Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: When Pastor Ray Ortlund discipled young people, here’s what he told them.

Pastor Ortlund: How is anyone going to live a godly life in today’s world not having time alone with God? There’s not the slightest chance, guys, for you to be a man of God if you’re not spending time each day just feasting on His Word.

Leslie Basham: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Friday, January 4.

Yesterday, we heard part one of a conversation Nancy had with Ray and Anne Ortlund. Ray was Nancy’s pastor when she was in college and this couple had a big influence on her. Ray went home to be with the Lord within this past year, and his influence will be missed. Here’s part two of that conversation.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Our guests this week on Revive Our Hearts are Ray and Anne Ortlund. I’ve just been rereading a book that Ray and Anne wrote 25 years ago. It’s still in print today. Let me read to you the last paragraph of that book.

It says, “Your danger and mine is not that we become criminals, but rather that we become respectable, decent, commonplace, mediocre Christians. The 21st century temptations that really sap our spiritual power are the television, banana cream pie, the easy chair and the credit card.”

The Ortlunds go on to say, “The Christian wins or loses in those seemingly innocent little moments of decision. Lord, make my life a miracle.”

The authors of that book, Lord, Make my Life a Miracle, are with us today. Ray and Anne, thank you so much for joining us again on Revive Our Hearts.

Pastor Ortlund: Great to be with you, Nancy. This is a lot of fun to us.

Anne Ortlund: We’re still praying, “Lord, make my life a miracle,” each of us in our lives. And Nancy, we know you long for that same thing. He’s a God of miracles. Why not?

Nancy: I love what you wrote in here. I wish I could have said these words this way. But it’s so true that the greatest thing we have to dread—it’s not that we would become reprobate or apostate; for most of us that’s not going to happen. It’s that we just get too comfortable, that we don’t stay on the edge, on the cutting edge spiritually.

And as you said, it’s the banana cream pie. It’s the easy chair. It’s the easy life rather than the life that is filled with Christ.

Pastor Ortlund: Yes, and we settle for far too little, don’t we, when God offers us so much? I mean He offers us the world. He offers us heaven, but He offers us glory here on earth.

Anne: And we don’t really take Him seriously. It just seems too good to be true. And we don’t take Him literally enough. He wants to make our lives a miracle.

Pastor Ortlund: Every one of us. You don’t have to be a superstar to live in the glorious presence and the wonderful, wonderful, miracle working power of Christ in your life.

Anne: He wants to do more than to bring His sons to glory. He wants to bring glory to His sons. He has more in mind than just taking His saints to heaven. He wants to bring heaven to His saints.

Nancy: It’s easy for some of us to sit back and think, “Well this is Ray and Anne Ortlund saying this. You’ve been pastors and missionaries and you’ve written a lot of well-known books. You just are supposed to live this supernatural existence. But what about me? I’ve got these four teenagers, or my husband just left me, or my boss at work is breathing down my neck and I can’t meet these deadlines. My life is just so different than these people who write and speak about these things.”

But you’re saying this can be true of any child of God.

Pastor Ortlund: Absolutely. Nancy, most of us are little kids sucking our thumbs.

Anne: That’s all we are.

Pastor Ortlund: Insecure. That’s all I am. But some of you have gone through tremendous heartaches and you do have the great burden of a divorce in your life. You feel so rejected. Listen, my friend, God can make your life a miracle. Let Him do it.

Live in His presence like we are talking about. Practice the presence of God. But also come to know how to worship the Lord in honesty alone and then with God’s people living in the joy of the Christian life.

You know, Nancy, I remember when one of our children was in her early twenties and things weren’t going well between that person and us, precious person. But she was just finding her own way in life. We were concerned, not that she was not walking with the Lord, she was. But in this area of relationship with us, she was just turning her back on us. We were missing her.

She was just finding out who she was. It was ok. But we were hurting, and she was hurting. In the end Anne decided that she would not eat lunch every weekday until we got this resolved. She fasted every lunchtime for three months.

Then one night we were sitting up in bed reading. The front door opened and in came our daughter. She came up and sat on the bed and cried and said, “I miss you.” And we said, “We miss you.” And we are best friends today.

But Anne bit the bullet. That really makes me respect her all the more because it isn't that I wasn’t willing, but she took that initiative. It was her commitment to God, and that solved a very heart-rending problem to us because we were used to being really close to our kids.

Anne: We haven’t talked much about fasting, Nancy, not anything with Ray and me on this program. And I haven’t done a lot of it, but I know that sometimes we get so desperate to be with God, for God to do something in our lives, something. When my tummy would growl that would call me to pray. And that was a very precious time in my life.

Nancy: You’re really illustrating that every area of our lives—your marriage, your parenting, your work—has to flow out of your relationship with God, which is the point of this book, Lord Make my Life a Miracle. You talk about how you called the church you were pastoring at the time to a threefold commitment, three priorities.

First, you’re saying, “I will live my life with my first priority being my commitment and relationship to God; secondly, my relationship with God’s people, and thirdly, my commitment to God’s work in this needy world."

And you’re saying that everything in my life has to flow out of first that relationship with God.

Anne: Everything, everything. That’s the passion. That’s the fire. Everything else compared with that is toothpaste.

Nancy: Now, you talked about the personal quiet time and that was an expression of that commitment to your relationship with God. But in this book you also talk about the public worship and our need to be involved in corporate worship. Why is that so important?

Pastor Ortlund: Well, it’s a personal service to God. It isn’t personal worship for us. “I didn’t get anything out of it” sort of thing and then you complain. But rather, it’s to God. It’s about Him and for Him.

So we began to say, “Look folks, when we worship . . .” I said to myself sitting in the pulpit area, “Okay Ray Ortlund, this is for God. You’re not just the leader here, some wheel. You must meet God,” and we began to say that to the people of the church.

We must be people first of all ready to meet God. Remember, the 24th Psalm says, “Who may ascend to the hill of the Lord, may go to worship in that holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who doesn’t lift up his soul to idols or vanity” (verses 3-4). But going after God with all your heart. Go hard after God. If you remember, that was the theme. Go hard after God.

So we sang a hymn, “Immortal, invisible, God only wise. In light . . .” It’s a chorus hymn, but sing it to God, to praise God with all our hearts. And then when we pray, let’s really pray!

Anne: When we go into corporate worship this is not for what we get out of it. That’s so self-centered. It’s for what the Lord gets out of it. It’s for Him. So we make His heart happy with our songs and our listening and our giving.

Oh, giving as well. I’m looking at Psalm 96: “Bring an offering, and come into his courts!” (verse 8). He knows that we need to let go of something, to just take away our selfishness and our sense of greed, our tendency to greed. We need to give and give and give to Him—give our time when it is not convenient, when we’ve got something that’s just got to be done before the day is over, to bring a lamb, in a sense, and come into His presence.

Those Old Testament Israelis needed that lamb maybe for the wool or the meat or whatever. Well, we need our time. We have this or that that must be done. The laundry hasn’t been done and my husband has to have his shirt for tomorrow morning, whatever it is. We bring that sacrifice, bring an offering, money too, come into His presence, and it’s for Him.

Nancy: And we need to prepare our hearts for that corporate expression of worship. We’re not just coming and plopping ourselves down as the service is starting and chatting with each other.

Pastor Ortlund: Yes, "Bless me. I dare you."

Nancy: Yes, right.

Pastor Ortlund: Also, we get ready for that by coming into His presence, being before God every day. How is anyone going to live a godly life in today’s world not having time alone with God? I don’t know how it’s going to happen.

I disciple guys and Anne disciples girls, ladies. But I tell them, “There’s not the slightest chance guys for you to be a man of God if you’re not spending time each day just feasting on His Word, praising Him, then in prayer spending time pouring out your heart to God.” We need that time first alone, then we need it with God’s people in public worship. That’s cleansing, and it’s so strengthening.

Nancy: I remember you saying—I don’t know if it was Ray or Anne. I’ve quoted Ray on it but it may have been Anne actually who said it years ago, but it stuck with me—where you said that the average church is like a bag of marbles clanging up against each other, hard, not really connecting to each other. And you said that what we really should be is like a bag of . . .

Anne: Grapes.

Pastor Ortlund: Ripe grapes.

Nancy: Smushed together and our lives as we’re blended together in love and in Christ producing a juice of sweetness that ministers to others. That picture stayed with me because, as you point out in this book, so many people go to church today and stay unknown and lonely sitting in their place in their pew, giving their offerings, maybe even serving in some way in the church, but not really connected to the people of God.

And you say that’s not the way it ought to be.

Pastor Ortlund: No. A lot of women feel that way, I think, especially single moms or those who are widows who have lost their husbands. They come to church, and they want to be loved, and they want to be noticed, and they want to be in fellowship. That word fellowship is the sharing of one another’s lives together. That’s what we’re called to—not to be high Christians. I don’t think I mean that liturgically, but deep in each other’s lives, known and loved and cared for and knowing and loving and caring for.

Anne: The part of the Body of Christ that is sometimes missing today, Nancy, don’t you think, is intimacy. We go to church. Maybe we go to a small church that has 30 members, or we go to one that has 30,000 members. We even go to Sunday School perhaps, to youth group, to choir, to a lot of stuff.

And we sit there in a group and we walk away and nobody knows us individually and personally. Nobody knows what sins we struggle with, to pray for us. Nobody knows that our kid just got all A’s in school, or we wonder if our husband has cancer. Nobody knows us deeply.

Nancy: And yet we pass each other, we shake each other’s hands. “How are you doing?” And what’s the standard answer?

Anne: Fine. We’re all fine! And we’re liars.

Nancy: There are marriages breaking up, our kids are breaking our hearts, and yet we’re all “fine.” That’s not a family. That’s not a Body when you function that way.

Anne: So we need small groups in our lives.

Pastor Ortlund: The book of Colossians—let me just throw this in—“Therefore as God’s chosen people.” Isn’t it wonderful to be God’s chosen people? And then it says, “Holy and dearly loved.” Nancy, you’re made holy through Jesus, and you’re dearly loved.

And each of our listeners right now are dearly loved. God through Christ, by justification by faith alone through Christ alone, has made us holy. So we’re chosen, holy, and dearly loved.

And then it says this: “Clothe yourself with compassion.” Notice these relational words. “Clothe yourself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity” (verses 12-14).

That’s really rich isn’t it?

Anne: That’s the second priority. I think that may be one of the deep needs of fellow Christians today who are fast-paced and "going for the gold" in a secular sense and not giving each other time, not looking in each other’s eyes and listening and praying for each other.

Nancy, you were saying you were in Lake Avenue Church in Pasadena years ago when we were in a period of about seven or eight years of slow-burn revival. I was the senior pastor’s wife. There was hardly a Sunday when one of the college-aged young people (they didn’t even know me well enough to call me Anne), they’d say, “Mrs. Ortlund, what can I pray for for you today?”

And we were ministering heart to heart. That’s what happens in revival. You forget what the outside is like and you forget the warts and the scars and the moles and you are ministering spirit to spirit to each other’s needs.

Pastor Ortlund: I think so many people want to know that they are known. There’s a fear in that. Maybe I won’t be liked if I’m really known—my problems, my struggles, and so on. But we all want that. And to be known in Christ.

"Folks, this is who I am. Jesus has forgiven me. I am now His child. Sure, I’ve got all the garbage of the past. Sure, there’s all that kind of thing. But I’m who I am. I want to love and care for you. I want you to do that the same to me." That’s what we’re called to in Christ.

Nancy: Now speak to the woman who says—and I’ve heard this so many times—“I go to church. I long for this. I want to have that kind of rich, meaningful fellowship. I want to be known. I want be connected to the lives of other people. But I go to church. I sit in my pew, and no one speaks to me. No one stops me. No one asks me how I’m doing. No one seems to really care."

And a lot of these people either drop out of the church or in their hearts they’ve dropped out.

Anne: Nancy, Luke 6:12 and 13 is the story about Jesus praying before He chose His small group. That’s exactly what needs to happen. If we say, “Lord, You give me intimacy. Bring into my life people who will love me and who I can love.” If we ask Him for it, it’s His delight to do that for us. He doesn’t want us to be loners and lonely.

Pastor Ortlund: But many times I think—I’ve done this—you go to a church and you think, “Well, why isn’t somebody speaking to me?” rather than putting our hand out and saying to someone else who is thinking the same thing. “Good morning. Wonderful to see you this morning. Wasn’t it a wonderful service we had? Isn’t the Lord good?” To strike up the conversation.

And there will be people who cannot connect. They’re just so tied up in themselves that they can’t connect. We just have to go to them anyway and share our heart. You can’t help it.

Nancy: But we’re really not waiting for others to come and connect to us.

Pastor Ortlund: That’s right, exactly.

Nancy: And I understand. I’m a single woman. I know what’s it like to go and sit in church by yourself, to feel a little bit—I know nobody would think I’m shy, but I really am. It’s not easy for me to put out my hand and strike up a conversation with a total stranger or someone I don’t know real well.

Yet I’ve found that some of the richest relationships that God has given to me in the Body of Christ have been the result of my approaching a family or another single person or somebody else in the Body of Christ and saying, “How can I pray for you?”

Pastor Ortlund: Some of our greatest friendships—wouldn’t you say, Anne?—are single women or those who have lost their husbands in some way.

Anne: Oh, yes.

Pastor Ortlund: When we’ve invited them to our home and they’ve been part of our home, they’re our richest friends.

Anne: That’s so true.

Pastor Ortlund: They’re our most precious friends.

Nancy: Yet I have found—let me say it from the single side—that I can’t wait for the Ray and Annes of the world to invite me to their home. Maybe in an ideal world it would happen that way. But I need to reach out to those families, to those others in the Body of Christ, as I’ve learned to do over the years and say, “I’m not a loner. I’m not a lone ranger. I can’t make it in the Christian life on my own. I need the people of God.”

So I’m not going to wait for the people of God to come to me. I’m going to do what Anne has said, and pray and say, “Lord, whose lives do you want me to connect to?”

Anne: I’m thinking, Ray, of when you were young. You earned money in a dairy. And you often say that the milk was all above gushing down into these containers. It used to be bottles, now it’s cartons. But there they are printed up waiting to be filled. But they’re impotent in themselves to fill themselves or fill each other.

The milk is from above. And when they’re waiting and empty, then this milk can come down. And very quickly (whoosh) they’re sealed, and they go off the belt and into people’s homes and tummies. But it’s from above.

We have to realize that we don’t have it in ourselves either to be best friends or to have a best friend. But when we ask the Lord, He’s the one who does that, works in their lives, works in our lives. He creates every circumstance that will bring us together with other people. He creates every desire in their hearts to get to know me. He creates the technique that He wants me to use to get to know them.

It’s all of Him, all of Him.

Pastor Ortlund: It calls for vulnerability, doesn’t it? You’ve got to be vulnerable like you say. You’re being vulnerable as a single woman. You invite people into your home or you step toward them. And that should be true with all of us. We step toward others.

That’s what love is about. It isn’t’ a feeling. It isn’t romance. It’s appreciation. John 13:34, Anne.

Anne: Yes, I’ve got that in front of me here. Jesus says, “A new command I give you. Love one another as I have loved you.”

Pastor Ortlund: Wow. Now that’s something else, isn’t it?

Anne: Yes, and in this particular chapter He gives us at least four ways that He loves us. He loves us with selfless love, with serving love, with unconditional love, with responsible love.

And He says, “As I have loved you, that’s the way you are to love each other.” So as we go to the Lord and get our how to’s from Him, He will draw us close with others in the Body.

Nancy: Now you may have been thinking, “I’ve tried to connect with people in the Body of Christ, and yet for me that’s been a disappointing experience.” There may have been people that hurt you, who’ve let you down. You tried to be vulnerable, and you got stepped on.

Let me say, “Don’t stop trying. Don’t stop reaching out. Don’t stop loving. Don’t stop being vulnerable.” I just want to tell you that I cannot make it in the Christian life without the people of God. We’re part of a Body. We’re part of a family. We belong to each other. We need each other. I need the people that God has put into my life, and they need me.

We need to pray for each other, love each other, hold each other accountable, spur one another on, help each other see our blind spots. We need each other.

So if you’re not connected to people in the Body of Christ in that vibrant, living, ongoing, growing way, you need to seek it out. Ask the Lord, “Whose life do you want me to connect to? Who can I reach out to? This next Sunday at church or in the week in between, who can I call? Who can I connect with? And how do you want me to live out that commitment to Your Body?”

It is the Body of Christ. He gave His life for it. That needs to be our commitment as well if we want our lives to be revived and to be that miracle that Ray and Anne talk about in their book, Lord, Make my Life a Miracle.

Leslie Basham: We have limited copies of that book, so you’ll want to act fast if you want to order a copy. Call 1-800-569-5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

As we start a new year, a lot of people are trying to read the Bible more consistently. Just like we heard about on the program, this can be daunting if you’re not in the habit. And we want to cheer you on all we can. Nancy has created some very helpful resources that will help you get into God’s Word. You can take a look at ReviveOurHearts.com.

But let me tell you about one of them. It’s a workbook called A 30-Day Walk with God in the Psalms. Nancy chose several Psalms that have been especially meaningful to her. She helps you read and understand these better. The study questions help you dig in and find out how these Psalms intersect with your life. You’ll find out how to launch from the psalm into prayer.

When you make a donation to Revive Our Hearts, we’ll send you A 30-Day Walk with God in the Psalms. Ask for it when you donate by calling 1-800-569-5959 or visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

We’ll be back with our guests Ray and Anna Ortlund on Monday. Find out what they discovered about praying together as a couple. Now let’s pray with Nancy.

Nancy: Father, how I thank You for Your Body, the people of Christ and for what those people have meant in my life over so many years. Thank You for Ray and Anne Ortlund and how you’ve used them to touch my life in ways they’ve probably never even realized.

I thank You for closer friends, those that are part of my life today that challenge and exhort, encourage, and pray for me. Lord, I want to be that kind of person to others. We want to be committed to each other within that family, within that Body of Christ.

So Lord, show us how to live out first our commitment to Jesus, then our commitment to one another, and then how to go out together and demonstrate to the world the love and grace of Christ as we take that gospel out into a needy world. I pray in Jesus’ name, amen.

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

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