Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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Leslie Basham: Growing in marriage isn’t just about avoiding big fights. It’s also about actively cultivating a deep friendship. Here’s Holly Elliff on what trips up a lot of couples.

Holly Elliff: I don’t think it’s necessarily the big, huge, crisis moments in most marriages as much as it is just lots of days of inattention to the things that matter.

Leslie: You’re listening to Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Friday, February 19.

We’ve heard a moving story this week about a couple who saw their marriage move from crisis to joy. If you missed it, listen at ReviveOurHearts.com, and now, continue hearing hope for your marriage as Nancy introduces today’s guests.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: I think the story we’ve listened to over the past several days of Ron and Nancy Anderson has been such a wonderful testimony of God’s amazing grace and of a transformation that God can bring about in a life. A testimony of how God can take a marriage that is hopelessly dysfunctional and one that the world would just consign to the ash heap. God is a redeeming God who is always in the process of making all things new.

I’ve been greatly encouraged, as I know many of our listeners have been. There’s so many insights that Nancy and Ron have learned. Now it’s been over 25 years of their walking with the Lord since the time of those issues in their marriage, but they’ve had to learn to keep walking in God’s grace as a husband and wife.

There’s never a time you can let down your guard, is there? You just have to keep vigilant and stay faithful, and ultimately aren’t you glad that the success of your marriage or your walk with the Lord on any front doesn’t depend on your faithfulness but on the faithfulness of God?

I want to take some time today with some of my friends, Kim Wagner, Holly Elliff, who you’ve heard from before, and then Debby Canfield, who is a long-time colleague in ministry. She and her husband, Steve, serve on the staff of Life Action Ministries. They’ve traveled for 30 years in revival ministry in local churches and have on the road in that itinerate ministry raised six children—five sons, one daughter. Debby ministers to a lot of women as do Holly and Kim.

We just want to take some time today and talk about Ron and Nancy’s situation, not so much in specific, but some of the insights and the things that we can learn from a testimony like that. For starters here, Nancy’s story is one that is sad to listen to—how a wife could become so frustrated in her marriage that she could be easily drawn away, how her heart could be drawn away to a man in the work place.

We hear a lot about that happening with men, but we used to think that immorality and moral issues and moral struggles were more a man’s issue. Would you agree with me that we’re now seeing a lot more of this struggle, not just adultery, but other moral issues, in the lives of women? Would you agree that what happened to Nancy and her heart being drawn away is not as much an exception as perhaps it might have been at one time?

Debby Canfield: I think, Nancy, over the 30 years that God has given me the opportunity to travel and go into churches and counsel ladies—I think in the last 10 years or more that there has been an elevation of women getting involved in adultery and homosexuality and the Internet, pornography. I believe that a lot of it stems from their childhood.

I know that there was one lady in the last summit that we were in that shared that because of her being abused as a child, that then carried on to her marriage, and in that she ended up committing adultery. She ended up getting an abortion, and then she had all this bitterness creep up against God that He even allowed it to happen. She blamed it because of the child molestation that she went through. In our last summit there was more than I can put on my hand, full of women that shared that same thing.

I think that a lot of times it’s being kept secret, but now women are just feeling more freedom to open up and get help, realizing that they’re not the only ones that are going through it. God has really been burdening my heart for the importance of helping them to renew their minds.

I also remember a close friend of mine that chose adultery, and it came out of loneliness in her marriage. She went out to the workplace, and she was seeking affirmation so badly. She just wanted somebody to appreciate her; she didn’t get that at home with her husband. So the more she was affirmed, the more she was looked at as somebody special, the more she was thanked, then the door was opened up. The enemy knew what she needed to open up that door, and she walked through it into adultery. That led to divorce in their marriage.

Nancy: So this thing of the door getting opened—what are some of the things that open the door in a woman’s life to marital infidelity, to moral unfaithfulness in some way? These things don’t just start as cataclysmic. No woman or man just wakes up one morning and says, “I think I’ll have an affair”—or rarely. What can lead up to, what can open the door to these kinds of issues in a woman’s life?

Holly: I think we’ve opened a lot of doors just in general in our nation. I mean, statistically if you go back to about 1970, you see doors opening ever since then that have made things accessible to women that were not accessible to them before that. There was kind of a cultural peer pressure that made that not acceptable up until the late 60s and the early 70s. Mary Kassian in her book talks about the feminist revolution and how that has pervaded our society and our thought in such a way that all of a sudden women began to ask the question, “Why would I not do that?”

I think we began to give place to thoughts that were inspired by the enemy, but we didn’t shut them down. In the past, the very culture around us said, “Oh no, you wouldn’t do that. That would be wrong.”

Suddenly there were doors opened. We started listening to the promptings of the Enemy, and across the board in our society you see degeneration in our thought processes, in our moral codes. From about 1970 on, it’s just tremendously escalated.

Kim Wagner: Holly, you touched on something there with thoughts that I think is really the first battleground where women fail—it is in the area of thoughts.

Nancy: Let me back up to set that up, Kim, and say that, Holly, what you just described as a cultural thing, and of course, we’re all impacted by that. You still realize that when a couple goes to the altar and they say their wedding vows—they say, “I do.” Now there are some that get off on a terrible start from the beginning for various reasons, but most young couples getting married aren’t . . . It’s got to be the furthest thing from their mind at that moment that the day could come when they would want to be sharing their marriage bed with somebody else.

So how do you get from the altar . . . Yes, the culture is all this, and it’s very sexualized. There’s a lot of exposure and a lot of things that have become acceptable. But still, what brings a couple or a husband or a wife to a place in their marriage where they’re looking for greener grass?

Kim: Well, and it can sometimes not necessarily be that they’re looking for greener grass, but the greener grass appears and starts pulling and drawing them.

As I look back now, there were two instances of time in my own life where it really could have resulted in, if I would have chosen to walk down that path, a divorce eventually or an affair.

Nancy: How long have you been married now, Kim?

Kim: I’ve been married 25 years.

Nancy: Can I just probe a little bit here?

Kim: Sure.

Nancy: As you think about those two incidents, how long had you been married when the first one took place?

Kim: The first one was six weeks after I came home from our honeymoon.

Nancy: Six weeks?

Kim: Six weeks, and it was absolutely an attack of Satan from the very beginning. When I describe to you how it happened, I mean, it is so clear it was an attack of Satan trying to destroy not only our marriage but my husband’s ministry from the very beginning because he was a pastor.

From the time he asked me to marry him until we were married, I never had any doubt that I was to marry him—that that was God’s will. God had confirmed it in so many ways. Six weeks after we were married, I was in a mall one day and happened to see a young man that looked very much like another young man I had dated. I had a dating relationship with this young man that I had thought possibly might end up in marriage. It was a Christian young man but never got to the point of marriage, but I had just thought, “That may be the one.”

It wasn’t actually him in the mall, but just seeing him . . . Suddenly I had this emotional wave come over me, and I was shocked. It was like all of these feelings suddenly came up and this thought of, “Wow, did I make a big mistake?” I had never thought that. Over the next two weeks, these thoughts became stronger and stronger and more repeated—memories of this young man, thoughts of him, wondering what he was doing now started coming through my mind.

I am so thankful for the Word of God because the Word of God was what protected me from going any further. I knew Philippians 4:8. That had protected me as a young woman in different instances about what types of thoughts we were to put in our mind—good thoughts, virtuous thoughts, truthful thoughts.

Even though I knew that verse and it had been applied in my life, really at that point when I would think about it, I would just think, “Well, I’m not supposed to be thinking about this guy. This isn’t right.” But it didn’t help me to go the next step and get rid of the thoughts.

In my daily quiet time—and I’m such a big believer of daily quiet time. This is just an illustration of how God’s used it in my life. In 2 Corinthians chapter 10, verses 3-5, I’m reading along as I’m in that two-week struggle of thoughts about this young man, and the Lord brings this to mind.

It’s like it jumped off of the page to me. I’m sure I’d read it hundreds of times, but it says,

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for  the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for  the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (NASB).

Nancy: Every thought.

Kim: Every thought.

Nancy: Taking it captive.

Kim: Taking it captive. What the Lord did for me in that is He taught me a spiritual exercise that I still use today. I don’t have to use it in relation to men today but in relation maybe to an enemy or someone that has harmed me or any wrong thought, any untruthful thought.

That is a spiritual exercise of literally, when that thought would enter my mind, almost seeing it as a physical thing I could take hold of and bring it to the Lord Jesus Christ. I would picture Him on the cross shedding blood for the sin of me holding that thought, and I would give it to Him. Then I would—I wouldn’t stop there, giving it to Him, I would say, “Thank You, Lord Jesus, that You are taking this thought from me. Thank You for doing that for me,” and I would start worshiping Him.

I’m telling you, it was less than 48 hours, and those thoughts left and never returned—less than 48 hours! Before that, it had gotten to the point that it was almost obsessive in my thoughts. I was almost to the point of contacting him by phone. The Lord just reached in and through His Word, through the power of His Word, gave me a device to be able to take control of my thoughts in that situation.

Nancy: Did you tell your husband . . . 

Kim: Yes.

Nancy:  . . .  during those two weeks that you were struggling?

Kim: Not during that two weeks, and I think that would have brought protection, too. I should have shared that with him. I shared it with him after I had victory over it, but before that I was so ashamed.

Also, I think it goes back to something that you mentioned in another teaching session on do we really want to get rid of that sin? I think sometimes women are playing with those thoughts because it kind of feels good to go to that imagination level. I think that’s why a lot of women get hooked on romantic novels is they enjoy putting themselves in an imaginary situation with a man that adores them.

Holly: Fantasy island. Daniel, my son, had to do a science experiment in the last week. He was supposed to take a piece of bread and get it wet and let it mold for a week and then see what it looked like. I said, “Oh, I have something better than that.” We had a wedding a few weeks ago, and there was this big hunk of the wedding cake that was left over.

Someone stuck it in the lower oven that I don’t use all the time, and so it had been molding for two weeks in my lower oven. It was in a box, and so when we pulled it out and looked at it, it had a really exciting array of things growing on it. I said to Daniel, “You put this outside (we put it in a Tupperware thing) in the heat, and by next week when you have to have this science experiment, this will be bigger than anybody else’s piece of bread in the whole class.

Kim: You’ll get an A plus on that.

Holly: I’m just wondering at this moment if he actually brought my Tupperware thing home. I don’t think I’ve seen it again.

I have a friend who calls me regularly who has struggled with this type of thing in the past, and when she even has a day when she recognizes that she is being attacked with the enemy planting thoughts in her head, she is so careful to immediately call those women in her life who offer her accountability. She'll say, “Okay, I’m calling to tell you that I had this conversation with this guy. We have so many similar interests. He’s just a great guy, and I’m just calling to tell you that I had a conversation with a guy who had so many similar interests so that you can ask me later, ‘Has the enemy brought him into your thinking in any way?’ I’m giving you the freedom to do that.”

What we’ve talked about so many times is—like Kim said, “If I had told Leroy, it might have uncovered some of that.” Anything you keep covered grows.

But what happens so many times is that we are not careful. I was reading in Proverbs 4 where it says, “Watch over your heart with all diligence” (verse 23, NASB).

 

If we are not cautious, if we are not careful to watch over our heart so that the enemy does not have opportunity to gain a foothold—I mean, he’s not going to come in with all of his forces in a huge way. He’s going to creep in in tiny, little moments in our thought life and tempt us to just dwell on the thought. We cannot be too careful about uncovering those things and exposing them to the light of God and His Word.

That’s what makes our society so dangerous for women because we have so many women entering marriage who haven’t been taught to guard their hearts or to bring those thoughts captive before the Lord.

Nancy: Okay, let me change the analogy here from mold to termites.

Kim: Good!

Nancy: I don’t know a lot about termites, but I know they’re tiny, tiny, almost microscopic maybe, and can do enormous damage before you even realize what has happened. It’s underneath the surface. It’s undetected, but by the time you realize it sometimes, the structure is compromised and sometimes destroyed. A whole house may have to be torn down—certainly make it harder to sell it.

What are some of the termites that eat away at the heart and the foundation of a marriage that make it more susceptible to moral erosion, toward somebody going into greener pastures or looking for greener pastures somewhere else?

Debby: I think in my life, I can think of two before you even get to marriage—moral impurity in your own life. You carry that baggage into your marriage, and because of that you have to put more guards around your heart and your emotions.

Nancy: So be a little more specific. You don’t have to tell us your life, but as you’ve talked with a lot of young women. What are some practical things that prior to marriage if women are involved in are going to potentially compromise the foundation of their marriage down the road?

Debby: Well, I think if you haven’t come to the point that you see your own moral impurity before marriage as sin.

Nancy: Such as?

Debby: Fornication—that it is fornication. It’s just not sleeping with somebody else, but it’s fornication in the Word of God and that if you don’t see that as sin before God and repent of that before marriage, you carry that into marriage.

Nancy: So it’s not that the marriage can’t survive it.

Debby: Right.

Nancy: It’s that it can’t survive it if you’ve never dealt with it.

Debby: Right, and God is a forgiving God. He puts our sin as far as the east is from the west.

I also believe that . . . I know in my marriage, I had a lot of expectations of Steve, a lot of expectations.

Nancy: You’re the only woman in this room who ever did!

Debby: I realize that.

Nancy: For example?

Debby:

  • I thought he was going to meet my needs.
  • I thought he was going to be there for me when I was unhappy.
  • I thought when I needed help with the children, he’d be there.
  • I thought he was going to think that I was beautiful all the time.
  • I thought he was going to thank me for all the things I did—for taking care of the house, taking care of the kids, being there for him when he needed somebody to put his arms around him and hold his hands up.

I just had all these different expectations, and I realized that I was expecting him to be God. Instead of God fulfilling that vacuum inside of me, I was looking to my husband to fulfill that vacuum. That’s a dangerous place to be because over time, they don’t. Then you get hurt. You get bitter.

Nancy: As Nancy [Anderson] says, she became critical in her marriage.

Debby: You become critical. You become controlling. The bottom line of all of it is, you’re very ungrateful.

Kim: Then that pushes your husband further away from you unless he’s just a really super, godly, strong man.

Holly: I heard Debby share one time. She said to Steve, “I just want you to hug me.” And Steve said, “Why would I want to hug a cactus?” And she said, “That’s what I had become in our marriage.”

Debby: That’s right, and I remember counseling . . . Well, Steve and I went in to counsel a couple where both of them had committed adultery. She had repented; he had not, and he was continuing in it.

I came out of there so angry at him. I mean, she looked on the surface like this meek and quiet woman that he would just be so in love with her. I just couldn’t understand it, and I came out so angry.

I asked Steve, “What is wrong with this guy?”

I have never forgotten. He looked at me, and he said, “Debby, you don’t have to live with her.”

I thought, “Lord, what is Steve having to live with? Am I being contentious? Am I being controlling? Am I trying to manipulate my circumstance to get him to respond a certain way to me?”

God just showed me that it doesn’t matter what the outward appearance is. It doesn’t matter how you look outward. It’s what’s going on in your heart.

Nancy: The whole story isn’t necessarily told by how you are when you’re outside your home.

Debby: That’s right. It’s what goes on inside the home, and a lot of times my husband, Steve, says, “None of us but ourselves know what’s going on inside the home.”

Leslie: Every married couple faces problems and conflict. Debby Canfield has been pointing out that every couple needs to be learning and growing in marriage, even if it looks like they have it all together on the outside. She’s been talking with Nancy Leigh DeMoss about developing the kind of marriage that will bring glory to God. We also heard from Kim Wagner and Holly Elliff.

As women, we need the kind of interaction we’ve been hearing over the last few minutes. We need to hear the wisdom of women who have lived life ahead of us, and we need the encouragement of women who have a hunger for God’s Word.

I hope you’ll experience that kind of interaction on a large scale at the True Woman conference. Revive Our Hearts is bringing True Woman to Chattanooga March 25-27. At the conference you’ll gain valuable wisdom from Kay Arthur, Fern Nichols, Mary Kassian, Nancy Leigh DeMoss, and other women with a lot of wisdom to share. You’ll attend break-out sessions and learn practical ways to apply the Bible in your season of life. You’ll worship with Keith and Kristyn Getty. You’ll interact with thousands of women who have crossed the globe to join together for such a time as this.

Here’s your first step toward True Woman in Chattanooga: Visit ReviveOurHearts.com, get the details, make your plans.

Well, when you think about the future, what emotions do you feel? On Monday, Nancy will show you how to face the future, not with fear but with joy. I hope you’ll be back with us for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

 

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About the Teacher

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 for Christ and His Word is infectious, and permeates her online outreaches, conference messages, books, and two daily nationally syndicated radio programs—Revive Our Hearts and Seeking Him.

She has authored twenty-two books, including Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free, Seeking Him (coauthored), Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together, and You Can Trust God to Write Your Story (coauthored with her husband). Her books have sold more than five million copies and are reaching the hearts of women around the world. Nancy and her husband, Robert, live in Michigan.