November 1 – The 2020 Election – The leader we need right now

Day 8:  The leader we need right now

“A nation will be strong and endure when it has intelligent, sensible leaders” – Proverbs 28:2, Good News Version

With election day just hours away, we have all asked ourselves, “What kind of leaders do we need?”  Let me give a few principles directly from God’s Word that describe the kind of leader we need today.  We need leaders who:

  • Lead with integrity – sound leadership is founded on loving integrity. We need leaders we can trust (Psalm 78:72 – “David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them”)
  • Serve with humility – the mark of a true leader isn’t measured by how many people serve you, but by how many people you serve. (“Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant” – Jesus in Mark 10:43).
  • Stand for human dignity – all human life has intrinsic value as a creation of God that bears His image. That value extends to everyone from the unborn to the elderly.  We need leaders who promote flourishing for all stages and statuses of life.  (“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute” – Proverbs 31:8).

This is the profile of a leader America needs today.  As you prepare to go to the polls and vote, pray for wisdom in your choice.  Voting is a privilege and responsibility in our society and one we, as Christ followers, should take seriously and soberly.

God, grant me wisdom as I cast my vote!

Prayer:  God, thank you for allowing me to live in a nation where I have the privilege and responsibility to vote.  God, grant me wisdom as I cast my vote.  Lead those who are elected into offices locally, statewide, and nationally to lead with integrity, serve with humility, and to stand for human dignity.  In Jesus name, Amen.

Nick Cleveland

October 31 – The 2020 Election – Control

Day 7: Control

“There is a spiritual hunger and thirst, a restlessness in this nation, that cannot and will not be filled with anything BUT GOD.  Joe Biden won’t fill it.  Donald Trump won’t fill it.  A COVID vaccine won’t fill it.  Legislation won’t fill it. The Supreme Court can’t fill it.  Big 10 football can’t fill it.  The only thing that will settle and satisfy the deepest and most intimate desire and need inside of you is God.  Only God.”  – Chad Fisher

Inside of every human is a craving for something bigger than oneself.  We have a God-sized void that only God can fill.  Nothing else can fill it.  No one else can fill it.  Only God.  You know what I know about November 4th?  No matter who wins an election, Jesus is still King and He is on the throne and only He can fully and finally satisfy my life.  May we remember we don’t have control over the future and didn’t have control over it last month or last year.  If this year has taught us anything, it’s how much we’re not in control and need Jesus.

“Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the splendor and the majesty, for everything in the heavens and on earth belongs to You. Yours, Lord, is the kingdom, and You are exalted as head over all. 12 Riches and honor come from You, and You are the ruler of everything. Power and might are in Your hand, and it is in Your hand to make great and to give strength to all.” – 1 Chronicles 29:11-12

Do you trust that God is in control?

Prayer:  God, you are in control.  I hunger for more of You and less of me.  I repent of trying to fill the void in my life with anyone or anything other than Jesus.  Jesus, You are better than anyone or anything.  I trust You.  I know You’re in control.  I know Your greatness and power is on display.  You are the ruler of everything!  In Jesus name, Amen.

Nick Cleveland

October 30 – The 2020 Election – Prayer

Day 6: Prayer

“Nothing of eternal importance ever happens apart from prayer.” – Jerry Falwell, Sr.

When it comes to our civic duty, we have a role to play (Romans 13) and a call to pray.  We are expected to be praying for our leaders – the ones we like and the ones we don’t like, the ones we agree with and the ones we don’t agree with.  What if we would pray for by name the leaders locally, on a state level, and nationally to have wisdom, discernment, soul care, and refreshment?  While it’s important and essential to our form of government to speak up and be involved, there’s nothing greater we can do than kneel down and intercede on their behalf.

Scripture: “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority…” – 1 Timothy 2:1-2a

Am I actively praying for those in authority over me?

Prayer:  God, we pray for those in authority over us.  We pray for our mayor, city and county leaders, our governor, our representatives and senators, and our President and his team to have wisdom, discernment, soul care, and refreshment.  In Jesus name, Amen.

Nick Cleveland

October 29 – The 2020 Election – Kingdom

Day 5: Kingdom

“If you care more about how your neighbors vote than where they will spend eternity, your heart is not devoted to Christ and His kingdom.”  – J.D. Greer

The most significant election of our lifetime.  Now, on the one hand, I agree there are major issues being weighed on in this election.  On the other hand, I’m 41 and I’ve heard that about every Presidential election since I can remember.  The Presidency is a big deal and leadership matters.  But the Presidency or a President isn’t everything.   There is a much bigger kingdom being built that will last much longer than our great nation and has a leader far greater than anyone we can elect.  It’s God’s kingdom and the King is Jesus!

Scripture: “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” – John 18:36

Am I actively building the right kingdom?

Prayer:  Lord, help me remember whose kingdom I am building today. Make me productive and fruitful in building Your kingdom, making Your name famous, and seeing lives changed for eternity while participating in the election.  In Jesus name, Amen.

Nick Cleveland

October 28 – The 2020 Election – True Unity

Day 4: True Unity

“Don’t let an elephant or a donkey rip apart what the Lamb brought together.” – Derwin Gray

The church is more than a service to attend; it’s a family to belong to.  The family of God is a diverse family that includes differing political perspectives.  As a pastor, I have been saddened to see how politics and tribalism in this nation have ripped apart the unity of the church.  The only word for that is sin.  What unites the church is the person of Jesus and He’s a lot bigger than one person, one nation, and one election.  The mission of Jesus is what unites the church.

Scripture: “I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.” – 1 Corinthians 1:10

What preference can I set down for the sake of a greater eternal purpose?

Prayer:  God, I praise you for the unity and diversity of the church.  God, allow me to do my part to protect our unity in mission and celebrate our diversity in opinion.  May I love others so those outside of faith will see You shining through.  In Jesus name, Amen.

Nick Cleveland

October 27 – The 2020 Election – You Will be Remembered

Day 3: You Will be Remembered

“Be remembered for your love for people not your opinions of people” – David Nassar

You have a role to play in our democratic republic government in our country.  As citizens we are gifted with the voice of our vote.  Our role in society isn’t political as much as it is personal.  Voting on issues that help better our neighbor, our community, and our nation is vital.  We must be advocates for the less fortunate and voices for the voiceless and hurting all around us.  Your vote is a part of your role. Roll up your sleeves, be willing to walk into the messy stuff, and get involved in serving to make your neighborhood great.  You will be remembered.  Will it be for your opinions of people or your love for people?

Scriptures: “Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.” – Titus 3:1-2

In what what way can I make my neighborhood better?

Prayer: God, let me use my voice in my vote to do good for my community.  May I see the day I vote as one of many that I choose to do good and show courtesy toward others. In Jesus name, Amen.

Nick Cleveland

October 26 – The 2020 Election – Kindness

Day 2:  Kindness

“Don’t let being ‘right’ talk you out of being ‘kind.’” – Bob Goff

Kindness is defined as considerate, helpful, and having a benevolent disposition.  God is kind.  Paul told the Romans that kindness is what leads us to repentance.  Think about how a perfect, holy, loving God responded to a messed up, sinful, depraved humanity.  In kindness and love by giving His best for us at our worst.  Before you chose to engage and respond in the world, remember to speak the truth in love and to do so in kindness.  There’s never an excuse to not be kind to others.  As Bob said, don’t let being right talk you out of being kind.

Scripture: “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” – Colossians 3:12

Is there someone that I struggle to be kind to or to speak kindly about?

Prayer:  God, help me put on kindness today.  When I encounter someone who I believe or know holds an opposing view to mine, let me be kind.  May they see your kindness shining through me in what I say, how I say it, when I say it, or maybe even if I chose not to say it.  In Jesus name, Amen.

Nick Cleveland

October 25 – The 2020 Election – Intro & A Strategy to Respond Well

The year of 2020 has been exhausting for everyone.  And to top it off, we have another polarizing election process to endure.  If you’re anything like me, you’ve recently said to yourself, “I can’t wait until this is over!”  The constant stream of cable news activism, Twitter’s cesspool of constant debate, and the mud-slinging commercials are all overwhelming and somehow seem to bring out the worst in us as a nation and people.  And now we toss in a pandemic, one’s perspective on data and science, and the use of masks and you’ve got yourself a full-blown cultural war.

Red state?  Blue State?  Democrat?  Republican?  Libertarian?  Soft Republican?  Switch over Democrat?  We’ve been divided and subdivided just about as many ways as possible.  The labels are many, the tribes are entrenched, and tolerance is now defined as ‘I’m ok with you if you agree 100% with me’.  With all of these distinctions, is it any surprise that we function like anything but the UNITED States of America?

So how then do we, who follow Jesus, respond during this election season?

An important distinction in that question is what it says compared to what it doesn’t say.  It doesn’t say react.  Oh, how many are reacting.  Jesus doesn’t want us to react out of emotion, fear, and anxiety.  He wants us to respond out of love, confidence, and trust in who we are inside of His love for us.

It is so easy to become cynical and sarcastic when watching this primetime drama unfold.  And in doing so, we miss a great opportunity to love with compassion and lead with civility.  Deep down, I believe our nation is craving this kind of leadership.  If we did, I believe we would seize an opportunity to demonstrate God’s love to others and discover a currently hidden gem in our democratic republic – the free exchange of ideas and worldviews.

Over the next few days I want to share a few brief thoughts, a quote to get us thinking, a Bible text to meditate on, and a prayer to pray.  I believe these will help us navigate the choppy waters of the week of a presidential election in our country.  There’s only 1 rule I’d ask you to adhere to: Don’t apply these to your candidate, the opposite candidate, your party, the opposite party, your tribe, or the opposite tribe.  Go introspective and apply them to yourself.  Ready to dive in?  Let’s begin with Day 1:

Day 1: A Strategy to Respond Well

“Strategy for surviving the election season:  Be 1,000x more tuned into what you read in the Bible and hear in your church than what you read on social media and hear on Fox or CNN.” – Howerton

Information overload, censorship, conspiracies, etc.  It can be easy to jump on social media and be led down a dark trail for any perspective you want to affirm what you already think.  Jesus told us that our mission on this planet is to make disciples. A disciple is someone who shapes, teaches, and forms us.  As followers of Jesus, it is Jesus who does that.  So, here’s a strategy for surviving the election:  Don’t let the world disciple you, CNN disciple you, FOX News disciple you, a political party disciple you, Facebook disciple you, twitter disciple you.  Let the Spirit of God use the Word of God to disciple you and make you look more like the Son of God.  To respond well, you must discern well.  Be selective what you allow to shape you.

Scripture: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” – Mt. 28:19-20

Based on the time I give to it, who is currently discipling me most?

Prayer:  God, let me focus on your Word and truth.  May I spend more time today in your Word than I do being discipled in the election.  Holy Spirit, guide me, teach me, comfort me, and convict me.  Lead me to look more like Jesus.  In Jesus name, Amen.

Nick Cleveland