Revive Our Hearts Weekend Podcast

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Faithful to the End

Episode Notes:

These series make up today's Revive Our Hearts Weekend program:

"My Heart Is in His Hands: Remembering Vonette Bright"

"Facing Life's Final Season: Remembering Evelyn Christenson"

"Anna: The Woman Who Welcomed Christ"

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Dannah Gresh: Susan Hunt has shown many, many women how to live and find their strength in Christ. Now, in her eighties, she’s finding that strength as she leans harder on her Savior.

Susan Hunt: The older I get, the more I understand that finishing strong means finishing weak. Jesus said in 2 Corinthians, “My power is made perfect in weakness” (12:9). May our response be that of Paul, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. When I am weak, then I am strong” (vv. 9–10).

Dannah: We’re gonna talk about getting old today, how to finish well (even if you’re only beginning), and you’ll be encouraged to face each season of life with His strength, on this episode of Revive Our Hearts Weekend.

Welcome to Revive Our Hearts Weekend, I’m Dannah Gresh. 

Doorbell

Welcome friend, I’m so glad you are here. It’s getting colder and fall is for sure here. The leaves are changing, and I’m not even tired of everyone’s obsession with pumpkin-spice-everything!

Fall is my favorite season! I love the colorful palate God paints for us, baking apple pies, putting chili on the stove and the crackle of logs on my fireplace! But soon this season will fade to winter—a season of rest, and a reminder that just like the fall colors, we too are fading! 

We want our years of fall color to last, our years of youth to last. We really want to hold back the hands of time, don’t we? I mean, we fight to stay young, to look younger. Creams, dyes, supplements, more greens in the diet, lifts, tucks, botox, and countless other things 

Today we’re gonna talk about living life fully, even to the end. And we’ll hear insights and encouragement from Evelyn Christenson, Vonette Bright, Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, and Susan Hunt.

Hebrews 12:1 has these words in it: "Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us."

This verse follows the passage on the heroes of the faith, Hebrews 11. And in that chapter we hear of the heroes—how God’s people were stoned, sawn in two, killed with the sword, they were destitute, afflicted, mistreated.

But they endured the race set before them and remain examples to us, reminding us to persist and push through even when the race is long.

Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. For some, that means learning how to run that race to the finish line, learning from others who are further ahead in life’s journey.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth had an older woman who walked alongside her and was really mother-like to her. Her name was Vonette Bright. You may know Vonette as the wife of Bill Bright. Together they founded the world-wide mission organization Campus Crusade for Christ, known today as CRU.

Nancy and Vonette sat down many years ago to talk about being an older woman. I want you to hear part of this special conversation. Here’s Nancy.

Nancy: If you could rewind the tape of your life, anything you'd change?

Vonette Bright: I would just be quicker to respond to the leading of the Spirit of God. I'd be quicker to respond to my husband's desires, I think, in every way. I just think I could have made myself more. I would have believed God faster.

I would like to have responded more positively to my husband in some of his ideas and some of the things he wanted to do and he has done.

I wouldn't make such mountains out of little things, particularly with my children. I wouldn't get so upset over things that I thought were big at the time that really were not so big. I think I would have trusted their judgment a little bit more.

And I would desire to have even more time in the Word. I would devote myself more to Bible study and so on. But if I'd done that, maybe I wouldn't be able to do some of the things that God has had me to do.

I've really endeavored to please the Lord. He has made "the crooked places straight." I've made lots of mistakes, but it all comes out, in the end, okay, as long as we're trusting Him.

Nancy: How do you want to be remembered?

Vonette: Oh, I think I would want to be remembered as a woman who had committed her total life to Christ, was dedicated to my husband and my children and to the achievement of the staff and to other women, to help other people reach their full potential and that anything about my life that could bear fruit in theirs.

The greatest satisfactions, I believe, come in what we have reproduced of ourselves in someone else and, most of all, through our family.

Nancy: If you could give a single word of counsel, wisdom, advice to younger Christian women today, myself, young wives, moms, what would you say to us?

Vonette: Well, the first thing that comes to mind is serve the Lord with gladness, and just give yourself in total abandonment to Him. Whether you're single, whether you're married, whether you have children, whatever ages your children are, do it all to the honor of God and just serve Him with gladness.

As long as we base our decisions and base our walk with God on the principles of the Bible, we can't make many mistakes. And then, giving ourselves to the ministry of the Holy Spirit, allowing the ministry of the Holy Spirit to dwell in your life and to follow His leading.

God doesn't want us to work for Him; He wants to do His work in and through us. As we make ourselves available to Him, allow the Holy Spirit to control our lives from the top of our head to the tip of our toe, then He's going to do what He wishes to do through us. That will be serving the Lord with gladness.

Listen to the entire episode "Remembering Vonette Bright, Day 2." This is from the series "My Heart Is in His Hands: Remembering Vonette Bright."

Dannah: I pray that is true of us - that we are vessels, faithful vessels that serve the Lord with gladness. That was Nancy with the beloved Vonette Bright.

There was another woman that Nancy looked up to: Evelyn Christenson. Evelyn was a woman known for her prayer life. She was an author and speaker. As with Vonette, Evelyn was an example to Nancy of a godly older woman. 

Evelyn talked with Nancy about how to avoid some pitfalls the older generation can face. Here’s Nancy.

Nancy: Now, you’ve talked about getting to eighty and having this unshakeable confidence in God’s Word, His ways—no more doubts. You’ve been through the night of weeping; you’re experiencing the morning of joy. But I know there are some who get to their older years, and that’s not their experience. They’re bitter, ornery, and I’ve watched this. I’ve seen two different kinds of older people.

Evelyn: And they say, “If only, if only, if only, if only . . .”

Nancy: A lot of regret. What’s the difference?

Evelyn: The difference is where you are right now today. Whatever age anybody listening is today, start right now with Romans 8:28 and your faith in God that He’s in control. He never makes a mistake. Get to know Him. Stay in the Scripture to get to know who God really is. That’s why we’re so feeble and so anemic almost because we don’t stay to know who God really is.

You don’t test Him, but you believe Him, and when He says He’s going to do something—on the eagle’s wings—I’m going to wait on the Lord, and wait for the whole story. If you don’t take that literally and live it, how can you expect to look back on an experience and say, “Wasn’t it wonderful?” It depends on what you are doing with today.

Now, you can’t do anything about what you did with yesterday, but anybody at any age can start right now.

Nancy: Evelyn, I have to tell you that since I was a little girl, my goal in life—don’t laugh—has always been to be a godly, old lady. Only God knows which of us will get to heaven first, but I’ve asked the Lord to give me eighty-five years, if it would please Him, of fruitful, strong ministry for Him until the age of eighty-five. He may not give me that many; He may give more, but it’s my goal, my heart’s desire to finish well, to get to the season of life where you are with a strong heart and an unshakeable faith.

I want you to look me in the eyes, and tell me what’s your counsel? What do I need to remember? How do I get from here to where my heart’s desire is to be, and that is an old woman full of faith, full of love for God. What’s going to get me from here to there?

Evelyn: It’s what you do every single day, when you:

  • stay in His Word 
  • listen 
  • apply it 
  • be willing 
  • be flexible 
  • let Him be in control 
  • trust in the Lord with all your heart 
  • lean not on your own understanding 

It is really step by step by step. Sometimes there will be many steps in one day and some of them are huge big steps. Some of them are little baby steps, but every single day work at. It’s discipline. You have to have discipline. But it isn’t all discipline. Once you get into this routine, it’s joy. It’s exciting. It’s thrilling.

But, Nancy, I have the same goal. You see, I’m eighty. I’m asking the Lord today to keep me this way, to keep me not wavering. I want to be able, when I step into heaven, I want to be able to look the Lord in the eye, and, of course, I want Him to say, “Well done thou good and faithful servant.” But I want to be able to say, “Lord, as long as You let me live, I did my best. I know I messed up many, many times, but, Lord, I tried. I did everything I knew how to do.”

Dannah: Oh Lord, keep me faithful. I want to be like these two women. Both of them have gone on to be with the Lord, but they left rich legacies behind. And they were both faithful to God to the end. I want that. I hope you do too.

Did you catch the list that Evelyn shared

  • stay in His Word 
  • listen 
  • apply it 
  • be willing 
  • be flexible 
  • let Him be in control 
  • trust in the Lord with all your heart 
  • lean not on your own understanding 

Did you catch how often Evelyn said we are to work through that list? Every single day. Every day, my friend. Every day lean not on your own understanding, every day trust in the Lord with all your heart, every day be flexible, be in the Word.

You’re listening to Revive Our Hearts Weekend, I’m Dannah Gresh

There's a godly older woman in the Bible that we tend to skip over. She’s not a main character and is only mentioned in three verses of the New Testament. She’s the prophetess Anna, who waited and waited and waited (this was a long time not just a few days of waiting, but years) She was waiting for the day of the Messiah’s birth and she lived to see it! And eagerly welcomed Him in the temple when He was just days old. She was so excited she couldn't keep the news about Jesus to herself. 

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth takes a deeper look into who Anna was and shares why we should look to her as an example of an older, godly woman. 

But first, let me set the stage for you. Jesus was just born and Mary and Joseph brought Him to the temple to present Him to the Lord. Simeon was there and so was Anna. Here’s Nancy reading from Luke 2.

Nancy: Luke 2:38 says, “She began to give thanks to God and to speak of him,” that is of Christ, of this baby, “to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.” She began to speak of Him.

It’s not clear so we don’t know whether she began to do it right there in the temple with people who were gathered around. “Look! This is Christ! This is the one we’ve been waiting for. This is the redemption of Jerusalem!” And maybe a little crowd gathered there or maybe she began to go around in the temple.

She had spent a lot of time in the temple. She knew who the other worshipers were. She knew who the other heart-worshipers were. She knew who the other people were who were longing for the redemption of Jerusalem. So maybe she went around the temple right then and there telling them, “He’s here. He’s here. The redemption of Jerusalem has come. After 400 years of silence since the book of Malachi, the prophecy of Malachi, God has come and visited this earth.”

Or maybe she left the temple and went out and found others in Jerusalem, people she knew who had been longing to see and to have God send the consolation of Israel. We don’t know. But she knew who the people were who had been waiting, and she went out and found them. She was one of the very first witnesses of Christ. She thanked God; she worshiped, and she witnessed.

It’s similar to the response of the shepherds earlier in this chapter. Luke 2:16-17 says, “They went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child.”

Luke 2 goes on to say, “All who heard it were amazed” (v. 18 NIV). The word-of-mouth began to spread.

No one had to sit these shepherds or Anna down and say, “Here is a course on how you share your faith with others. Here are four steps you can share.” I’m not disparaging the use of tools or training or classes or outlines or becoming more effective in how to share our faith. But you know, the most effective means of sharing our faith is someone who has encountered Christ just sharing what they’ve seen. That’s what the word witness means, to tell what you’ve seen.

I’m convinced the reason most people don’t witness for Christ is because they’ve never really seen Christ. You can’t witness to something you’ve never seen. I know there can be fear. But I’ll tell you what, there was no fear in Anna at this point. She’d been waiting so long she just had to tell it. So she did. She thanked God and she told others.

In the city of Jerusalem, there were apparently some devout men and women besides Simeon and Anna who were consciously, earnestly, expectantly waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem. Most Jews were not thinking about this in those days. They were just going about their business. They were religious, but they were not searching for Christ.

But there was a remnant, people scattered in pockets throughout that city, a small number presumably, who had been seeking God, seeking the Lord, longing for Him to come. These people were not looking for a military hero to come, riding in a chariot to deliver them from the Romans. They were looking for the Prince of Peace, the Redeemer, the One who would save His people from their sins. That was what was uppermost on their minds.

Anna knew who those people were. She spoke of Him to all those who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem. You know what? "Birds of a feather flock together." She knew who the other birds were of the same feather. She knew who the other people were who had her heart. They were kindred spirits.

I think it’s not reading into the text to say that she was in community with those people. She was in fellowship with those people. She was in relationship with those people. We don’t know, but perhaps these people met together periodically or regularly at the temple to pray for the redemption of Jerusalem, to pray for the Messiah to come.

Maybe they met in homes. Maybe over dinner conversations they would talk about when will He come, the longings to be set free from sin, the longings for a Savior. Maybe they talked about the prophecies of Isaiah. A child will be born. A son will be given. His name will be Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace (see Isaiah 9:6). When will He come?

They talked together about the hope that welled up within their hearts and united them. That’s what brought them together.

In the third chapter of Malachi—you remember Malachi is the last book of the Old Testament, the last prophecy that God spoke before that 400 years of silence, which is now being broken by the birth of Christ—in Malachi chapter 3:16, the Scripture says, “Then those who feared the LORD spoke with one another. The LORD paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the Lord and esteemed his name.”

I call it “the fellowship of those who are waiting.” It’s the tie that binds our hearts together, that sacred tie. There are some people in the Body of Christ that you can be closer to than even members of your own family sometimes because their heart beats like yours. You resonate over the same things.

I have friends like that. We’re “the fellowship of those who are waiting,” those who are waiting for revival to come, those who are calling out to God, pleading with Him to come and visit His Church in our day with a fresh outpouring of His Holy Spirit. The fellowship of those who are waiting.

There’s a fellowship of those who are waiting for the return of Christ, the second coming of Christ, who are waiting for the trumpet to sound and the bridegroom to come back and claim His Church. The fellowship of those who are waiting, praying, longing, and expecting.

Are you part of that fellowship? Do you know who the others are in that fellowship? So the question is now as we come to the end of this year, what do we do now? Well, what did Anna do? She worshiped, and she witnessed.

What are we to do? Worship and witness. Worship and witness. Give thanks to God not just at Christmas, not just leading up to Christmas when we have all the beautiful music and the ornaments and the lights.

Give thanks to God. Give thanks to God who loved this world so much that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes on Him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16). Give thanks to God, and don’t stop giving thanks.

And then speak of Him, talk about Him to others who are waiting for Christ, others who love Him. Christ has come and we need to speak of Him to those who don’t know that He has come. This is a great opportunity. Life is a great opportunity. As long as God gives you breath, there is a great opportunity to speak of Him to those who don’t know Him.

Throughout the course of the year and the year to come,

  • Be speaking of Him to others who are part of "the fellowship of the waiting."
  • Keep the coal of your heart close to the other coals. That’s what keeps the fire burning. Don’t be isolated.
  • Be part of "the fellowship of the waiting," those who are waiting for the Lord to come and visit His people.
  • Worship and witness.

So we’ve seen in the life of Anna, who I hope you’ve grown to love and appreciate in a fresh way, a woman of blameless character, a woman with a godly reputation, a woman with deep devotion and love for God, a woman who lived a separated life not of this world, a life of self-denial and spiritual disciplines instead of self-indulgence, a woman of prayer, a woman of steadfastness and consistency. She worshipped, serving God in the temple night and day. A woman who was waiting, longing, expecting the redemption of Jerusalem, a woman who was part of the community of faith, the fellowship of those who are waiting, a woman of worship and a woman of witness.

We’ve seen a woman who had a Godward orientation, a woman whose whole life revolved around the Lord and others. For her, that was a way of life. Can I say, by the way, that’s what it means to be a Christian? It’s to have a life that is centered in Christ. At a season of her life, perhaps 104 years of age or more when many would have felt useless and bored, Anna lived a life that brought glory to God, a life that furthered His kingdom, as an old lady.

She was a blessing to people of her day. She’s been a blessing to us this week as we’ve studied her life.Your life can be a blessing today at whatever season or stage of life you may find yourself. We’ve seen a woman who lived a purposeful life even in old age and widowhood, a God-centered, useful, productive life, not a wasted life.

Listen to the entire episode, "An End to the Waiting." This was taken from the series, "Anna: The Woman Who Welcomed Christ."

Dannah: Anna, a woman who didn’t waste her life, but lived it poured out to the end. A woman who knew her God and had hope that He was making all things new. She had a strong faith. 

A woman that God is using mightily in her eighties is Susan Hunt. Susan once confessed that her (and I quote) “arrogant immaturity robbed her and delayed her growth in grace.” She said this at the Revive '17 conference. Every woman listening that day was affected by her honest words. 

Susan wants all of us, you and me, wherever we are on life’s timeline, to begin now to pray for grace to finish strong. Yes, it’s that important. Here’s Susan.

Susan Hunt: My sisters, wherever you are on life’s timeline, begin now to pray for grace to finish strong. The older I get, the more I understand that finishing strong means finishing weak. Jesus said in 2 Corinthians, “My power is made perfect in weakness” (12:9). May our response be that of Paul, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. When I am weak, then I am strong” (vv. 9–10).

This verse is very real, very precious, very personal to me. I always knew it at some level, but a few years ago, I had a sudden and severe attack of vertigo that was eventually diagnosed as being the result of a virus in my inner ear, which left me with very little balance. So my body has had to learn to compensate for me to stand upright. It also left me deaf in one ear. My eyes sort of dance around and don’t always focus well.

But what I have learned through this is the power of God in my weakness. For me to stand here with lights glaring in my eyes, to not topple over and to put two or three sentences together is a testimony to the power of God. So I boast in my weakness. (applause)

But the truth is, that was always the case, not just when I had that episode of vertigo. And the sooner we acknowledge our utter dependence upon Him, the sooner we know the power of His strength upon us.

No wonder I used to get tired, because I was trying to operate too much on self-effort. I knew I should depend on the Lord, and I said I did, but I did not know it to the depths that I know now.

So let me encourage you: The world tells us to develop self-confidence. But the Bible says to put no confidence in the flesh. What we need is not self-confidence. We need Christ confidence. So don’t fight against your weakness, and don’t deny your weakness. Let it bring a child-like dependence upon our strong Savior.

I love the prayer in the hymn “Oh Sacred Head Now Wounded.” It goes like this: “O make me Thine forever, and should I fainting be, Lord, let me never, never outlive my love to Thee.”

That’s my prayer, but my comfort and my confidence is even if I outlive my love for Jesus, I will never outlive His love for me. (applause)

He tells us in Isaiah 46: “Listen to me, you whom I have upheld since you were conceived and have carried since your birth, even to old age, and gray hairs, I am He. I am He who will sustain you. I have made you, and I will carry you. I will sustain you, and I will rescue you” (see vv. 3–5).

So how does it feel to be an old lady? It feels like a tired, very dependent, very happy little girl being carried in the arms of her Father, and she’s calling to her friends, “Look how good and strong my Daddy is!” And she knows that when she falls asleep in His arms, she’ll wake up at home. (applause)

Listen to the entire episode, "Don't Give Up on That Modeling Career." This was part of the Revive '17 conference, "Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together."

Dannah: Oh Lord, give us eyes to see the beauty of growing older. The beauty of growing wiser. The beauty of seeing Your strength and faithfulness through the years. 

One gem I caught from Susan was the sooner we acknowledge our utter dependence upon Him, the sooner we know the power of His strength upon us. Truth, my friend, truth.

If what Susan had to say resonates with you, then I want to encourage you to pick up Susan’s latest book, Aging with Grace: Flourishing in an Anti-Aging Culture. You can find Aging with Grace at our website. And click on the store link. Susan wrote this book with Sharon Betters, and again, it’s titled Aging with Grace. 

While you're on our website, won’t you consider giving a financial gift to Revive Our Hearts? For twenty years we’ve been ministering to women, encouraging them and reminding them that through all the seasons of life God is faithful and His promises will be fulfilled. We’ve seen countless women say, "Yes, Lord." Thank you for the part you’ve played in this ministry by praying, listening, sharing and giving. There’s information on how to give at our website, or call 1–800-569–5959.

Revive Our Hearts has been calling women to freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ for twenty years. This month on Revive Our Hearts Weekend I want us to take a look at all that that means for us. Next week we’ll hear from Joni Eareckson Tada about how God gave her freedom, but it wasn’t the freedom she longed for. We’ll explore freedom in Christ on the next Revive Our Hearts Weekend.

Thanks for listening today. 

Thanks to our team: Phil Krause, Blake, Rebekah Krause, Justin Converse, Michelle Hill, and for Revive Our Hearts Weekend, I’m Dannah Gresh

Revive Our Hearts Weekend is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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About the Teacher

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

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

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

About the Host

Dannah Gresh

Dannah Gresh

When Dannah Gresh was eight years old, she began praying that God would use her as a Bible teacher for “the nations.” When she sees the flags of many countries waving at a Revive Our Hearts event, it feels like an answer to her prayer.

Dannah is the founder of True Girl which provides tools for moms and grandmothers to disciple their 7–12 year-old girls. On Monday nights, you’ll find Dannah hosting them in her online Bible study. She has authored over twenty-eight books, including Ruth: Becoming a Girl of Loyalty, Lies Girls Believe, and a Bible study for adult women based on the book of Habakkuk. She and her husband, Bob, live on a hobby farm in central Pennsylvania.

About the Guests

Susan Hunt

Susan Hunt

Susan Hunt is the widow of Gene Hunt, the mother of three and grandmother of thirteen, and former Coordinator of Women’s Ministry for the Presbyterian Church in America. She has written several books for women, including Life-Giving Leadership co-authored with Karen Hodge, and Aging with Grace: Flourishing in an Anti-Aging Culture, co-authored with Sharon Betters. She loves time with her family, sitting on her porch with younger women, and tending the flowers her grandsons help her plant in her yard.

Vonette Bright

Vonette Bright

The late Vonette Bright co-founded Campus Crusade for Christ along with her late husband Dr. William R. Bright. She earned her BA in home economics from Texas Women's University and did graduate work in the field of education at the University of Southern California. Vonette taught in Los Angeles Schools before joining Bill full-time in Campus Crusade. Vonette's commitment to help reach the world for Christ has fueled a passion for a prayer and desire to help others develop a heart for God. 

Evelyn Christenson

Evelyn Christenson

Evelyn Christenson was a prayer seminar speaker and teacher for 40 years in all 50 U.S. states and for 26 years extensively in person on every continent with attendees from all races and ages and most Christian denominations. She authored numerous books beginning with the now classic What Happens When Women Pray and Lord Change Me!