Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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The Beauty of Setting Priorities

Leslie Basham: Anne Ortlund has written a lot about living a disciplined life, but that doesn’t mean a boring life.

Anne Ortlund: Our God loves to party. When you think of Him in the Old Testament, those 72 elders went up on the mountain and saw the Lord and didn’t die, that was awesome, and they ate and drank. And the story of the prodigal son . . . my goodness, when he comes home, they have a big party. He even gets new jewelry, and there’s dancing.

“In His presence there is fullness of joy.” When our lives are spent practicing the presence of God, there will be so much joy there that we can hardly stand it, and there will be plenty to do that is just fun.

Leslie: You’re listening to Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Friday, March 4.

When Nancy was in college, she was influenced by her pastor, Ray Ortlund, and his wife, Anne. This week Anne has shared practical wisdom on widowhood, aging, and priorities. Let’s listen as they pick that interaction back up.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Anne, we started a conversation yesterday that I want us to pick up on again today about the disciplines of a beautiful woman. You’ve written a book by that title. It was written many years ago, but it’s still selling well. It’s still popular and still speaking into women’s lives.

So thank you, Anne, for writing it and now for sharing out of your life some of the disciplines of beautiful womanhood. They are cross-cultural, they’re trans-cultural, they go through different seasons of life. Thanks for being here today to share about those disciplines.

Anne: Well, I think, Nancy, about 1 Peter 3, when God talks about what His idea of a beautiful woman is and actually uses the word. He says it’s the purity and reverence of our lives that is the beautiful woman. “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as the braiding of hair and the wearing of gold and jewelry and fine clothes" (verse 3). That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t braid our hair. If it did, it would mean we’d also not wear clothes. God has not called us to be nudists.

Nancy: It’s really talking about preoccupation and emphasis and focus, isn’t it?

Anne: Exactly. Instead, "it should be that of your inner spirit, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. This is the way holy women in the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their husbands" (verses 4-5).

Oh, my goodness. The devil at least likes to laugh at that and start talking about doormat and groveling and all that, which is not at all the case. In fact, in the lands where the devil reigns, you find the women really put down and the men are probably sitting smoking their peace pipes and the women are out plowing in the fields and riding the donkeys and doing all the hard stuff.

In the countries where Christ is honored, you find women honored and women were some of Jesus’ closest friends. So it has nothing to do with downgrading the women. It simply says that her inner life is where God wants the beauty to be. “Man looks on the outward appearance,” says 1 Samuel, “but God looks on the heart” (16:7). That’s what He’s looking for.

Nancy: When you use the word disciplines, I think for some people that sounds like something really hard, you’re going to lay down the law. “Oh, if I have to be disciplined about one more thing. . .” But discipline really isn’t a negative word, is it?

Anne: Well, discipline has many facets to it. There’s the surrender of your time. I’m a procrastinator. It’s one of the things that keeps me praying because I’m apt to just fiddle around if I don’t keep saying, “Lord, what do You want me to do? Bless my time this moment and tell me what You want me to do next.” I keep that running conversation going because I’m liable otherwise to just goof off. So that has helped me in my prayer life.

Nancy: When you think about discipline of time, I think one of the most common things I hear from women today is, “I’m so busy. I just can’t get everything done.” We have all these time-saving devices and technological helps. You’d think we’d have lots of spare time, but people are panting and huffing and puffing, and I find myself being that way many times—feeling like there just aren’t enough hours or minutes in the day to do everything I need to do.

So how does a beautiful woman bring her time into submission to the Lord and order it in such a way that she’s doing what’s on God’s to-do list for her day rather than being pushed and pulled a hundred different directions?

Anne: Well, Nancy, this is one of the things we do in my discipling groups: We make a schedule of our week to come. If we meet on Thursday nights, then it starts Friday morning. We have these seven days in a row where we put down everything we know we’re going to do.

Monday I’m going to wash. Tuesday I’ll do the food shopping for the week. On Thursday I’m going to have coffee with my neighbor who doesn’t know the Lord. Wednesday is a date out with my husband. They put down everything. Then we exchange schedules, and we pray for each other.

When I’m thinking of how to spend each day’s time, I’m thinking about three priorities, which we talked about on the last program—priority one is Christ; priority two is the Body of Christ; and priority three is the world Christ died to save. I’m thinking of these as I write down what I’m going to do each day of the week.

I may color priority one activities blue and color the priority two activities red—when I’m going to fellowship with another Christian or teach a Bible class or do something. Priority three, when I’m going to a missionary meeting, or when I’m going to sit down and write checks to mission organizations, or when I’m going to go witness to my neighbor across the street, whatever is priority three, I put that in green.

I do this so I can actually look and see what my activities are that have eternal consequences in the course of one week. Then I discover, “What are all those other places?” Well, it’s amazing how much television creeps in there, and it’s amazing the time that it takes just to have that last cup of coffee at breakfast with the newspaper, and the things that we do that don’t need to be there.

When we actually put down our duties and the way we spend our time on paper and color them, we see . . .

Nancy: What we’re really living for.

Anne: Absolutely.

Nancy: That’s why what you talked about on the last program is so helpful . . . this concept to eliminate and concentrate. There are some things, as you said, that are not necessarily sinful but are the enemy of the best in our lives. It takes that ruthless willingness to eliminate things that don’t contribute to God’s kingdom purposes for my life.

Yet, when you think that way, does that mean that you don’t do any recreation or you don’t have any fun or you don’t have any down time? Is this disciplined life going to be something rigid and put people in a straight jacket?

Anne: Oh, our God loves to party. When you think of Him in the Old Testament, those 72 elders went up on the mountain and saw the Lord and didn’t die, that was awesome, and they ate and drank. And the story of the prodigal son . . . My goodness, when he comes home, they have a big party. He even gets new jewelry, and there’s dancing.

“In His presence there is fullness of joy.” When our lives are spent practicing the presence of God, there will be so much joy there that we can hardly stand it, and there will be plenty to do that is just fun.

Let me talk about something else that’s a discipline, and that is the discipline of our stuff. We’ve got so much stuff. We get cramped and filled with it. Our closets are jammed. Our cupboards are jammed. Then we have to buy storage space and put it into that and pay for it every month because we’ve got so much stuff.

Nancy: Like that man in the Gospel of Luke who had to build bigger barns to house all of is stuff.

Anne: Exactly. We need to slim down, to pare down, to get lean and mean. We need to tithe, for one thing. When we tithe, we think of that as some huge gift we give to the Lord. No. Actually, tithing is just paying our rent. We take up space in this world, and we breathe air, and we use up the water. God says, “Pay My tithe. I’m your Landlord.” You pay rent here. “If you don’t pay your rent,” says Malachi, “You’re robbing Me because the tithe is the rent that we pay to take up space on this world” (see 3:8). 

Then, after that, we give because we love Him. The people who start giving 20 and 30 and 40 and 50 percent—and I know several who give 90 percent and live on 10—those are the ones who are saying, “Jesus, I love You.”

Even that dear widow that Jesus commended and said, “She’s given all that she has to live on”—that’s the way the Living Bible says it. Oh, my. We hardly know what it is to give to the Lord (see Mark 12:41-46).

So surrendering, disciplining, certainly means getting rid of more money than we need. God will keep us supplied with food and the things that we need. “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and [those] things will be added (Matthew 6:33, KJV). You don’t need to worry.

Nancy: I know one of the tools you’re famous for recommending is a notebook. You’ve used that over the years to help you implement some of these disciplines of a beautiful woman. Tell us about your notebook.

Anne: Well, I started a notebook because I’m so absent-minded. Even things I love, I was forgetting. Here’s my notebook. It’s right here. Ray used to say that it was ridiculous that I had a waterproof notebook because it had to go with me into the shower. (Laughter) That is not true, but it does go about every place else.

I start with whatever today is. I have a page for each day. Then if I’m doing the wash, I think, “Well, I’m about to run out of soap,” I turn over to the day which is when I’m going to shop next, and I put down laundry soap. Then it’s out of my mind and on to paper, and I can forget it until the day comes.

The night before I do what I’m going to do, I look it over, and that tells me what to wear. It tells me what to put by the door that I need to take out with me as I’m leaving to get into the car.

Goals is the next section. I don’t know what the difference is, but I have life purposes, and then I also have life goals. I put in this first section a whole bunch of quotes. Every time I hear a good quote, I put it down.

Then I have tabs for each letter of the alphabet, and I not only put in names and phone numbers, but, for instance, under “F” I have frequent flyer miles so I know what I’m going to fly on. Under “D” I have dates, and I put down, from January through December, everybody’s dates, their anniversaries and birthdays, so I know what cards to send and when.

My next is Bible studies, and I write down everything I’m learning.

My next is prayers. As I told you, I write my prayers.

The next is blank because there’s always some new thing in my life that I want to fill in that section, and I want to live fresh.

Nancy: And this is just a tool. It’s not something that drives your life, but it’s something that is helpful in developing those disciplines of a beautiful woman. It’s something that can be done, as you have, with an actual notebook, 3-ring binder and paper. Many people are doing this kind of thing today on their computers.

So there’s not one right way to do it, but I think the concept of ordering your life around God’s priorities for your life, and being intentional—not just letting life happen, but being intentional about how you live your life. Otherwise, and here’s what I’m finding. I’m now in my early 50s, and I said to a woman in her early 30s just this past week, “It’s amazing how fast those years go.” You look back, and you realize, if you weren’t intentional, then you’ve just frittered your life away, and those years pass, and you don’t have anything of eternal significance to show for them. Then you end up with regrets.

These disciplines, this notebook, these tools that you help us to see are things that help us to look back with joy instead of regret.

Anne: And praise God for all the latest gadgets that we have. Some are more useful than others, I’m sure. For me, simply because it’s what I’m used to, it’s my life between two covers, and everything that concerns me is somewhere in this notebook. If it’s not worthy enough, I see it right away because it’s in front of me in black and white, and I take it out.

Nancy: We started out by talking about 1 Peter 3 and what causes God to look at a woman and say, “She’s beautiful.” It’s talking about the heart there, the imperishable beauty, unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit.

We’ve talked about some of the practical disciplines of a beautiful woman, but take us just for a moment to what are some of the disciplines of the heart that are important for us to cultivate as God’s women.

Anne: Well, it’s right here in this third chapter of 1 Peter. It’s the gentle and quiet spirit.

Nancy: What does that mean?

Anne: I am a natural leader. I don’t come by those naturally. And I married a leader. And when you have a leader married to a leader, you clash. I had to learn what a gentle spirit, a quiet spirit meant. I found that it was helpful to see the first two verses that lead into this chapter. “Wives, in the same way, be submissive to your husbands.”

Well, in the same way, what does that mean? That says that something came before that means do it the way you did whatever. So we look back to see what those others were, those other submissions, and we find in chapter 2 of 1 Peter, verse 13 says, “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority.” So, as citizens, we’re to submit to our government.

Verse 18: “Slaves, [oh, that’s harder] submit to your master.” Whether they’re good or bad masters, submit to them.

Then it says, "Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example" (verse 21). That’s the hardest yet, "that you should follow in his steps." It says that "when they hurled their insults at him [and a husband could do that], he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats [this is for a wife]. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly" (verse 23).

Lord, I’m in Your hands. When I stand before You, I will answer only for my own life, not how my husband treated me, not how the government treated me, or somebody who is in authority over me.

"Wives, in the same way, be submissive to your husbands" (1 Peter 3:1).

Nancy, this is the only place in Scripture that I know of (correct me if I’m wrong) that witnessing is without a word. Otherwise, our lives aren’t good enough, and they can’t learn the gospel unless they hear the actual words. Romans chapters 8 and 9 tell that.

But here, because I think we wives tend to be so blabby anyway, and our tongues are always getting us into trouble, it says, “If any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words [without the wives’ words] by the wives’ behavior” (1 Peter 3:1-2). That’s the meek and quiet spirit, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.

One of the words in the King James is “chaste.” When women go to a fashion show, they may hear a dress described as chaste. What does that mean? It means classy but understated. That’s what we wives should be. We can be modestly understated. That’s part of our beauty.

Nancy: So for a woman to have a gentle and quiet spirit, does that mean she doesn’t ever speak up; she doesn’t have any personality; she’s just a wall fixture or a wall flower? I know that’s not true of you. What does it look like?

Anne: It’s interesting that God said to Abraham, “Listen to what your wife Sarah tells you” (Genesis 21:12). Oh-ho.

Nancy: We like that verse.

Anne: No, it’s not that we don’t have anything to say, but there is a sweetness and modesty that that says, “You first, my brother. I want to be led by you. You’re my hero; you’re my husband. You are the one I look up to.” You are to obey your husband the way the church does Christ, which is a very strong statement.

So we find that this gentle and quiet spirit is taking the second place, but then that leads him to say, “Oh, no, you first, my sister.” And he will defer to you because you have first deferred to him. It’s contagious, so that a husband’s and wife’s relationship becomes sweeter and sweeter as they defer to each other.

Nancy: And, of course, that spirit comes from Christ within us. It’s His gentleness, His meekness, His humility. As He fills with us with His Spirit, as we surrender to Him, as we are humble before Him and we let Him live His life through us, then that gentleness, that humility, that kindness, that quietness—the life of Christ—will come through us.

Anne: And then it’s not only for wives, it’s for all women and the way they seek to treat men. It’s an interesting thing—and a sad thing—Ray and I have been to many mission fields over and over and over. On mission fields sometimes you see women who have become bossy and aggressive and have taken over that branch of a mission field, and the husbands, the men there have become wimps. They’ve let them do it, which is their own fault, but we’ve seen the tension which that brings to the mission fields.

It can happen, of course, to the home, but in a work place, the women must be sure that they are subservient in the sweetest, most beguiling and interesting and attractive sense so that they’ll be listened to. Not because they’re loud mouthed about it, but listened to because when they do open their mouths, they have something wise to say.

Nancy: As we’ve seen in 1 Peter 3, there is great power and influence and impact that is had through a woman who will say “Yes, Lord,” and will cultivate that discipline of a beautiful heart, the gentle and quiet spirit. It does have great power and influence, and it’s the influence and the savor of Christ. That’s what we want to have on all those around us.

Anne: He Himself was meek and lowly, and He was abused and let it happen because He knew that the end result would be the salvation of souls. So He was willing to bow the neck and undergo even the cross for us. Oh, my, that’s the least we can do—to seek to be Christ-like.

Leslie: That’s Anne Ortlund offering women powerful perspective. She’s been our guest all this week. If you’ve missed any of the programs, you can listen or read the transcripts at

That’s also where you can get information on a special way to make your Easter season more meaningful this year. We’re inviting you to listen as Nancy teaches a new series called, The Incomparable Christ, and read along in a book by the same name. It all begins next Wednesday, the day that begins the Lenten season. Nancy’s here to tell you more about this opportunity.

Nancy: I know a lot of people associate Lent with fasting. You hear people talk about giving up something for Lent. Now, fasting is an important discipline that is talked about in the Scripture, and it can be very valuable when it’s done out of a sincere heart to focus more on the Lord.

But the Lenten season isn’t just about giving something up. The purpose is to prepare our hearts for observing Passion Week and the resurrection of Christ. So this year I’m inviting our listeners to focus on Christ in a special way beginning next Wednesday.

We’re going to launch a series called, The Incomparable Christ. During the seven weeks or so leading up to Easter, my teaching is going to follow an outline taken from a classic book by Oswald Sanders. My teaching on the daily broadcast will complement the content found in Sanders’ book. So I hope you’ll get a copy of a special Revive Our Hearts edition of this classic book by Oswald Sanders.

We’ll send you a copy when you donate any amount to Revive Our Hearts, and I want to encourage you to begin reading that book next Wednesday, the same day we’ll begin airing this series on the life and work of Christ.

Ask for Sanders’ book, The Incomparable Christ, when you call to make a donation to Revive Our Hearts. The number is 1-800-569-5959, or you can make a donation at

Leslie: What are you doing to multiply the impact of your life? Anne Ortlund shows you how to have an influence on the women around you. Please be back Monday for Revive Our Hearts.

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

All Scripture is taken from New International Version unless otherwise noted.


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About the Teacher

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has touched the lives of millions of women through Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement, calling them to heart revival and biblical womanhood. Her love for Christ and His Word is infectious, and permeates her online outreaches, conference messages, books, and two daily nationally syndicated radio programs—Revive Our Hearts and Seeking Him.

She has authored twenty-two books, including Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free, Seeking Him (coauthored), Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together, and You Can Trust God to Write Your Story (coauthored with her husband). Her books have sold more than five million copies and are reaching the hearts of women around the world. Nancy and her husband, Robert, live in Michigan.