Prayerful Hope for President Trump

prayer-blocksI have to be very honest: I have had a lot of mixed feelings about the outcome of the last presidential election. Today I had many of those same mixed feelings as I witnessed the inauguration of (now) President Trump. While I did not vote for Mr. Trump (who I voted for is irrelevant and it’s likely not who you think), I do have to acknowledge that he is the President of the United States and should be given the opportunity to govern and to finish establishing his cabinet. As such, my hope is that his term in office is one of peace, grace, mercy, and that the hope that many Americans have of a better life will come to fruition. I hope you will join me in sincerely praying for President Trump as he seeks to lead this nation.

Today as I was pondering all of the events of the last few months, I thought of three passages of God’s Word that I would like for President Trump to keep in mind as he shapes his policies and chooses his advisers, department heads, secretaries, and others who will fill crucial positions within the government.

The first is Matthew 25:34-40 (NLT):

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’

“Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’

“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’

If the United States is to continue claiming to be a Christian nation, one of the things we must do is show mercy and generosity to those who are in need of it. I’ll give you a hint as to who that is: You and me. All of us. It matters not what we look like, where we come from, or even what deity we place our faith in (if any). Christians are called to show mercy and to provide for the needs of all people, all of our neighbors (that would be everyone), and people who are even from outside of our borders. God’s kingdom is much bigger than the United States. The reality is, we are not special in God’s eyes because all people are chosen by God and are worthy to be at His table.

All of this to say: We are called be generous in caring for the needs of all people, especially the poor. Let us not forget later on in Matthew 25 God judges the ones who fail to care for the “least of these.” My hope is that while Mr. Trump makes decisions that will especially impact the poor, he keep in mind that caring for them is part of the calling of all Christians.

Next is Micah 6:8 (NLT):

No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good,
and this is what he requires of you:
to do what is right, to love mercy,
and to walk humbly with your God.

To really understand what the meaning of this verse is, we need to look at whats going on the larger context. Through the prophet Micah, God is chastising the people of Israel because they have forgotten who they are and whose they are. They have forgotten that God was the one who brought them through the wilderness and made a way to freedom for them. It was not a king or even Moses, it was all God. They have been deep in the mire of sin and what God is telling them is that trying to buy His forgiveness with offerings and then returning to their selfish ways is not going to cut it. Instead, God – more than anything else – simply wants them to live in a way that reflects the life of those who claim to love Him. Jesus summed this up when told us (more or less) to love God above all else and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.

My hope for President Trump is that he remembers that we are called not only to be generous but to be just and to ensure that we truly have “liberty and justice for all.” That is not just the closing words of the Pledge of Allegiance but it’s a biblical mandate. All people for whom he now assumes care for are entitled to justice and he should do all within his power to ensure that justice is truly available to all people.

Finally, Proverbs 15:22 (NLT):

Plans go wrong for lack of advice;
many advisers bring success.

This should go without saying, that failure to seek wise counsel and to heed their advice is a recipe for disaster. Mr. Trump has been very outspoken on his views about… everything. He has made promises and certainly seems to be set in his ways. My hope is that he surrounds himself with many who are wise and can offer to him the advice he needs to truly consider all angles of an issue, the people his decisions will impact, and how not only our citizens but how the world will react. While I do agree that nations should be free to place their interests first, we must also be mindful that our actions as a nation do make waves all over the world. Not to mention that any decision he makes on issues such as healthcare will certainly impact us all in positive and negative ways. May Mr. Trump have enough people wise enough to help him keep the pulse on what the American people need and how to best meet those needs.

Bonus: 1 Timothy 2:1-2 (NLT):

I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity.

I certainly hope that President Trump will pray for discernment, but this one is more for you and me. Regardless of how we feel about President Trump, Christians are called to pray for our leaders. Note that Paul did not differentiate between kings we agree with and kings with whom we do not. If we truly want to call ourselves a Christian nation, we must be people who pray for our leaders regardless of our political ideology. In keeping with what I said above about God choosing all people to come to His table, we must practice the same love no matter what. It is not only in our best interests to pray for our political leaders but it is also our duty. Let’s take it seriously.

Letter to the Kentucky Senate Delegation on Betsy DeVos

2000px-us-senate-unofficialaltgreatseal-svgHere is the letter I sent to Senator Rand Paul and Senator Mitch McConnell regarding my gross concerns about Betsy DeVos. If you have not done so, I encourage you to contact your senators to vote against her confirmation as Secretary of Education.

Dear Senator Paul/McConnell,

I hope this email finds you, your family, and your staff well. I am writing you today to express my grave concerns regarding President-Elect Trump’s nomination for Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. I feel that she is grossly unqualified to serve as Secretary of Education and would indeed be a danger to the public education system of the United States.

As has been widely reported in various media outlets, Ms. DeVos did not even attend public schools or a state university as a student. When it comes to her own children, she has never sent them to public schools. While the decision of how to best educate one’s children is certainly one’s own, Ms. DeVos simply can not relate or empathize with the issues surrounding public schools due to her refusal to participate in the public education system. When asked in her hearing if she had ever attended a public school, Ms. DeVos’ answer was “No but I mentored in one once.” This hardly qualifies her to be the chief policy maker for our country’s public schools. Ms. DeVos simply does not have the best interests of our public schools in mind.

Additionally, she has been very vocal on her support of charter schools operated by for-profit education companies. Charter schools have not been shown to be any better at educating children than traditional public schools, and in fact have been shown to do a worse job in many cases. Simply stated, charter schools are not the answer. Beyond that, Ms. DeVos has multiple conflicts of interest by which she could potentially use her office to benefit private, for-profit education companies.

The thing I find most disturbing about Ms. DeVos, however, is her implication that states should not be made to comply with the IDEA Act. Children of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds should have the same access to educational services just as their typical peers do. The suggestion that schools ought to be able to refuse to provide services to disabled students is repulsive and offensive on so many levels. Quite frankly, I was very disturbed to hear Ms. DeVos’ comments on IDEA. Such a stance is unacceptable for the person charged with overseeing education for all of the children of the United States.

Senator, I am a pastor in Powell County. As such, part of my duty as a clergy person is to look out for the best interests of all of God’s children. Policies and stances such as those of Ms. DeVos would only harm the students of Powell County – and beyond – and I simply can not condone such actions. Jesus Christ considered children to be a special blessing which must be protected and provided for by the entirety of society. As a Christian and as a pastor, I can not support Ms. DeVos’ nomination and I urge you to vote against her confirmation. By doing this, a message will be sent to President-Elect Trump which states we demand better for our children than a billionaire with no experience or passion for public education.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I pray for God’s guidance and blessing for you.

Sincerely,

Rev. Jonathan K. Tullos