He had with ordinary people in the gospel of John, and through that study I felt God gave me a fresh encounter. I wrote it down and that was the book Just Give Me Jesus.
But then at the same time He put this restlessness in my heart – this burden of thinking: if I feel like this then I wonder how many other women are sitting out there in church, call themselves Christians, yet in their heart have a cry and they can’t articulate it. They don’t know what it is. There is a restlessness and a longing and they don’t know what it is. I can tell you it’s resonated. A lot of people around the world are sitting in the church who have a heart’s cry for Jesus and don’t know where to find Him. Like Mary Magdalene in John 20; she came to the empty tomb and they said, “Why are you weeping?” She said, “They have taken my Lord away I don’t know where they’ve laid him.” I feel like even in the church they’ve taken our Lord away and we’ve substituted musicals and dramas and dance and formulas and books about the Word, but we just can’t find Jesus in all the stuff. There are a lot of people who are desperate for Him.
So in our arenas I’ve kept the programs so simple that it would just totally crash and burn unless Jesus Himself came. I really put Him to the test every time we do it. The platform is totally plain – all we have is a wooden cross in the center. There are no flowers – they wanted to put flowers in front of the cross and I said no – just a black platform across and Fernando’s piano and his little band and that’s all. So when people come, if the Lord doesn’t cloth the Word with His power, if He doesn’t meet those people in the arena, then it’s just a waste of everybody’s time. But I can tell you He’s come to every one and changed lives – sometimes dramatically, sometimes in a quiet way. It’s really incredible. I wish that it were more successful in that it would get so contagious that it would just spread like wildfire but all I can do is be obedient and do what God’s called me to do and go through the doors He’s opened for me and just trust that its the right time, the right place and that it will catch on.
Preaching: Your dad has said, “Anne’s the best preacher in the family.” How do you identify yourself in terms of the role that you have? Do you think of yourself as a preacher? As an evangelist?
Lotz: I think of myself as a messenger. I call my ministry AnGeL ministry. I use my initials. Angels were messengers of God. And when they went somewhere they only went where God sent them, they only gave out His word. You never hear angels giving out their own opinion. They always give out the word that God told them to give and they speak to whomever God put in front of them – which solved to me the question of women in ministry because it was God’s responsibility to put whomever He wanted in front of them. He made that very clear to me from Jeremiah 1. He would be responsible for the audience and I was responsible to be obedient to deliver the message He put on my heart.
So I would just consider myself a messenger, I guess. The biggest challenge in ministry to me is to determine the particular message for the particular audience and then deliver it in a way that makes sense to the people who are listening.
Preaching: You’ve described the arena events as revivals. Do you have any kind of structured way for people to respond? Often when churches talk about “revival” it tends to mean evangelistic activity. That’s not exactly what you’re trying to do.
Lotz: No, its not. And it’s really targeted – we target women within the church. Actually anybody can come because it’s free of charge but we target women basically, based on John 4. When Jesus had that personal encounter with the woman at the well she went back and she brought her whole family to meet Him. And I thought women have positions of enormous influence in their families, their churches, their communities. If we can bring women to a fresh encounter with Jesus, then they can go and reach everybody else. We target women and that’s our strategy.
We begin Friday night and go all day Saturday. So Friday night is a message on the cross. I present the cross for salvation but also for repentance of sin because I believe the first step towards real revival is repentance. And then I do invite them to come to the cross – our podium is an old wooden cross – and they’re invited to come the cross. I lead them in a prayer for salvation but also for repentance of sin. We have counselors who are trained; they work with them and we give them some materials, we give them a new believer’s Bible. I feel like to really go on with the Lord we all need to start, we all need to come back to the cross. That’s going to be our common ground, our starting place.
And then Saturday the first message is on the resurrection. What it means that Jesus is alive. I know we celebrate Easter and we get a new dress, we have our little bunny rabbits and eggs but the meaning of Easter is Jesus is alive – meaning He’s still alive. And I think we know that but we live like we don’t. So I take John 20 and 21 and through the eyes of Mary Magdalene and Peter say just what it means that Jesus is alive in our lives. I end that message on a challenge to live a crucified life.
Jesus tells Peter: when you’re old someone is going to stretch out your arms and lead you where you don’t want to go. He was talking about the way Peter would die. And then Peter said, “What about John? Does he have to bear a cross?” And Jesus said, “Peter, that’s none of you’re business. You follow me.” And so the challenge is to follow Jesus even if He leads us to a cross. But remember after the cross comes the resurrection and the glory and the crown. I think it’s a message I’ve heard – I don’t know if I’d ever heard it before except in Bible study and I think the majority of the women in my audiences have never heard it before – that Jesus called us to come and dine with Him. So that’s that first message.
Then Jill takes them through a prayer session: an hour-and-a-half where she leads them – she doesn’t teach them how to pray, she leads them in prayer. Then we have a lunch break and after lunch I lead them in Bible study. I teach them how to take a passage and read it so that it’s meaningful and they can hear God speaking to them personally through it. We send microphones up through the audience and I get their response. It’s random, you know, but to me it’s lots of fun. I love doing it. I love hearing ordinary women who thought they couldn’t read the Bible read a passage and in fifteen minutes get something from it that’s almost startling in its clarity and its personal application.
After that we wind up with a message from Revelation 1 that Jesus is King. Where we’re going to see Him next is on the throne. And that as we leave the arena we need to keep our focus on Jesus. When the world is falling apart like it was in John’s day, the Christians didn’t think they had a future. And we reach a point when we don’t think we have a future nationally, internationally, or just personally. When our lives cave in – keep the focus on Jesus. I’m just telling them the end of the story. Jesus is on the throne, He’s in control, He’s coming back and it’s a call to surrender everything. At the end of that chapter John falls at his feet as though dead and just yields everything totally to Christ but yielding really for service.
So that’s our pattern: salvation, repentance, surrender, service. I want to send them out knowing they’re saved, having come to a point of genuine deep surrender, now they’re willing to go out and help somebody else and serve the Lord in whatever He would have them do. But the overall thing is that they would have that personal encounter with Jesus in that arena. It’s not everybody but the majority meets Him in a fresh way.
We don’t have any introductions. Nobody is introduced. No announcements. We don’t have an emcee. No fun and games and jokes unless something strikes me funny in a message, or sometimes Jill can be humorous, so we have a good time. And that’s what I’m saying: if the spirit didn’t cloth it, it would fall flat. Really every time we do it we are falling back totally trusting that what’s going to make it powerful and life changing is just the presence of God in our midst.
I don’t want to be critical but I think sometimes music itself – with the beat and the orchestra – sounds like a pep rally band at a ball game and it just works you up until there is an emotional response or a psychological response but its not a movement of the Spirit at all. But because it’s been so long since we’ve had a movement of the Spirit we substitute that to make people think the Spirit’s moving. Or we fill our churches with so much activity that they think there’s life there. And they substitute activity for life.
I remember in Fort Worth one of the women on our committee said she’d never been to anything that was so simple. I think in I Corinthians Paul wrote and said that he was concerned that they would be so quickly removed from the simplicity of their devotion to Christ. And I think our churches today in America – actually not just America; I’ve been in other churches around the world and in third world countries that are focused on all this stuff – thinking that if they have the stuff that somehow it makes it better. I think that we have been deceived in thinking that because our problems are so intense. Our stress is so huge, that somehow we need to be more sophisticated, or more complicated in our approach to meeting peoples’ needs.
I’ll come into an audience and people will tell me in advance, “I’m bringing my sister whose husband has just committed suicide. I’m bringing somebody who’s just had a heart attack. I’m bringing somebody she’s just been diagnosed with cancer.” And they’re expecting me to meet all these needs. It used to rattle me. Now I just let it go in one ear and out the other because never do I think I can meet one person’s needs. Even if everybody in the audience had the same need I couldn’t meet it. I just present Jesus. If I can bring them in touch with Him and if I can give them tools to get into the Bible for themselves and to spend time in meaningful prayer, then its up to Him to meet the need in their heart and to give them the answers.
I know God uses us to help each other and I want to be real careful I balance it with that, because God has equipped the body. The New Testament lists all the people that are gifted for the equipping of the saints and to build up the body and that’s really legitimate. It takes a whole varied group to build up the body of Christ. But I just wonder, in some cases, if we’ve gone overboard in all that equipping; if all of the gifts have become almost businesses in themselves and we’ve lost sight of what we’re equipping people for – equipping them to be strong in their faith and to win people to Christ and to be conformed to the image of Christ and be obedient to His word and live a life that brings glory to Him.
Preaching: There’s a lot of discussion among evangelicals about the role of women in ministry. I know Jill has faced challenges before, as people have publicly expressed opposition to her speaking to groups. Have you encountered any of that in the work that you’re doing?
Lotz: Sure, but not frequently because everywhere I go I’m invited. So you’d think that if I’m invited that they would want to hear me. The audiences that sit in front of me are not mandatory. They’re voluntarily sitting there; they don’t have to be there. So you would think that if they are sitting there they would want to hear what you have to say.
I’ve run into at times. I guess most recently was after I had spoken at an evangelism conference. It was mostly men in the audience but the last person to come up and speak to me had told me how he supported me and he believed in me but that I was basing my call in the ministry on the wrong scripture – that the passage in Timothy meant that before a woman could speak that she had to be educated. I don’t know where he got that! So we had an interesting conversation, and I probably got a little hot because the Lord had just come down. I had just spoken to a hundred pastors in tears and they had met the Lord and here was this guy who was concerned. I told him that if somebody had to be educated before they spoke that would leave out eleven of the disciples that I know about; it certainly would leave out Mary Magdalene and it certainly would eliminate me.
I feel like sometimes it’s a cultural prejudice. I had a long conversation with one pastor who refused to support our revival because it’s free and anyone can walk in, which means men can walk in and they do, and if they come in we don’t escort them out. They’re welcome. I make them welcome. And this pastor couldn’t handle that. I said if I’m on a plane and I’m sitting next to a man and the conversation reaches a point that I can present the gospel, is it alright for me to present Christ to him in the plane? He said, “yes.”
I said: well, what if there is a man sitting on the other side of me – I’m in the middle seat – and there are two men listening to me. And this one over here says, “I want to know about Jesus. Can I share Christ with both of them?” He said, “Yes.”
I said, “So what are you saying? That there’s a certain number I can’t go past or when it’s in a church building?” But he wasn’t even objecting to a church building because we’re in an arena. Basically he couldn’t answer my question but he wouldn’t back down. We didn’t have the support of his fabulous church that I felt like we needed and it was just bound a little bit by his attitude, and it crushed me because he’s a fabulous person. I love him and admire him. He’s a personal friend and that hurt about as bad as anything.
I don’t run into it as much. I’ve run into it in the past – you know, they turn their backs on me or uninvite me somewhere but in these arena events when we come into the city and we’re invited by women and we target women, that’s where I run into it because we do allow men to come. But we just keep our focus.
I will tell you this: I wouldn’t be where I am in the ministry if men hadn’t opened doors for me. There are fabulous people – Stewart Briscoe would be one, my father would be another, my brother is another, Stephen Olford is one, Dr. Lewis Drummond was one – fabulous people. Richard Bewes in London has supported me and encouraged me and promoted me and opened doors for me. When you step out in ministry you’re going to get hurt somewhere. So it’s just sort of a “never mind” to me. I feel like it’s really not my problem. It’s their problem and I don’t want to be a problem for them, so if I’m on a platform and it’s a problem for them and they uninvite me then that’s OK with me because I don’t want to offend them.
I know in my heart I’m called. I know from God’s Word I’m called. I know to the best of my ability I’m being obedient to what He’s called me to do and I just keep my focus. I would love to have discussions with them but even that one pastor that I was able to discuss an hour-and-a-half, he still held his ground so we just agreed to disagree. But when I stand before God I’ll give an account to God for the way I lived my life in obedience to what I believe His command was to me. I’m not going to live my life according to what someone else thought I ought to be doing in response to that command, so I’ll just have to be accountable for myself and pray that God in His grace and mercy will cover when I’ve done the wrong things and bless when I do what’s right.
Preaching: Ten years from now, what would you like to see God doing in your life and through your ministry?
Lotz: Ten years out I want God to be conforming me to the image of His Son. I want Him to be drawing me closer to Him in my own walk, in my own relationship. I want people to look at me and see more of that translucent quality and see Jesus in my life. As far as my ministry I have no plans for my ministry at all. I’ve been accused of not having any vision, so one night I was telling that to Henry Blackaby. He just laughed because he asked me the same question. He said, “Anne, where do you see yourself five years from now, ten years from now?” I looked at him and I said, “Dr. Blackaby, I don’t know. I don’t know where I’m going.”
And he laughed and he said, “Anne, that’s the right answer. When you walk by faith its like Abraham; you don’t know where you’re going. You just follow Him.”
I could never have planned to be here, where I am today if I’d had sat and tried to map it out. I wouldn’t have thought this. So I just trust God to have the vision and I just take His hand and try to be faithful to walk with Him day by day. The scary thing is I get so busy – the biggest fight in my life is busyness – and getting so busy I don’t make time for prayer or Bible reading myself on a continual daily consistent basis that keeps me in touch with Him so if He moved how will I know it? If he wants me to do something differently how will I know it? That’s a huge fear and I feel like I live on the edge of danger that way because or the busyness.
So I don’t know where I’ll be in ten or fifteen years but I hope that I’ll be worshiping Him more closely and following Him more obediently, knowing Him more personally and just growing in my walk. And then, God willing, I’ll be in His will in my ministry. I would love to work myself out of a job so revival would take hold and they wouldn’t need anybody like me to come along and bring them into a fresh encounter with Christ. I love home and I love staying. I have two little grandchildren now. It’s like using a crowbar to pry me out of my house. It’s so hard. I don’t travel well and I don’t enjoy it. I do it because I’m called and I’m obedient and I love serving the Lord. I love the adventure of knowing Him when I’m outside my comfort zone but it’s scary. I’d just as soon stay home. So maybe He’ll call me home in ten years.
Preaching: What would you want to say to preachers that I haven’t asked you already?
Lotz: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and your mind and your soul and your strength. Not in words but in the disciplines of your life, daily Bible reading. Don’t let your devotional life slip. Keep it separate from your study and your preparation for speaking – that you would maintain a personal devotional life of Bible reading where God speaks to you, prayer where you speak to Him. Don’t leave sharing the gospel or witnessing personally to a staff member or that class but you share – just experiencing the thrill of sharing the gospel and seeing a life change because of what you share.
That would be what I’d say to myself to maintain the core of my life, which is my personal relationship with the Lord through disciplined Bible reading, application, obedience, prayer, and then serving the Lord as He calls me. And don’t be afraid to think outside the box, to do something unconventional, because He doesn’t always do things the same old way. He can give us wonderful creative ideas. Just keep your focus on Jesus and try to get as many people to focus on Him as you can.