Monday, June 21, 2010

The Two Hands of the Gospel

Part of the Family's defense of its influence in Washington is that its only public event, the annual National Prayer Breakfast, is resolutely ecumenical. Ecumenical, that is, in that the Family welcomes all to worship its idea of Jesus. A while back I posted this account of the 2005 National Prayer Breakfast from an enthusiastic attendee, who transcribed a card she received as part of her welcome folder: "Jesus Transcends All." Below is a testimony from another satisfied customer, Pastor Joe Fuiten of the Cedar Park Assembly of God mega-church, crown jewel of a network of eight powerful and politically active congregations in Washington state, sermonizing on the 2003 event. I attended that one, myself, and I remember Condoleeza Rice's prayer talk, a comparison of the United States, facing Iraq on the eve of war to the narrator of the old black spiritual, "Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen," facing racism. That's right -- Rice played America as the underdog victim. But Fuiten celebrates another, equally cynical instance of text abuse:
I was greatly touched this past week as I spent Monday through Friday in Washington DC.  Being there gave me opportunity to think about our country and what God is doing.  At another time, when the message is not being recorded, I would like to tell you all about it.  There are a couple of messages that I think will come out of the trip.  One is about America in God’s plan of history and why Washington DC, our capitol, reflects it so clearly.  Being able to spend some time in the Capitol allowed me to see America through God’s eyes.  As a result, I am more convinced than ever that we are living in the last days.  History is coming to its peak and we are part of that peak.
This morning I want to reflect on the culture of America as demonstrated by its key leaders, many of whom I have had the chance to be with this last week. (Don Argue and Philippe Vallerand as well as Jerry and Germaine Korum were together a good part of the week in these meetings).
In private meetings we met with Senators Murray, Clinton, Santorum, and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist.  We also met with Representatives Insley, Dicks, and Dunn.  We had breakfast at the home of Admiral Vern Clark, Chief of Naval Operations, and were thirty minutes from meeting with John Ashcroft when he had to cancel and announce the Orange warning alert.
Our meeting with Majority Leader Bill Frist and Senator Santorum was my most providential meeting.  Bill Frist called together a group of African government leaders and American Evangelical leaders to discuss the problem of AIDS in Africa.  There were about 25 present.  Before I left for Washington, I had no idea there would be such a meeting but the Lord had been putting something on my heart.    I had asked AG Missionary and African AIDS nurse Suzanne Hurst to write a letter appreciating President Bush’s $15 billion dollar AIDS proposal that he announced in his State of the Union address.  I particularly wanted her to describe why that money should flow through church organizations in Africa.  She sent me the draft Sunday night and I entered the names of each Washington State legislator that I hoped to see with the intention of giving them each a copy the letter.  I printed up one extra letter that was simply addressed “Dear Senator” without any name on it.  Through the influence of Don Argue, I was invited to the meeting.  By God’s grace, I had prepared in advance for a meeting that I didn’t know existed.  I was able to verbally deliver the message personally to Bill Frist and then to give him the letter along with my card.  The message was exactly the topic of the meeting and I was able to deliver it to the man most able to do something about it.  I’ll say more about this miracle at another time. 
The National Prayer Breakfast was an incredible experience.  Any meeting that begins with a prayer by General Richard Myers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in full military dress, has the prospect for being a good meeting.  He prayed, “Help us to be at peace with ourselves and with those around us.”
The CIA director, George Tenet, read the Scripture.  I want to read for you the Scriptures that he read.  Even if he wasn’t head of the CIA, George Tenet looks powerful.  When I think of the CIA in its current context, my mind is drawn to that hellfire missile fired from the Predator drone in Yemen that took out that senior Al-Queda leader.  In a very strong voice, he gets up and reads the following: 
Ephesians 6:10-17 “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
            Having read that Scripture, Tenet then turned to Luke 6:35-38 “But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. 37 "Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."
            In those two Scriptures you have the two hands of the Gospel.  One speaks of power, the other of forgiveness and loving our enemies.  The Scripture is always powerful, no matter who reads it.  But when a man who commands a virtual secret army reads it, it makes an impression.

Pastor Joe Fuiten