Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: If you’re discouraged because you don’t feel like you measure up, Mary Kassian says, “Take heart!”

Mary Kassian: All of us have marks of hypocrisy in our lives. And the problem isn’t when we see these marks of hypocrisy. I think the problem is when we don’t see them.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, along with Dannah Gresh, for August 8, 2019.

Dannah Gresh: Nancy, do you remember that tension, that feeling you would get right before you walked into a classroom in college to take an exam?

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Oh, yes, I just loved those days! (laughter)

Dannah: Didn’t we all?!

Nancy: I could hardly wait. And then it’s Friday, and you know it’s going to be a pop quiz, “This is a surprise?”

Dannah: Well, today on Revive Our Hearts we’re having a pop quiz.

Nancy: Oh, great! I can’t wait.

Dannah: I think you’re going to do just fine. We’re going to discuss some questions that help each of us as individual women kind of ascertain whether or not we’re authentically walking out the talk of the Christian faith.

Nancy: Wow, that’s such a huge thing, Dannah. The world is watching us who claim to be Christians. In many cases they’re saying, “You’re not living this out. You’re claiming one thing, but I don’t see it in your life.”

Dannah: Hypocrisy.

Nancy: And don’t you find, too, that a lot of the younger believers are looking at those of us who have been around longer and saying, “You guys aren’t credible.”

Dannah: Yes. I really think we have to listen to those younger voices who are asking questions. It’s not always just unrest. Sometimes they are seeing something that needs to be fixed. I think one of the things they see is older believers are very convicted about specific truths in the Bible, but they’re not giving legs to the compassion part of that conviction, sometimes.

I think there are lots of reasons. We’re going to dive into this quiz and just see how each of our individual hearts are doing. Because—hey!—if each of us figures it out for our own lives, the whole body of Christ . . .

Nancy: What a difference that’s going to make! I can’t think of anyone better to help us do that than our friend Mary Kassian. She’s no stranger to Revive Our Hearts. She’s a longtime friend of both of ours and she’s the author of this quiz.

People say to me when I write books, “That was really convicting!” 

I say, “You should have had to write it!” Because when you’re writing these things out, you’re having to deal with it. And I can tell, Mary, in this book that you’ve written, The Right Kind of Strong, that you let it speak to your own heart first.

We’re so glad to welcome you back to Revive Our Hearts. Thanks for joining us for this conversation.

Mary: Thanks, it’s great to be here.

Nancy: This book is a resource that I feel Dannah and I would say we wish we could have written. It just so captures the heart, the essence of the message that this ministry is about when it comes to, “What does it mean to be a strong woman of God in the best possible sense?”

I love that you have broken it down into some bite-sized chunks, ideas, concepts—you call them habits. We’ve been looking at a passage in 2 Timothy chapter 3 that is the foundational launching passage for this whole book.

Mary: It speaks about “weak women,” the passage where Paul actually calls a group of women in the church in Ephesus “weak women.” This passage explains some habits, some negative habits, some of the reasons why they were likely weak.

Nancy: And you’re helping us understand what the habits are that we need to put on in their place, which is why the subtitle of your book is . . .

Mary: Surprisingly Simple Habits of a Spiritually Strong Woman.

Nancy: That is a mouthful! 

Mary: It is a mouthful—six “s’s” in there!

Nancy: But if we could get that in our lives! As I read these chapters—one chapter relates to each of those “surprisingly simple” habits. I don’t know about that word “simple.” I think they are simple in that they are basic and foundational.

Dannah: Simple in concept, but not always simple to live out.

Mary: Well, I think simple in concept. I think that living it out is perhaps simple, but it’s the sheer quantity of effort that we need to . . . That’s the thing about habits. It’s not a lot at a time, it’s just a little bit at a time, but its effect is exponential once you have done a little bit, a little bit, a little bit, a little bit. You’re going to find yourself in a far different place!

Dannah: It makes a big difference, yes.

Mary: So that’s the thing: these are simple things. It’s not simple to become a strong woman; we know that. It takes a lifelong journey of habits and of obedience to the Lord, and just one step at a time.

Nancy: And no matter whether you’re a brand-new Christian or have been a Christian for many years—as we have been—these are things where we always need to be stopping and taking stock. “How am I doing in this?” We need each other.

Just this conversation has been so helpful to me. I’ve been sitting here thinking of areas in my life that need shoring up and that need vigilance and watchcare . . . and things I may have just forgotten about. So we need to remind each other of the things that matter.

Let’s go to 2 Timothy chapter 3 again to just set the stage. We’ve looked at four of these habits. I’m going to ask you to refresh them for us before we look at the fifth one today. Paul talks to Timothy, the pastor of the church in Ephesus, about these people who should be avoided.

They have an appearance of godliness, but they deny the power. They don’t have the reality. And that’s going to be important when we talk about this “walking the talk” thing, because even these false teachers look like they’re godly, but they really aren’t. Paul says avoid such people because they’re dangerous!

He says, “For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth” (vv. 6–7). Now, just remind us where we’ve been, then we’ll look at the fifth habit today.

Mary: When you break this verse down, you break it down into clauses, you can see a lot of little habits, little things, that these women let slip. 

The first one is that they allowed creeps in. And so, the first habit that we need to cultivate as strong women is to “catch the creeps,” to be alert to those ways in which sin and ungodly habits are making an inroadand to catch those and to curtail their influence. They sneak in; they’re subtle. 

The second one is to master our minds. It talks here that these women were “taken captive.” They were “captured.” One version says they were “captivated.” They weren’t thinking the right way. They were captivated by these false teachings, by the false teachers, and by ways of thinking that were not in line with God’s truth.

Dannah: And there are plenty of those options available for us today, even in the name of Christianity. There are lots of false teaching and doctrine that’s just off-course from the truth.

Mary: Yes, we’re going to be covering that in another habit coming up, but most specifically in terms of dealing with the mental chatter that’s in our minds all the time.

Dannah: Self-talk.

Mary: Self-talk and starting to think the right way. The next one is “burdened with sins.” We talked about just the freedom and joy of confession. And I think a strong woman ditches the baggage, gets rid of the sin and guilt and shame. 

Nancy: Love that!

Mary: Not just when she comes to know Jesus, not just confessing and coming to faith in Jesus, but on an ongoing basis. She makes it a daily habit.

Dannah: During that conversation, there were several of us in the studio on the verge of tears. It was just so sweet. So, listeners, if you missed that program, I really encourage you to go back and listen to it. Your heart is going to be so encouraged. You can listen to it at ReviveOurHearts.com. 

Nancy: And if we’re not practicing confession, the burden of sin is going to pile up and weigh us down.

Mary: It does, and it’s so distressing to see a woman who is oppressed by sin-baggage. And it’s so encouraging to see when Jesus sets her free from that! It’s just so precious, the freedom from that.

Nancy: Okay, number four . . .

Mary: Number four is that she is “led astray by various passions.” So we talked about passions, desires, feelings—how they are a positive. Emotions are given to us as a positive gift from God. We are not to deny them, but we’re also not to rely on them. We’re to bring them under the Lordship of Jesus Christ and get a grip on our emotions.

Nancy: You just said that so quickly. I wish it was that easy!

Mary: I wish it was that easy!

Nancy: But it’s something to be noticing and watching out for.

Mary: Absolutely! And the one we are coming to in this session is “to walk the talk.” They were “always learning” and never able to arrive. They just weren’t getting there. They were always learning. These were women who were in the church; they were in Bible studies.

If it was this day and age, they’d be listening to Christian podcasts, they’d have their worship music going, they’d have all this Christian input—learning, learning, learning. But these women were never able to arrive. They weren’t making any progress.

Dannah: They were hearers of the Word and not doers.

Mary: They didn’t walk the talk.

Nancy: And, wow! How easy it is for that to happen! I’ve often said to women that every time I hear the Word of God—it’s in my quiet time, it’s in a service at my church or small group or a Bible study—every time I need to be pressed to the: “What is the ‘so what?’ about this? What is God speaking to me through His Word? What needs to change?”

Because, otherwise—especially for those of us who have been around this Christian thing for a long time—we get to where we know this inside-out, upside-down. We know the Scripture. We know the instructions of the Lord, but our hearts are getting hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. James chapter 1 says, because we’re not doing what the Word of God says. That’s what makes a weak woman. What makes a strong woman?

Mary: A strong woman is the one who hears the Word of God and does it, who applies it.

Dannah: So how do we know if we are a hearer . . . or a hearer and a doer? How do we know if we’re walking the talk?

Nancy: Is that that quiz you’re talking about?

Dannah: You’ve developed this quiz, Mary, and it’s really convicting! So I want to just run through this quiz (I call it the “Walk the Talk quiz”). I want to ask these questions very quickly, and then we may encamp on a few of them for longer.

Nancy: And let me just say, we don’t want to just ask them. We want to ask ourselves, each other, and those who are listening, joining us in this conversation. We want to do a mental, “Lord, would You help us to see? Is it me who is spinning my wheels, spiritually speaking, just getting stuck because I’m not walking the talk.”

Dannah: Yes. So, the first question is: Is your public face different from your private one?

Mary: That’s the mark of hypocrisy, right? Hypocrisy means you’ve got a fake face on, and if you’re someone different in public—in terms of acting religious—and then that all falls apart when you go home, that’s a big, major red flag that you ought to be seeing if you are indeed applying the Word of God to your life.

Dannah: Really, who we are in private is far more than who we are in public. That’s where the real “us” shows up.

Mary: That’s right.

Dannah: Second question: Do you have a “vending machine” view of God?

Mary: Someone who has a vending machine view of God is someone who asks God for things and expects God to answer the way that she wants God to answer . . . but isn’t willing to do what God wants her to do.

So she says, “God, You do what I say!” But she’s not willing to reciprocate that and actually do what He says.

Dannah: Oh, wow.

Nancy: So we’re using God for His gifts and what He can do for us..

Mary: That’s right. Yes. We put in our religious service, we put in our prayers like some coins into a machine, and then we press the button of what we want Him to dispense. And when He doesn’t, we’re aggravated that He hasn’t answered the way we want Him to answer, when we want Him to answer!

Dannah: We’re really good at telling God exactly how to solve our problems.

Mary: Exactly.

Nancy: And getting mad when He doesn’t do it the way we think He should.

Dannah: Question number three: Are you highly concerned about what others think?

Mary: Just being others-focused in terms of just worrying, “What do you think of me? What does she think of me?” Being afraid to openly confess our sins, being afraid to be authentic and real. Putting on this act because you’re afraid of what others think of you. 

Nancy: Isn’t that the way that so much of Christian life and church life is? I’m amazed how often I hear from somebody I’m close to whom I think I know them pretty well, but all of a sudden I hear their life is in upheaval. They’ve got this major struggle going on, and this major sin failure. We were around each other and nothing was ever said!

And how many times have I done that? “I’m fine.” Just putting on the “game face.” How much better is it for all of us if we can just take the masks off and not care so much about what others think that we have to please them or give what they think is going to be the right answer.

Mary: So, care more about what God thinks!

Nancy: Yes, and what’s true in my life. 

Dannah: And if the truth sets us free, shouldn’t we speak it at all times? If somebody says, “How are you?” and your bank account’s a mess and your life is a mess, maybe we don’t need to dump it all and be a mess emotionally. But maybe we need to be honest about, “I think I’m struggling a little bit right now.” Maybe not care what that person thinks; care more about how that person could be used by God in our lives.

Nancy: And the fact is, when other people humble themselves toward us, we’re endeared by that. God draws near to the humble; so do other people. So the fear that we have that, “I’m going to be rejected if I tell where I really am, where I’m really struggling,” is an unfounded fear more often than not.

Mary: More often than not.

Nancy: If I’m willing to walk in the truth, people are going to be drawn to that, and they’re going to want to give grace and be a part of it.

Dannah: I always feel closer to someone when they share with me what they’re struggling with. I feel like I’ve been trusted. It’s a gift.

Question number four: Are you selective about which parts of the Bible to obey?

Mary: This goes back to the Pharisees in the New Testament. They were very good at obeying certain parts of the Bible. They tithed their mint and their dill and their cumin, but Jesus said to them, “You are neglecting the weightier portions of the law!” ie: “You’re missing out on the big stuff. You’re doing the stuff that you want to do, but you’re being very selective about which parts of the Word of God you want to apply.”

Dannah: Yes, I see a lot of that happening right now. We might come back to that one. “Do you rationalize disobedience?”

Mary: Making up all sorts of excuses: “Oh, well that was for that time, this is for this time. My situation is so very different. I can’t obey because of X, Y, Z.”

Dannah: How about: Are you highly critical of others?

Mary: Pharisees see the speck in someone else’s eye as a log—they perceive it to be very big. But they don’t see the sin in their own hearts and their own lives.

Dannah: And finally: Are you making progress? 

Mary: That’s the big one: Are you making progress in your spiritual life? Are you different now than you were five years ago, ten years ago? Have you grown, or are you still just stuck in a rut?

Nancy: So let’s just take a couple of these and unpack them a little bit more, because I think it will help us process and think through: “Am I walking the talk?” And this is the fifth “surprisingly simple habit of a spiritually strong woman”—that we don’t just hear the truth, but we’re actually do-ers.

And so, let’s take this one for example: Are you selective about which parts of the Bible to obey?

Mary: I just want to tell you a little story that really illustrated this to me. My husband and I were heading out of town for the weekend. We gave each one of our sons who were teenagers at the time, a job to do. One of them needed to put away the dishes. One of them needed to do something else. 

I had just taken a load of laundry out of the dryer, put it on the coffee table, and I told my oldest son, Clark, that he needed to fold the laundry and to do it sooner rather than later so the wrinkles didn’t set in.

Well, we were gone for the weekend. We came back and walked in the house, and Clark met us at the door, and he was just beaming! He had a list of things that he had done for me: he had washed the floor. He had (I don’t know) dusted. He had vacuumed also. I thought, Okay! This is very, very amazing that he did all these things for me!

Nancy: Way to go, Clark!

Mary: Until I walked into the living room and saw that that pile of laundry was still sitting on the coffee table . . . and the wrinkles had set in! So he had done all these things that I hadn’t asked him to do, but he hadn’t done the one thing that I did ask him to do. He couldn’t understand: I wasn’t pleased; I wasn’t happy that he hadn’t followed through in terms of obedience.

He couldn’t understand that. He said, “Well, I’ve done all this stuff; I did more way more than my brothers did! I served you in a way my brothers did not serve you!” 

I told him, “Well, yes, but if you would have obeyed in the one thing, I would have seen these as a great gift. But because you weren’t obedient in that . . . you were doing these things because you just didn’t want to do this one thing that I asked you to.” 

And so, I remember that becoming a message to my heart, because the Holy Spirit spoke to me: “You know, Mary, you’re doing a lot of things. You’re writing; you’re out there speaking; you’re doing all these things, but there’s one thing that you’re not doing.”

And it had to do with me going and reconciling a relationship with someone. I was avoiding doing that, because that was a hard thing, and I did not want to do that.

Dannah: That is a hard thing. 

Mary: It is a hard thing. I found it was way easier to do the things that I wanted to do and to avoid doing the thing that the Lord wanted me to do. 

Nancy: I had a woman come to me after I spoke recently, and she was just in tears because her marriage was in a really hard place, and she didn’t know what to do. But she does know what to do, because she said to me, “I know the one thing I need to do is to forgive my husband for . . .” and she named this particular offense. She said, “I just don’t really want to do that, but I know that’s the thing I need to do.” 

Really, she was stuck. Now, I’m not saying he didn’t have issues. I’m not saying doing that one thing would make their marriage picture perfect. But I do know she can’t move on until she does the one thing she says she knows from God’s Word that He wants her to do.

So she can do all this other stuff, but God has said, “You need to forgive.” And she knew it! I wasn’t telling her that. She knew it from God’s Word, but until she was willing to do that one thing she wasn’t going to make progress in her marriage or in her relationship with the Lord.

Mary: I think the Holy Spirit teaches us and counsels and instructs us and guides us in terms of what the Lord wants to do in our hearts in various times and places and seasons of our lives. And if we shut that voice down, if we don’t listen to that and turn that off and say, “No, I don’t think I want to do that. No, I don’t want to do that.” It’s as though the Lord is talking to us and we’re not listening, and it becomes a habit not to listen. 

And so we become hypocrites, we become legalistic, we know all the Word of God but we don’t apply it to our own lives.

There’s an old spiritual that goes, 

It’s me, it’s me, it’s me O Lord,
Standin’ in the need of prayer.
Not my brother, not my sister, but it’s me O Lord,
Standin’ in the need of prayer. 

And I think that until we respond, “Okay, Lord, I will do what You tell me to do and it is me” . . .

And that brings us to the other one, where we see a small sin in other people’s lives, but we don’t see the big sin in our own lives.

Dannah: Being overly critical of others.

Mary: Being hugely critical. 

Dannah: Maybe somebody’s sitting there, and they’re feeling convicted. They’re like, “Oh, I do have someone to reconcile with,” or “I have been ignoring this part of the Bible that’s convicting to me, and I just don’t want to believe it because it doesn’t go along with how I feel or what I think.” 

Talk to them about making progress. Because one of the questions of walking the talk is, “Are you making progress?” How can that question be an encouragement to us in this quiz about how we’re walking out the Christian faith?

Mary: It can be an encouragement because I think that making progress is the important thing. We don’t ever arrive. Until we see Jesus, we won’t fully arrive. Scripture talks about being changed from one level of glory to another (see 2 Cor. 3:18). There’s just stuff that gets dealt with, but then there’s more stuff that gets dealt with, and it’s a continual progress.

As long as we see that progress is being made, we can be really encouraged! So, maybe you didn’t totally vanquish your temper, or your tendency to be critical and loud and angry, but maybe you’ve made some progress in that and maybe the Lord has helped you so that it’s better now than it used to be. Rejoice in that!

Continue to work at making progress; you want to get further. But I think Satan tries to discourage us when we just aren’t growing, to be self-condemning in terms of the hypocrisy that is in our lives. Because, when it comes right down to it, I think if I go through this list, I’m convicted by it every time I go through it. 

I think that all of us have marks of hypocrisy in our lives. And the problem isn’t when we see these marks of hypocrisy. I think the problem is when we don’t see them, when we think that, “Everyone else has problems with being a hypocrite, but I don’t.”

Nancy: We want to make sure that we are growing, that we are changing, and that we’re not stuck in one place spiritually. That’s not a healthy sign. I have a friend who has said many times, “Spiritual growth or maturity is not where you are right now but the direction in which you’re headed.”

Am I growing? Am I changing? Sm I learning from God’s Word? Am I doing something about what I’m hearing? How frustrating must it be to so many of our pastors to pour out their hearts about God’s Word week after week after week and we sit there like bumps on logs—just taking it in but not really being changed by it.

Mary: Or holding up the number cards, like skating judges: “Oh, that was a good sermon!” “That wasn’t such a great sermon!” “Great job!” “Poor job!”—instead of going with a heart of seeking the Lord and, “Lord, what do You have to say to me? How am I going to apply that this week in my life?”

Dannah: When we do that, aren’t we falling short in that area of being highly critical of others? When, in fact, I have found that as I progress in my faith, really a kindergartener could open the Bible and barely be able to read a verse, and God’s Spirit could use that.

Nancy: Become more grace-filled toward others as you see your own need.”

Dannah: Maybe you’re listening and feeling like, “Okay, I’m not sure if I am walking the talk of the Christian faith. I need a little help!” We’d like to help you in your progress—help move you in the right direction—by sending you a copy of Mary Kassian’s new book, The Right Kind of Strong: Surprisingly Simple Habits of a Spiritually Strong Woman.

We’ll send that to you when you make a gift in any amount to the Revive Our Hearts ministry, so that we can help other women progress as they walk out the talk of the Christian faith!

Nancy: You can make that donation at ReviveOurHearts.com, or you can give us a call at 1–800–569–5959. And when you make your gift, be sure and let us know that you’d like a copy of Mary’s book, The Right Kind of Strong.

Dannah: So, Mary, we are through five of the simple habits of the spiritually strong woman, and we have two left. Where are we headed next?

Mary: Next we are talking about standing your ground, so taking a stand on truth. In our passage it says that these women were “always learning but never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.” Truth is so important! In our culture we think, What is truth? We’re going to talk about that next time.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants to help you live a life of integrity. It’s an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the ESV unless otherwise noted.

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