By Michael Hernandez
REDDING—“God wants to transform the city. The church exists for the city,” said The Stirring Pastor Nathan Edwardson preaching a sermon series on Sunday, Nov. 7th.
“When God led Nehemiah—the cupbearer of the Persian King Artaxeres—into the ruins of the city (Jerusalem), He was giving him a vision for his city. God was leading Nehemiah to rebuild and restore the walls.
“After 70 years of (Jewish) captivity (in Babylon), it had been 100 years since a return from exile. The Jews had built a temple—they had worship but the city still was in ruins. It is not just singing or worship that restores a city. Worship must lead us to the wall. Personal revival must lead us to cultural transformation.
“The tragedy of the Western version of Jesus in the church is that we have cultivated a church that never touches the broken places of our city. God wants partners in the transformation of the city. God does not just want souls, He wants cities.”
Pastor Edwardson said we could learn from the life of Moses—the Jewish boy raised to be a prince in Egypt—when he was rescued from the Nile River by the daughter of Pharoah who had ordered all the Jewish males to be killed.
It was Moses that fled Egypt after taking justice into his own hands by killing an Egyptian who was beating a Hebrew (Jew) and was now afraid of Pharoah due to his actions. Now, 40 years had passed before Moses encounters God at the burning bush and God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And God said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, I AM has sent me to you…I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt…to a land flowing with milk and honey.” (Exodus 3:14, 16-17)
“What does it look like be on the wall of the city?” Asked Pastor Edwardson who said that Moses’ life can help us by seeing and hearing:
- A story (where we have been): “Moses’ story begins with the Jewish midwives who hid Moses in the reeds of the Nile River. The princess of Egypt finding Moses and bringing Moses to the Egyptian palace to raise him is a stunning rescue story. Moses will be sent back to the palace in Egypt by God and then lead the Jews out of Egypt. Long before God reveals His presence to Moses, He is present.
“The call of God and the wall of God are deeply connected to your story and where you have been. When we neglect our story, we confuse our calling and our walls. When we run from our past, we get confused about our future. Every follower of Jesus has a story which shapes our calling to the city.”
- A stutter (what we overcome): “God wants to empower Moses. Yet, God has chosen a man with a stutter to be His voice. What does this say about God? The foolish and the weak are used by God to confound the wise. God says, ‘offer me your fears,’
“God is not looking for perfection or polish. God will use you to transform the broken places of the city. Your vulnerability impacts the city more than your spirituality.”
- A sound (what we carry): “God is looking for a sound that releases the city—a sound of deliverance, a sound of rescue, a sound of justice.
“Do we carry the sound of justice, the sound of fathering and mothering, the sound of family deliverance, the sound of innovation and creativity? Can people hear our sound? Do we carry a sound that releases the city? Do we
carry a sound the rescues the city””
- A space (where we are): “God comes where He is welcomed—where He is invited—onto the walls of the city.
“I don’t like the (Seven Mountains) language of ‘taking our cities for God.’ We have to repent (of using this language). Jesus came to serve. God doesn’t love our country more than any other country. God loves people. God is sending us out to serve within the culture—this is what Jesus did. Jesus didn’t come to take a city but to serve a city. Then it will be “taken” for God.
“We should be running into the space God gives us.”
- A season (when you are): “It is timing that gets people stuck.”
“Discipling people is all about the ‘story, the stutter, the sound, the space, and the season,’” said Pastor Edwardson. “We need to create the environment where this can all happen so we can bring the ruins of our (city) walls into redemption.”
(Editor’s Note: To read about ‘Working the Walls of the City (Part I) go to:
Michael Hernandez, Co-Founder of the Citizens Journal—Ventura County’s online news service; editor of the History Makers Report and founder of History Makers International—a community nonprofit serving youth and families—is a former Southern California daily newspaper journalist and religion and news editor. He worked 25 years as a middle school teacher in Monrovia and Los Angeles Unified School Districts and is now working with the Redding Elementary School District. Mr. Hernandez can be contacted by email at [email protected].