Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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It's Not Your Life

Leslie Basham: When Nancy Leigh DeMoss runs into challenges in ministry she always remembers this.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: God put me here. I didn’t ask for this. I didn’t seek this out. And because I know He put me here, I know there’s grace to deal with whatever the challenges are related to this.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Monday, May 13.


On Friday, we heard how the Lord used one mom and one dad to create an environment conducive to the gospel. We heard about the power of parenting. God used Arthur and Nancy DeMoss to create an environment where their kids would see Him at work; where they would want to know Him more.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss grew up in that home and at age four, came to saving faith in Christ. That was fifty years ago tomorrow. Nancy’s taking some time to look back and thank the Lord for His grace during five decades of serving Him. Paula Hendricks is a blogger at Today we’ll pick back up on her conversation with Nancy about walking with the Lord for fifty years.


Paula Hendricks: And from early on, the Lord really gave you a heart to serve Him.

Nancy: Yes. We’ve talked about how my parents had such a heart for ministry—for serving the Lord. There were always people coming to know Jesus in our home. They would have special dinner parties where they would bring people they knew didn’t know Jesus into their home, and then would have somebody share a testimony and share the gospel and give people a chance to put their faith in Christ. There were Bible studies going on. Just all kinds of outreach.

The kids got involved in this, too. I can remember for one of those dinner parties one of the things on the menu was strawberries. I just remembered this. We hulled strawberries—the little kids did—till our fingers were red, I think, but just participating. We’d be praying for the people who were coming and wanting to know afterwards, “Did anybody get saved? What happened, Daddy or Mom? How did it go?” But this heart for serving the Lord came in so many different ways.

I thank the Lord for parents who gave us a vision that there was no greater thing in life than serving the Lord in whatever that looked like, whatever that would be, wherever it would be, whatever it would mean. I’m so thankful that the Lord put those desires on my heart as a young girl.

Paula: And it started with teaching children, right?

Nancy: It did. I mentioned earlier that I taught my first Sunday school class when I was eight years old—just one time. When I got to junior high school,there was this man on staff at our church as the Christian Education Director. He came when I was in the seventh grade. I remember pulling him aside and saying, “Ron, would you teach me everything you know about ministry, about local church ministry, about serving the Lord? And whatever you teach me, someday I will teach to others.”

Now, I’m trying to imagine a seventh grader coming up and saying this to you and how seriously would you take this? But he took me seriously and gave me opportunities to teach children. We had what we called the Fisherman’s Club. This is what I did this through junior and senior high school and then into my early college years because I was still in the Philadelphia area during those years.

This was on Sunday nights. It was a missionary emphasis. We had three age groups. Then I recruited my brothers and sisters to help me teach and recruited some other people in the church. So I was actively involved in local church children’s ministry all through high school, college. I really had a heart for passing on the baton of faith to the next generation. So those were some fun years.

Paula: Neat. So teaching was something you were very used to. But when you were twenty-one the Lord redirected you to start speaking to women.

Nancy: Yes. I was on the staff of a local church working in children’s ministries by that point. (I was out of college.) The pastor of that church also had a para-church ministry. He came to me and said, “Would you consider going out and starting to teach women’s seminars?” This was in an era where there was a lot of talk about secular humanism and what was happening in our country and the deterioration of values.

So I actually developed a seminar called, “The Battle for the Family—the Woman’s Role.” I started traveling and doing these seminars. Then I began serving with Life Action Ministries doing women’s ministry in local churches with our teams that would go into churches and have revival ministry.

I would meet with the women in the mornings. Sometimes it was just a very small group. It could be four or five or six women. Sometimes it was larger. It would be dozens or even a little larger than that sometimes. But this was not big public ministry.

I would minister to those women along the lines of what was being preached in the evening services with the Life Action Revival Ministries road teams. I would listen to the women share their stories, share their heart, share their struggles. As I began to reach out and serve those women, I just believed, and I still do, that in Christ in the gospel and in God’s Word there is what will meet all of our needs in every season of life. So what began as something I wasn’t really excited about, ministry to women became something I was passionate about.

Paula: So during that season, the Lord was obviously using you in big ways in women’s lives. But He was also preparing you for the next assignment because in July of 1995 you were catapulted overnight into this whole new realm of exposure like you had never known before.

Nancy: Yes. It was a significant point in a lot of ways. I had been asked to speak by Campus Crusade for Christ at their summer staff training. Actually, they did this every other year. God was moving on a lot of college campuses in that season in the semester leading up to that, and there were some glimpses of revival. They knew that I had a heart for revival and asked if I would come and share with the staff in that setting.

And weeks before that gathering I had been reading and meditating in the book of Isaiah. I came across some verses that just spoke to me about the heart God revives is a humble heart, a broken and contrite heart. So I began developing a new message on “The Heart God Revives”—what it means to have a broken spirit.

I can still remember getting up to share with the staff that day. They were meeting in this several thousand seat basketball arena, Moby Gym, there on the campus on Colorado State University. I was in my mid-thirties, had never given this message before.

God had been doing a fresh work of brokenness in my own heart in some relationships leading up to that time. I had been saying, “Yes, Lord,” in some difficult areas. I think that’s part of what God had done to prepare my heart, but I never could have envisioned what it was, as it turned out, that God did that day.

It was a staff that was very expectant. They had been praying. They had been seeking the Lord. They wanted to see revival in their ministry. They had been meeting for a couple of days already earnestly crying out to the Lord. As I finished speaking, people from that staff began to move to one another and to the front of that auditorium to clear their conscience, to make things right, to share publicly issues that God was dealing with in their lives.

Long story short, we continued on through the rest of that day until midnight that night and then all the next day from nine to five, I think it was, and the next morning. In God’s providence, Henry Blackaby was scheduled to speak the next day. He had come in a bit early and was the one God used to help steer what was happening because revival can be messy when stuff starts coming to the surface that needs to be dealt with.

There were some issues that had to be dealt with corporately and individually. But God began to move through that ministry in a very gracious way. I’m just sitting back watching what God was doing. And at points some of the leadership would come to me and say, “What do we do next?” And I’m going, “I don’t know. I’ve never been here in this place. We seek the Lord. We ask Him what to do next.”

Anyway, by the end of that conference, the tape, as we had in those days, the cassette tape from that message had been requested many, many times. People were listening to the message. I began to get invitations. There was a list that I shared in that message. Actually it was a last minute addition that was in my scratchy handwriting—almost indecipherable on a legal piece of paper—of the difference between a broken person and a proud person. And just some practical “What does this look like?” People were asking for that list. I’ve got this piece of paper in my notes, so they were re-printing that.

It opened up some amazing new opportunities for ministry. But it also opened up a whole new realm of testing and temptation and vulnerability and battles with pride—the very thing I had been speaking about at that conference. Also, in God’s providence, that is part of what God used to sow some seeds that resulted in, long story short, the launch of Revive Our Hearts radio ministry six years later.

So as only God could orchestrate those pieces, He used that moment in a significant way in my life, in the lives of those who were there and to send the ministry forward in some ways that we never could have scripted.

Paula: Speaking of never having scripted it, when I came here, you probably remember, I was an over-eager ambitious college graduate and wanted to be the next great Christian women’s speaker. You had some things to share with me about just how the Lord has led you in your own journey.

Nancy: Yes, and it looks different for different people. But one of the things I’ve shared with Paula and with other women . . . Often women will come to me and say, “I want to be a speaker like you,” or “I want to be a writer.” And just as far as my own journey goes, I share with them that I have never aspired to do any of the things I’m doing today. So the things I’m doing today are things that God initiated or that He used other people to initiate.

Now, the reason I think that’s such a helpful thing, at least for me, is when the going gets tough, as it does, as I’ve said to you, Paula, “And it will.” It’s so helpful to know I’m not here because I scraped and manipulated and made myself a position.

I’ve said, to women, “You can get anything you want. You can get a husband; you can get a ministry; you can get a whatever.” But if you get it for yourself instead of letting God give it to you, you may end up with . . . what did it say in the Old Testament? “God gave them the desires of what they demanded of Him, the Israelites, but He sent leanness into their souls.”

So in the radio ministry or the speaking ministry or the writing ministry, when I’m up against a hard deadline or dealing with what seems like impossible situation sometimes, it’s so helpful to know God put me here. I didn’t ask for this. I didn’t seek this out. Because I know He put me here, I know there’s grace to deal with whatever the challenges are related to this.

Paula: So, that was in 1995. Then four years later, you get a call from Dennis Rainey that you will never forget.

Nancy: Dennis Rainey is the director and founder of FamilyLife Ministries. I had known Dennis Rainey and his wife, Barbara, and also Dennis’ co-host, Bob Lepine, for a number of years and was appreciative of their ministry. But I was not expecting this call, where Dennis said to me, “We’ve been praying and thinking here at FamilyLife about starting another radio program for women and with a woman teacher or host. We think you may be the person that God wants to do this. Can we talk to you about this?”

I can still remember thinking, “I think that’s a great idea.” Because actually for some time prior to that, I had been thinking it would be neat to have this kind of program. I saw Elisabeth Elliot getting older. I so valued her ministry and I thought, Who’s going to have that kind of ministry with the next generation of women? So I had actually been out there looking for a woman to do that kind of ministry.

So I said, “That’s a great idea. But I think you have the wrong woman. I’d be glad to help you find the right woman.” Well, thus ensued a lengthy series, a year-and-a-half of conversations and seeking the Lord, and long story short, the launch of Revive Our Hearts radio ministry.

Paula: Is there anything you want to tell us about? It sounds like there was an initial point of surrender that was pretty big and then there was the process of discerning God’s will.

Nancy: Yes. That eighteen month process. I didn’t just jump into this because I had a lot of objections. I felt a little bit like Moses in Exodus 3, “But God . . .” Giving God all the reasons that I wouldn’t be so good at this. I had like eleven messages or something I had developed over years. I was in an itinerate ministry. I could repeat those over and over again. I said, “There is no way I can come up with enough content for daily radio.” That’s 260 times a year, Monday through Friday.

I mentioned about not wanting to have a public life. My thought was, If I say "Yes" to this, I will have no life of my own for the rest of my life. At which point, of course, the Lord is by His Spirit nudging me and going, “Who’s life is it? It’s not your life. It’s My life.” He says to me. So there was this process of seeking the Lord.

I wanted to make sure that this was not Dennis and Bob calling me into this; that it was not my own aspirations, which that wasn’t so much an issue, but that it was really God in this. I knew there were so many radio programs. "We don’t need another radio program. We don’t need another teaching ministry. If people would just obey a fraction of what they already know we’d have revival." So I didn’t want to be just adding to the clutter of what was already out there—a lot of good stuff. But I just said, “Lord, I have to know that You’re in this.”

So there was this two-fold process first of saying, “If this is what You want me to do, then I surrender to it. Yes, Lord.” And that was a process getting there. And then there was the process, “Is this what You want me to do?” Discerning the will of God. I spent time fasting. I spent a lot of time getting counsel, in God’s Word, waiting on Him. Through His Word and a whole process of time there, He began to confirm to me that yes this was what He wanted.

I said, “Lord, if You’re in this, I want You to anoint it with the power of Your Holy Spirit such that it cannot be explained in terms of me or my gifts. I want You to arrest people’s hearts that not a word will fall to the ground, as it was said of Samuel’s ministry in 1 Samuel. That people’s hearts would be arrested, they’ll be captured, their lives will be transformed that they won’t be just filling their heads with more content, but You will use this to really change lives.” I think God has been pleased to do that certainly in some measure. I know it’s certainly been life changing for me.

Paula: So you’ve been recording radio now for twelve years?

Nancy: Twelve, thirteen years. Yes.

Paula: So do you feel like, “Okay, I’ve got it down by now. I can do this 265 days?"

Nancy: Oh, yes. No problem. (laughter). Do you know what? Early in my Christian life I asked the Lord to never let me get to the place where I could do ministry without Him. I was a good student. I got good grades. A lot of things came easily for me. I didn’t want ministry to be that way. I never wanted to be in a place where I wasn’t very conscious that I need the Lord. And that is one prayer that God has been so faithful to answer.

In fact, I’ve had many times with the Lord a conversation that sounds a little bit like the one Mary had in Luke chapter 1 where God sends the angel to say, “You’re going to have the Son of God.”

And Mary saying, “This is humanly impossible. This can’t happen. How can this happen?” So she has this conversation with the Lord.

The angel says to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. This isn’t going to be you. This is going to be the power of God.” So I have this conversation with the Lord.

Then I love Mary’s response, which I actually have. You brought it in Paula. It’s sitting on the wall in my office normally. If I had a life verse this is probably it. Luke 1, verse 38 that says, in this translation, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as You have said.” And when it comes down to it, God says, “I’m going to do this.” Our response has to be, “Yes, Lord.” It’s a good place to be.

Paula: So do you recommend these women pray that prayer that you prayed that the Lord would never let you do something in your own strength?

Nancy: I don’t want it to ever be easy. I don’t think you want it to be easy. Now, we don’t like it being hard. But anything that makes us need God is a blessing. So embrace that. Now, I’m not saying try to be a martyr and say, “Okay. How can I go make my life as hard as possible?” You don’t need to try. It will be hard.

Let God bring those hard things, and when He wants to use you, realize that your sufficiency is of Him. Your adequacy is of Him. And I don’t think you ever want to get to the place where you feel like you can do it without Him. Jesus said, “Without Me, you can do nothing.” So to embrace that, to recognize that is a really good place to be.

I know I’m looking into the eyes here of some moms with a lot of young children. There have to be days where you think, “I cannot do this.” Some of you are caring for grandchildren. Some of you have been asked to teach a Bible study for women in your church and you’re going, “I can’t do this.” That’s such a good place to be because then you need Him, and you’re leaning hard on Him.

When I first made the phone call to tell Bob Lepine that I felt God was calling me “yes” to do this new radio ministry after a year and a half of seeking Him, I was so shaken when I got off the phone. I pulled out my hymnal, and I opened up to that old gospel song, “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms.” I began to sing all stanzas.

I was crying so hard that you could probably not have understood exactly what I was singing. But

Leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.
What have I to dread?
What have I to fear?
With my Lord so near,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

But those arms are always there. They’re everlasting. They will not let you down. He will be there. So to have to lean on Him is a really, really good place to be.

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been talking with Paula Hendricks about what it’s like to trust the Lord even when you feel inadequate. That conversation is part of the series that’s called, “Fifty Years of Walking with God.” In it, Nancy looks back on some of what she’s learned on her fiftieth spiritual birthday.

In order to fit this on the air, we’ve needed to cut some of the interview. But when you order on CD, you’ll hear the entire conversation. Just visit and look for the series, “Fifty Years of Walking with God.

Well, our team is excited because tomorrow the Revive Tour comes to Indianapolis. Nancy will be speaking at College Park Church tomorrow evening then recording new radio programs on Wednesday. Then later in the week the team will be in the Cleveland area—Parkside Church in Chagrin Falls. It’s been encouraging to meet so many listeners on the Revive Tours including Janie who we met in Houston. She has a long drive to work each morning.

Janie: For a while I complained about my commute. It was so awful, and poor me.

Leslie: But then she started listening to Revive Our Hearts during her morning drive.

Janie: Slowly it changed my life day by day and then I started, “Oh, I can’t wait for my commute.” It has truly changed my life. She’s had an enormous impact on my life.

Leslie: Janie signed up for the Daily Connection—highlights from each day’s program delivered by email, and she wanted to tell her daughter Sonja about Revive Our Hearts.


Sonja: Mom started getting the emails from Nancy and then she started forwarding them to us. Pretty soon I signed up for the emails, and we still get them. Mom actually still continues to forward Nancy’s emails to us even though I get them too.

Leslie: Janie’s daughter, Kendra, got plugged into the ministry as well.

Kendra: My mom and I had the opportunity to attend the True Woman conference in Chattanooga together as well as in Indianapolis. The revival messages at Indianapolis were so special to me that I took the DVD’s home to my husband and shared them with him.

Now we have started a special prayer meeting at our church weekly to pray specifically for revival. We’re thankful for those messages and how they’re changing us but also our church.

Leslie: Nancy, what goes through your mind when you hear from listeners like Janie?

Nancy: I so enjoyed hearing this story from this mom and her daughters when I was on the Revive Tour in Texas not long ago. It’s a great illustration of what we mean when we talk about a True Woman Movement. One mom embracing the truth God’s been teaching her and then she started spreading that message to her daughters. Now those young women are spreading the message in their own community.

It all began when one woman heard biblical teaching while driving in the car day after day. And when you support Revive Our Hearts financially, you’re helping us be there for that woman in the car and for countless more like her. The reason we’ve been available to this mom year after year is because of listeners like you who have supported this ministry financially.

So would you help us continue providing consistent teaching from God’s Word to women who can then share it with others? When you send a donation of any size this month, we want to say thank you by sending you the second volume of a CD called, Hidden in My Heart.

You’ll hear Scripture passages set to beautiful lullaby music. Don’t let that throw you. This is a great CD for anyone of any age who wants to get more of God’s Word in their heart. For all the details and to send your gift, you can visit us at or you can give us a call at 1-800-569-5959.

Today our team and I are traveling to Indianapolis for the next leg of the Revive Tour. Could I just ask that you’d pray for us this week as we’re in Indy and then later in the week in Cleveland? God has been meeting with us in such a gracious way at each stop along the way.

We’re asking Him to come and visit us with His presence and to send revival to the hearts of His people as we make these stops this week. So thanks so much for your prayers. They mean more than I could possibly express. Thanks, much.

Leslie: Thanks, Nancy. Are there parts of the Bible you’ve never read? Tomorrow you’ll hear how attractive it is to get to know the whole Bible. Please be back for part three of “Fifty Years of Walking with God.” That’s tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.


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

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About the Teacher

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has touched the lives of millions of women through Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement, calling them to heart revival and biblical womanhood. Her love for Christ and His Word is infectious, and permeates her online outreaches, conference messages, books, and two daily nationally syndicated radio programs—Revive Our Hearts and Seeking Him.

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