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The Florida primary and spiritual awakening

Dr. Jim Denison is a cultural apologist who helps people respond biblically and redemptively to the vital issues of our day. He is also the co-founder and Chief Vision Officer of the Denison Forum, a Dallas-based nonprofit that comments on current issues through a biblical lens.

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A supporter of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney cheers as Romney appears at his Florida primary night rally in Tampa, Florida January 31, 2012 (Credit: Reuters/Steve Nesius)

Mitt Romney’s decisive victory in Florida last night put him in a “commanding position” in the race, according to today’s Washington Post.  Undeterred, Newt Gingrich vows to fight on under the mantra, “46 states to go.”

Meanwhile, Stephen Colbert continues to make political news.  The comedian recently launched a satirical super PAC called “Americans For a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow.” This week, the organization notified the Federal Election Commission that it has raised more than $1 million.  Its contributors apparently prefer to support fake candidates over real politicians.

It’s not hard to figure out why.  An analysis of the Florida primary indicates that 92% of the ads airing in the state this past week were negative.  Dave Barry, the Miami Herald columnist, has this advice for fellow Floridians: “As soon as you know that a campaign is going to hit Florida, you should go to Home Depot and buy sheets of plywood three-quarters of an inch thick.  You should take these home, cut them to size, and then, using a hammer and nails, fasten them firmly to every TV screen in your home.”

Pundits are likening the race to a “circular firing squad” as the candidates shoot each other and leave no one unmaimed.  Are you frustrated with the tone of politics in our day?  What does its negativity say about our culture?

I think the nature of the campaign reflects the pessimism of our country in these days.  According to recent surveys, 69% of us think America is “in decline,” while 83% of us worry about the future of the nation.  How could God redeem the frustration and fear so many of us feel?

On Tuesday of Holy Week, Jesus was teaching in the temple courts.  Herod’s Temple was the most magnificent worship structure the nation had ever seen; a single stone in the Western Wall weighs more than a 747 jetliner.  But our Lord knew that the city’s future was in peril: “Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down” (Matthew 24:3).  His prediction was fulfilled when Titus and the Roman army destroyed the Holy City in A.D. 70.

What good would come from this disaster?  During such chaos and crisis, “the gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations” (v. 14).  Desperate for hope, people would turn to the only true King.  Millions would hear and accept the gospel of grace.  And God would redeem disaster for his glory and their good.

Every spiritual awakening in American history has been preceded by desperation.  Could God be using the discouragement of these days to lead our people to himself?  Would you join me in praying every day for such a transforming movement of his Spirit?