Revive Our Hearts Podcast

The Most Important Place on Earth, Day 1

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Leslie Basham: When your children see you seeking the Lord and praying every day, what does it communicate to them? Here's what Robert Wolgemuth saw in his dad.

Robert Wolgemuth: I knew that my daddy knew that he wasn't capable of being a great dad. I knew that my dad knew that he wasn't capable of being a great husband. I knew that my dad knew that he wasn't capable of following Christ faithfully without the power of the Holy Spirit.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth for Monday, July 25, 2016.

We've had a lot of guests being interviewed on Revive Our Hearts before, but today is extra special. We'll hear from Robert Wolgemuth, Nancy's husband of about seven months. Before we hear the interview, let's hear some background on Robert.

We aired a week-long series on Robert's and Nancy's courtship, "Unexpected Grace," last November. Our team also crafted a video telling the story, and you can hear it and see it at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Robert was married for forty-four years to Bobbie Wolgemuth and has two daughters: Missy and Julie.

Robert: Music was a big part of our lives. Bobbie had a beautiful voice. As Missy and Julie grew up, they had beautiful voices. (Girls singing, "Holy, Holy, Holy" in the background.) So we actually could sing four-part harmony and sang hymns.

Leslie: And then tragedy struck this family.

Robert: We went to the clinic, M.D. Anderson in Orlando, walked into this waiting room, and here are all these women with no hair. Dr. Shemp said, "Bobbie has stage-four ovarian cancer."

Leslie: Bobbie went home to be with the Lord.

Robert: Two months before Bobbie died, she was having lunch with a good friend, and she said, "Now you know that if I go to heaven, I want Robert to marry right away."

And her friend said, "Yes, Bobbie. I've heard that many times."

And then Bobbie said to her friend, "There's one more thing I want you to know. I want Robert to marry Nancy DeMoss."

Leslie: Robert and Nancy started emailing. Then he asked to meet.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: I knew this to be a man of God. I'd seen his character, his integrity, his reputation, and I just felt that it would not be right to say "no" to having a conversation.

Leslie: Nancy went through an intense time of seeking the Lord and asking Him if He were leading her out of singleness and giving her a new gift.

Nancy: As if the Lord were saying to me, "You've told this story for decades as a single woman. What if, for a season of your life, I wanted you to tell this same story but do it as a married woman and illustrate it in a different way out of your own life than you've ever been able to do before?"

Robert: On Saturday morning, May 2, I knelt in front of her as she was sitting on her couch. I had written up the story of the ring, and so I read it to her, and that two-page letter finished with, "So I would like to know, will you marry me?"

Nancy: And I knew that I knew. I said, "Yes, I will." And then, for the first time, said those words that he'd been waiting to hear, and I'd been waiting to say, "I love you with all my heart."

Leslie: You can find that whole moving story on audio and video in the Archives on ReviveOurHearts.com.

Now let's jump into the conversation as Nancy talks with Robert about the importance of family and his book, The Most Important Place on Earth.

Nancy: Well, today is the day I've been looking forward to for a long time, and I think you may have been looking forward to this day as well. I've been so eager for you to get to know my new and precious husband, Robert Wolgemuth.

I know that lots of our listeners have questions about "Who is this man? What is he like? And where did he come from? And how has your life changed since you got married?"

Today you're about to find out some of those things. And I thought a great way for you to get to know Robert better would be by means of a book that he has written. That is how I first got to know a lot about him.

So we'll talk more about that, but, Robert, Honey, Sweetheart . . .

Robert: Awwww . . .

Nancy: I never got to say that to a guest I was interviewing before.

Robert: That's really wonderful. Well, thank you for saying it this time.

Nancy: And here we are sitting several feet apart from each other, behind microphones and with headsets on, but it's really sweet and such a blessing to have you as a part of this ministry.

Robert: What a privilege.

Nancy: You have embraced Revive Our Hearts, and we've embraced each other's calling and work.

Robert: Yes, we have.

Nancy: What a joy.

Robert: There's so many things to be grateful for, Honey. I'm really happy to be here in this studio just talking to a few friends.

Nancy: And not only has our team welcomed you, but our listeners have. They followed our wedding months ago back in November, and we've received so many precious notes of encouragement, people saying they're praying for us. We've got a stack of those notes sitting in our home, people that we only know by their name but who have prayed for this ministry, supported it, encouraged it, and have been so encouraging of our relationship. I know that's meant a lot to us.

Robert: It's a huge gift. It's a huge gift to us that we have people who tell us when they see us at conferences or whatever that they're praying for us. What a huge gift that is. And we pray for them. We pray for your listeners, Nancy. We pray for your family. We pray for your ministry team, and we're just grateful. I'm grateful. What can I say? I use that word a lot, but I really am grateful to be a part of your family. So thank you.

Nancy: In the course of our courtship, I really wanted to get to know better who you were. I knew you professionally. I had friends in the publishing industry who couldn't say enough good things about you and are so complimentary. And that was my experience as well. But it's a whole different thing when you're thinking about marrying someone and joining your lives together as one.

You had written a book that I picked up and said, "I think this will help me get to know this man better." You've written many books, but this is the one I picked up first. It's called, The Most Important Place on Earth: What a Christian Home Looks Like and How to Build One.

I remember reading, eagerly, through this book, highlighting, thinking, Yes. Yes. This is so good. This is so good! And then thinking, Whoever wrote this book must be an amazing man, an amazing husband, and an amazing dad.

This was really how I got to know so much about you and what gave me the freedom and the peace to continue in that relationship.

Robert: Wow!

Nancy: So this was a part of our getting to know each other. And, as the Lord would have it, you were in the process of updating and revising this book, for it was written in 2004.

Robert: That's right.

Nancy: And we're here to talk today about that subject.

Robert: We've said to each other so many times, Nancy, "You can trust God to write your story."

Nancy: Yes.

Robert: Who would have guessed in 2004 that the story that I was writing in this book would be sort of the user's manual, the owner's manual to my life for my wife?

Nancy: That's a good way of saying that.

Robert: Who could even think of . . . irony's not the right word. It's providence.

Nancy: Yes.

Robert: It's God's kindness. It's His sovereignty that this would become sort of a snapshot of my life and what was important to me, the failures that I had failed, the things that I had not done well. Hopefully the book is transparent, that it didn't set up an image of a man that wasn't true.

Nancy: Yes.

Robert: So it's in here—all the good, all the bad, all the ugly. So, yes, thank you.

Nancy: Honey, it's a great book. It's practical. It's easy to read. It's accessible. You're such a great story teller and very conversational. I think it's a great tool for building Christian homes and Lord knows we need some manuals today.

Robert: Yes.

Nancy: We have God's Word, that's THE resource, but this is just a practical book about how to apply so much of God's Word to everyday life.

So we're making this book available this week to anyone who makes a donation of any amount to support the ministry of Revive Our Hearts. We'd love to send you a copy of Robert's newly revised book, The Most Important Place on Earth: What a Christian Home Looks Like and How to Build One.

Robert: You didn't know this when you read this book, but the word building is there on purpose. I am a hopeless builder. I love it. When I pass a house that's just in frame and is just 2'x 4's and 2'x 6's, I talk about it. I say, "Look how beautiful that is." So that's who I am, and now you know that. I love building around the house. I love looking at things that need to be fixed and building.

So what my image is that a mom and dad stand next to each other in front of the pickup truck, and they roll out the blueprint for the house that they're building. And the blueprint is thorough. It has the elevation which shows what it's going to look like when it's done, but then you turn the page, and there are the floor elevations, one floor at a time.

And what they discover is that when you do the stuff that goes in the inside, then you stand back when it's finished, and it looks like you had hoped and prayed what it would look like. So, that's it.

Nancy: Follow the plan.

Robert: Yes. Follow the plan. Exactly. This isn't rocket science. It's doable.

Nancy: And yet, for many people it doesn't seem or feel doable, because how many people that we know have never really seen what a Christian home looks like?

Robert: A lot.

Nancy: They have no idea how to build one. While they're trying to get this marriage working and get this kid-thing working and going, you've got all the assault of the culture coming at them from every direction, pushing lies on them, pushing wrong ways of thinking.

Robert: That's right.

Nancy: It's hard! I think a lot of people are just thinking, There's no way I can build a really good Christian home.

Robert: It is hard work, but it's not as hard if you have a plan. I mean, if you're lost . . . Let's say you're in the city, your GPS isn't working, and you're lost. That's a whole different kind of hard work. This is hard work with a plan, with steps that you can take that make a difference in doing the right thing at home.

And the book is full of humor. It's not drudgery. It's not that kind of hard work. But it takes discipline. It takes self-denial. It takes humility. It takes teachability.

And the role that husbands play with wives, wives with husbands, is a very important thing. In fact, that's the most important relationship inside the house. Even though I know we're talking to single moms, single dads, I know they're everywhere, and if you're listening right now, and you're saying, "Boy, it would be great to have a husband at home or a wife at home," my prayer is that this book is still filled with good things that you can do even as a single parent.

It's a plan to build a home that honors God and that is actually sort of fun to live in. Don't you want to be that way? In fact, I use the image of flypaper in the book. My grandparents, believe it or not, hung over the dining room table a flypaper strip. Now, that's on the farm in Pennsylvania. We didn't even think about it.

But we want our homes to be attractive like that, that people who fly by our house get stuck on it. They don't even know why, but they say, "This is something that I'd love to have. How do you do this?"

So the book is a guide to help them.

Nancy: It is like you're taking people by the hand and just saying, "Here's an experienced, seasoned—not perfect—guide who's on the journey with others and has wisdom and experience." And so much of that, as I read this book, I realized did come from your parents and things that God gave them the wisdom to make a part of your home when you were growing up.

Robert: Yes, that's right. We have this in common, Nancy. Every morning my dad was on his knees. He would pray, not in a voice that we could hear the words, but the timber of his voice, just sort of the vibration through the house. We could hear it, literally. So I knew that my daddy knew that he wasn't capable of being a great dad. I knew that my dad knew that he wasn't capable of being a great husband. I knew that my dad knew that he wasn't capable of following Christ faithfully without the power of the Holy Spirit. So that was a great model.

In fact, as a kid, you grow up, and it's your family of origin. It's the normal that you're accustomed to. You don't know that everybody doesn't experience this. Then you learn that very few people experience this.

But for me, early on I knew that my parents loved Christ, loved us. They were transparent about their failures. They were quick to repent and ask us for forgiveness, which gave us a model to follow when it was time for us to repent and ask forgiveness.

I didn't have to be a cycle breaker. But I know that lots of our listeners, lots of our friends listening right now, have to be cycle breakers. And my prayer is that this book is a guidebook to help you do just that.

Nancy: And the good news of the gospel is that God is a redeeming God who is making all things new.

Robert: That's right.

Nancy: My parents were cycle breakers and did not come from godly homes, did not have all the instructions and the helps and seminars, conferences, books, resources available then as they started their family that are available today, but they had the Lord. They had His Word. I can remember my dad starting every day on his knees, seeking the Lord. I don't know how many kneeling pads he wore out over the years as he would start his day in the Word and on his knees.

And now I'm married to a man who's doing the very same thing, and what a joy it is to me. You're an early riser. I'm not so much. When I come down from time to time, I come across you on your knees, at the Throne, as you say it, having been in the Word, what a joy that is. And what an assurance it brings. And, again, that's not rocket science, but it just says you recognize your need for the Lord.

And that's something that anybody in any cycle in any kind of family can do—to start seeking the Lord and saying, "Lord, I can't do this."

Nancy/Robert: "Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it."

Robert: That's right. In fact, on our wedding night, you gave me a kneeling pad. As your brand new husband, I knew how important that was to you.

Nancy: One for each of us.

Robert: One for each of us.

Nancy: And that's where we started our marriage, on our knees together. And how important that's been over these last months for us—first thing in the morning and last thing at night—to come together and join our hearts together.

It's amazing how different opinions, perspectives, and personalities and quirks—at our age, we have a few quirks, at least I do.

Robert: We do. I do, too.

Nancy: The Lord melts our hearts together when we humble ourselves at the throne of grace. That's the grace we need, the mercy we need. We find it at His throne.

Robert: That's right. That's what you do. When you're on your knees, you say, "Lord Jesus, I can't do any of this. I'm powerless. Without the power of the Holy Spirit, without Your indwelling Spirit, none of this is possible."

So in addition to bringing our requests, we pour out our need for a Savior day after day. It's a great place to do that. It's a great model. Throughout the Scripture, people fell on their knees when they were in the presence of holiness. And that's us. That's just you and me, husband and wife, side by side, kneeling, saying, "Lord Jesus, we can't do this, and so we confess that to You." We confess that to each other.

Part of the fun of praying together, and I know that's not necessarily what we're going to talk about this moment, but praying together, you hear me confess to the Father my inadequacies, and I hear you confess to the Father your inadequacies. We're talking to Him, but we overhear each other saying that to Him. It gives us a great opportunity to love each other more deeply because we kneel together at the cross. There's level ground there.

So, as you said, pretense gets set aside. Differences and quirks and all that become less important when we come before the Father on our knees together.

Nancy: It's interesting to me, Honey, that you call the home the most important place on earth. One of the things you emphasize in your life example, and in this book as well, is that we need to treat each other in the home as if we were honored guests, as if the people in the home are really important.

Robert: That's right.

Nancy: And there's some practical ways. You talk about the importance of how you greet each other when you walk in the door and how you talk to each other on the phone.

Robert: Yes. I talk about my first experience working in a retail store. Now, I was a paperboy. That was a job I could get, and I started working in the third grade. Now, at this point, Missy and Julie could fill you in. They would speak, and I would just watch them because they know this story—over and over again, trudging to school in knee-deep snow.

But my first job, I was in the third grade, and I got a job delivering newspapers. Fast forward to a freshman in high school. I got a real job in a retail store. There was a little electric eye that when customers would walk in the door, a little beep would sound, and we'd come alive. I love that setting because those were the most important people for us for our business that day. So we wanted to know if we could help them. We really meant it when we said, "Can I help you?" We loved that.

That image came to mind when I talked about walking into a home. What happens when you walk into a home? What happens when people walk into your home? Is there a little beeping sound that says to them, "Somebody's coming. Somebody's coming who's very important." It may be your kids. It may be one of their friends.

But because of the distractions, and this is not a soapbox time, I promise, but because of the distractions—electronic distractions—you may walk into our home, or I may walk into your home, and nobody looks up. They're looking at their iPhones. They're looking at their iPad or their computer screen, and they don't even look up.

The image that I give is, okay, so let's say I walk into my garage. There's a brand new foreign import sports car. I didn't expect it. I don't know where it came from. But it's mine now. It's in my garage. How would I respond?

Or let's say you walk in, and somebody had replaced all the thread-bare furniture with something brand new. It was just amazing. You couldn't have designed it yourself more beautifully. What would you do? You'd go crazy! You'd dance around the living room. You'd say, "This is amazing! How did this happen?"

We walk into our home, and the most important people—people we give our lives for—are there. And sometimes we sort of ignore each other. We grunt this and grunt that, "How was your day?" "Fine." Done. No more conversation.

And so that little beeper, that little electric eye in that retail store taught me how to respond to people when they walk into the door of my house. How do I treat them? 

Nancy: Starting with your own family members.

Robert: Starting with my own family. Exactly. Oh, yes.

Nancy: I'm thinking as you're talking about this, how, when I come down the stairs to your study each morning, and you may have your head in your laptop, your work, whatever you're doing at that point, but when you hear my footsteps, you come to life. You did it this morning. You get up out of your chair, you come and embrace me . . . well, I won't tell everything. But you're very alert, and "How's my precious wife? How did you sleep?" You're very attentive.

I think how easy it is when you live with these people all the time to kind of get to where you ignore each other. Sometimes we would treat a guest coming into our home with more attentiveness, more courtesy, more kindness, more effusiveness than we do each other.

Robert: That's right—more than we do our own kids or our spouse, our mate.

You say, "Come on. They know I love them. I don't need to do that every time." Well, try it.

Nancy: I've watched you with your daughters when they call you, or you call them. You have very expressive daughters.

Robert: I do.

Nancy: You're very expressive. And you guys talk a lot, frequently.

Robert: We do.

Nancy: But it's always, I can't even imitate it, really, but you are so excited to hear each other's voice. They're excited to hear your voice. They're telling you how much they love you. You're telling them how much you love them. You do this when we talk on the phone. You could have just left the house two minutes ago, and I'm calling to touch base about something.

Robert: Or tell me that my briefcase is still standing in the kitchen.

Nancy: And you're, like, "Oh, Precious!" But that expressiveness . . . I didn't marry until fifty-seven. I lived as a single woman all of those years, and I'm realizing how important those little exchanges are in creating a climate where marriage and a home can thrive.

Robert: Yes. And to say, "Well, that's sort of natural for some people and not natural for others." I guess my challenge would be, because it is so powerful, the message that you're communicating to the person that you're excited to hear from or to see every morning, the power of that, the joy that that creates engenders in their experience, learn how to do that.

It doesn't have to come naturally. Learn how to do that, and doing it will become its own reward. You'll say to yourself, "That was so much fun. I'm going to keep doing that."

So people who say, "Well, I'm not naturally that way." Okay, let's say that's true.

Nancy: Well, I'm not naturally that way.

Robert: But learn it.

Nancy: And I am learning it.

Robert: There' a great joy in that. It becomes its own reward.

Nancy: Yes. And it also displaces some of the negativity that can just creep into a relationship. The more time you spend with each other, the closer you are to each other, the more you know each other's warts and foibles and faults and flaws. I'm an editor by trade, so my bent is to notice something that needs to be corrected, to notice the misspellings in the book, to see what needs to be fixed. One of the things that I'm really being encouraged and challenged by in our relationship is to cherish and celebrate and honor and bless. And as we do this with each other, as we do it with your family and with my family, we find that the things that could have gotten under your skin or could be annoying don't seem so significant.

Robert: I learned what you're describing from two different individuals: my mother. I remember my mother, when I was a little boy, and I would bring home water colors . . . I don't know if they do water colors anymore. Do you remember those?

Nancy: Sure.

Robert: You'd do it with your fingers, and it was always an underwater seascape, and it would dry all crinkly. I'd show it to her, and she was on her knees so she would be at my level, and that was the most beautiful thing she'd ever seen. And she would embrace me and celebrate that.

The second person I learned that from was my dog. (laughter) It's true. I'd go to the mailbox. I'd be gone for forty-five seconds or for a four-day business trip, and my dog would meet me the same way. And guess what we refer to dogs as? Man's best friend.

So what you have is this selfless, little animal bouncing up and down on her hind legs, happy to see me. And you say, "No, you're grown up. You're running a business. You've got important things to do. Come on. Get on with something else more important."

No. The joy that a little dog brought me by welcoming in the door—I can't even describe it. That was a great model. So it's a decision that you make. In fact, it's interesting, Nancy. We place value on things in some way pretty arbitrarily.

Nancy: Yes.

Robert: So what you're saying is: "This isn't a garage sale. I'm not going to hang a twenty-five cent price tag on you. I'm going to make you priceless. When you walk down the steps, you're this priceless gem, and it's going to take my breath away—every time." That's a decision that I make.

And guess what? My heart follows my head. You are the most important person in that house. And when I see you for the first time in the morning, it's an amazing experience every single time. My heart has followed my head. I've made that decision. Every life change begins with a decision, so I've just decided you're the most important person in my life.

And when I see you . . . it's like seeing the Hope Diamond; it's like seeing the Crown Jewels in Britain. I've made that decision, and it turns into reality, and that's why I act like that.

Leslie: We've been listening to a conversation between our host, Nancy, and her husband of about seven months, Robert Wolgemuth. They've been talking about his newly released book, The Most Important Place on Earth.

In this book you'll learn more about how to make all the members of the family feel valued. You'll hear about the importance of how to use words in a family. You'll read about the value of discipline and devotions together.

Maybe you know someone who's just starting their family. This would make a perfect gift for them. We'd like to send you a copy when you support Revive Our Hearts. When you contribute any amount, we'll say "thank you" by getting this book to your mailbox.

When you give a gift by phone, ask for The Most Important Place on Earth. The number is 1–800–569–5959, or you can look for this offer at ReviveOurHearts.com. We'll send one book per household for your donation.

"The Most Important Place on Earth"—Robert Wolgemuth from Revive Our Hearts on Vimeo.

Robert says a husband or a wife needs to ask themselves an important question. Here's what he asks himself when interacting with his wife, Nancy:

Robert: Whose needs am I trying to meet? And if the answer to that is "my own," I would not be a pleasant person to live with. So what I want to answer every time I think that, and I'm not perfect at this by a long shot, but I want my answer to be, "Nancy's needs."

Leslie: Robert will be back to talk about it tomorrow. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

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