EDITOR’S LETTER—Future Leaders Need Our Prayers

By on March 4, 2016
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“I believe God’s guidance is detailed, daily, personal, unfailing, and preplanned, as Psalm 139:16 says: “All my days were written in Your book and planned before a single one of them began.” If He has planned all my days, I should acknowledge Him in all my ways.” Robert Morgan

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. – COLOSSIANS 2:6

A Pew poll released in May 2015 gives some statistics that are cause for concern. “Faith of our Fathers” is not exactly capturing the hearts of huge numbers of the younger generation. Pew reported that whereas 85% of the silent generation (born between 1928-1945) call themselves Christians, just 56% of today’s millennials (born between 1980 and 1996) do the same, even though the vast majority—about 8 of 10— were raised in religious homes. Each successive generation of Americans includes fewer Christians, Pew has found. People who profess no faith affiliation—often called “nones”—now form nearly 23% percent of the country’s adult population, according to the Pew study. That puts the unaffiliated nearly on par with evangelicals (25.4%). I am so not a numbers person, but my eyes don’t glaze over as they usually do, when I read these statistics.

We have definitely entered the post-Christian era in our country. Not only that, but we are living in an era that is increasingly hostile to our faith. That fact is both disheartening and encouraging. Let me explain. The sad part is that we are witnessing an erosion of high moral standards all across the institutions that we have revered for generations. The secular voices that seem to wield the greatest influence ridicule those of us who cling to Biblical principle as “backward, uneducated, and not very smart.”

But in the study of history, you will find that the greatest religious revivals have forever begun during times of great persecution. The number of Christians in China, Asia, and Africa has grown exponentially over the past few decades despite great government oppression. No power on earth can thwart the plans of our sovereign God.

Every year when we prepare to honor our high school seniors whom our judges have chosen as finalists in our Christian Leaders of the Future Scholarship program, I am inspired by their resumes and their answers to the questions about their faith. Already they seem to have a deep grasp of their calling to be salt and light in a dark world, and they also have a heartfelt commitment to serve the Lord and their fellow man. In a “Me First” culture, they appear to have learned early on that real joy is never the end result for the person who lives to please himself.

While many college campuses have become angry seats of political activism and dramatic displays of disapproval for dissenting opinions, the students you will meet here give real hope for the future. I pray that God will guard their precious hearts and keep their feet on a level path as they meet the next challenging season of their lives on the college campus.

Peggy Noonan addressed a class of cadets at West Point a few years ago. She has a way of capturing a profound thought with words that send me searching for a pen so that I can write them down and remember them. I loved the way she said this: “And so your personal integrity is of the utmost importance as day by day that integrity creates the integrity of the military.” What would our modern world look like if we who call ourselves “Christians” and representatives of our Lord on earth considered our daily choices with that same mindset?

We are just a few weeks from celebrating Easter, the most important date on the Christian calendar. Easter usually coincides with the arrival of spring. What could be more appropriate? As the landscape becomes a reminder of redemption, renewal, and the Resurrection itself, I find my heart unusually full of praise for the amazing grace and mercy that reached out and saved a sinner like me.

I love the old hymns. I cherish their words for their meaning and also for the memories they conjure up of the days of long ago when my mother planted me on the front and center pew of the First United Methodist Church of Indianola where she could keep a watchful eye on me from her perch in the choir loft. I will probably never be able to make it all the way through “Christ the Lord is Risen Today” if we happen to sing it on Easter Sunday at my church, but if I shed a tear it won’t be because of sadness—it will be because of sheer joy. Christ is Risen—Death is swallowed up in victory—and the best of the best of the best is still ahead for those who are His!

Happy Easter!