Revive Our Hearts Podcast

The Beauty of the Gospel Through Prison Bars

Leslie Basham: When her son was in prison, Beth Page kept reminding herself that God was in control.

Beth Page: God had a plan to get a hold of his heart. And so it helped me to not focus so much on my circumstance and the hardness of going through that, and that I could focus on God and know that He had a plan for our situation and that He had something beautiful to come out of it.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of The Quiet Place, for Monday, December 12, 2016.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Christmas is a joyful time, but it can be a stressful time as well. As we celebrate this season, there are many women around us facing painful circumstances. That was the case for a women named Beth. She felt the pain of having a son who had been sent to prison.

You may or may not know what that feels like, but I venture to say you have some relationship in your life that has caused or is causing you pain. So I hope you’ll listen to this story and hear the hope that the gospel provides because this story does have a happy ending, and it has at least one plot twist, too.

Let’s hear Beth’s story.

Leslie: Thanks, Nancy.

Imagine a four-hour drive every week. That’s a huge commitment. But to make it worse, imagine every week your destination was prison. Beth Page made that weekly journey, often with her husband.

Beth: Through the years, as our kids grew and launched into adulthood, it didn’t go very well, and my son ended up going to federal prison when he was nineteen.

Leslie: That’s why they headed to visit prison each week.

Beth: Sometimes when I would go by myself, it would just be really hard because I never knew what to expect.

Leslie: As Beth made that difficult journey, the Lord provided help to keep her mind filled with the truth.

Beth: As we went to visit him on Fridays, I would listen to Revive Our Hearts, and it would help ground me in who God is and that God is faithful.

Nancy: When God picks the time that looks the darkest and seems the most hopeless to show His power and His glory.

Leslie: Why did she choose Revive Our Hearts and Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth?

Beth: I first became aware of Revive Our Hearts when Nancy did a conference at our church and began listening to Revive Our Hearts when it came on the radio. I just really love the material. It helped me to learn how to be a godly wife and mom because I had not been taught that.

Leslie: So after being introduced to Revive Our Hearts at a conference, Beth started listening to the program. God used Nancy’s teaching to focus Beth’s mind on His Word as she prepared to visit the prison.

Beth: One day she was actually teaching on Esther, and it didn’t appear to have anything to do with what we were going through, but I just remember being reminded that God is bigger than this.

Nancy (radio): We need to remember that God was not taken by surprise. God was not caught off guard by Hamaan’s plot. God never sat up in heaven and said, “Oh, my. What are We going to do?” and wringing His hands. God not only knew this was going to happen, but God had already gone before.

Beth: It just encouraged me. It didn’t matter what she was teaching on because it was all about God, and it was all about Him. And our situation was all about Him, not about my discomfort or what my son was doing. God had a plan to get a hold of his heart.

So it helped me to not focus so much on my circumstance and the hardness of going through that, and that I could focus on God and know that He had a plan for our situation and that He had something beautiful to come out of it.

Leslie: Beth’s son, Greg, discovered the beauty of the gospel in prison. He understood that Jesus died to take his sin, and Greg came to faith in Him.

Beth: Our son surrendered to the Lord while he was in prison and began leading praise and worship in prison.

Leslie: While Beth made the weekly trek to prison to visit Greg, she also invested in other young people in her community. She began discipling a young woman named Lauren.

Lauren: I was hungry to do things different than were modeled for me when I was younger.

Leslie: Beth introduced Lauren to Revive Our Hearts, and they went through the Bible study produced by Revive Our Hearts called True Women 101.

Lauren: I’ve just grown so much through Revive Our Hearts and the teachings, such as True Woman 101, and it was just explained and taught in a way I could relate to and understand. It made sense. It just clicked with me and with my heart.

Leslie: Beth kept investing in Lauren, and she continued traveling back and forth to visit Greg. As the time grew closer for his release, he expressed a concern that was on his heart.

Beth: One of the things that grieved his heart when he was locked up was that he would never have a wife because who would want him and who whose parents would allow their daughter to marry him. We kept encouraging him that the Lord had a plan, and He had a wife chosen for him.

Leslie: Little did Beth know that the young woman she was mentoring, Lauren, would one day become her daughter-in-law. In God’s providence, He allowed Greg and Lauren to get to know each other.

Today, they have a beautiful marriage and just welcomed into the world their first-born son, Zachary.

God used Revive Our Hearts to sustain and encourage Beth during this trial, and He used Revive Our Hearts to prepare Lauren to become a godly wife and mom.

Lauren: Revive Our Hearts has been such a significant resource to teach me what the Bible says, what the truth says about womanhood and marriage and motherhood. And I’m just so grateful.

Leslie: Now Lauren is leading other women like herself through True Woman 101.

Lauren: I’m just so blessed to be able to lead other women through this same study and sharing His Word and His truth with them and who He designed us to be.

Leslie: To see the video of that story, visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

In just a minute, we’ll hear teaching from Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, the kind that sustained Beth on those long car rides.

First, if you’re encouraged by Beth and Lauren’s story, would you consider being a part of stories like this? Nancy’s here to tell you how you can multiply this kind of testimony.

Nancy: If you’ve listened to Revive Our Hearts for any length of time, you’ve heard me share from time to time about the needs of the ministry and encourage people to get involved in meeting those needs. But I want you to think about this:

When you respond, when you call to make a donation or you go online, it’s not just a transaction. It’s not just dollars in an account. Supporters of Revive Our Hearts help make it possible for a mom to hear life-giving truth in the car on the way to visit her son in prison.

Listeners helped made that possible for nine years as Beth made the long trek back and forth to visit her son. And that faithful giving, that faithful support made a huge difference in Beth’s life.

So when you support Revive Our Hearts here at year-end, your investment is going to pay off in all kinds of ways beyond what you could possibly imagine.

Women who are desperately in need of the truth will hear it because of listeners like you who get involved right now.

The end of the year is a crucial time for our budget, and some friends of this ministry have put up a matching challenge once again this year, and they have agreed to double every gift that is given to Revive Our Hearts between now and December 31 up to $600,000.

I’m so thankful for this matching challenge, and I want to encourage you to be a part of that and to see not only those dollars doubled, but to see the impact and the ministry doubled in the lives and families of women like Beth.

So, would you help us meet and even exceed this matching challenge through your gift? You play such an important role as Revive Our Hearts invests in women like Beth, showing them how to experience and then live out the beauty of the gospel of Christ.

Thank you so much for your encouragement, your prayers, and your support.

Leslie: To be a part of this matching challenge, call 1–800–569–5959, or donate online at ReviveOurHearts.com.

God’s Word helped sustain Beth during an uncertain time in her life, and God’s Word can sustain us when all of life feels uncertain.

2016 has been a year of uncertainty. In the U.S., we’ve seen unrest, turmoil, and questions about our future. In September, Nancy looked at the challenges we face, and looked to God’s Word to call women to pray.

Let’s listen to Nancy from the True Woman’16 conference.

Nancy (conference): What we have to look forward to when all earthly thrones fall before the highest throne of the universe, when we stand faultless before the throne of God, when we’re gathered with saints of all nations and ethnicities, when we praise Him with all our hearts without distractions, all eyes on Him—a day when there will be no more tears, no more thirst, no more hunger, no more death, when we will be forever at home with Christ, reigning with the Lamb our Shepherd King.

Are you looking forward to that?

So we just sang about this amazing hope and this hope comes to us from the promises of God. But even as we sing those words, do you stop and think about the fact that our current reality is way different than that? That’s not what we’re experiencing now, is it?

We live in a messed up world. And as we’ve been moving toward this Cry Out! event over the last two years, it’s become more and more apparent that this world has gone crazy. We’re reading day after day, hearing and seeing the images just second after they happen of war and hatred and terrorism and false religions on the rise, threatening to wipe out the followers of the Lamb.

Yet we just sang, the followers of the Lamb will be victorious. Our own country, here in the United States is deeply divided. We’ve lost our moral compass, and everywhere it seems like evil is prevailing.

You have this great hope, but you have this messy reality. And it’s not just our country and our world that are messed up. Our own lives are messy. In the past twenty-four hours, I’ve been dealing with a life and death issue of someone who’s very close to me. I don’t know where all that will end.

I’ve been dealing with relational challenges, with weakness, with weariness. I’ve heard this from others who are coming here. Our lives our messy. So how do we hold on to the eternal, amazing hope that is ours while still living in this messy here and now?

What should our perspective be on the craziness taking place in the world around us? Should we just hunker down in our Christian fortresses and hang on for the rapture, hoping that things don’t get to painful or too difficult or too dangerous for us between now and then?

We have some brothers and sisters in other parts of the world who are losing their lives and their family members because of their faith in Christ. So what gives them hope in the midst of the terror that they’re living with?

Should we just become angry and rant perpetually about everything that is wrong with the world, with the culture, with the political system? You hear a lot of people on TV doing that. I hear a lot of people doing that.

Should we just ignore it and pretend like it’s not happening? Should we give in to fear and to despair?

For the last several months, I’ve been living in the book of Jeremiah in the Old Testament. I didn’t know until I checked this out recently that Jeremiah is actually the longest book in the Bible, if you’re talking about number of words. Jeremiah, and then the companion book he wrote, Lamentations.

There are a lot of heavy, somber, dark themes throughout the fifty-two chapters of Jeremiah, and then in the book of Lamentations. I mean, it’s lament. It’s sadness. It’s lamenting. But as I’ve been reading over and over again, just meditating on it chapter after chapter, there’s so many parallels between Jeremiah’s day and ours.

Jeremiah, you may remember, served the Lord faithfully for half a century, through the reigns of the last five kings of Judah. The first, Josiah, came to the throne at age eight and ruled for thirty-one years. Josiah was preceded by his grandfather and his father who were wicked, wicked kings.

But Josiah had a tender heart toward the Lord. And even at an early age, he sought the Lord, and he led the people to do the same. And under his reign, the nation experienced something of a spiritual revival.

But then the next four kings, three of Josiah’s sons and one grandson were, again, evil kings, and they led Judah further down the pathway to apostasy and spiritual decline.

So meanwhile, as the nation of Judah is in decline, the Babylonians have become the major world power, and they are vicious, ruthless conquerors. In the midst of all of this going on in the world, God raises up Jeremiah to be a prophet to His people and a prophet to the nations.

And I love this man. Jeremiah never paid attention to the polls. He didn’t care about being the most popular anything, and he never was the most popular anything. Jeremiah didn’t keep his TV tuned to CNN or to Fox News. He got his news from the Lord. He listened to the Word of the Lord. And you have nearly eighty references in Jeremiah to the Word of the Lord.

“Then came the word of the Lord." "Then Jeremiah spoke the word of the Lord.”

He exalted God’s Word over many other voices that were clamoring in the land—kings and prophets and false prophets and fickle people and rules. They were all screeching. But Jeremiah listened to what God had to say. And God showed him how current events were connected and what God was doing in the midst of it all.

So God would say to Jeremiah, “Now, about the drought . . .; and now about the Babylonians . . .; and now about this . . .” God would explain to him the heavenly perspective on what was happening down here on earth.

God gave Jeremiah a message for his time, and it was mostly a message of coming judgment. And the judgment was not first against the wicked Babylonians, though God would judge them in His time. But first, the judgment was coming because of the sin of God’s people, those called by His name.

And we see in Jeremiah that God does deal with nations. Nations that forsake the Lord will be judged, but first, God deals with His own people. God would deal with the wicked Babylonians in time, but He would first deal with His people, His Bride that He said had been treacherous, an adulteress, and unfaithful. He said, “You’re My children, but you’ve been wayward. You’ve been faithless.”

This was unthinkable. And it broke God’s heart, as it would break the heart of any husband, any parent, to have their wife, their children leave them, be disloyal to them, go pursuing another man or running from their parents as the prodigal son or daughter. Many of you know exactly what that feels like.

God grieved over the waywardness of His people, and so did Jeremiah. He became known as the weeping prophet. I’m seeing in Jeremiah something of the heart of Jesus when He wept over Jerusalem, wept over the condition of His people, grieved over the things that grieve God’s heart.

So Jeremiah, grieving over this, confronts the people of God with their sin, which is first and foremost against the Lord. They have forsaken the Lord. They have forgotten the Lord, and they have followed after other gods. And, to make it worse, they are unrepentant. "They have made their faces harder than rock. They have refused to repent” (Jer. 5:3).

And then he speaks the Word of the Lord, “I bring disaster and great destruction. Your iniquities have turned these away (speaking of rain coming in at season)." What about the drought? God says, “Your sin has kept the rain from coming to water the land. Your sins have kept good from you.” God said, “I wanted to bless you. I wanted to meet your needs, but your sins have forced Me to work against you.”

So you have this heavy message; you have this somber message. You say, “I came to True Woman to hear all about this doom and gloom and judgment?” I’m just telling you where I’ve been living all these months.

But here’s what I love: Intertwined through all of this is a message of amazing hope, amazing beauty that comes shining through the dark clouds of sin and judgment and wrath. And we see throughout Jeremiah that God is a faithful, covenant-keeping God, unlike His disloyal, adulteress, treacherous people, that God longs to pardon His people.

He longs to show mercy. And He pleads with His people to return. That word "return" you see twenty-seven times in the book of Jeremiah. And God gives repeated offers of salvation. In fact, mark it in your Bible wherever you see judgment talked about in the Bible, you’ll see a parallel track of salvation. There’s no salvation that’s meaningful if it’s not positioned against judgment.

What are we saved from? We’re saved from the wrath of God. So you see God’s wrath, the impending judgment. They’re already under the judgment of God. God’s anger is being outpoured, but He says, “I long to show mercy. I long to send salvation.”

And so He says, “Stand by the roads, and look and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls” (Jer. 6:16).

But the people reject God’s offer. They say, “We will not walk in God’s paths.”

Well, there’s a lot more we can say about Jeremiah. I won’t, but I just wanted to give you . . . I wanted to set the stage for some of what’s on my heart this weekend, some of what God’s been saying to me.

I think this weekend in God’s appointment book in heaven is so timely. Who could have known when we put this weekend on our calendar two years ago that our nation and the nations of the world would be experiencing what we are today? When has there been a greater need in our lifetime to cry out to the Lord?

There’s so much that should concern us in our world, in our nations, but it’s a time for a great hope, too, because God is at work. God is speaking. He’s laying on women like you, women like me, the burdens that are on His heart for this broken world, and He’s inviting us to come up with Him under that burden to cry out.

He’s reminding us that He’s still on His throne. It is the highest throne above all thrones. He is sovereign over all nations, all rulers, all political parties, all candidates. Heaven rules. I love it! Heaven rules!

And, yes, we’re reminded sin does have consequences. Those who reject God’s laws, who reject Him as Lord may seem to be winning, but they will not win in the long run. They will not go unpunished. This is why we need to listen to God instead of listening to what all the pundits are telling us.

God knows what’s happening. He will judge those who forsake Him. But He still offers salvation and redemption and restoration to those who will repent, return, bow before Christ as Lord.

He’s speaking today to Hindus, to Muslims, and people who call themselves Christians but have no concept of what that means or what that is. There may be some women here—you’re religious, but you don’t know Jesus. He’s saying, “Return. Repent. Come, be restored.” Starting with our own hearts, He’s offering that invitation.

So we’re going to ask throughout this weekend: How have we forsaken the Lord? How have we followed other gods? This is going to be a call for us to return, to repent.

This passage in Jeremiah has been on my heart for many years. It’s the passage from which we got the concept for this weekend. Jeremiah chapter 9—let me just read you a paragraph: "Thus says the LORD of hosts: 'Consider, and call for the mourning women to come.'" That’s what we have done this weekend. We’ve called for the women who say, “I want to have on my heart what’s on God’s heart. If God’s grieved, I’m grieved.”

Call for the mourning women, the wailing women to come; send for the skillful women to come [it’s talking about professional mourners at a funeral]; let them make haste and raise a wailing over us, that our eyes may run down with tears and our eyelids flow with water (vv. 17–18).

Then He says, verse 20:

Hear, O women, the word of the LORD, and let your ear receive the word of his mouth; teach to your daughters a lament . . . For death has come up into our windows; it has entered our palaces, cutting off the children from the streets and the young men from the squares (vv. 20–21).

Are we experiencing that today? So what are we to do? We’re to come. We’re to grieve. We’re to hear the Word of the Lord. We’re to receive the Word of His mouth. It’s a sober message, but it’s also a message of hope because as we return to Him, we will find that He is faithful. He is merciful. Heaven rules, and we have a calling and a mission as His people today.

Leslie: That’s Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth speaking at the True Woman ’16 conference this past September. She was calling us to be women of prayer for such a time as this. I hope we’ll keep our passion for prayer in the year ahead.

To hear all the messages from True Woman ’16, visit ReviveOurHearts.com, and we’ll give you a link to the True Woman resources.

In the gospels, we read about a group of women who traveled with Jesus, helping to meet the practical needs of His ministry. During the days of Jesus, this would have been radical. Explore why these women would reject social norms to give generously to Jesus tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.

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

All Scripture is taken from the ESV.

Christie Cook. "Come Thou Fount." Dia Maith: Celtic Hymns and Tunes. © 2015, Christie Cook.

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