Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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Using Gifts in Unusual Places

Dannah Gresh: What opportunities has God given you to use your gifts? Here’s Stacey Salsbery.

Stacey Salsbery: May I just say how fun it is to experience the equipping of the Lord. If you’ve never experienced that, to go out on a limb and to try and use the gifts that God has given you, He faithfully equips you, that’s fun.

Dannah: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of A Place of Quiet Rest, for December 3, 2020. I’m Dannah Gresh.

So, Nancy, I have a question for you: What is the most unusual place you have ever taught the Bible?

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Well, the first one that comes to mind is maybe not what you had in mind, but years ago I did a women’s seminar and only about fifteen or twenty women showed up. It’s a long story as to how this happened, but we were meeting at a huge venue. I don’t know, it seats many thousands of people—Wells Fargo Center where the Philadelphia Flyers play in Philadelphia.

They were having a hockey game that night. What’s that big piece of equipment, is it the Zamboni? Is that what they call it?

Dannah: Oh, the Zamboni, yes. 

Nancy: It clears out the ice. So they’ve got this big racket noise going on, and I’ve got this tiny little group of women sitting up in the stands somewhere, teaching them a seminar called, “The Battle for the Family: The Woman’s Role.” That was really unusual.

But, let me say the other really meaningful place, not that that wasn’t meaningful. But I think about the opportunities I’ve had a few times over the years to teach in a women’s prison to women who are so hungry for the Lord and whose backgrounds are largely very different than my own.

But we have this common neediness for Jesus and a common need for His Word. I see the power of the gospel in my life and then overflowing to share with them in that prison. So that’s been a really unusual but also joyful place for me to teach the Word of God.

Dannah: I have to say, you’re busting my paradigm as Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth just a little bit with the teaching of the Word in the hockey stadium and in prison. But it’s what we want to talk about today because each of us has been given a gift from God. Many times I think we get really comfortable with using those gifts inside the church walls, but God wants us to use those gifts outside of the church walls as well.

Nancy: I’ve seen you do that, Dannah. I know you and your family live near Penn State University, and you’ve had some opportunities to teach the Word at that campus.

Dannah: Many times. And every time I’m a little terrified, and I think, Lord! Ask someone else! I get all Moses on Him.

I remember one particular time in Schwab Auditorium. I’m in the basement, and upstairs is waiting for me an entire audience full of people. I have eleven minutes to present a conservative view on sexual ethics in relationships. I can use a little bit of God’s Word—not a lot of God’s Word—and I was pretty terrified. But God was calling me outside of the church walls into a difficult place.

I think, probably, if you’re listening to our voices right now, that God may be calling you to use some of your gifts outside of the church walls.

That’s what our guest, Stacey Salsbery, has done. She has found the gift of teaching to be the one that God planted inside of her. She uses that on her own blog as well as on our Revive Our HeartsTrue Woman blog.

Welcome back today, Stacey.

Stacey: Thank you, Nancy. Thank you, Dannah. It is a joy to be back with you again today.

Nancy: We had a sweet conversation with Stacey yesterday. If you missed that, you can go to ReviveOurHearts.com and hear a really searching discussion of: Where do we get our satisfaction? And how do we find contentment in our relationship with Christ and His Word rather than always needing other things—the next thing—to be that which fills us up?

And, Stacey, as we make this transition today to talk about some of the ways the Lord is letting you serve Him in this season of life . . . You’re married. You have four children at home. So there’s lots going on in your life.

But I love the fact that as you have allowed God to fill you up with that Living Water to find your fullness and your satisfaction in Him, that there’s been overflow. God has caused these things to spring up within you and has given you opportunities to minister to others beyond what I suspect you were doing when you were looking for your fullness in all the wrong places.

Stacey: Yes. And, honestly, I can’t keep it in even if I wanted to. But the fun part is sharing it with others.

Dannah: So when did you really realize that, not only did you love studying the Word and finding your satisfaction in Christ through the Word, but you needed to pour that out on other people? When did that awaken?

Stacey: Well, I started teaching a ladies’ Bible study at my church. It started while I was involved with ladies’ Bible study. Becoming a mom and being able to stay home with my kids, that was an option, and I would go.

But eventually, I had a woman speak into me that said, “You need to be teaching this ladies’ Bible study.”

And I thought, Uh, me? Are you sure?

But I gave it a go, and I found out I just absolutely loved it!

Nancy: There’s somebody listening who—you just read their mail. They’re thinking, I could never do that! And it’s not that God has gifted everyone to do that, but I think there’s some that God has given that gift to and it’s never been awakened or used.

Stacey: Yes. And may I just say how fun it is to experience the equipping of the Lord. If you’ve never experienced that, to go out on a limb and to try and use the gifts that God has given you, He faithfully equips you, and that’s fun.

Nancy: I think sometimes we assume when we hear other people teach that this just comes naturally for them. I was just sharing with our True Women bloggers back in a session this week that everything God has ever had me doing—writing books, teaching women the Word—I have always felt inadequate and unable to do this without Him. And I really think that’s a good place to be.

Dannah: Amen.

Stacey: Yes.

Nancy: I have felt over my skis, and yet the Lord has time and again, as I’ve come to Him and said, “Lord, I don’t have what it takes to do this,” in my weakness He has shown Himself to be strong.

Stacey: That’s right.

Nancy: And you’re relating to that as well.

Stacey: Oh, absolutely. If I ever have the confidence to do it on my own, then, please, somebody stop me. Don’t let me do it!

Dannah: Isn’t that kind of the whole point of having a Spirit-empowered gifting?

Stacey: Yes.

Dannah: So many times I think, Oh, I have a natural inclination towards doing this or doing that. For example, I really have a natural inclination towards cooking. I love cooking for my family. But when I try to use that in the Body of Christ as my ministry, I become frustrated and angry because that’s not where the Holy Spirit has anointed me. That’s a natural ability, not a Spirit-assignment, not a Spirit-empowered gifting.

Nancy: But that might be a Spirit­-empowered gifting for somebody else.

Dannah: Right. In fact, my neighbor Jackie—I call her the Martha Stewart of the Christian world because she just, like, literally, she grows grass. She grows grass at Easter for her little Easter baskets that she decorates around the house. And then she grows grass for other families.

And she not only just shares that at church with friends, but she shares it in the neighborhood with people who don’t really know Jesus. And that gift of hospitality and that gift of welcoming people is Spirit-empowered in her.

So I see that in you, Stacey. I see that you are afraid of teaching, but you allowed God’s Spirit to empower you, and then you allowed God’s Spirit to direct you.

Nancy: And, Stacey, as you let the Lord use you and empower you to do this ministry of teaching women in your local church, you also discovered that you could use that teaching gift in another way. What was that?

Stacey: That’s right. I discovered that I enjoy writing. One of the most comfortable ways that I felt, in preparing that teaching for women, was by writing it out. I would spend hours studying and writing.

I didn’t realize how much I was enjoying the writing process until those ladies in my Bible study kept saying, “Hey, we really like your notes. Can we have a copy of your notes?” And any time one of them would miss, I would give them a copy of my notes. I think they started missing on purpose. (laughter)

Nancy: So they could get your notes.

Stacey: So they could get my notes. And just that little push from the Holy Spirit within me, I thought, I wonder if I could do this through writing? I wonder if I could minister to even more women through writing—not just in the church but reaching women wherever they’re at outside the church walls?

And this little idea started popping up within me: I wonder if I could do a blog? But that felt really scary. If I thought teaching a Bible study felt scary, well, putting it out on the Internet felt a lot worse. And yet, it’s been a joy, and it’s something that God has used to not only hold me accountable to be in His Word consistently, but to be in His presence.

Dannah: And, of course, today you blog not only at your own blog but for the Revive Our Hearts True Woman blog. You can read some of her blogs today. We have one posted.

I love what you just said, Stacey, about taking your teaching gift outside the church walls. Because many times, as women, we become very comfortable with using our gifting inside the church walls—whatever it is: teaching, writing, hospitality, administration, helps, mercy. We get stuck inside our own family, and we’re not doing the Great Commission work of taking those gifts outside the walls.

So, here’s where we come to the topic of using our gifts in unusual places. God began to plant a seed in your heart that not only did He want you to take the teaching outside of the church walls through your blog, but that there was an assignment that hit a little closer to home. Tell us about that.

Stacey: Yes it did. A little stirring began in my heart. Could I or should I take this message to our local public school? And the first thing I thought . . .

Dannah: Wait a minute . . . wait a minute! I’ve got to stop you there. So you were saying that God was telling you to go start a Bible study at the public school?

Stacey: Yes. Sounds a little crazy, doesn’t it?

Dannah: It does sound a little crazy, I’ve got to say.

Stacey: Well, I thought so, too. And I told the Lord, “Maybe I should just email those teachers and tell them I’ll pray for them? Or maybe I should just start some sort of prayer request chain,” and I could just kind of put myself out there just a little bit.

Nancy: So your burden was for the teachers at the public school.

Stacey: Yes.

Nancy: Where your kids go to school.

Stacey: Yes, where my kids go to school. And, you know, I love teachers.

Nancy: I bet teachers love you, too.

Stacey: I hope so. But the Lord really did lay a burden on me for them. How could I encourage them? How could I be in their corner? But not me, because I know I’ve got very little to offer. It’s really the Lord that has something for them.

Nancy: So how did you go about this?

Stacey: Well, I just asked.

Nancy: Who did you ask?

Stacey: I started actually with the principal of the school. We live in the country, so our school is small enough that elementary through high school is all one building.

Nancy: Wow.

Stacey: We do have two principals. I had a choice: I could either go to the elementary principal, or I could go to the high school. I actually went to the high school principal. He just happens to go to our church. I said, “Hey, I’ve got this crazy idea: What would you think if I did a ladies’ Bible study after school for any of the female staff or teachers?” 

And he said, “Do it! Go for it!”

That made me a little nervous. I think it would have been a little easier if I’d had some push back, and I could say, “Okay, Lord. See, that’s a closed door!” But it was a wide open door with the red carpet.

There is another teacher that goes to our church, and I presented the idea to her. And I thought, You know what? I just need a wingman. “Would you just be there with me?” 

And she said, “Oh, Stacey, I would be glad to do that!”

So she comes, and I start mulling over, “Lord, what do You want this to look like? I’ve got this open door, but it might be believers that come; it might be unbelievers that come.”

The initial email we sent out went to seventy-five women. And I thought, Oh dear, what if all seventy-five come to our classroom?

Nancy: So you invited them to what?

Stacey: I invited them to come to a time of refreshment, a time where they could sit back and relax. Our Bible study is Mondays after school. You know how cruel sometimes a Monday can be. Some of these teachers come absolutely exhausted.

I have one teacher who says her seventh period class, well, they’re challenging. Let’s just say that. When she gets to just come and listen to the Word of God . . .

Nancy: So you told them this was going to be a Bible study?

Stacey: I told them it was a Bible study, yes.

Nancy: Did you give them a topic or a book of the Bible?

Stacey: I told them that I’d be teaching out of the book of Mark, but at that point I didn’t really give them much more than that. I didn’t want to intimidate them. Even if they didn’t know anything about the Bible, I wanted them to come. So I was very careful even to say that in my initial email. “You don’t need to bring your Bible. You don’t need to know anything about the Bible. I am here for you. This is a truth that has changed my life, and I want to share that with you.”

Nancy: What was the first response you heard back? Did you ask for an email response? Or did any of the teachers approach you at the school? What did you hear at the very beginning?

Stacey: I sent it out a couple weeks in advance to kind of get them ready and prep them. And honestly, I didn’t hear a lot. I had a couple of teachers in passing that came up to me that said, “You know, I’m really glad that you’re doing this.” I didn’t know if that meant they were coming or not.

So that made me feel a little bit exposed even walking in that first day, carrying my notes and my Bible. I’ll tell you, I felt a little silly walking into the school not knowing really how it would be received, not knowing if anyone would come or if I would be in the classroom with just that one other woman who I had asked to be my wingman at the study.

And yet that first study, I had fifteen women come and listen to the Word of God. We dug right in. We started with Mark chapter 1, and the good news, the gospel of Jesus Christ that He is the Lord. And I tell you, for me it was definitely a holy moment. Declaring the gospel right there in the middle of my school, my children’s school, in a classroom with their teachers. The Word of God, the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ was publicly declared to them, to their hearts.

My job wasn’t for them to receive it. My job was just to take it to them. I know that not everyone has the privilege of doing that in their public school. I think that I take that for granted. Living in a rural community, in a small town, where maybe that’s more welcome than it is in other parts of the country.

But to that I just say, “Where is it welcome for you? Where is the gospel welcome?” All I did was ask. And they said “yes.”

Dannah: Take us to that classroom with those women. What kind of response did you get from them? What kind of stories have you seen unfolding in their hearts and in their lives?

Stacey: I’ve had one teacher start coming to our church, and that’s really exciting to me. They come. They don’t say a whole lot, but that’s what I’m there for. I told them that from the beginning. They can come, and they can just listen. I’m there to talk. I’ve been home by myself all day.

Nancy: And they’ve been talking all day.

Stacey: Right. It’s time for them to be quiet and for me to get to talk.

Nancy: So have you been able to have any conversations with any of these people? Or can you tell in their body language or their eyes that this is something that’s interesting to them? It must be at some level for them to show up.

Stacey: Yes. Absolutely. We’ve had several occasions where we’ve looked at different stories from the book of Mark. I’ve looked around, and there have been several of them with tears in their eyes as we talk about sin, as we talk about Christ accepting the sinner, that He’s there for us, His sacrifice. We have gotten into all kinds of things.

Recently, we had a tragedy within our school. One of our high school students committed suicide, and it absolutely rocked our small community. But guess what day it happened on? A Monday. I thought, Oh goodness, Lord. Maybe You should send somebody else! But I was already in that position to be able to go in and minister to them and share the Word with them and give them encouragement.

Nancy: Oh, wow!

Dannah: Stacey, that really just wrecks my heart. I’m watching the growth, the hockey-stick growth, in the number of suicides happening across our country. I’m wondering, Isn’t that an opportunity for us to take the love of Christ, the truth of Christ, the freedom of Christ, the healing of Christ into those communities, into those families, into those classrooms?

And because you were faithful to obey the Lord in stepping out and having the audacious thought that you could start a Bible study, a comfort study, in this public school, God was able to use you and poise you to provide that comfort on that day.

Stacey: That’s right. I would love to tell you even right now that I am seeing just tons of fruit come from this study, but I honestly don’t know what God is doing within the hearts of those women or within that study. I’m just trusting Him as I’m walking obediently forward every Monday afternoon walking into that school. I am obediently fulfilling a calling and a purpose that He has for me, and He’s going to work within it.

Nancy: You may not know this side of eternity all the fruit that comes from that.

Stacey: That’s right. But we are not called to know that. We are just called to be faithful. I find a lot of encouragement as I look at the parable of the sower. I think about that in Mark chapter 4. It’s actually one of the next studies that I’m going to do with these women on a Monday afternoon.

But as I’ve been looking at that, I think, That seed from that sower, it went everywhere. They just threw the seed. They didn’t, as my husband does with his family, strategically place it in the ground. The sower just threw it. Sometimes it falls on the path, and the birds eat it up. Sometimes it might fall in rocky soil. And sometimes it might get eaten up by the weeds and nothing happens. But other times, that seed, the Word of God, the gospel of Jesus Christ, is going to fall in good soil, and it’s going to flourish.

I don’t know when that’s going to be. I don’t know when the Lord is going to produce an abundant crop or how He’s going to do it. But as a minister of the Word of God, as someone who has been given God’s Word, as someone who God has opened their eyes to the truth of the Scriptures, I have a responsibility to share that with them.

Dannah: I can’t help but think of a verse that’s very familiar to us that says, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

And I think about: We’re called to go. We’re not called to stay and teach the truth just in our homes or stay and teach the truth just in our churches. We’re called to go. We have to wait for the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, as you did, as you have, and then obey the Spirit as He guides us out into those places, whatever your Judea, your Samaria, your Jerusalem may be.

You may be a working woman who could start a Bible study at your workplace.

You may be a homeschooling mom who could start a Bible study with her classical homeschool co-op.

There are lots of opportunities where we can be taking His comfort and His truth, and you’ve inspired us today, Stacey.

Nancy: I think that can be done, not just through the teaching gifts, as we’ve said, but other gifts that God has given us. Dannah, you mentioned gifts of administration or hospitality or service. Just say, “Lord, what is it that You are putting in my heart that You want to empower me to do, and how can I take that outside of the four walls of my home, outside of the church walls. In my community, how can I be present?

It may be at a pregnancy care center where there’s ministry going on.

It may be at a . . . as a friend of mine does . . . at a local county jail where there’s a lot of ministry going on with the women in that jail and men working with the men as well.

It may be at a food pantry or at a homeless shelter.

Just showing the compassion of Christ, reaching out.

We’re in different seasons of life. Some of us can do things now that we couldn’t do years ago. Stacey, you still have children at home, so your ministry is centering pretty closely around your home and your kids’ school. That’s perfect for this season. When your kids are grown, that may look very different for you.

But for each of us, it is: Where has God put us now? And what gifts has He given to us? How has He filled us up with the good things of the gospel, with the Living Water that quenches our thirst? And to realize that He’s done that, not just so we can be full and happy, but so we can be overflowing life and grace and the gospel into the lives of those around us.

Stacey, there’s undoubtedly some people listening to this conversation saying, “Is that even legal to do that in a school?” We have a separation of church and state, so-called, a greatly misunderstood concept. But have you run into some roadblocks doing a Bible study like this on a public school campus?

Stacey: You know, amazingly, I haven’t run into any roadblocks. I think a part of that is it’s after school, so it’s not during school hours, and it’s for the teachers. I’m not teaching students. Student Bible studies at school are student-led. But I am ministering solely to the teachers and to the female staff.

Nancy: And they don’t have to come.

Stacey: They don’t have to come. It’s totally voluntary.

Dannah: I know in our school district, I’m not actively involved in the public school system, but I know students who attend local churches who are leading local Bible studies. When I asked them about the separation of church and state, they tell me that they’re well within their legal rights when they have a voluntary Bible study after hours that students are welcome to come to but not required to come to.

So if your heart is feeling stirred, it is possible that you would run into roadblocks. Make sure that you are aware of the law. Make sure that you go through the leaders that God has appointed in your school district, as Stacey did. And just pray for Him to move those roadblocks and be patient while you’re waiting for Him to do so.

Thank you so much, Stacey, for sharing this wonderful work that God is doing in your heart as you’ve obeyed Him, to go into an unusual place with your gift of teaching God’s Word.

Stacey: Thank you, Nancy and Dannah. It has been a joy to be here with you. Maybe we can do it again sometime.

Dannah: Nancy’s going to close our program in prayer. But first let me say, I continue to be amazed at the Body of Christ. We’re weak in ourselves, but when we work together to serve the kingdom of God, He can do amazing things through us. Here’s what I mean.

We just heard how God is using Stacey in some very surprising places. I’m also encouraged and grateful that Revive Our Hearts has been able to pour into Stacey for a very long time. We encourage her with the truth of God’s Word, and she’s passing it along to others.

But it gets even more amazing when you realize that you are also a part of the process. Revive Our Hearts listeners like you pray and you give to make the ministry possible.

See how the Body of Christ all comes together? Each person doing their part. And Stacey is just one Revive Our Hearts listener. We’ll never really know until eternity all the ways God is working through all of us as we come together.

Some are called to give. And here in December we’re asking God to raise up givers for the ministry. Revive Our Hearts has not slowed during any of these lockdowns. This year, if anything, we’ve gotten busier. In fact, we began the videocast, Grounded.

It’s a weekly dose of hope and perspective to keep you grounded in the truth even as the world shakes all around you. And we’re preparing to launch a family of new podcasts in January. We want to multiply the ways women can access biblical truth.

But in order to move forward with outreaches like these and keep our current ministries going, we’re asking the Lord to provide significantly here in the month of December. Thankfully, some friends of the ministry have agreed to double every single gift as part of a matching challenge.

Get this: That challenge amount is just over $1 million! In order to move into 2021 in a healthy position, we’re asking the Lord to help maximize that entire match amount.

So if God’s prompting your heart to be a part of the work He’s doing through Revive Our Hearts, you can give online at ReviveOurHearts.com, or by calling us at 1–800–569–5959.

Now, imagine being in prison. It’s the only life you’ve ever known for a long time. Suddenly, you re-enter society. How do you begin to rebuild your life? Jennifer Smith is helping women rebuild lives on the solid rock of God’s Word. You won’t want to miss Jennifer when she’s here tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.

Now, here’s Nancy.

Nancy: I’d love to just take a moment for us to pray, and I invite you to join with us wherever you’re listening to this conversation.

Lord, we thank You for how You are opening gospel doors all around us, and You want to use us to walk through those doors. And for many of us, it may look different than it does for Stacey. It may look the same for some as it does for Stacey.

But I pray that You would put within our hearts the ideas, the direction, the Spirit-empowering, as we’ve heard, and make us willing to say, “Yes, Lord. I’ll take the risk. I’ll step out in faith. I’m not just going to keep this good news contained to myself or my family or my church. But as You direct, I’m willing to be used wherever You want to use me.”

I pray that even as a result of this conversation, there would be points of light and gospel proclamation and the Church being the Church, the people being the people of God in shining the light into the darkness in whatever ways You would direct us.

I get excited thinking about what that might look like in the days ahead as You use us for Your glory right in the places where You’ve planted us. I pray in Jesus’ name, amen.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth encourages you to use your God-given talents. It’s an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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About the Speakers

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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Stacey Salsbery

Stacey Salsbery

Stacey Salsbery is a farmer’s wife and mother of four. When she isn’t serving a meal on the side of the road, riding in a tractor with her husband, or …

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