My interview with Mr. Bush is the first time the 43rd president has granted a sit-down with Christian media. As you’ll learn, our conversation covers a wide variety of topics, including the death of his sister Robin when he was 7; his love affair with his wife, Laura; his feelings in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks; his relationship with his parents and daughters; the emotion of his meetings with the loved ones of armed forces members killed in Iraq and Afghanistan; and how to return civility to the public square.
President Bush also talks in detail about his struggles with alcohol and the growth of his Christian faith, saying it was only through “the intervention of the Almighty” — promoted by a heart-to-heart with the Rev. Billy Graham — that he was able to give up drinking. What he discovered, he said, is that “religion is not a course in self-improvement.”
“Religion is a surrender,” he explains. “You allow the living God into your life by surrendering to the living God. And then you improve to please God, not please yourself.
“The acceptance of Christ is incredibly difficult,” he adds, “because you got an ego that gets in the way. The acceptance of Christ is a walk, a journey. And, in my case, it required discipline and focus.”
Mr. Bush went on to explain that the best Scripture for a politician to keep in mind is Matthew 7:3 — “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”
“I worry about people who basically say, ‘I’m better than you because I’m religious.’ To me, (that’s) not religion,” he says. “It’s the opposite, frankly, of Christianity, which basically says, ‘I’m not better than anybody.’ In other words, I’m a sinner, and I accept that and therefore accept Christ to help me grow.”
Part II of our interview will be available tomorrow. The Focus website also has exclusive content not included in the broadcasts — covering such subjects as the president’s work to end the scourge of AIDS in Africa and his views on the real meaning of the separation of church and state.
As I shared with a colleague today, we are not the news media here at Focus on the Family. Instead, our goal is to discuss matters of faith and family on our daily broadcast. After listening to the former president share matters of heart and home, I believe we achieved that objective.
Good day from Austin, Texas, where I am privileged to be addressing a business forum on the subject of maintaining hope in the midst of adversity.