Archive for the ‘Presidential Calls for Prayer & Fasting’ Category

Whom Do We Serve?

May 23, 2020

James F. Gauss, Ph.D.

May 22, 2020

Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.  Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.

Romans 13:1-2

There you have it: “Submit to the governing authorities.” Our excuse not to be bold and courageous and to be submissive to secular rule. I am tired of this scripture being thrown in the faces of Christians every time Christian leadership is too hesitant to do what God commands them to do.

This admonition by Paul to the new Christians in Rome has nothing to do with the church submitting to ungodly authority. It is an instruction for individuals to be good citizens and follow just laws.

Regardless of your own interpretation of Paul’s words, my question to pastors as one of Christ’s shepherds is: Who is the head of your church? Christ or the government? You know the answer, so I will refrain from providing it.

As a World War II baby I grew up in segregated America. Although we lived in a multi-racial, multi-ethnic rural neighborhood in the northeast of the nation, I was pretty much oblivious to racial injustice. That all changed with a rude awakening when I decided to attend college in the deep south in 1960. As a friendly, naïve northerner, my inclination was to make friends with anyone, no matter what their station in life or skin color. That got me in trouble real quick. Hold on, there’s a point to this diversion.

The school was, of course, lily white and mostly born and bred southerners. All the menial jobs on campus and elsewhere were performed by black men and women who were paid a token 50-cents per hour (minimum wage was $1.00). I cringed at the way I saw my fellow southern students treat the black workers. They were repeatedly offensive, disrespectful and always playing pranks on these hard working people. Partly as a result, I befriended a number of the workers. Largely to let them know that not everyone thought ill of them or saw them as subhuman, not deserving of respect. And, I paid a small price, as southern students in my dorm pulled pranks on me to show their displeasure. However, that did not deter me, and I showed the same respect to blacks off campus too.

I write this, not to elevate myself, but to illustrate a forthcoming point. This was the “civil rights” era of Martin Luther King, Jr., Medgar Evers and many more black and white civil rights leaders. They emerged from their churches to fight for justice for all under the U.S. Constitution. During the spring semester of my freshman year, a young black man from South Carolina, Harvey Gantt (look him up), wanted to attend my school’s acclaimed architectural school. At the time, I was taking a class on U.S. government. One day the professor stood before the class and proclaimed, that if this “nigger” tried to integrate the school, they would lynch him. Needless to say, it was the only course I ever failed, because I withdrew the next day.

There are many stories I could share, but my point is this: Where would America and black Americans be today, if pastors and Christians, continued to obey the segregated “law” of the South and ignored the unjust treatment of fellow Americans and brothers and sisters in Christ? For Freedom Fighters of that era, there was no question, no hesitation for them, “on what would Jesus do?” Jesus would defy unjust authority, just like He did with the Pharisees who sought to kill Him.

How many followers of Christ were persecuted, tortured and brutally killed during the first century of the Church because they refused to submit to the authorities? Despite the constant threats from multiple sources they continued to meet, pray corporately and preach the Gospel and minister to the saints of Christ.

Throughout the centuries, hundreds of millions of Christ followers have lost their lives because they refused to deny Christ or stop practicing their faith. Fast forward to today. Around the world, in such oppressive environments as China, SE Asia, Iran, the Middle East, parts of Africa and elsewhere, bold and courageous warriors for Christ daily defy the powers to be and risk their lives to meet, pray, worship, testify, break bread, study God’s word, etc.

What can we say; what can you say to these brothers and sisters in Christ who risk everything for the cause of Christ, while we humbly submit to our local and state “lord and masters?” Pastors and congregants, who controls your church? The government or Christ and His body of believers?

Yes, I get all the health concerns of this “pandemic.” I also know that it now has been proven that it was grossly overblown. There was absolutely no need to shut down America’s economy and certainly no need to shutter our churches. Yes, I know, the church is not the building, I fully understand that. This whole mess, as far as I’m concerned, shows just how weak the church is in America. The church has always had the ability and willingness to take care of its own, including the infirm and needy. It does not need the permission or instructions from the state or other “authorities.” I would submit that each church and each pastor knows how to protect and minister to their vulnerable members without the dictates from the state.

Think about it, pastors. What will you do next time, you are told to shut down your church? And, there will be a next time. After all, the authorities found out just how easy it was to scare you into submission. What stand will you take and with whom will you stand? As a reminder, the church is to be God’s “salt” and “light” under any conditions, and at all times. It is to show the way, not be told which way to go by godless authority. Before COVID-19, other than for weather related reasons, when was the last time you shuttered your church because somebody told you to? When will be the next time?

What if, instead of fully closing down, non-vulnerable and willing church members came together in corporate prayer and fasting, confessing their sins and the sins of the country, repenting and calling upon God’s mercy and seeking His intervention on behalf of their loved ones and the country. Would we be in a different and better place today? Yes, I know thousands of Christians were doing that on their own, but the power of the corporate prayer of the Body of Christ cannot be understated. This would have been an excellent time for churches across America to have been praying for much needed revival throughout our nation.

And He called the twelve to Himself, and began to send them out two by two,

and gave them power over unclean spirits.

Mark 6:7

Lincoln’s Proclamation Calling for a National Fast Day

October 21, 2016

Washington, D.C.
March 30, 1863

Senator James Harlan of Iowa, whose daughter later married President Lincoln’s son Robert, introduced this Resolution in the Senate on March 2, 1863. The Resolution asked President Lincoln to proclaim a national day of prayer and fasting. The Resolution was adopted on March 3, and signed by Lincoln on March 30, one month before the fast day was observed.

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

Whereas, the Senate of the United States, devoutly recognizing the Supreme Authority and just Government of Almighty God, in all the affairs of men and of nations, has, by a resolution, requested the President to designate and set apart a day for National prayer and humiliation.

And whereas it is the duty of nations as well as of men, to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions, in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.

And, insomuch as we know that, by His divine law, nations like individuals are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world, may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war, which now desolates the land, may be but a punishment, inflicted upon us, for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole People? 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.

Now, therefore, in compliance with the request, and fully concurring in the views of the Senate, I do, by this my proclamation, designate and set apart Thursday, the 30th. day of April, 1863, as a day of national humiliation, fasting and prayer. And I do hereby request all the People to abstain, on that day, from their ordinary secular pursuits, and to unite, at their several places of public worship and their respective homes, in keeping the day holy to the Lord, and devoted to the humble discharge of the religious duties proper to that solemn occasion.

All this being done, in sincerity and truth, let us then rest humbly in the hope authorized by the Divine teachings, that the united cry of the Nation will be heard on high, and answered with blessings, no less than the pardon of our national sins, and the restoration of our now divided and suffering Country, to its former happy condition of unity and peace.

In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this thirtieth day of March, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty seventh.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln
William H. Seward, Secretary of State.

if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land  (2 Chronicles 7:14).

Oh, that we would have a national, godly leader of Lincoln or Washington’s caliber once again.