Lotz urges deeper walk with Christ
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (BP)--Behind a simple cross at the center of a circular platform, Anne Graham Lotz clasped her hands, bowed her head and waited for women whose hearts were touched to come to the altar.
Lotz, the daughter of Billy Graham, smiled. There was no fanfare at Veteran's Memorial Arena in Jacksonville April 24 where nearly 7,000 women gathered on the first night of a two-day revival. Instead, the powerful worship music of Fernando Ortega filled the stadium and Lotz shared the Gospel message.
"Just Give Me Jesus" -- the revival -- drew women from throughout Florida and Georgia to hear Lotz and author Jill Briscoe.
Unlike the huge evangelistic events where Lotz's world-famous father drew thousands to hear impassioned preaching night after night -- and where men, women and children flooded the altar -- Lotz delivered three clear messages to the audience of women and gave an hour and 15-minute interactive workshop in how to study the Bible. Briscoe led an extended, directed prayer time.
"This isn't an event," Lotz told the Witness in an interview before the revival began. "My focus is on bringing people into a fresh encounter with Jesus. Our whole purpose for this is to put our focus with such intensity on Jesus that our hearts catch fire."
That focus, and carrying out God's call, is what Lotz said she learned from the elder Graham. "With all of his big stadium things, with the huge crowds he's had, he never lost his focus."
At the arena, Lotz, whose AnGeL Ministries brought the revival to Jacksonville, began her sessions with prayer. There was no emcee, few announcements and one session flowed easily into the next with music and prayer.
JESUS THE SAVIOR
Depicting Jesus as the "rescuer" who showed up to save mankind, Lotz reminded women that the Bible in John 18-19 declares Jesus as Savior. He went to the cross and died on the cross for "anyone" and "everyone," Lotz said.
Included are those who have "betrayed," "attacked," "denied" and "rejected" Him. "Jesus understood the pain of betrayal," Lotz said, recounting the story of Judas leading the Roman soldiers to his teacher.
"Jesus was betrayed by one of his best friends," Lotz said. "Have you ever been betrayed by a husband who walked out on you for somebody else? By a sibling who stole your inheritance? By a co-worker who took your idea and got the credit and the promotion? Betrayal hurts doesn't it? ... [It] can fill you with anger and bitterness. Jesus understands the pain of betrayal."
Detailing the physical, emotional and spiritual pain of the crucifixion, Lotz reminded women Christ's death was the "sufficient" substitute for their lives and, whatever their condition, Jesus understands.
Sharing some of her own deep, personal hurts, but stressing the need to move past the question of suffering to focus instead on God's sufficiency, Lotz urged women to examine their own lives.
"What's the sin in your life that's buried down deep, nobody knows it's there, but God does?" she asked. "[I]t will cause you to live in defeat and the enemy will use that."
Turning her attention to America at large and how the church influences the culture, Lotz warned she was going off topic to address a pressing issue.
"I believe the number one problem in American today is not political, it's not economic and it's not welfare and it's not military and it's not terrorism," Lotz said. "The number one problem in America today is sin in the camp, in the hearts of God's people.
"That's why the church today is so defeated," she said to loud applause. "That's why we are not making a bigger impact on our culture. That's why we are not making a difference in America. And the church is you and me. God's people called by God's name."
Reminding women of the promise in 2 Chronicles that God will "forgive their sin and heal their land" if they pray, Lotz said even when terrorists attack and when the economy is in the tank, God has still promised His healing if repentance is forthcoming.
"We're asking for revival, but the key to revival is repentance of sin; we're asking God to bless America, but the key lies in your heart and mine as God's children get right with God -- and it's time to do business with God," Lotz said.
"So what's the sin that is buried down deep?" she asked.
Jesus stands ready to forgive, no matter the sin, if one comes to the cross, Lotz said.
Like holes of various sizes dug in the sand before the tide comes in, size doesn't matter, Lotz said. The tide covers them all equally.
"It doesn't matter if you categorize your sin as small, medium or large -- all sin, every sin -- past, present or future, is under the blood of Jesus," Lotz said.
Lotz reminded the women of their need for Jesus, for eternal life, saying, "You don't have to do more good works than bad works and go to the church every time the doors are open.
"All you have to do is come to the cross, tell God that you are sorry for your sin, ask Him to forgive you and to cleanse you and cover you with the blood of Jesus. That's why Jesus died," she said.
Tall and graceful, dressed in a Yale-blue pantsuit with hands clasped in front of her, Lotz concluded with an invitation for women to come to the front for prayer, thanksgiving or a "new beginning."
"Get right with God," Lotz said as Ortega played "Come, Ye Sinners."
After the altar was surrounded on three sides, Lotz led women in a prayer of repentance and commitment. Ortega closed by asking everyone to join him in singing "Amazing Grace."
THE RESURRECTION AND WOMEN
In a devotional time April 25, speaking from John 4 about the woman at Jacob's well, Lotz reminded the women gathered, "God used one woman to bring revival to an entire city" once she stopped "looking for love in all the wrong places."
"All through the day, keep your eyes on Jesus," Lotz said.
Continuing to speak from John 19-20, Lotz described Jesus as Lord who has made Heaven available to the sinner through His resurrection and ascension, despite our human failure.
"Examine the facts of the resurrection, instead of spreading confusion and disbelief," Lotz said.
Appealing to women to not be defeated by those who are ambivalent about women being or making disciples, Lotz said God wants to use them just as He used Mary Magdalene to spread the news of Jesus' resurrection.
Despite the feminist movement, opportunities and rights, "women are still crying," Lotz pointed out. Abortion, adultery and other issues are still on the horizon and meanwhile "we are still unhappy and still can't seem to find what it is we are looking for," Lotz said. "Just give me Jesus!"
Women throughout the auditorium joined Lotz in raising white flags of surrender, some using tissues and papers, and others waving white cardigans to show commitment to "authentic discipleship."
Ann Coffman, whose husband is pastor of Westview Baptist Church in Stanford, Fla., said this was the fourth time she had heard Lotz at a revival meeting.
"I personally receive a blessing every time I hear Anne Graham Lotz speak," said Coffman, who was joined by 47 women from her church near Orlando.
Coffman said she has been to many conferences in her lifetime, but believes the weekend revival is "the real thing."
"There's not a lot of what I call fanfare or decorations or posters," Coffman said. "She's not her dad; she doesn't pretend to be a woman preacher either. She takes the Word of God, she looks at it, she explains what it means and she applies it to everyday life. I don't know what the world will call that, but I call it good Bible teaching, and she has a heart for women.
"She reaches women because they know she's been where they are," Coffman said.
Joni B. Hannigan is managing editor of the Florida Baptist Witness (floridabaptistwitness.com), newsjournal of the Florida Baptist State Convention. Anne Graham Lotz is on the Internet at annegrahamlotz.com.