This Sunday we’ll take time during the meeting to pray for our new President and his administration. To help us pray effectively, I wanted to share the following article written by my friend, Ligon Duncan. (Ligon is Senior Minister of First Presbyterian Church in Jackson, Miss., an author, theologian, and part of Together for the Gospel.) Regardless of your political affiliation, I would encourage you to read his comments and let them inform your prayers for President Obama now and in the coming years:
As Americans, I suspect that none of us can fully appreciate the far-reaching significance of this event, though our nation and much of the rest of the world are electric with the inauguration of Barack Obama as the new President of the United States of America. To say that this is historic, is a gross understatement.
Many are rejoicing at this very visible public realization of the ideals of the Declaration of Independence at the very pinnacle of our civic life. In the ascendancy of an African-American from less-than-privileged circumstances to the leadership of the free world, we see the fruit of aspirations of the Founders: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.” You don’t have to read far in the newspapers of the world to see them marveling at yet another astounding accomplishment in the great experiment that is America.
Do you realize that our republic has now enjoyed 44 peaceful transitions of power in our two-plus centuries of existence? There is no parallel for this in human history. And we need to thank God for his singular blessing in bestowing it upon us, undeserving as we are.
But I said I wanted us to think about all this Christianly (and not just as grateful or concerned Americans, much less as giddy Democrats or grumpy Republicans!). And this presents us with some challenges, doesn’t it?
As much as we may feel “this is my President and I want him to succeed,” as much as we may feel sympathetic joy with millions who watched President Obama’s inauguration with tear-filled eyes and hope-filled hearts, feeling themselves a part of the American story in a way they’ve never felt before, there lingers a question as to how to think about our leader in areas where his views and policies conflict with biblical conviction.
Many Christians find themselves profoundly conflicted because of some of the moral positions and social policies that Mr. Obama espouses. So how do you pray for your President when you disagree with him?
Thankfully, the Bible is not silent about such a question. After all it commands us to pray for all in authority (1 Timothy 2:2), no matter their party, policies or religion (or lack thereof). It is vital that we think Christianly, which is to say, biblically, about this issue (and not just as Democrats or Republicans who happen to be Christian). So, back to the question. How do we pray for Mr. Obama? Here are some ideas (and I want to thank Al Mohler and Justin Taylor for many of these thoughts and words) for praying for our new President, Barack Obama:
First, it needs to be said, that we ought to commit ourselves to pray for our new President, for his wife and family, for his administration and for the nation. We will do this, not only because of the biblical command to pray for our rulers, but because of the second greatest commandment, “Love your neighbor,” and what better way to love your neighbor than to pray for his well-being. Those with the greatest moral and political differences with the President ought to ask God to engender in them, by His Spirit, genuine neighbor-love for Mr. Obama.
We will also pray for our new President because he (and we) face challenges that are not only daunting but potentially disastrous. We will pray that God will grant him wisdom. He and his family will face new challenges and the pressures of this office. May God protect them, give them joy in their family life and hold them close together.
We will pray that God will protect this nation even as our new President settles into his role as Commander in Chief, and that God will grant peace as he leads the nation through times of trial and international conflict and tension.
We will pray that God would change President Obama’s mind and heart on issues of crucial moral concern. May God change his heart and open his eyes to see abortion as the murder of the innocent unborn, to see marriage as an institution to be defended and to see a host of issues in a new light. We must pray this from this day until the day he leaves office. God is sovereign, after all.
For those Christians who are more concerned than overjoyed about the prospects of an Obama presidency, there should be a remembrance that as our President, Barack Obama will have God-given authority to govern us, and that we should view him as a servant of God (Romans 13:1, 4) to whom we should be subject (Romans 13:1, 5; 1 Peter 2:13-14). Thus, again, we are to pray for Barack Obama (1 Timothy 2:1-2). We are to thank God for Barack Obama (1 Timothy 2:1-2). We are to respect Barack Obama (Romans 13:7). We are to honor Barack Obama (Romans 13:7; 1 Peter 2:17).
For those Christians who are more overjoyed than concerned about the prospects of an Obama presidency, there should be a remembrance of our ultimate allegiance: Jesus is Lord (and thus, He, not we, decides what is right and wrong), we serve God not man, and the Lord himself has promised to establish “the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him” (Malachi 3:18). Thus, where our new President opposes or undermines biblical moral standards in our society, fails to uphold justice for the unborn, undermines religious liberties or condones an ethos that is hostile to the gospel, we will pray for God’s purposes to triumph over our President’s plans and policies.
Without doubt and whatever our particular views may be, we face hard days ahead. Realistically, we must all expect to be frustrated and disappointed. Some now may feel defeated and discouraged. While others may all-too-soon find their audacious hopes unfounded and unrealized. We must all keep ever in mind that it is God who raises up leaders and nations, and it is God who pulls them down, and who judges both nations and rulers. We must not act or think like unbelievers, or as those who do not trust God.
So, now, Christian. Let’s get to work. And pray.
January 26 2009 at 3:04 am 0 Comments
Yesterday Robin Boisvert taught us from Ephesians 4:22-24 that “Change happens as we learn Christ.”
You can listen online or download the sermon here.
Application questions by pastor Don DeVries:
1. Robin taught us that “the most significant growth…in a Christian’s life…is directly related to [our] knowledge of Scripture.” In what specific ways can you “renew your mind” by spending more time reading and meditating on God’s word? (Need a Bible reading plan? Download this PDF of a plan published by Discipleship Journal.)
2. Paul wrote this letter to a church, not just individuals. Why is it important to talk about and pursue sanctification together as a local church? What is the danger of isolating yourself from fellowship with God’s people?
3. What is one area in your life where you desire change? What does Scripture call you to “put off” and “put on”?
4. Robin reminded us that change takes place through the gospel. How can a regular reminder of all Christ has accomplished in His life, death and resurrection motivate and enable change?
January 24 2009 at 5:51 pm 0 Comments
Above: Last Sunday, Leah Mengistab shared about her experience of volunteering at an area crisis pregnancy center over the past year.
Tomorrow, Robin Boisvert will be preaching from Ephesians 4:22-24. His message title is “How Can I Change?”
Bob Kauflin will lead singing, which will include the hymn we’re memorizing this month, “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty.” We’ll sing it with no lyrics on the screen! Isaac Hydoski will also bring us a report from the newly returned Uganda team.
January 23 2009 at 5:00 pm 0 Comments
We’re just five days away from announcing some big changes for the conference formerly know as New Attitude. Yes, after 10 years, we’re changing the conference’s name to something that captures more of its central purpose (sorry, can’t give away the surprise yet!).
We’ll also be publishing the theme of this year’s conference, the lineup of speakers and all the registration and hotel information.
I’m excited that this May we’re back in Baltimore. I hope this will make it easier for many of you to participate.
Please be praying for Grant Layman, who in addition to all his church duties heroically tackled the job of directing the conference. It really couldn’t happen without this man and his leadership.
And please pray for Bob Kauflin, Paul Medler, Ryan James, Matt Wahl, Brian Whalen, Bethany Gill and the rest of the Sovereign Grace staff who are working so hard to prepare for and promote the event.
If you haven’t been by the website for the New Attitude conference, please stop by and read some of the stories of how God has used the conference in peoples lives over the years. It’s wonderful to see how God has used this event to advance the gospel.
January 23 2009 at 12:20 pm 1 Comments
Yesterday a group of more than 50 Covenant Life members led by Grant Layman and Mark Mitchell met at the church and took the Metro down to the National Mall to participate in this year’s March for Life.
Grant told me he was very encouraged—especially by “the large number of youth and singles from our church that clearly had a real burden for this issue—that it was their own initiative and excitement driving their participation. It’s exciting to see the next generation gripped by the seriousness of this issue and want to make a statement by participating in the March for Life.”
Mark agreed, saying, “Throughout the March, I was particularly blessed to hear our young people break out into spontaneous singing of songs to the Lord. It was very clear that they were there participating not just because of enthusiasm for an issue, but as an expression of honor and an act of worship to the Lord.”
Check out the slideshow of photos above (taken by Peter Bang).
January 22 2009 at 4:18 pm 1 Comments
A busy book table after church is always encouraging!
My friend and pastor of Iglesia Gracia Soberana de Gaithersburg, Joselo Mercado, e-mailed recently with this good report about the church. (Gracia Soberana is the Spanish-speaking church that meets in the Events Center here at Covenant Life at 4 p.m. on Sundays):
Just wanted to take a couple of minutes to share the grace that we have been encountering. It is still amazing to think that we are less than five months old. By the way the church is interacting and the grace we are experiencing, it feels like we have been together for a longer time. Several quick testimonies of God’s kindness:
Over 100 people have been attending in recent weeks, and we have a group of 10 or so coming regularly who were un-churched before coming here.
A single who was discouraged about church due to trials in his former church ?is experiencing grace and growth in his life since coming to IGSG.
A mother and her 18-year-old son who live in a nearby community have been coming for the past five ?weeks. A ?member of Covenant Life who lives in the same house they do communicated with them using signs (due to the language barrier). This is part of the amazing blessing that it is for us to partner with Covenant Life.
So, thank you for your partnership! The Events Center is serving us so well. Your generosity and care for us has much to do with the grace we are enjoying. By the way, if people want to reach out to Spanish-speaking friends, they can stop by Covenant Life’s Welcome Center on Sundays and pick up invitations to IGSG.