Today I want to talk to you heart to heart, citizento citizen. If you've been listening to BreakPointover the past few days, you've heard me say thatvoting is a sacred duty -- and one, by the way, Icould not fulfill for almost three decades because ofmy Watergate conviction.

But a few weeks ago my right to vote was restored,and today I'm casting my first vote in twenty-eightyears. I can't describe how thrilled I am to be ableto shoulder the duty and enjoy the privilege ofhelping choose our leaders.

It's a duty all Christians ought to view as sacred.God, after all, ordains our leaders. In the OldTestament, we read of Moses, who told the Israelitesto pick leaders who feared God and loved justice --men who would not show partiality or accept a bribe.

The New Testament picks up this theme: In Romans,we're told to obey the government God ordains torestrain evil and to promote good. Again, thisrequires lawmakers committed to justice.

At one time, God sent servants to pick the leaders hewanted, like Samuel picking David. But indemocracies, he uses you and me. He expects us to usegodly discernment to choose men and women ofcharacter -- lawmakers who will ponder the commandsof the lawgiver before casting a vote.

I admit -- choosing good leaders is not so easy thistime around. Campaign promises are an Americantradition, but this year, promises were the campaign.Candidates outdid themselves pandering to our petcauses while pussyfooting around great issues.

Thus, we heard a lot of dumbed-down discourse abouthow some other taxpayer would get stuck with ourprescription drug bills or suffer the biggest taxbite. But matters that grieve God's heart and damageour culture -- abortion, divorce, illegitimacy,euthanasia, gay marriage -- these issues have gottenshort political shrift.

The sad truth is that the focus group, poll-driven,what's-in-it-for-me approach works. But this kind ofcampaigning creates not leaders, but followers. Notcitizens, but consumers. It appeals not to nobility,but to narcissism. And, once elected, how does apandering, poll-driven president summon people toeven the routine burdens of citizenship, let aloneheroic efforts, if a crisis demands them?

The answer is: He can't. He has no mandate.

So that's why we need public servants who will notonly fear God and follow righteousness, but who willinspire others to do the same. Leaders who will giveus what we need, not what we want. Most of all --given how much of our culture mocks both God andGod's morality -- we need leaders who will stiffenAmerica's moral spine and cause us to rise above ourown self-interest.

You and I have to sift through all the rhetoric andprayerfully ask God for both wisdom and courage:wisdom to choose leaders who will carry out God'spurposes for government, and courage to look beyondour own well-pandered noses.

We must vote, not for those who promise the most, butfor those who will deal courageously with thisnation's fundamental moral needs -- men and womenguided by transcendent truth, not transparentpandering.

And once you figure out who to vote for, get out anddo it -- even if it is raining, or the polls areclosing, or television is calling the election. Payno attention. Go vote.

And may God give us the leaders we need, not the oneswe deserve.