We’re excited to unveil the new Maryland prayer blog from Capitol Commission! You can see it here. The Free State Prayer Slate will be still be up through the end of 2012, but you can begin using the new site now.

Let me encourage you to sign up on this new blog to get a daily or weekly email reminder to pray for your leaders. What a great tool to follow the biblical command to lift up our nation and leaders to the Lord. Also, take advantage of the links for each leader to get more information or contact them to let them know you prayed. The links include their website and email as well as ways to connect by Facebook and Twitter.

Marylanders, we have no excuse not to pray as 1 Timothy 2:1-4 tells us. Sign up today for the email reminders!

My colleague, Ron Bigalke, with Capitol Commission Georgia, offers this prayer on this election day. Thanks, Ron, for pointing us to the cross on this important day.

“Lord God, thank you for your grace—received through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ—which allows Your people to call upon You in prayer.

Lord God, I have prayed for my own discernment as to Your will and purpose, and I also pray that You would grant discernment to the unbelieving community. I pray that what is right would be so evident that even unbelievers would vote using wisdom and would demand honesty and uprightness from their elected officials.

Lord, in the name of Jesus, may the citizens of our nation become so weary of sin and degradation among our leaders that they will seek godly leaders to represent them on every level of government. Give such leaders favor with the public and the media.

Help your people to recognize that as we work upon immortal minds and fill them with the wisdom of Your Word—with the just reverence for You and the love of our fellow citizens—that we labor for that which is eternal.

Lord God, help us not to regard Your providence in our nation with a careless attitude. We appreciate not only the right but also the privilege to vote. I pray that I, in addition to others, will use that privilege wisely by seeking Your will in considering the qualifications of those for whom we vote. I pray for the body of Christ that all would understand the right to vote as a gift from You and to avail themselves of every opportunity. May there arise such an expression of righteousness in our electoral system that it would affect every realm and level of government in our nation.

For those elected officials who lead in their communities and lead our states and nation, may you surround them with wise counsel: men and women of integrity who seek Your will and the good of this nation beyond their own, and whose motives are for that which you deem right.

I pray that You would grant saving faith in Jesus to our incumbents and candidates, and for those who do believe and trust in Jesus Christ as Lord God and Savior, that you would grant them Christlikeness, discernment, honor, integrity, knowledge, and understanding so that our nation may know stability internally and abroad.

I give thanks to You for those who desire to serve. Lord God, I praise You alone as sovereign because You alone rule over all, and You alone are able to defend and keep us. I praise You that these times are under Your sovereign control, and that the king’s heart is like channels of water in Your hands (Prov 21:1). I give thanks for our current leaders and our new officials, in accordance with Your Word (since all those in authority are established by You to serve Your will and purpose).

I pray that You would bless the evangelistic and discipleship ministry to our Capitol communities, as your church seeks to reach them by Your grace and for Your glory. I thank You for blessing that ministry and thereby working in and through our leaders, so that we may have peaceable lives in godliness and honesty.”

Recently, Paul Meinsen, my Capitol Commission colleague in Missouri, had a strange experience. It is recounted in this article.

If you had been Paul, would you have had an answer? How pathetic that a professing follower of Jesus would have such an attitude, but it is possible that you or I might come across something similar, especially with the current political turmoil and upcoming elections. We should be ready with an answer. What would you say?

Yesterday, I was scheduled to pray to open up the Quad State Legislative Conference. This is a group of legislators from Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia who gather each year to discuss issues that affect our region, especially the Interstate 81 corridor which connects all four states. The meeting was held in Martinsburg, West Virginia, about a 25-minute drive from my house.

I had thought through what I might pray for when I got there. I usually thank the Lord for public servants who serve as ministers for the good of the people, pray for them personally including their families, pray for their spiritual lives and ask for godly wisdom as they make decisions for their constituents. I left the house at the time I had planned. Everything was right on schedule until I hit Tuscarora Pike, which was closed.

Now you have to understand where I live. There is a mountain between my house and Martinsburg, so when you encounter a closed road, your options are limited. I was halfway up the mountain when I saw the sign, so after backtracking, finding another way and getting behind a rather slow driver, I lost 40 minutes.

I was going to call a legislator on his cell phone to let him know I was running behind, but for the only time I can remember, my phone just had a black screen. It was fine earlier that morning and was fine when I finally got to the meeting, but was dead when I needed to call someone before the meeting started.

Then I went to the wrong floor of the hotel and couldn’t find the meeting room for a few minutes. When I did arrive, the welcome was being delivered and I wasn’t called on to pray. I had to leave after about an hour. Like I said, it was a bad day.

I asked the Lord “why” a lot yesterday. Why the delays? Why the frustration? Why the opposition? Why was Satan so intent on making me late? After all, it was just a prayer.

It was just a prayer.

As soon as I thought it, I was ashamed. Did that sentence really show what I think about prayer? I call people to pray for their leaders constantly. Deep down, do I really consider prayer something so small that it’s unworthy of satanic opposition?   

Oswald Chambers said, “Prayer does not fit us for the greater work; prayer is the greater work.”

So there’s the confession of my fleshly thought and the rebuke I gratefully received. May we not handle prayer as an insignificant thing.

And please keep praying for your leaders (1 Timothy 2:1-4).

Today, the first Thursday in May, is the National Day of Prayer.  Thousands will gather for public prayer events and even more will remember to speak private words to God asking for help for our nation. It’s a day that true followers of Christ should rejoice in (regardless of who else chooses to join in or promote it). It’s an acknowledgement, at the very least, that we depend in some measure on God for direction, provision, mercy and safety. It brings some questions to mind, though:

Will God hear every prayer lifted up today?

If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. (Psalm 66:18)

Will every prayer come from the right motivation?

You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. (James 4:3)

What should our ultimate motivation be as we pray for America?

Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations,  I will be exalted in the earth! (Psalm 46:10)

What can we pray that our nation would sense and realize?

Put them in fear, O LORD! Let the nations know that they are but men!  (Psalm 9:20)

For what task should believers ask to be empowered in today?

Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples! (Psalm 96:3)

As we pray, what relationship should we seek with America?

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.  (1 Timothy 2:1, 2)

As we pray for “kings and all who are in high positions”, what should take priority?

This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.  (1 Timothy 2:3, 4)

God bless you on this special day in our country, however you choose to participate.  These are just a handful of Scriptures that may guide how we pray today, but there are hundreds more. You may want to have an open Bible in your lap to look for more direction from God to pray with His words for America.

Also, as you pray for leaders, this list will point your mind toward biblical thoughts.  It’s from Frank Erb, my Capitol Commission colleague in California.

May God bless our nation, one heart at a time turning to Him.

Wednesday, January 12, is the start date for the 2011 Maryland General Assembly session.  After last November’s election, 30 freshman legislators were voted into office and have been busy with meetings and orientation.  To pray effectively for all of the leaders of Maryland, you can access the updated Prayer Calendar here.  Many important decisions will be made over the next 90 days, so be in prayer for the session.  Also pray for the weekly Bible studies that Capitol Commission will host for legislators (Thursdays at 8:00 a.m.) and aides (Mondays at 11:30 a.m.).  I look forward to sharing God’s Word and leading our discussions on how to apply these truths to life in the capitol!

John Sartelle has some excellent thoughts on prayer over at the Ligonier Ministries website.  In his article “Prayers Well Aimed”, he applies the principles of 1 Timothy 2:1-4 to all prayer, but narrows the focus on prayer for those in leadership.  It’s a good reminder and challenge for anyone who wants to grow in their prayer life.  I highly recommend it.  The full article can be found here.

Bill Husfelt, Superintendent of Bay City Schools in Florida

Amazing video is being played on newscasts around our nation today from a violent school board meeting last night in Panama City, Florida.  A man named Clay Duke entered the meeting with a gun and, after allowing some in the room to leave, opened fire with the pistol.  See more details and video here.  In the end, no one was killed or injured except the shooter, who apparently took his own life.

Some of us pray for leaders in our society, but after seeing scenes like the shooting last night can we not sense the danger that public figures may face?  Should that not produce more urgency in our prayers?  Does safety even enter our minds when we pray for leaders?

Let’s learn from incidents like this.  Disturbed, self-destructive people who have been hurt are bent on hurting others and sometimes they go after elected officials and others in authority.  Since our governmental leaders are called “ministers of God” to us for our good (Romans 13:4), we should include them in our prayers and because of the reality of violence in our world, their safety should be included in those prayers.

Bill Husfelt, the superintendent of Bay City Schools, gave God the credit that no one on the board was injured or killed.  He said, “God was standing in front of me and I will go to my grave believing that.”  Do you believe God intervenes in man’s affairs and spares people from harm?  There’s no way to watch the video of this shooting and refuse to see God’s protecting hand over those desks.

Pray for the safety of your leaders.

After a culmination of years of investigation and controversy, Rep. Charles Rangel of New York faced the judgement of his colleagues this week.  For the first time in almost 30 years, a censure was read on the House floor, this time against Rangel for several areas of ethical misconduct.  It was a reminder to our nation that there are powerful people in our government who are not above the temptations of corruption.  For followers of Jesus Christ in 21st-century America, however, it should serve as a reminder of a different kind.

As Rangel addressed the chamber on the day of his censure, he spoke a few words of truth, found in this quote: “Even though it is painful to accept this vote … I know in my heart I’m going to be judged not by this Congress but by my life, my activities, my contributions to society.”

Obviously, Rangel was referring to the judgement of his legacy as a congressman.  When all is said and done, he believes what will last will be his service over 40 years in the House, not just a censure near the end of his career.  No one can say whether that is true, but the words that he said that are definitely true in the ultimate sense are: “I’m going to be judged not by this Congress…”.

Ministry from the church to its governmental leaders is needed for this very purpose.  There will be a day of judgement on our lives, but the criteria will not be our work, motives, intent, goodness or altruism.   That day is surely coming for all of us, according to the Scripture:

“it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment…”  Hebrews 9:27

“For it is written, AS I LIVE, SAYS THE LORD, EVERY KNEE SHALL BOW TO ME, AND EVERY TONGUE SHALL GIVE PRAISE TO GOD.” So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God.”     Romans 14:11, 12

It’s another of the many reasons we should pray for those who lead us.  In some respects, they are just like you and me, dealing with life’s everyday frustrations, joys and even tragedies.  But in another sense, the life of a politician contains a dizzying spectrum of the best the world can promise – pleasure, money, power, prestige – far beyond what the average citizen could be tempted with.  Pray for a spiritual heart change for leaders, that their priorities would reflect God’s.  Any other path is wide open to devastate marriages and produce all kinds of destructive corruption.

 

 

 

 

Jerry Falwell, Jr.

I usually keep a blog posting between 400 – 600 words, but to comment on the recent interview Glen Beck conducted with Liberty University Chancellor Jerry Falwell, Jr., I may have to break this up into a few installments.  You can read the transcript of the interview here, but the main statement from Falwell that caught my eye was, “we can argue about theology later after we save the country.”

Wow.  A leader of a major liberal arts evangelical school dismantled the biblical task of believers in culture in eleven words.  We need to consider what this really means. 

First of all, it’s clear to me that this statement is not a chronological plan as much as it is a value judgement or statement of priority.  Waiting until after our country has the right people in power passing the right laws to discuss what we really believe shows a priority list, not a timeline. 

Is Falwell really saying that we should focus all efforts on changing the moral direction of our nation by political change rather than by the truth of God’s Word?  That’s where theology comes from.  The word “theology” literally means “the study of the nature of God”.  Did I just hear Falwell say that our world needs cultural change more right now through the work of Jews, Catholics, Mormons, evangelicals, etc., then we can talk about God and the Bible and truth and where all of us are headed for eternity?  When exactly would be a good time for Falwell to broach that subject with others?

This is where moralism leads – to grand, hyperbolic statements that undermine the true, biblical role of the church in the world and that our sinful, corrupt, godless leaders are obstacles to freedom as we like it, not souls for whom Christ died.

Maybe it will help to see a little more context to those eleven words:

If we don’t hang together we’ll hang separately, I mean, that’s what my father believed when he formed Moral Majority, was an organization of Mormons, Catholics, Protestants, Jews, people of no faith. And there are bigger issues now, we can argue about theology later after we save the country. . . But you’re bringing all these types of people together on your show every day, and it’s creating a partnership between groups that may have never talked to each other otherwise, and I think nothing could be more important at this stage of our history.

Well, putting it in context actually sounds worse, so as we break these observations into several posts, I would also like to include thoughts from John MacArthur’s Can God Bless America?  His final chapter outlines 16 ways moralism can be dangerous.  Since we’re talking about priorities, this is from number 15: Moralism reverses the divine order

Moralism makes morality the power of salvation, rather than vice versa.  Many evangelicals today seem to operate with the notion that if we can elevate the morality of our culture, then more people will believe the gospel.  They imagine that if we can clean up the country, it will afford greater opportunities for the gospel.  That’s exactly the reverse of the divine order. (p. 95)

Followers of Christ do not have the luxury of deciding what our priorities should be in affecting our culture.  We have been instructed in the Scriptures what our main task is and that task is centered on the Word of God, which means that task relies on good theology.  When Jesus gave His commission to His disciples, He emphasized theological disciple-making.  Our message is to teach “them to observe all that I commanded you” (Matthew 28:19).  When Paul wrote that the church should pray for governmental leaders, the ultimate reason was that “God, our Savior… desires all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3b, 4).

Falwell apparently thinks we can’t wait to save our country.  Christ has taught we can’t wait to teach the world about Him and His ways.  That’s also known as theology and should be the church’s real priority. 

Next time: Part 2 – Arguing Theology