Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: Nancy Leigh DeMoss learned a lot from her dad about expecting God to do great things.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: He said, “Many of us in our Christian lives have been wallowing around in shallow waters, assuming it to be safer there—no need for miracles. But one of the divine paradoxes I’ve learned over the years is that, contrary to normal expectations, it can be much riskier, much costlier, to stay in the shallow water rather than to trust the Lord and launch out into the deep.”

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Tuesday, September 1.

Nancy: Thirty years ago today, I was at home in Philadelphia, visiting my parents and my six siblings for the weekend. On that Friday evening, we went out to dinner and celebrated my 21st birthday a few days early. Then on Saturday, September 1, my parents drove me to the airport to catch a flight back to Virginia where I was serving in a local church at the time.

Just moments after I landed, I received a call from my mother that I’ll never forget. She was on the other end of the line with the news that during the time I had been in the air, my dad had a heart attack and had instantly gone to be with the Lord. Now, 30 years later, I can’t tell you how grateful I am for the rich legacy of faith that my dad left for me and for my six younger brothers and sisters.

Art DeMoss was a man with one defining, consuming purpose in life—to glorify God and to advance His kingdom on earth. So much of who I am today was shaped by the influence of this man during the first 21 years of my life. Not a day goes by that my life is not impacted by his godly example and his wise instruction.

Yesterday, we listened to the first part of a message that I gave several years ago at a Generous Giving conference in Colorado Springs. In that message I talked about the impact of my dad’s example on my own life. Today, I want to share with you the second half of that message in which I spoke about my dad’s commitment to put God first in every area of his life—in his business, in his family, and particularly in the area of giving. I hope your own heart will be stirred and perhaps changed as you listen to this tribute to a true man of God from a very grateful daughter’s heart.

Nancy (conference): There is nothing that will make an impact on the lives of your children and your grandchildren (by the way, it’s not too late to start) than your kids having that image of a dad on his knees. I don’t know how many kneeling pads he wore out over the years. You know what? I don’t know anything about business. I know less about insurance, but I know something about God.

I love God’s kingdom. I love His ways, and it’s because of a dad who put God first. I’ll tell you what. When I wake up in the morning and I’m tempted, as I am most days, to hit the day running with my to-do list, I’ve got an indelible impression in my mind of a dad who put God first in his day. It’s like a tether to my life, calling me to put God first in my life. There’s nothing like it in the lives of your children.

In the area of his business, putting God first if he went out of business. Being honest, and you know the insurance business isn’t one that’s exactly renowned for integrity. But integrity and being right with God mattered to him consummately.

He tells the story about when he first became a believer. He owned a small chain of grocery stores at that time. He said the first thing he did after he became a Christian was that he took all the alcohol off the shelves. He said the next thing he did was go out of business, and you know what? He didn’t care.

What mattered to him supremely was putting God first. He put God first in terms of his priority of seeking out people. I don’t know how many people I’ve met—two of them here this weekend—who have told me how in some way they came to faith or were discipled in their faith through the legacy and influence of Art DeMoss.

I think of a Jewish physician who came to my dad’s office when he was doing his residency. He came with a couple other men who had put together a program about helping medical students get insurance. It was a business meeting. The young doctor, Phil Silverstein, was Jewish.

He tells the story of how my dad pulled him aside—we used to call it button-holing. He used to make us uncomfortable on occasion, but he had no fear of man. He feared God, and he had eternity in view. It made him fearless in sharing the Gospel. He pulled this young, Jewish doctor aside and asked him where he was in his relationship with Christ.

Now, what he didn’t know was that Phil Silverstein had been, for some period of time, reading the Scripture, and God was drawing his heart. That day, before that meeting started, Philip Silverstein gave his heart to Christ.

Then my dad recognized that God is the source of every material blessing— not a business, not some kind of investment, not the stock market, not how the economy is doing. God is the source and we are utterly, totally dependent upon Him. He taught us that our income didn’t ultimately come from an employer or a trust fund or any other earthly means but that we need to look to God to provide.

Therefore, it followed that he acknowledged God’s right—as the supreme owner of everything—not only to give but to take away material blessings. As a result, my dad was able to be as grateful and serene in times of loss as he was in times of gain.

I remember my tenth grade year of high school. At the beginning of that year, we had a fire that burned our home while we were all there in the middle of the night. The end of that year, my mother had life-threatening brain tumor—surgery to remove a brain tumor. In the intervening months, my dad’s business was under ferocious attack from a number of quarters, but I watched my dad in that year of relentless adversity.

I watched a man who was utterly at peace, whose heart was not stressed because the Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. He is God. We bless His name. That doesn’t mean it was easy, but there was peace, and there was grace because of his view of God’s sovereignty.

Now, he saw himself, not as a recipient, but as a channel of God’s blessings. He believed that God gives to us not so we can store up for ourselves or accumulate, but so we can give to meet the needs of others. I’m convinced it’s because he never got over the wonder of the fact that God had saved him and that God would have had mercy on him, and a sense of God’s abounding grace in exchange for his abounding sinfulness caused my dad to overflow with gratitude and generosity.

He considered it a great joy to give. Now, on the subject of giving, let me just share with you some of his teaching and thinking and living on that. He believed there was a strong correlation between giving and spirituality, that the two almost invariably go hand in hand, that one is a measure of the other.

He believed that giving is a principle indicator of our true priorities. He taught us that if you want to know where somebody’s heart really is, what do they really love, don’t listen to what they say they love. Look at their checkbook, and look at their calendar.

I know that many of you get it about this whole thing of giving, so this may not come as much of a revelation to some of you as it would to most. But most people believe in giving out of what they have left over after their needs are met or what they consider to be their needs. My dad believed in this Old Testament—first Old Testament and then the New Testament as well—principle of giving out of the firstfruits.

He believed that that was an expression of faith, that we should give out of God’s abundance before we knew how much we would have left over, that the giving should be off the top. It should be out of the firstfruits. Then he believed that our giving—and again, accountants scratch their heads at this kind of thinking, but I saw the accountant types come to faith in different ways over the years as they saw God bless this—he believed that our giving should not be dependent on how much income we have.

Now, that seems the obvious way. You see how much you have, and you give out of that. He thought that was rather backwards, that instead, our giving should be based on how great and big and trustworthy we believe God to be,  that should determine our giving.

As a result, he believed that sometimes God would lead you to give more in times of loss as an expression of faith, giving more in times of loss. By the way, he didn’t do it just when he had money. He tells the story—and you have on your tables a little booklet that he wrote many years ago called, God’s Secret of Success. It tells more of his view on this. At the time of his conversion, he did not have money. He was in debt because of foolish spending and living. But from the earliest point of his days as a believer, he practiced giving to God and then watched God bless that.

He believed that we ought to look for opportunities to give, that we shouldn’t wait for ministries to come sending urgent appeals. He believed that we ought to be like the Macedonians in Second Corinthians who said, “How can we give? Where can we give?” They begged for an opportunity to give, and that was his philosophy. His goal was not to accumulate but to give the maximum amount possible during his lifetime.

In fact, I don’t know that he originated this. He probably didn’t, but I remember hearing him say, “Do your givin’ while you’re livin’ so you’re knowin’ where it’s goin’.” That was the philosophy and the heart. Of course, he didn’t know when the Lord would take him, and we’re so thankful for the planning that he did that would make it possible for the giving to go on long beyond his lifetime here on earth.

My dad and mom have always desired that their children would stand on their shoulders and would go further, spiritually, than they went. That’s been a goal in my life, in every area of their lives and example to spiritually stand on their shoulders. This is one area where it’s not easy but where I have certainly had that as a goal.

Not ever in my lifetime will I likely have the number of dollars to invest in the Lord’s kingdom, but I want to have the kind of heart and beyond of what my dad demonstrated. So I’ve practiced in much different ways, and I say this because I realize there are those here, and perhaps some of your children and grandchildren, who don’t have huge net worths. I believe this is a way of living, intended to be a way of living for every child of God, regardless of what their net worth may be or what kind of living they may be able to make.

I remember as a college student at the University of Southern California (somebody, I think, referred to his allowance last night). I remember my allowance was $50 a month. That included, as I recall, gas money. Of course, gas didn’t cost then what it does today, but I remember just having a goal at the end of every month, first to give off the top, but then to live in as frugal a way as possible so that at the end of the month I would have as much of that $50 as possible left over to give to the Lord’s work.

I discovered not too long ago some papers I had written. I just kept track of every—I mean 10 cents for this—and this was in college, tracking all this, and with the goal of being able to give more. Then when I got out of college, 1978, I remember my annual salary for my first job was $7,800. After a $50 a month allowance, that sounded pretty incredible. I was so excited because I knew now I could give more. Of course, expenses were also about to increase as well, but it was a privilege.

I began to claim a passage that I have claimed all these years since my college or just out of college years from Second Corinthians chapter 9, verse 10. God makes a three-fold promise, and I have just believed God for this all of my adult life. God says, “I’ll do three things. First, I’ll provide bread for you to eat. I’ll make sure that your needs are met, and then I will provide more seed for you to sow in My kingdom. I’ll increase your seed sown, and I will increase the harvest of your righteousness” (paraphrase).

I didn’t know any better, having grown up under Art DeMoss’s tutelage, than just to take God at His Word. I said, “Okay, Lord, this is going to be an adventure, but I’m going to believe You to meet my needs. I’m going to believe that in my lifetime, as I grow in this grace of giving, that You will increase the amount that I can give to invest in Your work and that You will multiply the fruit, the harvest, of that righteousness.”

I have watched God do that spectacularly over these years. What a privilege it’s been to stretch in the grace of giving, to grow, to ask God to take me to deeper levels! One of the reasons I’ve done that is because I know in my own life that giving God’s way is one of the greatest means of guarding my own heart against covetousness, against selfishness, against self-reliance, against pride. It’s one of the greatest ways to foster in my life a heart attitude of humility and compassion.

I know that I have a greater need to give God’s way than any ministry has a needs to receive whatever I or any of us collectively could give. We’re the ones who need to grow in the grace of giving. So over the years I’ve learned to ask, to think the way one of the Wesleys did when he said, “If I have any money, I give it as quickly as possible lest it find its way into my heart.”

I’ve been learning over the years, when God brings any resources my my direction to say, “Lord, do You want me to give this?” I check with the Lord before making what other people would consider maybe just routine expenditures. Now, I don’t want to suggest that I do that all the time across the board, but it’s been a way of thinking for me to stop and check and say, “Lord, is this the time? Is this the way You want to provide this, or would this be something that should be given?”

When I hear of a need in the body of Christ or in the kingdom of Christ, not just to pray that it will be met, but to say, “Lord, do You want me to have a part, some part? Maybe I can’t do nearly what someone else could do, but would do You want to use some of the seed that You’ve given to me to be invested in that work?”

When it comes to this matter of living by faith, my dad used to talk about that passage in Luke chapter 5 where the disciples came to Jesus after a fruitless night of fishing all night. They hadn’t caught anything, and Jesus told them to launch out into the deep and to put out their nets. Without understanding, they obeyed the Lord and said, “At Your word, we will do this,” and you remember how they wound up with that net-breaking, boat-sinking load of fish?

Here’s what my dad had to say about that passage. He said, “Many of us in our Christian lives have been wallowing around in shallow waters, assuming it to be safer there—no need for miracles. But one of the divine paradoxes I’ve learned over the years is that, contrary to normal expectations, it can be much riskier, much costlier, to stay in the shallow water rather than to trust the Lord and launch out into the deep.”

I remember hearing my dad tell a story of a man that you’ve probably read about, a man my dad had the privilege of knowing. His name was Dick James. You may remember that he was the young engineer who invented the slinky toy.

Now, you’ve probably read different versions of this, but let me tell you how my dad heard this from Dick James. This invention propelled this man to instant, overnight fame and fortune. All of a sudden, he had the resources that he could have to do whatever he wanted to do. He traveled the world. He found that none of it satisfied, and in that process, Dick James came to faith in Christ.

Well, this man was so totally sold out to the Lord that in a process of time, he felt God was calling him to South America to be a missionary. He gave away everything he had. He didn’t want to have any bank accounts to lean on. He got an inheritance from an uncle. He gave that away. He just wanted to fully trust God.

However, he did confess to holding out on God in one little matter. He kept with him the original die of the slinky toy, reasoning in his mind that if, perchance, God might let him down, he could go back to making slinky toys in South America and open up a whole, new market. Then he told about the day that came when God spoke to his heart. He threw that die in the Pacific Ocean and became a free man. He wrote a letter to my dad that expressed the joy that he experienced from being fully sold out to God, and here’s what he said.

Yesterday, we cleaned out the storage room—old paper, rusty scrap steel, tin cans, bottles, just rubbish. All we have to do is put it outside the gate, and within minutes, the neighbors take away every single scrap. Old, rusty, bent nails are picked up one by one and reused. Old, rusty, corrugated sheets with holes in it will go on someone’s roof. Blessed poverty! Hallelujah!

I praise the Lord that He has shown me both sides of having much of this world’s goods and having nothing. The more I am in this world, the more I can see that there is nothing, nothing, nothing—families, money, education, factories, position, reputation—nothing amounts to a piece of dust outside of Christ.

He is everything, all total. He is King. He is wonderful. He is love. He is life, peace, happiness, lovely, wonderful, to be praised. He is our all. He is the foundation. He is the rock. He is the only way. He is breath, bread, water.

Praise God! Glory, glory! I want Him and only Him, one hundred percent, nothing else. Hallelujah! I want to know Him. I want to glory in Him. I want to follow Him. Glory to His name.

My dad’s comment on that letter was, “I know that to many, Dick James sounds like a fanatic. I wish I was a fanatic like that.” So let me ask you tonight, what kind of legacy are you leaving for your children? Do your children have a passion for business, for the finer things of life, for success as the world measures it, or do they have a passion for Christ?

Twenty-five years after you’re buried, what will be your children’s recollection of you? Will it be a man on his knees, a mom on her knees? I want to challenge you, just again from a daughter’s heart, to ask God to teach you to think radically about giving, whether you have relatively much or little. Wherever you are in that process, just say, “Lord, help me press deeper into Your heart, to become more like Christ in giving in a way that is sacrificial and generous and requires faith.”

I’m convinced that in eternity, there are two kinds of people we’re going to thank: the people who told us about Jesus and the people who challenged us to give. If possible, I’d like to be one of those second people in your life. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich,” indescribably rich, “yet for our sakes He became poor,” indescribably poor, “that we through His poverty might be made rich,” (2 Corinthians 8:9, NKJV)

And O Lord Jesus, how we bless You for Your great, giving, generous, aboundingly generous heart. We could never plumb the depths of Your sacrifice. Our giving could never approximate Yours, but Jesus, I want to try because I love You so much. I’m so thankful for Your grace, and I pray, O God, that in this room of men and women, You would press us by Your love into a lifestyle of more extreme, radical giving for the sake of Jesus who gave it all. I pray in His blessed name.

Leslie: Hearing that message makes me ask, have I been showing a heart attitude of giving? Nancy Leigh DeMoss has challenged each of us to give for the right reasons. As we just heard, Nancy’s dad, Arthur DeMoss, taught his children what it means to give sacrificially, and he modeled that for them.

Arthur DeMoss went home to be with the Lord 30 years ago today, and we thought this message would be a fitting tribute. Giving really isn’t about compulsion or guilt. It’s a great avenue for freedom and joy. Learn more about this important topic from Nancy by getting a copy of her booklet, A Legacy of Giving. She outlines biblical principles of giving she learned from her dad, and she shares how beneficial giving has been in her life.

When you give to support Revive Our Hearts, we’ll say thanks by sending you the booklet, A Legacy of Giving, and today’s message on CD. It’s called, A Father’s Legacy. Ask for both when you call with your donation. The number is 1-800-569-5959, or you can donate online at ReviveOurHearts.com .

Well, young women are growing up in a world far different than the one their parents faced. Caroline McCulley will be here to describe the pressures young women face next time on Revive Our Hearts.

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

 

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