The Lord is One?

“The Scripture tells us, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is one.” And you are the compassionate and merciful one. And you are loving to everyone you have made.” 

Many of you know that Rick Warren is the author of the acclaimed Purpose Driven Life, and is also the pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California.  His book has taken the evangelical Christian community by storm and is used in thousands of churches nationwide.  His  influence in the Christian community is most likely the determining factor in President Obama’s choice of him to give the opening prayer at the ceremony today.  It was a very wise move for our new leader — a choice that supports his all-inclusive platform right off the bat.  For a liberal Democrat to choose a conservative, anti-gay, evangelical pastor to give a prayer is certainly a bold step.  I think we will find this ‘boldness’ even more evident as time goes on.

Rick Warren’s prayer was above reproach in my assessment by Biblical standards.  My greatest qualm was that he would not finish the prayer in Jesus’ name — a hope of many of the leftists present at the inauguration.  Unfortunately for them, they heard four different versions of Christ’s title before the Amen — so if they happened to be bilingual, they were doubly blessed. 

I watched a heated debate on C-SPAN among a feminist liberal, a tolerant Democrat and what seemed to be a Republican (can’t really tell; I forgot my microscope) and the outcry against Rick Warren’s then-pending prayer was of high velocity and vitriol.  The greatest contention was that Rick Warren was ‘intolerant’ of gays, using a religious platform to support this view.  For Obama to invite such a man to pray at his inauguration seemed like a ‘mistake’, for it undermines the very people who so wholeheartedly support him. 

The hilarity of this, to me, is that as much as the liberals love their leader many don’t even understand his tactics in asking Warren to pray.  They proclaim “oneness” while immediately turning around to tolerantly exclude any semblance of Christianity from their presence.  President Obama has more smarts than those who voted him in, which is extremely fortunate for the nation in one sense while extremely unfortunate, and unnerving, in another. 

We shall see if the evangelicals are wooed by our new president’s open arms, or if they will stay devoted to their first love.  I just hope Rick Warren isn’t the matchmaker in between.

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All Your Needs

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want; He maketh me lie down in green pastures, He leadeth me beside still waters; He restoreth my soul… 

Counting sheep wasn’t working, and as I lay in bed with the glare of a brilliant moon in my eyes, I recited that age-old Psalm to fall asleep.  But it wouldn’t put me to sleep.  In fact, it actually made me sit upright as something dawned on me… something I had never thought of before.

Today was the presidential inauguration.  Most of our nation is rejoicing — while there are others who cringe to think of what is to come under our new leader’s direction.  For some, he provides ‘change’ and ‘hope’ — two ideas that seem to be our nation’s most pressing needs.  For others, he symbolizes an artful deception over the majority of Americans — people who, in an appearance-oriented and materialistic society, are convinced by charisma and unsupported promise. I won’t pretend my sentiments lie with the former.

I wasn’t thinking about the president when I was lying there in bed.  I was thinking about my own life… how many things I need to get done, the places I need to go, the assignments for college, the papers at work — and of course, the future.  I don’t think about relationships much, but at night those thoughts tend to make themselves much more available.  I finished reciting Psalm 23 and began to say it again, but stopped:  The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want… I shall not want… I shall not want… 

The Lord does not say I shall not need;  He says I shall not want.  What do I need?  Clothes, food, water, funds… there wasn’t much to list that I was in dire need of simply to survive.  I thought about what I wanted.  There are things I want that are not wrong to be wanted — but God does not see that I need them at the present time.  If I needed those things, the Lord, as my Shepherd, would give them to me:

“And my God will supply all your needs according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”  (Phil. 4:19)

God is there.  He fills our needs and when He sees us fit to be blessed with our desires, He gives us those as well.  Yet we can rest knowing that we at the very least are supplied with what is necessary to survive — and not only to survive, but to thrive.  Too often we as Americans grow dull to the concept that we are so very blessed.  We scream for ‘change’ when we stand in full health, without distended stomachs from weeks without food, without sewers full of rats where our children play, and without huts for our only homes.  We stand ‘entitled’ to free health care and prescription drugs, demand that we get more money, more loans, more everything.  This is America as a whole:  a world of wanting, wanting, wanting — and never is there enough.

Barack Obama can’t be the nation’s Messiah.  He can’t supply all of our wants — not even all our needs.  The Lord is our Shepherd — and when we realize that, we won’t need to scream for more, because we will be completely satisfied.