Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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Dannah Gresh: Have you ever felt like giving up? Karen Watts has.

Karen Watts: I remember the day that inside I said, “I’m done. I am done with the Lord. He did not do what I expected Him to do. I did everything right, and He didn’t follow through with what I asked Him.

Dannah: If you can relate, today’s program will provide hope.

This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Brokenness: The Heart God Revives, for Thursday, August 20. I’m Dannah Gresh.

Nancy, a lot of people sit in church week after week learning about God, yet they're still trying to control their own lives. They're really living by their own power.

Nancy: I have a friend who, at one point, was trying to manage things on his own and was actually struggling with low-grade depression. As God began to deal in his life, he wrote a letter describing what happened. He said, "I had turned so much anger inward that it had become churning hatred which affected my entire attitude."

Then he said, "Since God has brought me to a new point of brokenness, I've described my life as one that has moved from being a black and white movie to being lived in a full color motion picture." Isn't that a great word picture? When we're willing to crucify the flesh, to give up our pride and to let the Spirit of God work through us, then we truly begin to live.

We're going to hear from a woman who discovered that full color motion picture. She had lived a sinful life as a young woman and then she began to play a religious game. She was trying to look good on the outside while she was still desperately needy on the inside.

Karen: I was twenty-three, married already, had two children, and had been through some tragedy—the loss of twin boys who died at birth and some other tragedies in our lives. So at twenty-three, I was a pretty big mess.

Our marriage was definitely a mess. I had a horrible temper and to win an argument meant to at least make the other person say that they agreed. I was really a very difficult person to live with. On the other hand, I will have to say that I'm a fun-loving person. I love people and after I got through tearing them into shreds, I was fine.

And I wouldn't understand why they were so mad at me! My poor husband was taken off guard constantly. He's an only child and I came from a family of seven. So when we entered into that marriage, we had many things against us.

For one thing, we were very young. I was unsaved; he was saved, although not living for the Lord at that time. I had a violent temper, I demanded my way and I screamed at my children. I was very unkind to my children and I wanted perfection in my life to prove that I could make up for the years that I'd been such a mess. I came to know the Lord at a seminar, and I came home ready to change.

Of course, immediately, you know, the moral things, the drinking, the screaming, the foul language, the soap operas I watched on television, the way I treated my children, the way I responded to my husband, God just began to convict constantly and change daily.

I started memorizing Scripture, Matthew 5, 6, and 7 is what God challenged me to memorize, and that was the course through that seminar to learn to be a loving, godly person.

But it wasn't long before I became a performance person. I had built a lifestyle and began to neglect my relationship with the Lord. I would parade this lifestyle of godly living, and it became a real legalistic type of lifestyle, looking down my nose at others who had not arrived at the place that I thought I was.

Nancy: That’s easy to do when we lose our awareness of our need for God. We can become so caught up in achieving a life that looks perfect on the outside, that we forget our sin and the love of Christ. 

Karen: It was a good, clean life. I mean, I was doing the right things and avoiding the wrong things. I don't regret that part of it. It was that pride that began to build up in me, a spirit of condemnation toward others. It robbed me. It really robbed me of my relationship with the Lord, and I think it set my sons up for some very wrong decisions in their lives as well.

The first big blow that we had as a family was that our oldest son went off to Bible college, as a matter of fact, and immediately got into an immoral lifestyle and made choices totally against everything he had been brought up in. By the time he came home for Christmas that first year, he was a totally different man.

That just began a snowball, it seemed. You know, just building and going faster and faster and him marrying the young woman.

Then came the death of their child and their marriage was already in trouble. So he left town and left her with us, her and the next new baby. They had had another baby by then, and we lost touch with him for the most part.

He eventually moved in with and actually married a woman who was a topless dancer who had two children of her own. He got heavy into drugs and for about six and a half years, we didn't see him much at all.

In the meantime, our younger son had married a sweet, godly young girl and we, (I did, I don't know if Kyle did so much), but I had a new point of pride now. I had this son who was a youth director in our church and now I'm going to be okay because everybody is looking at this other son of mine. And, you know, everything's good.

Then through some circumstances that we're not quite sure of even to this day, she just changed her mind and didn't want to be married anymore. And she walked out on my son.

So there they were, the youth directors of our church, and he was terribly devastated and I was devastated. There were some other things going on during this time, as well.

Of course, all this other stuff was still going on with my older son, and my father-in-law got Alzheimer's and had come to live with us. I remember the day that she filed for divorce; I cried out to God. I fasted and prayed and begged and had family prayer meetings. It was a pressure cooker.

I remember the day when inside I said, "I'm done. I'm done with the Lord. He did not do what I expected him to do. I did everything right and He didn't follow through with what I asked Him. He didn't follow His promises. I raised my kids right, and now look at them."

I would try to read my Bible, and there were mocking voices, You really believe this? I mean, look at your kids and look at your situation. This was not how it was supposed to be. I had swallowed a philosophy that if you live for the Lord and dedicate your life to Him, you just won't have to face this stuff.

When my dad died, it gave me an excuse, a valid excuse in front of people that know me to give in to all that bitterness that was beginning to build up. I was still going to church, by the way, and I was still teaching Sunday school, four-and five-year olds. I never prayed, I never opened my Bible. If you talked to me about the Lord, I would tell you, "I don't know Him."

My sisters were not serving the Lord when all this started. But during this time, the Lord had gotten hold of them and revived their hearts in a big way, and they began to pray for me. They were seeing the bitterness, depression and suicide I wanted. I wanted out of this life. I was thinking that someday I would get up the nerve to swallow enough of those pills to end it all.

I was totally helpless and hopeless, and I wanted out. I would even hear a little voice that said, "You know you're saved, you'll go to heaven ,and you can just get out of this. You won't have to face any of this anymore."

Nancy: At this point, Karen Watts' story sounds pretty hopeless, doesn't it? In a few moments, Karen will share how the God of all grace came to her rescue and delivered her from this downward spiral that she found herself in.

But, I want to pause here and speak to some of our listeners who may be able to relate to Karen's story. Maybe you have you felt hopeless like she did? You may not be considering ending your life as she was, but you're trying to keep up appearances and yet you lack the power of God in your life.

I encourage you to surrender yourself entirely to Him? Humble yourself, admit your weakness and your sin, no matter how desperate your situation may seem. He is the God of all hope, and He will send His grace racing to the scene of your need, as you cry out to Him.

You can do that right now, wherever you are, whatever you're doing, just stop and say something like this, "Oh Lord, I really, really need You. I can't keep going in my own strength. I've been trying so hard to be a good Christian, to live the Christian life. I need Jesus to live the Christian life in and through me. I can't do it on my own. Lord, please come and rescue me by Your grace. I pray in Jesus' name, amen."

Dannah: If you just prayed with Nancy, we'd love to hear about what God's doing in your life. You can send a note to Revive Our Hearts. Just look for the link that says "contact us." 

We’re all in need of saving, and God is faithful to rescue and restore us. It reminds me a lot of Rahab’s story, which you may have heard us talking about this month. Get a deeper understanding of how the Lord redeems in Rahab: Tracing the Thread of Redemption. In this newest Women of the Bible study, you’ll spend six weeks studying Joshua 2 and experiencing the awe of God working in your life.

When you donate any amount to Revive Our Hearts, you’ll receive this study as our way of saying "thank you." Go online to, or call us at 1–800–569–5959. We appreciate your support and hope that you are encouraged by the beauty of God’s saving grace.

Now, let’s jump back to Karen’s story.

Nancy: Yes, she really got to a point of severe desperation, greater than anything that most of us experience. Karen had been attracted to the message of the gospel, but she had quickly slipped into a performance mindset and tried to keep up a perfect appearance, trying to do things in her own power. Then her family began to experience some severe trials. And she realized how empty she really was.

Dannah: Karen told us about her son who was on drugs and living an immoral lifestyle. Let’s find out what happened when he came home.

Karen: My son had come home the summer before and it was a real wakeup call for me. We got a phone call in the middle of the night that he wanted to come home, he was twenty-nine years old, I think. He wanted out, God had gotten a hold of him and he said, "I need help; I need deliverance from drugs. I know the only place I can find it is at home."

So he came home and we had less than twenty-four hours warning. And when he walked in that door, I thought, I have nothing to give him. I don't have the Lord anymore. I don't pray anymore, what can I do?

So, I started this new performance. And yet, it was like within a couple of nights we were going, "Did you see the latest movie" and we'd go rent a movie, a movie. I'm just going, "This is so crazy,"  now when I think of it.

We took him to church; he was delighted to be there. It was such a wakeup call for me that I had nothing to give a man, my own son, who wanted to come back to the Lord.

So the Lord had begun to plow my heart and I did go to a Bible study through the Book of Luke. I was re-acquainted with the Savior from day one, going back to my salvation, back to the character and godliness and love and sweetness of Jesus Himself.

So I was beginning to be softened when I got to that conference.

Nancy: Karen had ended up at a Revive Our Hearts conference where I spoke on the heart that God revives. And I talked about the difference between proud people and broken people.

Nancy (conference):  Proud people focus on the failure of others, but broken people are overwhelmed by the sense of their own spiritual need. Proud people are self-righteous. They have a critical fault-finding spirit. They look at everyone else's faults with a microscope, but their own with a telescope. And they look down on others.

Karen: That's when the Lord began to remove the heart of stone that was within me and replace it with a heart of flesh.

Nancy: At the end of that particular session, I asked the women to get into groups of two or three and I invited them to tell the others what they had learned about this matter of brokenness, and then to pray for each other.

Karen: My sister-in-law was standing beside me. She's one of the sweetest, godliest people I have ever known. She's a quiet person. She's the person that I would want to be. I just love her. I've always loved her dearly.

But I'd hurt her deeply during those years. When she would try to encourage me, I would come back with very hateful things. I rejected her affection and her prayers.

And when she was standing there I turned toward her and I was just about to apologize to her and I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned around and there was a little lady there that I had never seen before, an elderly lady, and she said, very timidly, she said, "I just feel like God wants me to tell you how much He loves you."

And something broke in me and I just started sobbing. And Becky started sobbing, my sister-in-law, and of course my other sister that brought me was standing there, and I just started pouring out in repentance before God, apologizing for the pain I had caused.

And of course this little lady behind me said, "I've been going to this church for thirty-eight years and I've never done anything like this in my life." I remember just feeling, this may sound really strange, I felt sweet again.

There were so many things still up in the air in our family. When those subjects would come up, and I would begin to say the truth again, and say, "You know God is in control here, God is not going to let us down, He loves us."

And I began to encourage other people. The Word was brand new and I was insatiably hungry for the Word. I got up early, and I still do that, but you know 5:00 every morning I practically ran to my kitchen and fell before the Lord.

Of course, I called my sisters and brothers and told them and wrote letters and apologized to so many people. I'm sure people were really tired of hearing about it.

But I told the Lord that weekend, I said, "If You can set me free, I'll take any opportunity I can to tell anybody, whether it's in a grocery store, in my kitchen, to a group, a large group, a small group, I will tell that You have the power to redeem a bitter, lost soul and to restore 'the years the locust have eaten' (Joel 2:25) and to sustain sweetness and faith even when things continue to go wrong.

I knew, as a matter of fact, I was a little anxious for the next big test because I knew I needed to know what was going to happen to me when that next bitter cup came. I have had several since then—one bigger than all.

I went into my bedroom, I had to get alone with the Lord and fight a spiritual battle, the hardest one I've ever fought. And God brought me out victorious and did some things in my family that needed to be done for twenty-seven years that I wasn't even aware of.

I still hear the voices occasionally: "See, it's happening again, things are falling apart." And I run to the Word and I say the Word to myself and to anybody who will hear it.

I will not be afraid of evil tidings; my heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord. (Ps. 112:7) 

When my heart is overwhelmed within me, lead me to the rock that is higher than I. (Ps. 61:2)

And I found a new strength; I found freedom, the freedom and healing that He's brought into my life, and the opportunities that I've had to share it.

I'm just amazed to be sitting here right now. I am amazed that I can love people. I'm amazed to be loved.

Nancy: As we live wholly surrendered to God, we have His eyes, His heart, to see what He sees, and how He wants us to reach out to others.

Karen: I have my antenna up all the time. I want to be instant like the little lady at the conference that tapped me on the shoulder. I want to be willing to spend time praying or talking with other women.

In the past few months I've been tempted to think, Oh, nobody wants to hear what you have to say. And who do you think you are anyway. After all the rebellion and bitterness that you have done and all the pain you've brought to the Lord and to others, who are you?

And then I begin, as I was going through the Psalms and the Psalmist said over and over, "Come and hear and I will declare what the Lord has done for my soul" (Ps. 66:16).

Hopefully, as I grow in the Lord, I'll do it with more wisdom in Christ and fewer words, but I do want to declare what the Lord has done for my soul.

Dannah: We've been listening to the story of Karen Watts. It's been years since Karen first had that incredible life-changing encounter with the Lord. But what a joy for her to remember how He delivered her from the bitterness and bondage she experienced for so many years.

Nancy: As I’ve gotten to know Karen in recent years, it's been such an incredible encouragement to see her continuing to grow in her walk with the Lord, and to see the joy and the fullness and the freedom and the fruitfulness that God has brought into her life.

In fact, I received a letter from Karen a while ago, and she closed that letter by saying,

I'm so very grateful that God brought me to that first Revive Our Hearts conference. My life has not been the same. Not only do I have peace, joy, and faith, but my family and my grandchildren are no longer the target of my anger and bitterness. What a miracle-working God we have!

And I can attest to that as I look at Karen's life in the years I've grown to know and love her. Now Karen is one of our Revive Our Hearts Ambassadors. God is using her to share with other women in her part of the country the good news of God's grace and forgiveness and the life we can experience through Him.

You know, Karen ended up at that Revive Our Hearts conference years ago because someone loved her enough to invite her, someone who had been praying for her, someone who was concerned about her spiritual condition and knew that she needed a fresh touch from God in her life.

Maybe you have a Karen in your life? Someone you have been carrying a burden for? Maybe you've been thinking, Boy I wish I could get them exposed to this kind of teaching. They just need a fresh revival in their lives. Why don't you ask the Lord how He might have you reach out to this person. Maybe you could even share this message you heard today. 

Dannah: We’ve been talking about God’s amazing redemption all month long through the stories of others, and especially in the life of Rahab. Her story is found in Joshua 2, and it holds so much hope for anyone. Earlier, we mentioned the new study available called, Rahab: Tracing the Thread of Redemption. Get it when you give any amount to the ministry this month. Just go online to or call us at 1–800–569–5959. 

Can God reach out to a woman suffering from the aftermath of an abortion? Absolutely, He can! Tomorrow we’ll hear how He did in the life of Lisa Dudley.

Lisa Dudley: I went into the deepest, darkest waters I could get into to hide my sin, to hide my shame and guilt. He began to reel me in to Him slowly. I started letting go of some of the things that weren't good in my life. I started going back to church. One day I was, "I can't live that kind of life anymore."

So my Sunday school teacher invited me to come to her Bible study. I began going. It was interesting. I certainly could identify with it.

Nancy: What were some of the topics or themes? The point was to help post-abortive women, so what kind of themes did they address?

Lisa: First, dealing with what you had done and identifying with that sin. Dealing with anger issues.

Nancy: So, you need to call this a sin and identify it that way.

Lisa: You have to admit it is a sin. You have to confess that sin. It's the only way you can be redeemed.

Nancy: Do they talk about identifying other sins that related to that? Sexual immorality for example?

Lisa: Yes. We did talk through that.

Nancy: So it's leading through a process of repentance?

Lisa: It was. It was absolutely leading through that process. I was able to walk through those parts.

Nancy: Did it deal with forgiveness issues?

Lisa: It does once you get further along in the Bible study. You have to deal with the anger issues, because you can't forgive until you deal with the anger you have inside you.

Nancy: What's the object of the anger? In your case and others?

Lisa: It can be many things. In abortion, it's usually the partner you were with, the abortionist. There are a lot of people that can be involved in dealing with anger issues. Once you deal with that, you can get to that place to forgive.

Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants to help you realize God's love for you. The program is part of Life Action Ministries.

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About the Speakers

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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Karen Watts

Karen Watts

Karen Watts lives in a small west Texas desert town, so she loves to travel for ministry opportunities, missions, and to see family who live where it is green and …

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