Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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The Most Important Place on Earth, Day 3

Leslie Basham: Do you ever talk without thinking? Robert Wolgemuth says to build a solid family, make every word count.

Robert Wolgemuth: Every word you speak is a vow, and it's a promise. Words are important. They define your heart. They reveal to others around you what's actually inside your heart. Your words do that.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth for Wednesday, July 27, 2016.

For forty-four years, Robert and Bobbie Wolgemuth learned to display the gospel in their marriage. They raised two daughters, Missy and Julie. Then after a long battle with cancer, Bobbie went home to be with the Lord. Last year, the Lord led Robert and Nancy Leigh DeMoss, the host of this program, to get married. You can hear more of their story at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Robert has written about the value of family and the practical wisdom he's learned as a dad and husband in a book called The Most Important Place on Earth. A revised and updated version is being released this month with a forward by Nancy. They've been talking about the value of family all week. Let's pick back up with that conversation.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Well, I'm really happy to be back in the studio today with my husband, Robert Wolgemuth. Did you ever think you would hear me say, "my husband"? My husband is laughing, and so are a lot of our listeners.

Robert: Who's this man in the studio? And why does he keep walking over and giving me a kiss? Like, who is this guy?

Nancy: Yes. This guy is an amazing guy, and I'm so happy for our listeners to be getting to know him better. You would just love this man. You'd love his heart. He walks with the Lord. He's the real deal. And God is using him in my life in such a sweet way to show me the love of Christ and to minister grace and encouragement and growth in my life.

So I'm really grateful. And I'm so thankful honey that you have a new . . . well, it's an old book that's new.

Robert: That's right. Revised.

Nancy: The original book came out in 2004. It's called The Most Important Place on Earth: What a Christian Home Looks Like and How to Build One. You're a builder at heart.

Robert: I am. I love building. I love construction.

Nancy: I didn't know that before we got married. And building a home has a lot of similarities.

Robert: That's true.

Nancy: One of the things you say in this book that was thought provoking to me is something I heard my parents say as we grew up. You think about your family, you think about what families are like, but it's okay to be different. That a Christian home, by definition, is different. What do you mean by that?

Robert: That's right. Well, different is good. Your parents were right. Sometimes that's hard when you're a kid. I remember when I was a kid. My parents were different than other parents. My home was different. I'd be playing baseball in the back yard and my mother would call for dinner. I mean, seriously, before we'd say "amen" for grace, my buddies were back outside.

So I was in the house for an hour, an hour-and-a-half. I'd come back out, they'd go, "What are you guys doing in there?" I'd say, "Well, we're talking, and we're having family worship." And we were different. We knew it. And we know when you're twelve or fourteen, sometimes different feels bad.

Nancy: It feels odd.

Robert: It's odd. That's right. But the older you get and the more you have the opportunity to set the pace as a parent, you discover that different is very good.

Being just like the other kids, just being like every other house that you know, every other home, isn't necessarily good. Dare to be different. My daddy would say that. I was so tired of it. "Dare to be different."

Nancy: Did you say that to your girls?

Robert: Probably. And they probably felt the same way about it.

Nancy: And they're probably saying it to their kids now.

Robert: They probably are. There you go. That's what they get for this.

Nancy: I remember when we would say to our parents, "But everybody else . . ." Like, we didn't have a television but everybody else did. And I can remember that the mindset was, "You're not everybody else's kid. You belong to the Lord. This is a home where we want to honor the Lord." We didn't do it perfectly. And you're real clear in this book that your family hasn't done it perfectly. But it's a willingness to be different and to say that's a good thing.

Actually, Disney has capitalized on this. They think it's great to be different. You lived in Orlando, right in the shadow.

Robert: Just a few miles. In fact, Disney is called "The Happiest Place on Earth." That's their trademark. So that actually was the inspiration to write The Most Important Place on Earth.

I did quite a bit of research on Disney's life. Disney wrote that his family was different. They moved from Illinois to Missouri to get away from the hustle and bustle and pressures of living in the city. They moved to Missouri so they could be different and get away with it.

And so, really, that's at the fabric of Walt Disney World and Disney Land in Pasadena. These guys decided they were going to be different.

Nancy: In fact, you've said in this book (I think it was at the opening at the California Disneyland) that Walt Disney said, "I want people to feel that they're in another world when they get to Disneyland."

Robert: That's right. That's so perfect. What a great model. That's what you want your home to be. You step into this place, and it's a safe place. People honor each other. People listen to each other. People look at each other when they're talking to each other. They say kind things to each other. It's different than everywhere else.

So when your kids walk in the door of your home, they need to have the same feeling that some people have when they walk into Walt Disney World or to Disneyland in California. "I'm at a different place. I love this. This feels great to be here." That's what you want your kids to feel about your home.

Nancy: Well, any parent who's taken their kid to Disneyland or Disney World, little ones, might not say it's the happiest place on earth. That's the make believe.

Robert: Oh, yes. And when you go to one of those parks and you see people with kids in strollers, they'd rather have the twenty-five cent pony at the K-Mart. That's what they'd rather have than this. It's way over stimulation. So don't take this analogy too far.

Nancy: But a home really could be one of the happiest places on earth. Not every moment, every day. It's hard work. There's a lot of grace needed.

We just had a family stop by the studio while we were recording here. We took a little break. And here are three generations. A set of grandparents, two sisters and their husbands and kids.

It was rambunctious. There were about a dozen of them hanging around here for a few minutes. But what a joy to hear and talk with that family. They're different. This family is big into Scripture memory. And we were talking about that and the impact going from one generation to the next.

It was a really fun family. They weren't harping at each other. Now, they're on a long ride. They're on a road trip, and I'm sure there are going to be some attitudes to deal with and all of that. But they've got God's Word directing how they do it, and it makes it different but really a good experience.

Robert: That's right. That's huge. That's a good difference. That's a really good difference. Wouldn't you rather have that? In fact, this is no soap box time, but they didn't have phones with them. They didn't have anything. They had each other, like you said. They were reciting Scripture that they had memorized.

That's an investment that the parents have made in the hearts of their kids that may not really even come into full bloom for decades. But there it is. They've hidden God's Word in their heart. And because Romans 3:23 is true, we all have a sin problem. The hiding of God's Word is going to take care of that problem. That's a promise. And so the parents have paid the price to be different and make this investment. It's an amazing thing to see. It's wonderful!

Nancy: You talk in this book and we talk about it in our marriage about the importance of words which can do huge good. They can do huge damage. In fact, Proverbs says "death and life are in the power of the tongue" (Pr. 18:21).

And you really made this a big thing in your family growing up. It was a big thing as you and Bobbie were raising your daughters, and it's a big thing in our home, today.

Robert: It is. There's a silly movie we saw when the girls were small called The Three Amigos. I wouldn't necessarily recommend it for intellectual stimulation. It's a crazy, little, silly movie. But there's a scene where the bad guy, El Guapo . . . I've always wondered where they get actors like this. The ugliest man you can imagine. And I get that job, wouldn't that be fun.

But this guy, El Guapo, pulls out a gun and he shoots one of the actors, and the guy realizes that it wasn't make believe. It was real. And he said, "Oh great. Real bullets."

We used to talk about that. This is from the Sermon on the Mount. Vows. Every word you speak is a vow. And it's a promise. Words are important. Sometimes we look at each other and go, "Yeah, real bullets." And that's exactly right.

Words that you speak are that important. They define your heart. They reveal to others around you what's actually inside your heart. Your words do that.

Nancy: And they have impact on people who hear them.

Robert: They do. They're like real bullets. You bet. We used to chant on the street corner, "Sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me." That's a lie. That is absolutely not the truth because words do hurt. Words penetrate. Words can break a heart.

Words encourage people. We've talked about that in the last broadcast. So words are very important. What you do with each other as husband and wife is you emphasize the importance of accuracy. Is this true? Is this really true? I know that sounds rather obvious. But how often do we find ourselves exaggerating or saying something that we know isn't quite true. Imagine how devastating words can be.

In fact, it's so interesting. A story that I tell was when I was twelve years old, and I heard a woman at church say to my mother something kind about me. I overheard it. So this was a blind endorsement. I heard her say that about me. I couldn't believe it. Here is this wonderful woman who's very well-known and respected in Wheaton, Illinois where I grew up, and I heard her say something kind about me. She didn't even know I was hearing this.

So when I told my mother about that years and years later, she said, "When I was a teenager, my good friend said to me that Mrs. Ritteau, my teacher, said that 'Grace is a nice girl.'"

Nancy: Grace is your mother.

Robert: Grace was my mother. "Grace is a nice girl." Can you imagine that? Such a simple thing. But my mother went to heaven at ninety-four and that remained one of the most important things she ever heard. Somebody spoke that about her. It was an endorsement.

We're in the publishing business, and one of the things that authors love to do is to get endorsements that are printed on the back of the book. That's a third party saying, "This is a good book. This is a book you ought to buy and read."

So what your children hear you say about them . . . In fact sometimes it's even more powerful when they overhear you saying something kind about them, something supportive about them to somebody else.

In fact, I paint this picture in the book. So you've got Charlie, and he's eight years old, and he's lying in bed. His bedroom is right next to his parents, and he hears his daddy say to his mom in the night, "You know, I want to tell you something about Charlie." And boy, Charlie wakes up, and he's saying to himself, "What's my daddy going to say about me?"

And he hears his daddy say to his mom, "What a special boy Charlie is. I'm so grateful Charlie's in our family. I love that boy so much."

Now, let me ask you a question. Does that make a difference in Charlie's life? Yes, probably for the rest of his life. The power of words.

One of the images I love to just keep in the back of my mind is a court scene. You put your hand on the Bible; you raise your other hand, and you make a promise. You make a vow. And every word you speak is that important. You're making a vow.

Nancy: Proverbs says this over and over again. I've got some of those verses in front of me. Proverbs 12: "The tongue of the wise brings healing" (v. 18). Proverbs 15: "A gentle tongue is a tree of life" (v. 4). Proverbs 16: "Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body" (v. 24).

So these words can be life giving. And things that were said . . . you heard this woman say this when you were twelve years old. It has shaped your life.

Robert: That's right.

Nancy: And conversely, words that are thrown out—flippant words, careless words . . . Proverbs says there's one whose "rash words are like sword thrusts" (Prov. 12:18). It hurts just thinking about it.

Robert: It does. 

Nancy: But that memory so many carry with them through life. Something somebody said in haste, said in anger. I didn't mean it. Well, you may or may not have meant it. Although Jesus says the words that you speak come out of your heart. But the person who heard it sure thought you meant it. And it goes with them.

Robert: There was a line in a hit song thirty or forty years ago. "The angry words spoken in haste what a waste of two lives." It was talking about a husband and wife arguing.

The other thing is . . . I love talking about words because of how important my parents said that they were. And they were right. When Missy and Julie were young, we decided to take vitamins together. Now, I love vitamins. I take vitamins every day.

Nancy: You do. I can attest to that. You get me taking them.

Robert: But we decided that we would come up with five vitamins that you would speak. Very simple things. Five vitamins that you would speak. And Missy and Julie are in their forties and their kids are teenagers and even in their twenties. And these vitamins they've memorized. If you'd call one of them and say, "What's vitamin number three?" They'd tell you immediately. It's, "I'm sorry. I was wrong. Would you forgive me?" We had five vitamins. Do you want to hear them?

Nancy: I do. I need the reminder.

Robert: You know them. They're in the book. One is: "I love you."

Nancy: Honey, you are amazing. You just say that over and over and over and over again. It's so life giving. One of the things you've taught me is that when you speak these things that your heart follows. And that's an investment. I think that's something a lot of families, parents and kids, couples just take for granted.

You're going through life. You get busy, and I'm just thankful that you remember to say that over andn over. I'm saying it a lot more than I ever have.

Robert: I hope so.

Nancy: But that's something that's a gift. That's something that strengthens a good marriage, and it's something that I think can also be a cure for families in crisis. It's just to start speaking. Taking these vitamins. Speaking these words. And at first it can be awkward. It can seem not normal. In our relationship this is normal because this is how it's always been. But where that's not been said, somebody has to go first, as you were wanting to say.

Robert: Yes, your mind goes first and your heart follows. So you make a decision. I'm going to say, "I love you."

Nancy: Even if nobody else does.

Robert: That's right. You're not saying it for that reason. You're not expecting the return. You just say it because you believe it. Your mind goes first and your heart follows. So, yes, "I love you" was the first family vitamin.

Then the second one was, "I need your love." It's an interesting thing. This is true in families, it's true in relationships—the danger of expectations that are unrealistic. Like you go on vacation and your husband has this idea of what he'd like to do on vacation and you have an idea, but you don't talk about it. And chances are really good you're going to come home from your vacation exhausted.

Nancy: And both disappointed.

Robert: And maybe worse, maybe angry. So what you do is you say, "Now okay, here is what I'm looking forward to. How does this sound to you?" So the second vitamin is, "I need your love."

And if you were to ask Missy or Julie, they would tell you the thousands of times when they were growing up . . . When they're fourteen and they're beginning to discover who they are and they're facing conflict at school, they would say, "I need a hug." I mean literally, I can see them standing in the kitchen saying to their daddy, "I need a hug. I need your love." And it was always fun to give it to them.

But sometimes we kind of bounce off each other like a pinball machine. We don't stop. We're like a bag of marbles, and we're banging into each other. And nobody's saying, "Stop. Stop. Stop. I just need a hug. I just need your love. I just need something kind."

You know, you may say it ought to be spontaneous if it's real. Well, not necessarily. Some people need this more than others. But anyway, vitamin number two, we speak these words, "I need your love."

Nancy: I'm thinking about how you're doing that in our marriage as you're teaching me what communicates love to you. We don't sit down with a laptop and excel sheet and map this out. Just in the course of conversation. It's giving me greater freedom to say this is what communicates love to me. Because we want to do that. We want to minister grace to each other, but we don't know how.

Robert: Yes. So vitamin number three is, "I'm sorry. I was wrong. Will you please forgive me?"

Nancy: It's not easy to get those few words out is it?

Robert: Oh, it's a horse pill. Picture it. So I'm saying, "I'm sorry. That's how I feel about what I just did. It was wrong." And then I ask for a response. I say, "Will you please forgive me?" And so this is as far as the east is from the west. You say, "I forgive you." And then it's over. Vitamin three: "I'm sorry. I was wrong. Will you please forgive me?"

And then vitamin four, "May I help?" There's a lot of work to be done in a home—a lot of picking up to do, a lot of cleaning the dishes out of the sink, a lot of straightening up, just stuff.

Nancy: Perpetually.

Robert: Perpetually. Yes. You and I can walk away from the kitchen after we've just cleaned it up. It's spic and span and an hour later there's something out there, right? That's on the counter or in the sink or whatever. Can I help? Those are magical words.

And the truth is that I'm lazy. I'd far rather have you say to me, "Can I get you a drink of water?" than to say, "Can I get you a drink of water?" Right? That's just built into it. It's part of our sin nature.

So I say to you, "Can I help? What is there to do that I can help?" My daddy used to say, "Son, look for something to do."

So, like you, I didn't have a TV till I was in sixth grade. And when we got a TV, he would not allow me to sit and watch TV with nothing else to do. So I learned to hem—I've just lost my man-card—to hem dresses for my mother, to iron, to shine shoes. Anything I could do while I was watching TV. I couldn't just sit and watch TV without anything. The point is, "Can I help?" is a huge important family vitamin.

Nancy: Is there anything I can do for you?

Robert: Oh, it's huge.

Nancy: It's a servant's heart, and that's the heart of Jesus. We're never more like Jesus than when we're serving. And again, I just want to say, I watch you do this around our home all the time, and it's not like you don't have a life. We're both busy people. We both have a lot going on. But you are so quick to say, "Is there anything I can do to help?" And to just notice things that need to be done and do them.

I'm thinking how many people—husband or wife—are living out their laziness. They're sitting playing computer games, playing word games. And there's nothing wrong with those things unless there's something that needs to be done. Then the laziness can become something that really undermines a family. But pitching in, helping, being active, not being idle is good for the soul, but it's also good for making that home, a Christian home that is a happy place.

Robert: For relationships. One of my favorite things to do with you, Nancy, is to anticipate what you need.

Nancy: You're amazing at it.

Robert: Maybe it's a game. I love to challenge myself with my daddy's words, "Look for something to do." So, if I hear you sniff . . ."

Nancy: The Kleenex is there before I know I sniffed.

Robert: But that's a silly little thing.

Nancy: But that communicates attentiveness. It communicates care. It communicates being cherished. Again, I can hear wives thinking, I would give anything to have a husband who would do that. And the challenge to my own heart and my challenge to your heart is be that kind of person. Become that. Be the one who says, "Is there anything I can do to serve."

I know a lot of women feel that they do all the heavy lifting or most of the heavy lifting in the home. That's when we have to remind ourselves that serving is a privilege. It's a way that we honor the Lord and honor each other. And in time, that produces healthier relationships.

There may need to be a time when you have a discussion with your mate and you talk about the need to readjust the priorities. And we've done this some. We've both had crazy deadline seasons where we helped the other one out. "How can I help lift your load? Or how can I make your load lighter?"

So it's not just that, okay he does this stuff, and she does this stuff. We're pitching in together to build a relationship and a home.

Robert: Yes. This goes back to vitamin two. There's nothing wrong with having a conversation with your mate and saying, "Here's sort of what I expect. Here's what I was looking for, and it didn't happen, so I just want you to know. I didn't want to just have this inside and not tell you about it. But I want you to know that when you said that the other day, it really hurt my feeling."

You're not casting judgment. You're not saying, "You said a stupid thing." But you are saying, "This is how that felt to me." Your mate can't say, "No it didn't." If you say, "You said a stupid thing," then they could say, "That wasn't stupid." But if you respond by saying, "This is how this felt."

Here's a really important thing. Again, Missy and Julie will tell you that I said this many times. Relationships that are damaged are usually damaged by what is not said not than by what is said. Silence is not golden. Not in a family.

And so, my encouragement is to use words. In fact, most of the communication is non-verbal. So the look on your mate's face, how she's standing when you're talking to her, or what he's doing with his hands on his hips; that communicates more than words. So use words. It's very important to do that.

Don't miss the opportunity to explain your expectations, to say whatever it is using "I" statements and then to encourage. So, the fourth vitamin is, "May I help?" And the fifth is, "Thank you."

Nancy: That is huge.

Robert: It is huge. Gratitude. I don't know what's going to be chiseled on my tombstone, but my hope is that it would say something like, "He had a grateful heart." I never want to forget. I mean, this morning I woke up. I was alive. Hey, that's cool. I heard birds singing outside. That's terrific. The coffee was delicious. That's wonderful. I had time in the Word. I had time before the Father on my knees. My wife came downstairs, and she's beautiful. I think you know her.

Nancy: Thank you, honey.

Robert: I sat on the edge of the chair, and I hugged her and held her and told her how much I loved her. There is so much to be grateful for. And sometimes we expect the good stuff and point out the bad stuff. We become editors for everything, and we forget to say, "You know, most of the words that you put in here were spelled correctly."

Nancy: Exactly. And to notice the little things and express gratitude for them. We can feel that. We would really feel that if we didn't have those things. But to be thankful not only to the Lord but to say to each other, "Thank you for doing that."

And you and I, I think we're making a good habit of that. But we're newlyweds. I don't want us ever to get to the place where we aren't noticing what happens and noticing the little things and just saying thank you. It doesn't take a whole lot of time or effort but it does take being intentional. We do that verbally. We do it by means of writing notes and cards. And again, we're new at this.

But I think that a lot of marriages that have been going for a long time, a lot of families that have been around for years, that some of the talks that paint a negative painful environment in the home could have huge gains and changes if some of these little carburetor adjustments were made. Just starting to say, "Thank you." To recognize and express appreciation for the things that happened that are gifts from the Lord and gifts from our family.

Robert: That's so true. And sometimes words written are as powerful as words spoken.

Nancy: And in our case, sometimes on a paper towel or post-it note.

Robert: Or this week, I was on the road. I was traveling. I went to New York City. I opened my one-year Bible to the date, and there was a yellow post-it note from my wife on that page. You knew, of course, you knew what day it was when I was going to be gone in a hotel room by myself. And I opened my Bible early in the morning, and there's a note—a handwritten note from my wife thanking me for taking time to spend in the Word.

Now, what's that worth? That's a huge gift. That was a decision that you made. You may not have even felt like doing that. You may have been tired. Let's say that you probably were when you wrote that note. And you could have said, "Ach, he knows I love him." And I do. I know you love me. I didn't read that note and go, "Whew! Boy, am I relieved to know that Nancy loves me." But it was just a great reminder early in the morning—in the darkness of the morning, in a hotel room in the busy city—that my wife loves me, and she put it in writing. It was a huge gift. So thank you for doing that.

Nancy: Well, you're welcome. And I do love you. One of the things I tell you almost every day since we got married, "I love you more today than yesterday." And I don't want to ever stop saying that. Thank you for going first and leading the way in how to build a Christian home.

And thank you for writing this book and then revising and updating it for a new generation. It's got so many practical helpful tools in it including an appendix in how to lead your child to Christ. Twenty-six Bible verses—one for each letter of the alphabet that your mother taught your daughters. And there's a whole story in this book about how they learned those when they were little, little girls. And so those verses are there.

There are application and discussion questions. This is a great resource. It's a great tool. And any family, whether it's in crisis or whether it's humming along and doing just great, I think it can benefit from a tune up, can benefit from somebody just looking in and saying, "Have you thought about this?" There are a lot of practical resources here.

And this book is available this week for any of our listeners who make a contribution to the ministry of Revive Our Hearts. Let us know that you'd like to give a gift to the ministry and be sure to ask for Robert's book on the home. It's called The Most Important Place on Earth. We'd be glad to send it to you. Again, that number to call is 1–800–569–5959, or you can visit us at ReviveOurHearts.com.

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

And remember that when you support this ministry, you're helping other marriages, other homes that are in need of God's grace and God's intervention. You're helping them experience the fullness of what God has in store for them as we have programs like this day after day helping people to understand what a Christian home looks like and how to build one.

Leslie: Imagine you're in a mall food court and you overhear someone making plans to get an abortion. What should you do? Tomorrow we'll hear about a woman in that situation who sensed the Lord calling her to get involved. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Heart with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth 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.