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Volume 1: Issue 1
Originally Published In The Herald Journal
June 20, 2014
“A Call to Repent: A Joel 2 Moment”
It seems to me that every time I read the paper, watch the news or catch some article from a blogger, there is a constant reminder that our culture is rapidly turning away from God. It is as if there is a collective voice telling every Christian that we don’t want your God, we don’t want your Bible and we wish you would all just go away! I feel it and to me it carries with it a sense of loss, and it begs the question, where have we gone wrong to get to this place in our culture? Like many of you I am pained every time I hear of another school shooting, or whenever I see young people who are apathetic to God and the church or I witness our culture’s enthusiastic embrace of sin in and through our entertainment. I am pained because I know that these are symptoms, mere symptoms of people living life without God. People who have lost their sense of identity before Him. People who have lost their fascination with Jesus and so they seek to be fascinated by the wrong things. When I think about these things it stirs up all kinds of emotions, like sadness, disappointment, anger and frustration. But I can’t escape the fact that if our culture has walked away from God, then it is not their fault, it is ours.
So where have we gone wrong? There are so many answers to that question, but I think what it boils down to is that we have set the “wrong things” as our “main things” in the church. For more than 20 years the church has gotten wrapped up in church growth strategies, seeker sensitivity, programming, overly produced worship “experiences”, facilities and oh yeah, did I mention programming. To me all of these are things that grow churches but have no direct eternal significance. Things that I consider the A,B,C’s of church…Attendance, Buildings and Cash. We have made these our priority as if God is impressed with them. Well, He’s not, but somehow they have become our focus, instead of the hearts and souls of people. And so while we have been patting ourselves on the back for building our mega-churches, coming up with the latest and greatest program and erecting monuments to our great ideas, guess what? We have lost the culture.
Now don’t get me wrong, every church has to decide how they will look, where they will meet and how they will minister in a community, but the problem is that we have gone after building great churches with all of the trappings instead of going after God. Don’t we understand that there is no power in any program, building, methodology, strategy, etc… to save, impact or transform the heart and soul of the individual. The only power to do that is found in Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ alone. Yet somehow after several decades of becoming experts in building organizations, we are shocked by where the culture has gone. Well, instead of being shocked by their ungodliness, we need to take back something that we have so obviously lost, our passion for Jesus and our influence!
It is time church. It is time Pastor. It is time Christian. Time to repent of our wrong-mindedness and to return to the simple things of our faith. To return to dedicated intimacy with God by fellowshipping with Him in prayer. It is time to stop worrying how big your church is, who has the best youth program or worship team in town or adding that new addition to our building. It’s time to humbly get on our knees before God and invite Him to stir our faith and to take us to the depths of knowing Him. It is time that we returned our focus to knowing Jesus fully and allowing Him to manifest His presence among us! It is time to come together as believers and invite God to send revival over a city and to take back a region!
To that end, I believe that the word of God in this hour to His church is found in Joel. I encourage you to read all of Joel, but here’s an excerpt from Joel 2:11-17 (NASB).
The day of the Lord is indeed great and very awesome,
And who can endure it?
“Yet even now,” declares the Lord, “Return to Me with all your heart, And with fasting, weeping and mourning;
And rend your heart and not your garments.” Now return to the Lord your God, For He is gracious and compassionate, Slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness And relenting of evil.
Who knows whether He will not turn and relent And leave a blessing behind Him, Even a grain offering and a drink offering For the Lord your God.
Blow a trumpet in Zion, Consecrate a fast, proclaim a solemn assembly,
Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, Assemble the elders, Gather the children and the nursing infants. Let the bridegroom come out of his room And the bride out of her bridal chamber.
Let the priests, the Lord’s ministers, Weep between the porch and the altar, And let them say, “Spare Your people, O Lord, And do not make Your inheritance a reproach, A byword among the nations. Why should they among the peoples say, ‘Where is their God?’”
It’s simple. We’re in a Joel 2 moment right now. God is calling His church to get rid of all of the fluff and to come and know Him. This passage of the Bible shouts to us down through the generations, “Wake up, church! Return to the Lord with fasting and mourning. This is how God restores a people. This is how God sends revival. This is how the Church takes back its influence. The question is will you continue to go about business as usual in your church and faith or are you ready to return to the Lord and seek Him with all of your heart? God is looking for those who will return to Him in this hour. To those who do, the Lord will relent and instead of judgment He will give favor and blessing both to the church and the community. To those who don’t, well, lets not be those Christians!
This is what we are pressing in for. Will you join me? Will you press in for the deeper things of God? Then I ask you, pray that God will send revival over Monticello and the region! Pray like you have never prayed before because this is the hour the Lord has assigned the Church to shine and to be the city on the hill! Will you let your light shine?
You can find sermons and information about Pastor Brad Stroetz’ ministry by visiting www.lifesongchurchmonticello.com