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Monday, July 27, 2015

A Tribute to John Charles: A Man and His Books

A Tribute to John Charles: A Man and his Books
News2Use – August, 2015
Rob Tennant

          My friend John Charles is nearer to the end of his earthly life than is to the beginning of it.  He is 85.  He has Alzheimer’s.  Only God knows how much time he has left.
          For me, to be his friend and his pastor these past 9 years has been a true privilege.  Pastors are, in a sense, friends to all the church members.  And whatever the relationship is, however intimate or distant, when a church member nears death, the pastor is drawn close.  This is nearly always the case.            Maybe the pastor had not been a large force in that person’s life, but as death closes in, suddenly, the pastor becomes important.  No matter how good we are at doing it, we pastors are seen as the guides who shepherd people from life on earth to eternal life in the embrace of God. 
          In John’s case, it is happening, but with a caveat.  Before Alzheimer’s took John away, he and I were close, and it was because of who he is, not because I am his pastor.  John has had many pastors before me.  And if someone else were here at HillSong, he would be as close to that pastor as to me.  It is a mark of his and his wife Marion’s faithfulness that they committed themselves to the life of the church.
          Before I mention John’s books, I need to make this clear.  Throughout his life, John was a committed Christian who took discipleship very seriously.  I remember our men’s Bible study – all men over 70 with 38-year-old me.  We were moving furniture into the apartment of a newly arrived refugee.  John was on one end of as a couch that we being carried up the stairs.  He had the skin on his knuckles ripped off as his hand scraped the brick wall in the stairwell.  But he didn’t drop his end of the couch.
          John was faithful in service.  I remember the times he told me of how members of his family became Christians.  He knew what was stake and so, he teared up as he shared the stories.  Yes, the stoic bookworm John Charles was moved to deep emotion when he thought about someone he loves accepted Jesus. 
          John was husband, father, grandfather, brother, friend, teacher, and mentor.  He was all these things.  He should be remembered for these roles and for the love he had for God and his family.  That is John Charles much more than a library. 
The library does also need to be mentioned.  John Charles was a lover of Biblical scholarship.  A Bible scholar is not someone who just reads the Bible over and over.  That in and of itself is good and noble and a worthwhile pursuit I recommend to all Christ-followers.  And John did that.  But he also studied the Bible critically.  Doing this did not demystify the Word for him.  Rather, critical study increased John’s reverence for scripture as critical study does for anyone who is a person of faith and dares to ask the tough questions.
          John studied the scripture in the original Hebrew and Greek, and he studied early commentaries in Latin and commentaries from the great 19th century German scholars.  He was a master of languages.  He also studied in depth theology, church history, and hermeneutics (methods of scripture interpretation).  In terms of scholarship, he was a renaissance man.
          Over the course of his life, this study of God through the writings of great scholars was a passion for him and he amassed a library of over 2500 books.  A few weeks ago, his family gave me charge of the books.  I could keep as many as I liked.  The rest I needed to donate to pastors or church libraries or seminaries that would resonate with John’s approach to theological study. 
I have long known that the day would come when John and Marion would call me to be the steward of his life’s passion.  Now that it is here, I am amazed by the enormity of the task.  It is a true blessing.  My own pastoral library will just about double by the time I am done.  I have taken in great books and it has impressed upon me a sense of responsibility.  I won’t be the scholar he was.  I am terrible at languages.  I muddle along in Greek and am hopeless in the others.  But, John left me a lot of great theological writings and Bible commentaries.  To honor him, I need to read these works and be shaped by them. 
I am going to do exactly that.  It will take years and I have already begun.  I am studying two works by American scholar Karl Donfried and one by Alister McGrath of Britain.  I have changed some things, and dropped some things out of my life to give me time to get a jump on reading these great works.  I won’t ever be John Charles.  I am not supposed to be him.  But his life’s work will have a powerful effect on me living  the call God has set before me.
In addition to responsibility, the fact that I am now the steward of a significant portion of John’s life has had a great humbling effect on me.  I think I was starting to create an idol – John’s books.  I only paid homage to the idol in my mind, nowhere else, but there in my consciousness it was occupying a bigger and bigger space.  God freed me from this idolatry when God made it clear that I had to give many of these books away to pastors who I knew would cherish them, read them, and grow in theological knowledge because of them.  As we divvied up the books, many times, one of my friends claimed a book I really wanted.  It was freeing to let him or her have it.  God is the maker of my life as a pastor.  The books help, but they shouldn’t just help me.  I was humbled to pass John’s blessing on to others and they were enormously grateful. 
The responsibility to be a theologian-pastor and the humility to be a giver (and not a hoarder) are truly things God is using to shape my life.  Of course my appreciation for John and Marion and my love for them has grown immensely in recent weeks.  As time passes, this summer of the disbursement of theological blessing from a man who had more than enough to give will fade in memory. 
But it won’t fade too far into the background.  There will be an afternoon in the near future when I will be reading.  I will want to go over to John and Marion’s home and have a cup of coffee.  I can’t drink coffee without thinking of my father and of John Charles.  I will want to sit with John and discuss the protreptic purposes in Paul’s terminology in Thessalonians.  Of course you don’t know the word ‘protreptic.’  Microsoft Word’s spell checker didn’t know it either.  And to be honest, I had to look it up.  John wouldn’t. 
But, John is not here for that discussion, not anymore.  He has eternity in the resurrection ahead of him for he truly is a Christ-follower and will be with the Lord in the Kingdom forever.  But he is gone for now.  I won’t be able to go talk it over with him and listen as he shares with me how he became a reader and collector of great theological literature. We have had that conversation so many times and now I won’t be able to sit with him again.
And yet, I will.  I will sit in my office, look at my shelves, take a sip of coffee, shove my nose back into that book, and John will be there with me. 

Rob Tennant

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

"Who's Got Your Ear" (1 Kings 12:1-11)

July 12, 2015

          Alex, a 23-year-old Sunday school teacher and babysitter, was trembling with excitement the day she told her Twitter followers that she had converted to Islam.[i]

          That is how the New York Times story begins.  It ends with her secretly logging on to Skype to receive this message from Faisal, a man she had never met in person.

          I told [your grandmother] I would never communicate with you again.  But I lied.

          Between that opening and closing we get to know Alex, an isolated young woman in a rural community in the state of Washington.  She lived an isolated, lonely life, sharing a home with her grandparents.  Mabin Shaikh said this is exactly the type of person recruiters seek out online. 
          Mr. Shaikh was himself a member of an extremist Islamic group.  After leaving that group he went on to testify before the United State congress about the mechanics of radicalization.  He said of extremist recruiters, “We look for people who are isolated.”
          They can pick up on someone’s loneliness by following their twitter account, trolling them on Skype, and paying attention to their Facebook “likes,” their posts, and their comments in chatrooms and forums.  Mr. Shaikh identified this method of seeking out those Americans who lived isolated lives.  He said, “If they are not isolated already, then we isolate them.”
          Illustrating this point, Faisal, the man who reached out to Alex, surprised her when she told him she had convert to Islam.  She excitedly told home she had found a Mosque near her home.  His tone went cold.  He told her to stay away from the Mosque.  She did not know any Muslims, not in person anyway.  He warned, Muslims in the United States are persecuted and she would be branded a terrorist.  She should keep her new identity a secret and live a double life.    She complied.
          By the way, he lied.  I recently attended a dinner Muslims have to break the fast during Ramadan.  It was an invitation to Christians to come and see what non-radicalized Islam is about.  It was a lovely time where they offered us generous hospitality.  I do not think Islam and Christianity are compatible, but we can be friends.  We can show generosity to one another.  I was treated with great respect by these Muslims and everything about the evening was transparent.  Faisal did not want Alex to discover this peaceful, open version of Islam that does exist in American and other places.  She listened to Faisal. 
          So, if she could not associate with other Muslims or go to the Mosque, how could she (a) become a Muslim and (b) grow in her faith?  He told her to become Muslim, in the presence of witnesses she needed to repeat the phrase, “There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his messenger.”  So she tweeted the phrase, and Faisal acted as her witness along with another Twitter follower, one of Faisal’s associates, Hallie Sheikh.
          Within hours, her number of followers on Twitter doubled.  That night she tweeted, “I actually have brothers and sisters.  I am crying.”  Of course these ‘brothers and sisters’ were names and twitter accounts, not people Alex ever met or touched or looked in the eye. 
At some point, she suspected Faisal may not be telling her everything.  She looked him up online to discover that he had twice been arrested in England for possession of massive amounts of illegal firearms and explosives.  He was in his 50’s, married, and had children – he had not shared any of this with her. 
          Moreover, her grandmother discovered the secret life she led online.  She, called the FBI who came to the house and downloaded her entire electronic communication history.  Alex handed over control of all her online accounts to her grandparents who shut them all down.  But they forgot to close the Skype account.  On family vacation, while her grandparents were out on the beach, she logged on and Faisal contacted her immediately. 

          Why is this story important?  To whom are we listening?  Fox News?  NPR?  A preacher on TV? What angle is the person to whom you listen closely taking?  What is that person trying to get you to do?

Consider Rehoboam, the king who followed Solomon.  His story is found in Second Kings chapter 12.  Solomon’s reign was Israel’s Golden Age.  Nations around the world admired the greatness of Solomon and Israel under Solomon.  But, he also had his own failings, most specifically, adultery which led him into unfaithfulness to God.  He died and his son Rehoboam took over. 
As soon as his took the throne, he inherited the pressures of leadership and it came in the form of complaints that Solomon had been too tough on the 10 Northern tribes.  Led by Jereboam this is how the exchange went.
Jeroboam and all the assembly of Israel came and said to Rehoboam, “Your father made our yoke heavy. Now therefore lighten the hard service of your father and his heavy yoke that he placed on us, and we will serve you.” He said to them, “Go away for three days, then come again to me.” So the people went away.
Then King Rehoboam took counsel with the older men who had attended his father Solomon while he was still alive, saying, “How do you advise me to answer this people?” They answered him, “If you will be a servant to this people today and serve them, and speak good words to them when you answer them, then they will be your servants forever.” But he disregarded the advice that the older men gave him, and consulted with the young men who had grown up with him and now attended him. He said to them, “What do you advise that we answer this people who have said to me, ‘Lighten the yoke that your father put on us’?” 10 The young men who had grown up with him said to him, “Thus you should say to this people who spoke to you, ‘Your father made our yoke heavy, but you must lighten it for us’; thus you should say to them, ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s loins. 11 Now, whereas my father laid on you a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke. My father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.’”

King Rehoboam listened to the advice of men with no more experience that himself.  If he did what they recommended and ruled with an iron fist, it might make him and his court wealthy, but it would continue to weaken and emasculate the rest of the country.  The people whom he counted on for support would come to hate him.  But those advisors around him told him what he wanted to hear.
To whom are we listening?  Who has my ear or yours?  Are they telling us things we want to hear?  If we follow their advice will it greatly benefit them?  Are they leading us down a path that will needlessly create enmity as we help them and maybe ourselves but hurt others?
Alex, the 23-year-old recruit into radical Islam, was told to hide her new life from the people she had always lived with, her family. 
To whom are we listening?  Are they telling us to keep secrets?  Are they telling us to pretend to be one thing?  Are they turning us against our own family?  Are they secretive about who they are? 
If your family or your circle of friend is into hard core drug use or pornography, separate from them.  Don’t stop loving them but remove yourself from their influence because the things they are into are destructive and deadly.
But if someone from a religious group or a new circle of friends or a new life philosophy is actively paying attention to you in order to get you to follow the path they walk, ask why?  Why do they want you to keep things secret from your parents or your spouse or your friends?  Why do they get uncomfortable when you ask “why?”
I encourage you to question everything I teach.  Hold the words I share up to scripture.  Talk to trusted friends in our church or people you trust outside out community. 
We have no secrets.  We believe Jesus is Lord, salvation is found in Him, and the way to joy and eternal life is through Him, his cross and resurrection. We believe all people need him.  We say this openly and we try to be transparent in our presentation of the Gospel.  We want all people to become passionately devoted followers of Jesus.  Tell everyone you know that this is what we are about. 
And test everyone who tries to influence you. 
That’s the bottom line this morning.  Identify the most powerful influences in your life.  It could be a parent, a TV personality, an author, a friend, a pastor, a spouse, a sibling, or a boss or role model.  Take a moment, step outside yourself, and identify to whom you listen.  Who is it you respect the most?
Now critically assess what that person is sharing with you.  I know you aren’t necessarily like Alex whose feelings of isolation made her vulnerable.  But you and I – we have other vulnerabilities.  We have blind spots and in those blind spots, the enemy, the devil, will draw us away from our devotion and loyalty to Christ.  We will find ourselves led down a path we never imagined we’d travel, a path rife with snares. 

How do we guard against being deceived?  First, look to Solomon.  Early in his reign as king, the Lord spoke to him and offered him anything he might desire.  He said to God,
Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, able to discern between good and evil; for who can govern this your great people?”
10 It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. 11 God said to him, “Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches, or for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, 12 I now do according to your word. Indeed I give you a wise and discerning mind.” 

Ask God for wisdom, as Solomon did. 
Second, pay attention to advisors who are looking out for your best interests and are pointing you to Christ.  First John chapter 4 begins this way:
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus[a]is not from God. And this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming; and now it is already in the world. Little children, you are from God, and have conquered them; for the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 

Finally, seek God in prayer.  Hebrews 4:16 says we can “approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”  We are invited to bring all our concerns into God’s presence.  Why would we ever not take advantage of such a generous divine invitation?

I pray God will rescue Alex from the allure of the seductions that have latched onto her.  And I pray you and I can live in wisdom and share the truth of the Gospel as we live our lives.

[i] R. Callimachi, The New York Times, June 28, 2015, p.A1.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Unanswered Prayers

I Prayed, and Received Grace (2 Corinthians 12:1-10)
Sunday, July 5, 2015

          Think of a time when you prayed for something, something you wanted very badly and did not get it.  Recall when there was in your life a great desire.  You wanted something and you prayed for it.  You prayed hard.  You prayed deep.  And you did not get what you wanted so badly.
This can be painful.  Did you pray you would be accepted into Harvard?  Did you end up going to Appalachian State?  There’s nothing wrong Ap. State.  I have relatives and extremely close friend who graduated from there.  It is a great school.  But your heart was set on Harvard. 
Did you pray through tears that God would fix the relationship with your dad?  And is that relationship now as broken as ever?
Was your prayer that God would heal your husband?  Did he die?
No, this is not fun. 
As a 22-year-old recent college graduate, I desperately longed to be married.  It ate away at me.  I am sure intensity of that desire worked against me.  I had plenty of dates, but women who genuinely liked me were scared away.  It is nothing I did, just a vibe that I put off.  Looking back, I can see that a voice was going off in these women’s brains: “This guy is way too intense about something. Get out now.”  And they did. 
I was 22, 25, 28, 30.  Dear God, I prayed, I so badly want to fall in love and get married.  Please help me.  And God did not help me.  At least, I couldn’t see it.  With the passing of each year, I struggled more and more with this.  But I was still single.  Finally, when a woman I had been seeing threw a huge 30th birthday party for me and then shortly after told me she did not want to be my girlfriend, I was so confused and frustrated, I changed my prayer.  Dear God, please help be content as a single person.  Maybe your call for me is to celibacy.  Please help me be happy with that.
I spent a little while convincing myself God had answered that prayer, but that was a sham.  I was single.  I wasn’t happy about it.  God had not answered my decade-long prayer.  When I changed the prayer, it was clear God wasn’t answering that one either. 

You know that eventually changed.  People here only know me as a married person.  However, the struggle was real for me in those years.  Since then I have had other prayers go unanswered or answered in a way that was not at all what I was hoping for.
What do we do with that?  In church we are taught to be praying people.  This week, I wrote a newsletter article calling for prayer that is specific.  Prayer includes listening to God in the spirit, lamentation, confession, and praise.  Prayer is also petition (where we ask for things), and intercession (where we pray to God on another person’s behalf).  Often these petitions and intercessions seem to fall on deaf ears.  Either God is not listening, or we have to assume from God’s silence that the answer is “No!”  How do we keep our faith in the face of this?

In 2 Corinthians 12, the Apostle Paul deals directly with the matter of receiving from God the answer he did not want to hear.  We’ll see how he took this “No” from Heaven, but first we need to move through the opening verses because there Paul shows the connecting point between the Spirit of God and humans trying to live in relationship to God.  That connection might not be what we’d expect. 

Chapter 11 provides context. I am reading from The Message, 2 Corinthians 11:1-6.

1-3 Will you put up with a little foolish aside from me? Please, just for a moment. The thing that has me so upset is that I care about you so much—this is the passion of God burning inside me! I promised your hand in marriage to Christ, presented you as a pure virgin to her husband. And now I’m afraid that exactly as the Snake seduced Eve with his smooth patter, you are being lured away from the simple purity of your love for Christ.
4-6 It seems that if someone shows up preaching quite another Jesus than we preached—different spirit, different message—you put up with him quite nicely. But if you put up with these big-shot “apostles,” why can’t you put up with simple me? I’m as good as they are. It’s true that I don’t have their voice, haven’t mastered that smooth eloquence that impresses you so much. But when I do open my mouth, I at least know what I’m talking about. We haven’t kept anything back. We let you in on everything.

Paul refers to “Big-shot” apostles that came to Corinth after him and disparaged him.  These others preached a different word about Jesus.  They were smooth talkers offering a flashy, polished presentation. They claimed that they had received visions from God which enabled them to speak as spiritual authorities.
Listen to Paul’s response to this in 2 Corinthians 12:1-5. 
It is necessary to boast; nothing is to be gained by it, but I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. I know a person in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows. And I know that such a person—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows— was caught up into Paradise and heard things that are not to be told, that no mortal is permitted to repeat. On behalf of such a one I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses.

          Paul says, “I know ‘a person,’” and from the context it is clear he is talking about himself.  He is the one who had the vision of Heaven fourteen years prior.  Many different people in our time have claimed to have died and gone to Heaven and then come back to life.  A boy in the Midwest had angelic visits and his visions were made into a book and a movie.  In this sensationalized cases, what is seen in Heaven is always reported and hyped.
          Paul says he cannot be sure that he was taken in the body or the spirit.  He saw and heard things but was forbidden to share it.  In the book of Revelation, John is commanded to write and share all that he witnesses.  Paul, on a similar journey, is silenced and he heeds that command.  He heard things no mortal is permitted to repeat. 
          He only raises the point of his vision to show that he has what these competing apostles claim to have had – supernatural experiences and divine visions.  He can match them boast for boast.  Whatever they have done, he has done more in terms of seeing and knowing God.
          However, look at verse 5.  Highlight it, underline it, and remember it.  This sets the condition for our spirituality and how we see ourselves and the experiences in our lives.
          “On my own behalf, I will not boast except for my weaknesses.” 

          He did not name himself when he referred to a spiritual journey through the third Heaven even though most experts believe he is obviously talking about himself.  He distanced himself.  He did not report what was seen in that vision even though people are usually quick to trumpet their divine experiences as recent stories have shown.  Instead of bragging the way the “big shot apostles did,” Paul paradoxically said, “I refrain from boasting so that no one may think better of me than what is seen in me or heard from me”(v.6).
          Lest Paul be tempted, he says in the next verse that the Lord gave him a thorn in the flesh, a messenger from Satan.  We don’t know what this was.  Commentators have speculated about it and tried to determine it through vague references in other letters of Paul.  We simply do not know what the thorn was that plagued him.
          It was so bad, he said it was of Satan.  Yet, he also said it was given by the Lord Jesus as a means of keeping him humble.  He asked God to remove it.  Three times, he begged God to take it away.  The only response he received is that the grace of Jesus is all he needs and that power of the Lord is made perfect in weakness. 
          How do we keep our faith when we have a great struggle or we suffer, or we have a need or a desire, and we pray and either God doesn’t answer or says “No?”  In that how do we joyfully sustain our faith and live as disciples of Jesus?
          Paul had this very experience.  Something he described as a thorn in his flesh and as a tormenting messenger of Satan, ate him up.  Not only did Jesus not relieve this bother.  Paul says Jesus sent it to keep him humble and told him, “My grace is sufficient for you.”  It is about this that Paul boasts!
          He intentionally distances himself from self-promotion.  Instead, he gladly boasts in the thing that is seemingly the least likely cause for such confidence.  “I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.  I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong” (12:9, 10).

Unanswered prayer can lead to a crisis of faith.  I do not suggest that your unanswered prayer was God’s way of keeping you humble in the way Paul said Jesus gave him a thorn to keep him humble.
Two equally qualified students apply to Harvard.  Both pray.  One gets in.  The other goes to Appalachian State.  She is disappointed, but she discovers grace from Christ in Boone, North Carolina that she may or may not have discovered in Boston because Jesus’ grace is what she needs more than anything. 
Your husband is in the hospital and shares a room with another man who also has cancer.  You pray for your husband and the other’s wife prays for him.  They are both there so long, soon you are praying for both men and so is the other man’s wife.  The other man shows improvement, goes home, returns to Health.  Your husband dies.  I don’t know why it when one way for one and the other for you.  No one can say, from God’s perspective why.  But in your sorrow, you meet God.  You find that His grace will carry you until you meet your beloved in the resurrection.  God’s grace walks you through the seasons of grief and you find joy in life again.
I started by asking, think of a time in life you prayed for something, but did not receive it. 
What are we praying for in our lives today?  A new job?  A baby?  Healing for someone we love?  A broken relationship to mended, forgiveness given? 
Pray in the hope that the prayers will be answered.  I don’t how it will go, but pray as Paul did, expectantly, believing God hears us and loves us.  
We stand in our brokenness and weakness and we pray.  No matter happens, in our brokenness and weakness, we meet Jesus, the giver of grace.  Jesus gives us grace to have joy in life, in the ups and even the downs.  In triumph and sorrow, we have him and we know it.  We can feel it. 
Thus we end with invitation.  This is a time of prayer.  Do what Paul did.  Bring your heaviest burdens to Him.  Tell God about the thorn in your flesh.  And receive from Him the grace He has for you.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Prayer for the Candidates' Families

I was at the YMCA on the treadmill, 27 minutes of jogging and walking (more walking than jogging).  Then there was the session on the rowing machine, around 10-12 minutes.  In the work-out room there is a large TV constantly running CNN. 
I had headphones on (David Crowder, in case you care), so I could not hear the program.  But even without sound it was clear that we were watching Chris Christie’s announcement that he is running for president.  The entire time I was exercising, Christie was on the stage, giving his announcement speech.  His family, wife, two sons, two daughters were with him on the stage the entire time. 
I don’t know anything about his children, but for the most part, I thought they looked incredibly uncomfortable, especially the younger son.  He appears to be about my son’s age, an early adolescent.  My teenager is a great kid, but like all boys at that age where manhood is in sight but not yet reached, he is full of uncertainty.  How to stand; how to talk to adults; how to talk to girls; how to deal with his rapidly changing body; it is all awkward.  It is that way for any 13-year-old.
I cannot imagine my son standing on the stage with me while I speak.  But there this kid was.  Occasionally he tried to force his face into a smile.  Most of the time, he clumsily tried to look interested when in fact his eyes communicated this thought.  I would rather be anywhere than here.  I think my son has the same thought when he has to sit through my sermons.  He doesn’t complain about it but my guess is sitting still and listening to an “old guy” talk is not his favorite thing, even when the “old guy” is his dad. 
I saw this and I felt so bad for this young man.  As I mentioned, I do not know Chris Christie.  I do not know his relationship with his kids.  I hope they have a great relationship.  I hope his kids are really proud of their dad.  But that doesn’t mean they have to be excited about the dynamics and workings of politics.  Maybe, I misread that kid’s facial expressions.  Maybe he loved being up there.  It didn’t look like it.  I thought he looked miserable. 
Every family in the race for the presidency will be examined under the public’s microscope.  That intense scrutiny will disqualify many candidates before the primaries even begin.  When the pressure forces them to drop out, I will be happy for their children and spouses.  Those who endure the spotlights and the daggers thrown by the opposing party and the biased press will then be pilloried even more.  When that happens, pray for them and do it more than once.
I don’t care what your politics are.  When you hear a talking head on TV critique a female candidate’s physical attractiveness or the attractiveness of a male candidate’s wife, then pray for the woman.   When you hear some commentator shred the reputation of a candidate’s child, even if that child did something stupid, even if that child is over 20, pray for the entire family.  I looked into the eyes of Chris Christie’s son (as much as you can look into the eyes of someone on TV) and I just thought our feeding-frenzy media in America is so wrong. 
Pray for Clinton’s family, Obama’s family, Bush’s family, Christie’s family and all the families of the leading politicians in America.  They sacrifice so much. 
I often hear Christians, especially fundamentalists, call for prayer for America.  They see moral decline, they see new laws about marriage, they see conflicts with religious groups that are not Christian, and they become fearful that American is no longer a Christian nation.
The prayers go like this:
Oh God, bless this land.
Oh Lord, save us from destruction.  (And I ask, who, again, is destroying us?)
Dear God, lead this country back to you.  (And I ask, is America going to be constituted as a nation in the Kingdom of God?)

To me, these prayers for America are vague.  I don’t know God feels about nondescript prayer.  I don’t think it helps.
I urge you to join me in a specific prayer.  Pray for Chris Christie’s younger son, that God would help him survive the rigors of his father’s presidential run, however long it lasts.  Pray that God will protect this kid from falling into dysfunction under the glare of the public spotlight.
Pray for all the families of the candidates.  When you see a political commentator on TV say something completely inappropriate and cruel about a candidate’s family, pray for that commentator.  Ask God to show that person compassion and in being show compassion, maybe the individual will learn how to show some himself.
Pray.  Please pray and pray specific prayers.  I don’t know what good the prayers will do for America.  But, I want Chris Christie’s kid to have a good year.  I care about him.  He is going to need God’s help. Pray for him.