Revive Our Hearts Podcast

15 Year Anniversary: Ten Marks of Ministry

Leslie Basham: As a speaker, Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth always wants the Lord to help her live out what she's teaching.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Women don't need to know—so much—what I know. They can go read the same books. They need to be impacted by the Holy Spirit working through a life that is committed to what I'm teaching them.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth for Thursday, September 1, 2016.

We've been in the middle of a series called "The Lord's Prayer." That series will continue this month, but we're taking a two-day break to celebrate a big birthday! On September 3, 2001, the very first Revive Our Hearts program went on the air!

Nancy: As a, probably, twelve- or thirteen-year-old girl, somehow I came across some writings—some accounts—of how God had moved in the history of the church to quicken and awaken the church so that they had a new passion of Christ and a new effectiveness. 

Leslie: The first series was called "Getting to Know Nancy." Bob Lepine from FamilyLife Today interviewed this new voice on the radio.

Nancy, in the fifteen years since, our listeners have gotten to know you, and you've gotten to know them.

Nancy: And what a privilege that's been, Leslie! To me, the most important thing is that our listeners expect to hear from the Lord each weekday. They expect to be challenged to know His Word and hear ways of putting it into practice.

I am so, so grateful to the Lord for the way His presence has been with this ministry every single day over these past fifteen years! This program has continued because of His strength, His enabling and His provision.

We're thanking Him; we're celebrating all He that He's done, as we lead up to this fifteenth birthday of the program, on Saturday. As we near that milestone, today and tomorrow we're going to hear a message that I gave to some supporters of the ministry explaining ten things that I want to be true of Revive Our Hearts.

As you'll hear, these marks of ministry are things like being Christ-centered and Gospel-drenched. I want to encourage all of our listeners to keep these things in mind. These are characteristics that need to be true, not just in a ministry like ours, but in each of our lives as we serve the Lord Jesus.

Leslie: I can't wait to hear it. Before we begin this message from Nancy on "Ten Marks of Ministry," we want to hear from a couple of friends who appreciate what God's doing through Revive Our Hearts.

Here's Kristyn Getty and, then, Rosaria Butterfield.

Kristyn Getty: Hi, it's Kristyn Getty here, with my wonderful husband Keith, and we'd love to congratulate Revive Our Hearts on fifteen years of wonderfully freeing and full and fruitful ministry. Congratulations on fifteen years!

Rosaria Butterfield: This is Rosaria Butterfield. Happy birthday Revive Our Hearts. Fifteen years! [singing] Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday dear sisters and brothers, happy birthday to you.

Leslie: As Revive Our Hearts nears our fifteen-year birthday on Saturday, here's Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth with ten marks she wants to be true of the ministry. Let's listen.

Nancy:

1) Word-driven 

If we don't have that foundation, then we have no foundation at all! The Word of God is our authority. Women don't need to hear my ideas—what I think about anything.

Many times women will write and ask, "What does Nancy think about . . .?" My response is, "It doesn't matter what Nancy thinks about (this or that)." What matters is what God has said in His Word about this or that. If God doesn't say it, then I can't speak it authoritatively. If God has said it, then I can say it with authority.

Then, not only the authority of God's Word, but the sufficiency of God's Word. 

We live in an era where the assumption is, if you're a Christian and you're going through major trauma or trial or crisis in your marriage or your business . . . or you're bipolar . . . or you've God a kid with this or that issue, or whatever the issue . . . "Well, yes of course you need God's Word, but you also need this or that or something else."

Now, God has many means of grace in our lives, but the Word of God is sufficient for every issue of the heart, and most of our issues in life, ultimately, are heart issues.

You know, sometimes I feel a little foolish . . . "The foolishness of God is wiser than the wisdom of man." Sometimes I think, especially as I'm getting older and I think about this younger generation and all the issues they're dealing with, If I just get up and teach the Word, is that really going to connect? Is it going to meet their needs? Is it going to be adequate?

I just have to keep reminding myself what I know is true: The Word of God is powerful! It's powerful. You just let it loose. Let the Word of God out into people's lives under the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

I do believe there's a responsibility as teachers to explain the Word, to help people understand it, to shed light on it; but there's nothing more powerful than God's Word.

The burden that I have is to get women into God's Word for themselves, not to just spoon-feed them. That's the danger of being a pastor or a Bible teacher that people look up to and respond to. They start expecting you to do their digging. It's okay if you're a baby to be spoon-fed, but it's not okay for people who are supposed to be grownup or growing up. Part of our job as proclaimers of the Word is to help people learn to feed themselves.

Barna has released a new report in the last several weeks of studying religion and trends in this country over the last twenty years. There are many, many measurements, many groups surveyed, many grids. But one of the things that was so dismaying to me was that of all the sixty categories surveyed, women as a group had fallen behind in almost every category he studied, including: regular reading of the Word, having confidence in the Word of God, having an orthodox view of God. The statistics among Christian women had declined in almost every category, and it goes back to the fact that they're not in the Word.

They've got to be reading it for themselves because the Word of God is transformational

  • It heals. 
  • It restores. 
  • It convicts. 
  • It teaches. 
  • It instructs. 
  • It gives wisdom. 
  • It gives life.

Jesus said, "The words that I speak to you, they are spirit and they are life" (John 6:63).

We're getting emails from the hopeless, distressed, dismayed and in despair, Their lives are falling apart—sometimes through the sins of others that are impacting them, sometimes through their own foolish choices. There are multiple generations of chaos and dysfunction. If I read those emails and did not have confidence in the Word of God, I would say, "I need to get another vocation. Like, go become a hairdresser." Well, not a hairdresser. That would not be a good one for me! (laughter) But something.

The reason I stay doing what I'm doing is because I believe—and I keep reminding myself—the Word changes lives!

As I speak to women's ministry leaders, there's a danger today in local church ministry of thinking you have to have something novel or new. Thinking you need amazing glitz and lights and shows and performances to get people's attention or to keep people's attention. In youth ministry, in women's ministry, in local church pastorate, there's that market-driven mindset that says, "People have to be entertained; you have to make it fun for them." It is a very media-driven generation.

But I've just watched over and over again what happens when the pure, sweet milk of the Word gets into people's lives. You put handles on it, and you show them how it works, and you communicate it to them in the power of the Spirit, it really does change people's lives!

So I'm saying to women's ministry leaders, "You need to teach sound doctrine to your women." Sound doctrine. That's what Titus says (Titus 2:1), "Teach sound doctrine." And then teach what that looks like in women's lives—how that applies in the context of being single or married or a mother or an empty-nester or a mother of teens or whatever your season of life is. Show what it looks like, how it works, and call them to put a foundation of sound doctrine in their lives.

Now, I'll tell you, sometimes in a media ministry, that's a little scary. And humanly speaking, a little risky. I know from watching the numbers, that when we do a series on marriage and I have somebody in there (a Vickie Rose, which was so powerful) then the numbers go up. People respond, they email, they call, they send money, because it's a felt need in so many, many lives. And we do programs like that, showing what the Word lived out looks like in somebody's life. Programs on eating disorders or depression—felt needs—and we do some of those programs . . . but if we do programs, which we also do a lot of, that are just solid doctrine, the character of God . . . the phones don't ring off the hook (typically). People don't send their big checks or their little checks; it's not big in numbers when you're doing a long teaching series on just basic doctrine.

But here's what I'm betting on (if I were a betting woman), in the long term if we will get solid biblical teaching and doctrine into people's lives, if we'll lay a foundation of truth in women's in lives, then in the long run they will better know how to deal with their eating disorders, their prodigal kids, their disastrous marriage, their finances . . . their whatever.

In the long run, that's what will equip them to be holy women of God. We've seen that now over the years as women have been discipled in the ways of God. They're now being able to make wise decisions and to think biblically.

It was said of one old-time commentator that if you pricked him, the blood that would come out would be "bibling." To be Word-driven. 

2. Christ-centered

There's such a danger, when we're trying to help people, of giving them just a list of do's, don'ts, procedures, processes, steps which end up being self-help (which is extremely popular! Look at our Christian bookstores, listen to a lot of Christian media), moralism ("Do this to have a happier life, a happier marriage, a happier and better this or that"). Some of those principles and steps can be very practical and helpful, but if we don't get people to Christ, then we're just going to build really good Pharisees—they look good, sound good, act good, but their hearts . . .

Jesus said, "You cleanse the outside of the cup, but the inside is filthy" (Luke 11:39 paraphrased). Everything looks good on the outside, but in the inside it's corrupt. We do not want to develop wonderful, Pharisaical women. Jesus had his strongest denunciations for those kinds of so-called followers.

So we want to get women to Christ, to a relationship with Him: to love Him, to know Him, to seek Him, to walk with Him. We want to say, "Christ has done for you all that you could never do for yourself."

It's not your self-righteousness. I began this week reading through the book of Romans, and saw again how the Jews—who had the oracles of God, the Word of God, the revelation of God—insisted on having a righteousness of their own making. And because they rejected the righteousness of Christ, they had no righteousness. We want to keep pointing women to Christ. It's all about Him . . . it's all about Him . . . it's all about Him. That's why we did that "Incomparable Christ" series.

And, by the way, kind of the end of that story (well, not the end), the response to that series was huge. Women were saying, "I've never seen or known or loved Christ in the way that you've lifted Him up for these months." It was life-changing. Women were saying, "I'm coming to know Christ in a way I've never known him before." Yes! That is what we're trying to do!

3. Gospel-drenched 

I want to keep taking myself and women back to the cross, to the grace of God, to the redemptive story. "I love the old, old story of Jesus and His love." It doesn't get any better than that!

There is no better story; there is no new story. There is no "novel" anything that people need to hear. I just am so thankful that from—well, about nine months before I was born—I was in churches where the gospel was preached, where Christ was lifted up. I grew up in that gospel-drenched environment.

It's a joy for me to take that to women. But I have to keep coming back to it myself. After years of doing this, you can start to think, Is there something new I need to be teaching? Now, I don't literally have that conversation, but you can question, "Is this going to get boring to people?"

The gospel never gets old! It's always needed. It's not only our past salvation, our present salvation, our future salvation—it's all about what Christ and His cross have done and are doing and will continue to do to glorify Christ in us. I want to have a gospel-drenched life.

4. Spirit-empowered 

I want my life and our ministry (and I covet this for you as well) that we would be Spirit-empowered. We are weak, but He is strong. We think of the apostle Paul as such a great writer, apostle, speaker, leader, church-planter. But of all people, the apostle Paul knew that apart from the Spirit working in and through him, all that he could do was of no value.

Paul said to the Corinthians, "When I came to you, I came in weakness and in fear and much trembling" (1 Cor. 2:3 paraphrased). I read that verse, and I exclaim, "Yes!"

When you see speakers on the platform (I've done this), you can look at them and think, They seem so confident. They seem so gifted. They seem so comfortable doing that. I can't speak for anybody else, but I can tell you about me. I come all the time to the tasks God has put on me in weakness and in fear and in much trembling!

I cannot tell you . . . it would be hundreds, probably thousands of times over the years, that I have said to the Lord or myself or to others . . . probably all of the above, "I cannot do this! I can't do this!"

In a sense, I hate to be in that place, especially when it's two hours before a recording session or ten minutes before, and I'm thinking, This hasn't come together! It's not just your notes and your message though that's a big part of it for me. A lot of times for me it's thinking, This isn't working in my own life at the moment. In my own life, I feel so far from what I'm telling others." That weighs on me, and I just think, I can't do this! But that is really a great place to be.

I asked the Lord early in my ministry, numerous times over to the years, to never let me get to the place . . . I was a good student (I graduated from high school at fifteen. I graduated from college at nineteen). So I knew that I had some natural abilities, and I didn't want to function in the stream of what was natural and explainable. I asked Him never let me get to the place where I could do whatever it was He was calling me to do—without Him. You know, that's the one prayer the Lord has been so faithful to answer. (laughter)

Spirit-empowered: Paul said, "We came to you; we didn't want our teaching, our preaching, our ministry to be in persuasive words, men's power, impressive appearances, but in the power of the Holy Spirit, so that people would know that this was not from men, but from God" (see 1 Cor. 2:4).

Dependence puts us in a place where we just become channels for the Holy Spirit to work. You need that as a parent; you need it as a mate; you need it as a businessman; you need it as a woman in the marketplace, in your home, wherever you're serving the Lord. We need the power of the Holy Spirit, that utter dependence upon Him. I want that to be true of our ministry. Many of you have heard me say over the years that, probably the most frequent prayer request I have and that I  ask others to pray for is, "fresh oil." I want fresh oil!

I came into this weekend desperately feeling the need for fresh oil—physically emotionally, spiritually . . . every way. "Lord, I'm depleted; I've been pouring out. I need."

When we come to Him in humility, faith, dependence, no matter in what straits we find ourselves, God is so gracious to pour out His fullness into our emptiness. Now, if we're full of ourselves, there's not room for Him to come and pour Himself into us.

5. Personally-modeled 

There's probably a better hyphenated word for this, but I haven't come up with it yet; if you do, let me know. The point here is that ministry takes place life-to-life.

Women don't need to know so much what I know. They can go read the same books. They need to be impacted by the Holy Spirit working through a life that is committed to what I'm teaching them.

One of the things the Lord has really impressed on my heart . . . You know, I only had like thirteen messages or something before we started Revive Our Hearts. That was one of my big roadblocks to saying "yes" to this. We have 260 programs a year, and I was thinking, How will I ever come up with that much content. No way! Lord, I need you! But also, How will I ever live that much truth? Lord, I need you! Right?

But, there is so much greater power when we can say (as Paul did), "Follow me as I follow Christ." It's a constant tension in my own heart to want to not be preaching further down the road than what I'm living. Now, I recognize that we're never there. This perfectionist self has to be reminded of that. It's Christ. It's His righteousness. It's not where I am. By the same token, if I'm calling other women to—whatever—it's so important that I'm living that out!

I've realized, over these years, that God's purpose for this ministry is probably not so much to build a great ministry as it is to make me into a true woman of God. I've gotta live with this stuff!

As I'm calling women to a spirit of meekness and gentleness and grace and humility, I've got to be living that out. But it's not just true of people on the platform. I tweeted this the other day from a nineteenth-century German philosopher, Heinrich Heine, who said, "Show me your redeemed life and I might be inclined to believe in your Redeemer." That's the world needs—to see in us the reality of modeling these truths.

Leslie: That's Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth with an important characteristic she wants to be true of Revive Our Hearts. She wants this program to be "Personally-modeled." She also led us through some other "Marks of Effective Ministry." They were: 1) Spirit-empowered; 2) Gospel-drenched; 3) Christ-centered and 4) Word-driven. Tomorrow, she'll lead us through five more marks of ministry.

Nancy will be right back, but let's pause on that point, Word-driven, for a minute. A listener name Deborah appreciates the way Lord uses Revive Our Hearts to point her to the Word, especially since she didn't always hear Word-driven teaching. As we celebrate the fifteen-year anniversary of Revive Our Hearts, let's hear how the Lord has used the program to help Deborah grow.

I am from Deborah Smith. I'm from Oxon Hill, Maryland. One of the things that is near and dear to me is my discipleship of younger women at church, particularly the single women. Revive Our Hearts really was the first ministry that actually cultivated my love for God's Word and truth and biblical womanhood. It's been an integral part of me being able to disciple other women in that same way.

We've gone through some of the training. We went through True Woman 201. The tools that Revive Our Hearts has makes it easier for us to disciple the women. We've used Seeking Him, which has been great to try to cultivate personal revival and just a love for God, just a love for Jesus. 

We've done Lies Women Believe, which was wonderful in just opening up the eyes of the women, to see that there are some things we are in error about, some things we thought we didn't believe. But when we started digging into the book and really examining our hearts, we realized that those were some of the things that were holding us back from really growing in the Lord. We were believing some of those lies!

Nancy: I'm so grateful for the way that the Lord is using Revive Our Hearts in Deborah's life, and for how He's honored our desire to be Word-driven. Now Deborah has gone from just being a listener to also being an Ambassador—someone who actively spreads the message, the mission of Revive Our Hearts with others in her area. I'm so grateful for the ways the Lord is using this woman to show other women how to find greater freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ!

For fifteen years, the Lord has been using listeners like you to help us speak to Debra and to women literally all over the world, getting them into the Word of God. If you appreciate the way the Lord has used Revive Our Hearts in your life, would you consider making a special anniversary gift to the ministry? Your support today will help Revive Our Hearts continue as a Word-driven, Christ-centered, Gospel-drenched ministry!

When you send a gift of any size this month, we want to say thank you by sending you a thirty-day devotional booklet that will lead you through the Lord's Prayer. As you walk through this study, you'll read a one-page devotional each day to help you understand this rich prayer even better, and you'll read some Making It Personal questions to help you apply what you're reading to your own life. When you call to make a gift of any amount, just ask for The Lord's Prayer devotional. The number to call is 1–800–569–5959, or you can visit us at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Tomorrow, we'll be back with five more "Marks of Effective Ministry," leading up to the fifteen-year anniversary of Revive Our Hearts on Saturday. And then, next week, we'll be back to our study of the Lord's Prayer. Please join us for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts, with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.