Paul Madson


Month: March 2017


“No one gets through a broken world unbroken.”
(Ed Stetzer)

If you’ve lived long enough, you know the truth of the above statement.

Several years ago, I read a short little book entitled Brokenness: The Heart God Revives by Nancy Leigh DeMoss. I’ve come back to it many times over the years because of its richness and depth.

Here are a few quotes from her book…

It is a wonder what God can do with a broken heart, if He gets all the pieces.
(Samuel Chadwick)

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,
A broken and contrite heart—
These, O God, You will not despise.
(Psalm 57:17)

Lord, High and Holy, meek and lowly,
Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision,
where I live in the depths but see thee in the heights;
hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold thy glory.
Let me learn by paradox
that the way down is the way up,
that to be low is to be high,
that the broken heart is the healed heart,
that the contrite heart is the rejoicing spirit
that the repenting soul is the victorious soul,
that to have nothing is to possess all,
that to bear the cross is to wear the crown,
that to give is to receive, that the valley is the place of vision.
Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from the deepest wells,
and the deeper the wells the brighter thy stars shine;
Let me find thy light in my darkness,
thy life in my death,
the joy in my sorrow, thy grace in my sin,
thy riches in my poverty,
thy glory in my valley.

From The Valley of Vision; A Collection of Puritan Prayers And Devotions

Five Differences Between Proud people and Broken people

Proud people focus on the failures of others and can readily point out those faults.
  • Broken people are more conscious of their own spiritual need than of anyone else’s.
Proud people have a critical, fault finding spirit.  They look at everyone else’s faults with a microscope but view their own with a telescope.
  • Broken people are compassionate—they have the kind of love that overlooks a multitude of sins; they can forgive much because they know how much they have been forgiven.
Proud people are especially prone to criticize those in positions of authority—their pastor, their boss, their husband, their parents—and they talk to others about the faults they see.
  • Broken people reverence, encourage, and lift up those that God has placed in positions of authority, and they talk to God in intercession, rather than gossiping about the faults they see in others.
Proud people are self-righteous; they think highly of themselves and look down others.
  • Broken people think the best of others; they esteem others better than themselves.
Proud people have an independent, self-sufficient spirit.
  • Broken people have a dependent spirit; they recognize their need for God and for others

(Pages 88-90)

With all our talk of worship, unity, reconciliation, love, and the power of God, we have bypassed the essential ingredient that makes these things possible.  I believe a return to this truth—the need for brokenness and humility—is the starting place for experiencing the revival we so desperately need in our lives, our homes, and our churches.   (Page 25)

To be broken is the beginning of revival. It is painful, it is humiliating, but it is the only way.
(Roy Hession)

For thus says the High and Lofty One
Who inhabits eternity,
Whose name is Holy:
“I dwell in the high and holy place,
With him who has a contrite and humble spirit,
To revive the spirit of the humble,
And to revive the heart of the contrite ones.”
(Isaiah 57:15)

“In the Gospel of Luke, we find three vivid illustrations of the contrast between a broken person and a proud, unbroken person. Interestingly, in each case, proud people are linked with Pharisees. Now when you and I think of Pharisees, we think of the “bad guys.”  But in those days, the Pharisees were considered the “good guys.”

“These were the seminary graduates, the biblical scholars, the pastors, the spiritual leaders of their day. Everyone looked up to them: no one questioned their spirituality or their authority.  And no one felt he could possibly measure up to them. It was assumed that the Pharisees were closer to God than anyone else.

“Over and over again, He [Jesus] exposed the proud, self-righteous attitudes and motives of the Pharisees and insisted that God rejects that kind of heart. Then and now, broken sinners are the kinds of people God chooses to save, to bless, and to help.”  (Pages 67-68)

The Illusion of Control

Today, I wanted to share a portion of Dr. Timothy Keller’s book, Counterfeit Gods, that I found to be particularly insightful. Enjoy!

“What do you have that you did not receive?” (1 Corinthians 4:6)

Sociologist Christian Smith gave the name “moralistic, therapeutic deism” to the dominant understanding of God he discovered among younger Americans.

In his book Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers, he describes this set of beliefs.

  • God blesses and takes to heaven those who try to live good and decent lives (the “moralistic” belief).
  • The central goal of life is not to sacrifice, or to deny oneself, but to be happy and feel good about yourself (the “therapeutic” belief).
  • Though God exists and created the world, he does not need to be particularly involved in our lives except when there is a problem (that is “deism”).

This view of God (Deism) literally makes you master of your fate and captain of your soul. Salvation and happiness is up to you.

Some have pointed out that “moralistic, therapeutic deism” could only develop in a comfortable, prosperous society among privileged people.

People “at the top” are eager to attribute their position to their own intellect, savvy, and hard work. The reality is much more complicated. Personal connections, family environment, and what appears to be plain luck determine how successful a person is.

We are the product of three things—genetics, environment, and our personal choices—but two of these three factors we have no power over.

We are not nearly as responsible for our success as our popular views of God and reality lead us to think.

Popular culture often tells young people, “You can be anything you set your mind to.” But it is cruel to say that to a five-foot-four-inch eighteen-year-old boy who yearns, more than anything else, to be an NFL linebacker.

To use an extreme example, if you had been born in a yurt in Outer Mongolia, instead of where you were, it wouldn’t have mattered how hard you worked or used your talents—you would have ended up poor and powerless.

To come closer to home, think of the impact of your family background on you. You may spend your younger years telling yourself that you will not be like your parents, you will be your own person. However, somewhere around the middle of your life, it will become clearer how indelibly your family has shaped you.

Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers is filled with case studies that demonstrate how our success is largely the product of our environment. …

…Although, unlike Gladwell, I would grant equal importance to the three factors of heredity, environment, and personal choice, his book makes a strong case that we are not as personally responsible for our success as we would like to think.

Most of the forces that make us who we are lie in the hand of God.

We should not “take pride in one man over against another,” wrote the Apostle Paul. “For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?”

(1 Corinthians 4:6-7) 

(from Counterfeit Gods by Tim Keller – Pages 115-117)

(Highlights mine)

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