Skip to main content
August 10, 2023 / by Pastor Scott Boerckel

Almost daily, I am appalled by the proposed and enacted policies of our national, state, and local leaders. Matters that were part of our collective moral conscience now are regarded as evil, and those matters which were once abhorrent to all are now regarded as virtuous.

We have truly arrived at times similar to the Lord’s judgment upon Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Isaiah, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight!” (Isaiah 5:20-21).

The Problems in our Nation

I don’t think that I need to trot out too many examples to demonstrate the moral collapse of our nation, but here are some national, state, and local examples:

National: We have attempted to redefine marriage. We further regard marriage lightly by living together and divorce and remarriage. Our nation has 23% of her children living in a single parent home, more than three times the world average. In fact, we lead the world in the number of single parent homes. (i) We are facing a national disaster by attempting to use our military as a grand social experiment rather than as a means of national defense. (ii)

State: The State of Illinois has made it clear that they want the state to be a destination for obtaining abortions. (iii) They are attempting to put pregnancy resource centers out of business. (iv) They have shackled our police in the fight against crime and have emboldened criminals in their pursuit of evil.

Local: Our public schools have become one great laboratory experiment in social engineering. They seek to redefine morality, while at the same time denying that morality has anything to do with it. Instead of promotion of legitimate business, it seems easier for local officials to expand gambling and marijuana shops. Just in video gaming and just in the Town of Normal, the amount gambled in May of 2023 was $9,606,297.02. (v) Together, the two marijuana dispensaries in Bloomington/Normal are estimated to have grossed $19 million in 2021. (vi) This promises to be more as more dispensaries come to our communities.

The Sad Responses of the Church in America


The church in America has tried several answers to these sad trends. One attempt is to compromise and join the culture in its headlong pursuit of self-destruction. So, the church in America waffles on issues of import. It began with compromises over divorce, but that was followed quickly on the heels by compromises on homosexuality, the recreational use of drugs, and the determination to avoid attaching any stigma to sin and its pernicious effects. Today, one can find some church leader somewhere to embrace almost any immoral position, thus lending legitimacy to any particular immorality.


It is not just in compromise that the church in America has failed. Even more glaring is the way in which hypocrisy prevails. The larger culture reports with glee that professing Christians divorce at the same rate, use pornography in the same proportion, engage in physical and sexual abuse and lie and cheat and steal, and then try to cover their sinful tracks. Sadly, we see example after example of church LEADERS doing these very things and then attempting to justify their evils. Historically, the church has not stood strong against racism, which is a hypocrisy that opponents of the church use to shame the church into silence. Together, these various hypocrisies have muted the church in America’s moral authority and have weakened her prophetic voice to declare right from wrong.

Political answers

Another attempted answer by the church to address America’s moral decline is to engage in the business of politics. Now this engagement has always been less influential than the media portray, but many Christians mistakenly believe that the answer to America’s moral decline is just to get the right people into office. There are three problems with this approach:

1) It leads to a false patriotism. The idea of America as “God’s chosen people” is not true, and even if you want to argue the point, it is less true than ever before. A false patriotism leads to the placing of misplaced priorities, where “get out the vote” initiatives become more important than “get out the Gospel” initiatives. It leads to the waving of the flag over the proclamation of the Bible. Now, don’t misunderstand me. There is a place for true patriotism by all believers in whatever country that they live in. But we need to remind ourselves that our citizenship is in heaven. Believing too much in political solutions leads to a confusion of those priorities;

2) The church ends up becoming partners with dirty people. Politics is a dirty business where compromise and give and take must rule the day. When we begin to say, “Well, this guy is immoral, but at least he’s OUR guy,” we have become partners in the wrong endeavor. This does not mean that we don’t vote unless the candidate is perfect. But it does mean that we don’t get all sucked into a committed engagement with morally compromised, evil people. The church has been naïve on that front ever since Constantine;

3) Simply as a pragmatic matter, the church no longer has the influence to reform society by political means. We are no longer a “Christian nation.” Of course, we never have been, IF by “Christian nation” we mean that the majority of the population were genuine believers in Jesus, bound for heaven. However, even if we merely defined “Christian nation” as people who agreed to the Christian values found in the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount, even if they never obeyed them, we still must conclude today that this is not a “Christian nation,” even if it used to be. So, an attempt now to reform culture by political means will not succeed.

What Shall We Do? The Need for Revival of the Church and the Sermon Series this Fall in Ezra

I am convinced that the only hope for our nation will come from a revival of the American church that leads to a reformation of our culture and the salvation of many millions of people. We are simply too far gone for any other solution to take hold. Of course, we cannot make revival come to the church. We cannot influence thousands of churches and millions of people. But we can prepare our own hearts for the work of the Holy Spirit. We can be revived ourselves! Would you join me on a journey this fall as we consider the hope and promise of revival from the book of Ezra? Beginning September 3 and continuing through the fall, we will have a ten message series in Ezra with a special focus on personal and corporate revival.

Events and Activities Associated with the Message Series

In conjunction with this message series, we will be coordinating several activities and ministries around the theme of revival. Here are some examples:

  1. We plan to alternate extended corporate prayer times and celebration of communion every other Sunday of the series. In the extended corporate prayer time, we will not just be hearing from someone praying “up front,” but we will be connecting the congregation in small groups throughout the worship center. We will conduct the communion a bit differently too, with people coming to tables set up throughout our worship center.
  2. Each of our Wednesday night prayer meetings for the fall will be on the theme of revival. Pastor Jeff has made a life study of revival and will share his insights along with some rich times of prayer.
  3. We will be making small group book studies of Ezra available for small groups to use so that they can dive more deeply into this wonderful book of the Bible. The goal will be personal and corporate revival, not just knowing the content of Ezra.
  4. We will be starting new small groups that will be just for the fall study in Ezra. If the group desires to continue further, we can enable that, but there is no obligation beyond the fall participation. In this way, we hope more folks will be part of a small group this fall.
  5. When we get to Ezra 7, particularly Ezra 7:10, we will be talking about revival as “study, do, teach” or, as we say in our vital signs, “rooted, growing, making”. Pastor Traig will be developing some personal video testimonies of folks in our church. These are people who have learned that personal spiritual growth and revival don’t just come from knowing more, it comes at least in part from being able to teach what you know to others.
  6. We plan to do a post-sermon podcast each week to add new material that was not in the message or to emphasize some important points of the message.
  7. We also plan to have Pastor Jeff do a video summary of his Wednesday night teaching each week, especially for those unable to attend the prayer meeting.
  8. To connect to one another and to serve our church in a similar way that Ezra had the people of Israel serve, the deacons hope to have a fall work day.
  9. We are planning to have a Friday night “Watch Night Prayer” time in the fall for both personal and corporate prayer over revival.
  10. We hope to publish an Ezra resource notebook which will contain places for your sermon notes, your prayers, and your reflections in the journey this fall as we seek personal and corporate revival.

What does this have to do with fasting?

In this edition of the Oak Leaf, we are focusing on the Christian discipline of fasting. Fasting is a way for us to yearn for God, to seek Him more than we seek food. However, fasting is not trying to get God to pay attention to us because we suffer. God is far too good and too true to submit Himself to those sorts of manipulative endeavors. Rather we fast simply to focus on the divine—to know HIM.

In Ezra, we will encounter a couple of times of fasting. One is in Ezra 8:21-23 where Ezra proclaims a fast to ask the Lord for protection for His people because he was too embarrassed to ask the king to give the protection because Ezra had already told the king that the Lord would protect them. The first purpose of this fast was that “we might humble ourselves before our God.” (Ezra 8:21) There is indeed the request for protection, but the humbling before the Lord came first in importance. Another episode of fasting in Ezra comes in chapter 9 where the people become aware of the gravity of their sinfulness. This is always part of revival. As a result of this awareness, Ezra tore his garment and his cloak and pulled hair from his head and beard and sat appalled and fasted. Fasting is a way to sit still and become aware of spiritual realities that can easily escape our notice when we are busy with our normal life.

So, in this Oak Leaf, you will learn something about fasting, and you are being introduced to our fall emphasis upon revival. Will you pray that God may do a remarkable work in us, that we may encounter the living God?

We can’t change our nation, but we can ask God to change us.

The problems in our nation are essentially spiritual. The problems in the church are essentially spiritual. The problems in my life are essentially spiritual! The answer to those problems will not come from pragmatic policy or political initiatives. The answer will come as God’s people are broken before His holiness, confess their sins, and cling to the cross. We cannot make that happen, either nationwide or in our own community. We can, however, seek the Lord with all our hearts. I believe that He rewards those who diligently seek Him. If we are revived, the Holy Spirit may be pleased to fan that flame more broadly. Whether He does or not, we will have encountered the Living God.

With anticipation for God’s gracious work
among us this fall,

Pastor Scott



Scott loves being a pastor and teaching God’s Word. Before he was a pastor, he worked as a ceramic engineer (and bonus points for anyone who actually knows what that is). He sometimes uses the training that he received at the University of Illinois (Go Illini!), Grace Theological Seminary, and Jerusalem University College. Scott’s wife, Carol, is an awesome watercolor artist who really knows how to think Christianly about the arts. Scott likes cycling with friends, enjoying his ever growing family, and learning from the community of God’s people at East White Oak.

Return to August Oak Leaf

August OakLeaf Articles:

Joining Together for Revival by Pastor Scott Boerckel
Are We Forgetting Something? Prayer with Fasting by Dr. Jeff VanGoethem
Fasting: Power From Helplessness by April Kinzinger
Purpose-Filled Fasting by Pastor Traig Whittaker
Quotes About Fasting compiled by Rob Sizemore
5 Myths About Fasting by David Mathis