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Pray and Participate 08/29/2008

Saddleback forum

People of faith should
pray and participate.


As the Democrat convention comes to a close, we're hearing all of the commentary concerning what was really said, what was right, what was wrong and various "expert" opinions. Next week, we'll go through the same process with the Republicans. The media will continue to stir up controversy in an attempt to capture the most viewers. For them, it's all ratings, ratings and more ratings. Surely, we understand by now how they operate.

We should also be aware, however, that some of the media tend to represent their own political positions and give preferential attention to certain points of view while ignoring others. They will favor their shared positions and put those they oppose in the worst possible light.

Those of us labeled "people of faith," holding to traditional family values, will naturally be concerned about the outcome of the election. I consider myself "pro-family" and "pro-life." I favor limited government that creates an environment for success, not guaranteed hand-outs. I am prone to distrust government with the people's money because historically they do not manage it very well, regardless of party affiliation. Every election cycle, politicians make a lot of promises for positive change, but recurring problems continue to exist for the same reasons.

Political leaders rarely sit down and reason together. They just defend their pet positions at the expense of the people. Many say we can deal with our national issues, whether it is healthcare, energy, education, crime or whatever, by allowing the government to take more in taxes. For many politicians, money cures every ill. But does anybody remember that it was government's mismanagement of our money that drove our national debt to the disturbing level it is today? Can't people understand that it was the policies of those we elected that made us dependent on foreign energy sources and held hostage to those who control it? This terrible situation took several elections and many years to accomplish. We've declared war on crime, poverty, drugs and poor education, yet all of the problems continue to plague us. Who has been dealing with these problems? We've heard them discussed for decades, but they have never been solved because we don't sit down and work together! We get continuous accusations and exaggerated promises with few, if any, solutions. The greatest critics of gridlock are most often its strongest enforcers. If married couples communicated like Congress does, the U.S. divorce rate would be 99.9%.

Throughout our short history, average citizens have done better with their own money than governmental bureaucracy has ever done with it. Some say that we need to increase taxes to solve our problems, but overtaxed people spend less money, quit hiring workers and stop investing in productivity. It happened in the late '70s under Jimmy Carter as taxes hit 70%, unemployment soared, gas lines grew and inflation hit double digits. Amazingly, many politicians and advocates long for those days again. It's hard to fathom. I wish those who support higher taxes would just voluntarily pay more. All the entertainers, media blow-hards, liberal billionaires and other tax advocates should just write a fat check to the IRS. Rest assured, the government will accept it and misuse it.

The economy is only one major issue affected by politics. There are many other important issues -- from abortion and marriage to national defense and international aid -- that require people of faith to pay attention to the political process. Those of us who believe in Divine direction have a responsibility to commit to two things: prayer and participation.

All of us can pray. Not only does God move men and mountains, but God can help ill-equipped leaders make good decisions and somehow do what is right. Believe it. It can happen! Get it settled in your mind. True qualifications should be determined by core principles. What politicians say isn't nearly as important as what they believe deep down inside. If our leaders truly believe that government is the answer to all of our problems, then they will operate as such and, in my opinion, make decisions that will lead to damaging and dangerous policies. So we want to elect the best person, but it takes prayer to guide us individually and move others in the right direction. It also takes prayer to put our country in a position to miraculously avoid the consequences of bad leadership and foolish decisions. Prayer is hugely important in this regard. History reveals many remarkable events that can only be explained by supernatural intervention, from the Revolutionary War through World War II, from the collapse of the Berlin Wall to the deserts of the Middle East.

Secondly, we must be attentive and try to discern the candidates' true beliefs. This not only goes for the office of the president, but all the way down the electoral line: senators, representatives, governors, judges, mayors and even school board members. Congress will have as great an impact, if not greater, than the president. The executive branch has limitations, and rightly so. The federal government also has limits, yielding to states and communities. We tend to focus on John McCain and Barack Obama, but the most important elections may be among those whose names are known by far fewer voters.

I plead with you to vote. Pray, then vote your heart. In the process, please hear this: If you disagree with a co-worker, family member, or even another believer, do not seek to divide and conquer. Do not become mean-spirited. The father of our nation, George Washington, warned us in his first inaugural address to beware of a partisan spirit. That spirit prevails in politics to the detriment of everyone. We must always speak, debate and disagree with grace.

So this election cycle, be aware, be prayerful and be involved in this wonderful process of choosing our leaders. In many ways, our future depends on it.

Author: James Robison

Word Count: 980

About the author: James Robison is the founder and president of LIFE Outreach International, a Christian media ministry and mission relief organization. He and his wife, Betty, host of the television program Life Today; He has authored numerous books, including The Soul of a Nation, The Absolutes: Freedom's Only Hope and True Prosperity.

Media Contact: Randy Robison, editor at . Photo available upon request. Reprint rights granted with attribution for complete, unedited article. Revisions allowed only with approval.