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Posts Tagged ‘Barack Obama’

The other day I noticed something that my small, Bay Area church and America have in common.  I wish I could say that it was something really encouraging, but as of right now that is not entirely the case.  I believe the common thread between the two is dashed hope and leadership under attack.  I doubt this is what the leaders of these two institutions were hoping to find before rising to power.

A major source of aggravation for each institution is a growing revenue problem combined with debt.  America’s financial situation is a very complicated one, to put it lightly, but what I saw on the opening pages of an August edition of Bloomberg Businessweek was downright frightening (Click image to enlarge):

Represented in this way, the $10 trillion dollar debt that “everyone is talking about” is only a tiny sliver of our current expenditures compared to the massive $211 trillion fiscal gap that our country has.  Uhh…excuse me?  Can anyone even fathom what that means?  The exact number is theoretical, but we are still talking about trilllllllliiiioooonnnss of dollars here! Our church’s shortfall, on the other hand, is a bit more manageable for me to wrap my mind around.  Published in our church-wide bulletin are a series of figures that list our giving as compared to the projected budget.  Using those numbers, it appears that in all categories we are significantly missing the mark.  As of this past week, we have a $52,304.00 shortfall.  Additionally, our church has been dragged down by a loan that has been outstanding since 2004.  The financial woes of our church have been exacerbated by the departure of long term members who decided the recent changes in direction and leadership were not for them.  Seeing committed members leave when a church is already struggling can be one of the hardest things for its congregation to witness, and can also prove to be—as has been the case with my church—a powerfully contagious phenomenon.  However, these two factors do not account for all of our church’s revenue loss: the effect of the economy on churches and non-profit organizations everywhere mirrors the problems faced by state and federal government.  For example, over the last couple of years I have heard many stories about individuals in our congregation who are without work, or who have had to switch from well-established professions to a new one due to the downturn in the economy.

But our church’s woes are not just economic.  Worse yet, is the grumbling that I’ve heard throughout the halls of my church about our struggling leaders.  I too have participated in this and for that I am sorry.  Christians will always have their share of gripes with leadership, as they should, and I am all in favor of standing up for what is right and being vocal about it.  However it is truly a sad day when those complaints begin to outweigh the amazing testimonies of how God used our leaders to enliven, encourage, and enrich our lives.  I have never felt closer to God than I have since the new leadership arrived in April of last year and yet at times I too have felt like giving into the contagion that has turned many against our church.

Criticism has never seemed more severe for the leaders of our nation or of our church.  According to NationalPolls.com, approval ratings for President Obama have steadily trickled downward since 2009.  Meanwhile, I would say that the vocalized frustrations with the leaders at my church also indicate a downward trickle in approval.  In the case of Obama, it is odd to think that though it was a hope for change that captured the hearts of so many back in the run up to the 2008 Presidential election, it is now the inability to hope for change that has led many to turn against him.  For each institution it would seem there is a prevailing belief that our leaders do not have what is needed to pull us from our present circumstances, and while I’ve seen people leave the church for this and I’ve seen people bash our President for this, I think this points out something very important: Where we fix our eyes determines our level of contentment in these difficult and tumultuous times.

I know many are upset at the way things are being governed nationally and congregationally and I am too, but I don’t regret helping our President come to power, or for standing in full support of the ‘marriage’ that recently brought together our church with another. What I regret is that I stopped praying once these two amazing achievements were reached.  You see, I have a disease, and maybe you have it too.  My disease is a compulsive disorder: I cannot stop the destructive process of believing and acting like our leaders are the answer.  Jesus—the Lord of Lords, the King of Kings—He is the answer, not the next great politician or pastor.  This we know.  And yet, when we look out at our nation and the next round of politicians begin to collect their Presidential money, we will find our hearts stirring and this disease will find a way to endure another day.  We will set our eyes not on God, but on our favorite man/woman for the job and hope and pray them into the White House.  Then, if we get the one we voted for, we will pat ourselves on the back and take a backseat while we watch our ‘fearless’ leader take on one of the most impossible jobs known to man.  Has our attitude been any different as changes have come to my church?

It’s tragic, really, how much pressure we put on those who lead us.  We expect them to save us when we don’t prepare for disasters.  We expect them to keep us employed when we find out our skill set is out of commission.  We expect them to save our home when we buy out of our price range.  We expect them to provide for us when everything hits the fan.  And we expect them to singlehandedly hold a church together.  Sadly, when we do this we are not counting on the Lord and earnestly asking Him for the wisdom and guidance to get us through these and all the other hellacious things we all inevitably face while on this earth.  That’s why I think it’s time I turned my eyes back to our Lord, and I don’t think I am the only one who needs to.  It’s time for those of us who are grumbling to meet face to face with our cure for this disease of idolizing our leaders: Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).  It’s time to acknowledge him as our everything and begin praying for our leaders again.  I’ll start, since I haven’t done it for a while…

Dear Lord, President Barack Obama and our government officials need you. Please guide them and love on them so that as they lead they compel total and unrelenting love and devotion for you and your ways. Keep their eyes fixed on You.  I pray for You to encourage President Barack Obama and our government officials to be bold and to stand up for the things that You are about, Jesus.  Holy Ghost, counsel them.  May they walk in step with You.

If you think that the ruling political party or your pastor is doing a bad job, get on your knees and pray that they rise in strength, divine strength.  Be careful though, because sometimes strength comes in numbers; you just might have to get up and stand with them even if you don’t know how yet…

Dear Lord, my pastors, elders, our deacons, and all those in leadership at my church need you.  They have been a target for people’s frustration for far too long without the support they need.  Keep their eyes fixed on You.  Please guide and love on them so they are perfect channels of your love, adoration, and patience for mankind.  I pray for you to encourage our leadership to be bold now and to stand up for the things that You are about, Jesus.  Holy Ghost, counsel our leadership.  May they continue to walk in step with You.  

Jesus is our solution folks.  Acknowledging that is the easy part; the harder part is recognizing that we must be a part of the solution too.  So let’s begin by making it easier on ourselves and stop with all the destructive talk that only breaks us down.  Then, let’s be people that act as God’s hands and feet to see God’s Kingdom established on this earth, instead of dragging our hands and feet until we feel like the ‘right’ leadership has arrived.  At the end of the day none of us know what is going to happen at my church or in America but I will say this: there is a different kind of murmuring going through the halls of my church these days.  It’s only a whisper right now, but if I listen closely I will hear it.  Yes, indeed, people are beginning to believe again.  Not in themselves, but in the Lord’s ability to be our everything.  Faith is rising.  Woohoo!  And, guess what…we finally paid off that loan that was weighing us down!  So I say to my church: “Get ready; I believe God has big plans for us!” And for America I say: “I’ve seen glimpses of better days that are yet to come; days when we extend mercy and a helping hand, not anger and a fist.  In the meantime, lets learn to fix our eyes on Jesus.”

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