Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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Leslie Basham: As a newer bride, Kim Wagner longed to know that her husband loved her.

Kim Wagner: I remember in our early years of marriage riding in the car for trips and sitting there thinking, Why doesn’t he hold my hand? He is so unaffectionate. He is so cold. He is so to himself. If he loved me, wouldn’t he want to reach out and hold my hand?

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Tuesday, July 22, 2014.

All this month we’re helping you get to know authors in the True Woman line of books. This week, we’re hearing Kim Wagner’s story. She and her husband, LeRoy, were working hard serving in the church where he was pastor, yet their marriage was barely surviving. Yesterday Kim told us about the conviction God brought for the way she criticized her husband. We’ll pick up the story as Kim describes meeting the host of Revive Our Hearts, Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Kim: So within that year with my heart changing and attempting to change my treatment of him, I became very frustrated though because it seemed like he was going even further into his cave. I thought, Nothing’s changing. Nothing’s improving.

You and I had a conversation, and I’m thankful that we had time that we spent together. You asked me some very tough questions. Our conversation, Nancy, to me it so validates the truth of Titus 2. Although you’re not that much older than me, although you’ve never been married, the role of women that are further along spiritually, in the spiritual growth process, in sanctification is to come alongside younger women, young women that need to have truth poured into their lives.

We had a conversation one day where you asked me some very difficult questions and gave me truth. I remember the first question you asked me.

LeRoy Wagner: When I heard, excuse me, when I heard this question that you asked her, the first question, I thought, Wow! God is on His throne. He really knows what’s going on in our lives. I don’t know this woman, but she is in tune with the Spirit.

Nancy: And the question was . . .

Kim: You looked at me, and not in a condemning way but in a gracious way, you said, “I think you may intimidate your husband.” That was the statement. And then you said, “Do you think you might intimidate your husband?”

I said, “How can I intimidate my husband? I can’t imagine that. Well, no, he wouldn’t be intimidated by me.” The more I thought about that, the Holy Spirit began to confirm that. I didn’t realize that with my vocal, opinionated statements, it was intimidating to him.

LeRoy: Emotional outbursts that I had no answer for and could not deal with in any way.

Kim: For him, he saw it as standing in opposition to him. He had such respect for me that at times he even thought, Well, maybe she does know better than I do. He would many times say to me, “You’d do a better job at being the pastor of this church than I do.”

LeRoy: And not that those that know me would have seen me as a weakling because I dealt with very, very difficult challenges. I could endure, outside of the home, confrontations, conflict. Even though I did not like to deal with that, I could.

As a pastor you have to deal with all kinds of things in people’s lives that are just in chaos. You have to stand on truth that sometimes is very difficult. You have to take stands. You have to go to meetings where people are going to disagree with you. You have to lead in a way that you know there’s going to be opposition. There’s going to be criticism.

So I’ve always been able to do that, but it’s quite different when the one you love, when the one you’re joined as one with, when she has expressed that she has no confidence in you; that she would do it another way; that that was not the way it should have been done. So then it became, although I was a person that could do that and had done that, it became more and more paralyzing for me to do what I needed to do in this public part of my life when the private part of my life with the marriage was not as God intended for it to be.

Nancy: I think that’s such an important point you just made, LeRoy, because we look at the culture and see men so struggling. Not all men, of course, but a lot of men really struggling with confidence issues, with stepping up to the plate, with taking leadership, with making good and wise decisions. You wonder how many of them really could have or would have but because of what’s going on in the home, in the marriage, have felt beat down, brow beaten, intimidated, incapacitated, emasculated, whatever all the words are. And then they go outside the home with their tail between their legs.

LeRoy: I think there are two reactions to that, which is so affecting our Christian homes. We’re talking about Christian homes and how the feminist influence that started in the culture has crept into our homes and even Bible-believing homes. I think men react in one of two ways, both of them equally destructive. That is either to recede, like I did, into a shell. I think depending probably on their personality. Or then to lord and dominate and say, “I will not take this,” and for the home to become just a battle ground of anger and resentment. It’s just destructive because if the woman is strong, she’s going to rise up even stronger and then the man is going to . . .

Nancy: . . . or the woman’s going to cower.

LeRoy: Or she’s going to cower and then you have just equally a devastating situation where there’s not the union, the harmony, the fellowship that the Lord intends for us to have. Without God’s grace and without standing with tenacity, with unwavering commitment on the Word of God, there is no hope for a godly home. We cannot do it in our own strength. We cannot do it in our flesh.

Even though we’re in church, some of us three, four, five times a week, even though we’re in ministry, even though we believe the Word, even though we believe the right things, we want to do the right things, we still must have the work of the Holy Spirit and the truth of God continually cleansing us, continually directing us, encouraging us, comforting us. We must have that.

Nancy: Kim, once you started realizing the intimidation factor here, did you talk about that with LeRoy pretty quickly?

Kim: I did. He wasn’t real open about it.

LeRoy: I wasn’t communicative because I was so careful to say anything because if it caused any reaction on her part, then I didn’t feel like I could counter it, match it, converse with her, match her emotion, match her intensity. So I tried to be so careful and measured in anything that I would say, to anything I would respond to.

Nancy: So at that point you really weren’t able to express your heart.

LeRoy: I did not feel the freedom to express my heart.

Kim: He didn’t feel safe yet with me. He was not safe. I was asking questions that were too painful for him. He could not go there yet.

LeRoy: God had to, in His timing, bring me to a place that then I could begin to be a part of this healing, redemptive work that began with your booklet and your conversation with her. So we were both on the journey, but it was at different paces and the Lord was using different means to bring us to where He wanted us to be.

Kim: He came back from being away for a week alone where God dealt with his heart and revealed to him this stronghold of fear toward me and that he needed to be open and honest with me about it. He just humbly and openly communicated that to me. But, Nancy, I don’t think he ever would have if he didn’t feel like he had a safe place.

It took time of me preparing that safe place of doing the hard things, of beginning to flesh out the truths of Scriptures that we had taught on, like Philippians 2, walking in the humility of Christ. Colossians 3, demonstrating true love, grace, humility. Those type of things that we should treat just fellow believers with, but I hadn’t treated my husband with, but to prepare a safe place for him to be able to come and be honest with me.

Nancy: So you said . . .

LeRoy: Well, I just poured out my heart and expressed to her what God dealt with me about. In each of us God alone knows how we’re made, what our experiences are, what are our thoughts, what are our inner most emotions and feelings and our experiences. So He knows exactly where He needs to deal with us, pinpoint grace.

I came to realize, and I was afraid to admit it as a man, that fear had gripped my soul. Fear had paralyzed me. I was afraid of my wife. I was afraid of making decisions. I was afraid of failure. I was afraid of every meeting of every opportunity to interact with anyone. I had literally become a very fearful person, and I’m not weak. I’m quiet by nature, and I am introverted by nature, but I’m not, by nature, fearful person.

The Lord took me back to where all through my life that had really been an issue with me. Our marriage, by the grace of God, He didn’t want it to destroy Kim. He didn’t want it to destroy me. He wanted to bring out the things that had always been a part of our life that He knew, in His goodness and in His omniscience and knowing all about us, that it would have to take to be a godly marriage, committed to sticking together. He knew what we were going to do, but He put us in that so He could work on the very issues that would keep us from growing to the degree that He wanted us to grow, to serve in the way, to be the people that God desired for us to be.

He used the crucible of marriage and the fires of difficulty and of heartache and of pain to go to the very heart of the issues in our lives that we had long before we knew one another, that maybe we were not conscious that we had. But really He took us to those very dark and painful places in order to redeem us, in order to rescue us, in order to free us . . .

Kim: . . . to conform us to the image of Christ.

LeRoy: To conform us to the image of Christ. I’m so grateful that He did it. I’m so grateful for the truth of God, for God using you, for the Holy Spirit never letting go of us, never releasing us to ourselves and to our own destructive attitudes and actions but continuing to work in our lives.

Kim: The thing that God brought to light in his life was that stronghold of fear. In my life, He was bringing to light selfishness, self-pity, unrealistic expectations and demands, the desire to control. All of those things are part of our fleshly nature, but when we live the crucified life, those things can be crucified and conformed to the image of Christ.

LeRoy: When you think about it, those two very negative things that God dealt with in our lives are probably at the basis of the Fall and the interaction in a lot of cases, maybe even most cases, of husbands and wives. "Her desire will be to rule over you" (Gen. 3:16). Here Adam was, he was with her, and he did not take leadership, and he did not fulfill the obligation that God said, "You are to keep My Word. You’re not to partake of this. This is off limits." So he did not stand up and take leadership with Eve in saying, "This is what God instructed us to do. We’re not to do this."

So he was passive. He was quiet. It is also a recipe for disaster not only in the marriage, but also in ministry. It will ultimately prevent us from doing that with all of our heart and with a clear conscience because it will just wreak havoc in our soul.

Kim: LeRoy struggled with a crisis of faith because he said, “I see my wife in the Word every day. I see her seeking God. I see her praying." And in those early years, he didn’t see any transformation in my life. What my passion and desire to communicate to women now is we have a transformed marriage. We have seen the power of God step into a marriage. A natural man would think this marriage would end in divorce or suicide. But God stepped in, and He has transformed our marriage.

Those of you that are in this room, this is a little illustration, but you’re witnessing actually evidence of that in that I remember in our early years of marriage riding in the car for trips and sitting there thinking, Why doesn’t he hold my hand? He is so unaffectionate. He is so cold. He is so to himself. If he loved me, wouldn’t he want to reach out and hold my hand?

You have watched him repeatedly in this studio reach over and grab my hand. He is so affectionate to me. He shares his every thought and heart with me. He communicates freely and openly with me, and I did not experience that for years.

Nancy: And the very thing you were wanting to experience, you were driving him away.

Kim: Driving him away from that. The man that I wanted him to be, when I tried to pressure him into that mold, when I tried to manipulate him to be that way and control circumstances, control him, it pushed him further and further away. It created a man I did not recognize.

But when I took my hands off of that and I really went to God and I laid out before God the man I wanted, made that request of God, but at the same time began to allow God to change me, change my treatment of him, my reaction to him, and God transformed him into a man that today our marriage is far greater than anything I could have ever imagined or dreamed of.

LeRoy: We tell couples all the time, and it’s a real joy to be able to talk with couples about these things and point them to the Scripture and point them to the grace of God that is sufficient and be able to speak from experience that God is able. God is powerful. God is aware of what’s going on in your lives and in your marriage.

We tell them all the time that we are absolutely, we say it with great smiles and joy on our faces, that we are enjoying the best time of our marriage, the greatest joy. And we know that the Lord has more growth and joy in the journey.

It is a testimony to the truthfulness of God’s Word, to the power of the living God, the resurrected Christ, and it is a testimony to the work of the Holy Spirit in working through people like yourself, Nancy. God is at work in people’s lives.

I shudder to think that people are now where Kim and I were. I don’t want anybody to be in that place. I would just want everyone to know that I don’t know all the dark places of where everyone is or has been, but I know that we were in a very dark place, and I was in a very hopeless place. I know that God doesn’t love me any more than He loves anyone else. No matter where anyone is, no matter what they’re going through, no matter how hopeless, no matter how dark a place that it may be, our God is no respecter of persons; He is able to redeem and to rescue and to transform marriages and to transform lives.

I just desire for every marriage that is not at the place (it may not be at the place where we were) where the Lord desires for it to be, where it brings glory to God, where people are drawn to Christ through that marriage, through that husband and wife relationship because the aroma of Christ is so pungent and people can just see the Lord at work in their lives, I want everyone to experience that.

Nancy: So the first step to head in that direction—because there is somebody listening right now who is where you all were. You’ve given them hope. What’s the first step they can take?

LeRoy: Someone that’s listening right now and hearing this broadcast, I would just encourage you to lift up your eyes to the Lord from where your help will come. He is faithful. All that He has promised, all that He has said He will do, He will do it. But you need to cry out to Him. I think that’s the first step because it shows our humility, our neediness. It shows that we are looking to Him alone for help that only He can give and He will hear the cry of the broken heart. He will not refuse a broken and a contrite spirit.

So if God in His goodness and grace has allowed you to be broken, it is not so you’ll remain broken, but it is so that you will cry out to Him and He will answer. It will probably involve repentanceIt will involve humility and transparency before your wife or before your husband and before your children, and maybe before others who know you.

The real test of a Christian marriage is not what people see in church at 11:00 on Sunday morning or that you’re trying to raise good kids. That’s not the test of what a real godly marriage is. The real test is, what is your spiritual life like when no one sees you as a couple but just the Lord.

Nancy: That’s Pastor LeRoy Wagner. We’ve been hearing how God spoke to his heart and revealed some serious changes that he needed to make as a husband. But as we’ve heard this week, this work of God’s grace in LeRoy’s life didn’t begin until God had first done a work of grace in Kim’s life.

And as we’ve just heard, Kim had to be patient with this process. In fact, she waited for two years. During that time she was determined to create a safe place that would encourage LeRoy to open up, to show leadership, and to respond to God’s conviction.

I wonder if God’s been speaking to your own heart as you’ve been listening to this story. In fact, let me ask you a few questions to make this a little bit more personal. 

  • Is your home a safe place or is your home a battleground, a place where your husband feels criticized and critiqued?
  • Have you created a climate in your marriage where your husband feels free to share his vulnerability? Or might he be afraid that if he really opens up, if he gets honest, if he starts to deal with his issues, you’re going to reject him or try to fix him?
  • In the way you talk to and about men, do you show their God-created worth and value?
  • Do you make it easy for men to fulfill their God-given calling to lead in the home, the church, and the society?

By the way, I’ve discovered that when we’re too quick to take the reins ourselves, it really discourages the men from being the leaders that we often say we wish they would be.

  • Do you respond to men in ways that communicate appropriate respect and affirmation of their manhood?

Now, of course, we’re not talking here about flattery but about genuine appreciation and admiration and respect.

I think as we ponder these question, all of us have room for growth. I’m so glad Kim Wagner has written a new book that addresses these issues. It’s called Fierce Women: The Power of a Soft Warrior.

In this book Kim shows how strong women can display biblical femininity and encourage the men around them without giving up their God-given personalities. I really believe God is going to use this book to rescue many marriages that are on the brink of disaster and to breathe new life into marriages that have grown stale or that are at a stalemate, but they need fresh life. I just think it is a great resource for any married woman.

We’d like to send you a copy of Fierce Women when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any size. When you make a donation, in addition to the book by Kim, you’ll also receive a booklet called 30 Days of Encouraging Your Husband. This booklet will lead you through a challenge—to avoid saying anything negative about your husband for thirty days.  And then—say something encouraging to him every day within the thirty-day period. This booklet gives ideas for how you can encourage him day by day. I’ve seen this challenge profoundly impact marriages, and I believe it can make a big difference in yours as well.

Ask for 30 Days of Encouraging Your Husband and Fierce Women when you call with your donation. The number to call is 1–800–569–5959. Or make your donation and request these resources when you visit us at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Leslie: I’ll just add a reminder—you’ll be hearing about this special offer through this Friday, the 25th.  So let us hear from you soon. When you make your donation, we’ll be happy to send one book and booklet set per household. Nancy?

Nancy: We often have listeners who write and share with us that they are feeling helpless in their marriage, feeling it’s beyond repair. If that describes you or someone you know and you've been trying to encourage, you want to be sure and be back with us tomorrow for Revive Our Hearts as Kim and LeRoy Wagner talk about the true source of hope.

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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