Do you love President Barak Obama?

Yesterday President Obama, along with Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Bob Casey all came to Scranton, Pennsylvania where we live. Because we live in a small city I happen to know some of the Casey family through my landscaping work. Earlier in the day I said hello to the Senator’s Mom and she told me her Daughter-in-law was picking her up. Later that afternoon I heard her mentioned by name and honored first by Joe Biden (A Scranton native) and then President Obama.

That set of events really got me to thinking again about how often we Christians have complained long and loud about our current President and have criticized him relentlessly. Though I have a lot of differences politically with the current administration I really believe that I need to re-think (repent) and re-purpose my approach to our leaders. Let’s ask ourselves this, “When did we last pray for our leaders”?  Not just for them to change their minds or their policies but for God’s blessing on them, on their families and on their future.

In His teachings Jesus made it very clear who we were to love and pray for. First He tells us to love our enemies and to pray for them. Next Jesus tells us that loving our neighbor is second only to loving God. Last of all we are commanded to love each other in the same way Jesus loved us. So whether we consider our President to be a brother in the faith, just a neighbor and fellow American or even our enemy we still have the same command.

I confess myself that I have spent uncounted moments of my own life complaining about our President but on several occasions the Holy Spirit has checked me and brought back to mind the scripture from 1 Timothy 2

1 Timothy 2:1 I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them.  Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity.  This is good and pleases God our SaviorImage

I Will Bless the Lord!

Psalm 34:1 I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth

Just a few weeks ago I shared about how God blessed us during our worship time because we were so longing for an outpouring in our time of spiritual drought. God was so faithful that night and we didn’t want to stop worshiping!

How I wish it was always like that. How wonderful it is to linger in the presence of the Master. But there are many different kinds of times in our lives. Unfortunately for most of us Martha types there are busy times with scarcely a moment for spiritual matters and then there are thankful times when and we are struck down by God’s overwhelming goodness and tenderness!

This past Thursday night was one of those Martha days for me. I don’t remember doing anything particularly wrong yet I barely stopped for a minute between morning devotions and quitting time. King David tells us that we are to Bless the Lord at ALL TIMES! We don’t get to choose only those “spiritual” days when God seems so real and near. So as I prepared for worship I began with a plea for God to help so that our time would be exactly what He wanted. I opened the familiar song list and prayed one of those Nehemiah (Under your breath) kind of prayers. “Lord please show me what to do. ”

I am learning that when I’m struggling to slow down and find the first rung on the ladder to what God is calling. It is a bit like the staircase in Jacob’s dream. There was Jacob, sleeping with his head on a rock at the bottom (Yes that was me too!) and there was God all the way at the top. But on that stairway were angels who were going up and bringing to God all the messages from the earth and there were angels also coming down; bringing God’s plans straight from the throne!

So if you feel so far from God that you are trying to use a rock for a pillow, then take encouragement from David and begin to bless the Lord at all times. You may never have a time when you feel further from the goal God has for your life, but God in His grace will show us the way! Image

Yesterday I was busy cutting the top of a large bush, somewhat oblivious to the shrill sound of a bird nearby. Suddenly as I moved my hand I discovered just inches away three tiny birds cradled in a nest. Then I realized that the bird that was making all the ruckus was the Mom giving me a piece of her mind! God brought that back to my mind at worship last night and after the first song I began to share how our lives are so delicate, just like those little birds in the nest. Their world was shaking and something terrible seemed to be going on, but in spite of the commotion, they were sticking their little heads up and asking, “Is that you Mom? Is that You?”

And so it is our world too. We are being shaken by events that we can not seem to understand. Powers are at play in the unseen world above us and we need to cry , “Is that You Father? Is it Your hand that is shaking our world?” Because in the same way the mother bird was watching her babies, so God is also watching us. He is not powerlessly watching us being destroyed but He is mighty to save! We really can Bless the Lord at all times and His praise can always be in our mouths. Then the humble will hear about God’s answer and be glad!