Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Your Children and the Gospel

Leslie Basham: In her research, Dannah Gresh found that many girls have a relationship with God that is based on performance.

Dannah Gresh: If the gospel is about Christ’s love, then what we believe about God’s love is really important.

So the majority of girls we surveyed said they believe God loves them, but they just didn’t feel like God loved them when they did something bad.

Leslie: Today we’ll look at ways to correct wrong thinking with the truth of the gospel. This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Lies Women Believe, for February 7, 2019.

Nancy will talk with Dannah Gresh. She’s a regular guest on Revive Our Hearts. Some of our listeners will know Dannah from the Seeker Keeper Girl conferences.

This week we’re announcing a name change. Those conferences are now called True Girl, echoing the True Woman conferences hosted by Revive Our Hearts. We’re excited to be working alongside Dannah and the team to let people know about this opportunity for girls and their moms.

Today Nancy and Dannah are here to talk about the new book, Lies Girls Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free. Before we begin the conversation, we’ll hear some comments girls made to the team researching the book, and, you should know, some of these comments may not be appropriate for younger ears.

Girl 1: I feel like I hate my mom, and I can’t wait to grow up.

Girl 2: At school, I’m sometimes mean to someone who’s been mean to me.

Girl 3: There’s this girl at school who calls herself a Christian, but she doesn’t act like one. She’s always talking about sex. She looks at porn. She shows me bad videos. She goes to my homeschool co-op, so I’m around her a lot. I know it’s wrong for me to let her say and do those things and not tell her that it’s wrong, that she’s wrong, but I’m scared she’ll hate me, and she’s the only person who really talks to me.

Girl 4: My family is weird. My dad is never home because he works at night, and when he is home, he just sleeps all the time and gets angry.

Girl 5: My parents are divorced. I wish we were normal.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Dannah, some of the statements that these seven- to twelve-year-old girls typed onto their keyboards when taking a survey you gave them. They’re heartbreaking!

Today we’re going to delve into some of the lies that you found that these girls were believing, but before we do, just give us a picture of who these girls were who took the survey.

Dannah: Sure. Well, we believe that most of them were from evangelical homes, 51 percent were public school girls, 30 percent homeschooled, and 16 percent private Christian schools, and a little bit of them went to other types of schools. Most of them claimed to be Christian. Nancy, we hit the first of what may be the three most dangerous lies.

Nancy: Now, you actually identified twenty lies total. So why did you pick out those three as being particularly dangerous?

Dannah: Because I read Lies Women Believe by my friend Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth. (laughter) What else do you say? It said that the most dangerous lies we believe are the ones we believe about God because the truth we believe about God determines the truth we believe about everything else.

Nancy: Well, that really is true. What we believe about God is so foundational.

So, you were saying that the first lie that you identified had to do with these girls claiming to be Christians.

Dannah: Yes. We very quickly identified that 22 percent of the girls who claimed to be Christian didn’t understand what it meant to be one.

Nancy: And how did you identify that?

Dannah: Well, in the comments they said things like:

  • “I’m a Christian because I go to church.”
  • “I’m a Christian because my mom and dad are.”
  • “I was born a Christian.”
  • “I’ve always been one.”

So one of the lies is: I am a Christian because . . . fill in the blank.

Nancy: And it’s not just girls who have misunderstandings about what it means to be a Christian. It’s teen girls. It’s women. It’s older people as well.

So the truth, of course, that counters that lie is: We’re a Christian if we repent of our sin, believe in Christ, trust Him as our Savior. Both you and I experienced a genuine work of the Spirit in our hearts when we were little girls.

At the same time, I think, in our generation, there have been some who, wanting to see children know Christ, have prematurely prompted children to (quote) “make a decision” to follow Jesus when there wasn’t necessarily a work of the Spirit happening in their hearts yet.

Dannah: Yes.

Nancy: So this is where, boy, this is not a science. There’s not a formula here. This is where parents and other people who are working with children, as you do in your girls and moms events, you have to be so sensitive to: What is the Spirit doing in that child’s heart?

Dannah: Yes.

Nancy: First of all, there has to be a conviction of sin. And the child may not even know that word “conviction,” but I think a parent can sense when there’s a sense of, “I’m sinful. I need to be rescued from my sin.”

Dannah: Yes.

Nancy: And I think you want to let that grow. You want to let that sit. You want to let that soberness, whether it’s a child or an adult. Somebody can’t experience the amazing grace of Christ or the saving work of Christ if they don’t know that they have anything to be saved from.

Dannah: Yes. Right.

Nancy: I can walk in a room of four-year-olds, and I can say, “Anybody here who wants to be a Christian, wants to be saved, wants to follow Jesus, raise your hand. Okay. Now you all are saved.” Now, of course, I’m exaggerating to make a point that I think we need to be really careful whether it’s with children or any age.

Is there evidence that the Spirit of God is doing a work of drawing them to Christ, convicting them of their sin, giving them a repentant heart?

Dannah: Yes.

Nancy: I think that work happens more often in a younger heart where there’s been a lot of conversation about the Lord, where there’s been evangelizing going on, that they’re talking about the gospel or illustrating it, reading Scripture, parents are talking about how they have come to know Jesus.

Dannah: Yes.

Nancy: In that context it is not unusual, I think, for a child to realize, “I need a Savior, and I’m ready to trust Christ to save me. I’m ready to turn from my sin.”

Dannah: Nancy, you saying that is helping me to remember that my son . . . I walked into the bedroom. He was very small, maybe six or seven years old, and he was kneeling. And I said, “Robbie, what are you doing?”

And he said, “Oh, Mom, I just realized that I’ve done a lot of bad things, and that’s why Jesus died for me.”

Nancy: That’s the work of the Spirit.

Dannah: He was in the bedroom, basically praying for Christ to come be the Lord of his life—all by himself. But it was because of conversation upon conversation upon conversation, lessons at church, lessons by his dad, reading the Bible that brought him to that place of repentance.

Nancy: Right.

I had a little girl, a sweet little girl in my life, call me. Her dad was driving her home from a church prayer meeting that they had had that night, not too many months ago. And she called me on the way home, and she said, “Ya-Ya, tonight I gave my life to Jesus.”

Dannah: She calls you “Ya-Ya.” I love that! (laughter)

Nancy: She calls me “Ya-Ya”—this little Addie Grace.

Dannah: How precious!

Nancy: She had been at prayer meeting that night with her parents sitting on her mom’s lap. She’s seven or eight—I think she was seven at the time—and God had been working in her heart. She had been seeing her sinfulness. She had been seeing her need for a Savior. She had just been to Vacation Bible School where they had talked about Jesus rescues us. So that was going through her mind.

She had been putting these things together, the Holy Spirit had been putting them together, and that night, in that prayer meeting, she turned to her mom, and she started crying. She said, “Mom, I need to give my heart to Jesus.”

Dannah: Oh, how beautiful.

Nancy: So her parents had evangelized her, but they didn’t press her to (quote) “make a decision.”

Dannah: Exactly.

Nancy: And I think: Don’t be in a hurry. Don’t push it.

Dannah: Yes.

Nancy: What I saw often as I was growing up were kids who grew up in church, they grew up in school, they made a profession of faith when they were four years old, five years old, six years old, whatever. Then they became teenagers or young adults, and there was no evidence of a love for Christ, no evidence of a heart for Christ, no heart to follow Christ. And yet their parents would say, “Oh, but she’s a Christian. She got saved when she was four.”

Don’t pronounce your children saved. Don’t pronounce anybody saved. We don’t know until the evidence, the fruit, is there.

Dannah: Yes. That needs to be a testimony that comes from their lips.

Nancy: Exactly.

Dannah: I think that there’s a concern, though, that I saw for some of these moms with older girls—twelve, thirteen, and fourteen, who were not pressuring their children to (quote) “make a decision.” They were saying, “They’re not old enough.” They’re holding them back.

Several of these moms were saying, “My daughter really wants to be baptized.”

I would say, “Well, has she demonstrated repentance?”

They would say, “Yes, but I just don’t think she’s ready to be baptized.”

So what would you say to those moms at the other end of the spectrum?

Nancy: Well, again, you’ve got to pray for wisdom. In the church where I grew up as a little girl, they had a policy that if you were saved as a child, you couldn’t be baptized for a year. They wanted to see . . . So I was baptized at the age of five, standing on an egg crate/carton thing in the baptistery.

Some churches ask children to be older than that, or they have a process that children go through.

I think that’s not a bad thing, but there comes a point where you say what Jesus said, “Let the little children come.” When you see evidence of faith, evidence of repentance, evidence of fruit, don’t keep them back.

Dannah: So I would say, I guess, this to every mom and grandma listening, “Just make sure you’re having those conversations that open your daughter and your sons to an understanding of the gospel.”

Nancy: Yes.

Dannah: If we’re not continually having those conversations and making sure they understand, “Oh, you’re not a Christian because Mom and Dad are. You’re not a Christian because you go to church every Sunday. You’re not a Christian because you were born that way.”

Nancy: You’re not a Christian because you (quote) “prayed a prayer or made a decision.”

Dannah: Yes.

Nancy: You’re a Christian because the Holy Spirit has drawn you to Christ. You may not know all these words—He’s regenerated you, He’s justified you—you may not know all those words—you probably won’t. But there’s evidence that the Spirit has given you new life in Christ and that you’re trusting Him to save you.

Dannah: Yes.

I’m so excited because one little girl who took our survey recognized that she wasn’t a Christian and went straight to her mom—I shared this earlier in the week—and her mom recognized, “This daughter of mine is ready. This is God’s Spirit on her saying, ‘This is the time.’”

But that doesn’t happen unless you’re giving her the information so that her heart can respond to the Spirit.

Nancy: Yes. And you’ve seen God work in the hearts of moms as well.

Dannah: One of my favorite stories happened at True Woman, just a few months ago, as we were in Indianapolis. We gave out samplers of this beautiful book. (I’m so excited about how it turned out. Isn’t it beautiful, Nancy?)

Nancy: It is amazing. It’s colorful. It’s fun. It’s creative.

Dannah: I said, “If something’s done for Jesus, it should be done with excellence.” I set out to be able to put this book on a shelf in the tween section of a secular bookstore and for someone to walk by and say, “This looks as good as all the rest. This looks awesome and fun.” So illustrations, color . . .

Anyway, we handed out samplers of this at True Woman, and a mom walked up to me and said, “I read the sampler last night in my hotel room. I’m so excited for this book, but my daughter has dyslexia, and I’m just going to have to read it to her because she won’t be able to read it on her own.”

And I said, “Really?” Because as I was writing this book, God put it on my heart to include the testimony of a girl named Jenna, whose life was dramatically changed with a diagnosis of dyslexia, in this book.

I began to tell her the story of how Jenna believed the lies that her life wasn’t valuable, or she wasn’t smart, or she didn’t have a good purpose of God because she had dyslexia, and how God used His Word to restore truth to her heart.

And this mom burst into tears and said, “This book has already rescued my heart, and I haven’t even read it yet. I’ve been praying that the Lord would help my daughter, who’s suffering with dyslexia, believe that her life has purpose. And what you’ve just told me is just what I needed to hear.”

Nancy: What a gift to that mom . . . what a gift to her little girl.

Dannah: Yes.

Nancy: Well, one of the neat features in this book is a character that you developed named Zoey. And you’ve developed stories about Zoey that draw these young readers into some content that might be otherwise a little difficult to navigate. Tell us a little bit about Zoey.

Dannah: Well, for a daughter to read a book with biblical content and advice at the age of nine to twelve might be difficult—unless there’s a character with a narrative and a story guiding her through it.

So Zoey has a lot of problems. One of the first problems is she’s really tempted to download this app that her parents have told her not to. As the narrative goes, she makes the decision, and she does download the app, and doesn’t tell her parents.

She verbalizes things the way a twelve-year-old might to your daughter, the readers, and they get to advise her with the biblical truth that they’ve learned in each chapter.

It’s my goal that these girls would develop the skill of speaking truth to a friend as they learn the truth for themselves. So, let me just let Zoey speak for herself for a moment.

Zoey: Hi. I’m Zoey. My name means “life.” I’m glad that whole thing with the app is over. I do feel better since you helped me think about the truth, but I have a question: Is God mad at me? I know He loves me, but it feels like He may be far away because of what I did. Does He love me even when I do something bad?”

Nancy: Dannah, there’s a reason you included that problem, because you discovered that girls in your survey were believing the lie that God only loves me when I’m good—which, by the way, is a lie that isn’t just believed by girls, but by a lot of us.

Dannah: Yes.

Nancy: How widespread did you find that lie was among girls?

Dannah: Well, I didn’t find this one to be the most widespread, but it’s certainly very lethal. It drives a girl to, really, a lifetime of works-based faith. It drives her away from God. And it seems to me, if the gospel is about Christ’s love, then what we believe about God’s love is really important.

So the majority of girls we surveyed said they believed God loves them, but they just didn’t feel like God loved them when they did something bad.

Girl 6: Sometimes I think God doesn’t love me when my behavior is bad to my parents or friends.

Girl 7: Sometimes when I disobey, it’s hard to believe He loves me.

Girl 8: I feel like He’s not there when I’m not good enough.

Girl 9: No one needs to know about my sin in order for me to stop.

Nancy: And, of course, no matter what age we are, when we believe those kinds of lies, it keeps us from receiving the grace that God wants to give us. We think we have to do something or perform to receive God’s love, rather than realizing that God’s love is a gift of His grace, something we can’t earn or deserve.

So, Dannah, you were really careful, not only to lay out the lies in this book, but to set up the truth. How did you verbalize the truth for girls about this area?

Dannah: Well, for each lie, there is a truth nugget, which is a Bible verse, and the truth nugget for this one was from Romans 5:8, “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” It wasn’t when we were having our good day and our holiest moments that God loved us, but “while we were sinners,” He loved us, and He died for us.

So the truth for the girls is: God loves you all the time, no matter what.

And I remembered, as I was writing this, a time when my sweet son Robbie almost burned our house down.

Nancy: He wasn’t so sweet at that moment! (laughter)

Dannah: Oh, not at that moment, no.

He came into the kitchen, and he said, “Mom, do you have a cup of water?” And it’s about then that I smelled something, and I thought, Okay. And I ran into the living room. He had gotten a blanket into a candle that I’d had lit.

I remember being overwhelmed with love for my son at that moment. I didn’t think he was bad. He had played with something he had been told not to play with. He had disobeyed me, but I immediately responded in protective love for him.

I tell lots of stories in the book because I think that’s how this age group will learn best, but I want them to know: God loves you all the time, no matter what.

And, moms, I just feel led to say: If there’s a sin that you’re struggling with in your life to believe, “Does God love me?” Yes! While you were yet a sinner, Christ died for you. He loves you all the time, no matter what.

Nancy: Amazing grace, how sweet the sound. Right?

Dannah: Yes.

Nancy: Dannah, I loved that at the end of every chapter, the girls get a chance on their “doodle page,” to give some advice to Zoey.

So the question the girls answer in this chapter is: “Zoey feels far away from God because she lied to her parents. Based on what you learned in this chapter, is God really as far away as Zoey feels?”

And I can’t wait to hear about what some of those girls say to Zoey as they process this truth and write that down in their books.

So, Dannah, we’ve looked at a couple of the lies that you unpack in Lies Girls Believe. There’s another one that you’ve identified as particularly dangerous, and it’s the lie: I don’t need to tell anyone about my sin. Why did you think that was important to address?

Dannah: As I read the comments, Nancy—we recorded a few of them for the beginning of this broadcast—these little girls had big secrets. I could hardly stand that the survey was protected and anonymous because I wanted to reach out to them and help them. They were believing this lie—it has plagued a lot of us as adults: “Nobody needs to know about my sin. I don’t have to tell anyone.”

Here’s some of the things they said:

Girl 10: Right now, I’m really worried because my friend that is eleven is talking about a list that her friend has of boys she wants to smash—that means have sex with—but I really think she’s talking about herself.

Girl 11: It’s always right to keep a secret. If I tell someone, they might not love me anymore.

Dannah: Can you imagine carrying that burden, Nancy, of, if you tell your mom your secret sin, she might not love you?

Nancy: And how, as these girls get older, they become teenage girls and young-adult women, how this lies grows and develops and festers in their heart. They can keep these secrets with them and aren’t able to come to the place of forgiveness and cleansing and healing and restoration.

So it’s deadly and destructive, not just when they’re little, but as they get older.

Dannah: Yes. I worked with a college-aged girl whose behavior had become really dangerous with college-aged guys. She developed a particular sexual habit, and she came to me saying, “I just can’t stop. I just can’t stop. Any guy that I meet I’m going to do this thing with.”

As we spent time together, I found it was really rooted in her hiding a sin when she was ten, eleven, twelve years old.

Nancy: That eventually turned into addictive behavior.

Dannah: Terribly addictive behavior. Terribly dangerous behavior.

And so this lie that, “I don’t need to tell anyone about my sin,” all that really does is feed more sin.

Nancy: So what’s the truth that counters the lie?

Dannah: Well, I tell the girls a story of how I spilled Kool-Aid in my dad’s office when I was about ten years old. My dad came home and noticed the red stain on the light-colored carpet and said, “Who spilled Kool-Aid in my office?” (Which, by the way, was an act of disobedience because we were told not to bring food or drink into my dad’s office.) I didn’t really say I hadn’t done it, but I kind of shrugged it off—and my dad knew. I remember waking up and feeling the weight of that lie day after day after day.

Then I went to camp. And I’m at camp as a tween girl. There’s this campfire where we’re all confessing sins—and these girls had big sins, like . . . These tween girls had some of the big problems that you heard about. And I’m sitting there thinking, I need to confess I spilled Kool-Aid?

I felt kind of silly, but the weight and the bondage of carrying that secret . . . My counselor finally said, “What’s wrong, Dannah?”

And I burst into tears and said, “I spilled the Kool-Aid!” It was just this horrible weight.

And she said, “You need to call your dad.” I couldn’t think of a worse thing than to tell my dad.

Of course, I got on the phone. I called him . . . that was back in the days of dial-up phones. (laughter) And he said, “Yes, Sweetie. I know. I’ve known all along. And I just couldn’t stand how you were hurting yourself by believing you couldn’t tell me.”

I couldn’t believe how loving a conversation it was.

Nancy: It reminds me of Proverbs 28:13, “He who covers his sin . . .”

Dannah: Yes! That’s the truth nugget for this chapter. Proverbs 28:13 says . . .

Nancy: “He who covers his sin will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes it will have mercy.”

Dannah: Yes.

Nancy: So the enemy wants to keep—whether you’re a girl, a teenage young woman, or an older woman—sin covered and hidden so we can’t prosper spiritually. But God’s grace says—the truth says, “Bring it into the light.”

Dannah: Yes. Drag it into the light.

Nancy: Be cleansed from it. So you can be free from it.

Dannah: So you can move on.

Nancy: So it doesn’t control your life.

Dannah: Yes.

Nancy: Well, today we’ve talked about just three of the twenty lies that are covered in Lies Girls Believe.” And there are so many other lies that these girls are believing—about boys, about gender, friends, performance, the future, their life purpose. And, of course, there are way more than twenty lies that girls believe. There’s no way we could address them all in one book.

But as with all the other books in the “Lies” series—Lies Women Believe, Lies Young Women Believe, Lies Men Believe—the book ends with practical help for girls of this age to identify lies and replace them with the truth so this becomes a way of life. “What am I believing that’s not true? How am I acting on it? How can I replace that lie with the truth?”

Dannah: Nancy, I am so excited to get this book in the hands of moms and grandmas and small group leaders.

I am so grateful that Revive Our Hearts is offering it as a gift as a way of saying “thank you” for a gift made to the ministry in the amount of $30 or more. You can make that gift at ReviveOurHearts.com, or you can call at 1–800–569–5959.

Make a gift in the amount of $30 or more, and be sure to ask for a copy of Lies Girls Believe and A Mom’s Guide to Lies Girls Believe.

Nancy: Yes, Dannah. Thank you. I’m hoping that many, many women are going to take advantage of this opportunity are going to get a copy of Lies Girls Believe and A Mom’s Guide—if not for themselves, then as a gift for someone they know who has a tween girl in their life. What a great investment that would be in the life of that mom and that girl.

Dannah: Nancy, there’s a funny little thing about this book that makes me so excited, and it is on the back cover. My bio has something in it that it’s never had before. It used to say, “Dannah Gresh is the founder of Secret Keeper Girl.” But now it says, “Dannah Gresh is the founder of True Girl.”

Nancy: I love that! It’s something we’ve been talking about for a long time. And now the Secret Keeper Girl events that you’ve been known for, that you’ve done around the country, the name is changing to True Girl.

Dannah: Yes.

Nancy: This is the first week we’re announcing that.

And not only the name change, but also this is now going to be a partnership between your ministry and Revive Our Hearts. We’re going to be doing everything we can to get moms and tween daughters to attend those events and to invest, as this book is investing.

Dannah: Yes.

Nancy: And so, moms, the details about a True Girl event that may be coming to your area will be posted onReviveOurHearts.com as soon as that schedule is firmed up, and you’ll have all the information you need about how to register you and your daughter for a True Girl event.

Now, how can you know if the tween in your life is in bondage to a lie that could pull her away from God and away from you? Tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts, we’re going to give you a tool to help you identify those lies. So be sure and be back with us tomorrow.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is helping young girls discover the truth. The program is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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