Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: When you have something valuable, you protect it, right? One of the most valuable things you have is your mind. Are you protecting it? Here’s Anne Ortlund.

Anne Ortlund: Ask the Lord to purify our minds and, as far as we are able, to keep from our minds and our eyes those things that would degrade us or make us less Christ-like.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Friday, July 25.

It’s tough to raise children in a hostile culture, but there are things we can do to protect our kids and ourselves from harmful influences. We’ll hear about some of them today from Nancy and our guest.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: “Today’s society is an impending avalanche sliding toward hell.”

Those are pretty strong words, and they come from the book of my friend Anne Ortlund. She goes on to say, “Is your family caught in the slide? How can you gather up your loved ones and make a drastic leap to solid ground?”

Anne, welcome back to Revive Our Hearts, and thank you for coming and sharing with us insights God has given you about the disciplines of a godly home.

Anne: Well, Nancy, may they be God’s insights into His Word because what I say doesn’t mean much, but if it comes from His Word, then it’s worth saying, isn’t it?

Nancy: It is, and your life and your marriage have demonstrated such a great role model, and I’m sure not perfect, but a great role model of what it means to have a family that is energized by the grace of God and that is based on the principles of God’s Word.

For those of you who don’t know it, Anne Ortlund is an author. She’s written over a dozen best-selling books, some of which influenced my life 25 years ago when I was a college student. She’s written a wonderful book called Up With Worship, a book on children called Children Are Wet Cement, a book on marriage—tell me the title, Anne, I’ve forgotten that.

Anne: Building a Great Marriage.

Nancy: Building a Great Marriage. She’s a speaker; she’s a musician; she’s a hymn writer, and she’s written a book that we’re talking about this week called The Gentle Ways of the Beautiful Woman: A Practical Guide to Spiritual Beauty. That book is actually a compilation of three of her best-selling books.

The one I am most familiar with is Disciplines of the Beautiful Woman, and then she’s written another one called Disciplines of the Heart, and the one we’re discussing today, Disciplines of the Home.

It does take godly, biblical disciplines to make a family survive that avalanche that our whole society seems to be on today, doesn’t it, Anne?

Anne: Yes, and in that middle book, Nancy, that is, Disciplines of the Heart, it says we can’t just grit our teeth and pull ourselves up by the bootstraps and have this discipline. The middle one tells the source of the strength, and it is only through God alone.

So when we’re talking about what kind of a home we should have, if God doesn’t put us together, it’s not going to happen. We need to simply go to Him. He’s our source.

Nancy: Let me say that all three of those books are in this one title that we’re offering this week, The Gentle Ways of the Beautiful Woman [NOTE - due to unavailability, Disciplines of the Beautiful Woman will be offered instead]. So, yes, you’ll want to get Disciplines of the Heart, which is the middle section of this compilation, so that you can live out as a wife, as a mom, and whatever season of life, what it means to have a godly home.

Anne, you’re now an older woman. I don’t know at what point you say you become that, but you are a beautiful, radiant woman, and I love the Christ that I see in you. I love your commitment to your family, but developing a godly family didn’t happen for you or anyone else overnight. It really does involve some basic, practical commitments.

You talk about ten “Do’s,” disciplines that you need to have in place in your home, and one that you talk about is “Do be there.” Be there for your children until the kids are out of the nest, and I suspect you would say even when they’re out of the nest. There’s still a sense in which you really have to be there for your children.

What do you mean by “being there”?

Anne: Well, I have to say, Nancy—somebody said this before me—that once you have a baby, from then on your heart walks around outside your body. So in that sense, yes, even after they’re out of the nest, you are still so tied to them. There’s this invisible thread, and you want to tell them what to do, and you mustn’t. . .

Nancy: . . .but you keep praying.

Anne: You keep praying for sure, but be there. I realize, Nancy, that we are speaking to single moms who say, “I would love nothing more. I can’t be there. I have to work. I have to put my child into a nursery or with Grandmother or something.” I think God is such a God of grace. Even if we can’t do it perfectly, He knows our hearts, and He will somehow help that child become what we pray he will become, and certainly prayer is a key.

We’re speaking to those who could be there and aren’t, which are most moms. It just gets kind of boring to stay home all the time with this little one and build blocks or draw with a crayon when you could be talking about exciting things with your peers over lunch or something. Why stay home?

We have a couple of dear, dear friends of ours. In fact, they’re two that are on our board at Renewal Ministries. Sometimes he works, and she stays home with the children. Sometimes she works, and he stays home with the children. For several years they’ll do it one way, and then they’ll swap, and for several more years, they’ll do it the other way. One or both of them, I don’t think at any time have they both been home, but one has been home all the time.

As we were looking at Deuteronomy 6:4-7, which begins,

Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God, the LORD is one. . . . Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up (NIV).

It doesn’t say, “Mother.” It doesn’t say, “Father.” Apparently either one will do, just so at least one parent is there.

These are godly parents who have made that decision to take turns by shifts, but the fact is, somebody, one parent, must be there at least, to be with them in those instant moments when they ask a question, or an insight opens for you to share with them, or when they fall down and hurt themselves and need instant hugs and prayers, and “Jesus will help you,” and just all the things that a godly parent does, and talking to them about God’s Word, and teaching them, whatever age they are, how to love the Lord their God with all their heart and soul and strength. Somebody’s got to be there, and it can’t be the nanny.

Nancy: That may mean a willingness to make sacrifices.

Anne: Totally. Our own daughter has never worked . . .

Nancy: . . . outside the home.

Anne: Outside the home.

Nancy: I know she works.

Anne: She doesn’t get paid for it—well, she does that, too, but not in money. Walt put himself through seminary painting houses. You know the name Walt Harem, many of you listeners see it on overheads when you sing praise songs because he works with Maranatha and a lot of those groups, and yet Walt never let Sherry work.

It was his idea, “We’ll simply live on less because we want to raise our children to love the Lord more than anybody.” The fact is, the two girls now are married to guys getting their doctorates, who have finished seminary and want to teach in seminaries, and the third one wants to go into the ministry. He’s just starting in Biola University this year. They have really raised children who are just all-out for Jesus, and they did it by being there, by being available to teach them the Word, and to pray with them and love them. You’ve got to be there.

Nancy: That brings up another discipline that you mentioned, and that is “slashing TV watching.” It’s possible to be there but still be raising the children by means of electronics and entertainment. You point out that there are some inherent dangers in letting the television raise your children, and I’m so glad you bring this out because I had the blessing of growing up in what today is hardly comprehensible, and that is a TV-free home.

My parents, both as young believers when they started our family, determined that they did not believe we should have a TV in our home, not because they said it was sinful, but because they didn’t want our lives centered around the television. So as long as we were in the home, there was no television. I can remember some people feeling sorry for us and wanting to give us a TV, or loan us a TV, or buy us a TV, and my dad would say, “Thanks, but . . .”

Anne: Thanks, but no thanks.

Nancy: “ . . . that’s not the way we’re going to bring up our family.” Why do you think that’s so important?

Anne: Sherry and Walt have done the same thing. They used to have a television. About ten years ago they threw it out, and they’ve not had one since, and for the same reason. In the evening, they sit and read wonderful books . . .

Nancy: . . . and talk to each other?

Anne: And talk. Absolutely.

I look at Psalm 101: 2-3, and I say this with tongue-in-cheek because this was written before television came into being, but it says,

I will be careful to live a blameless life . . . I will walk in my house with blameless heart. I will set before my eyes no vile thing (NIV).

A lot of stuff on television is vile, and we would not speak it or do it, but it comes over the screen, and it infiltrates our homes with an atmosphere that is so anti-Christian, and it is certainly often the enemy’s propaganda.

Nancy: And we get desensitized to it.

Anne: Absolutely, and our children even more so because they haven’t lived long enough yet to get a strong sense of values, so it looks pretty good to them. They look pretty cute, and they look like they’re having fun, but this is really bad propaganda.

Nancy: It’s interesting even how secular studies in recent years have shown some of the educational dangers of having children raised with television, stifling their creativity and imagination. I think what you point out from the Psalms is an even more serious matter, and that is the defiling of our spirits and our hearts. It’s one thing to do it to ourselves, that’s bad enough, but then to do it to children.

Anne: On a less than spiritual note, even the sedentary life that they are living now means that they are fatter, not fitter, so that that, too, physically, plays a part, but even more the mind—what they’re putting into their mind.

Nancy, Ray and I have a son who is a narcotics detective. He’s a police officer, but he has a plain car, drives a plain car, wears plain clothes, goes undercover and buys drugs. If they discover who he is, he’s dead. He says to me, “Mother, I used to confront evil as a police officer. Now I mirror evil. I have to be like them.” He says, “Pray for my mind. I want to be Christ-like inside, and then pray that they won’t realize that I’m different.”

Satan is subtle, so we need to ask the Lord to purify our minds, and, as far as we are able, to keep from our minds and our eyes those influences that would degrade us or make us less Christ-like.

Nancy: You say we need to learn to cocoon. What do you mean?

Anne: It’s a word that is just coming back in after being out of it for a lot of years, because people were just out of the home for everything. A lot of times now you go into a restaurant, at least a middle-income restaurant, and they say, “Here or to go?” People are more and more bringing home the food and trying to get reacquainted with each other. We’re getting so lonely and feeling so isolated and the families are so scattered.

I look at Psalm 128:2-3, Nancy, and this is exactly what it says: “You will eat the fruit of your labor,” speaking of a godly man. “Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your sons will be like olive shoots around your table” (NIV). I want to camp on that for a minute because it pictures the children around the table, and some of us are just rediscovering these days what it means to be around the table as a family.

Nancy: What a novel idea.

Anne: Yes. What a novel idea. We just sat perched on stools. We each had our own meal whenever we were free, and the TV dinners and the rest, and gone our separate ways, or grabbed a hamburger someplace, and we need to sit around the table at least one meal a day. It teaches manners. It teaches care for each other. My parents taught me to pass whatever was sitting in front of me at the table and not to reach until Mother took the first bite, and just a lot of things that are so unknown today, so foreign, because we don’t know table manners. But really, all they are are care for each other . . .

Nancy: . . . consideration.

Anne: That’s right.

Nancy: It’s love.

Anne: Yes, and also commitment. We need to be committed to at least one meal a day together as a family, and don’t start eating until everybody is there—that says, “I belong. This is my particular group.” Around the table, things happen. You can have Bible study and prayer there. You can say, “How did it go today? What can we pray about?” You can laugh and cry.

After a while, Ray got so busy pastoring a very, very large church; his life was so full in the evenings—he had many meetings in one evening, often two or three a night. So we got to having breakfast as our family meal, which was a challenge for me. I’m not a morning person, but we had an hour to an hour-and-a-half every single morning, five days a week.

Nancy: Before your children went to school?

Anne: Yes. They were all in Junior High and High School then, and we talked; we laughed; we sang. It was the big meal of the day. I really cooked. We had all kinds of things. In fact, I put a whole bunch of menus into this book, Disciplines of the Home. We shared our lives and what we needed prayer for.

It’s interesting Psalm 128 says, “Your sons will be like olive shoots around your table.” Psalm 52:8 describes the full olive tree. The godly person “is like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; [this person trusts] in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever” (NIV). But he’s just a shoot when he’s around the table, and you’re picturing what he will later be as you pour your prayer and love and the Word of God into him. He’s a shoot now, but he’ll be a tree later, praising God and living for Him.

Nancy: You know, Anne, as I look back on my own upbringing, I’m the oldest of seven children. The first six of us were born in my parents’ first five years of marriage, so we were all about the same age, so mealtimes were a challenge. We were all outgoing, none of us shy, and often all of us talking at the same time. We did our share of arguing and tussling with each other, but my parents also made a priority.

For us it was breakfast and dinner. Today that’s almost unheard of, but we did have breakfast. It wasn’t an hour or an hour-and-a-half, but a brief time together as a family before we went off to school. Then in the evening, we waited to have dinner until seven in the evening because that’s when my dad got home from work.

We thought that was cruel punishment to have to wait that late for dinner when everybody else ate at 5 o’clock in the afternoon. But as I look back on it, it wasn’t that any particular mealtime was so very important. It was the habit of being together, of hearing adult conversation, of talking with each other, learning to deal with disputes. Just being together and knowing the family was and is important.

One of the things for us was a daily time, I say daily, most days, in family devotions. Is this something that was a practice as you were bringing up your children? Did you feel like this was important?

Anne: Yes, and my parents had brought me up this way. My parents were saved when I was six and my brother was nine, and immediately Daddy gathered us in the evening, and he began reading the Bible to us and praying. Mother got up early mornings and had her quiet time and prayed for us. We memorized Scripture. We prayed for each other.

Then when Ray and I were married and our babies came, we did exactly the same thing. Ray says, “Short children, short devotions; longer children, longer devotions.” When they were little, I can remember them memorizing “Even a child is known by his doings.” I can hear them saying it, and “Be ye kind.” Our son said it to us this way one morning, “Be ye kind one to buckle my shoe.”

Nancy: A little mixed up there.

Anne: A little confused, but through the years, we read out of the Living Bible because that was written for Ken Taylor’s 11 children after his wife died. We read from Dr. Barnhouse’s Jolly Green Barnhouses, teaching the Word of Truth with little stick men. His wife died when the four children were young, and he braided the girls’ pigtails and raised them. He didn’t marry until they were grown, and he put his children through spiritual doctrines of the Bible, and they knew them when they grew up.

We did the same thing with our children, and other Bible story books, but mostly the Bible itself. We prayed. We memorized Scripture. We sang. It gives a sense of identity, doesn’t it?

Nancy: Yes.

Anne: You knew you were a DeMoss.

Nancy: Yes.

Anne: Our kids knew they were Ortlunds, and if sometimes the deacons’ kids were doing something we didn’t want them to do, we’d say, “Look, we don’t care who else does it. You’re Ortlunds, and we don’t do this.”

Nancy: My parents’ line was, “It doesn’t matter who they are or what they do, you belong to the Lord, and this is the way we feel that it needs to be for you.”

Anne: Oh, that is so important.

When kids have family devotions, one thing they learn is that this is what’s important— more than flossing their teeth or getting married to (well, marrying the right person is important, but along the way), or going to the right school, or taking the right vitamins. The most important thing is God and His Word and prayer. They will look back on this when they’re raising their own kids some day, and they’ll say, “That’s what my parents considered most important. That’s what’s going to be most important when I raise my kids.”

Nancy: You’re really passing the baton that your parents handed to you, you’re passing it on to your children, and now they’re passing it on to their children, and on to their children. That’s what God’s Word says. We should teach our children so they can teach their children so they can teach their children the ways of God.

Anne, I just want to thank you for being a model of a beautiful woman who has taught your children the ways of God. You’ve loved your husband. You’ve been and are a Titus 2 woman, and you’ve been teaching us in this series what it means to walk with God and to lead our families to walk with God.

I hope that all of our listeners are going to order a copy of your book, The Gentle Ways of the Beautiful Woman. It’s filled with rich and powerful and biblical and practical insights about so many areas of life. It includes three books in one, Disciplines of the Beautiful Woman, Disciplines of the Heart, and Disciplines of the Home.

Leslie: You can get a copy of the book Nancy Leigh DeMoss was just describing by visiting our website ReviveOurHearts.com. We’ll send you a copy when you make a donation to the ministry of Revive Our Hearts. [NOTE - due to unavailability, this book is being replaced with Disciplines of the Beautiful Woman].

This radio program and our website full of resources are all possible because listeners like you donate to the ministry. We’re so thankful for all who have given in the past. If we’ve never heard from you, I hope you’ll help us stay on the air in your area.

When you contact us, make sure you tell us the call letters of your radio station, or let us know that you hear the program over the web. Again, the web address is ReviveOurHearts.com. If you’d rather donate by phone, just call 1-800-569-5959, and be sure to ask for Disciplines of the Beautiful Woman by our guest Anne Ortlund when you call with your donation.

On Revive Our Hearts, we’ve been spending quite a bit of time gleaning wisdom from women who have a lot of godly insight to share. We’ve been focusing on these kinds of interviews, calling 2008 The Year of the True Woman. We’ve been getting ready for True Woman ’08, the national women’s conference that will take place in the Chicago area October 9-11. I hope you’ll find out more about the lineup of speakers and workshop leaders. Get an idea of what kind of experience awaits you at True Woman ’08 when you visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

I hope the worship is rich at your church this Sunday, and you’ll be faithful in your place of ministry. Then join us back on Monday when we talk about the lost art of homemaking.

Now let’s get back to Nancy Leigh DeMoss and our guest Anne Ortlund.

Nancy: Anne, could we just join hands across the table here? I want us to pray together for some woman who is listening to us today who is in that difficult, painful, struggling marriage; let’s just lift her up to the Lord.

Oh Father, I can’t begin to understand what that listener is experiencing, but You know, and You care. Anne and I join our hearts and our hands together here in the studio, and we pray for each listener who is in a difficult, painful, struggling marriage. For someone who is thinking, “I just can’t go on any longer.” Oh Father,

  • Would You give her grace?
  • Would You give her courage?
  • Would You strengthen her to do Your will?
  • Would You help her to love that husband who is unlovable?
  • Would You help her to be faithful as You are faithful to us?

Lord, bring people around her, pastors, elders, friends, who will help her to keep that vow; help her to keep that covenant and to be faithful; who will encourage her in keeping faithful to that marriage covenant. So Lord, minister grace to her hurting heart and extend Your helping hand of grace and mercy into that home, even this moment, even this day. I pray for Jesus’ sake, amen.

Child: Revive Our Hearts is an outreach of Life Action Ministries, and my mom is a true woman.

 

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