Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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Nancy Leigh DeMoss:  On Revive Our Hearts in the month of July, we’re focusing on practical life issues like singleness, parenting, mentoring, and today . . . marriage. All month we’re getting to know the hearts of the authors in the True Woman line of books. So far we’ve heard from:

Paula Hendricks, author of Confessions of a Boy Crazy Girl.  

Paula: My parents had me wear culottes, which are these very long shorts. No one at school was wearing anything like that. So I felt like I stood out like a sore thumb. I felt ugly. And I noticed that the girls who were showing off more skin, they were the ones who got attention.

Nancy: Erin Davis, author of Beyond Bathtime

Erin: Your children are an unreached people group. They come to earth without an understanding of God. They don't automatically know Him as their Savior. Someone has to teach them. Someone has to train them. They are your mission field. They're a little flock of people who doesn't know about Jesus unless you tell them. So how can that be a small thing?

Nancy: Mary Kassian and Susan Hunt, authors of Becoming God’s True Woman While I Still Have a Curfew. 

Susan: I want my generation to care about the next generation. I was so happy that Mary and I have been able to put something into their hands that can be a conversation starter.

Nancy: And Carrie Ward, author of Together Growing Appetites for God’

Carrie: It crossed my mind that if I haven't been successful in reading the Bible myself, what makes me think I can read it to preschoolers. But there was something in me that wouldn't let me let go of the idea.

Nancy: On Friday, we began hearing from another True Woman author, Kim Wagner. She had a heart for the Lord, a commitment to serve as a pastor’s wife . . . and a critical spirit toward her husband.

Kim Wagner: I would fight every little bit, and I’d say, “Wait a minute, Lord. Don’t you remember him? He’s the one that needs to change. He has not been the spiritual leader. He hardly ever prays with me. He doesn’t lead me spiritually." I started listing all of his failures. "He is not living out biblical manhood to me.” And God kept taking me back to the fact that I was blaspheming the Word of God in how I was treating my husband.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Monday, July 21, 2014.

On Friday, Nancy began a conversation with LeRoy and Kim Wagner. Early in their marriage, each of them had a heart for God. They had a heart to serve as a pastor and a pastor’s wife, yet their marriage was suffering. Let’s pick up the conversation.

Kim: It was a destructive cycle, a fairly common pattern in marriages where you have a strongly opinionated woman, or maybe just a woman that really has ideas of what she wants a husband to be like and her husband is expressing love in a different way than what communicates love to her.

She thinks, at least this is what I did. I thought, My biblical role here is to be the helper, so I'm going to help him become the man I want him to be! What I was doing was I was controlling him and manipulating him through how I treated him.

I remember one of the worst years in our lives was after Bible college. We moved back to the city where my parents lived and he went to work for my dad. You would think working for my dad would be a cush job, but he had to travel and stay out of town sometimes three weeks at a time.

We were only five years into our marriage, and I hated it! I didn't think we would make it through that year. He would call in from the road. And you would think that he is probably expecting, "She's probably missing me. We haven't talked in a couple days. I finally found a phone booth (that was before we had cell phones)." 

He would call in, and I would answer the phone, "Hi." I was so cold and mean because I thought, I'm going to let him know how bad I'm hurting. He doesn't need to think that I'm happy here. He needs to know how miserable he's making my life. I was punishing him. It was so cruel, but I thought, This is for his good. I'm helping him. He needs to know. If I don't act this way, he won't know how truly miserable I am.

Nancy: And of course, this made you want to jump in the car and head home, right?

LeRoy Wagner: Not quite, Nancy.

Kim: That is a great statement. It's the total opposite.

LeRoy: What began to develop in my heart was literally a crisis of faith. That which I had held so dear all of my life, I was saved as a very young boy, surrendered to preach as a young man, it began to just crush me.

The weight of all that I held dear and all that brought freedom in Christ actually began to crush me. I take full responsibility for that. But commitment to staying married, commitment to the wife that I was joined to, commitment to the gospel, commitment to the Word of God. I felt like it was not getting better, it was getting worse. I prayed and prayed and prayed. I didn't know how to deal with it.

All of my feeble attempts to deal with it had been unsuccessful, and I thought that there was no escape; that I must continue to bear this and somehow do the best I could. At the same time there was a great conflict because I had a commitment to preach the gospel and pastor. So that which I had loved also became a great burden because there was this gulf. You can't share the gospel when things are not as they should be at home. Yet I was committed to doing that. The more difficult our relationship became, it created more difficulty, of course, in ministry.

Nancy: Can just interrupt here and say, LeRoy, you were feeling what? Rejected? Criticized? From your perspective as a man, what were you thinking Kim was expressing to you.

LeRoy: Here’s the conflict: I admired her so much—her walk with the Lord, her commitment to follow the Lord, her commitment to Scripture, her ability to counsel with people. She had so much to offer the body of Christ, and she had so much that I admired and respected. But yet, it wasn’t translating somehow to our relationship. So I was becoming very inward, very depressed. I know that I was becoming very hard to live with because I was feeling hopeless and helpless because of the situation.

I knew, because of Kim’s interaction with me, that I was not the husband that she wanted, that she expected, that she needed, and that I thought that I would be. I was not running around. I was not doing all that things we think about. I was trying to provide. I was a nice guy. I was not argumentative.

Nancy: There was a sense that you could not measure up to her expectations.

LeRoy: I could not measure up, and I felt like I could never measure up. There was no way that this could ever be resolved.

Then in ministry, she had such a strong, intense drive, that when we would discuss what was going on in ministry in the church, or when there was a decision that I would make, in her discussion, because she was so impassioned and intense, oftentimes she would often let me know that I should have handled it differently—that this is the way it should have been done.

Again, her desire is to have the right home, the godly home, to do the right thing in ministry. All of her motives were altruistic and pure, but they were achieving the exact opposite results of what she desired.

So I began to dread everything in ministry also—every meeting, every counseling session. Everything that I did, I began to question it. I began to be very insecure and withdraw more and more and more and more. Actually, I became very depressed.

Kim: And from my perspective, Nancy, I met this young man, that first time I met him, the first time I ever heard him preach . . . I still remember the message from Jude verse 22. “And some having compassion making a difference.” It was such a powerful message.

I saw this young man who had a passion and fire for God, who was a strong individual, begin to crumble, begin to go into this shell, hide in a cave. I could not pull him out of it. I could not find him again.

We reached a point that I thought, Either he doesn’t know the Lord, or we both were maintaining and staying married because of our commitment to Christ, and we didn’t want to shame Christ. 

We even reached a point in our marriage . . . I remember the intersection where we were. He was pastoring. We were five years into marriage and had a newborn. Finally, all those years of me saying to him, “You must not love me or you would do ___ fill in the blank.” Finally, he looked at me and he said, “I don’t think I do love you.” I thought my world was going to end because what I had so feared seemed to be playing out.

At that time we were operating from the worldview of “love is what you feel; love is what you experience.” The demonstration of love does evoke wonderful emotions and experiences, but love is the choice and willingness to demonstrate the love that God has demonstrated to us to others.

All that was holding us together for a few years was our commitment to Christ. It was our fear of bringing shame to Him. We both could look back and know that actually before we entered marriage, God confirmed to each of us that He put our marriage together. It was not an emotional union. It was God putting us together. So we could go back to that. We knew our covenant that we needed to honor Him with our marriage covenant. But we were living in a household, trying to operate in ministry without true unity, oneness of heart, mind, and soul.

There were two real spiritual markers that occurred that began to bring about change in our relationship. LeRoy was in a place of extreme depression.

Nancy: I think it is important to . . . I know that you’ve said this, but that both of you were committed to Christ; you were serving the Lord. This was not a pagan couple out here.

LeRoy: All the while we were doing all of the external. And we were doing them because we wanted to honor Christ; we wanted to serve the Lord; we wanted to see people come to know Christ and grow in Christ. So there was this tension between what we really, honestly wanted from our heart to do to honor Christ, to live for Christ, but we are not able to connect the dots in our relationship. We are not able to overcome these giant obstacles that had built up in our way.

The harder she tried, the higher those mountains, the deeper I went into a cave. So it was not getting any better.

Nancy: And you were pastoring. I want to let you get to those two markers, but did anyone else know what was going on in your relationship, that all was not well?

LeRoy: We had really no one in our life that we felt like we could come to with this at this point. We just felt like we would have to struggle on our own and either sink or swim.

I knew that God was going to have to work a miracle, but I had gone past the point where I . . . Really it was a crisis of faith“God I know You; I believe You; I trust You; I’ve tried to live for You, but I don’t see You working. I don’t see that this can ever be resolved.”

I knew that committing suicide would be a sin. I knew that just leaving my family would be a sin. I hated what I had become in front of my wife and children. I hated standing up to preach knowing it was not as it should be. My whole life was filled with fear and dread and just a horrible weight of condemnation.

I prayed that the Lord would allow me to get in some kind of accident or be killed in some way, rather than going on like we were going.

Nancy: And the tone, was it tense, was it loud?

Kim: I was the only one that was loud; he was always quiet. The more he would back away from a conversation or discussion, the more intense I would become. I kept thinking that I could draw him out; I could pull him in. But he would run the opposite direction because it scared him to death.

LeRoy: Although Kim was responding in a way that she has repented of, I also was responding in a way that was not godly. It was not right. Even though I was . . . You can be quiet and non-combative and still be in sin.

In every situation, no matter how difficult, no matter how hopeless, no matter how overwhelming, I believe that as a Christian, believing and trusting in God’s Word, that there is grace sufficient to match every situation.

I as a follower of Christ failed the grace of God. The grace of God did not fail me during those times. I failed to appropriate the grace of God. That allowed the situation to continue and it cut off the Holy Spirit from being able to do what He wanted to do. Not that He is still at work on ways not related to my disobedience, but He’s always at work. But I could have allowed Him to work through obedience on my part and allowing His grace to change me and work in my life. But instead, I became more depressed and more defeated and more emasculated as a man.

Nancy: So, the start of a turning point . . .

Kim Wagner: We were at a really bad point in our marriage. I went away for a weekend to a cabin for two reasons. One, I just wanted to get away from our whole marital situation. I just wanted to get away. Secondly, ironically, I was supposed to be preparing a 1 Peter 3 study for my women. Isn’t that ironic?

Bear in mind, I’m teaching on submission. I've been teaching a Bible study to women every week most of our whole married life. I counseled women on what to do. I had head knowledge, but I did not even have an understanding of a submissive heart—a disposition of the heart that was submissive. But I had a lot of head knowledge about the role of women.

While I was at that cabin, sovereignly and providentially, when I opened up my Bible, in the flap of my Bible cover was a little booklet that at that time I didn't have a clue where it came from. It was a little booklet, Nancy, that you had written. I'd never heard your name before, didn't have a clue who you were. And it was called A Biblical Portrait of Womanhood. It's simply a booklet filled with diagnostic questions and Scripture.

In that time away, I stopped working on the 1 Peter study and God began working on my heart. As He took me through Scripture and through these very convicting questions about where my heart was, my attitude toward my husband, my treatment of my husband, my view of men; He took to some very convicting places. I could feel Him peeling away layer after layer of sin.

I would fight every little bit. I would say, “Wait a minute, Lord. Don't You remember him? He's the one that needs to change. He has not been the spiritual leader. He hardly ever prays with me. He doesn’t lead me spiritually.” I started listing all of his failures. "He is not living out biblical manhood to me."

God kept taking me back to one of the verses you had in that booklet—it was from Titus 2. It says that we're to love our husbands so that the Word of God will not be blasphemed. He kept taking me back to the fact that I was blaspheming the Word of God in how I was treating my husband. He didn't let me bring up all the excuses and justifications of how my husband was treating me. But He kept bringing me to, “What are you doing? Where are you?”

He began changing my heart totally.

LeRoy: She came back broken and just apologized to me in front of the children, apologized to the children. There was just a marked, dramatic change. I was taken aback by it, but I was also watching to see if this was going to be lasting. I was very cautious, very leery. But at that point, God began to do a work that He is so faithful that when He begins to do a work He will watch over it to continue to perform it.

I thank God, Nancy, that He used you, that the Holy Spirit was orchestrating behind the scenes. You entered stage left of our lives and of marriage although we didn't even know you. God used His Word through you. God used the heart that you’ve been relaying to women for years to change the heart of my wife in a very drastic way.

Kim: At that point things changed with me. But it took a while for things to change with LeRoy.

Nancy: You say things changed with you. What changed?

Kim: My attitude toward him first. I began to bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ that I had toward LeRoy. My thoughts of why doesn't he do this? Why doesn't he treat me this way? Why won't he be like this? And bringing those thoughts captive and becoming grateful for the man that he was. I was having a heart for submission where I would begin to recognize how my questions to him about leadership decisions were affecting him.

Now I wasn't there yet at all as far as being able to fully practice all those things yet. I was just at the beginning point of my heart turning and recognizing a need to change. My heart began to change, but I hadn't yet developed a habitual, godly treatment of him.

LeRoy: And I could tell that God had done a work in her heart. No doubt in my mind that that was true, yet I did not feel secure in coming out of the cave that I was in. I think a lot of men in order to lead, in order to be the men—I’m talking about Christian men—they know what God has called them to be. It's in their spiritual DNA to be the men that women respect and that women want to follow.

I think men need to feel safe to make the decisions, to be the leader because they can encounter all sorts of difficulties out in the world, outside the home. But the one place that is most important for a man to be validated, to be affirmed, the one place that they cannot be seen as a failure, as a loser, as “you're never going to make the right decision” is from their wives. If that is not communicated to them, those men will always be insecure about everything in their lives no matter how successful they may become.

I think that is the one area that God placed women to be godly influencers, that men can dare to make decisions, dare to fail. At home they're going to be affirmed and loved even if they're beat up out in the world, even if they fail or a decision that they make did not turn out well. At home if they’re affirmed, I think they’ll still continue to grow in their leadership and grow in being the man that God desires them to be and that they desire to be and that their wives desire them to be and that their children so desperately, desperately need to see.

Leslie: If you’ve missed any of this powerful story, I hope you’ll visit Revive Our Hearts.com where you can read today’s transcript, listen to the audio, or order the CD.

Nancy, many women are going to want to learn how they can best respond to the program. 

Nancy: I know a lot of women have been convicted by Kim Wagner’s story this week. Maybe you relate to Kim’s strong personality and have been asking the Lord to show them how to use that strength to build up your marriage and not tear it down. If you are in that situation, I know you'll find a lot of help and encouragement in Kim's book, Fierce Women: The Power of a Soft Warrior.

But maybe you are in a second group of women. You're not as outgoing, you're not as vocal or driven. I want you to know that God can use you as a "fierce woman" in a positive way to further His kingdom and to build up your family. 

So regardless of your personality, I hope you’ll get a copy of Kim’s book, Fierce Women.  You'll love that throughout she shares transparently through her own journey and through issues God dealt with her in her own marriage. It's choke full of practical help for living out the gospel in the context of your marriage. What does it look like if you are in "this" kind of marriage? Or your husband does "this"? Or you're "this" kind of woman? Or you've got "this" kind of tension in your marriage? There are a lot of practical helps for "fierce women" of every description to learn to exert the power of a soft warrior.

So if you're a married woman, or perhaps if you have been married in the past and you're trying to figure out what went wrong in that marriage or how you can become more of the woman God wants you to be, I want to encourage you to get a copy of this really helpful book. We’ll send you a copy when you support Revive Our Hearts with a donation of any amount.

In addition to the book, you’ll also receive a booklet that has made a huge difference in so many marriages. It’s called 30 Days of Encouraging Your Husband. Again, this is a helpful resource where you can journal the ways God shows you how to encourage your husband. Ask for the booklet and for the book, Fierce Women, when you call with your donation. The number is 1–800–569–5959, or if you prefere to make your donation online, visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

Leslie: We’ll be making this offer all this week, so let us hear from you by Friday, July 25.  We’ll be happy to send one book and booklet set per household.

Tomorrow we'll pick back up with Kim and LeRoy Wagner. Nancy once asked Kim a question, "Do you think that you intimidate your husband?" Find out why that question made such a big difference in Kim and LeRoy's lives. That's 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.

About the Speaker

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has touched the lives of millions of women through Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement, calling them to heart revival and biblical womanhood. Her love …

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