Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: (phone rings) Hello? No, I’m about to go on the air and updating Facebook. Go ahead. (typing) Uh huh. Yeah. Hey, speaking of Julie, she just said hi. She's on chat.Okay, I'll say hi back. Hold on, someone’s ringing on the other line. Oh, that was a text message from Megan. She wanted to say hi. No, no, not to you, to Julie. I'll send her a tweet.

Mail Carrier: Leslie, something came for you in the mail today.

Leslie: Oh, what’s this? Hey, I’ve got to go. Okay.

Could this really be a letter . . . as in paper . . . with an envelope? Who would do something so thoughtful? (Laughs)

This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Wednesday, June 8.

In a fragmented world, how can you cut through the clutter of information and deliver a meaningful message to someone? Maybe the answer is to pull out a sheet of paper and write a letter.

This week we've been reviewing a helpful series Nancy recorded with her brother in 2007. We'll hear about the value of writing letters. Then Nancy will provide some follow-up. Is her brother still writing letters? with paper? in 2011?

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: We talk a lot on Revive Our Hearts about the whole subject of wisdom. In fact, we’ve done a whole series on wisdom from the book of Proverbs, and how God’s Word has the practical insight and understanding that we need for every area of life.

We get so many women (and a few men as well) writing and asking us questions about issues and relationships and struggles and choices. Our goal in Revive Our Hearts is just to keep pointing people back to the Scripture, back to the Word of God, and back to Christ, who is our wisdom.

I’m so thrilled this week to have on Revive Our Hearts with us a very special guest, my brother Mark DeMoss. He’s a business man; he’s an author; he’s a family man, a husband, and a dad. He’s my brother, and he’s written a book that I just think is so practical and so wise. It’s called The Little Red Book of Wisdom.

Though it’s a little book physically, it’s a big book in terms of its impact. This is a book that will be a ministry to you as a single woman, as a wife, as a mom. It’s also a great idea of something to give as a Father’s Day gift (coming up not too far from now) for the dad or the husband in your life. This is something that  he will enjoy reading and will be a challenge and a blessing to him.

Mark, thanks for writing this book. Thanks for joining us and for just sharing out of your life and your pilgrimage some of the things God has taught you. They are things that He has taught both of us in many cases—things that we learned from our dad, our parents, and growing up in the home that we did.

Mark DeMoss: I know. We’ve been blessed with a great heritage. It’s fun just sitting here and talking, reminiscing about some of these things.

Nancy: Many of our listeners did not grow up in the kind of home that we did. They did not have godly parents, and sometimes they feel as if, “My background is so messed up, and it’s so late. I didn’t know these things.”

I think our heart would be to say to them: You can start at any point in life. You don’t have to have known these things since you were six years old or sixteen. You can start now. I would encourage someone to start becoming wise, to start knowing God’s way and His Word as it relates to every day life.

Mark: Well, the beautiful thing really about the Gospel is that it’s available to us at any time at any point along our path in life. Some come to that point in that relationship as young children, some as teenagers and college students, and some very late in life or on their deathbed.

I would say the same about wisdom. One of the things that has struck me about the subject and about this book is that wisdom sort of connotes a lofty, intellectual, ivory tower kind of impression, as if the rest of us can’t get in on it. I think the beautiful thing about it is that God’s Word tells us that it’s available to any that will ask for it.

Nobody has a corner on wisdom. It's available to all of us, and this book is a really simple look at some very practical wisdom. I really think our life is a compilation of decisions. Wisdom guides those decisions. We either make good decisions or bad decisions.

There are major decisions in life: whether to marry, who to marry, where to live, what kind of work to go into, whether to have a family. Then there are the kinds of decisions that almost every hour is comprised with: what should I order on this menu? It’s a decision—it affects our health. How fast should I drive on this highway? Should I try to make that yellow light or not? Those are another whole type of decision we face.

Nancy: Seemingly insignificant, but they can have enormous consequences.

Mark: They all have consequences. All of this book is not a deep, spiritual, mysterious insight. A lot of it is very, very practical and arguably has no spiritual or moral basis in it. It’s wisdom for your personal life and wisdom for your professional life. I haven’t counted, but there are probably ten things anybody could start at the end of this broadcast without spending a dollar. There are hundreds of things we can do. We talk about letter writing. Anybody can go write a letter. You can do it today.

Nancy: Let’s talk about letter writing, because that’s one of my favorite chapters. Our dad (and you draw a lot on his life and wisdom throughout this book), was a letter writer. He would write people, congratulating them on milestones in their life or expressing concern or interest in their spiritual condition or their marriage. I think that was kind of the environment in our home.

But you’ve really picked up on that, and yet today, that’s a practice that has kind of fallen by the wayside for a lot of people.

Mark: It has fallen by the wayside, and I think it’s very sad. There are probably a lot of reasons for it: technology has certainly aided. We can now communicate instantly with people by email or text message. Long distance calling is much cheaper than it used to be, and consequently, we’re writing less.

Nancy: So why isn’t an email as good as pulling out a piece of paper and writing an actual letter and putting a stamp on it?

Mark: I have never had a single person thank me for something I sent them in an email—not one time. Not one person has said, “Thank you for that special email. That really came at a perfect time. I’ve saved it.” And yet, people have told me the impact of a letter—a handwritten or typed letter, a card that was in an envelope with a stamp on it (I call this chapter “Buy Some Stamps”). I hear about it all the time. I’m convinced that no other form of communication matches the impact of a written letter.

Nancy: You’re writing letters all the time to people in a lot of different circumstances in life.

Mark: Yes, and these aren’t work related. A lot of us in the work place can make a professional case for writing letters. It’s how you get ahead sometimes and how you make sales and how you make contacts. I’m not even talking about that kind of letter writing.

I have just made a practice of writing a note or a card or a full letter to people that lose a child, lose a spouse, or are struggling with some terrible challenge. I wrote a letter to a basketball teammate of my daughter’s on a high school girls’ basketball team who I knew was going through a tough season and was discouraged. I wrote her a note, and her father came up to me at the next game and told me that I would never know the impact of that note on his daughter. She came later and thanked me for it.

Email doesn’t have that effect. A phone call doesn’t have that effect. There’s something permanent about a letter. People save letters. I can’t stress it enough. It was one of my favorite chapters, and I’ve been on somewhat of a letter-writing crusade, I guess.

Nancy: Can you think of some letters you’ve received that were particularly meaningful to you?

Mark: Well, I have a letter that I reprinted in this chapter from our dad just a few months before he died. I had spent that summer in 1979 working away from home in a tough kind of situation, a big challenging situation for me, doing door-to-door sales. He wrote me a letter in June of 1979 which I pulled out as I was working on this chapter. I was so glad that I had saved the original letterhead, because it’s just more special.

I have letters from April, my wife, throughout our marriage that I’ve saved. I have letters from her from when we dated, and each of them tells a story, takes me back to a time in our life or something we were celebrating together.

One night, I went in to kiss Georgia, our oldest, goodnight, and she was sitting on her bed looking a little solemn. She had a box on her bed and was flipping through notes and cards and letters. I said, “What’s that?” And she said, “It’s my letter box.”

I didn’t know she had a letter box. She keeps it under her bed. She was flipping through, I think, looking for notes of encouragement to lift her at that moment. And kind of looking over her shoulder, I saw one of my letters in there, and it just brought a smile to my face. Here she is as a high school senior collecting letters that I think she’ll keep for the rest of her life.

Nancy: All this week we’ve been playing some excerpts of a conversation that I had with your children that you didn’t know about until this week, and each of them shared about the significance of some letters they had received from you. Your youngest daughter, Madison, who is in the eighth grade, told me about a special letter that she remembered receiving from you.

Madison: On Father’s Day, he wrote me a letter.

Nancy: On Father’s Day?

Madison: Yes. He just said that he was so glad that he was my father and that I always make him smile; that God made me special, and that he loves me so much. It made me feel really loved and special.

Mark: Well, I remember writing every word of that. I have just made a point, both at critical junctures but also for no reason at all, to write a note and lay it on their bed or mail them a letter from another city or another country where I’m sitting in a hotel. A lot of times, you don’t know the impact of a letter until long afterwards.

I also know that our children today are so into rapid communication—email and text messaging on their cell phones and instant messaging, all of that. But I can’t have that impact. I could use that method to communicate with them. After all, that’s the language of teens today. I guess I’d rather the email traffic be from their friends and let the paper and envelopes and stamps be from their dad. That’s fine with me.

Nancy: You’re so right about the long-term impact of those letters. I have in my possession a few treasures of letters that I received from our dad on my sixteenth birthday. This was in September of 1974, five years before our dad went to be with the Lord.

I had just started college and received a letter, and I just want to read a portion of it because your children are reading letters they’ve received recently that have been such a blessing to them. But now, 30 years later, I’m reading a letter I received from my dad that has continued to have a huge impact on my life. He said,

Darling daughter,

Hopefully this will reach you at school on your birthday. I’m sorry we’ll not be with you then as we have usually been on your birthdays. I can hardly believe that you are now in college. I can still remember your first birthday, just 15 years ago, at the Bible conference in Winona Lake, Indiana. Certainly a good way for one to start out in life!

Then I remember when you were very little how you always wanted to go where there was a gospel meeting in progress, whether it was a deacon’s meeting or a rescue mission or the old ladies’ home. [Then, these words of affirmation.]

Since then, darling, you have been a delight in every way. You’ve brought nothing but joy into my life. You are very special, and I believe I could say this objectively, even if you were not my daughter. It has really been a sheer delight to see you growing spiritually and in your knowledge of the Word.

Honey, I’m so proud of you, and I want you to know I trust you completely. My only regret is that we haven’t had more time together. I undoubtedly should have spent more time with the family, but I want you to know, honey, that any time you may want to talk in the future or if there’s anything I can ever do to help you in any way, I promise I’ll be available. Just let me know.

I’ve become increasingly convinced that God has something very special and very wonderful for you, which I know will become a reality because you only want to know and to do God’s will for your life. And believe me, I’d infinitely rather see you doing the Lord’s will than to be rich or famous or anything else. After all, it really is true that there’s only one life, and it will soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.

I love you very much.

Dad.

I think of the power of words, whether written or spoken, to bring life and encouragement and vision. I was 16 years old. I had no idea what God might want to do with my life, but the challenge, the exhortation, the vision was created to say God wants to do something special with your life. Here’s what I value. Here’s what I want you to value—setting your kids’ focus on things of eternity. This all really plays into letter writing, which becomes a vehicle for helping not only our families, but others, focus on eternity and things that really matter, and matters of wisdom.

Mark: Well, you can’t do it enough, and I hope people who don’t write letters will think about it. It’s an easy thing to do. It’s one of the few things we do where the impact far exceeds the effort that it takes.

Nancy: The Lord may be putting somebody on your heart as you’ve been listening to this program, and I hope you’ll get a copy of Mark’s book, The Little Red Book of Wisdom. It will give you some more examples of meaningful letters. But you don’t even have to wait to get the book. Pull out a piece of paper. It doesn’t have to be fancy. I’ve gotten some meaningful letters on lined yellow legal paper, and sometimes if that’s all you have, that can work. Pull out a piece of paper and a pen, and start to share your heart with your mate, a son or daughter, a parent.

Maybe it’s been a long time since you’ve written to express to a parent what they have meant to your life and how grateful you are to them. As Mark and I experienced at an early age, you don’t know how long you’ll be able to write letters to those people.

How thankful we are that our dad took the time while he was still here on earth to do what he couldn’t do later, and that was to write and express God’s heart to us and challenge us in those very meaningful ways. People will treasure those letters—letters of gratitude, letters of appreciation and encouragement, support, comfort. Ask the Lord whom He would want you to stop and write a letter to today.

Nancy: That's a conversation we aired with my brother, Mark, back in 2007. Now, technology has been changing at an accelerated rate since we aired that four years ago. Some people might be wondering, "Does your brother still write letters, like the kind with paper and ink?" The answer is yes.

In fact, just a few weeks ago, Mark wrote a beautiful, meaningful letter to his daughter Georgia. I was at Georgia's wedding rehearsal the night before her wedding when he read this letter out loud to Georgia in the hearing of dozens of other people who were at that occasion.

I thought you'd be touched by hearing some excerpts from that letter. So I asked Mark if I could have permission to share it. This shows the power that can come from your words when you use them to encourage those you love. Here's some of what Mark wrote to his daughter.

My dear Georgia Ann,

This is the last letter I'll write to you as Georgia DeMoss. However, I promise this will not be the last letter I will write to you. As you keep letters you receive in a box, I keep many letters I write. This week I've been re-reading some of the letters I've written to you on special occasions. Those letters bring back so many precious memoriesthough they cannot nearly convey the love I have for you. However, I promise this will not be the last letter I write to you.

I suppose every father dreams of having a girl like you, Georgia, only my dream came true. Selfishly, I want to keep you right here at homeat least a little while longer. But that would be selfish indeed because that would keep you from enjoying the gift of marriage as your mother and I have for 23 years.

So now we want you to experience God's perfect design for a man and a woman in holy marriage. Tomorrow I will give you to Scott with my complete blessing, my fullest love, and my commitment to pray for you daily.

I have loved watching how he makes you smile, makes you happy and content, and how you complete each other. That's what marriage really is all aboutcompleting each other.

You have designed your wedding to be a worship service, and I know that blesses and pleases that Lord. I've told you for years that I will cry at your wedding, and I suspect that will hold true. But I hope you will always know that these are tears of love and joy. Love for you, and joy for the life you are now entering into. For I can think of nothing more joyful than being happily married.

You will not fully appreciate my love for you or the Father's love for us until you have a child of your own. You have been privileged to grow up with the perfect wife and mother. Your mother has made me complete in every way and has given her life in serving you and your brother and sister and me.

I've watched you serve others like she does. It's something that you don't see very often these days. You are already an amazing friend to so many people. And in God's perfect timing, you will become an amazing mom to a little boy or girl.

Take care of Scott the way mother has taken care of me. Mom would deny being a perfect wifedon't listen to heremulate her. I can't imagine being married to someone who was more interested in other people and hobbies than in her own family. You seem to think of everything to make every occasion specialwhether for your basketball team, your college roommates, your bridesmaids, a birthday party, Christmas, a vacation, or just an evening together. Don't ever lose that heart or that sensitive touch.

Your love for Jesus as always blessed me. It has always been so real and evident in your life. You exemplify the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5, and that's a great foundation for a strong marriage and a harmonious home.

You'll get lots of advise along the way, but none of it will be better than this: Stay in God's Word and do what it says. You will never go wrong following this path. Use His Word to help you manage conflict, money, your tongue, relationships, caring for others, and anything else that comes up in the years ahead.

Read His Word alone and read it together. Share it together and memorize it. If you never buy another book the rest of your life, keep reading The Book. Its pages reveal the only hope for a marriage, a family, a community, a life well lived.

I'm fully convinced that God has ordered the steps of you and Scott and that your new union will honor him in many ways. I'm sorry my dad and brother didn't live to see your Scott. But they are part of the great cloud of witnesses, and I know they're proud of you, too.

Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of His glory with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority before all time, and now and forever, amen.

Go now with our blessing. Love and serve Scott.

I love you my precious girl,

Your Dad

Well, the book of Proverbs tells us that life and death are in the power of the tongue. We've just heard a beautiful example of a parent speaking life to his daughter at a crucial transition in her life. It makes me wonder how I can speak life to others? Who do I know who needs encouragement?

In his book called The Little Red Book of Wisdom, Mark DeMoss talks about the value of writing letters as well as other practical suggestions for living a wise life. The book is written in an engaging and easy-to-read style. With Father's Day just around the corner, don't forget that your husband or dad will get a lot of benefit from reading this book.

We'll send you a copy of The Little Red Book of Wisdom when you contribute any amount to the ministry of Revive Our Hearts. We're able to stay on the air in your area thanks to listeners like you who support this ministry generously. 

Your gift is important to us. When you call to make a donation, be sure to ask for The Little Red Book of Wisdom. The number to call is 1-800-569-5959, or you can make a gift online by visiting us at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Leslie: You can gain a lot of wisdom by listening to people who are older than you. That's what Mark DeMoss says. He and his sister, Nancy, will pick the conversation back up tomorrow. Please be back for 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.