Best-selling author Max Lucado is concerned about the direction of America. Violence is rampant, the economy is fragile and morality is in a "downward tailspin," he said Sunday. But he isn't panicking.
He feels other Christians have no reason to "freak out" either. As America prepares for a presidential election this November, Lucado has faith that God is in control.
"We have reason to be concerned but I would suggest to you in this message that we do not have reason to panic," he said in a sermon at Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas. "We, the children of God, can stay peaceful because we know that no matter who inhabits the White House, we know that God still sits on His throne."
With the election nearing, Oak Hills launched a five-week sermon series earlier this month titled "Jesus for President." Randy Frazee, senior minister of the megachurch, came up with the theme, according to Lucado who is also a minister at the church.
Looking at America today, Lucado had these words to describe it: "What a mess."
On top of the recent shootings in Colorado and Wisconsin, a weak economy, and a questionable national morality (the top three selling books in America are comprised of pornography, Lucado noted), is Americans' "ongoing inability to agree with God's definition of marriage" and "the value of the preborn."
Moreover, the mud-slinging and "tacky kindergarten level conversations" between the political parties makes it easy to grow cynical in the U.S., he added.
But Lucado isn't feeling anxious. After all, "we (Christians) take into an election cycle a different view than the rest of the world and that is a view of faith," he said.
"We believe first and foremost this truth: that God is the God of the nations," he preached. "Congress doesn't direct the future, God does. Washington doesn't call the shots, God does."
The Bible, he emphasized, is full of moments when God manages the hearts of monarchs. That includes the time God used Cyrus, king of Persia, who did not fear God, to "accomplish the desire of heaven;" the moment God caused a Babylonian official to show sympathy to Daniel when he requested that he not eat the food served by the king; and the time God softened the heart of Artaxerxes, king of Persia, to essentially sponsor the reconstruction of God's city.
"A nation is blessed when it has godly leaders," Lucado said. "[But] even if a nation does not have a godly leader, that nation can still be led by God because He controls the hearts of the kings, He directs what happens."
Looking toward the 2012 election between President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, the author asked, "Is our future in the hand of a human being? Is the destiny of God's children controlled by a political office? What do these stories over and over teach us?"
Every government official, he asserted, is "God's tool."
"Let us be people who vote ... but let us never think that God will be baffled by a November 6 outcome. God is not troubled by one who is conservative or liberal and He certainly never inclines His ear toward a donkey or an elephant," he added.
"We place our trust in the work of God. He is above them all."
Lucado announced that he is launching a 40-day prayer initiative in the lead-up to the election. Their priority as Christians, he challenged, is to pray for their leaders and those in government rather than to squabble, judge or criticize.
Those who join the prayer initiative are being asked to pray specifically for God to "unite our country," to "strengthen us financially, morally" and to "appoint and anoint our next president."