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Nov 13 2016

Nothing to Fear: Election Reflections

This was my message to The Vine Church of Petaluma, November 13, 2016

 Listen to Responses to the Question, “How are you feeling about the election and the direction of our nation?” and the Message.
Use the player below or go to Nothing to Fear – Election Reflections

What just happened? (November 8, 2016)

Trump and Obama in the White HouseHere’s the simplest and best explanation I’ve read.

Article: How Donald Trump Was Elected: Three Forces Behind the 2016 Outcome and Voters’ Message, by Dan McGinn and Peter D. Hart

Nov 9, 2016 http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2016/11/09/how-donald-trump-was-elected-three-forces-behind-the-2016-outcome-and-voters-message/

Three forces collided to elect Donald Trump president of the United States. First, Hillary Clinton was a deeply flawed candidate. Second, Mr. Trump, a brilliant manipulator of broadcast media outlets, benefited from copious amounts of free air time. Third is the element of the 2016 election that pundits consistently underestimated: A large sector of our society is deeply, viscerally angry…

This election was the clearest possible signal to every institution in the U.S. that the average person expects–and is demanding–a seat at the table. The folks who led this revolution are foreign to Washington, Los Angeles, and New York. They don’t go to Starbucks, take their kids on college tours, or watch NPR. They shop at Wal-Mart, dine at McDonald’s, and care more about high school sports than pro games. Their incomes are declining and they have no retirement funds. They think their parents and grandparents built this country. And Tuesday night, they screamed that they want their country back.

Article: Trump Won. Here’s How 17 Evangelical Leaders Feel.

Pastors, authors, and others weigh in on 2016 election. Compiled by Emily Lund/ November 11, 2016

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2016/november-web-only/trump-won-how-evangelical-leaders-feel.html

Barry C. Black: “Grateful, optimistic, and satisfied”

Chaplain of the United States Senate

“Donald Trump has been elected president of the United States, and I feel grateful, optimistic, and satisfied. I feel grateful because 1 Thessalonians 5:18 admonishes, ‘In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God concerning you in Christ Jesus.’ I feel optimistic because of Romans 8:28: ‘in everything God is working for the good of those who love him, who are the called according to his purposes.’ I also feel satisfied because Philippians 4:12 declares, ‘I have learned in every state to feel contentment.’ In short, after the election of any president, as a person of faith I know I have nothing to fear.”

Dominique Gilliard: “What did this communicate to the world about our God?”

Executive pastor of New Hope Covenant Church in Oakland, California

“Evangelical identity is rooted in Scripture. Scripture shapes our worldview, beliefs, and ethics. However, 81 percent of white evangelicals voted for Trump, whose campaign and lifestyle is antithetical to Scripture and the Kingdom of God. While Hillary was undoubtedly a flawed candidate, white evangelicals’ unprecedented supported of Trump—despite his racism, misogyny, and ethnocentrism—is revelatory, and deplorable. Did this bear witness to whiteness rather than the Gospel? What did this communicate to the world about our God?”

My Reflections on the Election with Psalm 62 in Mind

Many are more afraid than we need to be.

There’s a lot of fear, anger, anxiety among us. People are marching in the streets. People are posting their fears and frustrations on Facebook and Twitter. Everyone’s talking about it at school and work.

  • Some are afraid of losing health insurance and access to healthcare
  • Afraid of trade wars, the economy suffering, the $19 Trillion deficit growing and our incomes going down.
  • Afraid of being insulted, harassed and abused, marginalized
  • Afraid of being deported
  • Afraid of nuclear weapons in the hands of one who has shown himself to be easily offended and who claims a policy of striking back ten times as hard when he is offended.
  • Losing the values of freedom, liberty and compassion for all that America has always stood for.
  • Afraid that our fractured nation may never be united again.

No wonder – look at our NEWS media throughout the last 18 months. Addictive, alarming. Little time is devoted to educating the public, discussing actual positions and policies. There’s a 24/7 focus on the gaffe, the outrageous statement, a mistake, character issues.

The candidates have contributed to this storm of anxiety and fear:

Trump says: Be afraid of ISIS, murders in the cities, the economy, banking, government is a disaster – Obamacare, Libya, Syria, foreign policy, disasters

Clinton says: Be very afraid of Trump. He’s unfit.

And God says, “Fear not.” Why?

I’m not saying to set aside your fear because we have a President Elect who has the character, knowledge, judgment and experience sufficient for this huge job. (I would have said most of this if Clinton was elected)

Fear not, because we have:

  1. The constitution – checks and balances among the President’s advisors, Congress and the Supreme Court. Balance of power. A President simply cannot do all they would like to do – good or bad, wise or foolish.
  2. God’s Word – our hope is in God

The Psalm 62, expresses this hope. It begins with expressions of confidence. (verses 1-2)

Truly my soul finds rest in God;
my salvation comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.

Psalm 62, begins with expressions of confidence.

I receive REST.

Anxiety fades away as I focus on God and find my rest in God.

I receive SALVATION

Yes, we need assurances for the present day but the foundation of our confidence is in my position with God – what God thinks of me.

There is no candidate for office, no political party, no political system that can deliver us from death. No one can deliver us from the fear of losing control of our bodily functions, the decline of our health, our aging process. What no President can do, God can do and does – God offers reconciliation through Jesus Christ, forgiveness, adoption as sons and daughters in an irrevocable relationship of love. God loves you. Hillary Clinton doesn’t love you. She doesn’t know you. Neither does Donald Trump. God loves you. God is my Salvation.

The confidence we have in our relationship with God is the bedrock of our confidence that on this day, in this town, it is well with my soul.

God is my ROCK

God is my SALVATION

God is my FORTRESS

Have you seen these towns in Europe that have fortresses? People don’t live in the fort, but they always know it’s nearby. They know where they are in relation to the fort. They go out into the city, into the fields to work, their homes, but when there is the hint of trouble, everyone rushes to the fortress for protection, solidarity, to fight.

God is my fortressGod is our fortress.

Psalm 20:7 “Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.”
(and some trust in Special Forces, B-52s, Drones, hell-fire missiles, Nuclear weapons. We love our weapons – have you seen our nation’s budget?).
We do not!!! We trust in the Lord our God.

Isaiah 31:1 “Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, who rely on horses, who trust in the multitude of their chariots and in the great strength of their horsemen, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel, or seek help from the Lord.”

Then, the Psalmist, David, remembers his situation – he’s under attack.

How long will you assault me?
Would all of you throw me down—
this leaning wall, this tottering fence?
Surely they intend to topple me
from my lofty place;
they take delight in lies.
With their mouths they bless,
but in their hearts they curse.

That’s what I want to say when Christians offer these pious platitudes – “God is sovereign,” they say. “Don’t worry, God is on the throne.”
I say, “Okay, that’s true. And I know it’s going to be alright when we get to heaven. But how does that help us down here on Earth in 2016?

I feel like they’re minimizing the dangers that are all around. I feel like some of these pastors are encouraging us to detach from this world and not get involved in community activities, charity work outside the church. Don’t get involved in politics. Instead, just spend your time in church – attend church, use your volunteer hours in church, give all your charity to the church and focus on church politics! (jk)

Maybe if all the people who are so obsessed with church politics got involved instead on school boards, planning commissions, state legislature and did it in a way that is Christ-centered – that’s Kingdom work!

I feel like many evangelical pastors and their congregations are too detached from the world we live in everyday and they encourage us to live the same way and that’s why we have these huge problems. I want to see more conscientious Christian involvement, like John Kasich, Mike Pence, Tim Kaine.

I know some pastors – like possibly me – get too obsessed and upset in politics, but most evangelical pastors have been silent and some even dismissive of the whole process.

The Psalmist is living in the here and now and it is sometimes overwhelming. There are dangers all around. Still, he says:

“I will not be shaken…” – Not, just when I get to heaven, but here on earth.

Psalm 62:5-7

Yes, my soul, find rest in God;
my hope comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God;
he is my mighty rock, my refuge.

“I will not be shaken…” – Not, when I get to heaven, but here on earth.

Then he starts preaching. He goes from first person pronouns to second person, imperative.

Here is his message to others going through the same anxieties, fears and frustrations and this is our message of hope in a nation that desperately needs to hear:

Trust in him at all times, you people;
pour out your hearts to him,
for God is our refuge.

Surely the lowborn are but a breath,
the highborn are but a lie.
If weighed on a balance, they are nothing;
together they are only a breath.
10 Do not trust in extortion
or put vain hope in stolen goods;
though your riches increase,
do not set your heart on them.

There’s the sermon. There is the message of hope for our world. What do we do now? Trust in God.

Did you see the reference to the lowborn and the highborn? We worry so much about that. If you are one of the “lowborns” you spend your life trying to get out of that place, don’t you. You want to live like the “highborn.” Drive the Jaguar. Live in the gated community. Wear fashionable clothes.

The Psalmist says, don’t worry about that – it’s just a brief moment of time. Just a breath.

That was the theme of Jesus’ message from the mount, Matthew 5-7.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted…

Matthew 6

19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven…

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air…

31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

The highborn are but a lie.

Surely the lowborn are but a breath,
the highborn are but a lie.
If weighed on a balance, they are nothing;
together they are only a breath.

Wow. Lowborn – nobody wants that. But the Highborn are no better off! It’s a lie.

Because there is no such thing as a life of ease, beauty, and luxury. No such thing. It’s a lie and if you believe it, it will mess you up. It’s all cosmetics, leverage and stress. You may get the car and the house on a hill and the clothes and green space between yourself and the riffraff of society.

But, you will live in fear that people might get a glimpse of who you really are and see how weak you feel and how vulnerable and fearful and insignificant you feel. It’s all sophisticated fakery. It’s a lie.

Imagine how, if we all believed this, what a different world we would live in?

Learn the secret of contentment, generosity, love.

Balance aspiration with contentment.

Finally, David writes:

11 One thing God has spoken,
two things I have heard:
“Power belongs to you, God,
12     and with you, Lord, is unfailing love”;
and, “You reward everyone
according to what they have done.”

PRAYER

Lord, reward your people as we put our trust in you and live our lives for you.
Empower us as we draw our power from you.

Make us lovely men and women as we bask in the glow of your unfailing love.

For “Power belongs to you, God,
and with you, Lord, is unfailing love”

In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

 

 

Photo Credit: lianem / 123RF Stock Photo