Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Ten Marks of Ministry, Day 2

Leslie Basham: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wonders: What gifts are we missing out on because we've neglected to talk with our heavenly Father?

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: I'd hate to get to heaven and have Him say, "I would have done all this if you'd just asked Me." So, I want to be asking!

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts for Friday, September 2, 2016. We have been in the middle of an in-depth series on the Lord's Prayer. We'll return to that series Monday. But we're pausing to celebrate, because tomorrow marks a big milestone for Revive Our Hearts.

It was fifteen years ago tomorrow, September 3, that the program went on the air for the first time.

Nancy (from a beginning program): I read some of these accounts about the Great Awakenings in our nation's history, and how the fear of God and the power of God had come in a great way upon His people, and it impacted an entire culture! I can remember reading . . .

Leslie: And over these years, the Lord has been using the program to encourage women everywhere to find greater freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ . . . like this pastor's wife in the Washington, D. C. area. 

When Revive Our Hearts first started, I was in a place where I had been longing for an older woman to disciple and mentor me. I had asked some women to mentor and disciple me, and they didn't feel like they were able to do it at the time.

I was at a loss for having someone to help teach me God's Word and to grow as a wife and as a mom. As a young wife, with a baby girl at the time, I was a new Christian. The Lord used Revive Our Hearts to mentor and disciple me.

Even now when people ask me about mentoring and discipleship, "Who discipled you?" I tell them, "Nancy!"

Nancy: Wow, I'm so thankful to hear from sweet friends like Christy, and I'm so grateful to the Lord for showing His amazing faithfulness to us during all these fifteen years of ministry! It hardly seems possible, but what a joy to celebrate all the Lord has done over these years.

A little later on the program we'll hear from Bob Lepine about the early days of Revive Our Hearts, and I'll tell you some of what I needed to learn about becoming more teachable and humble in those early days.

First, though, we'll get back to a message we started yesterday called "Ten Marks of Ministry." These are ten characteristics that I want to be true of Revive Our Hearts. And these are ten marks that I want to be true of your life, and each of our lives, as we walk with the Lord and serve Him wherever He may have placed us.

The first five Marks of Ministry that we explored yesterday were:

1. Word-driven

2. Christ-centered

3. Gospel-drenched

4. Spirit-empowered 

5. Personally-modeled

I shared the next five marks with some friends of Revive Our Hearts. Let's listen. 

The sixth mark of ministry is:

6. Love-motivated 

It struck me again, reading through the Gospels these last couple of weeks, of the the compassion of Christ. I have a confession to make. I basically don't like people. (You're supposed to laugh!) There's more truth to that than I would like to admit. I am a very selfish, private, introverted woman.

My ideal setting to serve the Lord would be in an uninhabited region of the world. I would love to serve Him there. (laughter) I just feel like ministry would be so much easier if it weren't for people!

This is, like, at my really very human, basest self, here. When I see multitudes, I don't think of compassion. I think of stress and strain and weariness and work and effort and having to give when you want to be given to.

Being in this kind of ministry constantly tests what my heart and my motives are. And then, when I go to 1 Corinthians 13 and I realize that, though I could speak with angel-winged words and have these amazing gifts and abilities opportunities, but if I don't have love, it's a cipher—a great big zero. I just find myself wondering at times, in that day (the Great Day) when it all comes out, when hearts are revealed, how much of my ministry is going up in smoke? Wood, hay, stubble . . .

Maybe because I was putting truth on people that I really didn't love. I find myself, sometimes, just (I'm just telling you the truth) . . . I have developed some avoidance mechanisms to not have to engage when I'm feeling drained. I'm not proud of that; I'm just being honest.

And I also know, honestly, what it is to stand in line with some of those women and be thinking about 600 other things while I'm looking them in the eyes and saying, "Mmm-hmm, mmm-hmm. Really? Yeah." Feigning greater interest and compassion than what's really in my heart.

Now, God's growing me in this, and part of the way He's growing me in this is that He puts me out with people and forces me to get out of my "cave" and out of myself. And then I find I get so blessed, because God ministers grace to me through people!

God is doing a work of grace in my heart, and I say, "Lord, I don't have the kind of love that You do for these women. But You have love. So come and fill me, and You love them through me."

And by the way, that's the only way a marriage can work; that's the only way parenting can work. So . . . love. That's what I want for my life and for our ministry.

7. Servant-hearted 

Paul says, "This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God" (1 Cor. 4:1). Servant-hearted.

8. Prayer-saturated 

Just always expressing a humble dependence on God, and realizing that apart from Him we . . . can . . . do . . . nothing. I will tell you that, of these ten, this is probably the hardest for me personally. It's the weakest area of my life.

But I will also say that, of the ten, it's one of the strongest of the Revive Our Hearts' team. It's a praying team, and I have been so challenged by their lives. And I just know, as we're moving into this movement, one of things I'm asking is, "Lord, make me more a woman of prayer."

I started thinking about, What might God want to do in the days ahead? I'd hate to get to heaven and have Him say, "I would have done all this if you'd just asked Me!" So, I want to be asking.

Thou are coming to a King; large petitions with thee bring. For His grace and power are such, none can ever ask too much. ~John Newton 

9. Faith-based 

I don't want a ministry or a life that can be explained in terms of staff, resources, effort, opportunities.

You know, one of the things when we started radio . . . First of all, I was not a media consumer. We grew up in a home with no television. I think we had a radio. I'm pretty sure we did, but we never listened to it. I was not a Christian radio listener,.I wasn't a secular radio listener. I just wasn't a radio listener at all. But I knew there were a lot of programs out there.

My thinking was, If people would just obey a fraction of the truth they already know, we'd probably be in the throes of revival. We do not need one more program; we do not need more books. The world does not need my books or my radio program.

I knew that, and I didn't want to just add to the "din" that was already out there. So one of the things I prayed as our ministry began was, "Lord, if You're calling me into this, would You mark it with the supernatural?"

"Would you arrest people as they're listening? Stop them." All the letters we've had over the years (we heard it once last night) of people having to pull their car over to the side of the road because they were crying so hard in repentance. A woman falling to her knees in her kitchen as she's listening to the program, because I'm talking about the tongue and how we pull people down with it, and she had just been ugly with her husband that morning. She's repenting. She's on the phone calling him and saying, "I'm so sorry!" You know, just seeing the Holy Spirit of God activate the truth in people's hearts. I said, "Lord, that's what I want!"

It was said of Samuel, in 1 Samuel 3:19, that the Lord's Word came to Samuel. He spoke the word to the people; then Scripture says, not a word that he spoke fell to the ground.

We prayed early on, "Lord, if You're going to have us do 260 programs a year and write a book a year, please don't let a word fall to the ground, but let them wing their way into hearts and accomplish the purpose for which you're sending them forth." Because, really, if it's not going to be a ministry that is explained only in terms of God (and I don't want to sound wrong in saying this, but to me), I'm not sure I could feel it was worth what it takes to make it happen.

I really don't care about being an author or a public person. I never wanted to be a public person; I'm a private person. I don't want to be a public person. And so the toll of some of these things on me . . .

I don't just come up and spit out content. I labor over this stuff. Now, that's sanctifying for me. I'm not complaining about that; it's a really good thing for me. But if God's not going to be all over it, then . . . "Do I have to go through this?" . . . you know? I want a faith-based life and ministry—one that pleases God.

In Luke 1 is that whole exchange Mary (this fourteen-year-old girl, early teen) has with the angel: "You're going to have a baby. He's going to be the Son of God." The whole thing is utterly impossible, right? As Mary says: "How can this be?"

I've had this conversation with the Lord numerous times. "How can this be? I can't do this! I don't have these abilities."

The angel says to Mary, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you." And Mary believes God. And when she comes to Elisabeth, who past childbearing years is expecting John the Baptist (a miracle of its own), Elisabeth greets Mary and says, "Blessed is she who believes that what Lord has said to her will be accomplished" (see Luke 2:39–55). That's the kind of faith I want to have for my own life and for our ministry.

10. Joy-exuding 

I've got to tell you number ten. I've said there is one mark that is hardest for me. This would be the other one. "Serve the Lord with gladness." I saw a blog post the other day from John Piper. I can't quote it exactly, but the gist of it was, at the root of almost all of his besetting sins was despondency. And then he went on to explain how God has helped him deal with that.

I read just that one line and I said, "That is me." I have a bent toward despondency, and I don't mean to say all-out depression. I'm just saying a bent toward being more negative, not so upbeat.

My first natural response to almost anything is why it can't work. Now, God has grown me a lot in this, but joy is not my natural reflex/reaction to life. It's not natural; it's a fruit of the Spirit.

That's why we've got to get filled with the Spirit and to realize, if we don't serve the Lord with gladness, maybe the service isn't even pleasing to Him.

About six years ago, Bob, you sent me an email that I'm going to quote in a moment (he was sending me a quote from somebody else). I have sent that email back to myself scores of times over that last six years.

In fact, I send it back to myself every time I know I have a weekend like this coming up, speaking, or something where I know I'm going to be pressured and I've got a lot going on. It is to remind me to serve the Lord with gladness.

That email has gotten a lot of mileage, and it's still getting mileage! It comes from C. J. Mahaney with Sovereign Grace Ministries. He said,

I just now glanced at a Spurgeon quote displayed on my desk. It's a daily reminder about the importance and priority of joy.

Here's the Charles Spurgeon quote: "Labor is easy to those of the cheerful spirit. Success waits on cheerfulness. The ones who work while rejoicing in God and believing with all their hearts have success guaranteed."And then, Pastor Mahaney went on to say about that concept,

My challenge each day is not so much working hard, but cheerfully working hard. If I understand Scripture accurately, I will not glorify God simply by working hard. To truly bring Him honor, I must labor with a cheerful spirit. Therefore, I must not only serve my family each day, but I must serve them with joy. I must not only prepare a sermon, I must do it cheerfully. I must not only labor faithfully in the church, I must do so happily.

And could I just say so the conviction spreads around a little bit more than just to those of us who proclaim the Word. (laughter) You might say, "I must not only mother these kids, or school these kids, or go to this job that is not my favorite kind of work (or whatever) and do it faithfully. I must do it joyfully, serving the Lord with gladness." Mahaney says,

Merely working hard is not sufficient; it must be done with gladness. It is for my good and His glory that God has given this sweet command: Serve the Lord with gladness!

That's not reflexive for me, but God keeps calling me back to that. I don't want women to look at my life (and you don't want them to look at your life) and say, "Serving the Lord is really hard! I don't think I want to do that. Look at all the pressure. Look at all the problems. Look at all the challenges." I think, if people were to be in my study with me sometimes and know what's going on in my heart, they would think, I'm not so sure I want to serve the Lord.

I want to serve the Lord in such a way that those coming after would say (that you would say, that others would say), "There is no greater privilege, there is no higher calling, no greater joy than to be a servant, a slave, a bondservant of the Lord!"

There is weeping involved; weeping sometimes endures for a night, and that night can be long and dark . . . but joy does come in the morning. The Scripture promises in the Psalms that those who go out sowing precious seed weeping will come again with rejoicing, bringing the fruit and the harvest with them.

O Father, how I pray that just over these few moments . . . You've spoken to my heart. In moments like this, I am preaching to myself mostly. So thank You for the privilege of rehearsing what I want to be the core values of my own life and of this ministry. But I pray for my brothers and sisters here that these would be marks of their lives as well and that we would reflect the gospel, the heart, the spirit, the grace, the power, the love, the joy of Christ our Savior. For His sake we pray it, amen.

Leslie: That's Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth on ten characteristics she prays are true of Revive Our Hearts. I think that list would be helpful for anyone who wants to be effective for service in God's kingdom.

To read the entire list of Ten Marks of Ministry, visit ReviveOurHearts.com and take a look at the transcript of today's program. We're reviewing these ten marks of ministry as we celebrate fifteen years on the air as a ministry.

God has been so faithful during these years, but they haven't always been easy for Nancy. They've been a time of stretching and learning to become more teachable. She'll talk about that in just a minute.

But first, we'll hear Bob Lepine from FamilyLife Today. He was instrumental in helping to launch Revive Our Hearts.

Bob Lepine: I was in the crowd at Mobey gymnasium on the campus of Colorado State University in Ft. Collins, in 1995, with the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ, as Nancy came and spoke to our staff. She started to speak on the subject of brokenness. Many of you know that God, in that moment, sparked a move there among the staff of Campus Crusade of brokenness and confession and repentance. The schedule got thrown out the window for a couple of days, and Mobey gym stayed open twenty-four hours for a couple of days as people continued to respond to what God did through Nancy's message that morning.

I went back to Dennis Rainey and I said, "We need to have her on the radio. Actually, we should play that message on FamilyLife Today." And so we did. At Thanksgiving that year, we played that "Brokenness" message on FamilyLife Today.

And then, Nancy spoke two years later at the same gathering of the Campus Crusade staff, and we did some interviews with her there. When you do an interview with somebody, what you find is that some people have a message they can deliver, and then some people have a message that's in their heart. In an interview, you really find out which is which. You start asking them questions, and if you take them at all off-script, you find out whether this is a life message or whether is just something that they had written down some notes on and they couldn't go much farther than that. We've run into both kinds.

Well, what we found out in our interview with Nancy was, this was a deep and full well. You could dip the bucket down just about anywhere and there'd be a bucket of water come up that was good water.

We said to each other, and then to Nancy following that, "You should be on radio." And actually, we had the conversation: "We're praying God will raise up somebody to take Elisabeth Elliot's place when the time comes. We know it's not here yet, but it's coming."

Nancy said, "I've been praying that, too."

And we said, "Well, we think it might be you."

And she said, "I haven't been praying that at all!" (laughter) 

Exactly three years later, Nancy was in Little Rock.

I was in the first recording session, January 2001, as we recorded that session on "The Desert" and a session on Proverbs 7—the Proverbs 7 Woman, that some of you have heard on Revive Our Hearts.

I said to Nancy at the end of our first recording session, "You're going to get better, but if it never gets better than it got today, you're already better than most of what's on Christian radio."

Nancy: You know, so much of ministry is about letting God work in you first, so that what you're giving to others can be out of the overflow of a work of God in your own heart.

There were a couple of areas where Bob kept really challenging me in terms of how I delivered. It was stretching me in ways that I'd not had to communicate before . . . because radio is a much more personal medium.

I was used to getting up on platforms, at big conferences, and I just loved fervently, earnestly declaring the Word. But he kept encouraging me to remember that someone who's listening to the radio is, maybe, in a van with three kids, or at they're kitchen table, or doing other things. You don't want to be screaming at them all the time. You want to keep the intensity, but make it much more conversational and relational.

This was such a huge stretch for me! At points, I would just feel so: "This is not me. I can't do this. You're good at this stuff, but that's not how I'm wired. And let me say, I was hugely encouraged, and I knew I was being really helped, but at points, at moments, I would feel like, "You're trying to make me into something that I'm not, and I just don't think I can do this."

I remember going to church one Sunday, the day before we were recording the next day, Monday. Our pastor there in Little Rock was preaching through the book of Proverbs. He took one whole message to just do a topical message in Proverbs on the humility of wisdom. He just went verse after verse through the book of Proverbs about: a wise person has a teachable spirit, a learner's heart, is humble to reproof and correction. And God so convicted my heart that morning that this was not really an issue of whether I could do these things or should do these things. I just remember, so clearly, the Lord speaking to me through His Word and saying, "God has given Bob and others to you to develop and coach you. That's a gift. You need to receive the instruction, and stop wrestling with it."

Leslie: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has been reflecting on some of the early days of recording Revive Our Hearts, as we celebrate fifteen years on the air, tomorrow, September 3.

Nancy, I know listeners will be encouraged by your honest story of the way God has been teaching you over these fifteen years.

Nancy: I'm so grateful, Leslie, for the way that the Lord has been my strength, moment-by-moment, over these past fifteen years, when I have felt so weak! I'm also thankful for the team He has given us to help carry the load and for the listeners who support this ministry with their faithful prayers and their generous giving. This ministry simply would not have been possible apart from that kind of partnership.

If you appreciate how the Lord has used Revive Our Hearts in your life, would you pray for us as we enter into this next season of ministry? And would you consider supporting the ministry financially? The Lord has opened up some amazing opportunities for us in the months ahead, and your support will help make it possible for us to reach even more women with this message of revival and biblical womanhood.

When you support this ministry with a gift of any size this month, we want to say thank you by sending you a booklet called The Lord's Prayer. It's a helpful devotional companion to this teaching series that we'll pick up again on Monday. As you go through this booklet, you'll read a one-page devotional each day that complements the teaching on the broadcast. It will help you think about aspects of the Lord's Prayer in some fresh ways. You will also read a Scripture passage and find some questions that will help you make this material a deeper part of your life. Be sure and ask for The Lord's Prayer devotional when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any amount.

The phone number to call is 1–800–569–5959, or you can go to our website, ReviveOurHearts.com and make your donation there. And I want to say a huge thank you for supporting Revive Our Hearts as we launch into the next fifteen years . . . or however long the Lord may have for us as we continue calling women to freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ.

On Monday, we'll pick up again with our in-depth series on "The Lord's Prayer." Please be back with us for Revive Our Hearts.

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

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