In the Beginning …October 16, 2006
Today on the broadcast, FamilyLife President Dennis Rainey talks about the frazzled state of women today and the lies the culture promotes with Nancy Leigh DeMoss, host and teacher of the syndicated broadcast "Revive Our Hearts".
Today on the broadcast, FamilyLife President Dennis Rainey talks about the frazzled state of women today and the lies the culture promotes with Nancy Leigh DeMoss, host and teacher of the syndicated broadcast "Revive Our Hearts".
In the Beginning …
Bob: Have you ever found yourself saying you believe one thing and then acting like you don't really believe that at all? Well, you're not alone. The Apostle Paul said there are things I hate that I end up doing. Nancy Leigh DeMoss says a lot of women in our culture today live like that.
Nancy: Most women read through this list of lies and say "I don't believe those things," but then we say, "Okay, what does it look like to live a life based on these lies?" And their eyes get opened, the lights go on, and they say, "I really do live as if I believed these lies," and that's what I'm choosing to base my life and my choices on rather than what I know is true.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, October 16th. Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. Let's spend some time seeing if what you say you believe and how you're really living match up, okay?
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the Monday edition. Let me read a few words to you and tell me whether you think this describes the modern woman, maybe even in the church, okay?
Dennis: Okay. These better be good words.
Bob: Well, "frazzled"…
Dennis: Mm-hm, that described Barbara a little bit as we were raising our children.
Bob: "Exhausted" …
Dennis: That, for sure, did.
Bob: "Burned out?"
Dennis: No – medium rare but not burned out.
Bob: How about things like "defeated" or "confused" or "angry" or "frustrated" or "lonely" or "fearful" or "insecure." I know that's a lot of words and a lot of generalizations, but do you think that's characteristic for a lot of women?
Dennis: Well, as a man, I don't always know what's going on inside my wife or other women, but let's ask our guest. Nancy Leigh DeMoss joins us on FamilyLife Today. Nancy, what do you think about that list?
Nancy: Well, I can understand what you gentlemen might not want to say, as men, that's the list of what describes women, but I am a woman, and I talk with a lot of women and have, over the years, looked into their eyes and listened to their stories and seen their tears, and I have to say, in fact, what prompted me to write a book called "Lies Women Believe," is that I saw these words describing so many women, and I started to ask myself, "Why? If we have Christ, we have the Gospel, why should these things describe us?"
But, you know, it's not just me saying that. I was out just a couple of days ago and ran into a woman who had just started to read this book, and she saw that list of words in the introduction. And that's all she had read was the introduction in the first chapter, and she said, "That list, that's me." And she was the woman who looked put-together, she seemed to be pretty happy and well-adjusted and normal to me, but she said, "Every word on that list including one that you didn't read, Bob, the word "suicidal," and no one would know looking at this woman. But she said that is me. She said I can't wait to see how I can get delivered from these things. So I think it's more common than what you might realize.
Bob: And if you're right, that this is descriptive of a lot of women, it's probably also true that a lot of women know that that's true about themselves, but they look around at other women and think, "I'm the only one who feels this way. Everybody else seems to have it together."
Nancy: Yeah, we are so guilty of comparison, and we look around, and we think "nobody else seems to be struggling." But those people are looking at me or your wives, and they're thinking, "They never struggle." We all struggle, and these are words that don't just describe women out in the culture who are apart from Christ. These words describe a lot of women sitting in church, sitting next to us, singing on the praise team, Bible study leaders – you get down, and you kind of unzip us and find out what's inside, and you find there's a lot of hurt, a lot of confusion, a lot of disorientation, and we don't really want to admit it because we're Christian women. We're not supposed to be this way, but the fact is we are.
Dennis: And the reality is all these words are interior words, and we tend to compare on the basis of the exterior and what we think we're seeing when we see another person, and, women, I do think compare, I think men do as well, but I think they compare what they think they're seeing in another woman who looks peaceful, calm, happy, satisfied …
Nancy: … we don't know what's going on inside other people's hearts.
Nancy: You don't know what's going on inside my heart, the turmoil that can be there at any given point, and you kind of prick us, and, you know, we may bleed a little bit, but when we get real with each other, we find that in so many of our lives, this thing we call "the Christian life," as women, doesn't seem to be working, and I'm saying there's something wrong with that picture. What is it and how can we address it?
Dennis: Nancy, you've been in ministry now for more than 25 years. You are a host of a daily radio program, "Revive Our Hearts." You are a teacher on that program. You connect with women nationwide through your speaking ministry, writing ministry, and this book, "Lies Women Believe," which also has a workbook that goes with it.
In thinking about the topic of this, I thought about the concept of lies and, in fact, I want to ask you and Bob, and I'll answer as well – do you remember the first lie you believed? I can reflect back while you two are thinking, and I can tell Bob is rehearsing. He's going backwards all the way to the beginning, but the first lie I believed, and I think this would be, for me, the first one I remember as a young person growing up is that I knew better than my parents. I think I thought I knew better than my parents before I had the thought that I knew better than God. What about each of you? Do you remember the first lie you believed? And, by the way, I embraced that lie well into my teenage years.
Bob: I don't know that I was conscious of believing this lie, but I think I believed the lie that I was basically a good person; that I was fundamentally good, noble, made good choices, did good things.
Dennis: You weren't inherently selfish.
Bob: Yeah, I didn't see that in myself. I looked at my good grade and my good reputation at school and the fact that people were affirming, and I thought, "I'm a pretty good guy."
Nancy: Yeah, I've got to go there. We obviously have a similar background – I did well at school, did well at anything I tried, and for me it's been a subtle lie to believe that I could be self-sufficient, that I could live my life independently of God. Of course, I never consciously have thought that, because theologically I know better, but as you were saying, Dennis, a while ago in a conversation we had earlier today, we live as practical atheists and, in that sense, I put a lot of stock in my own natural abilities and have had to come to realize the truth is that apart from Christ in me, there is no good thing; that I am desperately needy of Him and cannot do anything of eternal value or righteousness apart from Christ.
Dennis: Nancy, you know, you really nailed what your book is all about, just in your statement there – that what happens when we believe a lie that we're self-sufficient, and we don't need God; that we begin to believe a lie that is going to take us in the direction that doesn't result in life but results in death.
Nancy: And I find that part of getting honest is even being honest about what lies we believe. When people pick up this book, they've told me over the years I didn't think I believed any lies. And then they read through the table of contents, which is 40 different lies that some women believe.
Dennis: For instance, Nancy?
Nancy: For instance, God is not really good, or God doesn't love me. Well, most of us know better than that theologically. I don't believe that, and women read through this list of lies and say, "I don't believe those things. I shouldn't have to suffer. It's all about me, some of these lies." But then we dig in, and we say, "Okay, what does it look like to live a life based on these lies," and their eyes get opened, the lights go on, and they say, "I really do live as if I believe these lies. I may not consciously believe them, I may not theologically agree with these things, but I'm living as if God really didn't love me." That's what my emotions are telling me, and that's what I'm choosing to base my life and my choices on rather than what I know is true.
Bob: There's a disconnect in a lot of us between what we know to be true intellectually and how that governs our lives.
Nancy: Especially those of us who have been raised in the church, or we've been around Christian things a long time. We know Christian-ese, we can talk the language, we know how it's supposed to be, we're supposed to have this abundant life, we're supposed to be free from sinful bondages. Well, if we're supposed to free, if Christ set us free from sin, why can I not get victory over this sin habit in my life that just keeps taking hold of me? Why do I feel helpless in the face of these patterns and these sinful bondages in my life? We're living as if God didn't really have a way to set us free from these things.
Bob: You are convinced that the description that we read at the beginning – of women who are frustrated and exhausted and overwhelmed and angry and …
Nancy: And we're not saying all women are that way all the time, you know, all of us are basket cases at times, men and women, but …
Bob: But that list is fundamentally because women are living according to the lies they believe.
Nancy: You know what? What started me writing this book or thinking about writing this book was the concept – I looked around, and I saw women in varying stages of frustration and defeat, and why is this? Well, my thinking took me back as we have to do to the early chapters of the Scripture – to Genesis. Genesis, chapters 1 and 2, you see this idyllic, perfect environment – Adam and Eve created by God for each other, a match made in heaven, no marriage problems, no communication problems, no in-law problems, no environmental problems.
Everything is good, and then you have this dark cloud, this specter that enters in Genesis, chapter 3, and, whew! Everything changes. This woman is now – and her husband are now ashamed, sexually, physically, afraid of one another, hiding from God, they're having children who – in the first generation you have one brother who kills another brother. I mean, the whole picture changes so dramatically. You think this wife, this mom, what happened to turn her world upside down?
Well, what you have at the beginning of Genesis, chapter 3, is the entrance of a lie, a lie told by Satan himself – not to the man initially but to the woman. And I say, "Why did he single out the woman? And what happened when she listened to and believed that lie? How did it affect her for the rest of her life and how does it affect us as women today, and I began to realize that there is this connection. That these areas of futility and frustration and bondage in our lives can be traced back to lies.
Dennis: So if we were interviewing Eve right now, and we asked her that question I just asked the three of us here …
Nancy: She'd have no problem remembering the first lie she believed.
Nancy: And I think she spent the rest of her life in some way regretting – not that God didn't redeem the situation, He did, and God is so gracious, but she had to – how many times do you think she relived that moment – over and over and over again for years to come, as she saw the effects of sin in her children and her grandchildren and her great-grandchildren and thought, "If I could only go back and do that moment again. Why did I listen to something that wasn't true? Why did I believe it? And worst of all, why did I act on it?
Dennis: And, Nancy, what was that lie? Because I think there are probably some listeners who know the story of Genesis, chapter 3, but who have never really thought about what the lie ultimately was that she embraced.
Nancy: And it was so subtle. You know, we think of serpents – I don't know about you guys, but I don't have any affinity toward serpents. I don't care to be around them, but we're told that in those days this was a beautiful creature, mesmerizing. How a serpent could be mesmerizing, we can't imagine, after the fall, but somehow it was.
And the serpent peels the woman off from her husband, gets her in an independent place and then raises some questions. "Has God said" – whoa, right there, you know, red alarms, lights, bells, whistles should be going off saying, "Wait a minute, we're in a danger zone here," but she didn't hear those whistles, she didn't catch the signals – "Has God said you can't eat from all the trees in the Garden?"
Well, what's he doing? He's raising doubts about the wisdom of God. He's raising doubts about he goodness of God. He's saying, "Has God put limitations on your happiness? Has God put limitations on your freedom?" He's twisting the whole Word of God sowing seeds of doubt about God's goodness and God's Word, and then he says, "If you eat the fruit of this tree, you will not die. In fact, you'll be like God. You'll be able to decide for yourself what's right and wrong," so he lies about the consequences of her choice, and Eve is just standing there, she takes the whole thing in, and she listened, believed, and then acted on that lie, and we're living out the consequences of that today.
Dennis: And ultimately what the serpent tempted Eve with was to be like God. He said, "You know, if you take this fruit, and you eat it, hey, you're going to be like God. Don't you want to be like Him?"
Nancy: And he knew exactly where that gets you, because he'd already tried that once. He was one of the exalted angels in heaven, one of the worship leaders of heaven, but he got "I" trouble. "I" will be like God, "I" will have it my way. And I don't know he just wanted to be equal with God, he wanted to be greater, and he doesn't come and say to us, "Just you can be equal with God, you can be another God." It's "You can be God."
Dennis: Well, this goes back to the first lie I believed as a boy growing up – that I knew better than my parents, and I think I believed that lie before I believed the lie that I knew better than God. But, ultimately, that became the lie I believed as a young person growing up – I believed, you know what? I can run this show better than God can.
Bob: Well, and the lie that we believe that we are fundamentally good people, again, exalts self over God and says, "We're not bad, we're good. We can make good decisions. We make right choices." It's exaltation. It's putting ourselves above God. We are falling pretty to the same lie.
Nancy: And, Dennis, that lie that you believe – that I know better than my parents? They're just adult versions of that lie that we believe, and a lot of us, as women – I'll be the first to say that control is a huge issue in my life, and it is, ever since the fall, and issue in most of our lives as women – to control our circumstances, to control the people around us, to fix and change the people around us, and we do it in our families. We do it with our parents, as adults, with children, with mates, with friends, and when people cross us on that, or when God crosses us on that, what do we do? We pout, we get angry, we get depressed, we say, "I'm not going to have it your way, I'm going to have it my way," and we get this power struggle, and it goes back to this first lie that you said you believed – thinking that I knew better than the authority that God had placed in my life.
Bob: And I want to carry that out a little farther, because I'm thinking of women who may not think I know best, but I want to be in control, because I feel more comfortable if I'm in control. And if they make a decision, and it turns sour, most of the time they think, "Well, the reason it turned sour was because of this person or that person." They find the problems outside of themselves.
Nancy: Which is exactly what Adam and Eve did when God comes to the sea, and he finds them hiding, and when we believe the lie, we end up ashamed, we end up guilty, we end up running and hiding from God, from our best friend. Sin just puts up walls and barriers. So God comes and praise God that He comes to the scene of our shame and our guilt and our deception. God could have just vanished and left Adam and Eve alone in that fallen condition, but he comes to restore and to redeem. But first they've got to get honest about what they've done, and so God says, first to the man and then to the woman – "What have you done?"
Dennis: Like He didn't know.
Nancy: "What have you done?" He needed them, or they needed to say, "This is what I have done." But could they say "This is what I have done?" No. Instead, the wife you gave me, the husband you gave me, the serpent, if only you hadn't put this circumstance in my life, I would not have turned out this way. So we play this blame game which is, again, a part of the lie, it's a part of the deception.
And the freedom comes when we begin to accept personal responsibility and to say, "I am this way not because my mother dropped me on my head when I was two," or "My toilet training wasn't done right," or all these things we could dredge up from our past. And I don't mean to make light of serious, painful things that have happened in people's pasts that affect who they are today but, ultimately, as grownups, we have to say, "You know, my choice is to be bitter, to distrust God, to go my own way, to disregard God's truth. It's as a result of choices that I have made that I am living in this bondage."
And that could sound very negative, very hard to do – it may be hard to do, but it is the most liberating thing in the world is to just walk into the light to say, "This is the truth about who I am, where I've been, what I've done, why I'm here, this is the truth," and the truth is what sets us free.
Dennis: I just want to summarize what you've said because you've really wrapped up this story of the Bible very simply in this battle of who are you going to believe. Are you going to believe God; that He is in authority and that He has the truth? Or are you going to believe the dark forces of evil, the devil, and what he says is the truth?
And the devil did that through three distinct acts. Number one, questioning what God said. He caused Eve to question the truth. That happens in our lives every day. Secondly, he distorted the truth. He not only caused there to be a questioning about the truth, but then he began to twist it – "No, God didn't say that," he – just a slight twist. Third, ultimately, the devil undermines God's authority and His absolutes. If you look at this culture today, we have a culture that is just questioning left and right absolute truth, the authority of God, and ultimately am I accountable to God? And the answer is, yes, you are. Whether you believe it or not, whether you want to embrace a lie or not, the reality is, you know what? There is a payday coming, there is a judgment coming, and you and I, as individuals, must determine what we believe. To do that, sometimes, Bob, I think we need someone like Nancy to come along and kind of pull the veil back and show us the lies we've been embracing.
Bob: And I've had the chance, as I've been at conferences or been in recording sessions for "Revive Our Hearts" radio to talk with a lot of the women who come and hear Nancy speak and who have read this book and, for many of them, it's been a spiritual breakthrough, because they've been able to identify where their thinking has headed them off in the wrong direction and how they've wound up in a place they didn't want to be because they weren't believing the truth.
We've got copies of Nancy's book in our FamilyLife Resource Center. We also have copies of the companion guide that has been put together, and I know a number of women have used this companion guide, along with the book, to go through this material with other women.
I've been encouraged to hear about older women who are using this to counsel younger women in a mentoring relationship or small groups that have used this material together. We have both the book and the companion guide in our FamilyLife Resource Center. You can go to our website, FamilyLife.com. Click the button that says "Go" there, and it will take you right to the page where you can get more information about both of these resources. You can order them from us online, if you'd like.
Again, the website if FamilyLife.com, and you click the red "Go" button in the middle of the screen. That will take you right to the page where you can order these resources, and if you're interested in both the book and the companion guide, we'll send along at no additional cost the CD audio of this week's conversation with Nancy Leigh DeMoss so you can have that either to listen to again or to pass along to someone who might benefit from hearing the CDs.
You can also request these resources by calling us at 1-800-358-6329. That's 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY, and someone on our team can make arrangements to have these materials sent out to you.
You know, one of the things I have really appreciated about the ministry of "Revive Our Hearts," and about your speaking, Nancy, is that you have encouraged a lot of women to embrace God's design for womanhood to understand how God has made them, what He has called women to, and the responsibilities that accompany being a woman. And one of those responsibilities if a woman is a married woman is to be a helper to her husband. Not long ago, Dennis, your wife, Barbara, was speaking to a group of women, and she talked about what a wife can do to help her husband step up and be the man that God intends for him to be. And there were a lot of women who were very encouraged by that message.
We have it available on CD and during the month of October, we wanted to make it available to any of our listeners who would contact us with a donation of any amount. FamilyLife Today is listener-supported, and it's your donations that help keep our program on this station and on stations all across the country.
If you are able to help with a donation this month, we want you to feel free to request a copy of Barbara's CD as our thank you gift to you. If you're making your donation online, when you fill out the form, and you come to the keycode box, just type in the two letters, "CD," and we'll know that you'd like that CD sent out to you. Or if you call 1-800-FLTODAY to make a donation, that's 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY, be sure to mention that you'd like a copy of Barbara Rainey's CD, and we'll get it sent out to you. Again, it's our way of saying thanks for your partnership with us in the ministry of FamilyLife Today.
Well, tomorrow we want to talk about what we do when our circumstances seem to paint a picture of God one way and the Bible paints a picture a different way. What do we do with that? We'll talk about it tomorrow. I hope you can be with us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We'll see you next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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