America at the Crossroads (Part 2)
The Lord has a message for His people. It is found in the lyrics of the popular worship song, “Shout to the Lord.” The message: “Nothing compares with the promise I have in you.” Nothing compares with the promise we have in Jesus. This message is for every person who is in Christ. Nothing compares to the promise and the purpose we have in the heart of God in this generation. What an awesome truth!
Over the past several years God has been teaching me about the promise that we, as His body, have in His purposes. We live in a unique generation. I truly believe that we have a special destiny in the heart and purpose of God for our day. Throughout this book, we will be looking at what it means for us to connect our lives on the “micro” level to the purposes of God on the “macro” level.
Sons of Issachar
I Chronicles chapter 12 lists the men from various tribes who rallied to the side of David. In the middle of this list, we find a very significant editorial comment concerning the Sons of Issachar. The chronicler describes them as “men who understood the times and knew what Israel should do.” (I Chronicles 12:32) As David needed Sons of Issachar in his day, so the Body of Christ needs Sons of Issachar for the 21st century. To first understand, and then participate in, the grand purpose of God in our generation, we must become like the Sons of Issachar. What does it mean for us as Christians to understand the times and know what we should do? Personally, I long for that kind of wisdom and understanding, and I am sure you do as well.
It is my conviction that we cannot obey the Lord and enter into the highest purposes He has for the Church and for this nation unless we understand this time and this season in which we have been graced to live. I hope that as we seek to flesh out this theme, the Lord will give us insight into His heart. May He not only speak to us a message of hope, but also stir our hearts to faith, and challenge us to prayer and to action.
What Really Matters?
In 1988, I visited Israel for the first time. While I was standing on the tel at Megiddo, overlooking the valley of Armageddon, I sensed the Lord asking me this question: “In light of this place, and what will happen here, what really matters?”
It was a simple, yet profound awareness, an insight that deeply stirred my heart. I remember answering out loud, “Lord, only Your kingdom matters. Nothing else does.”
Through this experience atop Megiddo, the Lord sowed a seed deep in my heart. That seed was a desire to see an awesome revival come to the Church in the United States, and in every nation on the face of the earth. There was birthed in my spirit a burning desire to see the greatest spiritual awakening in the history of the world. Within 10 months of my return from Israel in the spring of ’88, that seed had become a call to pray…a call to pray for revival and spiritual awakening.
And the Lord answered my prayer in a most interesting fashion. He moved my wife, Lynn, and me to Russia in 1991. Then in late 1998, He switched gears and moved us to Israel, where we lived for over two years.
Everything that has happened in my life in the last fifteen years has its root in what God spoke to my heart atop Megiddo – that only the kingdom of the Lord matters. Only Jesus’ advance in the hearts of men matters. Nothing else even comes close.
Although I lived outside of the United States for ten years, my heart was never far from home. My earnest desire to pray for revival in this nation has never dampened. Many times I have asked, “Lord, could it be that you would send a fourth great awakening to the United States?” We have had three great awakenings, one in the 18th century and two in the 19th. Could it be that the Lord would send a fourth? Many have said that the United States is too far gone. Judgment is standing ominously at the door. Yet, for fifteen years, I have been praying for mercy. An admittedly undeserved mercy, yet still that is my heart cry…and I hope it is yours as well.
Since the year 2000, America has begun to experience some serious shakings, most notably the controversy of Election 2000 and the tragic events of September 11, 2001. In His sovereignty, God permitted both of these events to occur. What, if anything, is His message to us? Does God speak to His people through contemporary events? In a later chapter, we will address September 11th specifically. For now, let us turn our attention to Election 2000. What was God trying to say to the Church and the nation through the 36-day ordeal of November 2000? What does this mean for us today, four years later?
As the year 2000 presidential election approached, the Lord impressed upon me how crucial this particular election was for the future of our country. Many calls to fasting and prayer were sounded in advance of the election. I joined in the spirit of such calls to prayer and began to intercede very intensively, especially as the election approached. The Lord’s word to me – and I believe to the Church at large – was, “Watch and pray.”
While it may be true that certain people seem to possess a special intercessory giftedness, and some ministries are even devoted entirely to intercessory prayer; nevertheless, as believers we dare not say, “Well, intercession is only for those ‘called’ to such a ministry.” We dare not say that, because Scripturally we are all called to intercede. It was to every one of us that Paul wrote, “Pray without ceasing” (I Thessalonians 5:17 NKJV). The great need of the hour is that prayer become a virtually involuntary response in our lives, just like breathing out and breathing in. O, that we would pray like that! I believe we can learn to pray like that. We can learn to pray the prayers that are on the heart of God.
The night before the election, I attended a prayer gathering on Mt. Carmel in Haifa, Israel. I had been asked to translate into Russian for the many Russian-speaking Jews who would be present. At the end of the prayer gathering, the pastor called forward a group of visitors who were on a short-term trip from the States. The pastor asked them to pray for the election. As it turned out, every member of the group was from Texas. As they started to pray, I could no longer continue translating. Instead, I began to weep. I felt a prayer burning in my heart. When there was an opportunity, I stood and prayed, “Father, as an American Christian and as a representative for my nation, I want to repent before You for all the sins that our nation and our people have committed. What we have done in straying from our roots has grieved You so deeply. You have every right to give us more of what we deserve, yet I ask You for an undeserved mercy. I beseech You not to give us a leader according to what we deserve, but rather a leader according to mercy. Please send revival and awakening to America again.”