Leslie Basham: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth says her passion for the Bible goes deeper than sentimental feelings.
Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: I love the Word the of God; I always have! Since I could read, I have loved reading God’s Word. But there’s also a sense of desperation for me. Psalm 107:20 says, “He sent . . . his word and healed them.” My heart needs healing and help every single day, so this is a matter of survival for me.
Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Brokenness, for March 18, 2019.
If you’ve listened to this program for any length of time, you’ve undoubtedly wondered what Nancy is like in “real life”—when she’s not behind the mic. Well, today, you’re going to get a peek behind the scenes into Nancy’s personal life.
Are you ready for this, Nancy?
Nancy: I think I’m ready.
Leslie: We asked some listeners what questions they have for Nancy, and Betsy Gómez is here today to lead the conversation. Betsy is no stranger to Revive Our Hearts. She manages the blogs for Aviva Nuestros Corazones, our outreach to Spanish-speaking women. And she’s a conference speaker for Revive Our Hearts.
Are you excited to meet a new side of Nancy? Let’s listen in on this unique conversation.
Betsy Gómez: Nancy, I am so happy to be here in Michigan!
Nancy: We’re happy you’re here . . . because you sat in the Charlotte airport for ten hours yesterday trying to get here . . . so, thanks for your patience! You arrived at our house late last night with a smile on your face and a little carry-on bag. It was late at night, but you brought the sunshine with you. It’s always fun to be with you, Betsy!
Betsy: Well, I love you. I love this place. I love this ministry. There are a lot of things that are reminders of God’s grace. I remember being here for the first time and saying, “What am I doing here?” And it’s been so fun to see God at work in our lives!
The fact that I am here sitting with you is such an honor for me, because that wise lady that I saw through a screen almost ten years ago is here with me, and we’re talking in the same room. That’s amazing!
Nancy: And now that you’ve gotten to know me better, you realize that we’re both very much “in process.” Nobody’s arrived.
Betsy: Yes! I’ve gathered some questions for you; I’ve even asked my friends on social media to help me think about questions that we can ask you, topics that we can learn from you . . . in a personal tone. As Calvin said, “Our heart is an idol factory.” Right?
A lot of people, me included, we see you teach. We admire the grace that the Lord has placed in your life, and we could tend to think, Well, I mean, she’s perfect! And, if we don’t think she’s perfect, at least we can think, Well, at least she’s better in so many ways. She’s so holy.
I want to ask you: What is something that you want to tell to a woman who is listening to your teaching, that loves you, that is grateful for your life, but that might be placing you in a wrong place?
Nancy: You know, I think we all do that. I’ve had people over the years who have influenced my life in a really significant way. One of those was Elisabeth Elliot, who had the radio program Gateway To Joy that preceded Revive Our Hearts. She was iconic. She was legendary—her husband was a martyred missionary, she was a missionary. And she was an incredible author and speaker. She so wise and so strong in God’s Word.
I remember hearing her and reading her books when I was a girl and just thinking, This is some other level of spirituality. And there have been other people that have influenced my life that I’ve probably tended to put on a pedestal. But as I’ve grown in the Lord, I’ve realized . . .
In fact, on the way to the studio today, you and I were talking, and you were saying something about feeling inadequate. And I said to you, “I still feel that way.” I felt that way when we started this ministry. I felt, Who am I, and what do I have to offer that would be of use to anybody? I’ve got my own struggles, my own battles, my own challenges with temptation, with self-control, with my priorities.
Every day of my life I feel like I am clinging to Christ, desperately in need of His grace. I’m needy. Every hour I need the Lord, every minute I need the Lord! I’m not just making that up. I’m not just being self-effacing. It is so true! Every time I walk out to teach . . .
In fact, the things that I teach, more often than not, are things that I need in my own life. It’s been my own study, my own meditation on the Word, trying to get help for my own heart, for my own fears or anxieties or pride or selfishness or relational challenges. So I go to God’s Word and try to get fed for my own soul, and then try to just share with others what God is doing in me.
I know it’s natural when you love somebody—when you respect their work, their teaching—to feel like they’re maybe kind of in another place spiritually, but the people who live with me, the people who know me the best . . . I mean, ask Robert. He loves me dearly, but he knows. The people on our team that I work with every day, they know that I am so “real,” so desperately in need of God’s grace that I have nothing to offer anybody except Christ. He’s who I cling to, and He’s whom I’m inviting other women to cling to as well.
Betsy: This reminds me of my friend, Evelyn. I saw her I think maybe a year ago. She came to our church. She was like, “Oh! Are you Betsy from the ANC thing?”
I’m like, “Oh, yes!” So she was thinking, big church . . .
Nancy: ANC is the Spanish language ministry of Revive Our Hearts.
Betsy: Yes, Aviva Nuestros Corazones. Exactly. She was so like amazed: “Oh, this, this, this is so great! You come to this church! I will stay in this church!”
Nancy: She was starstruck!
Betsy: I know! So then I just told her, “Let’s just do community together.” She started coming to my house; we started hanging out after church with our families. About a month after that she said, “Betsy, I need to confess to you something. I’m so disappointed. You’re normal.”
I was like, “I am so glad you are realizing this!” Because when you are just open and transparent about your struggles, people will get to see that. At the end of the day, we are all sinners in desperate need of grace!
So, talking about honesty, one of the questions I got in social media for you was: “What is . . . or was . . . the sin with which you have fought the most and that you have struggled to confront?” That’s a hard one!
Nancy: Just one?! You know, there are some things that I think are, for all of us, “besetting sins,” as maybe we’ve called it in the past. Something that pulls you down, that you have to keep looking to the Lord for. And those are different things for different people.
For me, as I’m getting older, I’m realizing that some of the same things I battled in my teens and my twenties, I still have to really look for Christ for grace: areas of discipling my tongue, my time, my moods. I tend to be naturally more critical. That’s part of what makes me a good editor when it comes to writing, but it’s not a good quality for relationships.
I was telling somebody the other day that when Robert and I have been gone for awhile, and we [come back home] and pull in, Robert goes, “Isn’t this beautiful!? Look at those flowers! Look at the . . .” And I’m going, “But, Honey, look at all those weeds!”
My natural thing is to see first what’s wrong, and I can do that with people, and say, “What’s wrong with this person?” That’s pride!
It’s making myself better or it’s [like saying] my ideas are the best. So it’s that critical spirit, and controlling my tongue, my attitudes. I can tend to be very pulled down into discouragement when I get tired, when I get overwhelmed. Then I lose joy, I don’t walk by faith. And what is that saying to people about the goodness of God, the faithfulness of God?
It’s been very convicting to me over the years that people could maybe look at my life and say, “Serving God is really hard!” When Robert and I were dating, it seemed like everybody was telling us, “Marriage is so hard!” And I wondered, Why is everybody is saying marriage is so hard? Why isn’t anybody saying marriage is wonderful?
Well, one of the reasons is that marriage is hard (and I realize that now) . . . I also realize that we can make it look like Christ is a hard Lord, or lover, or friend, if I’m burdened down all the time, if I’m heavy-hearted all the time. There hard things happening in people’s lives, and there are hard things that God calls us to do. But if there’s not a joy in the midst of that, then why would anybody want what we have?
I think, sometimes, I’m not a very good advertisement for knowing and serving Christ. So these are things that God keeps bringing back to me, back to my heart. And I go back to the Word and let the Lord recalibrate my thinking. I get my mind focused on things above, not on my circumstances or not on myself. I have to keep doing that again and again and again. It’s a process, it’s a journey of sanctification, and it continues every day of my life!
Betsy: That’s really encouraging, because that’s a normal day for any woman! You know, we’re not always in the hills spreading flowers, jumping because we’re so joyful.
Nancy: You know what? I think in a day of social media, Instagram stories, it’s easy to think that other people do have that kind of Christian life. Their Christian life is always pretty, it’s always put together, it’s always working well. We don’t post stories of our doubts, our fears, our selfishness, our pride.
Betsy: We want to look good.
Nancy: We want to look good, and so we think everybody else looks so good and that there’s something really wrong with us. The fact is, there’s something really wrong with all of us and that desperately needs God’s grace!
Betsy: Yes. You said that when you’re struggling, you need to cling to God’s Word. How do you firmly maintain your love and passion for God’s Word even in the midst of those situations?
Nancy: I think I maintain my love for God’s Word because of those situations, not in spite of them. I love the Word the of God; I always have! Since I could read, I have loved reading God’s Word, but there’s also a sense of desperation for me. I do not have the wisdom I need—and I don’t know anybody else who does—to deal with the relationships, the challenges.
And not just of the challenges of ministry, but of our personal lives, our finances, my marriage, my extended family . . . everything that’s a part of my life. Dealing with food and eating issues, that’s a big challenge for me, and I’ve talked about that before on this broadcast. My habits, my self-control, my attitudes . . . I can’t deal with those things without Christ and His wisdom and His ways!
There’s something so powerful about the Word! Psalm 107:20 says, “He sent . . . his word and healed them.” My heart needs healing and help every single day, so this is a matter of survival for me! And also, it’s a matter of not just surviving, but thriving.
I find that when I just listen to the world’s news and what’s important in this world and I’m filling my head with that, I’m going to be distracted. I’m going to be out of sorts. I’m going to be confused. But when I get quiet and alone and focus my heart on meditating on God’s Word . . . I don’t have any great big secrets to reading the Bible.
Betsy: Do you have habits or a discipline that you would say, “I cannot live without this.”
Nancy: I’ve gotten into God’s Word in different ways over the years. I don’t think there’s one right way. Right now, I’m doing something that’s been a really sweet blessing. I’m using a journaling Bible (it’s not the one sitting here in front of me, but it’s a big, heavy kind of weight-lifter version). I’s got big wide margins with lines in the margins for every page of the Scripture.
So I’m going through the Bible and journaling in the margin. I’m a very distractible person, so it’s hard for me to concentrate. So it’s really helped me to focus on what I’m reading, and I’m getting so much more out of it. With that journaling Bible, I started in Genesis. I’m going straight through all the way to Revelation. It will probably take me about eighteen months to do it.
But there have been other times . . . This is something else I’ve really enjoyed over the years: I will read every day in different parts of the Scriptures. So I’ll read some from the Old Testament History books, some from the Old Testament Prophecy, some from the Gospels, and some from the Epistles. So I’m getting the whole picture of Scripture.
I read a little bit in each of those so that I’m seeing how it all ties together. And then, sometimes, I’ll take days or weeks or even months and just focus—in a more concentrated way—on a short book of the Bible. I did this with the book of Habakkuk years ago, and we’ve recorded a series on that. I’ve spent weeks in Psalm 23, just slowing down the pace, meditating.
But whether I’m reading large portions more rapidly or smaller portions more slowly and more deeply, I’m reading and re-reading and meditating, asking questions: “What does this mean? What is God saying here? What does this have to do with my life?” I’m asking the Lord to take it home to me, to wash my heart with the water of His Word.
Betsy: Yes, I think a lot of our listeners would acknowledge, “Oh, she’s a Bible teacher! She knows how to do it!” But if they just open their Bible, observe, and meditate slowly and digest what they’re reading, I think they can get a lot.
Nancy: The way we learn about reading any other kind of book that is a subject we’re not all that familiar with is read it, you think about it, you mark it up, you ask questions: “What does this mean?” You look up words you don’t understand. I would say if people do nothing more than just read the Bible consistently . . .
There is more we can do. There are study tools, there are ways we can go deeper into it. But I’ve said this many times over the years . . . the biggest reason that we either think the Bible is a boring book or that we don’t get a lot out of it is because we’re not reading it!
We have Bibles sitting in every room of our house, but they’re gathering dust, or we’re just taking them to church. Anymore, people don’t do that. It’s on their phone. There’s nothing wrong with that, but if we’re not picking it up—whether it’s our phone or it’s a hard copy of it . . .
The nice thing, by the way, about having all these Bible apps is that you can have the Bible—the Word of God—with you anywhere, anytime, any language, any translation. It’s right there! There’s no reason . . .
One of the things I love to do, especially when my heart is feeling particularly overwhelmed or distracted, I will take that Bible app and just push the little button that plays. You can hear it being read aloud to you. Sometimes I’m too tired to concentrate myself, so I’ll let somebody else on that Bible app read it to me. Today we are so blessed to have the Bible available to us!
I would say, too, I’ve found it really helpful not to just read the parts that are easy—just the Psalms and just the Epistles—where a lot of people want to camp. They’re so rich. They’re wonderful! I love Psalms! I’ve taught on many, many of the psalms. I love the Epistles!
But I think it’s also really helpful . . . This last time, in my journaling Bible, going through the first nine chapters of 1 Chronicles (which is all genealogies—t’s just lists of who had this child, and they had this child, and they had this child), believe it or not, as I just stopped to read thoughtfully, prayerfully, carefully, the Lord spoke to me out of those passages, too!
All of God’s Word is inspired. It’s all needed, it’s all helpful. If I have a single drum I want to beat for the whole world, for the whole rest of my life, it’s, “Open God’s Word. Read it, get into it, and let it get into you!” It really is life-changing!
Betsy: And I think that answers the question that one of our listeners sent. She says, “You’ve mentioned in other programs that you don’t have a formal theology education.” She was asking how can you be so faithful and attached to the Scripture? And I think that’s the basis for this.
Nancy: The Word of God is, itself, the best textbook. It is the best seminary education. I know your husband has just received a seminary education, for which he’s very thankful. You’ve taken some courses there yourself as well. I envy that a little bit. I would love to have some more advanced theological training.
But the Word of God is the starting place. There are so many resources available today that help us better understand the Word of God. I never took original languages—Greek or Hebrew—but there are so many tools today that you can actually look up words; you can see what their meaning is in the Old or New Testament. It takes time.
We’re so occupied with so many other things today that we don’t have a lot of time. But we spend our time on the things that are most precious to us. I know, for example (this is like true confessions here; I don’t know if I’m admitting this or confessing it), people have heard me say how I’ve come to love the Chicago Cubs since marrying Robert.
I had never watched an inning of baseball in my whole life! I thought it was the most boring game. (Some people still think that it is.) But because I love Robert, I got into the Cubs, and I’m super-interested in them. I follow them. I listen to a lot of their games. I have an app on my phone. I realized: I became a devoted Cubs fan!
I’m certainly not an expert on the game—I didn’t know anything about it before! But I’ve learned a lot just by spending time with it. Well, if we would just spend time with God’s Word. As I spent time with the Cubs, it got more interesting to me. Before I knew Robert, I just thought, Who would be interested in this!? I don’t understand it; I don’t get it.
But, spending time, you start to get it. You start to understand more of it, and you get more interested. Then you find you can talk with other people. There are some Cubs fans in the building here, and we talk about how such-and-such a player is doing.
Well, with the Word of God, as we spend time on it, we get to know it better. It becomes more interesting to us. We get more of a hunger for it, more of an appetite for it. And then we enjoy talking to others who have the same interest. So if people are bored with God’s Word, it’s probably because they are not taking time to get acquainted with it and find out how really incredible it is!
Betsy: Yes, and I love how your devotion to the Cubs started with your love for Robert!
Nancy: Exactly! There’s a big parallel there.
Betsy: It reminds me of one of the quotes from one of my pastors. Tony Marita says, “The order of your love determines the direction of your life.” You need something that will motivate you. You need to do this out of love. If you do this out of love, then you’ll get more of it, because that’s what you want!
Nancy: When Robert and I were dating, we were texting. We didn’t do letter writing, but we did a lot—a lot!—of texting. Every text he sent, I was eager to read it, because my heart was being drawn toward him. I would get butterflies. I would read and re-read and think, “What did he mean by that?” and “What’s he saying here?” I’d want to respond.
There was this back-and-forth and give-and-take, because my heart was being drawn toward him. And the more our hearts get drawn toward Christ, the more we’ll love His Word. And the more we get into His Word, the more we’ll be drawn toward Him.
As I read those texts from Robert, I realized, “This man really cares for me!” It drew my heart to him. This is a relationship we’re talking about . . . not taking a theological course, as helpful as that might be. But we’re talking first about a love relationship that results in a devotion to Christ and His Word!
Leslie: That’s Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth. Earlier we heard from Betsy Gómez, who has been giving us some insights into Nancy’s personal life. Nancy’s transparency today is an excellent reminder of how much we all are in desperate need of God’s grace!
A Revive Our Hearts listener named Holly Fieckert appreciates the vulnerability she hears from Nancy and the other guests on Revive Our Hearts. She remembers when she first started listening.
Holly Fieckert: I was a very young mother, and I had two little ones. The only Christian woman that I had in my life . . . She modeled to me what I thought a Christian woman was: that was the clean house and the laundry kept up and going to church and the clean kids—all that.
I remember when I started listening to Revive Our Hearts, just the difference that I heard between the outward looking like a Christian and the inward focus on how Jesus can change us from within! That was probably the biggest thing that kind of got me hooked. I just wanted to come back and listen.
I felt so encouraged every single day, and I felt like I had this friend in the living room with me! When you have little ones and you’re home alone all the day with them, it can be so lonely. I so looked forward to that thirty minutes every single day of just listening to the teaching and being encouraged to have a godly home—the way that God sees it—not just the outward stuff. That was probably what drew me in at first.
Leslie: And inviting that friend into the living room day-after-day to focus on biblical truth has made a huge difference for this family. Remember how Holly had two young children when she started listening to Revive Our Hearts?
Holly: We went on and we had two more children, so we have four sons. Revive Our Hearts has changed me and made me a better wife and a better mom, and I’m so thankful for all the lessons that I have learned from God’s Word through Nancy’s teaching and all the guests on there.
I know the difference it has made in the sons that God has given us and the home that He has given us. It’s not just an investment for me for today. I have four “arrows” going out, and because of what I have learned through Revive Our Hearts, they’re better people. They love Jesus more because Revive Our Hearts was the ministry that “held my hands up” when I was too tired to go on!
Leslie: Nancy, what goes through your mind when you hear a story like this?
Nancy: Wow! I’m so grateful for the opportunity to join Holly and her family in their living room all these years. We’ve been able to do that, in large part, thanks to listeners just like you who donate to make the ministry possible.
When you support Revive Our Hearts this month with a gift of any size, we’d like to say “thanks” by sending you a set of Seeking Him Scripture memory cards. This is a helpful tool as you seek to hide God’s Word in your heart. Just grab a card from the set and carry it with you throughout the day, so wherever you are, you can be meditating on God’s Word and memorizing it.
The verses in this set are ones we talk about in our Bible study Seeking Him. You’ll be memorizing verses that are special to me. You can get your set of the Seeking Him Scripture memory cards when you donate any amount at ReviveOurHearts.com, or ask for the cards when you call to make your gift at 1–800–569–5959.
If you make your donation a monthly recurring gift, there’s some great opportunities ahead for you. You can get the details on joining our Monthly Partner team at ReviveOurHearts.com.
Leslie: We heard a lot of questions for Nancy today, but here’s one more: How does Nancy apply the biblical principle of submission in her own marriage? Be sure and come back to find out. That’s tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts. Our friend, Betsy Gómez, is back to wrap things up.
Betsy: I’m so grateful, Nancy, for this time, for your openness to answer these difficult questions, and for being willing to share your life, your struggles. But most of all, thanks sharing the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ! Thank you so much. I hope we have more conversations like this. This is very useful, and I know that people will put their eyes on Jesus!
Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants you to know that God’s grace is for you. The program is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.
*Offers available only during the broadcast of the radio series.