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The Politics of the Gospel

What is the role of the church in American politics? As Christians we are blessed with the opportunity to influence our government toward righteousness through voting. This action alone is not enough though. We must continue to be the church, and invest in the people of our nation. The state of our political system represents the state of our nation, so the biggest influence in government we the church can make is by investing in the people of the nation.

Todd WagnerNov 4, 2012
Jeremiah 25:12-18

In This Series (24)
From the Bunny Slope to Double Black: Taking the Next Step in Your Relationship with Christ
Blake HolmesDec 30, 2012
The Radical Rescue That is Christmas
Todd WagnerDec 24, 2012
Darkness in Newtown and The Light of The World
Todd WagnerDec 16, 2012
The Politics of the Gospel
Todd WagnerNov 4, 2012
A Celebration of What God Has Done and a Reminder of Our Role Now That There Is "More Than Enough"
Todd WagnerOct 7, 2012
Our Reasonable Faith: A Conversation and a Charge
Dr. William Lane Craig, Todd WagnerSep 30, 2012
Todd Wagner on Point of View Discussing Apologetics
Todd WagnerJul 24, 2012
Reminders of His Love and How We Remember Him
Todd WagnerJul 1, 2012
Glorifying God Through Conflict
Todd WagnerJun 17, 2012
Sabbath Rest
Jonathan PokludaMay 27, 2012
The God-given Dignity and Duty of Woman, and the Men Who Serve Them
Todd WagnerMay 13, 2012
Entitled
Blake HolmesApr 29, 2012
Todd Wagner Interviewed on Point of View
Todd WagnerApr 23, 2012
Finishing Well, Celebrating Now, and Pressing On
Todd WagnerApr 15, 2012
If Easter is True, Then so is This
Todd WagnerApr 8, 2012
How People Accustomed to Evil Become Good
Todd WagnerApr 1, 2012
Faith in the Fire
Jonathan PokludaMar 18, 2012
Lifting the Curse
Jonathan PokludaMar 11, 2012
Act to Impact Sunday 2012
Todd WagnerFeb 12, 2012
The God of Win Win Win Win Win
Todd WagnerFeb 5, 2012
Hell and Lollipops: Eternal Implications
Jonathan PokludaJan 22, 2012
The Elephant in the Room: Five Barriers to Generous Living
Adam Tarnow, John CoxJan 15, 2012
Why We Don't Change: Eight Attitudes that will Keep Us Bound to an Old Master
Todd WagnerJan 8, 2012
An Invitation to the Table
Blake HolmesJan 1, 2012

In This Series (24)

I would offer this. I think that's probably a second or third best way to make a difference. I think it's a necessary way to make a difference. I think it's an appropriate way to make a difference. I don't think it's the best way. The best way is to prepare your heart to be a person who understands how God wants us to live as citizens in a country that affect the way our country governs. Then when you go to vote, you will affect the difference in terms of leadership and national representative choices that will exalt a nation, as the Scripture says.

The best way to change and make a difference is to change yourself. Everybody wants to change the world, but very few people want to change themselves. I love the statement that if you want to start a revival, the best thing to do is to draw a little circle around yourself, change everything inside of it, and then invite others inside that circle and let the world change that way. It always starts with individual repentance.

You don't have to be around Watermark very long before you hear its pastor say that the greatest evil in America today is not any one political party, not any one political leader, not any one pack, not any particular agenda that wants to redefine marriage or an appropriate view of life. The greatest evil in America today are those God has called to be salt who are not salty and light who are not light. When you have that which is called to preserve goodness and to produce light… When they are corrupted, why are we surprised to see decay and darkness in our world?

What we're going to do this morning is remind ourselves of the way God chose, in a very messy way, to change the world, which was to enter into the world, to come down, and in a loving way engage with lost men who are doing what seems right to them, but it's a way that is leading to individual death and corporate death, and to call them out of that darkness into light. I want to remind us of what our charge is and what God wants us to do; remind us of the incredible privilege we have as people who do get to participate in what is civil and right.

Let me just say this. Many guys who do what I do, especially some of the guys who are maybe a half a generation or a generation behind me in terms of spiritual leadership, because they have seen maybe a half a generation or a generation ahead of me, start to seek salvation through politics. We have swung the pendulum the other direction. I've never believed, personally, that the Christian right and trying to govern specifically through this massive effort to get people who take the name of Christ in positions of power…

We've had people, if you remember, who took the name of Christ for a long time. I did a message a while ago listing out all of the spiritual heritage of every president our country has ever had. What a man claims is not always what he does. But there was a big movement to politicize the church in a very negative way that has caused the church today to want to be removed from politics.

Let me say a few things to you about that. It really helps to understand words sometimes. The words politic, polity, polite are all related in terms of word origin. They have to do with what is civil, what is right. All politics is is the science of government. That's literally what it means. Polity is the way you govern a group of people or your own personal polity is the way you govern yourself.

It actually means, in its direct origin, citizen. What is the citizenry? What is the individual belief? So, when you have a group of citizens who come together and form a political narrative, you then have what we corporately believe. Now, whose job is it to affect belief? There are three divine institutions that exist in every land.

First, family. It has always been God's design that the family should train up polity, righteousness, civility, goodness, godliness, rightness. It was always the job of the corporate family, God's family, the church, to remind individuals and to rebuke individuals who are not raising up children in righteousness what righteousness looks like and the consequences of inventing righteousness on their own terms.

The second divine institution is the family of God, the church of Jesus Christ. It was the job of that collective community to help individual families train up their children in righteousness. The church was never supposed to be a substitute. It was always a supplement to remind, to reprove, and to rebuke as the family trained.

Then there was a third divine institution that God gave us. It is government. The job of government is to prosecute evil and to protect what is right and good, to give liberty and to protect those liberties, to make sure tyrants and terror don't overcome and oppress people. Those three institutions were to work together. One is not to be the other, and the other is not to be the one. There is distinction there.

Let me now walk you through what has become of us. As we go to vote, I'm going to remind you that if America votes… America is where it is today because we are putting in office the kinds of people who will make the kind of polity, what we would call civility, that basically aligns with the majority of individuals who express their desire for us as a land. One guy said this, and I couldn't agree with him more. He said, "People often say in a democracy decisions are made by a majority of people. Of course, that is not true. Decisions are made by a majority of those who make themselves heard and who vote."

When you have a majority of people in our land who are making their voices heard, who are evangelistic for their worldview, who tell people, "If you don't agree with us, you're a hater, you're a bigot, you're intolerant, you want a theocracy," and that narrative starts to carry its day in the country, even well-meaning people start to go, "Well, I don't want to be intolerant. I don't want to be a bigot. I don't want to be a hater," so we become silent. We don't speak out, we don't educate, we don't train, we don't remind, we don't reprove, we don't rebuke, we don't salt, and we don't enlighten, so decay and darkness pervade in the land.

Now, whose job is it to reprove, and whose job is it to rebuke? Whose job is it to remind? It's the church's. What you have are families that have disintegrated. Why? Because we have not reminded men and women what it is to be a family unit and what God expects of us. I believe marriage is under assault in this country, and I don't believe it's by the radical homosexual movement or the liberal front that seek to redefine marriage.

I think it has been within the church, where marriage has been compromised, where divorce has been rampant and, where divorce isn't rampant, mutual toleration and being undivorced is as common as oneness in humility before God. The Scriptures are very clear. Always where God has his biggest problem and where God always starts judgment is with leadership. In 1 Peter, chapter 4, God says, "Hey, judgment has always begun with his people, because his people are the source through which others should be instructed."

It is a judgment on the church when we look and see that the majority of folks in our land want people who have a certain worldview that is not consistent with wisdom, righteousness, and goodness. Let me say this one more time. For people who are ministers of the gospel to not be concerned about righteousness is insane. I want to encourage you to not be one of those small-minded people who puts their hope in an election, nor should you be one of those small-minded people who is filled with hopelessness and despair as a result of an election.

Our hope is not in any one election. I'll say this: the most important election in your lifetime… Have you ever heard that before? "This is the most important election in our lifetime." The most important election in your lifetime is your election into the household of God where, by grace through faith, you are made one with God through the provision of Jesus Christ. That is the most important election, and it is by sovereign and divine grace.

When God calls you by sovereign and divine grace into his community and into his family and the good news has invaded you that God is not a tyrant, that God isn't looking to oppress you, that God is not trying to take away from you things you want, that God is a God of liberty and freedom… Freedom is not the same as being able to do whatever you want to do whenever you want to do it, because that leads to certain consequences. You are free to choose what you want, but you are not free to choose your consequences.

God will not be mocked. A man will reap what he sows. Freedom isn't that you can do whatever you want to do whenever you want to do it. Freedom is the freedom to choose the right thing and not to be deluded by compromise or error or darkness. God has come to set us free from a liar who deceives us, who plays on our flesh, who builds a culture around us that seduces us away from God; a deceiver who says, "God is not good. His Word is not true. Rebellion against him is not that big of a deal."

God has come to show you, not that he wants to impose on you anything, but he wants to propose to you where life can be found. Jesus has come to make a divine proposal, and that is what we are here to do. We're not looking to impose anything on anybody. We are here to remind them that you will impose upon yourself the fruit of that which you plant into your life.

There are numerous illustrations, just from a sociological, observant worldview or reality, that shows folks, "If you continue to choose to do these things, this is what it will lead to, and it's not good for you. It shouldn't surprise you that a God who is loving and right and true and good calls you to things that will lead to blessing in your life." When you are concerned with the good news, you are concerned with rightness, righteousness, polity, politics.

If you were a slave in nineteenth-century England, wouldn't you have wanted the church to be involved with righteousness, polity, and politics? Wouldn't you have rejoiced that William Wilberforce and his friends in the Clapham Circle started to stand up and go on a 20-year crusade to remind England of the horrors of the slave trade? There were two great cries of Wilberforce: the abolition of the slave trade and the reformation of manners, of what is civil, of what is righteous.

He ushered in one of the greatest ages in all of human history in what was called the Victorian era, as Wilberforce taught a country how to live rightly again and not to exploit a people group with their power and influence to make them wealthy and comfortable. Wilberforce spoke out boldly against this. Don't you think if you were a slave in nineteenth-century England, you would have been glad the church got political and started to inform good news into a dark society?

If you were a person of color in the South in the 50s and 60s, don't you think you were glad when Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. started to declare things that are true in a winsome and righteous way to get the church engaged politically and stand up and say, "This cannot be"? The problem with the abuse of African-Americans in this country after slavery was abolished and the bigotry and racism that existed in our land can be traced back to the church in America that endorsed it, that stood for it, that allowed it, that supported it, and did not engage in righteousness and politic. Praise God, the polity of our country changed.

Now, there is a reason that certain people in terms of sexual identity have tried to associate the conversation about sexual freedom with color. That analogy cannot be made. Those lines cannot be drawn, but that's the reason they're doing this, saying, "The church was wrong on this," and it was, "And the church is wrong on this," and it isn't. That's another conversation for another day, but I'm talking there about what is right and what is true.

The church has always been called to be involved with righteousness. It is the gospel. It is what is the good news that leads to life: the righteousness of God imputed to you and, because you have been related to God by grace through faith, his righteousness working out in you. So, we don't put our hope in government, but we inform our government. Winston Churchill is the one who said, "The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter." I agree with him.

But whose job is it to train the average voter? It is the family. And whose job is it to remind the family about how to train up a child in the way he should go? It is the church. One wag said, "Democracy gives every man the right to be his own oppressor." That is exactly what we have done. Os Guinness recently wrote a book called A Free People's Suicide. The only way to take away from ourselves the freedoms we have been given is to live ourselves in a way that we are no longer free.

Think of your own individual life. You are free to choose your vices. You are free to choose your coping strategies until you become addicted to those patterns and you're no longer free to not go down certain paths to numb yourself, to escape pain, to find life in a way that is destructive and creating increasing isolation in your life, poverty, and darkness. As a free person, you have committed, in effect, a living suicide.

This is why God has called us, as a leadership in a country, to speak in a loving, winsome way about things that are true and to participate in the government system we have been given, which is an incredible gift, but it's also one that comes with a great deal of responsibility, because we can, in effect, create our own suicidal sowing that will not lead to freedom but will lead to our own destruction and end, and we see that tree leaning.

So, what we have to do is be individuals who, in a loving way, explain to people why we believe what we believe. When you hear folks say simple things to you, like, "Hey, don't you try and legislate morality," remind them that every bit of legislation is a moral choice. All legislation is morality, what is civil and right. The question is not…Should you legislate morality? The question is…Whose morality are you going to legislate?

Let me take you back to the very beginning. "God's morality is not a good morality. God doesn't have your best interests in mind. Don't do what God wants. Be your own god. Make your own choices. Define things your own way. Find life in your own systems. Disobeying God won't cost you that much. You're not going to reap death if you sow that morality into your life. What's God going to do about it? Where is he? Be free."

That sounds a lot like the conversations we're hearing right now as you hear about people talk about choices you can make in terms of representatives, but that really is a Genesis 3 election conversation. When those who have been, by the grace of God, elected, if you will, into a relationship back into him remain silent and don't, in a loving way, talk about the goodness of the God they've been reconciled to, it creates decay and darkness.

So, you have truths like this. When this happened with the nation of Israel back in the time leading to what was called the first exile, when the whole nation was brought under bondage… In Jeremiah, chapter 25, starting in verse 12, there's a text that basically says, "After 70 years in exile, I'm going to bring you back, and the people who brought you into a sense of captivity… I'm going to punish those who are rebels against me, but I'm going to use them as an instrument to bring judgment against you, the people of God."

"' *Then, after the seventy years of captivity are over, I will punish the king of Babylon and his people for their sins,' says the * Lord __ . 'I will make the country of the Babylonians a wasteland forever. I will bring upon them all the terrors I have promised in this book—all the penalties announced by Jeremiah against the nations. Many nations and great kings will enslave the Babylonians, just as they enslaved my people. I will punish them in proportion to the suffering they cause my people.'

This is what the ** __Lord__ *, the God of Israel, said to me: 'Take from my hand this cup filled to the brim with my anger, and make all the nations to whom I send you drink from it. When they drink from it, they will stagger, crazed by the warfare I will send against them.' So I took the cup of anger from the * __Lord__ ** and made all the nations drink from it—every nation to which the ** __Lord__ ** sent me."

In other words, God says, "It's time for judgment to come, and they're going to drink of my anger. They're going to drink of the consequences of their choices." Watch where he tells Jeremiah, the prophet, to take the first cup in verse 18. "I went to Jerusalem and the other towns of Judah, and their kings and officials drank from the cup. From that day until this, they have been a desolate ruin, an object of horror, contempt, and cursing." Then it goes on to all of the nations that coupled with Jerusalem in their rebellion against God's will and way, but it always started with Jerusalem.

In Ezekiel 9:1-6, same time period as Jeremiah, it says: "Then the _ _ Lord _ _ thundered, 'Bring on the men appointed to punish the city! Tell them to bring their weapons with them!' Six men soon appeared from the upper gate that faces north, each carrying a deadly weapon in his hand. With them was a man dressed in linen, who carried a writer's case at his side." A sign of divinity, holiness, and righteousness. You make your own mind up of who that is.

"They all went into the Temple courtyard and stood beside the bronze altar. Then the glory of the God of Israel rose up from between the cherubim, where it had rested, and moved to the entrance of the Temple. And the _ _ Lord _ _ called to the man dressed in linen who was carrying the writer's case. He said to him, 'Walk through the streets of Jerusalem and put a mark on the foreheads of all who weep and sigh because of the detestable sins being committed in their city.'"

In other words, "You go find the righteous, those who have stood against the degradation and the darkness that is increasingly approved in this city, and you mark them with grace." Then listen to these awful words. "Then I heard the _ _ Lord _ _ say to the other men, 'Follow him through the city and kill everyone whose forehead is not marked. Show no mercy; have no pity! Kill them all—old and young, girls and women and little children. But do not touch anyone with the mark. Begin right here at the Temple.' So they began by killing the seventy leaders." The leaders of the nation, the spiritual headship.

Judgment always starts with what God thinks is the greatest evil. One of the problems in our country is we have sat and we have always looked outside our circle and said, "There is evil everywhere," when God says, "I've called you to go into that world and get messy and love them, be misunderstood, be ridiculed, but to in a loving way bring truth." The light will come into the darkness, and the darkness won't comprehend it. There's going to be a great, if you will, problem that erupts, but light should not shrink back.

Light will eventually win, but when light just huddles itself up and sings its songs and prides itself in being light, it's not light. Nobody lights a lamp and puts it under a bushel. Let me go even further. Sometimes that lamp that calls itself a lamp isn't even the lamp God intends. That's why God says when there is corruption in a land, when there is problem with a people, what he wants to do is to call those people back first into a relationship with him.

God always talks about healing that will come to a land, not with the next election but with individuals who will repent and draw a circle around themselves and change everything in it and then become individuals who can become evangelists of the goodness of God, the rightness of his way, and the civility of living with the God of kindness and grace.

So, if you look at your little Watermark News, there's a little verse right there on the front: 2 Chronicles 7:14. It was spoken to the nation of Israel, specifically anticipating the times that eventually were fulfilled in Ezekiel 9 and Jeremiah 25, but it was told at that time when the temple was dedicated that when the people realize the condition of the land is not as it should be and that God's judgment is coming upon them…

He says, "Then if my people who are called (elected) by my name humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn to heaven from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land." It always starts with us. Our hope is not in the next political cycle. Our despair is not going to come because of the next political cycle. Our job is the same no matter what.

We do go and vote. We do say, "This is right." We're not electing a person whose view of salvation is exactly right. We're not electing an elder-in-chief or a pastor-in-chief, but we do have to look at every level, from the city council to railroad commissioner to judges to congressmen to state senators to senators to presidents and vice presidents, at those whose choices and morality are most consistent with what God would want. That is our job and our duty.

It's our responsibility to communicate to others what's at stake, but it always starts with his people who are called by his name, engaging with others, making room for others in their lives, loving them, and calling them to goodness. That is our task: the gospel. Jesus Christ is what changes votes. Jesus Christ is what changes families. Jesus Christ is what changes communities. Jesus Christ is what changes leaders. Leaders informed by Jesus Christ are what change nations. That is our task.

So, let me remind you why we make room for others: because it leads to the transformation that leads to a different citizenry that produces outcomes that have different elections. Watch some people who are glad you've made room for them.

[Video]

Dan Washburn: I got a chance to go on the single parent family ministry retreat last year. I didn't know anybody but came away with tons of new friends, and we're very involved in the single parent family ministry and also in a Community Group. So thanks for making room for us.

Simi Lawoyin: Thank you for making room for me.

Brianna Allen: Thanks for making room for me.

Katie Kothmann: The cool thing in Austin is to be independent and do life on your own, but I've come to realize that God has wired us as relational beings. Fully embracing this has brought so much joy. Living in community is one of the greatest things that has happened to me. So thanks for making room for me.

Kip Bush: Just thank you for making room for us.

Taylor Mason: I felt really welcomed, and I got involved in a small group really quickly. My friends have become people I would call lifelong friends. We have really great relationships, and I always feel like they're going to be here to support me. Thanks for making room for me.

Katy Marr: Thanks for making room for me.

Brian Ricketts: Thanks for making room for us.

Manuel Ramirez: I was down in Brownsville, Texas, living in a crazy lifestyle, just hanging out with the wrong people and partying and doing drugs and stuff. It wasn't a really good scene. It was kind of destroying my life. I just one day realized I needed God again; I needed to get back into the church, get back into fellowship with God and give my life over to him.

Darina Masopust: I just moved to Dallas in August from LA in California and was having a very difficult time transitioning here in Dallas. I found really great friends almost immediately, which God just completely blessed me with.

Tim Doughten: Before I came to Watermark, I had an academic knowledge of what Scripture was and what Scripture was intended to be. Since coming to Watermark, I've been able to develop that knowledge into a love for God and a relationship with him.

Darina: I was not expecting to have a ministry set up so quickly with the junior high group and having friends, a small group, a Community Group that's there to encourage and support me in a very difficult job that I have that's really testing my faith in God and trust and ability, and he's just continuing to give me strength through all that. It's just amazing.

Manuel: I just started coming again and trying to at least get to know people and step out of my boundaries and introduce myself. Through God working in my life, I realized he is real.

Tim: So thanks for making room for me, Watermark.

Darina: I'm so glad to be here, so thanks for making room for me.

Alexandra Lee: Thanks for making room for me.

Bill Cook: Thanks for making room for us.

Kim Small: Thanks for making room for me.

Manuel: Thank you for making room for me, and thank you for being in my life and being a part of what God is doing in my life.

[End of video]

You have a bunch of folks there. If we have done our job and made disciples and taught them to think biblically, it will affect the way they walk into booths on November 6 and vote. If they don't vote differently because of relationship with Jesus Christ, if they don't see what is good and right and true because of their relationship with Jesus Christ, then we have failed, no matter how much room we have made for them.

It is our job to, in a loving way, explain to people why certain views of life and liberty and marriage have tremendous implications…justice issues, care for the poor and the oppressed and the folks who have educational inequality, whose neighborhoods for years have been plundered by fatherlessness and unequal opportunities…to step into those and help them and draw them out and call them to truth and light and tell them the reason we're there to help them is because of Christ, who got messy with our lives and made provision that we could walk in life and light.

Do you guys know that over the course of our country, our government has issued national calls to prayer and fasting over 1,400 times? I thought to myself how tragic it was that our president and a governor, when he looked at the condition of his state that had been ravaged by a natural disaster…

I thought how tragic it was that there wasn't a sense of freedom he had, or maybe he didn't even have the personal desire to do it, to stop and say, "Hey, in the midst of everything we're going to do appropriately as people, as we use the resources we have pulled together to bring some relief and to rebuild infrastructure that will bring some sense of order to the chaos that has been brought by a broken nature, I want to pray for you for the broken nature that's in all of us.

Long before this hurricane came and wiped out our roads and destroyed our houses, we've been destroying our own homes and our own houses, and we need to invade a different kind of chaos and deal with the hurricane of sin that divides us from one another and makes us war about what is right and true. May we be one nation under God. Let me pray for you."

I thought to myself how amazing that, as a country, we've left any sense that that's the right thing to do, though over 1,400 times in the past we've done that. Twenty-two different times John Hancock, one of our founders, went to his state in Massachusetts and called them to prayer and fasting. He said, "But not just prayer. I'm calling you to action." Because if all we do is get into little holy huddles and pray and it doesn't lead to a life change, then woe is us.

Prayer is not about us moving heaven. Prayer is not about us getting our ideas into heaven. Prayer is about us meditating on the truth of who God is and having heaven move the hearts of men, so that when we rise, because our hearts are transformed and our heads are informed with that which is true, our hands live differently. There is one prayer that came in 1863 from the then sitting president.

He said, "We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth, and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own.

Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us! It behooves us, then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness." Folks, that's some good leadership. That's the leadership we need today, not just as America, but especially for the American church.

Let me read that to you again. This time, don't think about our broader country. Let's draw a circle around this room right here, where his people, called by his name, will humble themselves and seek his face and turn from their wicked ways. Think about the way that this room has compromised his definition of marriage. Think about how this room has not been concerned about justice issues but has labored to make more money so we can become more comfortable so we can look down our noses at those who don't work as hard as us and live as comfortably as us.

Think how we've sought to increase our standard of living more than our standard of giving. Think about how we've tried to build walls between us and darkness, having gotten messy with the world God called us to be ambassadors in. Think about the clemency and forgiveness this room needs, and think about how powerful it would be if this room, with its unbroken chain of success, humbles itself, has a new polity, doesn't just pray but acts, and that salt and light is unleashed into this world. Imagine that.

Watermark, we have been recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven. "We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth, and power [as few other churches in the history of our country have grown]. But we have forgotten God." Have we? I pray not. "We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace…" Have we? I pray not.

"…and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own." You need to know something. That is not the purview and perspective of your leaders. If God gave us all the resource, all the money, all over again, we don't know how to direct the course to get us back to where we are today.

This is a sovereign act of the goodness and kindness of God, and we ascribe what God has been doing here from every heart that has been changed and written down to one thing: the grace of God working through broken vessels. We're his servants. "Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace…" Is that true of your life?

"…too proud to pray to the God that made us!" Are you praying with your family? "It behooves us, then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our [individual] sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness." To turn from our wicked ways to acknowledge him as God and ask that he would change us that we might be used by him. I pray there's awakening right here and it leads to a great awakening out there. Amen? Let's worship together.

[Song]

When we sing songs like that with our hands lifted high in praise… Many of us don't raise our hands, but I'm just going to tell you this. I don't want to say it to make you feel guilty that we don't raise our hands high in praise here. I think a bigger tragedy would be if we were one of those places that feels more comfortable, and we should, but if we were one of those places that raised our hands high in praise right here but didn't do what that song is really about, which is to walk out of here and put our hands to work.

Everything we do is our hands in active praise to him. Our worship begins when we walk out of this door. This is corporate reminder. This is corporate training. This is corporate rebuke. This is corporate remembering the greatness of our God. So, when we pray, we're remembering his ways that are right and true and good.

I've commandeered the Watermark News this week, and I've taken a little website that some friends I have met over the years have put together. It's called the American Prayer Initiative. Every day they send me an email, where I'm praying for our country specific attributes and things that are necessary. I love it. The first day of the month, I always start with my heart humbled and understanding the goodness of God. So, day one is thanksgiving. Day two is humility, reminding because of who he is in greatness, and I'm nothing like that.

Day three is repentance and forgiveness, and it moves on from there. Day four, I start to pray for my leaders after I've dealt with my own heart. Then day 18, we pray for the church, that we would be who we're supposed to be. So, I'm going to give you now just a few short minutes individually, maybe with your spouse or friend, the person you're close to who came, your community that's sitting around you.

Just four or five minutes corporately to be still in this room and to grab whatever day… Maybe grab the day that goes with your birthday or maybe grab the one that just connects with you, and just sit and be still and pray. Then we're going to close corporately together in just a moment. I want you to be still, so please be seated. Grab your Watermark News, your prayer guide this morning. Grab the day that's appropriate.

If you didn't get a Watermark News, I'm going to put up before you the one thing I'm asking you to pray for, which is the church, the hope of the world. There will be some verses that remind you of who we are, and then some appropriate requests that we can pray out of that for a few short minutes, and then we'll close together. Just be still, humble yourself, seek his face, and pray.

[Pause]

That we would not be conformed to this world, but we would be transformed by the renewing of our minds, so that we might prove out in our own individual lives the goodness of who you are, the perfection of who you are, the acceptability of who you are; that we would take the good news that emanates forth from us into all the world and give you praise. Would you help us to rise up and know you and respond to you in all the fullness the gospel intends? Amen.

[Video]

Jonathan Pokluda: It's our time. We must rise up and no longer disparage. It's our time, church, to honor our heritage. We have a Savior; he gave it all on the cross. We stand beside martyrs who counted nothing as loss. They took God's mysteries, opened them up for us…Stephen, John the Baptist, Bonhoeffer, Jan Hus. Surrounded by a cloud of witnesses above, it's now our turn to model his unending love. Our mission is one we cannot confuse, nor muddy up with some trite excuse.

You say you're not well-versed, ready, or able. I think Moses even tried to use that fable. The time we have, it's now more urgent, if we should hear, "Well done, faithful servant." Yeah, church, it's our time. It's our time to confess the ways we're mangled, the sins and selfishness that have us entangled. Lust, greed, and pride…their path leads to the grave, yet we return to our sins as if we're a slave. Can we survive in this putrid dead sea? I quote Paul: May it never be.

So, let's cast aside our individual leprosy and begin to leave a biblical legacy. There's a glorious prize awaiting to be won, and the way to win is to start to run. Let's lace them up and fight the good fight, become to the world both salt and light. Our life on earth is merely a vapor. Our chapter must move from pen to paper. So, church, let's get to writing, because it's our time. It's our time, church. We have what it takes to help the world from its slumber awake. To Jesus we are his beautiful bride. Whom shall we fear with him on our side?

We have each other. We are not alone. It's iron to iron in the combat zone. There's a promise of life full of adventure, as long as we give both talents and treasure. The workers are few, the harvest is plenty, with so many lives running on empty. Scores of people trying to cope; they've come to the end of their proverbial rope. Young eyes are wandering, looking for direction. Make sure we point them to his resurrection. The clock's ticking. We're on our dime. Hey church, rise up! It's our time.

[End of video]

If you're here this morning and you don't know the Lord of heaven and earth, let me invite you to the election of a relationship with his Son, of forgiveness before the Father by grace through faith through the provision of Jesus Christ. There is righteousness that God requires, and it can be found only in him. It's nothing we ourselves can attain to, but having attained to it, there is a rightness in full response.

Proverbs says, "Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people." Any time we elect somebody who is for the destruction of human life, the redefinition of marriage in any way that compromises what God says, or a litany of other issues… We cannot sit here and say we love our God and that we want those men or women to represent us at any level.

I'm asking you to pray and make a difference and to take out of here holy hands and a love for Jesus Christ and make room for your neighbors and be willing to get messy, be willing to take a stand for righteousness and live as Jesus lived and give your life for the sake of this land, this country, and his great name. I pray you'd come if you don't know him, and I pray if you know him, you'd go and walk with him.

Have a great week of worship. We'll see you.