GospelVMoralismPick a news story from this week. A strange and unprecedented presidential campaign? Disagreement over a possible Clinton indictment? The murder of policemen in Dallas? Police shootings in Baton Rouge and Minneapolis? The threat of terrorism here and overseas? Twisted analysis of our problems by our leaders – those who should know how to fix problems?  These issues and a hundred more vie for our attention each day, uniting most Americans to agree on this: we need change.

For some reason, we think the problems of this summer are the worst in history. But our current state just continues the path men have followed for millennia with the same core problem that we’ve always had. But lately, people are talking about change more than before. There seems to be a lot of us thinking that we could do better. We can. But we have to know what kind of change is really needed.

If the apostle Paul could speak to America and America’s leaders today, his message would be the same as the one he had for King Agrippa in Acts 26. And since Paul can’t speak to Americans today, those who follow Christ have to be the ones to speak. So, what did he say?

  1. He told his story – Quoting Jesus, Paul related, “But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you,” (Acts 26:16). Paul had a great testimony of coming to faith in Christ and if you have been changed by the power of Jesus, then you have a story you can tell, too. Nobody can refute your story, so tell it and give glory to God.
  2. He made the gospel clear – Again remembering Christ’s words calling him to minister, “to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me” (Acts 26:18). This should be the heart of our message to the world – the gospel of Christ is the only power that can truly change hearts through forgiveness and sanctification. No other plan or shortcut will work.
  3. When he was commanded, he obeyed“Therefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision…” (Acts 26:19). None of this matters if the Church won’t obey.
  4. He presented true change – Obeying God’s call he “declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance.” (Acts 26:20) Here’s where lives head in the right direction, families and communities heal, then nations are strengthened. Deeds that flow from repentance. Hearts, then behavior, changed by the gospel.

If the Church prays only for better behavior in our world, if we are content merely with better laws and less immorality, we have missed Paul’s message from Christ. Moralism never solves what the gospel does. As we pray for our broken nation and increasingly godless society led by many blind guides, a prayer for the spread and reception of the gospel is our only true hope. And the only way that hope becomes a reality is if individual Christians share it with individuals who don’t follow Christ yet.

Agrippa thought Paul was crazy, by the way, and didn’t believe the message. But the root of our world’s problems (and the solution) remains unchanged 2100 years later.

Flag of France (1)This weekend has seen another outpouring of heart-wrenching sympathy for those who have been slammed by the hateful fist of terrorism. All the political disagreements have bubbled to the surface again, as they always do after senseless violence, with little headway toward true solutions. All it seems we can do is brace ourselves for the next attack, wondering when and where it will occur. Coping in this era of a globally-conscious, 24-hour stream of tragic information, uncertain of tomorrow’s headlines, proves to be a challenge. Yesterday it was France. We don’t know who will need peace and comfort when terror strikes next. Social media, though, has emerged as a way for many to respond to our violent world, and as I read posts from this weekend, I’m left wondering a few things.

  1. I wonder, when someone says something like, “My prayers are with ______ tonight”, exactly what that means. I am all for prayer. One of the main goals in the ministry I have is to encourage people to pray, so when I see so many offering their prayers for those in need, I know that’s a right response. It just seems possible that prayer can be a culturally acceptable activity (or claim of an activity) after senseless murder. It can make us feel better, but wouldn’t we want to make sure our prayers are actually effective when offered? The Scriptures make it plain that some prayers are effective and some are not.
  2. I wonder, for some of these responding to tragedy with prayer, where their desire for God is in the rest of their lives. God is the only right and true Judge of the heart and of the validity of these prayers, not me. But if one’s worldview and promotion of values is opposed to what is clearly revealed in the Bible, why pray at all (or say that you do?) I would hope that if we see the need to pray in times of loss and suffering, that the pressing need for prayer would be a regular soul-response. If God is worthy to be sought, He is worthy constantly, not only in time of need.

“pray without ceasing” 1 Thessalonians 5:17

 

Francois Hollande, President of France

Francois Hollande, President of France

3.  I wonder, as we pray for families who have suddenly lost loved ones to terrorism this week, if our prayers include the leaders of nations who must make crucial decisions to try to protect their people from future attacks? Since protecting citizens is a God-ordained purpose of government, do our prayers include wisdom for the right policies from our leaders?

“for he (the human authority) is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.” Romans 13:4

Our prayers should be with the people of France right now. And Syria. And other places that have been touched by terrorist acts in recent days. We should be praying for repentance from those doing the killing. But prayer is never meant to be exclusively a knee-jerk reaction to disaster. It is meant to be communion between people and God, done His way with His guidelines. We don’t get to make those guidelines. And if we reject the true path of prayer (taught at length all through the Scriptures) we do it at great peril to ourselves. No matter how therapeutic it might make us feel.

baltimore policeThe beginning of Romans 13 describes the protection-design God gave societies when He instituted government. Right now, there are some in Baltimore (in government leadership and in the normal populace), who are in violation of this design. If individuals would understand, then act on the truth in this passage, the problems they are facing right now would take a major step in the right direction. But as it stands now, people don’t feel safe and (without the backing of superiors) the police don’t feel authorized to keep people safe.

What follows are the phrases you’ll read in the first four verses of Romans 13. (Keep in mind, if you believe your governmental leaders don’t deserve your submission and obedience, that Paul’s first-century government was the Roman Empire, led by Nero – not exactly a friend to the Christian or Jewish communities.)

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. – This is true of Baltimore and any other municipality. Governments are established by God for His purposes of safety and flourishing of the people. For that to happen, governmental leaders have to understand their God-given responsibility to keep order, rewarding and punishing depending on people’s behavior.

Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. – There may have been abuses of authority by some Baltimore law enforcement officials, but mostly in America we should be grateful for those who risk their very lives to keep us safe. To watch the news or hear interviews of some citizens of Baltimore, the police are to be defied. There is judgment promised to those who defy God-appointed authority; one of those judgments should be consequences for such rebellious behavior. The problem for Baltimore right now is that the police are not arresting folks at the same rate as before, an unintended consequence for not supporting law enforcement as it should be. The mayor, police chief and state’s attorney bear responsibility for this judgment. During the riots, they coddled those who would destroy and terrorize.  

For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. – If you’re not doing anything wrong, you shouldn’t have to fear any reprisals from law enforcement. Police need to keep this in mind as they serve. 

But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. – There’s a good and right reason police carry tasers, night sticks and sidearms. It’s not in vain and has the sanction of the One who ordained governmental authority in the first place. If you get in a police officer’s face and/or try to take away said weapon, you might get hurt. That’s common sense and is a given. No monument needs to be erected to commemorate the life and death of one who foolishly violated this simple principle.

For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. – Government leaders and law enforcement officials should be God’s representatives to us for our good, keeping us safe by carrying out judgment on wrongdoers. That can only happen as their authority is properly recognized, respected and obeyed.

Police who respond to calls are being surrounded by mobs of 30 – 50 people threatening them. Political leaders have sided with criminals. The result? The very protectors of Baltimore’s safety that God has provided have been reduced to unrecognized authorities. You have negated God’s very instruments of your peace and now you can’t leave home without fear of being shot. When those in your communities embraced near anarchy, fueled by perceived injustice, what did you expect?

Baltimore – leaders and citizens – need to quit treating Romans 13 like it is something you can just take or leave. Right now, many are walking away from following its principles, and that is proving to everybody that it’s a disastrous decision.

baltimore protestYou’ve seen the riots. You’ve heard the news conferences. The past week in Baltimore has been marked by the tragic death of a 25-year-old man triggering protests that have been building for decades. And now the marches are spreading across the nation. Disenfranchised communities are speaking out and have a large megaphone available with hundreds of microphones and cameras pointing directly at them. They’re angry and everyone seems to be trying to put their collective fingers on the reason why. But, as is so often the case, fingers are landing on the wrong answers.

We need more jobs. We need better schools. We need economic opportunity. We need the police to stop profiling.

In other words, our government has failed us.

The political solutions are complex, there’s no question about that. But the conclusion that government is the ultimate answer fails to go deep enough. But going deeper for answers will cost us something as a society.

  • It will cost time – The real solution will not happen overnight. Actually, since we have rejected the real solution for so long, the time to undo the damage would take years. How many? I don’t know, but many.
  • It will cost will – We (by that I mean a lot of us who want positive change) would really have to want this. Enough to accept a major shift in thinking and action.
  • It will cost submission – People would have to subject their natural inclinations to the will of someone else.

I see news reports that show churches and faith-based groups trying to serve during these protests. Prayer circles are forming. Food and water are being shared. This is good, but a larger message, a deeper message must also be sent. Not a temporary message of help during a city’s outrage, but a life-changing message that will last for eternity. Baltimore, and everybody else, needs to hear:

It is better to take refuge in the Lord
    than to trust in man.
It is better to take refuge in the Lord
    than to trust in princes.   – Psalm 118:8, 9 –

Quit looking to government to ultimately help with all our problems. Turn to God and His ways. His Son, Jesus, offers the answer to our most foundation need of forgiveness and acceptance.  His Word holds answers to solving the confusion and chaos in our world. Submitting to Him and His plans will heal families. Parents will be more likely to stay together, kids will be happier, families would be stronger and communities healthier. That would immediately alleviate some of the economic woes, but again, the political answers would still have to be grappled with. But if citizens and lawmakers were committed to God and His path first, better answers would be found by our leaders.

Statements like this one by New Orleans Saints’ tight end, Benjamin Watson, must be heard and embraced. I hope you’ll read it. And keep praying for Baltimore (and everywhere else).

benjamin watson

good and evilSeveral days ago, after the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing were hunted down, I shared these verses as a Facebook status:

Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.  For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval,  for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.    Romans 13:2-4

One comment a friend made under the status wondered what happens when the government and people of a nation call evil good and good evil. It’s the natural question that is begged when we read these verses. Things clearly do not always play out as they should.

The reason I shared the verses that day was because there had been a criminal act committed and as the suspects were being chased, more criminal acts were layered on top. The governing authorities had to use deadly force to deal with the suspects, killing one and severely injuring another who was eventually arrested. This was an example of God-granted governmental authority to “bear the sword” to bring judgment to those who do wrong. Simple as that. We should be grateful for law enforcement officials who carry weapons, sometimes actually using them to maintain safety and peace for our society to operate as it should.

But what about laws and leaders that do not reward good behavior, but elevate evil as something that is right? The verses from Romans 13 paint a picture of civil government as it ought to be, not as it always will be. In this passage, Paul calls on all to submit to governments, since they are God’s servants for our good. This is written by a man who lived under Roman as well as Jewish rulership in the first century, which would ultimately give him a death sentence for spreading the gospel of Christ. Not all decisions by government will fulfill God’s intended role of upholding right and punishing evil. After all, governments are composed of humans. Sinful humans who are in need of God’s wisdom and guidance. Wisdom and guidance that are often rejected.

A glaring example of this is from today’s headlines – President Obama’s speech this morning at Planned Parenthood’s 75th anniversary gala. Our government in America has sanctioned the destruction of millions of lives, many snuffed out by this organization. Not only do we have laws that allow this killing of innocent life, but we pay for it – our tax dollars funded Planned Parenthood with $542,000,000 in 2012 (that’s $61,836 an hour 24/7/365). Not only do we fund it but our president proudly promotes the mission of Planned Parenthood, which performs 320,000 abortions a year, by giving a speech of appreciation and encouragement to continue the job.

The bombing at the Boston Marathon displayed sin, evil, the intentional taking of innocent human life and a despicable devaluing of personhood. These very words may even show up in media reports as they describe the atrocity and follow-up on the victims’ stories. But what we won’t hear are the same words used to describe the work of Planned Parenthood and other abortion doctors who deserve to be characterized the exact same way. And we’ll never hear a follow-up on the victims.

What are we to do and how do we look at Romans 13? Prayer for the spiritual awakening of our leaders and nation is always the first step (1 Timothy 2:1-4). We should also pray for, work for and vote for people who know what good really is and what evil really is. Government cannot and will not carry out true justice until we have leaders who can tell the difference.

ben carsonThis past week’s annual National Prayer Breakfast in Washington featured a speech that is gaining some popularity and is showing up in followup comments and interviews in many media outlets. Dr. Ben Carson, Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, gave a speech that is not only being shared and posted by many on social media, but has some calling for him to run for president in 2016.

If you have heard or read the speech and got excited about it, it’s because you agree with his political solutions to America’s challenges. How do I know that? Because that’s all he talked about. At a prayer breakfast. No, I’m sorry THE Prayer Breakfast. The words that have ignited such enthusiasm in so many have left me wanting more. Much more.

Click on the link here and see for yourself. Dr. Carson is a well-known Christian who has a tremendous testimony. His comments in this speech were fine and even inspiring to those who agreed, but the venue was completely wrong, which is what’s wrong with what passes for prayer breakfasts these days.

He began with four Old Testament Bible verses which were never explained or revisited. I’m still not totally sure how they fit the speech. It would be refreshing if we could get speakers at prayer breakfasts to try to understand what God would want to say from His Word to the listeners rather than decide what must be said then make some lame attempt to find verses to bolster his views (which these didn’t), mention them briefly, then ignore them. 

The rest of the speech centered on the importance of education (with some autobiographical paragraphs from his impoverished childhood and the evils of sports being elevated over academics), the national deficit, the overburdened taxation system, and solutions to health care. Jesus is mentioned once – only as a model of the One who explained things in parables, which Dr. Carson then attempts to do, ineffectively.

God is only mentioned in the section on taxation as the One who established the principle of the tithe (in other words, a flat rate system.)

I love Ben Carson. I love his story and his bold faith. It’s great that he has so many platforms to share his views. I just can’t understand why, at a prayer breakfast, he would almost completely avoid talking about spiritual things. That’s my disappointment. That’s where it fell short for me or maybe I don’t understand what prayer breakfast speakers are supposed to do. If so, let’s quit calling them “prayer breakfasts”.

The shootings in Tucson last weekend left long-range, huge philosophical debates in its wake – unintended consequences far beyond the evil imagination of the twisted shooter.  He is now in a cell.  We are all now left to wander through the morass of opinion, doubt and confusion that inevitably arises when a senseless tragedy occurs in a society where absolute answers have long been rejected.  The main call right now is for civility in our public discourse.  Funny how we’re more concerned about what people say in public than what they are thinking in their hearts.

Bringing people together has been a desire for years in America and we look to our leaders to somehow pull it off.  To save us all some unnecessary frustration, let me just suggest that the sooner we let this “dream” go, the better off we’ll be.  We will never come together and be completely civil and unified because to get what we want in this world, we need power.  Power doesn’t come from civility or unity.  It comes from ripping it away from whoever has it – not a very civil process.

It’s an old problem.  Look at political cartoons from the 18th and 19th centuries.  Read about campaigns for office in which candidates were called every name in the book and family members weren’t off limits.  Incivility is our American birthright – a nation born in rebellion.  Adams, Jefferson and Jackson had to take it and they dished it out along with just about any other public figure who felt they had to “take a stand” or “take back their country”.

The problem really goes back much further.  One tree was forbidden in the Garden of Eden – the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  It was the tree that represented independence, of walking away from God’s plan. 

When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.  Genesis 3:6

When Eve, then Adam made that break from submitting to God and His design, they declared themselves as gods.  In grace, God provided redemption, but the damage was done and humans have spent the rest of history up until today trying to be god.

But when many little god-declarers start to disagree on what should happen in society, there is nothing left but a power struggle and the way to gain power is to do whatever it takes.  Through the years, mankind has found that civility is a desperately ineffective means to achieve power.  Don’t expect it to happen now.  Don’t look for unity.  When we as a people gladly tossed God aside, we chose our fate – we want our independence from Him and what has been the price?

We pay for it every day in our relationships.  We pay for it in our economy.  We pay for it in our media.  We pay for it in education.  45 million murdered babies (and more) have paid for it while Americans with the most power approved.  We’re paying for it in Tucson.

We have to start with ourselves to place ourselves under God in obedience to Him.  Then pray for others’ hearts to change, not words.

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.

 

 

 

 

Nehemiah is best remembered for returning to Israel from exile in Persia (in the third wave of Jews to return) and leading the effort to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.  But he was also a political leader who held two separate terms as governor in Jerusalem (about 445 – 433 B.C. and around 424 – 410 B.C.).  Chapter 5 of Nehemiah gives a clear glimpse into his heart as a ruler, how he viewed the people and most importantly, why.  What an amazing passage:

15The former governors who were before me laid heavy burdens on the people and took from them for their daily ration forty shekels of silver. Even their servants lorded it over the people. But I did not do so, because of the fear of God. . . 18 Now what was prepared at my expense for each day was one ox and six choice sheep and birds, and every ten days all kinds of wine in abundance. Yet for all this I did not demand the food allowance of the governor, because the service was too heavy on this people. 19 Remember for my good, O my God, all that I have done for this people.  Nehemiah 5:15, 18, 19

Here is a leader who stopped to consider taxes and how much was too much.  His predecessors didn’t care, only seeing the people as a limitless ATM to fund their lavish lifestyle.  Nehemiah refused to overtax because he could see how it negatively impacted the population, many of whom had mortgaged farmland and had deep credit problems, to the point of slavery (Nehemiah 5:3 -5).  But that wasn’t the most profound reason for Nehemiah’s compassion and wisdom. 

I did not do so, because of the fear of God” (v. 15)

A heart of a governmental official can have a major impact on tax policy.  The Bible doesn’t deny that taxes must be paid.  Jesus said so (Luke 20:25, et al) and Paul makes it clear that is a responsibility of citizens (Romans 13:6, 7).  But at some point a line is crossed when more is taken than can be afforded, resulting in high government spending as well as waste.  There is a tipping point when taxation becomes theft.  A leader who fears the Lord will not be as quick to oppress through taxes and will take and spend wisely.

Nehemiah shows his true motivation in his prayer in verse nineteen when he asks for the Lord to remember his treatment of his district.  He knows he is answerable to God first, not his constituency.  An official’s heart, when changed by God and His truth, will not seek power or riches at the expense of the people.  He cannot.  God give us more leaders who fear You.

“When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice;
      But when a wicked man rules, the people groan.”
  Proverbs 29:2

President Barak Obama

Yesterday President Obama and Vice President Biden came to Beckley (the town I was born in) to eulogize at a memorial service for 29 West Virginia coal miners who died three weeks ago in an explosion.  I’m told my great-grandfather worked that mine many years ago and I have closely followed the developments there since the disaster occurred. 

There are times when community tragedies are bigger news than others.  There may be bigger issues to consider, such as mine safety, that work their way into the overall story.  When we, as a nation, see the images and feel the loss and pain of a town full of strangers, we grieve along with them.  That’s our national conscience at work. 

And it’s our national conscience that needs the words of our leaders to comfort at times like this.  Our president and vice president were present to express the nation’s sorrow and bring some sympathy to this hard-hit community.  It was the right thing. 

The texts of the remarks of Obama and Biden are inspirational, respectful, somber yet hopeful.  Biden, who has experienced the personal loss of a wife and daughter in an accident, had great credibility and ethos in his speech.  Their words let the miners’ families know how most of us in America felt. 

But the remarks also reminded me again that we must pray for our leaders according to 1 Timothy 2.  Not only are we told in this passage to pray “for kings and all those in high positions” (verse 2), we are also told why.  “God our Savior desires all people to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth” (verse 3b, 4). 

When leaders address a memorial service or prayer breakfast, sometimes even a floor speech or national address, they may include spiritual themes.  The danger is that what they say is believed to be true by many undiscerning hearers, even if their words are not biblical.  We shouldn’t wish for our leaders to leave God out of their public speeches (although some in America would love that), but when God is invoked we should pray that true things are said about Him as He has revealed Himself in the Bible.  

It matters what we say and believe about God and our leaders can play a crucial didactic role for the country when they refer to God and spiritual matters. 

Examples from Sunday’s service in Beckley include this comment by President Obama: “We cannot bring back the 29 men we lost. They are with the Lord now.”  This feeds the idea that we are all God’s children (another common belief) and simply by the fact that we are created, live and die that we all go to heaven.  That has no support from the Scriptures.  The fact is that we don’t know if all of the 29 miners are with the Lord, but those of us remaining here have a choice left as to what we will do with Jesus and His gospel of salvation – a fact the president can’t say out loud in our pluralistic structure. 

Vice President Joe Biden

Biden stepped over the line when he said, “To paraphrase a communion hymn in my church, I have a wish for all of you, all of your families:  May He raise you up on eagle’s wings and bear you on the breadth of dawn, and make the sun to shine upon you.  And until you’re reunited with those you lost, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.  For you know this band of 29 roughneck angels watching over you are doing that just now, as they sit at the right hand of the Lord today — and they’re wondering, is all that fuss about me?  (Applause.) ” 

Anyone grounded in the Scriptures will see several red flags of error in that paragraph.  There may or may not be a reunion with these family members in eternity.  We don’t become angels when we die and we most certainly won’t sit at the right hand of the Lord.  Those are just three of several flags.  These comments simply are not grounded in the truth of the Bible.  They may sound good to our world that grasps for purpose and meaning in a time of grief, but how helpful is it to reinforce unbiblical notions?  

An example of an appropriate spiritual thought at this time was made by Obama:  “If any comfort can be found, it can, perhaps, be found by seeking the face of God, who quiets our troubled minds, a God who mends our broken hearts, a God who eases our mourning souls.”  Seeking God at a time of mourning is right and good, but it cannot be a God of our making and our mental comfort level. 

One of the main reasons the Church is in this world is to teach.  If God desires all to be saved and know the truth, His didactic plan is through the Church.  

And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.  “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20) 

We should pray for a day when a leader hands a speech back to a speechwriter for a revision for the only reason of removing an unbiblical thought, or better, change the thought to a biblical one.  How is that going to happen?  Only by the church taking our Bibles and running toward our culture with the truth, sharing the gospel in all of its fullness and power.