Mark S. Mitchell

Pastor, Writer, Follower of Jesus


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How to Pray for Our Nation

Much like our nation as a whole, the Church is divided over our new President. One of the things we can all agree on is the need to pray for him and for our nation. Yesterday, in view of both President Trump’s inauguration and Sanctity of Human Life Sunday, many churches prayed for our nation. Adam Darbonne, High School Director at Central Peninsula Church’s North Campus, led us in prayer and I believe this is a fine example of how to pray for our nation at such a time as this.

Almighty God, Creator, Redeemer, Ancient of Days, we bow before you this morning, our only King, and the sovereign God, who rules with perfect justice and love. 

You have commanded us to pray for all those in authority, and as we have prayed for President Obama over the last eight years, we now pray for President Trump. First and foremost we pray that he would repent and believe in your resurrected son. We ask that you would convict him of sin, and bring him to his knees in repentance. That you would humble him under your mighty hand, and lead him by your glorious light. Until then, we pray that your will be done in the government. Surround our leaders with your wisdom. We ask that you would use the government to restrain evil, bring justice in our country, especially to the downtrodden, hurting, and vulnerable.

We also pray that you would use us, your church, to be salt and light in the world, that we would be a voice and force for justice and love in our country and around the world. And as Paul says, teach us to lead peaceful and quiet lives, godly and holy in every way, for this is pleasing to you. As we pray for justice for the vulnerable give us the courage and compassion we need to live as faithful advocates for human life—in all its expressions. How we long for the Day when “death shall be no more”—when life will flourish in the new heaven and new earth. Today we especially think about the lives of unborn children and the constant threat to those lives—even as we cry out to you on behalf of all kinds of women in all kinds of situations who are carrying those children in their wombs. Lord Jesus, we pray for the courage to stand up and care for the voiceless and vulnerable—those whom you are knitting together in their mother’s womb. Lord Jesus, may those here today whose stories are marked by abortion know your love, compassion and forgiveness this morning.

Finally, Lord, make us a compassionate church. Jesus, show us how to love and care for those women and men whose stories are marked by abortion. May we be a church who cares extravagantly for women in crisis. Lord, we long for your justice, compassion, forgiveness, and love. In the name of Jesus, Amen.


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Election Day

It’s Election Day and we all have our hopes set on one candidate or another. Our church is used as a polling place in our city and the folks working there report a lot of people are showing up to vote this year. That’s a good thing, for sure.

A week ago Sunday I preached on 1 Kings 4, which describes Israel under Solomon’s reign. It was a golden age; an ideal kingdom. It reminded me of family vacations as a kid. Every year we went to the same place up in the gold country of the Sierra Nevada. We’d stay in a small resort built on the North fork of the Yuba River, called Shangri-la. It was a kid’s paradise. We caught Brook trout with salmon eggs, we rode the rapids into town on old inner tubes, we hung a swing on a tall tree that allowed us to fly out over the river and jump into deep, cold waters. There was even a General Store in town where we bought real rock candy out of a jar.

We all long for a place like that. Perhaps that’s because God has promised us such a place; a perfect kingdom. Jesus once said to his followers, “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom” (Lk 12:32). The Apostle John had a vision of this kingdom: “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Rev 21:4).

Solomon’s kingdom is a foreshadowing of the Kingdom Jesus came to establish. It’s also a reminder of the fact that we’ll never achieve such a place this side of our Lord’s return. Even Solomon’s seemingly perfect kingdom didn’t last for long. At the end of his life, Solomon strayed from the Lord and Israel was eventually divided and conquered (1 Kings 11:6, 14). It’s a reminder that, regardless of the many blessings we enjoy, we live in a fallen world. Every earthly kingdom and king will eventually fall and fail to meet the longings of our heart.

I believe there is a warning in this for all of us; a warning we especially should be aware of on the eve of knowing the outcome of this election. Solomon’s kingdom seemed so perfect. Do you think he would have been reelected? Of course! But eventually the people who voted for him would be disappointed. We tend to look for earthly leaders like Solomon to create earthly kingdoms and for a while it may all seem to work, but eventually they all fail. They fail because we live in a fallen world with fallen people and fallen leaders.

We all care about our country. There are important issues at stake: the right to life, health care, national defense, our role in the world, religious freedom, education. I hope we all do our best to study these issues and vote. But the warning is not to put your hope in any earthly kingdom or any earthly candidate because eventually they’ll all let us down. Even a king as great as Solomon teaches us that.