Pray For America

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From Dr. Jim Denison: Nearly one in four young Americans would rather have a giant meteor destroy the Earth than see Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump in the White House. In addition, 26 percent of millennials would prefer a random lottery over the two candidates.It’s been a tough week leading up to tonight’s final presidential debate.

The local Republican headquarters in Hillsborough, North Carolina madenational headlines when a firebomb was thrown through its front window last Sunday. Later that day, comedian Amy Schumer was performing in Tampa, Florida when she began slamming Donald Trump. Some two hundred people walked out. Yesterday a terrible caricatured statue of Hillary Clinton was displayed in lower Manhattan, causing a furor on social media.

For many, the election can’t get here soon enough. According to theAmerican Psychological Association, more than half of America’s adults say the election has been a large or significant source of stress for them.

So-called “Election Stress Disorder” is just part of the larger picture. Nearly three out of four adults report feeling stressed about money at least some of the time. Eighty percent of workplace accidents and doctor visits are attributed to stress.

Stress contributes to headaches, high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, skin conditions, asthma, arthritis, depression, and anxiety. It is a linked to some cancers and costs American industry more than $300 billion each year.

How should we respond?

I’d like to focus this morning on an overlooked factor that relates directly to the stress epidemic in our culture. You and I live in a society that is consumed with status. We measure ourselves by others—how they look, what they wear, what they drive, where they live. We determine our success by comparison with theirs. And because there’s always someone who has done more or owns more, there’s always a reason to feel defeated and stressed.

Here’s where an insight I heard this week can help.

Jared Billups is Gathering Pastor at Highland Baptist Church in Waco, Texas. He participated in a panel discussion on worship I led this week at Dallas Baptist University, where he made this astute observation: “Comparison is the enemy of everything God has made you to be.” Jared cited David’s refusal to wear King Saul’s armor before using his own slingshot to defeat Goliath (1 Samuel 17:38–39).

When we try to be someone we’re not, we’re doomed to a life of frustration. When we decide to be the person God made us to be and let others do the same, much of the stress we feel is lifted.

You and I cannot control what the candidates say tonight or what the country says about them tomorrow. But we can control how we respond to the vitriol of the campaign and anything else that attacks our peace in Christ. We can refuse to be “anxious about anything,” praying instead about everything (Philippians 4:6) and claiming the “peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” (v. 7).

And we can decide to fight our giants using our unique capacities and spiritual gifts, secure in the knowledge that God has given us all we need to win the victory he intends for us. Mark it down: “We are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:37).

Who’s your Goliath today? What slingshot is in your hand?

Denison Forum on Truth and Culture
Thursday October 20 2016
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HOW CHRISTIANS SHOULD RESPOND TO THE PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE

DR. JIM DENISON
OCTOBER 20, 2016
The candidates began and ended last night’s presidential debate without shaking hands. The ninety minutes in between were filled with argument, name-calling, and vitriol. Donald Trump refused to say if he will accept the vote if he loses, a statement that is leading this morning’s news. Hillary Clinton called him a “puppet” of Russia, while he called her a “nasty woman.”In eighteen days I will vote in my eleventh presidential election over four decades. I have never seen a campaign season as bitter as this one has been. Nor have I seen Christians as divided over an election as we seem to be today.

I receive emails regularly from believers who liken Donald Trump to Winston Churchill and characterize him as the war leader we need today. I also receive emails from believers who are convinced that no Christian could vote for Mr. Trump. Many evangelicals are convinced that electing Hillary Clinton would end America as we know it. Others believe that she would advance our status as leader of the free world.

Here’s what I know for sure: on November 9 the election will be over, but our witness—for good or for bad—will endure.

Christians are commissioned to reach all nations with the good news of God’s love (Matthew 28:19). Therefore, we must not limit our witness to the place we happen to inhabit today. In the same way, we must not limit our witness to the moment we happen to inhabit today.

What we say about the candidates will resonate long after the 2016 election is done. Politics are fertile ground for Satan to use in sabotaging our witness. That’s one reason we are instructed to “honor the emperor” (1 Peter 2:17) and to pray for “kings and all who are in high positions” so that “we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way” (1 Timothy 2:2).

Will your conversation about last night’s debate be “godly and dignified in every way”?

Just as we judge political candidates by their supporters, our culture judges Christ by his church. When we discuss last night’s debate and the candidates, it is vital that we do not dishonor Jesus. Candidates and even nations come and go, but the next person you meet will spend eternity either united with God in heaven or separated from him in hell.

I participated this week in a worship seminar led by Keith Getty, one of the greatest hymn writers of our generation. The lyrics of one of his new hymns especially struck me:

Facing a task unfinished that drives us to our knees,
A need that, undiminished, rebukes our slothful ease,
We, who rejoice to know Thee, renew before thy throne
The solemn pledge we owe Thee to go and make Thee known.

Let’s make this “solemn pledge” the hymn of our hearts today, to the glory of God.

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