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How to Pray for a President

Nick Price

BY NICK PRICE
JANUARY 21, 2013

Nick is a teaching pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church in Lisle, Ill., and a student at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield. He is the proud father of two kids and happily married to his wife of four years, Jenny. He writes regularly on his blog, Prodigal Preacher.

President Obama has his work cut out for him as he enters his second term—and so do we.

“In God We Trust.” Since 1864, it has been stamped on every U.S. coin. In 1956, it was added to our paper currency. During the Civil War, this motto came to represent the reality that, in moments of national turmoil and strife, our ultimate trust is not in any earthly authority but is found in God alone.

The relationship between faith and country has always been a tenuous one. Yet regardless of how you might feel about having this motto on our currency, the question of who we trust is ultimately an important one to consider.

NOW, AS IN TIMES PAST, WE MUST BE PEOPLE OF PRAYER WHO HUMBLY SERVE ALONGSIDE THOSE IN AUTHORITY FOR THE GREATER GLORY OF GOD.

For those of us who are Christ followers, the truth is that no administration, no party and no political system will fully represent all of the values that we hold as members of God’s kingdom. And Christians, like everyone else, have divided over who they voted for in our recent election. Regardless of how you voted, it’s clear our nation is facing many challenges, and the debates over what need to be done from here are deep and complex.

So, how do we come together today, on the inauguration of Obama’s second term? Well, I think that we do what we have always done: We pray, and we work for transformation. Now, as in times past, we must be people of prayer who humbly serve alongside those in authority for the greater glory of God.

But how do we pray for and work with our government, even when we won’t always agree with its policies or decisions on every point? In Romans 13, the apostle Paul gives us some powerful words by which to measure ourselves as we consider our relationship with the governing authorities. He writes:

“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God…For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good … They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.”

Of course, our democratic context is far removed from the totalitarian state under which Paul lived. However, the main thrust of Paul’s message was to help the early Church view its interaction with the state through the lens of God’s authority, realizing that all human authorities ultimately stand under God’s sovereign reign. As a result, they were to live as God-honoring citizens who fulfill their duties to the state in a way that ultimately pointed those in power back to the God as the rightful ruler of the universe.

AS CHILDREN OF GOD, WE ARE SUPPOSED TO HAVE A TRANSFORMATIVE EFFECT ON OUR SOCIETY—AND THAT MEANS THAT WE ARE ALL CALLED TO POLITICAL ENGAGEMENT.

This truth in our current context requires us to engage in the political process as citizens of the Kingdom by playing a transformative role in our society and by pointing all authorities back to God as the ultimate sovereign. We do this not by criticizing and condemning those in authority from afar, but by serving them in ways that ultimately reflect our commitments as members of Christ’s Kingdom.

Paul’s words here remind us that those in authority have a staggering responsibility. In verse 4, Paul notes that the authorities have been charged with pursuing justice in a world broken by sin. As such, we should honor them where honor is due and pray for them because they are, ultimately, going to be held accountable by God for their actions.

Because of this incredible responsibility, we, as God’s people, must diligently pray for and lovingly serve those in authority. As President Obama today stands for his inauguration into his second term, we pray for him and for his cabinet and advisors that they would use their power wisely, exercising justice for all people and pointing them back to God as the source and definer of what true justice ultimately looks like.

Furthermore, we should partner with those in authority as much as possible to pursue ends that advance the kingdom of God. As children of God, we are supposed to have a transformative effect on our society—and that means that we are all called to political engagement.

Of course, sometimes having a transformative effect on society also means holding the authorities accountable and calling them to a higher standard. Martin Luther King Jr., who we also celebrate today, is a model example of this. As a Christian minister, Dr. King understood what it meant to be prophetically engaged with those in Washington. During his last speech, Dr. King spoke these powerful words:

“All we say to America is, ‘Be true to what you said on paper.’ If I lived in China or Russia or any totalitarian country maybe I could understand some of these illegal injunctions. Maybe I could understand the denial of certain basic First Amendment privileges because they haven’t committed themselves to that over there. But somewhere I read of the freedom of assembly. Somewhere I read of the freedom of speech. Somewhere I read of the freedom of press. Somewhere I read that the greatness of America is the right to protest for right.”

Dr. King embodied what it means to faithfully and lovingly call our authorities to the greater calling of justice, and to work alongside those who did so.

For the rest of the post…

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Scotty Smith

by SCOTTY SMITH

A Prayer on Sanctity of Human Life Sunday

     I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Rev. 21:1-3

Most loving Lord Jesus, your loud voice and tear wiping hand, together, give us the courage and compassion we need to live as faithful advocates for human life—in all its expressions. How we long for the Day when “death shall be no more”—when life will flourish in the new heaven and new earth.

Today we especially think about the lives of unborn children and the constant threat to those lives—even as we cry out to you on behalf of all kinds of women in all kinds of situations who are carrying those children in their wombs.

All of your promises are “trustworthy and true,” so we will neither despair nor retreat in the face of unconscionable evil and overwhelming need. Jesus, give us gospel courage to contend against the dark oxymoron called “legal abortion.” Those two words simply do not belong together. Because you are making “all things new,” we will continue to fight the good fight of faith for children who are still being knit together in their mother’s womb.

There is a Day coming when abortion will be no more. In light of that Day, give us wisdom. Give us strength. Give us fire. Give us perseverance. Give us the sufficient grace we need to advocate for unborn children in this day—in our communities and among the nations of the world.

We also cry out for gospel compassion. Jesus, show us how to love and care for women and men whose stories are marked by abortion—either as victims or agents. Only the gospel is sufficient for the guilt. Only the gospel can bring healing. Only the gospel can transform an agent of wrong into a warrior for justice and mercy.

Jesus, we don’t just long for the Day of no more abortions. We also long for the Day of no more miscarriages. Sin and death have violated every domain of shalom, including the realm of birthing. Our hearts break for those families who would love a child to your glory, but must endure the pain of giving up their children before birth. Show us how to love and serve them well. Extend your tear-wiping hand through us.

How long, Jesus, before the last abortion and the last miscarriage? How long, O Lord?

For the rest of the prayer…

Father,

On this Lord’s Day, January 20th 2013, we pray that genuine revival will descend on the American Church. This being the Sanctity of Human Life, we confess that 55 million unborn babies have been aborted and killed since January 22, 1973. We are in great need of your abundant mercy and forgiveness!

Come Lord Jesus Come!

Thursday January 17, 2013   
In an interview with Oprah Winfrey, Lance Armstrong admitted to cheating as he won his seven Tour de France titles after battling back from a fight with testicular cancer. Armstrong was “stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and banned from the sport for life by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency in October 2012, after allegations that he benefited from years of systematic doping, using banned substances and receiving illicit blood transfusions.”

The rise and fall of Lance Armstrong should serve as a reminder for us all as to how easy it is for us to allow sin to destroy all that we have. We are all, but by the grace of God, Lance– and we should look at the reality in the light of our own fallenness. The patterns evident in this story are not new and it is worth remembering the biblical truths that undergird. As a matter of fact, scripture points to the fall of great people and calls us to learn humbly in such moments– not rejoicing in their downfall, but learning to guard out own hearts.

As such, I offer four biblical considerations we might ponder after one of the greatest cheating scandals in sports history.

1. Internal desires are the root of our external sins.

James, the half-brother of Jesus Christ, writes in the book bearing his name, “Each person is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own evil desires” (1:14, HCSB). The desire to succeed, to win, to be the best can manifest itself in many ways. While the desire to excel is not wrong, if it becomes the focus of our lives it can lead to external behaviors that do not honor God.

2. To fulfill our selfish desires, we often look for shortcuts.

Armstrong is not the first athlete to use performance enhancing drugs. Americans have watched congressional hearings and read expose after expose on the use of banned substances. Armstrong is definitely not the first cyclist to be banned for blood doping. From all accounts, cycling has a long history of illegal activity and blood doping. For many the shortcut to the top is often too enticing to pass up. When a desire to excel becomes all consuming, shortcutting the rules or laws becomes the norm.

Secret sin can become its own satisfaction.

The Bible says, “Stolen water is sweet, and bread eaten secretly is tasty!” There are times when the desired goal actually takes second place to thrill of keeping the secret. When this happens the secrecy becomes a self-perpetuating activity. Externally the goal of winning or being the best is still evident, but the internal driver is affected by the stolen water and secret bread.

3. The threat of being uncovered often causes us to dig a deeper hole.

In the Old Testament King David provides us with one of the well known historical examples of a person with a secret who went to extreme measures to try and keep a secret. After impregnating the wife of a man off in battle, David manufactured a complex scenario he hoped would cover over his own involvement with the woman, Bathsheba. He even went so far as to arrange her husband’s death to keep his actions secret.

Armstrong and others keeping secrets from the public have lashed out at accusers, attempting to vilify or ruin them. This while keeping the lid on their own lies. That’s what we often do.

4. Exposure is inevitable– now or in eternity.

In the case of King David it was a prophet, Nathan, who appeared in the throne room one day to expose the king’s secret. In Armstrong’s case…

For the rest of the post…

Prayer and the Mission of God

By Philip Nation

Prayer is used by God to bring His people into alignment with His mission. It is critical that we remember that prayer is not a power by which we force God to act according to our will. Rather, by communicating with God, His passions can become our passions. Believers have the opportunity to both listen to and speak to the God of the universe in prayer to receive guidance by His Spirit. It is not just an activity of our faith but is a portion of the relationship we have with Christ.

mogsb.jpegPrayer is an activity often thought of as driving only the personal side of the believer’s life. If we view prayer merely as an internal discipline, we can lose sight of how God might use prayer as a means of engaging us in His mission in ways that extend beyond our own spiritual development. As our maturity in Christ develops through the relational activity of prayer, it should consequently cause us to see the world and humanity as Christ does.

The mission assigned to the church has its originations in the mind of God and must therefore be directed by Him. It is in prayer oftentimes that Christians will come to a place of complete abandonment to God’s Spirit. In Ephesians 6:18, believers are directed to “pray at all times in the Spirit.” By praying according the passions and in the power of the Holy Spirit, we surrender our will to His plan and purposes.

For the rest of the article…

Inaugurating a New Era

A Benediction for Post-Christian America

By: John Stonestreet|January 16, 2013

Inauguration day is fast approaching. But a different kind of inauguration has already taken place. I’ll explain, next on BreakPoint.

John Stonestreet

Last Friday on BreakPoint, I suggested that we must face the facts that we are now in a new era: the post-Christian America that Francis Schaeffer, Chuck Colson and many others predicted would come.

I was referring then to Hobby Lobby facing millions of dollars in fines for refusing to obey the HHS mandate.  If any further proof is needed, last weekend’s broo-ha-ha over who’s praying at the presidential inauguration is exactly that.

A rock-solid evangelical pastor who has mobilized thousands of young people to campaign against human trafficking was invited by the White House to give the benediction at the inauguration. But within hours, a small handful of homosexual activists hit the roof, because the same pastor, years prior, had the gall to say in a sermon that homosexual activity was sinful.

Thoroughly tarred with the “hater,” “bigot,” and “anti-gay” labels, this pioneer for human rights, Pastor Louie Giglio of Passion City Church, respectfully stepped aside.

Whether Pastor Giglio did so proactively or was responding to heated pressure from the White House isn’t exactly clear.

One thing’s for sure, Giglio’s now oft-quoted sermon on homosexuality was prophetic. He warned that the gay movement would do anything necessary to make sure the homosexual lifestyle becomes accepted as a norm in our society and is given full standing as any other lifestyle.

And today, in the media, in popular culture, in politics, it has that full standing. And its acceptance was lightning quick. Remember, just four years ago another evangelical pastor, Rick Warren—who has made his position on homosexual behavior also quite clear—prayed at Barack Obama’s first inauguration.

So today, we find ourselves in a situation where, as Al Mohler wrote, historical, biblical Christianity is clearly “out of bounds.”

The question is, what now? There’s no doubt, as my friend Gabe Lyons blogged, that Giglio was the victim of bullying by homosexual activists. He called on the President to remind them that freedom of conscience—I would say freedom of religion—is the first right of every American.

Over at the CNN belief blog, Matt Anderson suggested that conservative Christians should embrace a certain dispassion when it comes to politics. His specifics seemed a bit muddled to me, but he rightly said that when we suffer injustice, we ought not display panic-driven anger as if our future depends on political acceptance.

Owen Strachan’s response, which I’m fully on board with, was that being truly “gospel-centered” includes “grief and protest against sin and injustice.”

Strachan writes that the Bible does not commend “a kind of imperturbably equanimity in light of suffering, persecution, and the usurpation of our rights . . . The biblical leaders [like Paul in Acts] defended themselves vigorously, knowing like Moses did that God himself was behind their call for justice.”

Pastor Giglio stepped aside to avoid any further controversy. He wrote to his church, “My greatest desire is that we not be distracted from the things we are focused on…seeing people in our city come to know Jesus, and speaking up for the last and least of these throughout the world.”

And there’s no doubt he’ll do just that. But part of me wishes he had not stepped away from the inaugural benediction.

Despite controversy or recriminations, Christians must stay in the arena, engaged in public life. Our posture in the midst of these divisive issues is important, but so is our presence.

It’s distracting, some say. The real task is to preach the Gospel. That’s missing a very important point, one that Owen Strachan states clearly: Christian teaching is not a barrier to the Christian gospel. The God who designed sexual wholeness is the same who designed redemption for all who find themselves broken, sexually or otherwise.

Come to BreakPoint.org, click on this commentary, and I’ll link you to the articles I’ve discussed today

by TREVIN WAX

When the Wind is Against You

Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side…
The boat was…battered by the waves, because the wind was against them. (Matthew 14:2224)

Following Jesus doesn’t mean the wind will always be at your back. On the contrary, the wind is often against you.

Put yourself in the scene. A miraculous multiplication of loaves and fish. Thousands of people satisfied. The power of Jesus on full display.

Now Jesus says, “Take the boat to the other side while I go pray.” In other words, As you obey Me, I’m going to be absent. The disciples might have seen the first clue that this little task wasn’t going to be easy.

I imagine the disciples battling the waves and steering against the wind, wondering why it’s so difficult to do the simple thing Jesus requested. Can you hear their thoughts?

– Why in the world is this so hard?

– He can feed thousands, but we can barely steer a boat.

– Why does He insist on disappearing at the worst possible times?

The Wind is Against You

You ever been there? You’re listening to Jesus and seeking to follow His instructions, and it seems like the wind is against you.

Sometimes people talk as if following Jesus makes life better and easier. You’re right that Jesus makes life better, but don’t think following Jesus makes your life easier. Coming to Christ will complicate your life. You must now take into consideration whatever He teaches on a given subject. You make decisions with King Jesus on the throne instead of King You.

Still, we are surprised when it seems like everything is against us. The wind you thought you’d have at your back is actually against you.

The Gusts of Doubt

That’s when the doubts creep in. What am I doing wrong? I’m trying to obey Jesus here and He’s not making it easy!

For the rest of the article…

Statue of Martin Luther

“World, death, devil, hell, away and leave me in peace! You have no hold on me. If you will not let me live, then I will die. But you won’t succeed in that. Chop my head off, and it won’t harm me. I have a God who will give me a new one.”

~ Martin Luther

Father, we deserve absolutely nothing from you! We actually deserve your stern rebuke because we have sinned against you in thought, word and deed. We have not been your holy people and the church is not the city on the hill in America! Please forgive us as we prayerfully seek you on this Lord’s Day!

In Jesus Name!

Amen! 

Archibald Campbell Tait

I want a life of greater, deeper, truer prayer!

~ Archbishop Archibald Tait

January 2013
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