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Bible, Church, Culture, Family, Legacy, Life, Only One Life

The Beauty of a Life Surrendered

March 27, 2018

Editors note: This article was originally published at foreverymom.com

Billy Graham’s funeral earlier this month marks the celebration of a man whose impact is incalculable. This was a man who spoke to 215 million people, wrote dozens of books, founded the influential Lausanne Movement, counseled thirteen United States Presidents, and led the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association in his lifetime. He no doubt should be recognized for the great man that he was. But as we reflect on his life, we would be remiss if we didn’t take the time to recognize his partner in all of his accomplishments: his loving wife of over 60 years, Ruth Bell Graham.

The cliché goes “behind every great man is a great woman.” In Billy Graham’s case, this is certainly true.

As the world knew Billy Graham for his packed crusades and gospel preaching, fewer knew of Ruth Bell Graham’s equally important role in crafting the Graham family legacy.

Ruth Bell Graham: A Legacy of Loyalty

Ruth was born in China to missionary parents Dr. Nelson and Virginia Bell. Growing up with missionary parents, Ruth developed her own love for foreign missionary work and felt a deep sense of calling to move to the largely unreached nation of Tibet.

Before pursuing her calling as a missionary, Ruth attended Wheaton College in Illinois. While there, her life and calling would forever be changed after meeting a young man with a passion for preaching. That man was her future husband, Billy Graham. When Ruth and Billy fell in love, Ruth had to decide what to do with her conflicting desires. She wanted to marry Billy, but he had no plans to become a foreign missionary.

Ruth ultimately set aside her fears and confusion, married Billy, and trusted God to work out their mutual calling. Neither of them had any idea that her heart for the world and his heart for preaching would end up serving them well in their future ministry together. Ruth chose to be loyal to her soul mate, and she worked alongside him in ministry for 43 years.

In those 43 years, Ruth may not have been the one on stage, on air, or on television – but her ministry and legacy is equally as important. Former president of Wheaton College Dr. Duane Litfin once remarked, “Strong, steady, and dauntless, Ruth Bell Graham was the glue that held the many of the parts of their lives together.” 

Because of her faithfulness to God, Ruth not only had a part in making Billy’s ministry possible, she was a spiritual encourager to her husband. Rev. Graham explained, “I have been asked the question, ‘Who do you go to for counsel, for spiritual guidance?’ My answer: my wife, Ruth. She is a great student of the Bible.” God used Ruth to minister to America’s minister.

She also greatly invested in their children as she stayed home during much of Billy’s travels. Investing in her children would prove to make an impact that still lives on today as many of them have ended up working at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, starting their own ministries, speaking, writing, and serving the Lord in various ways. Her impact lives on in her children and grandchildren. What a legacy!

A different interpretation

While reflecting on this incredible woman and the faith legacy that she has left behind, I couldn’t help but wonder how our culture might view this fiercely loyal woman. I fear those who hold up the banner of “feminism” would be forced to deny any claim that Ruth Graham’s life is an example for other women.

Ruth, after all, largely set aside her dream of being a missionary in Tibet in order to get married and support her husband’s calling. She also stayed home and raised their many children while her husband’s career in ministry skyrocketed. These life choices are likely to be criticized by those who speak on behalf of women in the feminist movement.

A simple Google search of the word “feminism” shows the dictionary definition as “the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes.” This sounds like something nearly everyone should agree upon, right? Yet, when we see feminism played out in American culture, it often translates into a very narrowly defined set of life choices. In order to be “pro-woman”, the loudest culture voices would say a person must be pro-choice, pro-career outside of the home, and downplay the value of having and raising children. 

With that understanding of what it means to be feminist, those who claim it’s view would have to look at Ruth Graham’s life as a failure.

Eternal Perspective

Thankfully, we can recognize Ruth’s life for what it was: A life that created a lasting legacy; a life that truly outlived itself.

As people of faith, our perspective should be shaped by what the Bible teaches, not what our culture claims. And while we must give complete ownership to God for the success of Billy and Ruth Graham’s influence, we can recognize that He chose to work through Ruth and her partnership with Billy to accomplish great Kingdom impact.   

As we rightly reflect on Billy Graham’s incredible impact in our world, I am deeply grateful for the faithful witness of Ruth Bell Graham who loyally served alongside Billy to accomplish God’s calling for their family. She may not be recognized by feminists today, but in God’s kingdom – she was a faithful servant. 

In my forthcoming book Only One Life, I’ve written about Ruth Bell Graham and many other women like her who choose to daily surrender their lives to God. Through seemingly small offerings of faithfulness, God has used women to bring about great change in the world. 

How will you shape your choices today to shape an eternal legacy?

 

-LM

Bible, Church, Life

Interview with Marked Podcast

January 16, 2017

I joined Mary Margaret on her podcast Marked! We talk about the Bible, community, and mentorship. You can check it out here:

MARKED Lauren Green McAfee

We have an opportunity in trials to show who Christ is in our lives. @marymargaretc #MarkedPodcast Click To Tweet My weakness is actually going to show Christ’s strength all the more. @LaurenAMcAfee #MarkedPodcast Click To Tweet We can trust that God will use whatever we have to offer in the way that He intends for it. @LaurenAMcAfee… Click To Tweet My foundation had to be firmly planted in Scripture. @LaurenAMcAfee #MarkedPodcast Click To Tweet We can constantly learn more from God’s Word. @LaurenAMcAfee #MarkedPodcast Click To Tweet
Bible, Church, Family, Theology, Uncategorized

Six Ways I Engage with the Bible: Part 3, Additional Reading

May 23, 2016

When I was a freshman in high school, I vividly remember reading my first book on spiritual growth. I had grown up in the church, and been exposed to Bible teachings and Bible study for as long as I can remember. I was periodically reading the Bible on my own, trying to understand how it could help my high school struggles. But when I discovered books that could help my spiritual growth by expanding on spiritual disciplines and theology, I was hooked.

I’ll be honest. The motivation for reading that first book was out of a desire to impress an older guy at my school who had recommended it. Despite the selfish motivation, it had an impact on me. The book was Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire by Jim Cymbala. Cymbala is a pastor in Brooklyn, NY, and I actually got to enjoy lunch with his daughter Susan just last month! Meeting her and touring the Brooklyn Tabernacle (which the book is about) brought me back to those high school days when my passion for reading was set on fire.

When I read Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire, I was stepping out of my small context in Oklahoma City, and I was brought into the stories of how people’s lives were changed through the prayers of people in the church of Brooklyn, NY. I read stories of people with deep faith, despite difficult circumstances. It inspired me to want to strengthen my faith as well.

As I began reading Christian books, I loved them so much that I actually haven’t read anything but non-fiction since I graduated high school! It wasn’t until a few weeks ago when I read an article by Dr. Russell Moore encouraging the reading of some fiction, and also my husband buying me the Harry Potter books for my birthday that brought me to read my first fiction book in ten years. I must say, I am loving the Harry Potter books—I have been such a fan of the movies, I figured I may as well give the books a try. Plus, I just went to “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter”™ in California, so the timing was perfect.

Getting back to the point though . . . . In reading various books, I have found that authors who have studied the Bible can provide me with deeper insight of my favorite book. Through good books, I benefit from others’ study of theology and the Bible. It also allows me to see how they understand and apply it in their thinking and lives. Hearing this additional perspective provides more opportunity to relate to the text of scripture.

Through the years, I have read a number of books by a variety of authors. Some have been good, and others were . . . well, let’s just say I wish I could get the time back that I spent on them. The experiences with those books can be helpful, too, though. As I read, I want to consider all of the author’s claims, and compare to what I know of the Bible to ensure that I am not absorbing bad theology. If I am unsure about something I’ve read, I usually discuss it with someone who I know can help me think through it. For me, I usually work through these questions with my husband and get his feedback. I am grateful to have a husband who is theologically trained and knowledgeable about the Bible. Discussing my questions with him is helpful, and I enjoy learning from my husband’s feedback.

Let me share with you my five favorite books for spiritual growth:

  1. Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts by Jerry Bridges

This is one of my all-time favorites. Jerry Bridges takes a look at the sovereignty of God, and his faithfulness, even when life seems unjust. I read this book during a difficult time in my family, and it was an incredibly helpful reminder that despite the broken promises or broken trust that I have experienced with people, I can trust God because he is perfect in keeping his promises.

  1. Humility by C.J. Mahaney

I love this book because I constantly need to push back against my pull toward pride. I was reading an article the other day that put it like this: “When you stand in the water at the beach you feel the persistent pull of the current. Regardless of how long you stand in that water the current will, with varying intensity, pull you. To deny or minimize it will result in potential bodily harm. Such is the case with pride” (Erik Raymond). Thus, I love this book Humility, and it helps me keep my pride in check.

  1. Knowing God by J.I. Packer

I read this book recently and found it a bit more practical than some of the others. Packer shares deep theological knowledge, but also conveys the realities of trying to live out the Christian faith in the day-to-day world. Knowing God is a classic. It was voted in Christianity Today as one of the top fifty books that have shaped evangelical Christians.

  1. Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die by John Piper

In this book, Piper looks at fifty reasons found in the New Testament for why Jesus came to die. This is a look at the meaning behind the cross of Christ. It was a humbling book, as well as a reminder of many truths that often get overlooked. Each chapter is one page, so it is easy to read a chapter a day or use as a devotional.

  1. Radical by David Platt

This book helped shape and challenge me when it comes to my struggle with materialism. Radical is more than a book on materialism, though. The book is about following Christ, no matter what. There is a lot of discussion about material things that sidetrack us from being “all in” for God, but the book as a whole points to the life transformation that happens in every area of life because of the gospel.

These are just some of my favorites from what I have read, but there are so many more that I am sure I haven’t gotten to yet! For a few more suggestions, check out my friend Matt Brown’s list for what he thinks are the 5 best books on spiritual growth.

Do you have any recommendations? I would love to hear what your favorite spiritual growth books have been!

-LM

Brunch, Church, Friends, Life, Travel, Uncategorized

Brunch: Jacob’s Pickles NYC

September 24, 2015

“Welcome to New York, it’s been waiting for you…” –Taylor Swift

It was a gorgeous Sunday morning in the upper west side of Manhattan. I was in the city to visit a few friends. We had just gotten out of a Sunday morning service and needed a place to brunch. That is when we discovered Jacob’s Pickles.

Walking in, I immediately fell in love with the adorable atmosphere. It is a mix of modern warehouse and urban farmhouse décor. (Does that even make sense?…oh well.)

JP OUtdoor pic

JP tables

Brick Wall JP

JP Bar

It was quiet that first day we visited, which is rare. This place has become even more popular since I first discovered it. Every time that I have gone back during normal meal hours, it is pretty busy. If you’re worried about getting in without a wait, you might want to make a reservation.

coffee cup at JP

We ordered our coffees and started sipping. It was so nice to be able to catch up with my squad. These women became some of my closest friends at college. We were in the same sorority, and have a lot of shared memories. These are the women that were my roomies, that tried to teach me how to dance (sorry C and J, I’m still working on it), and were there to listen to me when I was going through a hard season. Now that we have gone our separate ways, it is a treasure when we get together. (To get to know this group of my friends, you can check out one of my first blog posts, which I wrote about them the week we graduated.)

It makes me smile just thinking of that sweet time.

 

I ordered the French toast the first time. And, yes, I have ordered that exact same dish every time I have gone back. I’ve even gone twice in one week, and ordered the French toast both times. I know there are so many places in NYC that are amazing that I should try, but goodness, it’s hard to pass up Jacob’s Pickles. Yum.

Their French toast is unique. Jacob’s Pickles has amazing biscuits, and they use their biscuits for the toast. I guess the “toast” in French toast should actually be “biscuit,” but whatever. The flaky biscuits are savory and crumbly. With some of Jacob’s Pickles sweet, dark syrup on top, it is truly a delight to eat.

 

One thing about their French toast I love, is the amount of strawberries they put on top. Often when I order something with berries on top, I get two strawberries, or five blueberries total. Not this place. They are not skimpy with the fresh strawberries they pile on their heavenly French toast style biscuits.

 

Their orange juice is fresh-squeezed and tasty. It is good if you are looking to load up on vitamin C and are willing to dish out a few bucks for it. Jacob’s coffee is not the world’s best cup of coffee, but it is a solid cup of coffee.

 

I guess this shop still holds the title to “World’s Best Cup of Coffee”.

If you are looking for the world’s best coffee and can’t find Buddy’s shop, you may consider checking out some of these recommendations of the best coffee in NYC. (I digress… But I personally love Stumptown!)

 

If you’re in Manhattan, I am telling you to check out Jacob’s Pickles. I hear their pickles are actually good, too. If you try them, let me know what you think.

 

Where should I go next time I am in NYC? As loyal as my little heart is to Jacob’s Pickles, I do like trying new places. Let me know what you suggest in the city that never sleeps.

 

-LM

Me then at JP

Bible, Church, Family, Teaching

Life at the Youth Group

April 27, 2014

Today I had the opportunity to speak to the CRBC High School Sunday morning class. Now, if you know me- you might know that I don’t really feel comfortable speaking in front of people. For some reason though, God has recently given me a few opportunities to speak about things that I really care about, so I was reluctantly happy to say yes to this chance to speak about the sanctity of human life.

We looked at the biblical view of life and the pro-life stance. I went over five different passages of scripture, but of course one of the main passages that people think of is from Psalm 139.

Psalm 139:13-15. “13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful,  I know that full well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

I love how clear and beautiful this passage it. God is the author of life, and He knits us together while we are in the womb. He loves and values us, and we should view life in the womb in the same way- valuing it.

Speaking on the Sanctity of Human Life

Speaking on the Sanctity of Human Life

I also went over some scientific facts that help us understand what is going on in the womb. At the time of conception, when we consider that in that moment a unique DNA is created that has never existed and never will exist again, we have to see that this is a unique human life. At two and a half weeks into pregnancy, there is a heartbeat, and at five and a half weeks brain activity can be detected in the baby. By the time the baby is only eight weeks old in the womb, it can suck its thumb, has unique finder prints, and can feel pain. A tiny human life.

I am thankful for the chance to share these truths with this group of high school students at my church this morning. It was not easy, but I believe it is so important. I pray that it showed biblical truth, and emboldens others to take a stand for protecting the unborn. I also pray that as we realize we need to take a stand for life, that we would also step in and provide the love and support that women need when they are faced with an unplanned pregnancy.

(graphics and media from www.onlineforlife.org)

 

Church, Family, Teaching, Theology

Community

December 2, 2012

It has been an interesting month or two in my life, with ups and downs relating to particular circumstances. But something that I can say I am very grateful through it all is the steady biblical community that I have been blessed to have. I have such encouraging and godly people around me, whether my family or my friends, or church family, and I am just grateful. Today my church family offered so much support and prayer, that it brought tears to my eyes. God created us to live in relationship and community with others. We talked in the Young Adult Sunday School class thismorning at Council Road Baptist Church about the importance of allowing people to be in your life in a way that they can speak truth into your life, or call you out and keep you accountable. This type of deeper relationship can be difficult, but it is the most rewarding usually. I just want to say thank you to all the people that have been in my life and will continue to be in my life. Thank you for the prayers, and support. What a blessing they are.

Church, Teaching, The Green Collection, Uncategorized

Rome!

April 16, 2012

Well it was a good day in Rome! I went back to the church I visited here last time: Rome Baptist Church. I have ally enjoyed my two visits at this church! It is a congregation of about 260 people on average, and it is a very diverse group, which is so fun! I think it is beautiful to see people from all over the world coming together and worshiping the same Savior. Just in the short time I had to meet people at the church, there were people from every continent except Antarctica. It was wonderful! And my favorite person I met was a woman from America who lived in Italy and had just adopted two babies from Ethiopia! Ah so fun!
The sermon that Pastor Dan gave was from John 20:24. The point that Dan was trying to get across is that we should trust in God and not doubt, and we should go forward in His work and not waste time. This challenged me because God was showing me how selfish I am with my time. I have been talking about wanting to serve Him with my time for a few months now but haven’t actually taken the initiative to give of my time and serve in some compactly. I felt challenged to find somewhere to serve when I get back home, so that is what I intend to do!
Something else that hit me was from a tangent that Pastor Dan went on during his sermon. 🙂 He mentioned the importance of considering how you personally can grow from a teaching, instead of thinking of all the other people that you think need to hear the message. I thought that was so good. It is easy to try to point to others who need to grow of change, and point the finger at them as you compare yourself and think you are doing better. In a book called Humility by C. J. Maheney, the point is made that we should not compare ourselves to others, because that can bring up pride and self righteousness. Rather if we are going to compare ourselves, compare ourselves to God, and we will realize there is no reason that we should be prideful.

I have so much to learn. I am grateful for the opportunity I have had to learn from Rome Baptist Church.

After church, I ran down to the monummento a Vittorio Emanuele II. Here are some photos from the views of the top of the monument.

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