Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Returning to Your First Love

Leslie Basham: The way you view God is important. Here's Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Out of your view of God comes the way that you live and think in every other area of your life, so don't get stuck, as many women do, in having a view of God that is distorted and perverted based on having had a father who didn't measure up.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Friday, June 17.

Every time a birthday rolls around, we're reminded life is short. Are you making today count? The next few minutes will be well spent as Nancy inspires us to live for eternity. Here she is, continuing in a series called Instruction of a Father.

Nancy: I've been trying over the last several sessions to share with you out of my own heart an investment that was given to me during the first 21 years of my life as my father and my mother instructed me and my 6 brothers and sisters in the ways of God. That's a legacy that was left for me that is more rich and more wonderful than any material inheritance my father could have possibly left when he died on the weekend of my 21st birthday. As I've been talking about these things, I think you can tell that I'm in earnest about them, that these are things that have gripped my heart and my life.

I started with what I said was the bottom line, the first day of the series, where I said that my dad taught us to take God seriously, and I want to give a bookend to that thought with a tenth principle.

That is this—that time is short, and eternity is long. Therefore—here's the so what—don't waste your life. Make it count for eternity.

Now when you're 16, 18, 20, 30, 35 years of age, you're probably not thinking a lot about eternity. Can I say you need to be? Time is short. Eternity is long. It's forever, and therefore it behooves us to be thinking now, as Ecclesiastes says, “Remember your Creator, [capital C] in the days of your youth” (12:1 NIV).

Think about Him now. Think about how you'll give account to Him someday, and as you see your life stretching ahead of you, life seems so long. I mean there are days when it seems like just getting through ninth grade is going to take forever.

Now you look back, if you're my age, and you think, “Ninth grade? Where did it go? Where did college go? Where did my 20s go? Where did my 30s go? Where are my 40s going?”

They're going quickly because time is short, and when you're on the younger side of life, you don't see that. The road looks long. That's one of the joys of youth, but one of the sobering things of growing up, getting older, is that you realize it's a flash. Life is a vapor. It's here, and it's gone so fast.

The tendency, and what most people do, is they waste their lives. They spend their lives, and they end up in heaven one day with nothing to show for it, for years on this earth. They stand before the Lord not being able to give account of what has happened in their lifetime that made a difference for eternity.

Now let me just say, by the way, to those of you who are parents. You can say what you will about what matters to you, but your children know what's really important to you. They know what you value. They know what matters to you, and that's what I'm talking about here, living out in your home eternal values.

From my dad and in our family, this had to do with our use of time. As I've said before, we didn't subscribe to a newspaper. We didn't have a television. We didn't attend movies, not because we felt, or my dad felt, that those things were inherently sinful or wrong, but he knew that for so many people they would just spend their lives being entertained and amused to death and have nothing to show for it in eternity.

You say, “Wow, you must have grown up in a really serious home!” You know, we laughed a lot in our home. We had family nights. We had game nights. We argued a lot.

We talked a lot—at the same time. We're just a real outgoing family. We had a lot of fun. We had a lot of activity, but we were thinking about eternity because eternity is a serious matter.

It's forever, and that was what was being modeled in our home—this life is short. In the light of eternity, most of what matters to us now will seem absolutely insignificant, and conversely, things that seem insignificant to us now, when we stand before God may seem to be monumental. We've got to get our values adjusted so that they fit eternal values.

My dad used to have on his desk a little, marble paperweight that said that little verse you've seen, “Only one life, 'twill soon be passed; only what's done for Christ will last.” He lived this way. He was always thinking this way.

I have a piece of paper in my dad's handwriting where he wrote out in his chicken-scratch handwriting three categories, three lists. First of all, he said, “What are my lifetime goals?” He listed five, and one of those was how much he wanted to give in his lifetime. Another one of those was goals for his family, and then there were other personal and spiritual and business goals.

Then he said, “If I knew I were to die in three years, what would I do?” Then he said, “If I knew I had less than six months to live, what would I do?” He wrote down just some very brief but thoughtful things about decisions, choices he would make, not knowing that he would not live three years from the time that he wrote those notes.

At the age of 53, instantly, he had a heart attack and was in the presence of the Lord, but he was thinking about eternity. That's why I believe his homecoming was a joyous one. I won't know till I get there myself, but I know that he had been living for eternity for all the years that he had known Christ, that he would feel more at home in heaven than he did here on this earth because heaven was his home.

That's where his heart was. That's where his steps were headed. That's where his direction was pointed—toward heaven, toward eternity.

For him that meant, for example, that he cared intensely about the condition of lost people, people who didn't know Jesus, non-believers. They mattered to him. My dad witnessed to everything that moved, and that's not much of an exaggeration.

The reason that lost souls mattered to my dad is because he knew that every person he ever saw was going to spend an eternity somewhere—in heaven or in hell. He knew that if God had brought him across that person's path, there was a purpose for that, and that he was to be alert to opportunities to share Christ with others.

I was very impacted as a younger woman by the story of Henrietta Mears who was a woman very active in many different kinds of ministry. She never married. She had a whole heart for God, and under her ministry, 400 men entered full-time Christian work just as a result of the influence of her life. She was just a woman who lived for eternity.

In the late 1940s, she convened a conference of college-age young people where she wanted them to pray and seek the Lord about how they could make a difference for Christ in their generation, and she wrote to these college students inviting them to come to this conference. Here's what she said in part.

Dear so and so:

I need you and God needs you! I have come back from Europe and South America with an overwhelming sense of the crisis hour in which we live. The needs of the world are appalling. I believe that you are a young man of destiny, for who knows but that you have come into the kingdom for just such a time as this. I believe God has made no mistake and that He has a plan for you in this hour.

As never before, God is calling for expendables. He is watching for men to match the mountains of opportunity. He is looking for youth who will say, I will face this hour and find my place in it, and if I perish, I perish.”

Henrietta Mears said to these young people,

We need men who will put God first. I would that we had young men driven along by a mighty vision of what God could do if only He possessed them. I believe young men of today are going to do things that will stagger this generation, but all this will pass. We must have young men to deal with things not of time, but of eternity.1

That's God's call. Time is short. Eternity is long. Whatever age you are, don't waste your life. Make it count for eternity.

You may say, “I'm only 20 years old. That's a hard thing to be thinking about right now.” I want you to know I have a brother who at the age of 22, as a junior in college, preparing to enter full-time, Christian service was killed in an automobile accident.

He had no idea when he left the house that day that he'd never come back. God only gave him 22 years. Don't wait for tomorrow. Don't wait for next year. Don't wait for another season of your life to get serious about serving God, about loving God, about investing your life in His kingdom.

I don't mean that you have to go quit your job, or maybe you do. If you're a wife and a mom and you're taking care of your family, that's what God has given you to do to glorify Him, but do it in light of eternity. Raise your children in light of eternity. Be earnest with your children about the condition of their souls because you do not know that you will have tomorrow to give that message to your children.

My dad died at the age of 53. He had 7 children between the ages of 8 and 21, and how I thank the Lord that on September 1, 1979, when he went home to be with the Lord, that he had said what needed to be said! He had told us he loved us. He'd told us about Christ. He had urged us to know Christ, to devote our lives to Him, to give our lives to His kingdom.

Everything I'm saying on Revive Our Hearts, in one way or another, is something my dad taught me.

  • What legacy are you leaving for your children?
  • What instruction will they one day tell the next generation they got from you?

Do it now. Do it in light of eternity.

Leslie: Life is short. Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been encouraging you to use yours wisely. It's one of the principles her dad taught her. She's been sharing these principles all week in a series called, Instruction of a Father. We'll hear Nancy give some concluding thoughts after we let some of our listeners tell us what they learned from their dads.

Listener: One thing my dad has taught me is that no matter your circumstances, God is always in control, and I've really, really learned that this year with some just crazy stuff, some really weird stuff that has happened, a neurological disease. I walked into it saying, “You know what? God chose me for this. God, You're going to use this, and I trust that.”

I told a friend, “You know what? I'm not sorry that I have this disease. I'm thankful I have it because it's given me the opportunity to share God's love with others," and Dad has taught me that.

He himself grew up with a father who was a drunk and a mother who was abusive. You talked earlier about how we can blame things on our parents and the way they were, or other people. At one point, we had asked our dad, “Dad, with all of the circumstances that you grew up around, how did you turn out to be such a godly man and be such a wonderful father?”

He said, “Because I have two great fathers.” One of them is my mom's dad, and the other is his Heavenly Father. Dad has taught me, no matter the circumstances, you have prayer warriors who are around you, and God is always in control.

Listener: Well, I thought of two things that my dad really impressed on my life growing up—first of all the importance of the Word and being a student of the Word. We watched him prepare for adult Sunday school classes the whole time we were growing up, but what I really remember as a young child is how my sister and I would really desire my dad to give us the bedtime story.

My mom would come in and read the books like most of us moms have done. Dad would come in, and it was always a Bible story. He would dramatize it in the bedroom for us. To this day, I have a vivid, mental picture of who Enoch was because out of the one verse, “Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him,” (Gen.5:24) that was a whole bedtime story one time.

Then as a teenager, it changed. My dad would pick subjects that he would be studying, and when I was a teenager, it was Revelation. Around the dinner table, we'd be discussing, pre-trib, post-trib, mid-trib, what's happening in Israel, the antichrist, all those type of things, just as dinnertime conversations, and it wasn't until I was in college and beyond that I realized what a theological basis my dad had given me.

The other one would be finances. My dad was one who always thought you give God the firstfruits, and that was always what he did. I remembered when my grandfather died, and he took over the family business. It was not going real well, and he had two kids coming up towards college.

His response was not, “How are we going to make it?” It was, “I think we need to give more,” and that was his response to when things looked bleak, “Give to God, and God will bless. We can trust Him.”

Listener: The one outstanding trait that my dad taught me was to be extremely honest. It's really interesting as you get older and you get in the work place and you think about taking home work supplies or using the company fax or any number of situations where it's very small, but it's like Nancy was talking about, they're not small things.

I see coworkers doing things like that around me. Because of my father, I have that sense of this is not right, and it restrains me when little situations come up. I've taught my children the same thing, that stealing is stealing, and wasting time, your employer's time, is stealing. Any of those things, it just makes you really think about what you're doing, and I thank my father for that.

Nancy: I do think that God's intent and His plan is that fathers, earthly fathers, should be a reflection here on earth of our Heavenly Father. What a blessing it is to have fathers who in some degree, in any degree do that, though no earthly father can come close to being what our Heavenly Father is! They're a dim reflection at best, but if you had a father who in some way reflects the heart and the ways of God and has pointed you to the heart of God, then don't forget to thank the Lord for that, of the privilege of having that.

Your father may not have even been a believer, but if there are any things that he did that pointed you in the right direction, that reflected the ways of God to you, that developed character in your life, then that's a basis for gratitude. It's a basis for honor, and I think it's important that we remember to express that honor as we have opportunity. Hopefully that's before the organ or the music is playing and the flowers are being strewn at the funeral, but while he's alive, to say to him the things that need to be said while there's time.

Then just a reminder that I know when we have a conversation like this and you hear about the blessing that other people's dads have been to them, there are a lot of women today who, when you say the word dad, it makes something awful happen in their mind, their emotions, their heart. There's a pain, a fear that comes into the heart of a lot of women today when you say father or dad, and we have to recognize that that is the case.

There are a lot of fathers and mothers—and sons and daughters, for that matter, who have really rebelled against God's way and have not pictured what they ought to to their family members. I think we need to know that the Father heart of God aches with the women who have had to deal with a father like that.

Let me just caution you, if that's a background you come out of, remember that it would be a mistake to assume that your Heavenly Father is anything like the earthly father that you've known. For all of us as women, in one way or another, our view of God is very influenced by the view of our earthly fathers—for better or for worse or for neutral. There's an influence there, and that's not all bad if you've had a great father.

I thank the Lord for the ways my father has helped me to love and trust my Heavenly Father more, but if you're to the degree that your father was not a godly man, then it's a mistake to assume that your Heavenly Father will deal with you the same way. That's why your view of God matters. It's everything because out of your view of God comes the way that you live and think in every other area of your life.

Don't get stuck, as many women do, in having a view of God that is distorted and perverted based on having had a father who didn't measure up. Get your view of God from the place where God reveals Himself ultimately, and that's in His Word.

Jst say to Him, “Lord, I have this horrible view of men, dads, fathers, You, but I know that's my problem. I want You to reshape, recast, remold my view of You. Make it in accordance with truth.”

No matter where you've been, what kind of father you had or didn't have, the command to honor fathers, to honor mothers applies to whatever kind of parents you may have had. There again, that's based not on how good a job they did at parenting, but on the fact that God put them in that position. That father, that mother, those parents in your life are the instrument of God making you into the woman He created you to be, so thank God for your dad.

Now for some of you that's easy. For me that's easy. For some of you it's real hard, but I'm saying that as you do, as you come to the place where you say, “Lord, thank You for the home that I was born into. Thank You for the hard parts of it. I receive those from Your sovereign hand. I offer it up as an offering to You, and I'm giving You the opportunity to transform.” What men meant for evil, God means for good, and He can turn to blessing, not only in your life, but in the lives of others that you're going to touch along the way as a result.

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Thank you for being a good Father, a holy Father, a righteous Father, a loving and a gracious and a merciful Father.

I want to thank You, Lord, that You are a disciplining and chastening Father, so that I might become more of what You created me to be. So Lord, we just want to say that we love You. We worship You. We bow before You. We honor You as our Heavenly Father. I pray in Jesus' name, amen.

Leslie: That's  Nancy Leigh DeMoss wrapping up a series called, Instruction of a Father. All week she's offered ten important principles her dad, Art DeMoss, shared with her. We also heard from some of our listeners on things they learned from their dads. We didn't have time to bring you all of our listener comments or Nancy's complete teaching, but when you order the series on CD, you'll be able to hear the additional material. Just visit ReviveOurHearts.com and order Instruction of a Father.

 

Today’s program reminds us that life is short, but eternity is long. A Revive Our Hearts listener in Minnesota got news not too long ago that reminded her of this truth. She wrote us to say, “I just found out I have multiple sclerosis. It reminds me of my own mortality and how much I want Jesus to be in my life.”

This listener visited ReviveOurHearts.com and began looking through the archives.  After reading the transcript for one of Nancy’s teaching series called Rahab and the Thread of Redemption, she wrote to say “I just made a recommitment to Christ.” Nancy, we couldn’t receive better news than that.

Nancy: I was thrilled when I read that email.  What a joy to see the way that God can use a radio series that was recorded years ago, and then lead a woman to those pages in our archives and convict her life-changing truth and then lead her to place her faith in Christ.

I’m thankful that listeners like you make it possible for us to offer those transcripts and archived programs for no charge at ReviveOurHearts.com. There’s nearly ten years worth of material at ReviveOurHearts.com. Each of those programs represents the generous support of our listeners. 

Leslie:  When you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any size, we’ll say thanks by sending you The Little Red Book of Wisdom. Nancy’s brother, Mark DeMoss, wrote this book, incorporating a lot of the ideas he learned from his dad. He’ll show you how biblical ideas interact with real life to make a lasting impact in your life.

Women will get a lot out of this book, but it would also make a great gift for your dad or husband. Ask for The Little Red Book of Wisdom when you call with your gift of any size. The number is 1-800-569-5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

Imagine that you’re singing in churches across the country, traveling with a revival ministry. Yet you don’t actually know Jesus. We’ll hear from a woman who found herself in that situation, next week. Please be back, for Revive Our Hearts.

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

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

1 Henrietta Mears and How She Did It. Ethel C. Baldwin. p. 237-8.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.

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