Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Practical Counsel for True Women

Leslie Basham: Before we begin today’s Revive Our Hearts, Nancy Leigh DeMoss has an important update.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Over the last several weeks we’ve been letting you know how important your gift is to Revive Our Hearts here in the month of May. This is our fiscal year-end, when we make a lot of decisions about our level of ministry for the coming year. So many listeners have responded over these past weeks, and I want to say, “Thank you so much for getting involved and for giving what you can to help with this need.”

As we’ve shared with you, during this time some friends of Revive Our Hearts have offered to match the gift of each new supporter up to a matching challenge amount of $60,000. So if you’ve never given before to Revive Our Hearts, we especially need to hear from you over these next few days.

Whether you’re a new supporter or you’ve given previously, we want to send you the CD Hidden in My Heart when you send your gift. As I’ve been sharing, this is a fabulous CD of Scriptures set to music. It was originally designed to be a lullaby CD, but it’s a CD I know you will enjoy whether you have little children or not as you are ministered to by these Scripture words set to music.

The number to call is 1-800-569-5959, or you can contribute online at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Leslie: Holly Elliff says, “You are responsible for your actions.”

Holly Elliff: I tell women all the time, “When you get to heaven, God is not going to say to you, ‘Elizabeth, what did your husband do that kept you from being a godly woman?’”

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Friday, May 27.

Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy: Here at Revive Our Hearts we’re committed to teaching women God’s Word, but we also want to show you how other women live out God’s Word. That’s why the True Women conferences we’ve hosted have generally included a panel discussion.

At each conference we hear from God’s Word, and then our various speakers get together on a panel to discuss how that truth can be applied by women in all seasons of life.

We’re about to listen to some of these discussions that took place at True Woman conferences last year. I think you’ll find this exchange helpful as you seek to show what you believe through the way you live.

Leslie: Our team has put together some highlights from last year’s panel discussions at True Women in Chattanooga, Indianapolis, and Fort Worth. We’ll begin as moderator Bob Lepine talks with Holly Elliff, a pastor’s wife and mom.

Bob Lepine: How many kids do you have?

Holly: Just eight.

Bob: Just eight. (Laughter) You’re a pastor’s wife; you’ve served in ministry for how many years?

Holly: 37 years

Bob: So how do you do it all?

Holly: I don’t do it all. (Laughter) You don’t do it all. What you do is you start listening for the Holy Spirit. There are very few moments in my day when I’m not going to the Lord and saying, “What do I do now?” I mean literally, moment by moment.

I talked to a young pastor’s wife yesterday after the session, and she said, “I don’t know how to get from here to what I think I’m supposed to be.”

I said, “Here’s how you get there: You get up tomorrow, and you ask Jesus, ‘What do I do?’ And the next day you get up, and you say to the Lord, ‘What do I do?’ And you live in moment-by-moment surrender. You take the next small step.”

I can remember Elisabeth Elliot saying, “You take the next right step that God is encouraging you to take.”

So it’s not ever that you do it all, and if we don’t go to the Lord, we will not be doing the right things. We’ll be doing things that are not His best. So it’s taking the next right step into obedience just like we would teach our kids, but we’ve got to be tuned to the Holy Spirit, or He will not be giving us directions.

So we need to respond. We need to be listening. He’s been talking to us all weekend. So we take the next right step into whatever God is saying to us.

Kay Arthur: That’s so beautiful.

Leslie: This is Bible teacher, Kay Arthur, on the True Woman panel with Holly Elliff.

Kay Arthur: It reminds me of Jesus in John chapter 5. He always and only did those things that pleased the Father. Thank you for your example. It so simplifies everything, doesn’t it? And to trust that He will lead us. (Applause) A life of total dependence is what you’re telling us.

Holly: It’s not that hard; it’s not that difficult. It’s really more simple than we think. It’s just saying “yes” to what God is directing you to do in that moment and then doing it—by His grace, by His power, through His Spirit and His Word, and He’s already provided those things.

Bob: How do you replenish? How do you refill the tank? Because I’m guessing every night you’re exhausted.

Holly: I’m exhausted sometimes in the morning when I get up! (Laughter) One of my daughters called me the other day, who now has kids, and she said, “Okay, just tell me if this is true or not: I’m getting the feeling that I might be tired the rest of my life.” (Laughter)

I said, “Well, I don’t want to lie to you—that’s a possibility.”

We do have to depend on the Lord moment by moment for the strength which He supplies. When we do that, He will give us the energy and the strength do that which He has called us to. The problem is we’re expending our strength a lot of other places, and so we don’t have the energy or the strength to do what He’s calling us to. But if we’re listening, then our strength is going in the right place.

And so there are moments when I can’t budget my time the way I would like to, but I have found that God is an exhaustible supply of strength. If I’ll make the choice to make sure that happens—so if nothing else happens but I get time with the Lord—then even if I’m running on less sleep, (and I’m very grateful that I don’t have to have a lot of sleep) if God is in control of my spirit, then I can still function.

Bob: I’m sure there have been moments or times or seasons when that priority has slipped in your life. When that’s happened, how have you recaptured it? What have you seen happen when you don’t get that time? Just talk about that.

Holly: Well, those of you who have kids, or we also care for my mom who has Alzheimer’s, and so there are just seasons in your life where you get so pressed in. (My daughter just had a baby a few days ago.) It’s just really hard at those moments to find designated time to sit before the Lord. So I think you have to almost get to where you pull a curtain around you in the midst of what you’re doing and invite God in to a little special place.

I think about Susannah Wesley who used to throw her apron over her head, and her children knew. (I don’t wear aprons.) But her children knew that if she had the apron over her head, they had to leave her alone. And she had a lot more kids than I have! (Laughter)

That doesn’t always work. I remember one day I said to my kids, “I have got to have a minute by myself. Do not bother me unless there’s blood.” So I went in the bathroom, and I closed the door. In a few minutes, I saw this . . . We were working on some schoolwork, and I saw this math paper slide under the bathroom door. No knock. No noise. Just the math paper coming under the door. Of course, I knew whose it was, and I said, “Joshua?” And the math paper just slid back out. (Laughter)

Leslie: Author Dannah Gresh led the teen track at True Women ’10. She was one of the panelists and had time during the conference to hear the story of a woman learning to submit to God and to her husband.

Dannah Gresh: Last night was a really healing moment for me as I listened to the story of submission. I've been married 22 years now. I walked 12 years out of submission, and praise God, I just realized last night I’ve walked now 12 years practicing—and I do mean practicing—submission.

I think it’s easy to be the woman who submits when he says, “Honey, we’re moving 18 hours across the country. Can you pack up your bags?” And you’re just the good Christian wife. But it’s so much harder to submit when he’s trying to pick where to park on Sunday morning. (Laughter) But the blessing is that when we get out of the way, that’s when they lead and do everything our hearts desire, and I’ve been living in that blessing for more years now almost than I haven’t.

This morning on the way over here, I was struggling with a decision. I was just saying, “God, I’m going to have to deal with that when I get home.” And I thought, “No, I don’t. Bob will make a great decision.” And I just rest in that.

Leslie: Dannah Gresh encouraged those gathered at the True Woman conference to head home and rest in God’s ability to work through their husbands.

Author Carolyn McCulley encouraged single women to submit to the leadership that God’s placed in their lives as well.

Carolyn McCulley: That’s not something that you just have to learn when you get married. I’ve been fortunate enough to work for a Christian ministry, and my boss helped me to see where I was undermining leadership at work, where I wasn’t being supportive in church.

Whether or not you currently have a husband, there are a lot of ways to practice submitting to and preferring others, in lifting them up—in dating relationships and relationships in the church, just being brothers and sisters.

I learned from one woman in my church who very wisely had the capacity to administrate and to lead a lot. But she would turn around to the brothers instead when they would say, “What are we going to do?” and she’d say, “Well, I don’t know. What are you interested in, and how can I help you?” Then she’d turn to the rest of us, and she’d say, “So and so is planning this event, and we’re all going because we’re not going to look at him and go, ‘You don’t want to do this because he’s stepping out.’ We’re going to support him.”

Dannah: It’s a choice.

Kay: That’s good. That’s great.

Bob: But, Kay, I have to ask you—Dannah gets to go home to Bob, who will make a great decision. Some of these ladies are going to go home to husbands who have not made great decisions.

Kay: Most of these women will go home to that going on.

Bob: So what do you do if you’re going home to a husband, and you go, “I can’t trust the decisions he’s going to make?”

Kay: In 1 Peter chapter 3, he talks about if you have a husband that does not obey the Word, that is not listening to God, then you’re going to trust God. And the example goes back to 1 Peter chapter 2 where it’s talking about Jesus, and let me just hit it for you real quick. It says, “And in the same way, you wives . . .”

You go back, and it’s Jesus, and it says you’ve been called for this purpose, since "Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example . . . He committed no sin." So, if your husband tells you to do something sinful, you know that you can’t do it. "Nor was any deceit found in His mouth," so He didn’t lip off.

"And while being reviled, He did not revile in turn. While suffering, He uttered no threats; but He kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously" (see vv. 21-23). So he tells us in this way "in former times the holy women also who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, being submissive with their own husbands just as Sarah obeyed Abraham" (see 1 Peter 3:5-6). If you go through that, it wasn’t always easy to obey Abraham.

Leslie: True Woman speaker Janet Parshall says, “Everyone needs to prepare for emotional ups and downs in a marriage.”

Janet Parshall: C.S. Lewis said, “The will must necessarily precede the emotions.”

There are times in our marriages when we look at our husband, and we just go, “Really? Really? You used to make my stomach flip. Now it’s like, ‘Really?’” (Laughter) That’s when you have to say, “The will precedes the emotions.”

So for me, what I do in my house, I want to remember that there is such a great cloud of witnesses watching this absolutely precious unit called the family, designed by God in the garden before the fall of man. It tells us, the privacy of that relationship to the heart of our father, that Satan would like nothing more than to take my marriage down. And I’m not going to let him take dominion in my household. (Applause)

So what that means in a pragmatic way is, when I look at him, and I have one of those moments when I think, “Oh, I wish it was like prom again,” and it’s not; and I look at him instead and say, “What does Jesus think about your husband?” And that immediately translates my feelings from, “Forget your feelings; Jesus loves him unconditionally. Can you love him the same?”

Bob: Oh, that’s good.

Holly: I just want to say a word. As you guys noticed, when Nancy had you stand, did you notice how many women in this room stood? So this is a critical issue in our society, and what happens is we ignore it. If you ignore it long enough, you will not be married to your husband.

We have to be very, very careful about making sure that God is in charge of our home, that we’re in the right place relationally with our husband; that we are in the right place with our children related to our husbands. If you have teenagers, it is very, very hard to get time with your husband because they’re up late, and he goes to bed, and you may not ever even speak a word to him without your kids being around.

So be very, very cautious that you are intentional about maintaining and restoring the primary relationship in your home, which should be your marriage.

Leslie: That’s Holly Elliff at True Woman ’10. She knows that it’s easy during a conference to get discouraged. Sometimes your marriage in the real world looks so different from the types of marriage you hear about from the stage.

Holly: I have a wonderful husband. But, you know what? I spend a lot of time with women who don’t have wonderful husbands. They are potentially wonderful husbands, but they’re currently not necessarily godly men, and it is really, really hard. It’s really hard.

So when you hear these principles about the home, those are ideals. That’s what it would look like if we were all perfectly doing what God has called us to do. But most of the time we’re not. So we have to take those principles then and kind of interpose them over our real life because if we go home expecting it to look just like what the book says, we’re going to be disappointed.

So we have to go home with the expectation that there’s going to be difficulty, and we’re going to get the opportunity to run to Christ to know how to live with that man who is not following Him.

Mary Kassian: And him living with us.

Leslie: This is True Woman speaker Mary Kassian.

Mary Kassian: I think one of the things I think is a danger is that we just start becoming critical. We think, “Okay, we’ll go help him be what he needs to be.” I know that when I pray with women, they will come with, “Pray for my husband, da-da-da-da-da.”

What inevitably happens is I end up not praying for their husband but for her. Right? Because usually God wants to change our hearts and give us, maybe, more contentment, and maybe even just looking at the good instead of criticizing what we don’t have.

This one thing I learned from Elisabeth Elliot, and I wrote it down. I had a piece of paper stuck in my office for many, many years, that said, "It’s always possible to be grateful for what’s given rather than resentful about what’s withheld."

So, to just thank God for having a husband and for being blessed. If he brings money home, thank Him for that, and just to cultivate a spirit of gratitude. I think that really helps us to keep from becoming critical and having it as a flashpoint.

Leslie: Moderator Bob Lepine encouraged those who attended True Woman to set realistic expectations on their husbands or future husbands.

Bob: Talk about the phantom that every woman has for what her spiritual-leader husband will be and how she adjusts to the reality of what normal Christian guys are as spiritual leaders.

Leslie: Again, this is Mary Kassian.

Mary: I think we often have an image in our mind of what a leader looks like, and I think sometimes it’s easier if we think “overseer”—that he’s the overseer of the home. I think we need to let our husbands off the hook from looking a certain way.

You have a whole range of personalities. You have a whole range of giftings. You have a whole range of strengths. So maybe your husband is really a hands-on kind of guy—you’ve got your mechanic guy, and he’s quiet, and he’s not really verbal. He can be an overseer of your home without being a real verbal, directional kind of guy.

I think sometimes in the Christian community, and sometimes when we talk about biblical manhood and womanhood, we come up with these stereotypes of what it needs to look like—in men and in women—that, “Oh, well, I’m an outspoken kind of strong-willed woman, so God can’t work . . . He has to break my personality.”

He doesn’t have to break my personality. He has to redeem my personality and make me more of who I really am. I think it’s the same kind of grace that we need to extend to our husbands.

Carolyn: Bob, you’re probably not expecting me to chime in on this, but . . .

Holly: We’re glad you’re chiming in, Carolyn.

Carolyn: I think what’s important is to think about the fact that, as a single woman, all the men you interact with until you get married are your brothers in Christ, and they’ll remain that way, but so is the one that you’re marrying. It’s a gift for this life, and you’re going to turn him over to Christ at the end of your life and say, “This is how I stewarded the life that You gave me.”

That is an interaction and thought process I have whether I’m dating somebody or I’m not or I’m with somebody else’s husband. And it’s also the way that I encourage my married friends . . . to say, “He is your leader, but he’s your brother in Christ forever.”

Because of the cross, we’re always going to be united together in these relationships, so there’s no who wins and who’s better or whatever. We’re forever joined because of the graciousness of Christ, and that should color all of our relationships. (Applause)

Holly: We have to keep really short accounts in our expectations or we will be really disappointed. What happens is that there is then an ongoing level of tension in the home all the time because I’m expecting some things that he’s not doing, and he knows that I’m not happy because he’s not doing the things that I expect. So you get this level of tension that just escalates in the home, and then you get meatloaf thrown across the kitchen. (Laughter)

So I do think we have to keep really short accounts, and as Mary said, really. We’re so much better off if we keep our mouths closed, if we just focus on what it is that the Lord is saying to us, and give our husbands some room and some grace to grow because—you know what?—both of us are to be looking more and more like Christ.

Mary: It’s a journey. It’s like, I’m glad my husband is patient with me.

Holly: Right, and so we have areas where we have to grow.

Mary: When we stand before the Lord alone, as a woman, God is not going to hold us accountable for what kind of leader our husband was. He’s going to hold us accountable for how we affirmed him.

Holly: I tell women all the time, “When you get to heaven, God is not going to say to you, ‘Elizabeth, what did your husband do that kept you from being a godly woman?’”

Mary: I think another thing where we often go wrong is that we think providing spiritual oversight for the home means that he has to do everything. Sometimes women tend to advocate responsibility.

I just think of the example of Timothy. His mom was a Jewish believer, and his dad was Greek. And yet he was one of the most solidly, doctrinally grounded people because of the influence of his mother and grandmother in his life.

So I think that providing that spiritual oversight doesn’t mean that he has to do everything. We’re still responsible for our part in the home.

Leslie: That’s Mary Kassian, one of many panelists we heard from. Those panel discussions were recorded at the True Woman ’10 conferences in Chattanooga, Indianapolis, and Fort Worth.

Now, after those three conferences wrapped up in 2010, people kept asking Nancy Leigh DeMoss a question.

Nancy: “When’s the next one?” They wanted their friends to share what they had experienced at the conference, or maybe they weren’t able to attend and heard about it from someone else. So they wrote from everywhere saying, “How can we get in on a True Woman conference?”

Well, our team didn’t rush to answer that question. We wanted to wait on the Lord and His timing and not just put an event on the calendar. But now I’m excited to let you know about two True Woman events that are on the horizon.

The first is coming to Indianapolis this November. We’re calling it revive ’11. Now this special conference is designed for any woman who is involved in ministering to other women. This can be Bible teachers, women’s ministry leaders, pastors’ wives, small group leaders, counselors. Anyone who is ministering to other women is invited to join us for this conference.

And then I want to invite you to join us for our next national gathering. We’re calling it The Heart of a True Woman conference. I hope every woman listening to my voice today will at least ask the question: “Should I be a part of this event?”

This True Woman national conference will be taking place in Indianapolis in September of 2012. I’ll be there along with Janet Parshall, Mary Kassian, Keith and Kristyn Getty, and many other speakers who will help you develop the heart of a true woman.

You can get the details for revive ’11 and for True Woman ’12 by visiting ReviveOurHearts.com.

Leslie: Peace. Quiet. How do you develop these qualities? Nancy will open God’s Word and explore that question Monday on Revive Our Hearts.

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

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