Revive Our Hearts Podcast

A Holy Passion

Season:  Kay Arthur

Leslie Basham: Your thoughts matter, according to Bible teacher Kay Arthur.

Kay Arthur: One of the things that women need to be reminded of—Paul says, “I want to remind you,”—is the power of the eyes and the mind. We see, we think.

You go back to the Garden of Eden. Eve saw that the fruit was good, then she desired, then she took, then she ate, and then she shared it.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss. It’s Monday, December 15.

Whatever is going on in your life, the most important thing you can do is study God’s Word. It speaks to every situation.

One woman has spent her life pointing people to God’s Word, helping them learn to study it for themselves, and we’re pleased to hear from her today. Let’s listen as Kay Arthur talks with Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Kay, I have so looked forward to the day when we could sit down in this studio and have a chat to share with our Revive Our Hearts listeners the story of Kay Arthur and how God has worked in your life. Your life really is a trophy of God’s grace.

So thank you, thank you for joining us today on Revive Our Hearts. I know you’re in the middle of a book deadline, and . . .

Kay: . . .you’re in the middle of one, too.

Nancy: Aren’t we always? My mother says to me, “Why do you do this to yourself?” She said, “Who made you take these deadlines? Why do you do it to yourself?”

Kay: Well, first of all, I want to go back and say, one of the statements I’ve always made is, “Any old bush will do to set on fire with the fire of God.” It’s not the bush that’s important to God; it’s the heart.

I think that our hearts are the same, and that’s why you and I do this to ourselves, because you want your life to be expended for the gospel of Jesus Christ. Yet one of the things I’ve learned, Nancy, and I was sharing it with our son David, who is our vice-president of teaching and training: There is, I think, a presumptuous sin, and that is presuming that I can break God’s natural laws and get away with it.

So one of the things the Lord is showing me is, “You need rest. I’ve designed the body; you need rest, so get that rest.” So there is that tension; there are those deadlines, and I always think I can do more than I can do.

Nancy: And a year out it doesn’t look all that overwhelming.

Kay: Right, and I think that’s the way a lot of women are operating. I think they think that they can do more than they can, and they’re absolutely exhausted. So I want to be careful; I try to model for them, but I’m 73 . . .

Nancy: . . .and not slowing down.

Kay: Not slowing down. There’s a young woman trapped inside my body.

My goal is to finish well. My goal is not to retire unless I lose my mind (God forbid—I’d be a mess to take care of). There’s no retirement in the time of war, and I want to serve the Lord as best I can.

At my age, because I don’t have little children around the house, I’m able to do more. And because I have a very considerate husband who does not need a lot of attention—a man who can be alone and be content—that gives me liberty that some other women wouldn’t have. And, of course, you don’t have a husband, so you have all that liberty.

Nancy: A lot of liberty.

Kay, I was talking with a friend at church last Sunday—this is a Bible-preaching, Bible-based church, and a woman who loves the Word of God—and I told her that we were going to be talking.

She said, “You know, I don’t know a lot about Kay Arthur, and I don’t know a lot about Precept Ministries." So I believe there are other listeners, many who have been involved with Precept for years, but some who are not as familiar.

I don’t want to assume that our listeners know all about the ministry. You and Jack are the founders of Precept Ministries here in Chattanooga. Tell us, just in a nutshell, why does Precept exist?

Kay: In a nutshell, Precept Ministries International exists to establish people in God’s Word. We truly believe that the Bible is the Word of God.

Jesus told the devil that “man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). So I think He clearly defined what we have as the Bible, and we exist to establish people in God’s Word.

Now the Psalmist goes on to say in Psalm 119 what produces reverence for Him—in other words, a fear for Him, a trust for Him. One of my favorite verses in regard to this is Psalm 119:102, where the Psalmist makes the statement, “I have not turned aside from Your [commandments],” and then this is the cincher—this is what we’re all about: “for You Yourself have taught me.”

So in establishing people in God’s Word, God has given us a way and means, at all different levels of commitment, to bring people face to face with the Word of God so they can discover truth for themselves.

That’s kind of another verbal logo: Discover Truth for Yourself.  You know. You’re a woman of the Word. This is what we need to know—we need to know this Book.

What is our vision? Our vision is that those who come under our ministry would become an exemplary follower of Jesus Christ, studying the Bible inductively (present tense), viewing the world biblically. When I put on the glasses of the Word of God, it focuses the world for me, and I can see when the world is out of whack.

So studying the Bible inductively, viewing the world biblically, and serving the church faithfully in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Nancy: It’s not just getting the Word into my head, but it has to come out in my life.

Kay: When we talk about serving the church, we’re talking about serving the local church, because that’s what God has ordained, and serving the body at large.

Nancy: We’re going to do what we can through this series to encourage people to connect with Precept Ministries. If they go to our website, ReviveOurHearts.com, we’ll link them to the Precept website.

Kay: Thank you.

Nancy: I’m hoping that as a result of people hearing more about your story and how God has given you a hunger and a love for the Word, that will motivate many of our listeners to go deeper and perhaps to begin a Precept study which will give them the tools to get into God’s Word.

Kay: That would be wonderful. We really believe in ministering to the whole family, so that’s why we have inductive study courses even for children. We have a Discover for Yourself series, where they learn how to take apart a book like Jonah or James or Genesis or John inductively.

So that’s a little bit about us, and I think I talked too long.

Nancy: No, I’m eager for people to get to know you and your ministry.

You referred a moment ago to knowing God, and of course that’s why we want to get into the Word, to know God. Yu were raised in a church environment, baptized as an infant, confirmed as a little girl, yet you didn’t really know God until later in your life.

Kay: That’s right.

Nancy: Maybe you think everybody has heard that story, but I was listening last night to a DVD of your testimony, and I realized there were major portions of it that I had not heard before. I think our listeners would be blessed just to know a little bit about your background.

As you were growing up in this church, did you just assume that you were a Christian?

Kay: Yes. I tell people that I had a religion without a relationship.

I loved going to church, but church was a very social thing for me. I think that church, in a sense, should be social, because we need the fellowship.

You look at the early church, and they went from house to house, and they were breaking bread and having fellowship. So I had the fellowship there.

I went to a lot of grade schools and a lot of high schools because Daddy kept moving, growing from a grocery clerk up to an executive. But whenever we moved, the first thing we would do is look for a church. Then we would buy or rent our house in the neighborhood of the church.

So church was a very vital part of my life. I would go in, and I would genuflect (I would bow), and later on when I got to be a teenager, I would genuflect because I looked good genuflecting.

Nancy: And looking good was something that was important to you?

Kay: Looking good was very important to me. I would put down the kneeling pew. I would get on my knees and fold my hands.

I would be in a hat, because remember, I told you I’m 73. The church felt that a woman was to have a hat or a veil on. So I would fold my hands, and I would look around to see if there were any new guys in church. That was the extent of my spirituality.

Sometimes during communion, if I was in more of a higher church of that denomination, I would look at the crucifix and think about Jesus dying, and I would weep. I asked my mother, “Mother, what about heaven and hell?”

My family believed that we couldn’t know whether we were going to heaven or not. They believed that God would weigh our deeds.

This is what my father told me later, when he was in the ministry. He said, “I’m not as conceited as you are, Kay” (thinking that I’ll go to heaven). He said, “I’m trusting God. God will look at my deeds, and He will determine.” So I realized, “You don’t understand.”

Nancy: This was, of course, in later years after you did come to know the Lord.

Kay: Yes, later years, after I came to know the Lord. But I didn’t come to know the Lord until I was 29, so I lived in that religion, teaching Sunday school. My first husband went to seminary, so I was active in the seminary and everything, but I had no concept of the idea that when I opened this Book, I was listening to God.

We opened the prayer book; we went through the service; the Scriptures were read from either one side of the altar or the other side, depending on what you were in. There was a real ritual to it, but in the ritual, there was no meaning, no substance to it. The Bible just wasn’t part of our lives, yet church was.

Nancy: While you were going through all this religious upbringing, you also mentioned that you would look around and see if there were any new guys.

Kay: That’s right.

Nancy: It seems like that was a bit of a thread also in your early life.

Kay: It was a desire for a man; and it wasn’t even, in a sense, a sexual desire. It was just this whole romantic thing.

As I was praying about what we were doing today, I thought one of the things that women need to understand is something that you bring out. One of the things that women need to be reminded of—Paul says, “I want to remind you” (1 Corinthians 15:1)—is the power of the eyes and the mind. We see, we think.

You go back to the Garden of Eden. Eve saw that the fruit was good, then she desired, then she took, then she ate, and then she shared it. So one of the things I think we need to remember is that what you’re watching has an effect.

The mind is an incredible organ. The things that I saw as a young girl . . . I loved the movies. I loved Cary Grant. I loved Katherine Hepburn. I loved these romantic movies.

Television came out when I was a kid. I loved Ozzie and Harriet. I loved Father Knows Best. So I’m looking at this family. I’m looking at this romantic love.

In the movies I’m looking at this sexual kind of love. They slept in separate beds at that time on the screen, and they were very careful, but the innuendoes were there.

Then my grandpa had detective magazines. I don’t know if they even exist now, but the detective magazines would have a woman in a very sensual pose—her hips bound down or something like that—so your mind goes there.

In your mind, then, you become focused on your body. “Is this body sexy?” When I would go to get a bathing suit, I would take a tape measure to see what was going to give me the smallest waist and the biggest bust.

I was wrapped up in my body. It all had to do, not with having a number of men, but getting that one man that was going to be my husband that was going to give me this happiness that I wanted.

Then, of course, there were the fantasies in my mind; but I had determined that when I got married, I was going to be a virgin. Physically, I was a virgin. Mentally, I was not.

The Bible says, “Don’t be deceived" (1 Corinthians 15:33). "As a man thinks in his heart, so he is" (Proverbs 23:7). "Guard your heart with all diligence, for out of it come the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23).

And, of course, the gospels tell us, where do murder and adultery and stealing and those things come from? They come from what we think about.

Nancy: So you had a strong desire for marriage.

Kay: A strong desire for marriage.

Nancy: And what were your hopes and expectations about marriage?

Kay: Well, I’m a registered nurse, and when I was in nurse’s training, we would curl up on the bed in one of the dorm rooms, and we would talk about our wedding night. We didn’t talk about the sexual aspect. What we talked about was the negligee and how beautiful it was going to be and stuff like that.

So my expectations of marriage were what I saw my parents have. My parents had a great marriage. They were married when they were 19. They had me during the Depression.

They really loved one another, and they really enjoyed one another. If some good music was on the radio, Daddy would come in, and they would dance, and I’d cut in. It was just a good marriage.

I never heard my parents quarrel. The closest they ever got to it was when they were building a closet in the attic of this home. It was only a two-bedroom home, and they had two daughters and a son—so they were building that. Their voices got really tense, and I got tears, because I had never heard that. So I had the privilege of seeing that.

I was a know-it-all, too. I remember in nurse’s training, I thought, “I know all about marriage.”

On our honeymoon, my husband sat me down in Bermuda in this gorgeous hotel, and he looked at me and said, “You are now Mrs. Frank Thomas Getz, Jr., and these are the things I don’t like about you, and I want them changed.”

I was horrified, Nancy; absolutely horrified. I thought, “Why did you marry me?” This wasn’t my picture of marriage.

My picture of marriage was Cary Grant or William Powell and one of the gals. Taking me in his arms, kissing me, loving me, adoring me; me being the homemaker, me having the apron on, me giving birth to the children and raising the children and getting them cleaned up for when Daddy comes home.

And Father Knows Best, and having a nice home; eventually belonging to a country club because my husband did, and just having that nice country club life; going to church. You understand that.

Nothing of the way you and I live now, with that holy compulsion, so to speak, a holy passion to serve God. It was just part of the life.

Nancy: Now, when you met Tom Getz and agreed to be his wife and walked down the aisle to that altar, I assume you were thinking that this was going to be the fulfillment of your dream.

Kay: Oh, this was it. I had a diamond ring on my hand like I never dreamed I’d ever have. I had this gorgeous man that was just so outstanding that had been offered contracts by the Yankees, the Pirates, the Indians, and the Phillies to pitch ball for them.

He had a lot of polish; he was smooth; he was a good dancer—he looked great in a white dinner jacket. This was it. So the honeymoon was just horrible because, bless his heart, he just went into this horrible depression; and I’d never seen it until just before we got married.

His sister gave a shower for him—it was a couple’s kind of shower—and I saw a side of him I had never seen before. That was close to the wedding, and so then the honeymoon . . . The wedding was great.

Nancy: Did that plant some doubts, when you saw that side come out?

Kay: When I saw him, I thought, “Am I doing the right thing?” My father told me later that he was scared, but he never told me. He said, “If I’d told you, you wouldn’t have listened anyway,” which tells you that I’m a very strong woman. But the thing is, I didn’t go into it with my eyes wide open.

Nancy: And there was a lot more eye opening to come. We’re going to pick up on this conversation, because God took you through some very deep and dark waters and valleys, but He has brought you through with lots and lots of grace and a message of hope.

You won’t want to miss the rest of Kay Arthur’s story. Thank you, Kay.

Leslie: Bible teacher Kay Arthur had some definite ideas about what being a woman was all about. Throughout this week, we’ll hear how God adapted those ideas and brought her to a place of greater joy and fulfillment.

We’re all on that kind of journey. The world eagerly provides a false definition of femininity and fulfillment. But, Nancy, it’s been exciting to see how this past year Revive Our Hearts has helped replace the world’s definitions with a biblical view of true womanhood.

Nancy: At the beginning of 2008, we started calling this “The Year of the True Woman,” and what a joy it has been to see God give women across this country and around the world a newfound passion for fulfilling His calling in their lives.

I think one of the most exciting things for me about the True Woman conference just a couple of months ago was the number of women who came from other countries. Approximately a hundred of those women came from the Dominican Republic.

You had to be there to sense and to see the excitement in those women’s hearts, and their enthusiasm about this message. What has been particularly exciting has been to see what has happened as those women have gone back to the D.R., taking this message with them.

In fact, I have to read to you this Facebook message that one of the women from the Dominican wrote just recently. She said,

You have no idea how the conference is truly having a ripple effect you all prayed for, not only in our own country [the Dominican Republic] but even in Spain, where we have friends and have been sharing all of the things we heard. I’m praying about starting a blog in Spanish in order to make all this information on biblical womanhood available to Hispanic ladies who are so eager to hear all these things.

We are seeing more and more women in our church falling in love with their God-created design. It is so exciting. It’s almost like a conversion experience all over again. It is bringing so much joy as we’re learning to look at the bigger picture and are intentional about adorning the gospel. It really is amazing and exciting and scary all at the same time, that the Lord is truly raising us up here in the Dominican Republic "for such a time as this.”

Now, that ministry to the women in the D.R. was made possible because of listeners who invested financially in this ministry, and that’s true for all of the ministries of Revive Our Hearts. It’s listeners, friends like you, who made that possible.

So during this crucial month of December, when we normally receive almost half of our total year’s donations, some friends who believe in this message and in this ministry have offered to match each donation, up to $250,000. So when you donate by the end of the month, your gift will be doubled, helping us to meet or, Lord willing, far surpass that challenge.

Would you ask the Lord what He would want you to give? And as you give, know that God will use your investment to be multiplied many times over, in sisters like these that we’ve heard about in the Dominican Republic and, by God’s grace, all around the world.

Leslie: When you help us meet this challenge with your gift of any amount, we’ll say thanks by sending the book How to Study Your Bible, from our guest Kay Arthur.

Many of us tackle Bible reading with a new sense of purpose at the beginning of the new year. I hope this book will help you make reading the Bible more than just a resolution. It will help you understand how to study and apply God’s Word in practical ways.

When you call with your donation, ask for How to Study Your Bible. The number is 800-569-5959, or donate toward the matching challenge online. The web address is ReviveOurHeartsRadio.com.

As a young wife, Kay Arthur was a churchgoer who looked good on the outside, but her rebellion against God finally came to the surface. Hear more of her story tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.

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

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