This is not a political endorsement, so relax. It isn't an attack piece either. It is simply a commentary for any Christian thinking about getting into politics.
This year, the choices in several races will be difficult as the candidates running each have advantages and disadvantages. I suspect that the Democrats may do better in particular races than they have in the past in Wyoming, at least.
The Republican National Convention and God
I just got done watching a couple of nights of the Republican Convention in St. Paul, MN. There were a few things that struck me as I watched. The first was the number of references to God and prayers to God that were made during the portions that I watched. It seems to me that God is trotted out at the conventions around election time and then put back on the shelf while the elected party basks in the votes of the Christian right and does what it wants during the intervening years till the next election cycle comes around. The trotting out was certainly true this year. Whether He will be put back as usual remains to be seen. This ignoring God between election cycles has been noted more frequently of late, and those thoughts are certainly not original with me. The Christian right is beginning to notice.
The Palin Selection and the Vice Presidency
A curious thing happened this year. Governor Sarah Palin was nominated to be the Vice Presidential running mate of Senator John McCain. From the reports that I read, she was not who he originally wanted to be his running mate. The news media tends to think he wanted Senator Joe Lieberman, but was told that would cause a backlash in the party, so Sarah Palin was picked.
Of all the Republicans he could have chosen, what made Sarah Palin special? To me, her two strongest qualifications for selection appear to be that she was female and is a more outspoken Christian than some other choices. Many in the conservative portions of the Republican party (and their faithful on the ground) are rejoicing. And yet, I personally foresee the office of Vice President returning to the "not worth a warm bucket of spit" category during a McCain presidency to quote former Vice President John Nance Garner (and use the polite form of the quote).
That reflects my perception of Mr. McCain's personality, the extended role of the Vice Presidency in the current administration, and the feelings in the country that his extended job function has generated. Dick Cheney was from Wyoming originally and still technically votes in Teton County, so I have to stick up for him a bit in general. Few would say he was popular in much of the rest of the country.
It seemed to me that Mrs. Palin's selection, along with the convention itself, was a move of desperation by a party that is largely disliked at the executive level at the moment. Of course the Democratic party is equally disliked in Congress for the "do nothing" job performance they have had the last couple of years. Regaining Congress is probably something the Republicans have written off at this point for '08. If the Republicans can shore up this block of votes by picking a woman, and a Christian, they just might squeak by in November and at least hold onto the White House. Then there will be another four years to ignore the Christians and govern as they please, blocking everything the Democrats propose while they retrench and try to get control of Congress back. There were other women governors that could have been selected with a greater electoral college advantage and more experience. By picking a Christian, they get a double dose of hope and good will at no cost if the Vice Presidency is ignored as I'm sure it will be. I'm getting cynical in my old age.
Christianity and Office Seeking
First, a give me. Most candidates for public office will say they're a Christian if forced to make a declaration and say they go to church from time to time. Few will come right out and say "Hey! I'm an atheist... vote for me!" even if that is the way they act on a daily basis. My comments don't refer to lukewarm Christian candidates who only attend on Christmas and Easter (or a bit more frequently) and don't let church get in the way of their political, business, or social life. Nobody has any real elevated opinions of them in the first place and, depending on the church they choose to attend, may even have negative opinions of them. "They just go to that church because that's where all the important people in town go....".
These comments are only directed to people who are firmly waving the religious banner. Sarah Palin would certainly fall in this category. Barack Obama would also qualify to a lesser extent. John McCain's nature is purported to be more reserved and he wouldn't qualify. That isn't to say he isn't a Christian. He just isn't a Bible thumper on the campaign trail. This isn't a condemnation of either banner waver I mentioned. But both need to realize that the expectations are higher for people who take on this mantle.
Keep the Faith
So what do you do if you're a Christian and get thrust into politics? Run away!
But seriously, the first unsolicited advice I would give would be to stay a Christian. That's pretty hard to do in the quagmire that is politics today. Keeping the fruit of the Spirit (Love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance for those who need a refresher Galatians 5:22-23) in full bloom toward all opponents involved (as well as your own staff and the media) is a very difficult thing to accomplish in the best of times. It gets much harder when you're getting hit with attack ads and slime from all directions. If you're a Christian, hopefully most of it won't stick (or what does stick will be from a time in the distant past when you weren't a Christian). It gets even harder if you're behind in the popularity contest of the polls. It's so easy to say something that you shouldn't at the most opportune moment!
There's that "love the Lord your God (Matthew 22:37)" command that becomes difficult when you're running flat out 24x7 for the sixty day stretch between the convention and the election. If you've been campaigning as long as the presidential candidates have been, it's really tough. God probably won't get the time He wants due to other pressures you face on a daily basis. Of course, the pressures might not be so bad if your priorities were adjusted correctly and He got the first of your time! Will you stay faithful to attend church and do so in whatever town you find yourself? Will you do it for the right reasons; to worship God and not just to engage in politics?
Then there's that "love your neighbor as yourself (Luke 10:27)" thing Christ was big on. A lot of politicians would be asking the follow up question - "who do I have to count as my neighbor? (Luke 10:29)" The answer hasn't changed from the one Christ gave. The Samaritans were despised by the Jews, yet the Samaritan demonstrated love toward the injured Jew. The disparity would be similar to the feelings the major parties have toward each other today, to say nothing of how they feel about the third party candidates. Love your neighbor as yourself doesn't come with a political party exception.
The "doing good to those who despitefully use you (Matthew 5:44)" command is pretty tough as well. Christ set a pretty good example. The only people He ever went after individually were the religious leaders of His day. He issued some prophecies against others and comments that they should have been paying attention to His miracles and works, but the religious leaders were the ones who suffered His anger. In Mr. Obama's case, that would mean he could go after the Democratic party and love everyone else. In Mrs. Palin's case, she could go after the Republicans and love everyone else. Wouldn't it be an interesting sixty days if all we heard were the things that were wrong in their respective parties and how they were going to change those things. They might actually accomplish some of that. A breath of honesty from the start - how refreshing!
If you're a Christian politician, people are examining not only everything you do, but everything your entire campaign staff does to see if you really measure up to what the Bible says. If some loosely affiliated group says or does something wrong are you quick to condemn it or do you let it slide being secretly thankful that someone can go on the attack since you aren't supposed to due to your religious reputation.
The thing is, it doesn't matter if the American people as evaluators measure up or are even Christians. Everyone has their own expectations of how Christians should act. It is pretty tough when Christian politicians don't measure up to our standards. We're much easier on normal politicians because our expectations are so low for them in general. It's also tough if the candidate you are associated with (in the case of Mr. Obama - Joe Biden or for Mrs. Palin - John McCain) isn't seen as meeting the standards the world expects of you. Why be joined up with a person who doesn't meet your own standards? It's a bit tougher on Barack Obama in this regard since he is on the top of his respective ticket.
Tell the Whole Truth and Nothing But the Truth
Regardless of what speech writers may prepare for you to say at any particular rally or any televised event, regardless of the answers you are prepared with for interviews, regardless of the drilling you get for debates, once the words actually come out of your mouth, they become your words. You own them. So, if you're a Christian, one of the guiding principles would be to tell the truth.
The truth can be hard to say. Do you throw out a popular phrase that you told the federal government to keep its money and you'd build the "Bridge to Nowhere" at your own state's expense? As earmarks go, that bridge seemed especially egregious to start with to the rest of the country. Well, that statement appears to be technically true although I'm not sure the federal government was repaid for the money they'd already spent on the bridge. I think I read the fair state of Alaska got to keep the funds to use elsewhere.
But as governor, Sarah Palin didn't turn down the federal government's money until it became a politically unpopular decision. She might have said the bridge was over designed at some point, but she was still all for government help at first. Alaskans wanted their piece of the federal pie as well, and both as mayor and as governor, she's had her fork out. There isn't anything wrong with that, on its face. All states do that and it always looks worse for small population states. I should know. I live in one. Just don't make yourself sound like you're not in that camp if you have been
This isn't about the "Bridge to Nowhere". That was just a convenient example. If you're going to be a Christian you can't take any black decision or act from the past and paint it as white to get votes. Tell the whole unvarnished truth and let the voters decide. It might just blow them away to have a politician not spinning the facts to make a truth that looks pretty out of garbage. "Straight talk", if we could actually get any, is refreshing. The perception painting reminds me of that currently popular "Putting lipstick on a pig doesn't change the fact it's still a pig" statement the Republicans are up in arms about now. Just so I don't get in trouble with the McCain camp too, the pig in this situation would be the bad decision from the past, and the lipstick would be the spin. Just wanted to get that straight and be perfectly clear since they have troubles with expressions they've used themselves if said by someone else!
How do you verbally treat the opposing party? How do your ads portray the other party candidates? Do you become the bulldog with lipstick? The examples are just too easy. Do you only speak the truth about the opposition, or do you allow the speech writers to paint shades of gray there as well? Where do you draw the line? That's a very tough call in what will likely be a very close race. I'm sure that Christ would say you should be silent if you can't say anything good about anyone. I can see the Republican or Democratic commercial now - 30 seconds of silence followed by the tag line - "Our mothers said if you can't say anything good about someone, you shouldn't say anything at all. This silence was paid for by xxx and I approved this message." Remember, you read it here first. Be careful in the words you say.
There is a lot of talk about honor in this election and heroism. These are good traits. But the media campaign being run by the Republicans has been awful for distortions and outright falsehoods. You can't throw out phrases like Mr. Obama wants sex education taught K-12 with the implied explicitness that entails when the legislation only requested that little kids know that inappropriate touching was wrong. Would God call that 100% truth? An election won at the cost of your personal Christianity to say nothing of your integrity is a too high a price to pay. Don't play the moral high card at the convention and then descend into the pits the week or two after.
What do we do about our Faith and Churches
Barack Obama has already been burned on this subject and he pretty much failed. Sorry, Obama supporters. He attended a church for a long time. I'm well aware of the fact that preachers say things they wish they hadn't said. They certainly say things that politicians wish they hadn't said. Much of the stuff I have posted here may fall into that category someday. But you can't just say I didn't ever hear the sermons that were "out there". If you aren't paying any better attention than that, you fall into that worthless "showing up for effect" category. So Barack should have stood up for the Pastor, made any disagreements he had with old content clear (every single church goer in America has one or more disagreements with something that has been said from the pulpit), trusted the American people to understand, and said on balance the Pastor and Church were family, were trying to do God's work to the best of their ability, and he supported them. Resigning the membership was a poor choice.
Sarah Palin comes from an Assemblies of God background. Although her home church in Wasilla is no longer the A/G church there, she does reportedly attend an A/G church while in Juneau. The A/G denomination believes in the Bible, and, if all reports are correct, so does Sarah Palin. They believe in 100% of the Bible, which is a good thing. (Disclaimer: I was raised in the Assembly of God denomination, left for a few years over a building program that I thought was handled badly, but eventually returned and attend a local A/G church a couple times a week pretty much every week).
The A/G denomination, as a whole, believes that a lot of stuff should be going on in the Christian church today that isn't going on in most other Christian denominations (or in many A/G churches, for that matter). They also would probably say there's a lot of stuff going on that is branded Christianity that doesn't have much in common with Christ's teachings. The primary belief that isn't very popular elsewhere is that of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit with the initial evidence of speaking in tongues. We believe that it occurred in the Early Church, just like the Bible said, and that it is still in God's will today. That is 100% scriptural (Acts 2:38-39) Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. It is also way outside of many Christian's comfort zones. A lot of reporters are going to be visiting A/G churches to see what all the fuss is about. Be ready.
A key question I would have for Sarah Palin is "Has she received the baptism in the Holy Ghost?" or was she just attending the most popular church in town. I haven't seen this question asked or answered in the press yet. If she has, the gifts of the Holy Ghost would go a long way toward answering the questions of ready for command. God given words of knowledge and words of wisdom can go a long way toward filling in for a lack of foreign policy experience. Discerning of spirits would be handy in dealing with the office and with ambassadors, foreign leaders, and the Senate and their ilk as well. They might allow her to wipe the deck with Joe Biden in the debate. The ability to utter a prophecy from God would be pretty handy as well, and I'd personally like a vice president who would allow their use by God to work a miracle or two if needed. Faith is pretty useful as well. Tongues and interpretation of tongues would be useful in dealing with foreigners. Skip the translators. If God wanted her to know what they were saying at a particular time or needed a message communicated exactly, she'd be set.
This isn't meant to be mocking at all. I'm A/G, and I've witnessed people being healed first hand. I've heard messages in tongues and their interpretation. It would be really cool to have a V.P. or President if John McCain doesn't make it full term who was Spirit filled.
Regardless of her state with God, which truly only she knows for sure, she should have at least witnessed God's power at work today. That puts her a step above most other Christian candidates who are saved, but haven't seen God's power at work. It sure puts her above the atheists who are only claiming to be Christians for the popularity factor.
The next question would be will she try to hide her faith and beliefs to make her more palatable to the majority of the voters in the country. Obviously, I don't think she should. I didn't think Mr. Obama should have either. I'm pretty sure her Republican handlers think she must or the Republican party is toast this election. So that will be one of the key points in my decision making process, which is started out skewed away from the Republicans this year. If she can't stand up for what she believes before the election, she won't have a chance after the election for effecting any change.
It also doesn't matter if you have been brought up in an environment that stressed multi-culturalism. If you've made the choice to accept Christ and live as a Christian, you can't vacillate about the way to heaven. You need to be clear and state what you believe. Don't be ashamed of spreading the Gospel's Message. You don't want Christ to be ashamed of you before God.
For Mrs. Palin's Fans
Regardless of what you think of Sarah Palin, it's the top of the ticket that counts. Even at 72, Mr. McCain appears in pretty good health. Unless something should happen to him, Sarah Palin will be window dressing unless a few things happen. Some things that might change the relationship I expect will exist between the office of President and Vice President in the next four years follow. If you really want the Republicans to win in November, you might pray for several of these things to happen.
- Pray that she stays a Christian and that she lifts up and doesn't tear down Christianity.
- Pray that if Sarah Palin isn't filled with the Spirit, she will seek it, and soon. It isn't automatic, just because you go to an A/G church. It's a free gift from God, but you have to accept that gift. She'll need all the help she can get in the next sixty days and beyond if she wins the election.
- Pray that she will have courage to speak forcefully of her faith when asked. As a political candidate, it isn't her place to evangelize. But she shouldn't vacillate when asked about her faith either. If she hides or diminishes what she has experienced in her faith, voting for Mr. McCain because of her is a waste. Vote for him if you think he is best, but don't let the Vice Presidential selection he made affect your vote.
- To have a true effect, she needs to be a voice of wisdom and prophecy in the party and especially to John McCain. If she is, she may escape the "warm bucket..." vice presidency. Pray that God will make future outcomes clear to her, that she will communicate them correctly, and that Mr. McCain and his handlers will realize that God is working today through her. A little fear is a good thing. If they become aware that God is, they might treat Christianity differently over the next four years instead of just pandering for votes. If Mrs. Palin becomes indispensable to Mr. McCain, good outcomes may ensue. Pray that she will speak God given words of wisdom at the right moments to be a blessing to both her and Mr. McCain's candidacy.
- She has a special needs kid that has been in the public spotlight. Let's all pray for a healing right in front of the rolling cameras.
If you see Mr. McCain distancing himself from her, but she looks solid, you may as well give up unless you think that at 72, he won't make it four years.
What other possibilities are there? Well, an Obama-Palin outcome would make for an interesting four years! If you're a Democrat, or would like to have some real change happen, and feel God is with Sarah Palin vote for an Obama-Palin outcome. Let's get change and reform at the same time! If you want real change, give up on both the major parties and vote third party. There are a couple of good third party choices there this year in both the Constitutional and Libertarian parties. The latter will be stronger if Ron Paul decides to take the Vice Presidential nomination there that he was reportedly offered. A
vote for the right candidate for the current times is never thrown away, even if it is in the minority!
There are things I don't like about Mr. Obama. I'm not a fan of big government. I'm from Wyoming and would prefer that people work their own way out of situations whenever possible without government's help. I'm all for lower taxes, but at the same time, I'm really against huge deficits. Mr. McCain seems weak on economic issues. Sarah Palin's addition to the ticket really didn't add much of substance to help there. None of the candidates are in economic distress, but Mr. McCain is certainly way out there in the not likely to be in distress any time soon category. "It's the economy, stupid!" should be the rallying demand of the people for both parties seeking terms of office. The desire to duck issues and push out misdirecting ads on the part of my party is particularly disheartening this election cycle.
Deficit and Debt
The deficit has increased by an average of $1,930,000,000.00 per day since September, 2007 according to the debt clock and the total debt stands at approximately $9,687,879,180,496.00 as of this writing. It is useful to go to the debt clock and hit refresh a few times. In just the time it took me to type this in, it went to $9,687,884,302,676.74. In the time it took to type that sentence, it went to $9,687,885,532,894.67. Think about that for a bit and look back at the numbers carefully. I'm glad I'm a pretty fast typist.
People like to blame the Democrats for the debt, but that isn't necessarily so. This paper is a great study on the U.S. debt compared with parties in control of the Presidency and parties in control of the Congress since 1938. After reading it, I'd take a Democratic administration any day!
Clearly, the debt doesn't go up in a continuous fashion. The budget bills the Congress passed long ago account for the majority of this increase. People are afraid that Mr. Obama will increase the size of government and thus increase spending and balloon the deficit. Well, it is always possible that he might.
Keep this in mind as well when you worry about a bigger government with Mr. Obama. The Iraq war is costing us about $343,000,000.00 per day according to Amy Belasco of the Congressional Research Service. $125,280,750,000.00 per year. The total so far is somewhere around $648,000,000,000.00. Total costs for the war are estimated from $1,000,000,000,000.00 (one trillion) to almost $3,000,000,000,000.00 (three trillion) depending on what all is included like insurance payments for soldiers killed, future veteran's benefits, hospital costs, rebuilding costs, interest on the increased debt and particularly replenishing the weapons of war that have been expended, broken down, blown up, lost, or otherwise rendered inoperable. Mr. Obama can expand the U.S. government quite a lot for that kind of money that the Republicans felt justified spending.
Whether the Republicans were justified in launching the war or not is one of those great unanswerable questions in history since you can never go back and see how things would have come out with the opposite choice. Regardless, the total debt is a real issue we need to deal with. I've purposely written all the numbers out here instead of using jargon like million, billion, or trillion, because seeing all the zeros gets your attention.
Congress needs fixed and taxes need raised
There has been much talk about reduced tax rates generating more income for the government rather than less. That this has happened in recent years is not open for debate. However, that income is being generated by families with long term capital gains that they are selling at a particular time in history when tax rates are low in order to maximize their gains. It isn't clear at what point people will have sold all the long term holdings they would want to sell regardless of the tax rate. At some point, however, this will become an issue. Reducing rates further (or even leaving them the same as they are now) will begin to seriously erode the flow of tax money to government. At any rate, the happy-go-lucky asset flippers on Wall Street may be looking at longer holding periods due to losses on assets they are now holding or big write downs, so I don't foresee the money flow increasing much this year or in the near future.
If Congress can't reign in spending, taxes need to be raised on everyone to pay down some of this credit card debt that has happened on the last Republican watch. Remember that all of the blather that the Presidential candidates will prattle on about at speeches, television spots, commercials, and debates only serves to give you a vague idea of what bills they will veto and what bills they will sign. The basic problems in the country's finances come from the bottom (Congress) up as opposed to the top down. Some of the problems even start at the grass roots local and state level petitioning Congress for funds. Even the huge spending in Iraq is only a fraction of the overall U.S. budget.
The budgets that the past presidents have proposed have been "Dead on Arrival" at Congress. This president's budget is likely to face the same reality. So all the candidates claim they will do is largely out of their control without the power of the line item veto and the help of Congress. You can pretty much guarantee that nothing will happen if Congress and the Presidency are split between parties. There isn't much hope if they are controlled by the same party either, but they don't play well together if they are in different parties. If you want change, start with picking the right Representatives and Senators. That is where change must begin.
The best I can suggest for general characteristics for President would be to be filled with the Fruit of the Spirit with a liberal sprinkling of the Gifts of the Spirit, much as outlined above. Each candidate shows some of the human equivalents of some of the fruits. Some are missing from each as well. Remember that the way they run their campaigns speaks volumes of character. So far, the Democrats have the upper hand there.
Outside of bill signing, dealings with foreign governments is the primary function of the executive branch. Pray carefully about who you want dealing with the world. There are advantages to having a president who is ex-military. He knows the cost of war. There are disadvantages to having a president with a temper and a quick mouth. There are disadvantages in dealing with world governments in having the same party in office that has been quick to war. There are advantages to having a candidate who appears to be able to deal well with foreign countries. As I said - it'll be a tough election.
In all, pray about your votes. As I said at the start, all four candidates have strengths and weaknesses. I'm not overly thrilled with the way God was played at the Republican convention and as I said I'm pretty cynical about why Sarah Palin was picked in the first place. I really view it as a strategic move to ensure the Christian right will vote for Republicans in November. I believe it will have no significance post-election unless God works in a mighty way in Sarah Palin. I have no idea if she's the type of person that will let that happen. In any case, the Republicans have many ill feelings to overcome with the country. It'll be a tough election.
Hopefully, if this didn't seem to be completely balanced and fair, at least it will be perceived as coming down on the party I am a member of. My vote this year will be hard. I may well pick one of the third party candidates myself. Mr. Obama is looking better with each attack commercial I'm seeing from Mr. McCain's group. Pray for your country every time you think of it, both before and after the election.
Pray, and May God bless the United States of America!
P.S. on Election Eve, Nov 3.
I would respectively urge every Christian reading this message to evaluate the campaign waged by each and every party in the election. Don't leave any party out. Evaluate how the campaigns have been managed. Review what the campaigns and candidates have said and allowed to be said without repudiation on their behalf. Then honestly ask yourself simply this--- Is this party's candidate the man or woman that I want running the country? Don't allow yourself the luxury of accepting the lesser of two evils reasoning that so often prevails. Truly ask yourself if this is the person I really want running the country.
Many will be able to answer with a resounding affirmative "Yes!" Many will not.
If you can't honestly get behind one of the two major party candidates, please do look at third party candidates. I truly believe that there is at least one that would be representative of Christian views in more than name only in reading their platform statement. I don't support 100% of their platform, but I can assure you they are closer to what the Republicans say they would do (and then don't follow through with) than any other. They are also truer to the Christian Right's agenda. It's sad the political wing of the Christian Right has sold out to a major party in their desire for power. In the unlikely event this third party is elected, it won't be successful in implementing 100% of its platform since the Congress won't change with them, but it would be nice to have a push from the top that was truly for limited federal government and Christian principles for a change.
Polls are always questionable things, with much margin of error between answers and actual fact. At this point, it seems likely that Sen. Obama will win the election and perhaps by electoral college margins reminiscent of Pres. Reagan. It may not turn out that way as there is an additional race card that is in play this election that wasn't in previous elections, but it probably will. In the interest of full disclosure, Sen. Obama would be my second choice and it won't bother me if he is elected. For me, Sen. McCain is not in the picture at all, and I say that as a sad Republican who feels the party lost its way. To use the argument that is often made against against a third party candidate--- "A vote for them is a wasted vote", I would submit that a vote for Sen. McCain is equally wasted if he doesn't have any chance of winning the electoral college either.
If you don't like the way the Republican party is going, don't vote for them. Vote for a Christian third party candidate. A strong showing by a third party will do more to get the attention of the Republican poobahs than anything else.
Know this. A vote is only wasted if you cast it out of habit, out of party loyalty, or for someone you don't truly think will represent your beliefs in governing.
Remember to continue to pray for America and its leaders - whoever they end up being.
Post election wrap-up
As expected, Sen. Obama has become President-Elect Obama. My congratulations go out to him and his family and to Vice President-Elect Biden and his family. The weight of the United States of America now rests on these two men's shoulders in the world's eyes. The weight falls primarily on President-Elect Obama, of course, and I am glad he is a young man. It is a heavy burden for any man to bear, but I have faith that with God's help he will step up to the challenges that will come his way and that he will come through them with élan.
I pray that he will remember his place in the universe and recall that God puts leaders in power and takes leaders from power for His own reasons. With a fear of God and a prompt acknowledgment when God clearly helps him out, Mr. Obama may accomplish great things. Acknowledging help that is clearly from God does not establish a religion. Not acknowledging God's help may cause God to let the government proceed without His help. That has proven to be a difficult road to follow, time and time again.
13:1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.
13:2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.
13:3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:
13:4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.
13:5 Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.
13:6 For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.
13:7 Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.
I pray that the wisdom and even-temper that he has displayed during the election cycle will continue to be his trademark. I pray for God's blessing to go with him and for an increase in wisdom and understanding in selecting the people who will work with him, governing this diverse land, dealing with Congress, and interacting with world leaders. Even though Congress is technically controlled by his party, its history of doing its own thing is deeply rooted and he will need God's help to accomplish much of what he wishes to do. In some cases, Congress will have to be drug, kicking and screaming, to enact some of his policy goals. Clearly, world leaders will try him as they would try any new president, and I pray that he makes the best choices for the United States of America, remembering that he is our President, first and foremost, and not the world's top cop.
Finally, I pray that as he considers potentially eight years of office, he will gradually propose policies to shrink the government's ballooning debt, reduce people's dependence on the federal government wherever possible, reduce its intrusive scope, reduce the foreign entanglements we have made, and generally do his part to get the federal government back within the limits of the Constitution and out of all places that it doesn't belong. The "promote the general welfare" clause has caused government to expand far beyond the framer's worst fears. Reigning in the federal government isn't necessarily in President-Elect Obama's nature. Some would say it is completely against his nature. But he is a Constitutional Law professor. I hope he takes his oath of office as seriously as he has all other aspects of his campaign. I hope he holds Congress equally strictly to their respective oaths of office.
The Republicans will be wondering what happened to them in this election. There are three fundamental areas where they have difficulty. They have lost the mantle of fiscal responsibility they always claimed to have. They have fought a war that they were not able to justify to the people, and which has no chance of providing lasting peace in a region that is filled with religious and ethnic hatred. They have allowed the religious right to shape the party and its reasons for power for too long.
Everyone should be moral and try to do right. Very little should be enforced by government when it comes to morality. This is the domain of churches and if churches were doing a better job of letting the power of God flow through them there wouldn't be any need to attempt to legislate morality from the federal branch. When Peter walked the earth, people were healed by simply having his shadow touch them. God hasn't changed, so that means we haven't lived up to what He wants for us. All Christians should stop blaming government and the world for the state the world is in. If we were more effective, the world would notice and straighten up!
If President-Elect Obama acknowledges God in what he does, privately seeks His counsel for appointments, for the direction of policy and execution of treaty obligations and all the other duties of the office, and seeks to limit government to a bare bones model, he will take the air out of the sails of the Republicans in 2012. The religious right has their agenda and ax to grind, but if he follows God's counsel and doesn't worry too much about what particular factions want done, the bulk of the Christians will go along. Being honest and honorable will go a long way right now.
Limiting the federal government's reach and restoring fiscal discipline will address the conservatives concerns. This can be done by decreasing spending or by raising taxes. Hopefully, Mr. Obama will lean more to the former, but to address the mountain of debt the latter must also considered a reality. It would be great if he could rally the people to force Congress to legislate at whatever level is necessary a line item veto for the President. Without it, all the promises people running for the office of President make are largely hot air. Now is the time to strike while the country is in deep economic distress. Give the CEO of the government the same power that CEO's of corporations have.
To have a good government that is well established should be the goal of every citizen, regardless of party affiliation. Let us all join together to pray that he has a fantastic four years and that the country is dramatically blessed. If that means the Republicans don't get back in power for a long time, I can live with that.
16:1 The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the LORD.
16:2 All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the LORD weigheth the spirits.
16:3 Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established.
16:4 The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.
16:5 Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD: though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished.
16:6 By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil.
16:7 When a man's ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.
16:8 Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues without right.
16:9 A man's heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.
16:10 A divine sentence is in the lips of the king: his mouth transgresseth not in judgment.
16:11 A just weight and balance are the LORD's: all the weights of the bag are his work.
16:12 It is an abomination to kings to commit wickedness: for the throne is established by righteousness.
16:13 Righteous lips are the delight of kings; and they love him that speaketh right.
16:14 The wrath of a king is as messengers of death: but a wise man will pacify it.
16:15 In the light of the king's countenance is life; and his favour is as a cloud of the latter rain.
16:16 How much better is it to get wisdom than gold! and to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver!
16:17 The highway of the upright is to depart from evil: he that keepeth his way preserveth his soul.
16:18 Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.
16:19 Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud.
16:20 He that handleth a matter wisely shall find good: and whoso trusteth in the LORD, happy is he.
To all Christians and anyone else reading this. Put your trust in God and not in any man, including the President of the United States. There is much work to be done and much sacrifice to be made to right our ship. Christ is our Rock and our Shelter. He can do more to help us individually than any government program ever devised. God seeks us to turn to Him. If you aren't a Christian, even if help comes from the government to meet your needs, you are ultimately doomed. Seek God while He can be found, for the time is short till He returns for His church. Even if it seems that much time has passed or will yet pass till that time comes, your time may be short. Don't put off till tomorrow the decisions you need to make right now. The election of a president in times of stress puts hope in a man and an office. While there can be some of that, remember that your salvation comes from God Himself. To God be the glory, great things He has done.