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Some advice
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As I write this column, our nation is preparing to inaugurate the 44th President of the United States. The inauguration of Barak Obama is indeed an historic occasion. Many men of stature will be participating in the event offering prayers and blessings and, in the process, a little advice.

While it is doubtful that our new president will ever see this column, I, too, want to remind him of some vital principles as he takes office. Consider this column an open letter to our new president.

I cannot begin my thoughts any better than to remind him, and all our leaders for that matter, both local and national, of the words of Proverbs 14:34: "Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people."

The father of our country, George Washington, our first president, in his farewell address reminded us, "Of all the habits that lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would men claim the tributes of patriotism who would work to destroy these great pillars of human happiness." He went on to say, "Do not let anyone claim to be a true American if they ever attempt to remove religion from politics."

Our 44th president's constant message to us has been a message of hope and change. Mr. president, with all due respect, sir, may I say that without God in the equation, hope and change are pipe dreams. "The heart is more deceitful than anything else and desperately sick-who can understand it?" (Jeremiah 17:9, HCSB).

The greatest threat to our nation today is not terrorism, or the struggling economy. The greatest threat to our national health is heart disease - not in the physical sense, but in the spiritual sense. Sin, which means simply failure to do what God requires us to do, infects every one of us. Rather than dealing with the problem, we have tried desperately to cover up the problem. The Bible warns, "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight. Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine and champions at mixing drinks, who acquit the guilty for a bribe, but deny justice to the innocent," (Isaiah 5:20-23, NIV).

While we stand guilty as a nation of such actions (the blood of 50 million innocent victims of our own holocaust cry out against us), we don't see; we don't respond. Sin is like an addiction,;the deeper it is, the less we suspect there is a problem. The Contemporary English Version of the Bible catches this phenomenon when it translates that verse from Jeremiah 17:9, "You people are so deceitful that you even fool yourselves, and you can't change," (Jeremiah 17:9, CEV).

Mr. president, and all citizens not only of our nation but of the world, true change must begin in the human heart, and there is no government on the face of the earth capable of effecting such change. But God can.
The message of the Bible from front to back is that God loves us and he, himself stepped into time so that real change and certain hope could become possible. Our third president, Thomas Jefferson, reminded us, "The reason that Christianity is the best friend of government is because Christianity is the only religion in the world that deals with the heart."

One more thought for all our elected officials. As you take office, the experience of those who have gone before you may help.

Many who have entered the public arena have done so with hopes of change in their hearts. Sadly, instead of them effecting change, they themselves were changed. Proverbs 16:12 in The Message Translation reminds us, "Good leaders abhor wrongdoing of all kinds; sound leadership has a moral foundation."

Mr. president, and all our elected officials, let me assure you of my prayers for you. Do what's right biblically and your leadership will be secure. The Bible says, "Better a little with righteousness than much gain with injustice," (Proverbs 16:8, NIV).

Dr. John Pearrell is pastor of Gateway Community Church. Write him at