Senior pastor, Freedom Church (formerly Springs Harvest Fellowship), Colorado Springs, CO
Graduate, Christ for the Nations, Dallas, TX
Dutch Sheets: Praying for America
On March 16, 2010, Pastor Dutch Sheets posted a letter on his web site issuing a call to prayer for America. He had issued a similar call in October 2000, but he feels this recent one is more urgent. He says America is in a horrendous crisis of monumental proportions, a season much like Israel in the days of Joel. This Old Testament prophet warned of devastating judgment coming to Israel, but laced the warning with hope and God’s mercy if certain things occurred. That is precisely where we are in America.
We Americans are a confident and optimistic people, which is often good, but it can also create a dangerous denial and crippling passivity. But please do not be deceived by those who are saying everything is fine. The truth is that we, as a nation, are in serious trouble. Listen to these words from Joel – they are accurate for us today: What a day! Doomsday! God’s judgment has come. The strong God has arrived. This is serious business! … Shake the country up! God’s judgment is on its way – the Day’s almost here! (Joel 1:15, 2:1; The Message)
THE STATE OF THE NATION
If God brought corrective but serious judgment to Israel, we are horribly deceived if we think it will not happen to us. If something doesn’t happen to lessen this judgment—and it can be lessened–we are headed for very difficult times. The economy is going to be devastated. The stock market will go well below where it went a few months back—a crash is coming, and soon. More terrorism and violence will occur in our land, perhaps even war. In Dutch’s spirit, he’s seen buildings crumbling and cities burning. Devastating natural disasters will take place.
In general, hard times will be prevalent. Why? Because we have turned from God and His ways. Consider the true condition of America. This assessment is bleak but accurate. Our government is in decay. The current leaders of Congress promote homosexuality, abortion and socialism, while arrogantly ignoring God and the wishes of the people. They are proud, power-hungry, self- serving, career politicians, not the statesmen/women we so desperately need. Our President fits the same description. Along with the above, while honoringin the White House the Muslim day of prayer, homosexual activists and a coalition of atheists, he refused to honor the time-honored traditions surrounding the National Day of Prayer. Along with Congress and the President, we have many Judges with no regard for God’s word, the Constitution or our true history. The predictable verdict is in: America is in a moral and spiritual crisis of such magnitude that it is almost unbelievable.
From a practical standpoint from Dutch’s grandparents’ day until now, we have gone from 65 percent of Americans having a biblical worldview to now four percent of today’s young people sharing these beliefs. Apart from an absolute miracle, which Dutch thinks is still possible, we have lost a generation of Americans to Satan and secular humanism. Generally speaking, we are a narcissistic, self-loving nation that has accepted a culture of death, perversion, drugs and violence. We have murdered 51 million babies in the womb and to satisfy the cry for a toleration of immorality and perversion, we are ready to throw away 6,000 years of honoring God’s definition of marriage and family.
The church, which is supposed to be salt and light for this mess, is neither. Though a remnant has remained faithful, for the most part the church of America has become totally irrelevant and completely ineffective. We have produced lukewarm Christians and a generation that doesn’t know God or His ways. Our pulpits are filled with smiles, not tears; entertainment, not passion; and self-help stories, not prophetic truth. Our feel-good messages and mega fun-centers have anesthetized us to the reality of our condition and, as opposed to offering solutions, are actually part of the problem. We, the church, are not changing our world; we’re being conformed to it. It’s easier to find the truth about our condition as a nation on talk radio than in our churches. We have left our first love and abandoned our cause. In short, an apostate church, an ungodly government and a culture of death, perversion and self-centeredness have earned us an appointment with judgment.
THERE IS STILL HOPE FOR AMERICA
Dutch say, “But there is still hope.” God desires to bring a Third Great Awakening to America. It can be truly amazing – millions saved and delivered; all of society impacted in a huge way; the youth of America finally introduced to the true Christ in all of His power. But hear Dutch when he says, “Our prayers and actions will determine the magnitude and timing of this awakening; and the level of awakening will determine the magnitude of our judgment. Again, the hope-filled words of the prophet Joel are very pertinent:
"But there’s also this, it’s not too late—God’s personal Message! Come back to me and really mean it! Come fasting and weeping, sorry for your sins! Change your life, not just your clothes. Come back to God, your God. And here’s why: God is kind and merciful. He takes a deep breath, puts up with a lot. This most patient God, extravagant in love, always ready to cancel catastrophe. Who knows? Maybe he’ll do it now; maybe he’ll turn around and show pity. Maybe, when all is said and done, there’ll be blessings full and robust from your God!" (Joel 2:12-14; The Message)
Our God is so ready to show mercy. But not to the proud and indifferent! The prescription to turn a crisis such as Joel warned of and that which we face today, and the trigger that releases the spirit of awakening to offset it have never changed: repentance, humility, prayer and fasting. Dutch says, "This is our only hope for a reduced sentence. Judgment cannot be fully averted but it can be lessened.”
Listen once more to the words of the prophet Joel. He articulates what we are calling for: "Blow the ram’s horn trumpet in Zion! Declare a day of repentance, a holy fast day. Call a public meeting. Get everyone there. Consecrate the congregation. Make sure the elders come, but bring in the children, too, even the nursing babies, even men and women on their honeymoon— interrupt them and get them there. Between Sanctuary entrance and altar, let the priests, God’s servants, weep tears of repentance. Let them intercede: Have mercy, God, on your people! Don’t abandon your heritage to contempt. Don’t let the pagans take over and rule them and sneer, and say where is this God of theirs?’" (Joel 2:15-17; The Message)
CANCELLED – “WILDERNESS OUTCRY”
Dutch and Lou Engle had been planning a gigantic five-day “Wilderness Outcry” event this June 14-18 on a farm in Poplar Bluff, MO, in which they hoped thousands of people would gather to pray and intercede around the clock for this nation. Just this past week they have decided to cancel this event. They believe this vision is of the Lord and no one can deny the desperate need of our nation for prayer, but the reality is that provision for the high cost – most of which had to be paid in advance – had not materialized.
Dutch says, “This was never intended to be a money-making event. Without charging a registration fee, we knew our costs would be several hundred thousand dollars. We were confident we could raise this money. We were wrong. The line between true faith and presumption can be very fine sometimes, and our ability to truly discern God’s will can be difficult. Obviously, we fell short in both areas.”
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