Tag Archives: obama

Courageous steps of Obama and Rick Warren!

I find the invitation of Obama to Rick Warren to offer the Invocation at the Inaugural ceremony a daring and courageous step! I don’t know the inner motivation of Obama; whether this is a step to appease the “Christians on the right” (Does Warren really belong to them? He has been fighting numerous battles and issues that the religious right hardly has considered until now). Or whether this is a step to engage a trust worthy spiritual leader in his responsibility I don’t know.

Whatever the reason I find this a courageous step… across differences of thinking and across some of those unnecessary walls that so many people build between them and those who think differently. We don’t need to agree on everything if we are to work together with our governments whether local or national.

To my understanding Warren is practicing the Jeremiah 29:7 principles which God gave to his people who were brought in exile in Babylon. “Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”

Well done Warren, may the Lord bless you and give you favor to carry His glory with you wherever you go…Well done Obama! May the Lord bless you in your presidency and form in you the character and mind of Christ Jesus!

That’s the Way I see it!

John van Dinther

Below you will find a short press release from warren about this invitation…

LAKE FOREST, Calif., Dec. 18 /Christian Newswire/ — “I commend President-elect Obama for his courage to willingly take enormous heat from his base by inviting someone like me, with whom he doesn’t agree on every issue, to offer the Invocation at his historic Inaugural ceremony.

“Hopefully individuals passionately expressing opinions from the left and the right will recognize that both of us have shown a commitment to model civility in America.

“The Bible admonishes us to pray for our leaders. I am honored by this opportunity to pray God’s blessing on the office of the President and its current and future inhabitant, asking the Lord to provide wisdom to America’s leaders during this critical time in our nation’s history.”

Rick Warren

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Obama’s private prayer leaked to the press.

Prayer is a rather private thing… there are of course times of public prayer, other times you pray along with some friends and share some of your deepest thoughts and struggles in your prayer. In our church we have a prayer room, people come and go, some decide to get together to pray for some minutes, sometimes for hours with their friends.  There are times that I hear when someone cries out to the Lord as they seek Him and share private burdens… at those times, I determine to not want to hear and remove myself and others from the closeness of the prayer room to secure the privacy of those praying (some pray really too loud! – you can hardly escape hearing them:).

Anyway, prayer from the heart can be sensitive and we need to respect the sancitity of prayer… Obama during his visit in Israel and Jerusalem prayed at the prayer wall, and like so  many others left his prayers written on a small piece of paper in a crevice between the giant white stones, hewn over 2,000 years ago. Usually those prayers (over one million per year) are collected twice a year and burried at the Mount of Olives. This time an Orthodox Jewish student had other thoughts as he kept watch where Obama had left his prayer note. Right after Obama’s departure, he took the note and went to the Maariv newspaper who publised the note fully.

What he prayed? No use hiding it from you since half of the population of the world can find it on the Net… Obama wrote… The prayer sounds a little like Salomon’s prayer… I hope Obama will receive the same blessing as he!

That’s it for now folks… and remember be wise in what to pray and where to pray those prayers!

God bless you,

John

Obama’s July 1 speech on faith-based initiatives (if he will be in office)

As we are bombarded with a tremendous amount of information from the US and from the media here at home about US presidential candidates McCain and Obama I wanted to pass on to you the full length speech from Obama on his perspective on faith-based initiatives during his potential presidency.

Relevant magazine had a “Questions and answer time with Obama” after his address. A couple of main issues are dealt with in the interview which I recommend you to read. (Some points in his address I have highlighted because they are of special interest to me as I observe our world from the perspective as a believer in Jesus Christ).

Zanesvile Ohio, July 1

“You know, faith based groups like East Side Community Ministry carry a particular meaning for me. Because in a way, they’re what led me into public service. It was a Catholic group called The Campaign for Human Development that helped fund the work I did many years ago in Chicago to help lift up neighborhoods that were devastated by the closure of a local steel plant.

Now, I didn’t grow up in a particularly religious household. But my experience in Chicago showed me how faith and values could be an anchor in my life. And in time, I came to see my faith as being both a personal commitment to Christ and a commitment to my community; that while I could sit in church and pray all I want, I wouldn’t be fulfilling God’s will unless I went out and did the Lord’s work.

There are millions of Americans who share a similar view of their faith, who feel they have an obligation to help others. And they’re making a difference in communities all across this country – through initiatives like Ready4Work, which is helping ensure that ex-offenders don’t return to a life of crime; or Catholic Charities, which is feeding the hungry and making sure we don’t have homeless veterans sleeping on the streets of Chicago; or the good work that’s being done by a coalition of religious groups to rebuild New Orleans.

You see, while these groups are often made up of folks who’ve come together around a common faith, they’re usually working to help people of all faiths or of no faith at all. And they’re particularly well-placed to offer help. As I’ve said many times, I believe that change comes not from the top-down, but from the bottom-up, and few are closer to the people than our churches, synagogues, temples, and mosques.

That’s why Washington needs to draw on them. The fact is, the challenges we face today – from saving our planet to ending poverty – are simply too big for government to solve alone. We need all hands on deck.

I’m not saying that faith-based groups are an alternative to government or secular nonprofits. And I’m not saying that they’re somehow better at lifting people up. What I’m saying is that we all have to work together – Christian and Jew, Hindu and Muslim; believer and non-believer alike – to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

Now, I know there are some who bristle at the notion that faith has a place in the public square. But the fact is, leaders in both parties have recognized the value of a partnership between the White House and faith-based groups. President Clinton signed legislation that opened the door for faith-based groups to play a role in a number of areas, including helping people move from welfare to work. Al Gore proposed a partnership between Washington and faith-based groups to provide more support for the least of these. And President Bush came into office with a promise to “rally the armies of compassion,” establishing a new Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.

But what we saw instead was that the Office never fulfilled its promise. Support for social services to the poor and the needy have been consistently underfunded. Rather than promoting the cause of all faith-based organizations, former officials in the Office have described how it was used to promote partisan interests. As a result, the smaller congregations and community groups that were supposed to be empowered ended up getting short-changed.

Well, I still believe it’s a good idea to have a partnership between the White House and grassroots groups, both faith-based and secular. But it has to be a real partnership – not a photo-op. That’s what it will be when I’m President. I’ll establish a new Council for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. The new name will reflect a new commitment. This Council will not just be another name on the White House organization chart – it will be a critical part of my administration.

Now, make no mistake, as someone who used to teach constitutional law, I believe deeply in the separation of church and state, but I don’t believe this partnership will endanger that idea – so long as we follow a few basic principles.

1. First, if you get a federal grant, you can’t use that grant money to proselytize to the people you help and you can’t discriminate against them – or against the people you hire – on the basis of their religion.

2. Second, federal dollars that go directly to churches, temples, and mosques can only be used on secular programs. And we’ll also ensure that taxpayer dollars only go to those programs that actually work.

With these principles as a guide, my Council for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships will strengthen faith-based groups by making sure they know the opportunities open to them to build on their good works. Too often, faith-based groups – especially smaller congregations and those that aren’t well connected – don’t know how to apply for federal dollars, or how to navigate a government website to see what grants are available, or how to comply with federal laws and regulations. We rely too much on conferences in Washington, instead of getting technical assistance to the people who need it on the ground. What this means is that what’s stopping many faith-based groups from helping struggling families is simply a lack of knowledge about how the system works.

Well, that will change when I’m President. I will empower the nonprofit religious and community groups that do understand how this process works to train the thousands of groups that don’t. We’ll “train the trainers” by giving larger faith-based partners like Catholic Charities and Lutheran Services and secular nonprofits like Public/Private Ventures the support they need to help other groups build and run effective programs. Every house of worship that wants to run an effective program and that’s willing to abide by our constitution – from the largest mega-churches and synagogues to the smallest store-front churches and mosques – can and will have access to the information and support they need to run that program.

This Council will also help target our efforts to meet key challenges like education. All across America, too many children simply can’t read or perform math at their grade-level, a problem that grows worse for low-income students during the summer months and afterschool hours. Nonprofits like Children’s Defense Fund are working to solve this problem. They hold summer and afterschool Freedom Schools in communities across this country, and many of their classes are held in churches.

There’s a lot of evidence that these kinds of partnerships work. Take Youth Education for Tomorrow, an innovative program that’s being run by churches, faith-based schools, and others in Philadelphia. To help narrow the summer learning gap, the YET program hires qualified teachers who help students with reading using proven learning techniques. They hold classes four days a week after school and during the summer. And they monitor progress closely. The results have been outstanding. Children who attended a YET center for at least six months improved nearly 2 years in reading ability. And the average high school student gained a full grade in reading level after just three months.

That’s the kind of real progress that can be made when we empower faith-based organizations. And that’s why as President, I’ll expand summer programs like this to serve one million students. This won’t just help our children learn, it will help keep them off the streets during the summer so they don’t turn to crime.

And my Council for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships will also have a broader role – it will help set our national agenda. Because if we are going to do something about the injustice of millions of children living in extreme poverty, we need interfaith coalitions like the Let Justice Roll campaign standing up for the powerless. If we’re going to end genocide and stop the scourge of HIV/AIDS, we need people of faith on Capitol Hill talking about how these challenges don’t just represent a security crisis or a humanitarian crisis, but a moral crisis as well.

We know that faith and values can be a source of strength in our own lives. That’s what it’s been to me. And that’s what it is to so many Americans. But it can also be something more. It can be the foundation of a new project of American renewal. And that’s the kind of effort I intend to lead as President of the United States.”

Ok friends, let’s see how this is going to work in the future, one thing I do appreciate from Obama is his understanding of the need to get non-profit, religious organizations to work for the good (best) of the people. This is a rather hot potato here in Sweden. Although there is close corporation with the old and established denominations and former State Church, we are far removed from a perspective where other (younger) organizations and churches are welcomed to be a part helping to find answers in the areas of life where many are alienated / lost in our highly secularized society.

That’s the Way I see it,

John

The full text of Obama’s Letter of Resignation to Trinity United Church of Christ

As many newspapers (here, here, here, here and here), already have addressed the fact that the Obama’s left their church, few of us might have read their own stand, take a moment to read their letter of resignation:

May 30, 2008

Dear Rev. Moss:

We are writing to make official our decision to end our membership at Trinity.
We make this decision with sadness. Trinity was where I found Christ, where we were married and where our children were baptized. We have many friends among the 8,000 congregants who attend there and we are proud of the extraordinary good works the church continues to perform throughout the community to help the hungry, the homeless and people in need of medical care. We also have come to appreciate your ministry and both think you have been, and will be, a wonderful pastor for years to come.

But as you know, our relations with Trinity have been strained by the divisive statements of Rev. Wright, which sharply conflict with our own views. Our larger concern is that because of my candidacy and membership at Trinity, these controversies have served as an unfortunate distraction for other Trinity members who seek to worship in peace, and have placed you in an untenable position as you establish your own ministry under very difficult circumstances.

Our faith remains strong and we will find another church home for our family. But we also know that faith and prayer are not merely exercises to be discharged for two hours on Sunday. They are and always will be a bulwark for us in our daily lives.

We are grateful for our years as part of the Trinity community, and wish you all the best as you lead the congregation into the future. You, your family and the entire Trinity family will be in thoughts and prayers.

Sincerely,


Michelle Obama

Barack Obama