Prayer for our President

Dear Mr. Trump,

On November 8, 2016 you were elected by the people of the United States to serve as our next President. In the next few months you will be establishing your team and preparing for your inauguration. It is going to be a very busy and exciting time for you. I am praying for you.

This election was very contentious. The last year and a half have revealed a lot of wounds in our nation. Racial tensions, economic frustrations, fears regarding security and terrorism are all top of mind for us right now. Ultimately, none of these things are your fault. But people are going to look to you to fix it. I am praying for you. I know that you cannot fix everything. You are just a person just like me. But I am praying that God would give you wisdom and discernment.

I’m also praying for your family. No family is perfect, and living in the public eye magnifies imperfections. Your family is going to feel the pressure of your new office in a way that few can ever relate to.

I know that American policy and the Christian faith are not always going to line up perfectly. But I am going to pray that your understanding of the Christian faith will continue to grow and that it will continue to shape your life and policy. We are all in process.

But there are some principles that, regardless of policy, should be present in all of our lives. Our motivation for service should not be power but compassion. I am praying that your compassion for the American people, the rich and the poor, the majority and the minorities, and your compassion for those who are hurting around the world would guide your administration. Compassion is a powerful force in bringing healing. I’m praying that Jesus would help you walk with compassion.

I’m praying for patience. Not everything you want to accomplish is going to happen right away. Please be patient. Don’t be rash. As president you will be entrusted to steward an incredible amount of power. To wield that kind of power responsibly will require great patience. Please be patient.

I’m praying for mercy. Many things were said about you in the election process. Many of those things were hurtful to you and people you love. Please don’t use your power to bring vengeance. Let mercy guide your leadership. Rise above the name calling. Jesus told us that when someone strikes us we should turn the other cheek. Please practice that. Let your critics reveal their own weakness and shame and don’t engage them on their level.

I’m praying that you pursue peace. Throughout the Old and New Testament peace is one of the great blessings that God wants for his people. Peace, or Shalom, is not just the absence of war, it’s also setting things right, it’s pursuing justice for others. And while we will never be able to perfectly establish shalom in our own strength, it is something that we should all pursue with the resources that God has given us.

I am praying for unity. You are no longer just a candidate for your preferred party. You are now President of the United States of America. While your party helped get you to this office, the whole nation is looking to you to lead us all. Please lead the way in building unity. Our nation can do so much when we are actually the United States. Building unity is very difficult. I am praying your vision of America is not just a vision for your party’s preferences. Show us a vision of what our nation can be. We are a great nation, show us how we can be a greater force for good in the world.

As a pastor I promised my congregation that I would never endorse a candidate from the pulpit. But I will always endorse praying for our leaders. I am praying for you. I want you to know that while I may disagree with policies and actions, I will never stop praying for you. You are my president. You are our president.

This is my prayer for you. And while you may never actually read this (I know you’re pretty busy) I am still going to keep praying for you.

 

Not to get political but . . .

I’m really glad that I’ve been unable to watch the news for the past few weeks.  Because when I turned it on, all I saw was hatred from both parties thrown back and forth.  I’ve seen religious discimination lauded as a conservative american value.  I’ve seen the parody that is the Colbert Report come true.  This breaks my heart as a Christian and as an American.

First of all, my heart breaks as a Christian because I see these conservative voices, who claim to be Christians, asserting that America is essentially God’s chosen Country, and they pledge allegiance to the flag instead of the Cross of Christ.  That’s a problem Christians.  Wake Up!  America will not save your soul.  America will not rescue you from your sins.  America is just as broken as every other nation in the world because America is made up of broken sinful people.  So please conservative pundits STOP equating America with the Gospel.  The Gospel of Jesus is so much bigger than America.  You cheapen the Gospel by your actions.  (I say all of this as someone who is fairly conservative).

Yesterday I talked about idolatry (it will be up shortly at thecreeksidechurch.org if you are interested).  I think our devotion to american nationalism (on both sides of the political spectrum) is one of the most pervasive forms of idolatry that the church has to deal with.  Jesus is so much greater than America, and I don’t really think that America is his ultimate plan for redeeming the world.  Rather he wants to use the church and individual Christians throughout the world.  But we cannot be so tied to our American Values that we loose sight of our Gospel Values.

These are the equations that American Christians need to decide upon

America > Christianity

America = Christianity

America < Christianity

Choose.  Truly evaluate you beliefs.  If you choose the first, I have bad news for you.  You are not a Christians.  The two cannot be equals, and the country must be secondary to the faith.  And you might believe the third to be true but you may be acting like the first two.  Check yourself.

All of these things I’m saying are my own opinion, they do not reflect the opinion of Creekside Church or the leadership of Creekside Church.  I’ve just been removed from the news for a bit and I had to get this off my chest.  So that was point one, written as a Christian, who is generally conservative in social issues.  I am not apolitical.  I think it’s good to vote your conscience and to do your civic duty.  But I’m tired of Christian Conservatives being manipulated as a voting block to promote fear and hatred.

That being said, lets talk about the Mosque.  One of the reasons that white Europeans came to the Americas was to escape religious persecution.  That’s one of the reasons.  But it has led to religious diversity in America as a right for all Americans.  Now, do I think putting a Mosque in that location is a good idea?  No probably not.  But should it be denied simply because it’s a mosque?  Well that’s pretty un-american.  Or is it only white Europeans who get to practice religious freedom?  As an american I feel like this discrimination is simplistic, reductionist and moronic.  Because as a Christian, I celebrate the same freedoms that Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Scientologists, NASCAR fans, and Oprah viewers all celebrate.

It’s a complicated world that we live in, and America has a cultural value on religious liberty for all not just the white Europeans.  I believe that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the truth, and it’s the only way to find forgiveness from sins and to have relationship with God.  And I’m raising my children in the Gospel, and I hope to be a Gospel influence to my neighbors and my community.  But as an American I cannot enforce my faith on someone else.  I cannot legislate faith.  And I don’t want people to take away my rights to religious freedom.  If this mosque is denied simply because it’s a mosque and not a church, then it’s only a matter of time before I lose my religious freedoms.

So is it a good idea to put a mosque there?  Probably not.  Do they have the right to pursue putting a moque there?  Yes.  Just like I have a right to put a church in downtown Seattle.  This is a conservative battle for religious freedom.  The ideology behind my faith is fundamentally different than that mosque but we both want the same freedoms. And America has stood for those freedoms for all of it’s existence.  So if you are a conservative, and you want to conserve the American way and the Constitution then you cannot oppose this mosque because it’s a mosque.  It’s probably a bad place for a church as well, just saying.

So please American Christians, stop putting America on par with the Gospel.  And Conservatives, stand up for religious freedom for all americans or else its only a matter of time until the white Europeans lose their religious freedoms as well.

This is what I know, no one in D.C. wakes up and says, “well how can I destroy America today?”  Everyone is trying to make america better.  But when we treat people who are opposites on the political spectrum like they are Satan’s spawn then everyone loses.  So stop shouting at each other.  Everyone is trying to make America a better place to live.  So please let’s treat each other civility.  We can be passionate without being jerks.

I hate getting political on my blog, but I saw all this and got angry.  Had to get it off my chest.  I welcome conversation but I will not reply to hate speech.  And again, this is my opinion.  Not the opinion of Creekside Church.  I know some people think that everything I say is the opinion of the Church, but that’s pretty simplistic thinking, (I’m not the Pope).  If I can’t disagree with other Christians on political issues and still be considered faithful to the Gospel then there is something much more troublesome happening.