Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: Melissa Jarvis reminds us that following Jesus is a daily decision.

Melissa Jarvis: Surrender is not a one-time choice. It’s a lifestyle. So I learned to just keep thinking that way. This is not just a one-time saying, “Yes.” It’s just a constant, “I’m going to say ‘yes’ today.” I’m going to keep saying “yes” to the things God that prompts my heart to do.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Surrender: The Heart God Controls, for Monday, May 15, 2017.

What would you do to build God’s kingdom if you had no fear? All this week, we’re going to be called to some faith frontiers—places God leads us that may be stretching or uncomfortable, but they’re also full of joy and great rewards.

Not long ago, Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth was in a worship service and heard a message on faith frontiers from Dan Jarvis. He’s on staff with Life Action Ministries, parent organization to Revive Our Hearts, and he’s also the pastor of Berrien Center Bible Church. Nancy will be here in a few minutes to talk with Dan and his wife Melissa about ways they’ve been called to live this message out.

First, let’s hear this message Nancy wanted to share with you from Dan Jarvis.

Dan Jarvis: As I said, a frontier is that area just beyond the edge of settled territory. Now, one of my favorite things to study is space. I love the space program. Honestly, I love the space program past, like NASA.

I also love the space program future, like Star Trek—what we hope the future will be—finding a federation of planets and meeting all sorts of aliens. But we’re not quite there yet—you know, baby steps.

But I love any document I can watch or read about NASA. I love that stuff because in my mind that’s the ultimate final frontier. Right? When those first people who got on a Mercury rocket, or the first people who were in the Apollo program those people took amazing risks, they went to places that no one even a few years prior to that would have dreamed a human being could go.

So I look at them as some examples as the kind of faith that I want to have in God. That is, if people could have that kind of faith in technology or in the team over at NASA, could I not have more faith than that in God when it comes to my life and where my life is going? I would hope so.

Now, there’s a couple of different missions in the Apollo program that I like. One was the Apollo 8 mission. If you’re familiar with your timeline, that’s when . . . You know, each Apollo mission kind of built on the previous one and got some new experience leading up to the landing on the moon in Apollo 11. Apollo 8 was when they went and circled around the moon. They got into lunar orbit, looked at the moon, took some pictures, and came home.

So you have these three astronauts strapped into this capsule, and they get blasted off, and they do all the work to get to the moon, thousands and thousands of miles. When they get there, they’re so close to the lunar surface, but they don’t actually set their foot down on the surface. They just see it from up above.

A few missions later, Apollo 11 . . . you know the story. Neil Armstrong actually gets to land on the moon and put his footprint in the lunar dust. He actually lived what those Apollo 8 astronauts dreamed. I mean, I’m sure they were glad to get the trip to the moon, but they didn’t get to do anything like what Neil Armstrong got to do when he put his foot down. Right?

I think that sometimes in the Christian life, we get content being Apollo 8 Christians. We know there are amazing things to do for God, and we know there are some amazing frontiers ahead of us, and we’re just kind of content to watch other people do it, or to read about it in a history book, or to see how it’s possible that they did it.

But I’m not that sort of person. I’m not just one who is watching from far away. No. I’d much rather live in an Apollo 11 Christianity.

Some of you are thinking, I think mine’s more like Apollo 13. That could be for you.

But I’d rather have the faith in God not to just look at the frontier that needs to be crossed, but to actually go there and do it. That’s what I’d like to challenge all of us toward today—not just to see that more frontiers are available or that there are great things to do for Christ in the world, but that you would take the step and you would go the distance—not based on how strong you are or how powerful, how rich—but based on God’s power at work in you. That’s what faith is.

You say, “Lord, I don’t have anything to offer here, but I’m trusting in You to guide my life and to empower my life.”

So, to me, this is really exciting. There are risks associated with it. That’s what I’d like to talk to you about for a few minutes. This life of faith that we’re called to live involves five challenges, at least that I’ve experienced.

The first big area is the area of risk. So many of us are adverse to risk. We would rather play it safe. We would rather do what everyone else has done. We don’t want to be an early adopter or some sort of person who’s ahead of the curve. We would much rather do what the crowd is doing.

Let’s read in 2 Corinthians, chapter 11, for just a moment, about the life of the apostle Paul. If someone that you knew was in Paul’s circumstance, how would you counsel this person? 2 Corinthians 11, and I’ll start reading in the middle of verse 23. He’s reporting on, essentially, his credentials, like if someone was questioning him, “Are you really a man of faith? Are you really committed to Christ?” Here’s some of the things that he said. He said,

I have worked harder, been in prison more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. I have been traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers, and from robbers. I faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I faced danger from men who claimed to be believers but are not. I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have gone hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm. And then, besides all of this, I have the daily burden of my concern for all the churches” (2 Cor. 11:23–28).

Now, let me ask you this: Was Paul living a high-risk Christian life? I think so—probably a little riskier than you and me.

If you were counseling Paul, I mean, if he came in and he was all very obviously beaten, and he’d just been shipwrecked, and he’d spent the whole day at sea, and he stumbles in here, I think any one of us would say, “Paul, you’ve got to slow it down. I mean you’ve got to take a break. It’s time for a sabbatical or something. You need to push pause here. I mean, don’t go back into all those circumstances. Don’t ask for it that way.”

And yet, Paul was committed to a cause far bigger and far more important than his own comfort, so he was willing to take a risk. In fact, he even said, “To live is Christ, to die is gain. My life is not my own. It’s all God’s anyway.”

That’s the attitude that I think faith leads us to. It’s an attitude that says, “It’s not that I take silly risks. It’s not that I throw myself in harm’s way for no reason. But no, Lord, if You direct me into a dangerous circumstance, I’ll go. I’m not here to be safe.”

One thing that I believe—it’s not a Bible verse, but it’s just something that I’ve come to think—is that, really, a safe life is a wasted life most of the time. That is, if you’re playing it safe every step of the way, you’re probably not getting anywhere. You’re probably not moving forward. A church that plays it safe probably won’t go anywhere.

It’s when you take a risk that things start to happen.

Here’s something I’ve noticed about the way the world works: Nothing of significance ever happens apart from someone taking a risk.

So think of this: This works in the realm of business or investing or family, any category of life. If you look at anything great that’s ever been accomplished, someone somewhere took a risk. Every church that’s ever started, someone took a risk to do it, to plant that church. Every field that’s ever been opened up for missions, someone was the first to ever step onto that field. Every opportunity, every business that’s ever started, every restaurant you walk into, everywhere, things of significance always require that someone took a risk to get them going.

If we all went the safe route, if we all went the easy route, well, we’d never really experience the fullness of life. And I think that’s true as a Christian as well.

Christianity is only comfortable for people who don’t understand what Jesus taught. Let’s think about that for a moment. Jesus said, “Deny yourself. Take up your cross daily. Follow Me” (see Luke 9:23).

Jesus said we’re to give the best of, all of ourselves, everything that we have. We give it to God 100%. We don’t hold anything back from Him. We put our full faith in Him. We put all of our eggs in that basket. That’s what Jesus said to do.

That’s not easy. But if you’re looking for easy, Christianity is not the right faith tribe to be a part of because what Jesus has called us to is to step forward and go a direction very different from the crowd, very different from the way the world around us might go.

Paul said this: “We live by faith, not by sight. For what is seen is temporary. What is unseen is eternal” (see 2 Cor. 5:7).

Something I’ve noticed about being in ministry, for myself as a ministry worker, a lot of the things that I do—virtually everything that I do—is wrapped up in kind of a faith wrapper. I’ve been challenged by this lately because it actually is very possible to be doing faith-filled things but still not really living out that verse.

That is, I could get really comfortable with what I’m doing and just do what I’ve always done and not ever move forward. And maybe people around me, because I’m preaching about the Bible and doing things that seem to have faith attached to them, people would think that I had faith, but I’m really just living based on the kind of safe road, the known road.

The challenge is to always, no matter where you’re starting from, always be pushing into the next frontier. “Lord, where do You want me to go next? What step am I supposed to take tomorrow?” That’s not always easy, but it’s always worth it.

So, that’s the first challenge: Risk. If you want to live a life of faith, you will take risks. And you have to accept the risk, that it’s possible. You think of it this way: You could be on Apollo 13 and not on Apollo 11. Like, that could happen to you, that things might not work out the way you want, but you are still following God through that. You’re still recognizing, “Lord, I’m following You whether or not things work out the way I’m expecting.”

That’s a life of faith.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Well, that’s Dan Jarvis with the first of five points on a life of faith that we’re going to be listening to throughout the next several days. Dan is on the staff of the parent ministry of Revive Our Hearts, Life Action Ministries, where we have served together for a number of years.

He’s also the teaching pastor at a local church in our community. I had the blessing of sitting in the congregation the day Dan preached that message a few months ago. As I heard it, I thought about Dan and his wife, Melissa—I’ve known Melissa since before she and Dan got married. She served at Revive Our Hearts on our staff. She met Dan here. And I thought about their journey and what I’ve heard and seen of it over the years.

As Dan preached each of these points, I thought, You guys lived this message. I could think of stories in their lives and incidents and parts of their journey that just beautifully illustrate this message of faith.

So this week, rather than playing the entire message for you in one fell swoop, we’re just going to take one point at a time. I’ve invited Dan and Melissa into the studio to just have a conversation about the point we’ve been listening to.

So, Melissa and Dan, welcome, and thank you for this conversation with our Revive Our Hearts listeners.

Dan: Yes, thank you, Nancy, for inviting us. We’re excited to be here.

Melissa: Yes. We’re very excited.

Nancy: Melissa, we’ve been listening to your husband. It’s a beautiful message. I love that teaching. But you have been a real partner with him in living out the message of faith. You’ve grown in that together. And, for you, that journey started before you even married Dan.

Melissa: Yes.

Nancy: You’ve told me that it actually began before you came to serve at Revive Our Hearts.

Melissa: Right.

Nancy: You read a book that I had recently written called, Surrender: The Heart God Controls.

Melissa: Yes.

Nancy: You were a single woman, and just, as you read that book, how did God begin to grip your heart with this call to faith?

Melissa: I would say my life as a single was dominated by control. Like a lot of things in my life. I wanted to control everything. So that book was like a kick in the seat of my pants, really. I just felt like God used that book to show me some areas that I had totally not surrendered to Him.

I’d been a believer for a very long time. And I just felt like God really took that book and the message you’d written and showed me specifically that I was not living a life that was dedicated to Him. I was living for myself.

So I read that book in the spring of 2003, right before I was supposed to sign my teaching contract for the next year. I just really felt like I wasn’t supposed to sign it. I said to myself, “If I’m not supposed to teach next year, what am I supposed to do?” I just felt kind of . . .

Nancy: For a control person, that’s a hard place to be if you’re not sure what step is next.

Melissa: Yes. It was really hard. So I just thought, Okay. Well, I’m just going to have to start saying "yes" to new opportunities that God might send my way.

And a couple of weeks later, I got a call from someone on staff at Revive Our Hearts asking if I would come for an interview for a position on the Revive Our Hearts’ staff. I thought, Why are they calling me? 

And I thought, Well, I read that book, and I’m going to take a step of faith and risk to say "yes" just to come for an interview.

I came, and I just said “yes,” and then I said “yes” again that I would be willing to come on staff. And so, instead of signing my teaching contract, which was the safe thing to do, I took a risk and said “yes” to come and work here.

Nancy: Of course, you had no idea at the time that one of the benefits of taking that step would be that you’d meet your future husband here.

Melissa: Oh, no, no, no. I never thought that. I was just taking this step of faith to branch out into something in a Christian ministry, not necessarily a career path. And I just thought, What an opportunity to just focus on serving God in a different way.

Nancy: And let me just say, parenthesis here (Fast forward to today. We still need people who have a heart like Melissa’s, who love Christ and are surrendered to Him, who may want to consider, God may be pressing you to consider taking a risk to consider a position on our team. We’ve lots of openings. Contact our ministry if the Lord may be speaking to you about that. A little commercial there.)

We want people whose hearts God has really captured, and that’s what God was doing with your heart at that point.

Melissa: Right. I think something that you said in your book that I’ve kind of just taken it as my heart motto for surrender is: Surrender is not a one-time choice. It’s a lifestyle. So, I learned to just keep thinking that way, this is not just a one-time saying “yes.” It’s just a constant, “I’m going to say ‘yes’ today.” I’m going to keep saying “yes” to the things that God prompts my heart to do.

One of those areas was in regards to marriage, in general.

I grew up in a Christian home, and I saw a good marriage, but I just didn’t want it for myself because I wanted to be in control. And control meant to me that I didn’t have to submit to anyone else’s desires or what they would want to do. So whenever God or anyone else would introduce me to another believer or somebody they thought I should date, I would just immediately say “no.”

So God started impressing upon my heart that summer that maybe I should let that go and start saying “yes.” So for that summer, I just started thinking, Maybe I should be open to thinking about marriage. So I started praying about marriage because, at that point, I wasn’t even praying for my spouse because I wasn’t willing to surrender that area of my life.

Nancy: Felt too risky.

Melissa: Oh, yes. Too risky to give that over. Then I met Dan.

Nancy: Who was working at the same ministry.

Melissa: He was. He was actually just two cubicles away from me. I think he says that we met before I even knew who he was for real. Right?

Dan: Oh, I think I noticed you before you noticed me.

Melissa: That’s kind of hard to do since he’s so tall. (laughing)

We started having conversations, and they were conversations I’d never had with another person, another guy. I thought, Wow. I really respect this person. He has such depth of heart for God.

I didn’t actually say “yes” the first time . . .

Dan: No. I want to tell that part of the story.

So when I finally worked up the courage to ask Melissa out on our first date, I went over to the cubicle. Okay, we’d hung out in groups before, but it was never obvious that I specifically liked her or was interested in her.

So I said, “Would you be interested in going out to dinner or something sometime?”

And her answer was, “I don’t know.” Just like a classic . . .

Nancy: Caught her off guard a little bit?

Dan: Yes. Well, it’s just the classic reply for a female who’s not really clear. I want a “yes!” I need a specific answer here.

Nancy: You wanted a “yes” or “no.”

Dan: Yes.

Nancy: You wanted a “yes!”

Dan: Yes. Right. Thankfully, “I don’t know,” did mean “yes,” apparently.

Melissa: Yes. It did mean “yes,” because I think I was even at that point not fully surrendered to the thought of marriage, but the thought of dating a man of God was like, “This could lead down that road, so maybe I’ll hedge myself in a little bit and just say, ‘I don’t know,’ or ‘maybe,’ but not 'yes.'”

Nancy: Even that was a step of faith.

Melissa: Yes. Then we just kept hanging out and getting to know each other a little bit more. I kind of got to the point that I just thought, This is going really, really fast. And our relationship did go extremely fast, but I would just say that I think, because God was in it and just how God was orchestrating it all, was that it was just this risk that wasn’t so scary anymore.

It became more like this adventure that it could be fun together. We could do more for God together if we just keep saying “yes” than if we stayed separate. And the vision, to me, actually became a better vision. So, ultimately, when Dan did ask me to marry him, I did say, “Yes.”

I also kept your book on my bedside table for a long time because it just was a reminder to me that when I am saying “yes,” I’m saying “yes” to God, but ultimately, I’m saying “yes” for this fact that it could be so much more. God could bless so much more if I’m just willing to let go of that control.

Nancy: Which is the difference between Apollo 8 and Apollo 11, just circling around versus touching down on the moon and experiencing something really amazing.

And you do wonder how many people, how many of us at many times just kind of stay in the shallows of what God has for us, watching other people maybe experienced His greatness, but maybe, because of fear or desire to control, we don’t step out.

Melissa: I think a lot of people are afraid of the word "submission." I think, actually, when you’re on a team together, submission to the right person is actually a beautiful picture of God and just the way God works in our hearts, and we learn to surrender. I think sometimes, in the Bible, when you think about what marriage is, it’s just a great illustration of how you interact together.

That’s why I think being married to the right person can actually help your faith journey, in a different way. Like, I never knew that I could live this way when I was single, but it’s just an adventure that I love.

Nancy: And the adventure for you two didn’t stop at the altar. It has been a faith venture all the way.

Just in the last couple of moments here, we’re going to touch on something that’s a part of your story that we’ll come back to and expand on on another day. But the Lord brought you to marriage, and then He brought you to begin fostering special-needs children. And that was one step of faith after another.

Dan, give us just in a nutshell what that’s looked like for you all, and then we’ll unpack that a little bit on another program.

Dan: Sure. Well, the irony of all of Melissa’s story is that I love taking risks—not senseless risks, but I’m just that type of person. There’s always more money to make. There’s always more opportunities around the next horizon, so we can risk it all. So opposites attract, I guess.

Nancy: And you probably needed each other.

Dan: Yes. Definitely. I needed a little moderation in that.

So along the way, that did lead us to something that was actually in both of our hearts before we were married, which was to try to make our home into a haven for kids in need.

As we got settled in our first home that we were able to purchase, we signed up for foster-parent classes, because that was one way we thought was a quick pathway to meet some kids in need. We thought that might be just a temporary part of our lives, that for a few years we would do that.

It ended up defining our whole future and building our family. We’ve ended up adopting six kids out of foster care so far. Right, Honey?

Melissa: (Laughing) Right.

Nancy: Some of them with really great needs, physical and otherwise, and horrendous backgrounds.

Dan: Right. Well, there’s a reason why they’re in foster care.

Nancy: Exactly.

Dan: Sadly, a lot of those scenarios are very broken, very dark. We’ve had to walk through some situations that even in the specific saying “yes” to a child, it was like another level of surrender—saying that we’re giving up something about our future lives. We might be giving up some of our own expectations of what our household might feel like or look like if we let this child into it because they’re coming with baggage, and they’re coming with needs.

We live with that every day, those risks. It’s not that every risk you take has a happy ending. It’s just that it’s still worth taking because it has to do with your surrender to Christ. You’re saying, “My life isn’t my own to begin with here. And so, Lord, if You want to use me to do something that the world would say is great, well, I’ll do that. But if You want to use me to do things that no one will ever know about . . .”

Nancy: And that are just hard.

Dan: Right, “And are really hard, then I’m willing to walk that road, too.”

Nancy: We want to unpack a little bit more of that story, but as we prayed together before we started this conversation on the air, we just said we don’t want people to think that walking by faith necessarily means that their journey looks like yours—that they will necessarily be married or that they will foster children or have children. God’s plan for faith in your life will look different than it has looked in my life or in Dan and Melissa’s life.

But our prayer was that the Lord would speak to every person hearing this conversation about where He wants you to step out in faith and where there may be something that seems risky that He’s asking you to take a step.

Let me just say, the response to that goes back to what the Lord showed Melissa back in 2003 and has continued to teach her, and that is: A life of surrender, saying, “Yes, Lord,” is the life of faith. Saying, “God, I trust You enough that I’ll step out of what seems comfortable and convenient and definable and something that I think I can manage. I’m willing to step out of that if that’s what I believe You’re calling me to do.”

We get that from God’s Word. We get it from the counsel of other people. We don’t just step out and do crazy things, though sometimes God’s will may seem crazy at the moment to our finite wisdom.

We’re going to pick up on this conversation. We’ll hear more of Dan’s message tomorrow. But let me just ask, as we close today: Is there a step of faith that seems really risky to you, but that you believe God may be asking you to take? Would you just talk with Him about it?

Say, “Lord, whatever Your will looks like for my life, whether that means maybe leaving my job, joining a ministry staff, being willing to have another child, being willing to be married, or whatever that might be, Lord, I trust You enough. I’m sure enough of Your promises and Your power and Your grace that I will say ‘yes’ to whatever You’re leading in my life.” And God will honor and reward that faith as He promises to do.

Leslie: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has been talking with Dan and Melissa Jarvis about faith frontiers.

Where would you engage in God’s work if fear were no factor? We’ll be talking about this all week.

And, you know, Nancy, a lot of listeners have taken some big steps of faith to make Revive Our Hearts possible through prayer and financial giving.

Nancy: That’s right, Leslie. Our listeners are really on this faith journey with us, and I’m so grateful for all who have supported Revive Our Hearts this month.

As we’ve been explaining, donations have been a little lower than we expected for several months leading up to our fiscal year-end here in May. That means we’ve needed to start using our reserve funds to keep the ministry going, and we can’t sustain that for very long. I know that the Lord has new faith journeys ahead for Revive Our Hearts, but right now our team is considering how we might need to scale back if this budget gap isn’t closed.

You can help meet the need through your gift this month. We’re praying for $830,000 in donations by the end of May. So if you’ve been blessed by the ministry of Revive Our Hearts, if you’ve benefitted from it or others that you know have benefitted from it, if you’re excited to move into these faith frontiers with us, would you ask the Lord how He’d have you to give to help meet these needs at this time?

Thanks so much for carrying this burden with us and for walking by faith with us into what God has for us in this season and in the days ahead.

Leslie: Call with your gift to 1–800–569–5959, or you can visit ReviveOurHearts.com to give online.

Is God calling you to take some new step of faith? Do you feel like you lack the resources to move forward? Tomorrow Dan and Melissa Jarvis will help you know how to find the resources you need when God is calling you to a new faith frontier. Please join us tomorrow for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth encourages you to pursue faith frontiers. It’s an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the NLT unless otherwise noted.

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