Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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Leslie Basham: Rosaria Butterfield says, "When you invite someone to know Jesus, it won't seem real until you also invite them into your home."

Rosaria Butterfield: The gospel comes with a house key. One of the hardest things…

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: I love that line. The gospel comes with a house key.

Rosaria: And if it doesn't, it's half the gospel. That's where hospitality comes in.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth for Wednesday, February 10, 2016.

Before we get to Rosaria Butterfield's story, let me ask, are you experiencing deep intimacy with Jesus? We recently got an email from a woman who had seen Nancy speak back in 1997. Nancy gave a message from the Song of Solomon called "How to Fall and Stay in Love with Jesus." This woman said,

As Nancy interpreted the words of the Song of Songs, I believed for the first time how much God really loved me and wanted to be with me. I wept through most of those three days and they changed my life. I grew up in a Christian home but I really didn't know about being "beloved" until I heard Nancy teach the truths in the Song of Songs. I know now how He delights in me. What a change that has made in my life. I realized I had never shared this with Nancy. So, after eighteen years, I want her to know what a blessing her seminar was in my life.

Well, her timing is actually very good, because Nancy will teach that same material here on Revive Our Hearts beginning February 22 leading all the way to Easter. I hope you'll join us for the series and discover again how much you are loved by God.

We want to help you make the most of this series by sending you a companion booklet our team has developed. It's called "How to Fall and Stay in Love with Jesus." Imagine listening to the series each day and going through the related material in the Bible study. It could be one of the most meaningful Easter seasons yet.

We'll send you the booklet when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any amount. Ask for it when you call 1–800–569–5959 or visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

Well, here's Nancy picking up in the series "The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert."

Nancy: Well, Rosaria Butterfield, I feel like I have a very dear new friend in you. I've admired you from a distance for a number of years.

Rosaria: And I you.

Nancy: We've wanted to connect. We have mutual friends as I've mentioned in a previous program. Your literary agent, Robert Wolgemuth, is now my husband—he's still your agent. I'm just so thankful that the Lord has caused our paths to intersect.

Rosaria: Me, as well, sister.

Nancy: You are a kindred spirit. Our lives are so different in many, many respects. Our past. You're a wife of many years. I'm a new wife. You're the mom of four adopted kids. I don't know if that's what God has for Robert and me, not as far as I know. You're living in the world of homeschooling mom. So our lives are very different.

And yet in Christ and by His providence, there's a love for His Word. There's a love for truth. There's a joy and a freedom that we know comes through the gift of repentance. These things are what really matter in time and eternity are the things that we share in common.

You're a precious sister, and I'm just so thankful that the Lord has brought you to Revive Our Hearts so our listeners can get to know you.

Rosaria: I'm so thankful to be here.

Nancy: We were just saying how this conversation has been refreshing to us. We're both coming off long, busy weeks. We did not plan this to be in our week. But the Lord did, and He's refreshing us just with the joy of truth and His presence. We asked for His sweet presence when we prayed together this morning, and we're experiencing that.

I want to mention to our listeners that Rosaria has written a book that we're making available to any listener who makes a donation of any amount to help support the work of Revive Our Hearts this week. The book is called "The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert." It's the story of an English professor's journey into Christian faith—Rosaria Butterfield's story. We've been unpacking some of that this week, but there's lots more to it.

My copy is highly marked up. Lots of highlights, lots of underlining, lots of great quotes, and lots of insight into not only the ways of God, primarily, but also insights into touching and reaching out into a culture that has a widely different worldview than that which we as Christians who love Christ and love His Word hold dear. So, lots of wisdom and help here for such a time as this.

Rosaria: Absolutely.

Nancy: A big part of your story has to do with . . . And for those who've missed the last three days, you need to go to ReviveOurHearts.com. Listen. Read the transcript, and God is going to speak to you.

We just took a break here in the studio as we were recording these sessions, and our engineer said, "I want everybody I know to hear these programs." Because these are things we're dealing with, we're talking about, we're concerned about. And your story beautifully showcases the gospel and the grace of Jesus on an unlikely convert.

Rosaria: Praise God.

Nancy: We do praise Him. But a big part of that story is this whole thing of hospitality and how when you first were doing your research project and wanting to take on the religious right, and as the lesbian activist going on your way thinking that you were contributing to peace and joy and love and far, far, far from the Lord with no thought of pursuing Him.

Rosaria: Right.

Nancy: God came after you in the form of a pastor and his wife who said, "Would you come for dinner?"

Rosaria: That's right. That seemed so simple. It seemed so impossible that the Lord would actually choose to work through hospitality as a form of spiritual warfare. Right? Who would think that the Lord would use our simple dinner tables, our place settings along with our words as means of grace to bring unlikely converts to the God who made them?

There are only two things that are going to last forever—the Word of God and the souls of people. And so hospitality, when really rightly applied, seeks to live out our New Jerusalem identities in front of and with our unbelieving neighbors.

Nancy: As we talk about unbelieving neighbors, we say, we don't want to walk past the fact that you've got children sitting at your table, perhaps, who are the first ones who receive that means of grace for their souls. God does a work of grace in their hearts.

Rosaria: That's right.

Nancy: So whoever sits around that table.

Rosaria: That's right. But I would say that sometimes we like to pit the needs of the family against the responsibilities and the commandment to practice hospitality. Obviously, there are seasons in life when you need to really kind of "batten down the hatches." But for the most part, our children really benefit from observing their parents love our neighbors.

Nancy: Listen, this is the story of my life, Rosaria. Growing up in a home where my parents were perpetually inviting people who didn't know Jesus into our home. We were not a smoking family, and this was back in the days when smoking was very popular, when I was growing up. My parents had ash trays in the home to accommodate people who would come in and had to have a smoke. That wasn't something they were comfortable with, but they wanted people to be comfortable in our home.

So as children we . . . I can remember hulling strawberries for a dinner my parents were having and helping and pitching in. Then seeing and hearing the conversations and seeing people without faith leave knowing Jesus and then begin to grow in their faith. I grew up loving this.

And this is what captured your heart. But actually you had experienced hospitality in a great way. You say, "When I was in the LGBT community, someone's house was open every night for fellowship, food, and advice. I presumed that is how a community works. People have open availability with each other, and you were valued and remembered."

You talk about what you experienced in your previous world with open heart, open home. But then you say when you got to the Christian world (you came to faith in Christ), Christ captured your affections, as you say it. You became a member of your church. But you said, "I still found myself longing for more when it came to Christian community."

Rosaria: Yes, that is right. In my lesbian community, people had a very easy access to each other. Doors were open. Hearts were open. And we were sort "rhythm of life.'" We knew each other's teaching schedule, each other's travel schedule. It was accessible and transparent.

And I found things in a Christian community . . . although I was very grateful for the family of God that I was given. But I found things to be a little bit more stilted, a little bit more programmatic, not quite as transparent. And the hardest part wasn't so much being denied lesbian sexuality. The hardest part was the idea that I was going to be lonely.

Nancy: The relationships.

Rosaria: Yes. That I really wasn't going to have a community where I was a full participant. It seemed like I was moving into a community where on a kind of rotational basis I would be an invited guest in someone's home. But that was not what I knew before. What I knew before was a very fluid relationship between host and guest. And what I saw in the book of Acts was a very fluid relationship between host and guest. So I longed for that.

Nancy: How did you see that start to come alive in your young, early Christian experience?

Rosaria: Well, I would share with Ken and Floy some of these things, obviously.

Nancy: And Ken and Floy were the pastor and his wife who had invited you into their home.

Rosaria: Yes. Absolutely. They very quickly enfolded me into their family. And then very quickly after that ministry required mercy which required hospitality. So, very quickly.

Nancy: So what's an example of that?

Rosaria: Well, very quickly after I had joined the church, one of the graduate students who had come to study career theory with me and was hoping I would direct her dissertation in queer theory, she attempted suicide by trying to set herself on fire. And because I was her faculty advisor and because she was an international student I was in loco parentis.

I was the one who was immediately called, 3:00 a.m. from the hospital. "Can we put Zoloft in a morphine drip?" I mean, all of a sudden I was being flooded with questions that I could not answer. And it became very clear at that moment that I needed my Christian community to be there with me to help me discern this situation.

But I also understood that the woman who was in the hospital really needed our lesbian community. I needed one community, and she needed another. And we were both in this together. I immediately started making phone calls to everybody. And for a season of time, the Christian community and my lesbian community spent a lot of time in the waiting room.

And you know what waiting rooms are like. "Hey, can I get you a cup of coffee?" "My phone is charged." "Oh, you need to pick up a child at the bus stop? I'm going . . ." There was a lot of back and forth because even though we were different, we were focused on the same end.

And then after my student was released from the hospital, there was a question of where she would go. Because she was there because of suicide, she really needed to be in a home where someone was home full time. Although my lesbian community was a deeply-rooted hospitality-driven community, we were also eighty hour a week, Type-A, personality-driven intellectual women.

Nancy: Not home.

Rosaria: We weren't home. So where would she go? Well, to Ken and Floy's house. Obviously. And so that became one of, I will say, many examples of how ministry required the mercy of hospitality that created a bridge between the world of our Christian culture and the world that desperately needs Christ.

And I'm going to tell you, I mean it sounds so pretty as I'm talking. I'm thinking, Oh Rosaria, you're not representing this right. I was dying inside. I was so embarrassed. I was so afraid that my Christian community was going to say something really offensive. Or my lesbian community was going to say something offensive.

I still had a foot in both worlds. I'm a simultaneous translator. Knocking myself out. It occurred to me that I was a little bit like a bridge, and the job of a bridge is to get walked on. It was hard. But Jesus was holding the heavier part of that cross.

Nancy: And that's at the heart of hospitality. And where is hospitality seen more evidently in the Scripture than at the cross? Where Christ opened wide His arms and says, "Come into My home to live with Me forever."

Rosaria: Forever. That's right.

Nancy: So when Ken and Floy opened their home to you for dinner or to this student to come and live there for a period, they're really showcasing the beauty of Christ and His hospitable heart.

Rosaria: Right. And you know it was hard. Some of the things I've been really thinking about lately as we think about how to share the gospel with our lesbian and gay neighbors who perhaps now are legally married, and how do we do that under the Supreme Court decision that has now made gay and lesbian marriage a constitutional right?

And one of the things that I keep thinking about is that when Ken and Floy welcomed me into their world, it was for the long haul. I think they knew that. I really do. 

Nancy: This was not a two-week project.

Rosaria: This was not a two-week project. One of the things I think about lately is in the gospel of Mark chapter 10,

Peter began to say to Him, "Behold, we have left everything and followed You." And Jesus said, "Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel's sake, but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life" (vv. 28–30 NASB).

There's a line in there that sometimes we miss: "That he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age." Well, if you are sharing the gospel and inviting a friend, a neighbor who is in the gay or lesbian community to give up everything to come to Christ, where will that hundredfold come, that promise that's right there in the Bible, except from you. That is the earthly promise. There is the promise of eternal life. And then there is the promise of blessing on earth. 

Nancy: It comes through the people of God.

Rosaria: It comes through the church. It comes through the people of God. The gospel comes with a house key. One of the hardest things . . .

Nancy: I love that line. The gospel comes with a house key.

Rosaria: And if it doesn't, it's half of the gospel. Look at the book of Acts. One of the hardest things of struggling with unasked for homosexual desires is not the sex you can't have but the apparent condemnation of eternal loneliness that this gospel seems to render.

And if we don't want to say that the gospel is cheap grace for some and robust grace for others—and may I say God forbid if we want to say that—then we need to make sure that the gospel comes with a house key. And that's where hospitality comes in.

Nancy: And there's a cost with that. There's a laying down of your life. You often talk, as I've heard you share your testimony many times now, about Ken Smith, the pastor, who had the conversation, wrote the original letter, invited you to engage in conversation. He then invited you to dinner, and you sat at their table for two years. Every week. But I've often wondered, you don't talk as much about Floy. You do mention her. But what was she doing.

Rosaria: Oh, I'm so sorry, because she was vital in this . . . and not just because she did all the cooking.

Nancy: But I want to just highlight that. Someone did the cooking.

Rosaria: Somebody did the cooking. But she did so much of the discipling. In fact, especially when I came to faith, it was she and I who met alone.

Nancy: I'm glad to hear that. But I'm saying there's a cost in terms of just your time. The conversation and the discipling, everybody would say that's just spiritual. I get that. But behind that are the hours of getting your house ready for company. It's the meal preparation. You've talked about having people into your home.

Rosaria: Absolutely, the cost alone—I mean the monetary cost.

Nancy: The monetary cost. The time cost. We're busy people. We're doing fast food, drive through every month.

Rosaria: We must budget for this. I think that this is a stewardship issue. And so in my new book, Openness Unhindered, the last chapter is really devoted . . .

Nancy: I love that chapter.

Rosaria: Thank you. It's really devoted to the way that creating a hospitality home becomes a picture of Christian integrity to a world that simply wants to call us bigots and idiots. And you know, a picture truly does count for a thousand words sometimes.

Nancy: We're giving the world a picture. We're making the gospel believable.

Rosaria: We are. We are making the gospel believable.

Nancy: But my point is that it takes, it's very practical. You are doing this now. You and Kent are doing this constantly in your home. In fact, I'd like to hear a little bit about how you all do this. But as I read the illustrations in your book about what you and Kent do, I'm going, "This is time consuming."

That means a lot of times when you'd like to have your feet propped up, you're getting ready to go speak, or you're working on a book deadline, or you're homeschooling your kids, and it would be a lot easier to close the doors, which sometimes I know you do need to do. But it takes a selflessness and a self-denial and a self-sacrifice which takes us back to the cross. That's what the gospel is.

Rosaria: That's right. And there's a flip side to that, too. Because you're absolutely right. There's a cost to hospitality. There's a cost to it. But let's think about my family for a minute. My family is made up of children by adoption. Some of those children by adoption were adopted as late teenagers.

If I really wanted to give the message that the family of God is the real deal, but I say, "Only on my terms and at my convenience" that sends a message to my children who were adopted later in life that is potentially compromising to who they are in their own understanding of family.

You know, Jesus was both host and guest. I talk a little bit about this in the book, but we had an experience when our house was robbed. It was a bit ironic because Kent and I were both speaking at a local church on loving the stranger.

We were speaking on hospitality, and we came home and it was devastating. Our house was robbed and ransacked. Our dear, old golden retriever was beaten because big dogs get in the way. Everything was stolen, all of my jewelry, my engagement ring because I was afraid to wear it that day. I mean, it was just one of those moments.

It was frightening. My children were frightened. But you know, this was a Thursday. Thursday's at my house is when we open up for a neighborhood prayer walk and for people to come and pray together. And people started pouring into our life. The police were there. The house was a mess. Immediately, I was no longer the host. I was the guest in my own home.

Other people brought dinner. Other people brought mops and vacuum cleaners. Other people comforted my children who were just devastated by what had happened. We locked the doors. But you know what? God's providence is even extended to locked doors. And His love is even demonstrated in robbery because we were blessed by our hospitality ministry turning us into the guests that needed to be loved and cared for.

And so, we see that again in the book of Acts. There's a great deal of ebb and flow. I believe that as we see more examples of Christian persecution in this world, we are going to have a greater and deeper need to have a rhythm of life hospitality where people know where to gather for immediate prayer and immediate fleeing to the means of grace, fleeing to the Word of God because it is our refuge and our strength.

Leslie: That's Rosaria Butterfield with a challenge to all of us. Are we willing to prove that the gospel is real by being willing to live out real life with our brothers and sisters? Rosaria and our host Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth have been talking about the power of hospitality in a divisive world.

Rosaria tells her story of being loved into the kingdom of God out of a homosexual lifestyle in her book "The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert." We'd like to send you a copy when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any size. Call and ask for the book. The number is 1–800–569–5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

And tomorrow, Rosaria Butterfield will be back challenging you to think about this: How could the Lord use prayer among your neighbors in your neighborhood? Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

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

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About the Speaker

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 …

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