Now I lay me down to sleep.
I do not fear; my soul He keeps.
If I should die before I wake,
Alive I’ll wake beyond the gate.
Now I lay me down to sleep.
I do not fear; my soul He keeps.
If I should die before I wake,
Alive I’ll wake beyond the gate.
As you wind down from a weekend of celebrating St. Patrick Day, pause for a moment and read a portion of the real St. Patrick’s prayer, one he prayed every day.
May it be our prayer, also.
Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. – Philippians 1:21
For practically a year and a half our nation has been focused on November 8th. First there was all the primary drama. Could Hillary hold off Bernie? Could 16 Republicans ever produce a candidate? From the very beginning it was clear this was going to be an election like no other.
Then came the general election campaign. Talk about twists and turns! To begin with, who would have thought we’d end up with two candidates so fatally flawed? How did either survive as long as they did with all the scandals each had to endure? Totally amazing.
But it’s over, now, praise the Lord! No more media spin; no more celebrities getting naked or offering sexual favors in return for voting for Hillary; no more talk of swing states and the electoral college; and no more talk of things that divide us.
Sorry, I was kidding about that last part.
Sure, the election cycle is over for now, and Donald Trump will be the 45th President of the United States. However, some of the very things that divided this nation during the election will still be sources of discontent in the future.
As I see it, this election has done two things: it has proved one thing, and offered another.
First, it has proven that an overwhelming amount of Americans are tired of corrupt government and want someone to do something about it.
The main reason Trump was elected – in my estimation – is that the majority of our people were tired of government going against the will of the people, never acknowledging it is WE who elected them, and it was time for an outsider to flush the system.
To be clear, our system of government does work, it’s just been clogged up and getting worse for a long while. There should be no “political class,” only elected Americans serving other Americans like our founding fathers intended. Trump was elected to get things “flowing” again.
Second, this election has offered the American church a reprieve, a short breather, a small window of opportunity in which to prepare for what will inevitably come in the future.
What concerned many in this country such as myself was the clear and present danger that Hillary Clinton posed toward our freedom of religion. Others have scoffed at my concerns, but they chose to ignore (or interpret differently) the overwhelming evidence of precedent. Looking at the way things have “progressed” in America over the last 8 years, it was easy to see the policy track a Clinton administration would take. In my estimation it would have taken only 5 short years until thousands of churches would have been forced to close their doors due to gender laws, and many pastors would have been forced to either curb their speech, or face fines or jail time. All I did was look at the natural progression of things.
But because Clinton was not elected, the American churches have been given an opportunity to start making adjustments: one example would be preparing for our tax-exempt status being removed. Let’s be honest, barring another great spiritual awakening in this country, the time will come when another president is elected who will find it politically expedient to punish a segment of society that refuses to accept and affirm the gender-bending, sexually-immoral agenda of many on the left. Like Joseph of old, we should be preparing now for the famine to come.
Some of you made it very clear you were praying before this election. Well, whether you voted for Trump, or not, now is NOT the time to stop praying!
President Elect Trump is not a perfect man, as we know. So, pray that God will make him humble and dependent upon Him. Pray that he will select wise and godly counsel to surround him as he’s forced to make decisions that will affect us all, even the world.
Pray that civility will be restored to this broken and fractured nation.
But above all, pray Psalm 9:20… “Put them in fear, O LORD: that the nations may know themselves to be but men.”
Would you like to step into a time machine? You CAN!
All you have to do is click on the link below and listen to a recording of the radio broadcast for this coming Sunday, October 23.
Yes, step into the time machine and listen to me preach on the radio in the future!
Click on my handsome picture below (it includes the link), and listen to what I had/have to say about the upcoming biblical response to the upcoming (in the future) election.
Last night (Monday night) I went to a political fundraiser, which was also a campaign kickoff meeting. It was for a local mayoral candidate and current Chattanooga City Councilman, Larry Grohn. I went because I was invited by a Facebook friend whom I wanted to meet in person, and also because I wanted to hear what the candidate had to say.
Here in my city we are fortunate to have some good leadership. No matter what political party, most of the people in leadership are decent people with the good of our city at heart. Are they perfect? No. But none are Clinton or Trump, either (thank God!). Nevertheless, I wanted to hear good reasons why I should vote for Mr. Grohn, not for the incumbent.
Upon entering the meeting hall downtown I was greeted by the candidate’s wife. Once I told her who I was and why I was there, she said to me, “The person you need to be speaking to is my husband…let me introduce you to him.” She did, and that led to a very interesting conversation which must have lasted around 5 minutes. Thankfully, some of my questions were answered.
After speaking with Councilman Grohn, I went to the food bar and filled my little paper plate with chicken nuggets, celery, a few little tomatoes, and a cookie. After that I got my glass of unsweetened iced tea, found a seat at a table, and began a nice theological/political conversation with some very intelligent college students.
Shortly before 7 pm, the time when the speaking part of this meeting was to begin, I felt a tap on my shoulder. Someone whispered in my ear, “Pastor Baker,” so I turned around.
“Pastor,” the candidate himself said, “would you be willing to give the invocation tonight?” I don’t know if I looked surprised, or not, but my eyebrows must have raised as I was asked this question. I mean, seriously, who was I that he should come to me and ask me to open up his campaign’s inaugural event with prayer? Yet, what was I supposed to do, say “no”?
“Sure,” I replied. “I’d be happy to.”
“Thank you, Pastor,” he then said. “We want to start things off right, you know?”
“Absolutely,” I said with a nod.
Next, as I stood up, from behind me came the campaign manager. He thanked me for being willing to give the invocation at such short notice, then proceeded to tell me the order in which I was to do what. Then he said, “Say whatever you want to say…if you want to say anything…then pray…it’s up to you, just say whatever you want. Thank you for doing this.”
Yes, I was asked to pray at a political event and was given complete freedom to say whatever I wanted to say. And they didn’t know me from the man in the moon! Unbelievable!
So, when the time came I walked up to the microphone set up in the meeting hall full of people and cameras and introduced myself. The next thing I did was remind everyone of how and why Benjamin Franklin called the continental congress to stop what they were doing and pray to the Almighty for His help. I then said (to paraphrase myself):
“We are just men and women, and none of us are perfect. And just like those men back then at the founding of our nation, we have our flaws, and we need help – we need outside Help. So, let us now call upon Almighty God.”
I then prayed, beginning with a quote from Proverbs 29:2, “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice…” I didn’t pray a prayer of blessing for the candidate, nor did I attempt to give the impression that my prayer was a form of support. Actually, the prayer that came out of me felt like it was not even me speaking, for it was full of authority and “otherness.” I felt like I was in the presence of the One who did not take sides, but was the One before whom all knees must bow. Therefore I said:
“If this man for whom these people have gathered here to honor be a righteous man…may all things done here tonight not be for our aggrandizement, but for Your glory…in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.”
Sunday night some dear folk at another church, Mt. Carmel Baptist, had me come forward, after I spoke, and laid hands on me and prayed. They prayed, among other things, that God’s hand of blessing would be upon me, and that His calling upon my life would be evident – a “man of God.” Then, last night, something about me caused a political candidate to trust a total stranger to give the opening invocation at such an important event.
That, my friends, was a God thing.
How would you define “doing your devotions?”
What is it, exactly?
Honestly, I am a preacher/pastor who has a difficult time doing my “daily devotions.” Frankly, I am even unsure the term “devotions” is actually appropriate. Something about it often strikes me as magical, prescriptive, or simply religious.
You see, I’m the type of person who sorta recoils from scripted religious stuff; I don’t even like responsive reading in church! Whenever a preacher says “Repeat after me…” in a sermon, I usually don’t. Therefore, when I go into a Christian book store like Lifeway and see shelves of “devotionals” and devotional aids – many written by the most popular authors of the day – I feel like I’m being pandered to, the object of some Nashvillian marketing team.
Whatever happened to the promise from Jesus that the Comforter would come and guide me into all truth (John 16:13)? What about the discernment of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:14)? Do I need the products of publishing elites to draw me closer to the Lord? Do I really need to read the polished words of some slick conference speaker to better understand the Word of God? Of course not.
But there does need to be some regularity of personal conversation with my heavenly Father. There needs to be regular communication with Jesus. How else could one develop a personal relationship with Someone if they never spent some one-to-one time together?
But again, how does one do it without it becoming mechanical? How does one keep it from becoming routine? How does one do it without letting someone else do all the work? How does one do it without it becoming just one more thing to check off the list?
I don’t believe there is a right or wrong way to regularly spend time with God; yet, you may have some way that works best for you. Would you mind sharing it?
The word is theōreō (θεωρέω), and it is translated as “saw” and “perceive” in two different verses in the book of Acts.
Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw [G2334] the city wholly given to idolatry. … Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, [Ye] men of Athens, I perceive [G2334] that in all things ye are too superstitious. – Acts 17:16, 22 KJV
The Apostle Paul had not only been a spectator, but had discerned and considered the idolatrous condition of the city of Athens, and it broke his heart. That led him to take action.
When I was in Zimbabwe I was able to see for myself what was going on. I was able to discern the painful conditions under which the people live. But even more, my heart was broken and convicted, for here was people who had a determination to survive, no mater what. Here was a body of Christians who were determined to share the gospel on one hand, and work for better conditions with the other.
Today more protesters concerned with unemployment (over 80%) and government corruption went to the streets, court approval in hand, yet were arrested by police. The people live in poverty because of leader who will not listen to the people of his country, and they are growing weary.
But what did I hear from the people I met? “Pray for us,” they would beg. “Pray for peace, for a peaceful election, and a change for good.” They want better relations with Western countries, not North Korea or Russia. They don’t want a coup, but fair and honest elections. But things are getting very tense, so they beg for us to pray.
It’s one thing to read about it in the news, but something totally different when you know the people involved. I went there…I met them…I lived and ate with them… The people of Zimbabwe are real people, a people of whom many love God and want Zimbabwe to be a Christian light on the continent of Africa.
I saw. I perceived. Now, will you take just a moment and look a little closer? Would you please intercede for this nation and our fellow believers caught in the middle of such turmoil?
All they want us to do is see them, and pray.