My dream of being the next Oprah—a Jesus-following version, that is—just came true. Well, sorta. I admit it’s a bit of a stretch . . .
But tomorrow through next Friday on Revive Our Hearts, I interview Nancy on the occasion of her 50th spiritual birthday. That’s 50 years of knowing and walking with Jesus. (By the way, her spiritual birthday is this Tuesday, May 14—the same day she’ll be on the Revive Tour in Indianapolis. Join her there if you can!)
As you listen to or read “Fifty Years of Walking with God” on ReviveOurHearts.com, prepare to laugh with us at what Nancy’s elementary teachers wrote on her report cards, and then to tear up as Nancy recounts the faithfulness of the Lord in her life over the past fifty years.
When I began to prepare for this interview, Nancy made it clear that she wanted this interview to showcase God’s grace and staying power over the past fifty years. We’re definitely not celebrating Nancy; we’re celebrating God.
Catch a sneak peek of the interview with this clip of Nancy sharing about the “missionary letter” she wrote as a seven-year-old.
Who would have thought that a young girl with such a grand vision would be well on her way to realizing it? Today the Lord is using Nancy and Revive Our Hearts to share Christ with women in many, many countries of the world.
If you’d like to encourage Nancy on her 50th spiritual birthday, may I suggest two ideas?
Leave a birthday greeting below for Nancy. Words mean so much to her, and I’ll make sure she receives them.
Partner with Nancy and Revive Our Hearts this month as we’re asking the Lord to provide $350,000 through friends like you to end our fiscal year in a good position. We aim to use your gift well to continue reaching women around the world this year.
Thanks so much for your ongoing support of this ministry. We’re so grateful for you!
"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God" (Matt. 5:8).
Pure. Clean. Clear. We want to breathe pure air, drink clean water, have a clear complexion. We go to school in clean cars with clean hair and clean clothes (unless we sleep in too late—then, if you’re like me, you just throw a hat over your dirty hair).
Most people don’t want to look and smell filthy on the outside. But inside . . . that’s another story altogether!
How Bad Is It, Really?
Our culture laughs at purity and celebrates filth. We’re not much different. Deep down, we hate purity. We think God is holding out on us when He tells us to be holy like He is holy.
Ironic, isn’t it? In every other area of life (except our hearts), we want to be clean. Why is that?
It’s because we were all born with a filthy heart (check out Genesis 3 for the sad story of how this came to be). And when I say filthy, I mean really filthy. It’s worse than you think. In Genesis 6:5, God sees that every intention of the thoughts of our hearts are only evil continually. Yikes!
So when Jesus says, "Blessed are the pure in heart," how do you get a clean, pure heart?
How to Get a New Heart
You know how it is. One more washing won’t touch the stains on that white shirt; you just need to get a brand-new white shirt.
That’s how it is with our hearts. We need completely new hearts. Thankfully, God is in the business of doing heart transplants . . . and Jesus paid your bill! Check out His promise in Ezekiel 36:26–27:
"I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules."
To get this new heart, though, you have to want it. You first have to agree with God that you have a filthy, dirty heart, and then you sign yourself up for the transplant.
How to Keep a New Heart Clean
Getting a new heart is just the beginning.
I bought a pair of turquoise Adidas tennis shoes recently. They came with bright white soles, and I’ve already had to clean them several times. New shoes just don’t stay clean walking through life. New hearts don’t either.
So how can you clean your heart? You need to regularly let the light of God’s Word show you where you’re dirty (John 17:17). Then, when you confess it, God promises to wash it away (1 John 1:9).
How It’s All Possible
But why should you obsess over inner purity when you’ve got school projects and that choir trip and a summer job to think about? The end of Matthew 5:8 tells you why:
"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."
That’s crazy amazing. Do you remember how in the Old Testament this holy, pure, clean, unapproachable God dwelled in the special section of the tabernacle called the "Holy of Holies"? Only the high priest could slip through the thick curtain into the Holy of Holies. And only once a year. And only if he brought a blood sacrifice with him. If he didn’t, God would kill him. He had to offer a blood sacrifice to cleanse his filthy heart.
Now, though, this holy, pure, clean, unapproachable God can be seen and known by you! How? The thick, heavy curtain separating you from Him has been torn. We’re told in Scripture that when the temple curtain was torn just after Jesus’ death, it represented Jesus’ body being torn for you (Heb. 10:19–22). His blood was then put on the mercy seat so that God might welcome you into His Holy of Holies.
If you can’t "see" God, is it because you’ve never had a heart transplant? Are you ready to ask Him to give you a new heart? If you have been cleansed by Jesus’ blood, are you daily rinsing in the water of His Word?
Pure. Clean. Clear.
It’s possible, through Christ. It’s what you were made for.
You should’ve seen it. This Sunday, the church gymnasium was transformed into the bustling city of Jerusalem around A.D. 30. After I’d joined the tribe of Ephraim and received a bag of denarii (Roman money), I sat down cross-legged in the temple, right in front of the veil leading to the Holy of Holies (where I never would have been allowed in real life!).
That’s when little Sarah came over and squeezed herself onto my lap. Then, when the shofar blew signaling it was time to move on to the next station, Sarah slipped her little hand into mine as we walked a few steps to the synagogue. She sat in my lap again as we learned to sing the Shema in Hebrew and stayed close all morning as we went from booth to booth.
And then, while we were at the potter’s shop, I heard a shout, "It’s Jesus!" If I hadn’t already been told that the Sunday school teacher Chris was playing the part, I wouldn’t have recognized him with that wig of long, curly, dark hair. He slowly wove his way through the crowd of 400 people, hugging the children as he went.
Sarah pulled me forward, not content to watch from behind a wall of people. I let her pull me so far, and then I slowed, not wanting the adults to wonder why I was crowding Jesus and not letting others have their turn. But Sarah wouldn’t let up. I stopped, she strained. She pulled, I resisted. Finally, she dropped my hand and went around the mountain in the middle of the room so she could get to Jesus.
Sarah wasn’t the only child who did this. Instinctively, without any scripting, all the children wanted to get as close as they could to Jesus. Maybe that’s why Jesus told His perturbed disciples so many years ago,
"Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it" (Luke 18:16–17).
As I saw the difference between me and Sarah, I couldn’t help but wonder how close I would’ve tried to get to Jesus if I’d been alive when He walked this earth. Would I have been willing and desperate enough to cry out loudly with Bartimaeus, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me"—even when everyone around me was telling me to just be quiet? Or would I have been more like Nicodemus who came to Jesus under the cover of night so no one would see?
More importantly, how desperate am I today to get as close as possible to Jesus? Am I content to hang back and observe Him along with the grown-ups, or am I pressing forward with the children to stare up in wonder at Him?
I’m afraid I know the answer, and oh, how I long for that to change.
So thank you, Sarah. You have no idea what you taught me this week. I want to be like you when I grow up.
PS: I’m curious. What do you think it actually looks like to want to get close to Jesus today?