Political A-Musings

This morning I preached on Daniel 4, where Nebuchadnezzar discovers the hard way that “the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes” (v. 17). I serve a wonderful, God-loving congregation of mostly conservative Republicans. One Sunday some months ago, I delighted my people by informing them that I would not make a very good Democrat, because I don’t trust big government. But I immediately added that I also wouldn’t make a very good Republican, because I don’t trust big business. And then I think I really got ‘em thinking, when I said that I probably don’t make a very good pastor—at least not according to current American evangelical criteria for pastoral success—because I don’t trust big churches.

Well, this morning I finally showed my hand politically. I told the congregation that I am not a fan of Barack Obama. Many of them were probably somewhat relieved to hear that Pastor Joe is not the liberal they thought he was. But I suspect the warm fuzzies didn’t last very long. For I proceeded to tell the congregation a marvelous story—the kind of story that can help us all to rise above the pitiful mire of partisan politics to share King Nebuchadnezzar’s perspective on God’s sovereign control over the rulers of the world.

I am involved with World Impact’s Urban Ministry Institute in Los Angeles. At a board meeting last month, Bob Drummond, who served many years as the principal of LA Christian School, related to us an interaction he had had years ago with some parents in this inner-city school.

It was presidential election day in November 1992. Two Latino ladies from the neighborhood arrived to pick up their kids, proudly wearing their red-white-&-blue “I Voted” stickers on their lapels. It seems that these women had just become American citizens, and this was their first opportunity to participate in the political process. The principal noticed the stickers and warmly encouraged the ladies. Then one of them enthusiastically remarked, “Yes, Mr. Drummond, we voted for God’s candidate, Bill Clinton.”

Now Bob Drummond was decidedly not a Clinton fan. So he gently inquired of the ladies, “Why do you feel that Bill Clinton is God’s candidate?” They replied, “Oh, Mr. Drummond, Bill Clinton is soft on the borders, and if we had not been able to get across the border, we would never have had the opportunity to come to America and hear about Jesus.”

Ain’t it funny how things look a little different from the other side of the tracks?

A passage from the book of Acts sums it up well: “From one man God made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:26-27).

Apparently Nebuchadnezzar got it right. God truly is “sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes.” In His wisdom. For His eternal purposes. Think about that the next time your (wo)man wins—or loses—in Washington.

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3 Comments on “Political A-Musings”

  1. ed Says:

    i do admit i was a little surprised. I thought maybe you liked Obama a little… maybe a 20% like/ 80% dislike, or even a 15% like…I have to admit, I was a little disappointed, but I think I’ll still keep coming to church… 🙂
    do you mind if in my heart I still consider you my “liberal” pastor? … I mean… you did tell the story about the immigration. that counts for something.

    Hopefully we are making decisions on issues and not just jumping on the party band-wagon… I think you have shown that you band-wagon kind of guy.

    Thanks for being a great pastor, and always speaking your mind, and you heart.

    • ed Says:

      whoops.. meant to say “you are not.. a band-wagon kind of guy”.

      • hellerman Says:


        Thanks for the encouragement, brother. I very much treasure having you and your family in our church. Yes, Ed, you can still think of me as your ‘liberal’ pastor! My take on the borders certainly doesn’t quite fit the Republican mold (so,maybe, there’s my 5%—lol).

        I figure that one of my callings as a pastor is to try to stir the pot a bit on both sides of the aisle, and to remind us all that, in the final analysis, we are citizens of an alternative empire—the one where our God reigns!

        God bless you, brother. Give those kids a big hug. And don’t forget to hug your wife, too!


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