Brokenness

By The Mad Preacher, Rod Davis

“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” (Psalm 51:17 NIV) 

Imagine if you will a beautiful stallion galloping across a meadow. His sleek coat isblack-stallion-at-large glistening in the sun. His long mane is blowing in the wind. He’s so beautiful, so majestic, so gifted and powerful, yet absolutely useless to his master… until broken. Many of us are the same way. We may have many gifts and talents. We may have much we could offer God and those around us, but we’re absolutely useless to our Master until we’re broken. 

To be broken is to completely lay aside your personal agendas and yield fully to the lordship of Christ. For most of us that doesn’t happen until God brings us through a season of heartache and pain. It’s a painful process but the rewards are enormous.

Samuel anointed David to be king over Israel. God declared him the undisputed king of His people on that day. Yet, David did not take his rightful place on the throne for ten long painful years. God had a plan to use David in unprecedented ways, but David was not ready. He had to be broken and surrender his will to God’s will. God already had one unyielding king in Saul. He did not want another.

When David penned these words he had come to a fundamental understanding. God doesn’t want vessels that merely hold the things of His spirit. He wants broken vessels, so that those things can poor out into the lives of others. So, bare this in mind when God brings that season of brokenness into your life. He wants to make you useful to the Master. He’s preparing you for greatness in The Kingdom of God. So, yield to the process and don’t try to fix what God’s trying to break.

I think about the years I spent just passing through
I’d like to have them back again
And give them all to You
But You just smile and take my hand
You’ve been there and You understand
It’s all part of a grander plan
That is coming true

That every long lost dream
Led me to where You are
Others who broke my heart
They were like northern stars
Pointing me on my way
Into You loving arms
This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to You
God Bless The Broken Road by Geoff Moore from the album, Geoff Moore ©1999 ForeFront Records

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Noah’s Hammer

by The Mad Preacher, Rod Davisnoahs-hammer

Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.” — Jesus (Revelation 3:3)*

For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others; if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)— if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment, while continuing their punishment. (2Peter 2:4-9)

When God told Noah to build the ark probably the first thing Noah had to learn was how to balance his schedule. His days consisted of building the ark, providing for his family and, then, preaching during his time off. It must have been quite a challenge for Noah. However, God told him that he had a limited time to reach as many people as he could before the flood. Judgment was imminent and God, being the merciful God that he is, wanted to give everyone a chance to repent of their wickedness.

Now as long as the people around him could hear the sound of Noah’s hammer ringing out across the countryside there was still hope for them. There was still time for them to repent and be spared the impending deluge. However, Noah’s friends, neighbors and extended family chose to ignore his warning and thus eventually faced the judgment of God.

Then it happened. The sound of Noah’s hammer ceased and soon his plea ceased as well. Noah gathered his little family and joined the animals in the ark. Next, and it’s important to note this, the Bible says that God himself closed the door to the Ark. Soon, the heavens opened and a hammering rain began to fall. Then every spring and river on the Earth swelled up and began to give up the water that was beneath the ground. The flood began to quickly rise higher and higher. In a little while all, save eight souls huddled deep within the belly of the huge vessel, would be lost. Those outside of the Ark had no hope of salvation from the rising water.

By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith. (Hebrews 11:7)

I wonder what it was like being in the ark with Noah when the heavy rain began to beat against the ark. Did the downpour and rising waters cover all other sounds outside the ark? Or could Noah and his family hear the screams of those who had once mocked and laughed at Noah’s appeal. They had ignored his plea. Now, he could not respond to theirs. What do you think went through their minds and hearts as God’s unbridled wrath fell on the earth that day?

“As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.” — Jesus      (Matthew 24:37)

God announced his coming judgment to Noah by saying, My Spirit will not contend with man forever…” (Genesis 6:3) The same scripture holds true for today’s generation. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that the end is coming soon. For once again the sound of Noah’s hammer is echoing throughout the land. You can hear it echoing in the events taking place around the world and in the U.S. You can hear it in the voice of God’s prophets and from others in his church. Judgment is imminent!

Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:11-15)

The hands on that great cosmic clock called “time” are winding down to a stop. Please don’t be like those in Noah’s day who ignored the warning. If you’ve never truly repented and made Jesus LORD of your life, please do so now. Soon, God Himself will close the door of repentance and the Book of Life will be closed to new members. Then no one will be allowed to enter.

This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. (Romans 3:22-24)

God loves you, my friend. He doesn’t want you to… miss the boat. Give your life completely to Jesus. Repent of you past disobedience and ask him to forgive you of all of your sins. He will forgive you and accept you. God will then open the door of his heart to you. He will remove all of you sinfulness and give you his personal righteousness [or right standing with him.] You’ll never be alone or have to feel guilt ridden ever again.

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)

 Listen closely. Do you hear the sound of Noah’s hammer?

*Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture references are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2001, 2005 International Bible Society.

 

Attention Pastors! Are you a Shepherd or a Cowboy?

By The Mad Preacher,Rod Davis

(Video available at https://youtu.be/FsT1FVKPSqE)

Dear Pastor,

I want to ask you a serious question. Indeed, I believe the Holy Spirit wants me to ask you this. Are you a shepherd or a cowboy? What’s the difference? One very simple difference is this; shepherds lead, cowboys drive. The old Rawhide TV theme song pretty expresses the cowboy mentality of many pastors.

“Keep movin’, movin’, movin’,cowboy-lasoo
though they’re disapprovin’,
Keep them dogies movin’, rawhide.

No need to understand them.
Just rope ‘em, throw, and brand ‘em.
Soon we’ll be livin’ high and wide.”*

Yes indeed, rope and brand ‘em, claim ‘em, and possess ‘em. Live hide and wide off the sheep. Who needs the reputation of being a loving shepherd? It’s best to be known, like one pastor I knew, as a “shrewd businessman.” I don’t mean any unkindness or disrespect, but I firmly believe that God is disgusted with cowboys who have the audacity to call themselves shepherds. Jeremiah gives an excellent description of spiritual cowboys.

“From the least to the greatest, all are greedy for gain; prophets and priests alike, all practice deceit. They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace. Are they ashamed of their loathsome conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush. So they will fall among the fallen; they will be brought down when I punish them,” says the LORD. (Jeremiah 6:13-15 NIV)

Jeremiah went on to say that God pronounces a curse on these so-called shepherds.

“Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture!” declares the LORD. Therefore this is what the LORD, the God of Israel [the Church], says to the shepherds [Pastors] who tend my people: “Because you have scattered my flock and driven them away and have not bestowed care on them, I will bestow punishment on you for the evil you have done,” declares the LORD. (Jeremiah 23:1-2 NIV)

I believe that one of the problems causing preachers to have an identity crises is this; just because one has a gift of preaching it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are called to a pastor. Commutation skills are helpful for the office but they do not necessarily distinguish one as being a true shepherd. Yet, our pulpits have many with talent but few with the genuine call to be a Pastor.

Then they will cry out to the LORD, but he will not answer them. At that time he will hide his face from them because of the evil they have done. This is what the LORD says: “As for the prophets who lead my people astray, if one feeds them, they proclaim ‘peace’; if he does not, they prepare to wage war against him. Therefore night will come over you, without visions, and darkness, without divination. The sun will set for the prophets, and the day will go dark for them. [God will remove the light of revelation]. The seers will be ashamed and the diviners disgraced. They will all cover their faces because there is no answer from God.” (Micah 3:4-7 NIV)

I was under such a pastor many years ago. So, I know from personal experience what I’m talking about. In the years since I left his church, I’ve heard horror stories from others who have left. Occasionally, I would hear from a few who are still there. [Indeed, I have a few stories of my own]

They’ve told me that there’s still a lot of hoopla on Sundays. The praise is high energy and the “pastor” still bounces off the walls for 45 minutes. It’s all very entertaining. The problem is, however, that people are not being discipled and worst yet, not being cared for properly. Plus, very little practical concern is offered for people who are genuinely hurting. It sickens me and breaks my heart and I’m sure it breaks the heart of God.

As a result the church is imploding. The “pastor” is preaching to mostly empty seats with a small scattering of the faithful few still there. Even some of the diehard church founders have left. In addition, they’ve had to drop their local TV program for lack of funds and declared bankruptcy. The “pastor” has gone from being fulltime to part-time pastor. And in order to make ends meet, he has gone back to his old secular job that he had before the church was established.

I saw it coming and I take no pleasure in the fact that I was right in my prediction. I remember when it was once a great church, but now it’s only a shadow of it former self. I remember the pastor when he would weep over the lost and hurting to whom he was reaching out. Sadly, I watched as over the years as he went from being a young Saul, humbled by the calling on his life, to a controlling, self-serving Saul throwing spears at anyone who questioned him. It pains me deeply for I love the man very much.

Too often this happens in churches where people are drawn to personalities rather than to anointing. They flock to preachers who have dynamic speaking abilities and great charisma. They follow these “personalities” whether the man has a pastoral anointing or not. Then when they need pastoral care very little is available. Yet, people continue to blindly follow these personalities.

It’s much like going out to dinner but only for dessert. It’s sweet and pleases the taste buds but offers very little nourishment. In addition, if one continues eating nothing but dessert they’ll soon find themselves literally starving to death.

Another problem with having cowboys instead of shepherds is that it breeds spiritual co-dependency. Church members are not fed, nor are they taught how to feed themselves. Therefore, they remain hungry. So, they continue to come back to the table again and again for more dessert. They are not nourished. Nor are they satisfied and never will be with this inapt feast. Yet, they keep bellying up to the dessert counter week after week for another plate of sweets as they continue to slowly starve to death.

Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” (John 21:16 NIV)

It doesn’t take long to discern the difference between a shepherd and a cowboy. Jesus told us what to look for. “The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11 NIV) In the eyes of a true shepherd the sheep have priority over personal ambition. After his family they’re his first concern. It would seem that very few of those behind pulpits today have this shepherd mentality.

They are dogs with mighty appetites; they never have enough. They are shepherds who lack understanding; they all turn to their own way, each seeks his own gain. (Isaiah 56:11 NIV)

Cowboys feel differently about the sheep, “Lay down my life for my congregation?! You mean I’m to lay aside personal agendas if they conflict with the office I hold, if the sheep are neglected for the sake of my pursuit of MY ministry?! You have got to be kidding me! Don’t you know that I have a vision and these people are here to help me fulfill it?!”

The word of the LORD came to me: Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Woe to the shepherds of Israel who only take care of themselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. [You use the resources the sheep provide for your personal goals but neglect the hands-on care needed by the sheep] You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally. So they were scattered because there was no shepherd, and when they were scattered they became food for all the wild animals. My sheep wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. They were scattered over the whole earth, and no one searched or looked for them.

Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: As surely as I live, declares the   Sovereign LORD, because my flock lacks a shepherd and so has been plundered and has become food for all the wild animals, and because my shepherds did not search for my flock but cared for themselves rather than for my flock, therefore, O shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am against the shepherds and will hold them accountable for my flock. I will remove them from tending the flock so that the shepherds can no longer feed themselves. I will rescue my flock from their mouths, and it will no longer be food for them. (Ezekiel 34:1-10 NIV)

“Everything they do [the religious leaders— shepherds]is done for men to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them ‘Rabbi.’“ —Jesus (Matthew 23:5-7 NIV)

Undaunted, these pseudo-pastors, either directly or indirectly, continue destroying and scattering the flock. Why do they hang on to an office to which they haven’t been called? It’s simple; they love the recognition, the esteem and the money. They love to be called “Pastor” or “Reverend” but to lay aside personal ambitions for the sake of the sheep doesn’t enter into their mind. Rather, they see their congregation as their own personal support system. They’re always looking for ways that the sheep can benefit their ministry, instead of looking for ways that their ministry can benefit the sheep. For indeed what these cowboys do not realize is that the sheep is their ministry.

Am I implying that these misguided shepherds have no feelings for the sheep? Not at all; in their own way many do have a certain amount of concern for the sheep. It’s just that they have different priorities than a true pastor. Their agenda comes first. Therefore, their warped view of ministry tends to run roughshod over many of the very people to which they are supposed to minister. This sort of thinking comes from what Jesus called a “perverse”, or twisted generation. (Matthew 17:17) Their thinking is all messed up. And now, I believe that God is stepping in and taking matters into his own hands.

This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am against the shepherds and will hold them accountable for my flock. I will remove them from tending the flock so that the shepherds can no longer feed themselves. I will rescue my flock from their mouths, and it will no longer be food for them.

For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness. I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land. I will pasture them on the mountains of Israel, in the ravines and in all the settlements in the land. I will tend them in a good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel will be their grazing land. There  they will lie down in good grazing land, and there they will feed in a rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign LORD. I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice. (Ezekiel 34:10-16 NIV)

Pastors, please don’t miss this! In this passage God clearly shows what he expects of you. He said that pastors are to search for the lost, bring back the strays, bind up the injured, strengthen the weak, and protect the sheep from the sleek and the strong who might somehow harm the sheep. And finally, pastors are to shepherd the sheep with justice. If this describes your heart, your ministry, then you are a true pastor.

However, if you do not feel the compulsion of the Holy Spirit in this manner, if you don’t feel driven to mold your ministry and your life around something that reflects the design founded in this scripture, then chances are you are not a pastor. You’re a cowboy out to promote your own agenda at the expense of the sheep.

It may be a sincere mistake of calling on your part. But, please, take serious warning on this issue. If you have any concern for the welfare of your congregation you need to step down and let the Lord place a true shepherd in your place. You must respond in obedience in this matter! If you do not, then, I have some advice for you— get ready! God is about to remove you and it will likely be in a way that is not going to be pleasant.

Now for a word of encouragement; I’m certain that many of those who mistakenly call themselves pastor do so out of a sincere case of mistaken identity. They sincerely mistake the call to preach as a call to pastor, as well. Hey, we all make mistakes. After all, we are but jars of clay. If this describes you I pray that God will use this message to help you do a course correction in your life. However, please do not ignore the Holy Spirit’s prompting! You must fervently seek God about this issue. And in so doing, you may find that you have been missing your calling all along.

There’s good news in all this though. It’s not too late to get back on course. God has great things in store for you. Just be sensitive to his leading and everything will eventually fall into place. Our God is Sovereign Lord! He has no Plan B and, furthermore, he does not need one. Romans 8:28 says it best. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (NIV) God’s sovereign hand is indeed moving on behalf of those who love him and seek him with their whole heart. Just be still, and when the time is right, God will give you directions.

To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ’s sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers— not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away. (1 Peter 5:1-4)

* Words and music by Dimitri Tiomkin & Ned Washington, Copyright Date: June 18, 1959.