Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Like the Shepherd, Day 3

Young Wife: This period of my life has been a struggle!

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Here’s what a Revive Our Hearts listener wrote to us not long ago.

Young wife: When I met my husband, we both believed in God and wanted to have a closer relationship with Him; but after six years of marriage, we weren’t anywhere closer. We also didn’t have any guidance on how to live as Christians—especially in marriage. You can imagine how chaotic these years have been for us. We were empty and living a lie.

Nancy (program from Spiritual Mothering): As you step into spiritual mothering, you think, This is terrifying! How can I possibly do this? 

Young Wife: Then about November of last year, I heard Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth talk about spiritual mothering on Revive Our Hearts. That hit me really deep. I believe the Holy Spirit really started to open my ears to hear during that program.

Nancy (program): Then you realize, “By God’s grace, I can do this. I can learn I can grow. I will make mistakes. I’ll come into situations that I don’t know how to handle, but then we’ll be there together to help each other grow through this."

Young Wife: I realized that if I wanted to see a change in my family—my husband and my children—I had to change first. I’m trying to be patient and let God’s hand work everything out—but now I have hope! I thank God for the work that Revive Our Hearts is doing. I’m also thankful to Nancy and for the ways the Holy Spirit works in us as we hear God’s Word.

Nancy: And I’m so grateful for the part that Revive Our Hearts can play in getting women—like this one—into God’s Word. And now this woman is passing on to others what she’s been learning on this program.

I’m sobered to think about what would happen if Revive Our Hearts weren’t there for this listener (and others just like her). What if women searching the radio, the Internet, bookshelves couldn’t access the kind of trustworthy Bible teaching that they’ve come to expect from Revive Our Hearts?

Those are the kinds of questions we’ve been asking recently. The end of May marks the end of our fiscal year—that’s when we close our accounting books and we make plans for our outreaches in the coming year.

I need to let you know that, with less than a month left in this fiscal year, we’re facing a serious budget shortfall. This comes at a time when we also need to be preparing for the summer, when donations are usually down a bit.

So we’re asking the Lord to provide $830,000 during the month of May. That will provide for this month’s budget and it will also enable us to close the gap caused by that budget shortfall.

Would you pray with us that God would provide all the funds needed, and would you ask Him how He would want to have you be a part of helping to support the ministry at this time?

Once you’ve had a chance to pray and ask the Lord what He would want you to give, then I hope you’ll call and let us know at 1–800–569–5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com to support this ministry as we help women live out the beauty of the gospel.

Leslie Basham: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Brokenness: The Heart God Revives, for Wednesday, May 3, 2017.

Revive Our Hearts is a program for women, but today we’re hearing from a special guest who has written a book for husbands called Like the Shepherd. I think we as women can benefit a lot from today’s conversation on husbands leading like Jesus.

As wives and moms, we can learn how to better encourage husbands and sons to be all God created them to be. And single women can get some wise advice regarding what qualities would make a godly husband.

Here’s Nancy, to introduce our guest.

Nancy: It’s a joy for me to be in the studio this week with my husband. Did you ever think you would hear me say that? For a lot of our listeners, I think it’s still a bit surreal for them to hear me say, “My husband, Robert Wolgemuth.”

Thank you, Honey, for being a part of this conversation and for speaking into not only my life and so many areas where our marriage is helping me to grow to become more of who God made me to be, but now for having a written a book and having this conversation about this topic of husbands shepherding their marriages—leading their marriages with love and grace. I really want to emphasize the love and the grace, because as soon as we say “leading your marriage”. . . In fact, one of our producers said to me after we wrapped yesterday’s program, “Are you going to say anything to people who may be feeling really angry about this whole subject?” Because, for so many women, the concept of a husband leading is not with love and grace.

In fact, you read a book as you were writing this book. It was written by a pastor’s wife.

Robert: That’s right. I read a book written by a woman whose husband physically beat her. He used Ephesians 5, “Wives submit to your husbands,” as the rationale—as the reason, as an excuse—for abusing her! Oh!

Nancy: And I know reading that book really made you so . . . you just couldn’t believe it. You did believe, but it was so grievous to you that this kind of thing was happening in Christian homes. I think God also used it to motivate you to paint a whole different picture about what we really are talking about in the context of marriage.

Robert: And to be very careful as I encourage, as well as admonish, husbands in this role of leading . . . and making sure that I’m not just talking in general terms.

Many men follow sports. If you watch—even at the NBA level—the coach will bring his team to the sidelines and pull out a little whiteboard. Printed on the whiteboard is the key and the baseline.

With a marker, he will show the men exactly where they need to be. Now, those guys could resent that. They could say, “Who do you think you are? Don’t you think I know where to stand on this next play?” But they’re focused in on this.

And I think, as men, sometimes when people speak in general terms (kind of philosophical terms), we want to say, “Give me news I can use! Help me here to know what to do, what not to do. Give me some instructions.”

Now, I know the stereotype is that men never want to stop and ask for directions. But I think there is a sense in which at the end of the day, a man wants to know what kind of expectations are on him and how to get from where he is to where he needs to be.

As we said in the program yesterday, that needs to be communicated by his wife in loving terms. But I think this book puts some specificity to that—so it’s not just, “Here’s what you need to do,” in a general sort of way, but “Here are some ways that you can actually do this in your home that will be very pleasing to your wife and will be very pleasing to you as the leader.”

Nancy: We’re going to talk about some of those specific ways from the Scripture today. But let me just back up a second and say: you emphasize to husbands that the call to lead your marriage with love and grace does not mean that you can make your wife submit to you . . . that you can—or that you have the right to—demand that. 

Explain that.

Robert: I do my best to make that very clear in the book. If your wife isn’t here [in agreement to you being the leader in your home] . . . If she says, “I’m sorry, I don’t really care. That’s your interpretation of the Scripture, but I’m not onboard with this thing.” You know, “We are co-leaders,” or whatever term she wants to use. You can’t make your wife buy into this concept, this philosophy.

Nancy: But you even say to them, “You shouldn’t have to.”

Robert: Well, I do, because my hope is that you become such an effective lover that your wife is drawn to you. The Scripture talks about God’s love compelling us.

Nancy: It’s irresistible.

Robert: Oh, I love that! It’s [the picture of] walking past a bakery. You’re on the sidewalk and the door is open and you can’t help yourself . . .

Nancy: Nobody has to make you want to go in.

Robert: That’s right. That’s the message here. Your job as a husband, if your wife isn’t onboard, is to do everything you can to woo her. You’re a shepherd, you’re not a cowboy. She has to choose it. You're doing everything you can to make this something that she would want to do—her desire.

Another important thing (we all know this intuitively), but I can’t change you, Nancy. I can think I’m going to. This didn’t happen, but I know in some weddings the husband and the wife (the bride and the groom) are standing there thinking, Well, sixty percent of this is good, but forty percent we can change. It doesn’t work!

But we do understand the power of God. In fact, the other night you and I met a young man who was a prodigal for three years. His daddy was in ministry, he was part of his daddy’s ministry, and then he just went away from the Lord.

We talk about the Francis Thompson poem “The Hound of Heaven.” God relentlessly pursued this young man. His mom was on her knees. He came back to the Lord a week before we saw him. He went to his knees in a hotel room, and God completely recaptured his heart.

And so, I can’t change you, but I can pray that God will visit you. A wife listening to this may say, “There’s no way!” You can’t change him—let’s put that one to rest—but you can pray for him.

There are stories that you and I both know of women who have faithfully prayed for their husbands to come to Christ and eventually, the “Hound of Heaven” wins the day, and the man comes to faith in Jesus.

Nancy: Listen, I think this marriage thing can never be close to what it could be—apart from a sense that we have a Shepherd—capital “S”—a good Shepherd, a great Shepherd who is leading us.

Before we unpack a passage in God’s Word that is going to open some of that to us, I just want to go back again to this thing of leading. For some, a husband leading the wife, may conjure up a picture of (for those of us who are old enough to remember) Archie Bunker. Do you remember that sitcom?

Robert: I do—sadly.

Nancy: He was the leader, right? How would you describe him for those who don’t remember him?

Robert: He was rough-hewn, abusive, profane, unkind, thoughtless . . .

Nancy: Can I say, “He was a jerk!”

Robert: He was. I don’t have my Thesaurus in front of me, but yes. And I really think that when the history books are written, the decade of All in the Family with Archie Bunker and his pathetic wife, Edith, was a stereotype of what leadership looked like in the worst possible way.

So you say, “Archie Bunker is a leader.” I mean, he never got out of his chair! Right?

Nancy:. . . barking out orders . . ."You serve me!"

Robert: Exactly. Can you imagine Archie Bunker saying, “Can I do the dishes tonight?”

Nancy: Not!

Robert: No!

Nancy: Something, by the way, that you say every night. Thank you, Honey.

Robert: Well, I’m better at that end of the meal than the front end of the meal, so I do know how to clean the dishes.

Nancy: We work together.

Robert: We do work together. I love that.

Nancy: I just want to make it really clear that that stereotype is the furthest thing possible from what we’re talking about, from what you’re talking about in this book, from what God’s Word is talking about when it talks about the man being the head of the wife, the husband leading the wife or the family. This is not something that is abusive, that is cruel, that is mean, that is unkind. It’s the heart of our gentle, loving, wooing Savior/Shepherd that is what is being called for here.

Robert: Yes. I give the illustration in the book. (And I’ve actually had some friends who have read it and have pushed back on it a little bit on it.) We are equal partners in this marriage, right? [Nancy agrees.]

The story I tell is of my business. I was in business with a friend name Michal Hyatt. We went to the attorney to draw up the corporate papers, and he said, “Who owns what? Who owns how much?”

We looked at each other and said, “This is a fifty-fifty deal.”

And our attorney said, “I would encourage you not to do that.”

“Wow! Why?”

“Well, because there will come a time when someone has to make a decision. What will you do if it’s fifty-fifty?”

I’m ten years older than Mike, and so our attorney said to Mike, “Robert and I have had a few more years in the publishing business. I think Robert ought to have fifty-one percent.” That didn’t affect us financially, but in the corporate papers, I was a fifty-one percent owner.

Let me tell you what happened to me. Mike is a very gifted man (I knew it then, thirty years ago). My job from that point on was to do everything in my power to make Mike a successful executive in our business. I had the power to help make that happen, because I was a fifty-one-percent owner.

So it’s the same thing. This is the metaphor of leadership—we are equal partners, but when it comes right down to it . . .  I tell some stories in the book where you said to me, “Honey, we’ve talked about this, we’ve discussed it, we’ve prayed about this, we’ve gone to people whose judgment we trust, but I want you to make this decision. You’re the fifty-one percent.” You didn’t use that expression, but that’s what I was in that moment.

Nancy: You mentioned Michael Hyatt, who is a long-time friend and a long-ago-business-partner with you (some will recognize that name). He’s a best-selling author and blogger and speaker.

On the back of this book that you’ve written, Like the Shepherd, there is an endorsement by one person, and that person is Michael Hyatt. And if I could just maybe embarrass you a little bit by reading what Mike Hyatt had to say about this book, I think it will encourage a lot of men to consider picking this up. He said,

As a lover of books, my personal library includes many volumes that have helped to shape me. Some are good—many are very good. Some I would consider classics. As I’m reading it, I know a book is going to be a classic when I impulsively order ten more copies before I’ve even finished reading. 

Yes, Like the Shepherd is that good! Robert Wolgemuth paints a compelling picture of what can happen to a marriage when the husband chooses to lead his wife like the Good Shepherd leads His flock.

I’m blown away with what Robert has done here, courageously holding up the biblical standard. The storytelling is fabulous. A very easy read, it’s the best marriage book I’ve read in a long, long time. I enthusiastically commend it to you!

So that’s from a man, a respected man, encouraging our listeners—and others as well—to get a copy of this book. What I love about this book is that it’s patterned after the paradigm we see in Scripture of our Good Shepherd, our Great Shepherd. It’s a call to husbands to follow His leadership.

There are many passages in Scripture that beautifully describe the relationship between sheep and shepherds and what a good shepherd does. But probably none are more famous or precious to us than Psalm 23. I want us to talk about what some of these ways are that a shepherd leads his sheep.

Why don’t you just read that passage first and water our hearts with that Scripture?

Robert: I’d love to. I used this psalm as a guide in the layout of the book chapters, so our listeners will see in the chapter outline how some of these concepts actually are unpacked.

Psalm 23 a psalm of David:

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me;your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” 

Nancy: Amen! And so, here’s an Old Testament picture of how God shepherds His people, how Christ shepherds His Church. Really, the whole outline of this book is: These are ways that husbands can shepherd their wives, and that the call to be a husband is a call to be like the Shepherd.

We’re not going to unpack all of that in this conversation, but I’d love to look at just several of those points that I think will be encouraging to wives and to husbands alike.

One of these points is this whole concept of the shepherd protecting the sheep. That assumes that there are some things that sheep need to be protected from, that there are predators.

I’m looking on the table here and this is just a silly little illustration. This is something our listeners can’t see, but I’d love you to describe it to them. It’s the season in our home (and actually, it’s been the season for about eight months or something!) where we have had stinkbugs along the whole west side of the house, in all those rooms. I don’t know why it’s that side of the house. I don’t know where these come from. I don’t know if they’re having babies in our house.

Robert: They must be!

It’s long past the season for them. We’re forever—well, you do most of the squashing of them—but they’re a nuisance! And you have picked up that I’m not crazy about these stinkbugs.

Robert: I have picked that up!

Nancy: For one, I’m really afraid that one night in the middle of the night, I’m going to reach out my hand and it’s not going to be your hand there, it’s going to be a stinkbug in my hand!

Robert: In fact, one time you picked up a drink, and a stinkbug was taking a bath. 

Nancy: A water bottle! My water bottle that I’d left the cap off of. Do you remember how I shrieked?

Robert: Yes I do. It’s vivid in my memory. Thank you. You don’t have to replicate it here.

Nancy: So we saw on some YouTube thing the other day this stinkbug trap that you can make, and when you saw that, your eyes lit up! You made two of these yesterday, actually. Describe it.

Robert: I made one for your study and one for mine. You take a two-liter soda pop bottle, plastic. You saw/cut off the top third. If you can picture it, that sort of becomes a funnel. So you turn that upside-down, back into the bottle. You put an LED light at the bottom because these bugs are drawn to LED lights. So it looks like a science project made by a sophomore in high school.

Nancy: But what it really is, is my husband protecting his wife from stinkbugs! So in a very literal way, you were doing that. Thank you, Honey. I hope they’re all going to go in there and go away.

Robert: Well, you know, back to what we talked about a few moments ago. That gave me something to do. It was an assignment, something I could do with my hands to help your stinkbug problem and your fear of these little critters.

I could be sympathetic, right? I could say, “Oh Honey, I’m so sorry that we’ve got these stinkbugs. We’ve talked to the exterminators; they don’t know what to do.” But you showed me a YouTube video that said, “Alright, Charlie, you can make something that’s a trap for these stinkbugs!” And in two hours, I’d gone out to the store, gotten the two-liter bottle—and ta dah! There it is.

Nancy: And in our marriage, you were the one who gravitated to doing that. We don’t want to suggest at all that there would be anything wrong in the world with the wife being the one who makes the stinkbug trap. Some wives can do that better than their husbands, and there’s no problem with that—but there’s a protector instinct that God built into the heart of a husband, as God protects His people.

Most of the time, that protection isn’t something you can necessarily do by making something. How can a husband be a protector to his wife? What are some of those predators?

Robert: Well, some of them are emotional. Let’s get really practical. I like movies with helicopters.

Nancy: Me, not so much. 

Robert: So I may say, “Here’s a movie that’s likely going to scare my wife and keep her up all night worrying about it.” So I’m going to protect you from that.

Here’s another one: I drive an SUV. Your car is a sedan. When you’re getting into the SUV, all 5’ 1” of you, I want to take your arm and be sure you don’t slip as you step up into this car.

Some guys may say, “She’s on her own!” But I love playing that role. Back in the old days men would walk on the street side of the sidewalk. They did it because of mud puddles. If a car is going to jump the curb, you’re both going to go down. But the reason why they did that was so that the buggy—hitting the mud puddle—would be more likely to splash him than her. Did you know that’s where that came from?

Nancy: I did. That’s really the essence of being a gentleman, right? In fact, one of the things I told a friend after our first date was, “He’s a gentleman, and he’s a gentle man.” That was that protective spirit you have.

I remember another conversation we had early on where I unpacked a relationship that I have been involved with for a number of years that has been a really difficult one. It’s created some angst and some stress; it’s been a challenge for me.

As you heard me share about that (it was a really tender moment; there had been another disruption in that relationship), you said to me, “If the Lord leads us to become husband and wife—to be married—that relationship isn’t going to be your burden to carry. I’m going to carry that . . . for you . . . with you.” That was a protection.

It’s not that I don’t still have to deal with that relationship—I do—but regarding the burden of that, you said, “I’m going to let that fall on my shoulders.” That was a protector; that was a shepherd.

Robert: And what I would say to a husband who’s sitting here listening to this, “I promise you something. When you assume that role, it will give you more joy than anything you’ve ever experienced in your marriage.”

For example, for two-and-a-half years I was the primary caregiver of a women with Stage IV ovarian cancer. I can’t even begin to describe to you the joy (this is going to make me sound far better than I am!) of protecting my first wife, Bobbie, during hundreds of trips to the doctor, sitting up all night—especially during the last months of her life—and being the primary protector, the caregiver. So that’s a role. Again, I’m just trusting that a man who hears that I’ve just said this understands that this is not a brutal assignment.

I’m offering him a gift. I’m saying, “God made you for this role, and He knows you better than you know yourself! You can take this, a step at a time, and it will bring you great joy.”

And speaking of movies, if I love a movie I’ll tell my friends about it, because I know they’ll enjoy it, too. So this is a movie. I’m saying to these guys (I’m saying to you), if you’re a husband and you’re listening to this, I promise you that the more effective you are in loving and protecting your wife, the greater joy you’ll experience as a man and as a husband.

In fact, “safe” is a really important word to me. When I land at an airport (and you and I aren’t traveling together), you know the moment the wheels touch the runway. I text you one word, and it’s “safe.”

This could sound really naïve and foolish—this is a busy dangerous world—but I want to feel safe in your arms, and I know you want to feel safe in mine.

Nancy: One of the things you’ve said to me many times is, “I want you to feel safe with me.” That can be physically safe, but it can also be emotionally safe. It can be safe from cruel words, from hurtful emotions, or emotionally lashing out. I want you to feel safe with me.

You’ve done so much, Honey, to create an environment in our marriage where I know that it’s really important to you that I feel safe with you, because you want me to know how safe we are together with the Lord.

Robert: That’s right!

Leslie: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth and her husband, Robert, have been showing us how married couples can make their homes a safe place. Robert Wolgemuth has called men to lay down their lives for their families in a new book called Like the Shepherd: Leading Your Marriage with Love and Grace.

Revive Our Hearts is a program for women, but if you’re a man listening in today, I hope you’ll get a copy. If you’re a woman who has a husband or dad or brother who wants to learn to lead like Jesus, I hope you’ll get them a copy as well. Nancy, I hope a lot of men are inspired to lead like the Shepherd through this book!

Nancy: I do too, Leslie. Robert has a lot of godly wisdom to share. We’d like to send our listeners a copy of this book when you make a donation of any size to support Revive Our Hearts.

When you make a gift, you’ll not just be getting the book. You’ll also be helping Revive Our Hearts at a critical time. Over the last several months, donations have been lower than projected and some of our expenses have been higher.

We’ve been using money set aside for emergencies to cover the gap, but we can’t keep doing that for much longer. In addition to that, our summer donations are typically lower, so in May we always have to anticipate extra needs.

When you combine our normal May need with this budget gap, that adds up to needing $830,000 in donations this month. We believe it’s our responsibility to share with you what the need is, and then it’s God’s responsibility to prompt people to give according to what He wants. Then it’s every individual’s responsibility to do whatever it is that God puts on their heart.

That’s all we’re asking you to do: Would you seek the Lord, ask Him to meet this need, and then just ask Him if He wants you to have a part in helping to meet it.

If the Lord is prompting you to make a donation to help meet this need, give us a call at 1–800–569–5959, or you can visit us at ReviveOurHearts.com. When you make your donation, be sure to ask for a copy of Robert’s book Like the Shepherd.

Leslie: Thanks, Nancy. If you’ve blown it in your marriage and you don’t think it can get any better, tomorrow Robert Wolgemuth will encourage you. There’s still time! Please join us again for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants to build marriages for God’s glory. It’s an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the ESV.

 

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