Revive Our Hearts Podcast

A Spirit-Controlled Marriage

Leslie Basham: Anne Ortlund used to pray this way every night with her late husband Ray:

Anne Ortlund: We prayed that God would put nice dreams into each other and that we’ll wake up the next morning in an awareness of His presence. We prayed God’s blessing on each other, His benediction on our heads, and you just can’t let the sun go down on your wrath if you’re ending each day like that.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss. It’s Monday, January 7.

Here’s Nancy.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Well, we’re looking forward today to sharing with you part three of an interview that we recorded with Ray and Anne Ortlund a number of years ago.

As we shared last week, and as many of you are aware, several months ago Ray went home to be with the Lord. What a faithful servant of the Lord this dear man has been for many, many years, along with his dear wife, Anne.

Before we play the end of that interview for you, I want to take the first part of today’s program to just give you an update on several aspects of the ministry that will be of interest to you.

First of all, I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who participated with us in the Matching Challenge at year-end. Our office is still busy processing and tabulating the last of the year in mail, but I’m excited to report to you that the Lord has met the matching challenge amount and above and beyond that.

I’m so thankful for this fresh evidence of God’s faithfulness and provision. It’s going to make it possible for us to continue calling women to freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ throughout the year ahead.

And then, I want to let you know that during 2008, we’ll be airing a number of programs about what it means to be a true woman of God.

We’ll be talking about God’s design for our lives as women—why He made us and what’s the difference between male and female, and does it really matter? What are the implications of that for married women? for single women? for mothers? for those without children?

What does it look like to be a woman who follows hard after God? We’ll be issuing throughout the year a call to women to join with us in this counter-cultural revolution that we’ve been talking about for a number of years on Revive Our Hearts.

Along that line, there are a number of special opportunities coming up during 2008. I want to encourage you to mark your calendar now and consider how God may want you to be involved in one of these events.

First of all, during the month of February, we’ll have two Revive Our Hearts Regional Conferences. The first one will be in Tampa the first weekend of February. The other conference will be in Houston the last weekend of February. Actually, it’s February 29 and March 1.

So if you live in one of those parts of the country, and especially if you’ve never been to a Revive Our Hearts Regional Conference, you won’t want to miss this opportunity, just a concentrated time to seek the Lord for personal revival.

Then I want to let you know about another very important event coming up later this year. On October 9-11, we’ll be hosting our very first National Women’s Conference.

The conference is called True Woman ’08, and it will be hosted by Revive Our Hearts, along with our other partners: FamilyLife Today, the Moody Broadcasting Network, and Moody Publishing.

The theme for the True Woman Conference is “Now is the Time.” I believe now is a critical time for Christian women throughout this country to begin crying out to the Lord for a movement of revival and reformation in the hearts of women throughout this country.

The Lord has blessed us with a great group of speakers for this conference. They include: Pastor John Piper, my dear friend Joni Eareckson Tada, and other friend Janet Parshall, as well as a number of other women God has used in my life in a significant way to help me grasp this call to biblical womanhood.

Then many of you are familiar with Keith and Kristyn Getty who have been writing a number of wonderful modern hymns, perhaps some that are sung in your church, hymns like “In Christ Alone.”

Keith and Kristyn will be leading us in worship throughout the conference. There will also be a number of special break-out sessions on specific topics such as: singleness, the empty nest syndrome, and hospitality.

Listen—you don’t want to miss this conference. It’s going to be a great opportunity for thousands of like-hearted women to come together to seek the Lord.

So circle the date on your calendar, October 9-11, 2008. It will be held in Schaumburg, Illinois, which is in the Chicago area. If you go to ReviveOurHearts.com, you can find out lots more information about the conference.

Please start praying now for that conference and plan to attend, and then help us get the word out to women all across this country that you believe would have a heart for that message.

Now, in just a few moments, we’re going to be listening to a conversation I had with Ray and Anne Ortlund as they talked about the power of God to revive marriages.

But before we pick up with that conversation, I just want to share with you several emails I’ve received from women sharing how God has been reviving their marriage through the ministry of Revive Our Hearts.

I think these testimonies will be an encouragement to you. Several of these emails refer to a 30-Day Challenge that we’ve often shared through Revive Our Hearts. We call women for 30 days not to say anything negative about their husband but just to say something every day that they appreciate or admire about their husband.

This woman said:

I’ve been participating in the 30-Day Challenge to strengthen my relationship with my husband. It is awesome! In just over two weeks, the gentleness that has come into our speech. My gentle words and praise have softened my husband.

I heard about the 30-Day Challenge on Revive Our Hearts and signed up by the web. [And you can do the same thing if you go to ReviveOurHearts.com.]

We’ve been married for 43 years, and our marriage was dormant. I didn’t think anything could revive it. I was wrong. This program has made a huge improvement in our relationship. Thank you.

And then, this woman says:

I’m on day eight of the wife’s challenge to encourage her husband. I never thought in a million years that such simple words could have such a profound effect on my relationship

I have shared this challenge with every married woman that I know. I didn’t realize how little I was actually praising my husband. I could only focus on the negative because I had been hurt so deeply.

We knew divorce was not an option, but I thought about it every day. [I wonder how many of our listeners could say that same thing.]

I went to your website and I saw the challenge, the 30-Day Challenge, and began to take it. Both my life and marriage have changed drastically!

The first day was the hardest because I was not in the least thankful to be his wife. I must admit, it took me two days to get into the spirit of the challenge and really mean it.

And then she goes on to tell about the huge difference that this challenge has made in every area of her marriage, including physical intimacy with her husband.

She sums it up by saying, “My life has never been the same. Thank you so much.”

Here’s another one from a woman who’s been married just four years. She says:

I waited until I was 35 to say yes to the right one. I didn’t want to make a mistake marrying the wrong man. The decision was too important to me, and I don’t believe divorce is an option.

My husband was tall, sweet, tender, and loved the Lord like the kind of man I had prayed for. The first year was wonderful. Then things started to change. Or maybe I changed.

We started getting into some intense "fellowship."

Then she said last year she was diagnosed with a physical condition and they had some financial stress.

She said all of this put stress on a newly married couple.

My husband slowly started to withdraw from me. We got into more frequent arguments to the point I said to myself last year that if things didn’t change, I was going to suggest a separation.

Of course, I thought the problem was all him. O how wrong I was. It’s actually me. [Then she talked about some of the Revive Our Hearts that she’s started listening to.]

I now realize that my husband was reacting to me. I wasn’t respecting him in the way I should be; therefore, I was not feeling the love I needed from him. It’s still going to be a climb. I have a lot of deprogramming to do, but I am determined to do it. I love my husband, and he is worth it. My marriage is worth it. I have taken the 30-Day Challenge to encourage my husband. I started today. Please pray for us, and mostly me.

I truly believe God heard my heart’s cry and helped me find Revive Our Hearts. I will keep you posted on my progress.

And then just one more here. This woman starts by sharing a lot of details of her growing up experience and many hardships and a lot of dysfunction in her family. And then a situation when she was a teenager and was drugged and raped and was so traumatized by that experience.

And then she says:

In the following five years, I slept with a total of 17 men. The only thing that finally stopped this self-induced depression was the little baby I found growing in my tummy.

Not wanting to face the life of shared custody and single parenting, the daddy and I jumped head-first into the vicious waters called marriage.

Ignoring the counsel of many, I committed myself for the rest of my life to a man that I barely knew. Worst of all, I came to find out he didn’t even know my Savior, Jesus Christ.

We’ve been married now for three and a half years. We still barely know each other, and we’re still unequally yoked. But now, for the first time after reading your book The Lies Women Believe and the Truth that Sets Them Free, I see all the lies I have allowed myself to believe.

I see how I have failed my husband and that Satan had convinced me that my dear husband was only a consequence of sin and that I will never be happy or fulfilled. Now I can see that my husband is exactly the perfect gift God gave me.

God has used my husband and this difficult marriage in many ways. I see now that God wants me to trust Him and obey. I realize I didn’t follow God’s direction in marrying the man I now finally embrace as my husband, and I don’t think this was God’s perfect will for my life, but I am encouraged to see that God has allowed me to be in this marriage and that I can bring glory to God as I become more like Christ through this marriage.

I pray for the heart of my husband, and I seek God’s direction now to be the wife God has created me to be. My vows mean more to me now than they ever have before because of the truth that has set me free.

I love the Lord, and I look only to Him to fulfill my needs and desires. I honor my husband and love him the way Christ loved me and laid down His life. I will gladly lay down my life and surrender to My Father and His provision. Thank you for your willingness to "step on my toes," so I could hear the truth God wanted me to hear.

My marriage was saved, and my little boy will be raised with Mommy and Daddy together.

And if God provides maybe a sibling or two or three, only God knows what He has in store for that family, but thank the Lord for what He is doing in that woman’s life and perhaps even in drawing that husband and those children to faith in Jesus Christ.

I want to just say that we love getting emails like that. We have a team that prays for those who write in, so I want to encourage you to let us know how God is working in your life and in your marriage, and let us know how we can pray for you in the days ahead.

Let me just say thank you to each person who has helped to make this ministry possible with your prayers, with your financial support. This is the kind of fruit that God is brining about in hearts and homes all across this country day after day as we partner together in this ministry.

And now, let’s listen in to the conclusion of this very special conversation with Ray and Anne Ortlund as they talk about how God can revive a marriage.

Nancy: The two of you are such a precious example of what it means to be committed to your nearest neighbor—your husband, your wife.

You’ve been married how many years now?

Pastor Ortlund: Fifty-six years. We’re getting the hang of it now.

Nancy: You’ve got it down!

Anne: We’ve loved each other for 58. That’s a while.

Pastor Ortlund: I can’t tell you what pleasure I’ve had in living with Anne. She’s a very directed person. She’s like a train going down train tracks to the destination.

I’m like a Land Rover. I’m here picking up bodies over here. We’re very different, but God made us that way.

Anne: I can be obnoxious. I can be forgetting the feelings of others, and Ray is the one who reminds me to be tender.

Pastor Ortlund: What God has used you to do in my life, Anne, is just amazing. I don’t know what I’d be without you. Each night we end our day together, praying together.

We’ve done this for, I don’t even know when we began. We began with a burden, that this is the way we were going to do it. There was a certain burden in our hearts and lives. We’re going to pray about this.

Now, each night we end our day praying together, and she has now some certain concerns she prays about and some I pray about. We always thank God for each other.

We always do that, and I always thank God for the wonderful friend God gave me in Anne.

Anne: We pray that we’ll wake up the next morning in an awareness of His presence, and we pray God’s blessing on each other, His benediction on our heads, and you just can’t let the sun go down on your wrath if you’re ending each day like that.

Nancy: Now, you’ve said that you’re different, and there are real differences in your personalities and your approach to life. Are there differences in your marriage that might have caused some marriages to drift apart rather than to be close as yours has been?

Pastor Ortlund: Oh yes. Because Anne is very directional . . . She’s strong. She’s very smart. Women are mostly smarter than men. We know that as guys.

We can be very threatened by a person like that, and because I’m softer and I am slower, then I could have been very threatened by that, but Anne wouldn’t let that happen.

She always affirms me. She continually affirms me. She says that she loves me, and she thinks I’m wonderful, and all that kind of stuff that I know isn’t true, but I just love it!

Anne: The fact is: He’s wiser; he’s deeper. He’s everything that I needed in a man. I can be quick and superficial and give answers too fast and jump to conclusions too quickly. I need him terribly.

Nancy: So you’ve really come to accept each other’s differences as being a gift rather than hate them.

Anne: Listen, after 56 years, I’m so brainwashed; I think all his faults are just adorable.

Pastor Ortlund: But you know, that’s what Paul is saying about the body. He says to be compassionate, to love, and when there’s a problem, you see through them. We have had to work through things, of course, but I want to say just how much my mother meant to me as a woman.

She was not strong as Anne. And I appreciate her particular set of gifts from God, and God used her. She knelt with me when I received Jesus as my Savior, and I’ll never forget that.

But Anne has brought along strength to my life. I’ve become so much more than I ever would have been because Anne has encouraged me along.

“You can do it. You can do it through Christ.” One time, I was very, very discouraged. I came home, and I said, “Anne, I can’t do it. This ministry is too much. Life is too much. I just can’t do it. I feel so inept.”

And she said to me, “Ray, who ever said you could?” What’s that about? It’s not about you.

Anne: Christ can do it in you.

Pastor Ortlund: I remember when we were going through the book of Jeremiah. We were at the first chapter where Jeremiah says, “Lord, I cannot do this. I’m a child.” And God said, “You will do it,” and God uses the weak, and He uses those who don’t feel they can do it.

Anne: I think, Ray, how many men have insecurities inside. It’s such a competitive world. They wonder if they’re going to make it.

I think about Ephesians five in the amplified version, which is so wonderful, that last part of Ephesians five. The amplified gives extra names in the English where the original Greek is. Listen to this.

“Let the wife see that she respects her husband.” That’s how most translations say it. “Let the wife see that she respects and reverences her husband, that she notices him, regards him, honors him, prefers him, venerates him, esteems him, and that she defers to him, praises him, and loves and admires him exceedingly” (verse 33).

If every husband has a wife that begins to do that, he will begin to see himself and God’s potential for him instead of his own inadequacy.

Pastor Ortlund: And the husband, of course, should return all that, as well. But it’s interesting how the Scripture says that she should be this kind of an aggressive person in loving her husband.

Nancy: And yet, I’m thinking of the woman who says, “Well, if my husband were Ray Ortlund, I could treat him that way, but my husband isn’t. My husband is irresponsible. He’s not working hard. He’s not providing for our family. He’s crude. He’s rude. He doesn’t talk respectfully to us. How am I supposed to live out that kind of attitude toward my husband.”

Anne: The Holy Spirit is the only One who can make a person good. The wife canot shape him up. It’s God’s business to make him good. She can only seek to make him happy.

If women worked more on making them happy and less on making him good, things would get a lot better.

Pastor Ortlund: You know how Ephesians five, before it talks about the home and the wife respecting and honoring her husband and obeying her husband, it’s preceded by, “Be filled with the Holy Spirit” (verse 18).

You cannot have an Ephesians five kind of marriage without the Holy Spirit.

Anne: That’s the prelude. That’s the presupposition to a good marriage.

Pastor Ortlund: A woman can say, “Lord, my husband is just like Nancy’s described. I am stuck. I’m caught.” Maybe she needs to look at Ephesians 5, verse 18, where it says, “'Be filled with the Spirit,' and dear woman, I will do for you what you never dreamed I could do.”

Like 1 Peter chapter three says that the wife by her own life will lead her husband into areas he never knew he could be.

Anne: I’m looking at that right now. First Peter 3:1-5, “Let the wives, even if their husbands aren’t spiritually very far along or don’t even know Him yet, they can be won over without words by the behavior of their wives through their purity and reverence and meek and quiet spirit.”

Nancy: Ray and Anne, you have been such a gracious model of those kinds of Scriptures and have demonstrated that it really is possible to have a marriage where both partners are filled with the Spirit and are walking in love and respect and honor toward each other.

So I thank you for your faithfulness—56 years of God’s grace in your lives. What an example you are to so many younger marriages. I’d like to just close this time by asking, as you close your day praying, would you just close this program as a married couple by praying for our listeners.

Maybe the woman who’s really struggling to love and respect her husband or the husband struggling to love his wife. Would you pray for our listeners and ask God’s blessing upon the marriages represented, that God would be glorified in those marriage?

Anne: O Lord, You know this precious listener who is right now praying with me and with us. Lord, open her heart to Yourself. Humble her to see that everything is not his fault, that she is not the righteous one in this situation.

O Lord, give her a sense of humility before You, of brokenness, of understanding that if You don’t do something new, it won’t be done.

May she look to You, Father, for the filling of the Holy Spirit in her life that will give blessing to her husband and that will save that marriage. Lord, help her to hang in there out of obedience to You, to be committed to him.

Pastor Ortlund: Lord, I praise You and thank You for the listener who is getting a new sense of hope. Everything’s been so tough. Lord, will You put Your nail-scarred hand on this dear one.

And Lord, may the love of Christ come into her for her husband and for her place in the home, for her children, for all the things that demand so much.

And Lord, help her right now to pray, “Make my life a miracle.” Will You do that dear God, in the power of the Holy Spirit and in the name of Christ? Amen.

Leslie: Pastor Ray Ortlund will be missed. We’ve been hearing a conversation Nancy Leigh DeMoss had with Ray and Anne Ortlund. Ray went home to be with the Lord, and we’re remembering the rich legacy he left behind.

Maybe the prayer we just heard from Pastor Ortlund summed up the cry from your heart regarding marriage. If you’re struggling to hold on to a relationship that feels pretty rocky, I hope you’ll visit ReviveOurHearts.com for some resources that can help, such as a series Nancy taught called Abigail: How to Deal with the Fools in Your Life.

It provided hope for a lot of women in challenging circumstances. You can read the transcripts of those programs at ReviveOurHearts.com.

You can also get information by Nancy Kennedy called When He Doesn’t Believe. It’s filled with practical advice for any wife married to a man who doesn’t share her faith.

And learn more about the exciting event Nancy told you about at the beginning of the program. It’s True Woman ’08: National Women’s Conference.

Again, get more information on how to join thousands of women learning how to live out biblical femininity. Visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

The Bible tells us about a woman who was in the kind of tough marriage we heard about today. She was one of two wives married to the same man facing some serious rivalry.

This woman’s faithful prayer is a model for all of us. Nancy will introduce you to this woman tomorrow. I hope you can be here for Revive Our Hearts.

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

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