Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Signing the Contract

Leslie Basham: Whoever will be great among you, will be the servant of all. Here's Dr. Bill Bright.

Dr. Bill Bright: Jesus Himself came disguised as a slave. Paul referred to himself as a slave of Jesus Christ. So, it just made a lot of sense. I suggested we write out a contract to be slaves of Jesus.

Leslie Basham: It's Thursday, August 12. This Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss. For the last week and a half, Nancy's been helping us understand what it means to surrender to God.

Today, we'll hear the story of a couple that has lived a surrendered life. Nancy recorded an interview with Dr. and Mrs. Bill Bright several months before Bill went home to be with the Lord. We're going to hear a portion of the interview.

As a young couple Bill and Vonette Bright experienced a turning point in their lives involving a contract. Here's Dr. Bright to begin the story.

Dr. Bill Bright: I was the president of a college group, post college at Hollywood Presbyterian Church and a deacon. Early one morning, I was told that the daughter of a very famous evangelist and a friend was pregnant without marriage and there was a danger of there being scandal in the family and the church.

I was asked to consult. An hour passed. Vonette went on to church and I went to this meeting. I didn't know I'd be gone more than a few minutes. The hour passed, then a second, a third hour passed. Church was over, Vonette was sitting out in the hot sun in our car. When I finally arrived"¦

Vonette Bright: It was really hot. It was very warm.

Dr. Bill Bright: She rightly let me know she wasn't happy, and she was justified. I asked her to forgive me. I explained to her why I'd been so insensitive. My mind was on this problem, but on the way home we prayed.

When we got home, we got on our knees and we said, "Lord, we want our marriage to be a happy marriage." I'm not a good husband in the sense that I'm not as sensitive as I ought to be. That led to a decision where I suggested we write out a contract to be slaves of Jesus.

It didn't just happen in a few minutes. It something that--Vonette and I had been married a couple of years, and by this time we really had fallen in love with Jesus and of course were more in love with each other. It just made a lot of sense.

Jesus Himself, God the creator, the One who died on the cross for us--Philippians 2:7 says He came disguised as a slave. Paul referred to himself as a slave of Jesus Christ (Romans 1:1). Peter and Timothy and others"¦so it just made a lot of sense.

Frankly, we hadn't even thought it through to that degree at that point. We wrote out what we felt should be in the contract. Vonette wrote out her thinking as a wife, and her plans for the future. I wrote more about how my life could be maximized for Christ--not that I was more spiritual than she, it was just that was on my heart.

Vonette Bright: I don't know that was true. I was concerned"¦I thought you said, "What do we want out of life? How do we want our lives to count for God?" You know, all of these things--so I took a more materialistic point of view because I think women are the nesters. We're the protectors.

We're the ones who are thinking of what the family's going to be like. So, I did mention that I wanted us to be totally committed to Christ, the Holy Spirit to direct our lives--but I had about three things that were spiritual and about five or six things that were more materialistic.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: But you were really surrendering all this to the Lord's control.

Vonette Bright: Yes, we did, and really meant it. But it was with Bill's encouragement that we did this. Contracts were a very natural kind of thing for him, and he used the word "slave""¦

Dr. Bill Bright: I had been in business for several years and signed a lot of contracts.

Vonette Bright: But he talked about being a slave of Jesus, as in the example of the apostle Paul. That was kind of radical language to me.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: It's pretty radical language today.

Vonette Bright: But I wanted to be everything God wanted me to be, and I was going to obviously follow this man wherever he went. I wanted to make the same commitment that he made. I wanted to be together with him in his goals.

I realized that if I ended up--in fact, I pictured myself as being a little old lady. I could see a dress buttoned down the front that had a little gap-osis and tennis shoes. I thought I might end up just like that. That was the risk I was taking in signing this piece of paper.

I remember just that vision, but if that's where Bill was, that's where I wanted to be. I had a heart for God at the same time. It was risky, and yet you don't outgive God, and we've never wanted for anything. I shouldn't say that. We've had some "wants" that God has adjusted from time to time, but not anything that's "¦.

Dr. Bill Bright: But when we came back together--we went into separate rooms in our home in the Hollywood Hills. I wrote out mine and she wrote out hers; then we came together and we agreed what we both wanted to do and signed the contract to be slaves of Jesus.

I had never heard of that being done. But the Scripture's full of it. I'm writing a book on slaves by choice, which is a part of our testimony, and the biblical reasons for being a slave. I'm amazed at what I am seeing that I didn't even see then. Every believer has been purchased out of the slavery of sin and brought into the slavery of Christ.

The only reason everybody who professed to be a Christian doesn't identify themselves as slaves is because of disobedience or ignorance. We're all supposed to be slaves, but I didn't know that.

It was about 24 hours after Vonette and I signed the contract, I was studying for an exam, about midnight, with a friend. Suddenly, sovereignly, God just enveloped me with His holy presence in an ecstatic, overwhelming awesome way. Even though my friend was seated beside me studying, he didn't even know what was going on.

I was just so energized. I was intoxicated. I was not even able to continue my study. I said to him, "Why don't we go for a run?" I had to get rid of all this energy that was just consuming me.

But he never understood. To this day, I'm sure he doesn't. He's a wonderful Christian. He later became a marvelous pastor. It was kind of like Paul on the road to Damascus. He heard the voice and those who were with him heard--they didn't see what he saw.

That was the beginning of a great adventure that began in 1951. It never would have happened, in my opinion, had we not first signed the contract. No contract, no vision.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Why do you think Christians today are so reluctant in many cases?

Dr. Bill Bright: They don't understand who God is. If you understand the attributes of God: His love, His sovereignty, His holiness, His majesty, His glory, His power, His wisdom and His grace and mercy--instead of being afraid of Him as I once was in my ignorance, now I'd be afraid to do what Bill Bright wants.

Romans 8:7-8 says, "The flesh [the old Bill Bright] is at war with God--never did please God, never will." If I let my own fleshly desires, the old person, have control, I make all kinds of mistakes. But if I do as the Scripture said of Jesus--He always did that which pleased the Father.

I'm not Jesus, and I make mistakes. He didn't. But my heart's desire all these years is to do that which pleases the Father because of who He is and because of what He's done for me. And because, here I am--depraved at conception, born in sin, nothing good about me--and yet, while I'm in my sin, Christ died for me.

Surely I can trust the God who created everything, who holds it all together, as the Scripture says, "By the word of His command." He died for me because He loves me. He delights in me.

How foolish it would be for Bill Bright or any other believer to say, "I want some flexibility. I want my own rights. I'll do what God wants me to do if I feel like it." That's insane.

It was in our limited knowledge, the beginning of an understanding of who God is, and God has led us all these wonderful years of adventure together.

Leslie Basham: That's Dr. Bill Bright on the purpose that comes from living a life surrendered to God. Nancy Leigh DeMoss recorded that interview with Bill and Vonette Bright several months before Bill went to be with the Lord. Stick with us because we'll hear Dr. Bright pray in just a minute.

Maybe you're ready to join the kind of adventure we just heard about. One way to learn more about living a surrendered life is to get Nancy's book Surrender: The Heart God Controls.

In it, she helps us combat some of the fears that keep us from surrendering to God. She provides inspiring stories of those who did surrender including the story of Bill and Vonette Bright.

You can get a copy for a suggested donation of $10. For more information on ordering, give us a call at 1-800-569-5959 or order on-line at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Would you let us know where this program finds you in your adventure of surrender? How has Revive Our Hearts helped you take the next step?

Tomorrow we'll continue to hear from Bill and Vonette Bright and the results that come from surrendering to God. Let's get back to Nancy's interview with them.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Bill, I think there are probably some listening to us right now whom God has been speaking to their hearts about needing to come to that place of total, absolute surrender to be slaves of Jesus Christ.

I wonder if you would just pray for those people right now--that God would do that work in their hearts and that there would be a fresh understanding of what it means really be surrendered as total slaves by choice.

Dr. Bill Bright: Please pray with me: Holy Father, I want my life to be totally surrendered to You.

Make this your prayer: I want to be a slave of Jesus, Jesus our model. Paul and Peter and Timothy and the other disciples were slaves of Jesus. I want to be a slave so I surrender my intellect, my emotions, my will, all of my possessions. I lay them on the altar. I want to be Yours, Father, totally, completely, irrevocably. I surrender all.

Do that. Make that your prayer. If you have, know that the One who loved you, who created you, who died for you will never leave you. He'll never forsake you, no matter what the circumstances, He will always be there. The God of love, the God of peace, the God of grace and mercy is always with you.

Father, many have prayed that prayer. Help them to implement the prayer by obedience. Bless them as You've blessed my precious Vonette and me all these many years.

The adventure of knowing and loving and serving You, the true God, the creator God, the savior God, the God of all gods--there's no one like You. In the name of Jesus reach out to embrace all of these who today have said, "Lord, I want to be Your slave." Amen.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is a ministry partnership of Life Action Ministries.

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