Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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Leslie Basham: In 1995, Nancy Leigh DeMoss spoke to a group of Campus Crusade for Christ staff.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Proud people claim rights and have a demanding spirit, but broken people yield their rights and have a meek spirit.

Leslie: God did surprising things through that message on brokenness. Bob and Kathy Helvey were there.

Kathy Helvey: As she started saying, “This is what a proud person is,” she'd list something, and then she'd list the opposite, a broken person.

Bob Helvey: The differences between the two were so great. It was like a fog just kind of lifted from my eyes and gave me the opportunity to be honest with myself about what kind of person am I really?

Nancy: Proud people have a subconscious feeling—this ministry is privileged to have me and my gifts.

Kathy: I sat back, I mean, to my shame, kind of smugly thinking, “Well, that's not me. I can tick that off. I'm not that one, and I'm not that one, either. Well, maybe that one,” but as she started rolling with that list, something happened within me. Honesty—facing issues in my life right there in my seat. I started thinking, “Oh no. Yes, yes, I'm that. Yes, oh yes, I've done that. Oh, that is me.”

Nancy: Proud people are defensive when criticized, but broken people receive criticism with a humble, open spirit.

Kathy: As she read off that list, I remember feeling this devastation. One after another, there must have been 30 or 35, 40—40 examples of a proud person. I had to be honest and think, “You know, I am almost every one of those, but I don't want to be. I want to be on that other side where the brokenness begins."

Leslie: It's Wednesday, September 19, and this is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss. Bob and Kathy Helvey and most of the audience during that meeting in 1995 began to understand that personal revival starts with humility and brokenness. After Nancy's message that day, there followed a couple of days of public confession and grieving over sin. Many of our listeners are having a similar experience as they go through the study Seeking Him: Experiencing the Joy of Personal Revival.

Nancy's in a 12-week series teaching the Seeking Him material, and a lot of listeners are following along in the daily study. This week we've heard Nancy teach on humility from Seeking Him. Nancy calls it the prerequisite for revival. It seemed like a fitting week to play you the message on humility from 1995 that touched so many lives so powerfully.

Nancy: We're tempted to think of revival as primarily a time of joy and blessing and fullness and excitement and enthusiasm and wonder and overflowing abundance, and at the right time, it will be. We want a painless revival. We want, so to speak, a laughing revival. But the ways of God are that the way up is down. We're reminded by one of the leaders of the revival in Borneo in 1973 that revivals do not begin happily with everyone having a good time. They start with a broken and a contrite heart.

You see, we will never meet God in revival until we have first met Him in brokenness. The epistle of James reminds us and calls us to, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you,” (4:8) but there is a process.

First, “Cleanse your hands, you sinners . . . purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be afflicted and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.” First, “humble yourself, in the sight of the Lord,” and then “He will lift you up.” (verses 8-10, paraphrase).

Now, there's some who don't care much for this thought of brokenness, and I think that's perhaps because we have some misconceptions about what brokenness really is. You see, our idea of brokenness and God's idea of brokenness may be two different things.

We tend to think of brokenness, for example, as being sad and gloomy and downcast, never smiling, never laughing or as being morbidly introspective, always trying to dig up some new sin to confess.

Some have the image of brokenness as a sort of false humility where we're continually putting ourselves down. For some, the word brokenness conjures up images of deeply emotional experiences and the shedding of many tears. But I want to say this morning that there may be many tears without brokenness as there may be, in some cases, genuine brokenness apart from the shedding of tears.

There are those who equate brokenness with deeply hurtful circumstances in their lives, but I would say again that it is possible to have experienced deep hurts and tragedies and yet never to have experienced genuine brokenness. You see, brokenness is not a feeling. It is not an emotion. It is a choice that I make.

It is an act of my will. Brokenness is not primarily a one-time experience or a crisis experience in my life, though there may be those. Brokenness is rather a continuous, ongoing lifestyle. It's a lifestyle of agreeing with God about the true condition of my heart and my life as He alone can see it.

It's a lifestyle of unconditional, absolute surrender of my will to God. It's a lifestyle of saying, “Yes, Lord. Not my will but Yours be done.” Brokenness is a lifestyle of responding in humility and obedience to the conviction of God's Spirit and the conviction of His Word, and as His conviction is continuous, so my brokenness must be continual.

There are some wonderful illustrations in the Scripture of broken people, and frequently those illustrations are set in contrast to the lives of those who were not broken. Think, for example, of two Old Testament kings who sat on the same throne.

One committed egregious sins against the heart of God. He committed adultery. He lied, committed murder to cover up his sin, and then lived for an extended period of time in covering up his treacherous, traitorous sin against God and against his nation. And yet in the Scripture we're told that King David was a man after God's own heart.

Then we think of the king who preceded him, King Saul, whose sin, by comparison, as we would measure it, does not begin to be as great as that of King David. All that Saul was guilty of, from the seeing of the eye, was incomplete obedience, and yet, in response to his sin, he lost his kingdom. His family was destroyed. Why the difference?

Both men were confronted by prophets over their sin. Both men said verbally, “I have sinned.” But when King Saul confessed his sin, his confession was in the context of blaming the people, defending himself, making excuses. In the same breath as saying, “I have sinned,” he also said, “Please don't tell the people.”

He covered up whereas King David, when confronted with his sin, fell on his face before God in confession. The evidence of that contrite and broken heart was that he penned for all the world to see those psalms of contrition that we have in our Scriptures today.

You see, a broken person doesn't care who knows. God was not as concerned about the nature of the sin itself as He was about the heart attitude and response of these men when confronted with their sin.

Then the Gospel of Luke gives us wonderful illustrations of the contrast between a broken person and a proud, unbroken person. You remember the parable that Jesus told, and the Scripture tells us that He told this parable to those who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else.

He told about two men who came into the temple to pray. You remember this, in Luke chapter 18. The one was a Pharisee. As he stood to pray, the Scripture says he prayed to himself saying, “O God, I thank You that I compare favorably to all these other sinners that I know.”

Proud people compare themselves to others. There by his side was a lowly, despised tax collector who could not even lift his eyes to heaven. But in the presence of the holiness of God, he smote his breast and said, “O God, the only thing I can ask You for is to have mercy, for I am a sinner.” You see, he refused to justify himself. Rather, he justified God.

In Luke chapter seven, we read the story of Jesus being invited for dinner at the home of Simon the Pharisee. The Scripture tells us that there was a woman who had lived a sinful lifestyle in that town. Apparently, it was widely known. When she heard that Jesus had come to the home of Simon the Pharisee for dinner, she came into that home, presumably uninvited, bearing with her an alabaster box of perfume.

She went immediately to the feet of Jesus as He lay there reclining at dinner. The Scripture says, “She stood behind him at his feet” (verse 38). You'll notice that everything this sinner woman did was at the feet of Jesus.

“She stood behind him at his feet weeping,” a picture, I believe, of the brokenness and the repentance of her heart before she even came into that place. Then as her tears began to fall on the feet of Jesus, she lowered herself to wipe the tears off His feet with her hair—I believe a picture of the forgiveness that she had experienced as Jesus had wiped her sinful heart clean.

Then in the freedom of her heart, regardless of anyone else around or what they thought, she knelt further to kiss the feet of Jesus, to worship Him, to love Him and then took that alabaster jar and poured the perfume, the ointment, on the feet of Jesus, as if she were oblivious to everyone else in the room. All that mattered to her was Jesus, and she cast herself in a broken, contrite spirit before Him.

Now, Simon the Pharisee is a picture to us of a proud, unbroken man who was incensed by all of this and said within himself, “'If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner'” (verse 39).

Well, not only did Jesus know what kind of woman she was, but Jesus also knew what kind of sinner he was. Jesus spoke to him, as you remember, and said, “'Simon, I have something to tell you'” (verse 40).

“'Tell me, teacher,' he said,” (verse 40). Jesus, you remember, told this story of two men who owed a moneylender amounts of money. One owed an extravagant amount and the other just a paltry amount. Neither had anything to pay, so the moneylender forgave them both their debts. Jesus said to Simon, “'Now which of them will love this man more?'” Simon said, “The one, I suppose, who had the bigger debt to cancel” (paraphrase).

Jesus said, “You understand that correctly, but there's something that you haven't understood about Me. He turned to the woman and he said Simon, 'Do you see this woman? I came into this house. You did not give me any water for my feet [just a common courtesy], but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You didn't give me a kiss [a handshake of greeting], but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little'” (verse 41-47).

Do you suppose that Simon had less to be forgiven than did this woman of the street? I think not. They were both sinners. The only difference was that she knew she was, and Simon, in the blindness and pride of his heart, could not see himself to be a needy sinner.

One more illustration in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 15. Jesus gave three parables. He spoke first of the lost sheep, then of the lost coin, and then of the lost son. He told of the two brothers and how the younger of them, with a proud, rebellious, stubborn, wayward heart took his share of the inheritance and went off into a far land where he wasted it all in riotous living. But after he had spent everything, he began to be in need.

It's often our need that leads us to the pathway of brokenness and repentance. Now destitute and poverty stricken, the Scripture says this young man became broken. In his brokenness, it says he came to his senses. He came to himself. He became honest in acknowledging what was his true condition.

He said, “I will arise. I will go to my father.” This is a step of repentance, turning from going my own way and going in the way to the father. “I will say to my father, 'I have sinned against heaven, and I have sinned against you.'” Then he determined to say to his father, though his father never gave him the chance to say the words, “I am not worthy to be your son. Just let me be one of your hired servants” (see verses 1-19).

You see, that's the heart attitude of the broken one, the humble person. And you know how the father welcomed the son, embraced him. The Father heart of God reaches out to, longs for, welcomes, and embraces broken-hearted sinners.

There was another brother, the elder brother. The Scripture tells us in the 25th verse of Luke 15 that the older son, meanwhile, was out in the field. He was the good boy. He was out there doing what he was supposed to do.

Here is this faithful, hardworking son out in the field. He comes near the house, and he hears music and dancing. Rather than going to the source to find out what's really happening, he goes to a servant and says, “What's happening?”

The servant tells him the facts but not the truth. Proud, unbroken people don't want the truth. The servant said, “Your rotten brother came home, and your father's got a party going for him.” He didn't say, “Your brother—you remember how he left so high and mighty? He's come back, but he's not the same person.

“He's broken. He's humble, and he's repentant. He hasn't had a good meal for ages. He's at the end of everything, but his heart is broken. Your father's forgiven him, and it's time to celebrate.”

The father, hearing of the anger of the elder brother, left the party. I'm told that in a Jewish family, that when the father left, that the party had to stop while the father went out to deal with the proud, unbroken, elder brother. Isn't that like so many of our ministries and churches and fellowships today? There's no celebration going on, no joy because they're having to deal with all the proud, unbroken, angry, resentful, ripped-off people.

You see, God is more offended, I believe, by the arched back, the stiff neck, the haughty eyes, and the unteachable spirit than He is by the sodomite, the prostitute, the adulterer, the murderer, or the abortionist because frequently those who are so wrapped up in sins of the flesh know that they are sinful, but those of us who are the elder brothers, the respectable leaders, the Pharisees, the ones who have it all together, so often find it difficult to acknowledge the real need of our hearts.

In recent weeks, I have found God searching my own heart. I've gone before Him many times and said, “O God, show me what it means to be a broken person, to live a lifestyle of brokenness." What are some of the characteristics, the evidences of a proud, unbroken spirit? Let me just share with you some that have come to my own heart as I've waited on the Lord.

  • Proud people focus on the failures of others, but broken people are overwhelmed with a sense of their own spiritual need.
  • Proud people are self-righteous. They have a critical, fault-finding spirit. They look at everyone else's faults with a microscope but their own with a telescope, but broken people are compassionate. They can forgive much because they know how much they've been forgiven. They think the best of others, and they esteem all others better than themselves.
  • Proud people have to prove that they are right, but broken people are willing to yield the right to be right.
  • Proud people are self-protective of their time, their rights, and their reputation. The broken people are self-denying.
  • Proud people desire to be served, but broken people are motivated to serve others.
  • Proud people have a drive to be recognized, to be appreciated. They're wounded when others are promoted and they are overlooked. The broken people have a sense of their own unworthiness. They're thrilled that God would use them at all in any ministry. They're eager for others to get the credit, and they rejoice when others are lifted up.
  • Proud people have a subconscious feeling—this ministry is privileged to have me and my gifts. Broken people have that heart attitude that says, “I don't deserve to have any part in this ministry,” and they know that they have nothing to offer God except the life of Jesus flowing through their broken lives.
  • Proud people feel confident in how much they know, but broken people are humbled by how very much they have to learn.
  • Proud people are self-conscious, but broken people are not concerned with self at all.
  • Proud people are quick to blame others, but broken people accept personal responsibility and can see where they were wrong in the situation.
  • Proud people are defensive when criticized, but broken people receive criticism with a humble, open spirit.
  • Proud people are concerned with being respectable. They're concerned with what others think, and they're working to protect their own image and reputation. Broken people are concerned with being real. What they care about and what matters to them is not what others think but what God knows, and they're willing to die to their own reputation.
  • Proud people, when they have sinned, want to be sure that no one finds out. Their instinct is to cover up, but broken people, once they've been broken—they don't care who knows, who finds out, are willing to be exposed because they have nothing to lose.
  • Proud people have a hard time saying, “I was wrong. Will you please forgive me?” But broken people are quick to admit their failure and to seek forgiveness when necessary. When confessing their sin, proud people tend to deal in generalities, but broken people are able to deal, under the conviction of God's Spirit, to acknowledge specifics.
  • Proud people are concerned about the consequences of their sin, but broken people are grieved over the cause, the root, of their sin.
  • Proud people are remorseful over their sins, sorry that they got found out or caught, but broken people are truly and genuinely repentant over their sin, which is evidenced in the fact that they forsake that sin.
  • When there's a misunderstanding or a conflict in relationships, proud people wait for the other to come and ask forgiveness, but broken people take the initiative to be reconciled. They race to the cross. They see if they can get there first, no matter how wrong the other may have been.
  • Proud people are blind to their real heart condition, but broken people walk in the light.
  • Proud people don't think they have anything to repent of, but broken people realize that they have need of a continual heart attitude of repentance.
  • Proud, unbroken people don't think they need revival, but they're sure that everyone else does; whereas, humble, broken people continually sense their need for a fresh encounter with God, for a fresh filling of His Holy Spirit.

Leslie: That's Nancy Leigh DeMoss. She was eating dinner one time—I think it was in a restaurant, and she got an idea. On a napkin she started writing a list of the differences between proud people and broken people. Who could possibly have guessed how powerfully that list would be used in people's hearts?

She read that list in 1995 to a group of ministry leaders, and God used that message to truly lead them in a time of repentance and brokenness. The tape of that message was widely distributed, convicting many. You can order a copy of this classic message from Nancy. It's part of the series Seeking Him: Experiencing the Joy of Personal Revival.

You can order all twelve weeks of this series on a CD set or as two MP3CDs. For details, just visit It's also printed in Nancy's book, Brokenness: The Heart God Revives. When you make a donation of any amount to Revive Our Hearts, we'll send you the book and the bookmark. Ask for Brokenness when you call with your donation of any amount. The number is 800-569-5959, or visit

If you don't humble your heart in brokenness, eventually you will be broken against your will. Hear more about that tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scriptures are from the New International Version unless otherwise noted. 

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About the Teacher

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has touched the lives of millions of women through Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement, calling them to heart revival and biblical womanhood. Her love for Christ and His Word is infectious, and permeates her online outreaches, conference messages, books, and two daily nationally syndicated radio programs—Revive Our Hearts and Seeking Him.

She has authored twenty-two books, including Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free, Seeking Him (coauthored), Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together, and You Can Trust God to Write Your Story (coauthored with her husband). Her books have sold more than five million copies and are reaching the hearts of women around the world. Nancy and her husband, Robert, live in Michigan.