Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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Creating a God-Centered Home

Leslie Basham: Nancy Leigh DeMoss looks back on the moment she came to Christ and realizes it was God who called her.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: It’s nothing that we did that saved us. It’s not my repentance. It’s not my faith. It’s not my theological understanding. It’s Jesus who saves us. It’s His grace.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Friday, May 10.

Have you ever heard of a spiritual birthday? All her life Nancy Leigh DeMoss has marked the day she came to know Christ her spiritual birthday. Next week she’s marking the fiftieth anniversary of this event.

Whether or not you remember the exact date you came to know the Lord, I think you’ll be encouraged by today’s program. If you’re a child of God, you can mark the milestones along the journey just like Nancy is doing today.

Today’s program will be a big encouragement for parents. What can you be doing in the hope that your kids will one day celebrate a spiritual birthday?

Paula Hendricks is a blogger at TrueWoman.com. She’s joining us today, asking Nancy about some of the ways God has led her over the last fifty years.

Paula Hendricks: Nancy, this week is so exciting. Most of the time at the office I sit around thinking about all my deadlines and pressing ahead on them, but today we’re stopping. Actually, this whole week we’re stopping and celebrating something huge.

Nancy: We are, and this is an occasion I’ve looked forward to for a long time. I plan my celebrations. I plan my birthdays. I planned my thirtieth birthday for, like, ten years. Then I started working on my fortieth. I’m working on my sixtieth now, which is still several years off, but I like planning for special occasions and markers.

But the most special occasion and moment and point of my life is the time when Jesus saved me and brought me to Himself. This week I’m celebrating fifty years of walking with the Lord. How did it go so fast? It just is hard to believe that it’s been that many years, but I’ve had a sweet time, by myself, and then with other friends as well, with Paula, reflecting on the journey on what God has done over those years, what He’s still doing, because it’s a continuing journey.

We thought we’d like to take some time this week on Revive Our Hearts to just reminisce, to reflect on what God has done, what He’s doing, and what that journey has been like. So thanks for being willing to have this conversation with me.

Paula: Oh, my pleasure. When I first came to Revive Our Hearts eight years ago, I remember looking at the calendar and seeing that your birthday was on there twice—once in May and once in September—and I was baffled by that. So I’m curious. Have you always celebrated your spiritual birthday?

Nancy: Yes, my physical birthday is in September. I was born on Labor Day, that was a real day of labor for my mother, September 3. Then my spiritual birthday is May 14, 1963. Have I always celebrated it? I don’t know, but as long as I can remember I have marked that day as a special day.

I was thinking about this recently. I’m reading through the book of Exodus how God redeemed His people out of bondage, out of slavery. He told them, “Every year you’re supposed to celebrate this Passover, the time when the Lord judged the Egyptians and redeemed you out of Israel.”

I started thinking about that this week. Maybe there is somewhere in the Bible a reference to our physical birthday—I’m sure that word’s not in there. But I could not think of a single instance when somebody celebrated when they were born physically. I’m not saying they didn’t do it, but I don’t remember that in the Bible. But there are encouragements to go back and remember where God found us when He brought us to Himself.

I know a lot of people can’t remember the exact day or time or place. Coming to know Jesus is actually my first conscious memory.

Paula: It’s amazing.

Nancy: I remember being four years old and kneeling beside my bed—I was by myself. I didn’t know a lot of theological terms. I didn’t know any fancy words. I don’t know exactly what I said, but somehow in my heart there was a sense that I needed a Savior, that I needed Jesus. My parents had been having family devotions with us, reading from a little book called Leading Little Ones to God, which walks you through the gospel story. Somehow God drew my heart, and I knew I needed Jesus.

In the very simplest way possible . . . Today I look at four year olds and I think, How could a four year old possibly come to know Jesus? There were times later when I wondered, Was that really real at four years of age? But I look back, and I know that there was just a sense that He had given me all of Himself and that I was giving to Him all that I knew of myself.

And I really do think it’s a great thing to go back and mark and celebrate and remember where God found you. In fact, I was thinking this morning, Paula, about Psalm 71, which is one of my favorites. I wish I could quote it for you, but the psalmist felt this way. He said,

In you, O Lord, do I take refuge; let me never be put to shame! . . . For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O Lord, from my youth. Upon you I have leaned from before my birth; you are he who took me from my mother’s womb. My praise is continually of you. . . . O God, from my youth you have taught me and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds. (vv. 1, 5–6, 17)

So here he was as an older man, reflecting back on where God found him and what God had done in his life and saying, “Not only do I want to reflect on it, but I want to share it with others.” That’s really why we’re having this conversation today.

Paula: That is. I sent you some questions originally as we were preparing for this interview, and you said, “Paula, I’m happy to answer all of these, but I really want this to be a spiritual autobiography.” So that’s what we’re going to aim for this week.

Nancy: We all have, if you’re a child of God, a spiritual autobiography. I think it’s a good thing to sit back sometimes, we’re moving so quickly, and pause and just remember what God has done and the journey He’s had us on.

I’ve found as I’ve been preparing for this week that my heart has been encouraged. It’s been strengthened because I see what God has done over these years. Then I’m encouraged to know He’s still the same God. He’s faithful, and He’s going to continue doing that.

In fact, that’s what David goes on to pray in Psalm 71. He says, “So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come” (v. 18).

So we look back, which gives us perspective on where we are today, and then where we are going to walk in the future with God. We don’t know what that future looks like, what it holds, but David says, “Let me just be a gospel-saturated person all of my life—not just when I’m young—but let that continue to old age.”

I’ve got the gray hairs, and I’m working on the old-age part. But that’s my prayer, that what has been true of God’s faithfulness over these years will continue to be true in the years ahead.

Paula: And, Nancy, that’s what your parents did. They taught the next generation.

Nancy: Yes.

Paula: Can you tell us a little bit about the home environment that you were born into?

Nancy: I’m so thankful for—not a perfect home, there is no such thing. When I talk about my parents, I usually highlight the good things. They would be the first to say that there were a lot of things that weren’t so great. There’s no point in focusing on those. But one of the things I’m really thankful for is that they were so intentional about their own faith.

In fact, my parents were very young believers when they got married. My dad was in his early thirties. My mom was nineteen. They were both young believers. My dad had known the Lord several years, and he had kind of taken off a bit from his business career and was just sharing the gospel. He really wasn’t a preacher. He wasn’t a great speaker. But he loved sharing how God found him.

They took a really unusual honeymoon—of course, I have no memory of this! My mother conceived me, actually, on the first week of her honeymoon. I was born nine months and four days after they got married, so this actually is a part of my heritage even though I have no memory of it.

They took a three-month honeymoon and went down to Cuba (this is right before Castro came in at the end of 1957), Dominican Republic, British West Indies, Haiti, and some of the islands (these were Third World countries at that time). My dad did street preaching, preaching in little, tiny churches. My mom would sing. They talked about sleeping under mosquito netting at night. And that whole time, from the first week on, she was pregnant with me.

So in her first trimester, they were traveling around doing gospel ministry. As a result, my dad used to call me his little gypsy because they were on the road when she was carrying me, and he certainly had no way of knowing how prophetic in a way that designation would be. I turned out to be something of a gypsy—a lot of traveling—but I think that even from those earliest years there was a heart for ministry, a love for Christ.

I didn’t see my dad cry very often at all, maybe just several times in the twenty-one years that I knew him before he went to heaven. But the one thing you could be sure would make him get teary is when somebody would ask him how he came to know Christ. He just never got over the wonder of the fact that God would have saved him.

My mother had come to know the Lord as a high school student in a Bible class in a public school with a Christian teacher just reading God’s Word. She was a junior or senior in high school.

So this was a very fresh faith for them, and reading the Scripture was a part of it.

Now, let me tell you, in their first five years of marriage, they had six children. They hadn’t planned on having any in five years, but they had six children. So you imagine having family devotions with all those little ones. It was not very orderly. It was not very peaceful. There wasn’t anything picture-book about it, but it said to me from the earliest days: This matters. This is really important.

I think that’s the thing that was caught growing up in my home that nothing matters more. My dad was a businessman. He enjoyed his business, but that was not anything near as important to him as knowing Christ and sharing Him with others, which he and my mom did a lot.

Paula: And one of the evidences of salvation is baptism, or at least one of the next steps.

Nancy: Yes, sure.

Paula: You were baptized a year after you were saved?

Nancy: Yes. My church, if you were little, you had to wait a year. I was saved at four, and then on Easter, at the age of five, 1964, I was baptized. This was a small Baptist church, and they had a baptistry there. They had to put an old egg crate in the bottom so I could stand on it so I wouldn’t drown in the baptism. But I remember Pastor Earl Connors baptizing me when I was five years old.

Paula: It was such a treat because you have this scrapbook of Nanny . . . Your family had a nanny, and she wrote a letter home, and she talked about your baptism.

 

Nancy: Yes. This was really sweet. My parents had six children ages five or six and under, so they found this nineteen-year-old young woman in England. They brought her over here, and she lived with our family for several years to help out, kind of as a mother’s helper and nanny in our family.

This is the first letter that she wrote back to her family in England after she’d been with our family just a few weeks. It’s really fun. She gives kind of a blow-by-blow description of what it’s like. I will not read all of it. Some things I don’t remember, but it’s fun to have this record. She talks about,

It’s 12:30 and lunch time, and again they pray—the children together—they understand very clearly that Jesus died to cleanse them from sin, and they thank God for this. When I was told that Nancy had already been saved . . .

When she wrote this, I had just turned six. I had been baptized in Easter during the spring of that year just a few months earlier.

When I was told that Nancy had been saved, I was doubtful, but she has told me herself how it happened. "It was on May 14," she said, "and I asked Jesus into my heart to help me and be with me always."

I said, "How do know you are saved?"

And she said, "It said in the Bible that if you believe that Jesus died on the cross, He promised to save you, and I love Jesus because He loved me even when I was a sinner." [This was my answer to her.] Her mother told me that her conversation came as a complete surprise and without being aided or asked for.

One day her father was reading a story about baptism for those who had been saved, and she said, "Daddy, I’ve been saved. Can I be baptized?" She was on Easter Sunday. She attended a few lessons before the baptism (which is something they required in my church) and the week before she was interviewed completely on her own in front of a board of ten church leaders. Scary enough to the most experienced, she walked in and told them plainly how it was.

When they had finished asking questions, she said, "Please, may I sing to you because then you will know why I love Jesus?" She sang "I Love Jesus Because He First Loved Me." Mrs. DeMoss said those ten men came out with tears in their eyes.

I don’t remember that particular occasion, but I’m so glad for the record of that. I don’t offer to sing today—in small groups or large.

Paula: So you were not a typical child. I mean, that much is obvious. Do you want to read them the letter that you wrote to your parents?

Nancy: As I look back, not only on this letter, but other letters as well, there’s a recurring theme of this call to be a missionary. In fact, I saw another letter I wrote when I was going through some files recently. It was written to a missionary who spoke in our Christian school chapel. I said, “God has called me to go and be a missionary to the Filpinos"—P-e-e-n-o-s. So there was this sense of being called to be a missionary.

By the way, those of you who have young children—my parents saved these letters, papers, report cards. Somebody years ago, for one of my birthdays, had this piece framed, so you can read the front and back of it.

Paula: And you keep it in your living room.

Nancy: I keep it in my living room. God’s used it many times to give me just the grace I need to keep pressing in when it gets hard.

But let me read just a version of that. This is December 4, 1965, so I was seven years old. "Dear Mommy and Daddy, On Saturday . . ." Now it’s full of misspellings, and those of you who know me, I’m like hyper about spelling. So people who know that enjoy reading this letter because it has a lot of misspellings in it.

Paula: For sure!

On Saturday I knew that God had touched my heart and wanted me to be a missionary for Him, and it was just as He had stood before me.

Right then I started to think what and how a missionary would speak to people? I could just tell everybody this wonderful news. I’m so happy about it.

And I just know God has spoken to me and told me to be a missionary for Him. And I think that being a missionary is the best job for me.

And I’m just so happy that God wants me to be a missionary for Him. I hope that God is going to help me be a missionary.

It’s just as God saying this to me, "Go, Nancy! Go, Nancy! You can do it. You can do it. Be a missionary for Me. Go, Nancy! Go, Nancy!"

Love, Nancy Leigh

P.S. Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel. [And this is the line I love, this has been a great reminder to me over the years.] I’m going to do it for Jesus and Jesus only shall I do it for.

A missionary couple who’s staying in my home at the moment read this and they said, “So, did you miss your calling?”

I did really think for years as a child that I would be a missionary, and little did I ever imagine that the day would come when, through publishing and radio and Internet that the Lord would give me a chance to be a part of a ministry that is reaching people in many, many countries of the world. I don’t know that it’s all the countries of the world, but it’s accessible in most of the countries of the world.

So don’t underestimate the things that God places in your heart or God places in your children’s hearts as a young person. Those really can be very significant.

Paula: So as we close out today’s session, Nancy, I wonder if you could just share how your heavenly Father helped you through that journey of your earthly dad passing away.

Nancy: That was very sudden. I had been home for my birthday. I was working in a church in Lynchburg, Virginia, at the time. I’d been home actually, well we’d been on family vacation a couple weeks earlier, but not everybody was together. So my dad asked me to come home for my birthday. He said he just wanted me to do that, and I felt it was really important at that moment to honor him even though weekends were a hard time for me to be gone from my church job.

But I did go home. We went out to dinner as a family that Friday night, Labor Day weekend, and interestingly, my dad said . . . because one of my brothers had brought along a friend. My dad said to the friend, “This is really special that you get to be here when we are all together. We may never all be together like this again.”

And then the next morning, Saturday morning, he and my mom took me to the airport so I could go back to Lynchburg. When I landed, I got a message from a friend whose home I was going to for dinner that evening, saying my mom had called. When I called her back, she let me know that after they took me to the airport, they went home, and my dad went out to play tennis with a few men (a couple of whom had come to know the Lord through my parents’ ministry there in our home). On the tennis court he had a heart attack. They said he was gone before he hit the ground. He was fifty-three years old with no knowledge that he had any heart issues.

So that was the last goodbye here on earth. So I turned right around and flew back to Philadelphia. Here’s a really sweet thing. I was very close to my dad, and as we all felt there were going to be a lot of tears. There are times to this day when I just really miss his input, his presence in my life and our family. But the very first conscious thought that went through my mind when I got this news was a verse (it’s a paraphrase actually of a verse that I had read of Psalm 119 just days earlier). “God is good, and everything He does is good.”

That was a bedrock for my heart. It was something my dad had spent years teaching us—the sovereign goodness of God, that everything He does is right; it’s good. But now, in a major way, greater way than previously in my life, that was being tested.

There still were tears, there was still missing him. But that became such a foundational place of security for my heart, that what God does is good. At that point I couldn’t imagine life ever being ever quite as wonderful again without him. But now as I look back, I just realize how many fathers God has put in my life, how God has fathered me. Through each season of my life, I see how God has brought fruit, how the things my dad invested in my life those first twenty-one years are still producing fruit, and now I’m able to pass on to others. I say my dad, but it’s not just my dad. It’s my mom. They were such partners in serving the Lord and in parenting and in ministry.

My mom is still very much alive, and I’m so thankful for her parenting as well during those years and showing me what really mattered.

But there at that very heartbreaking moment of life, God was there. He walked our family through that. My mom was only forty at the time, and there were seven children, ages eight to twenty-one, so there was a long road ahead for her. But I look back, I see God’s amazing grace in her life as well. God is Father to the fatherless; He’s a Husband to the widow.

Paula: “He sets the lonely in families.”

Nancy: Yes. “He sets the lonely in families.” Yes. He’s really done that for me in a way I’m so thankful for.

Leslie: We’ve been listening to an interview between Paula Hendricks, who is a blogger at TrueWoman.com, and Nancy Leigh DeMoss, who marks her fiftieth spiritual birthday next week.

As she approaches this milestone, Nancy’s been looking back and reflecting on how the Lord shaped her early life. I know this program has encouraged parents to realize how big an influence they can have on the next generation. Unfortunately, we don’t have time to air that whole interview segment. When you order the CD, you’ll hear the complete conversation. Order the series, “Fifty Years of Walking with God,” at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Today we heard how Nancy’s parents influenced her as a young child. Investing in your children that way isn’t easy. It takes a lot of time, commitment, and leaning on the Lord. We want to encourage and help moms doing this important job. Nancy’s here to explain how.

Nancy: If you’re a mom with younger children, it can feel like you never get time for yourself. My friend Erin Davis is a mom of young children, and when she wrote the “30-Day Mom Challenge,” she was sensitive to the time pressures that young moms are under. When you sign up for the 30-Day Mom Challenge, we’ll email you one of Erin’s devotionals each day for thirty days.

Now, here’s what you need to know: These devotionals are a quick read, but they’ll help you set your mind on biblical truths that really matter, and they’ll remind you why you’ve embarked on this important job of being a mom and what a really vital calling you have. Then each email includes one or more follow-up actions that are things you can actually accomplish with your children—no fancy setup, no difficult instructions. These follow-up activities are easy for you and your kids to do together, and each one will help remind your family of a key truth from God’s Word.

This is a great resource to encourage you as a mom and to help you disciple your little ones in God’s ways.

So to get more information or to sign up for the “30-Day Mom Challenge,” just visit us at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Now, as I’ve been reflecting on my fiftieth  spiritual birthday coming up next week, it’s reminded me again of the power of a parent’s influence. I’m so thankful for the dad and the mom that God gave me. I hope you’ll take some time to look back and reflect on the ways that God has used your parents in your life, especially your mom on this Mother’s Day weekend. Now, no mom is perfect, and moms are the first ones to acknowledge that. But what can you thank God for, and what can you thank your mom for if she’s still here on earth? I hope you’ll take time this weekend to let her know how much you appreciate her.

And to all the moms who are listening, thanks for all the ways that you’re investing in the next generation. You have no idea this side of heaven how big a difference you’re making. I just want to say I hope you have a very blessed and happy Mother’s Day this Sunday.

Leslie: Thanks, Nancy.

When you’re following the Lord’s will, you will run into challenges. Sometimes it will feel like you can’t go on. Nancy reflects on what she does in those situations next week on Revive Our Hearts.

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

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version.

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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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