Today I want to talk to you heart to heart, citizen to citizen. If you've been listening to BreakPoint over the past few days, you've heard me say that voting is a sacred duty -- and one, by the way, I could not fulfill for almost three decades because of my Watergate conviction.

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

It's a duty all Christians ought to view as sacred. God, after all, ordains our leaders. In the Old Testament, we read of Moses, who told the Israelites to 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 to restrain evil and to promote good. Again, this requires lawmakers committed to justice.

At one time, God sent servants to pick the leaders he wanted, like Samuel picking David. But in democracies, he uses you and me. He expects us to use godly discernment to choose men and women of character -- lawmakers who will ponder the commands of the lawgiver before casting a vote.

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

Thus, we heard a lot of dumbed-down discourse about how some other taxpayer would get stuck with our prescription drug bills or suffer the biggest tax bite. But matters that grieve God's heart and damage our culture -- abortion, divorce, illegitimacy, euthanasia, gay marriage -- these issues have gotten short political shrift.

The sad truth is that the focus group, poll-driven, what's-in-it-for-me approach works. But this kind of campaigning creates not leaders, but followers. Not citizens, but consumers. It appeals not to nobility, but to narcissism. And, once elected, how does a pandering, poll-driven president summon people to even the routine burdens of citizenship, let alone heroic 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 not only fear God and follow righteousness, but who will inspire others to do the same. Leaders who will give us what we need, not what we want. Most of all -- given how much of our culture mocks both God and God's morality -- we need leaders who will stiffen America's moral spine and cause us to rise above our own self-interest.

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

We must vote, not for those who promise the most, but for those who will deal courageously with this nation's fundamental moral needs -- men and women guided by transcendent truth, not transparent pandering.

And once you figure out who to vote for, get out and do it -- even if it is raining, or the polls are closing, or television is calling the election. Pay no attention. Go vote.

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

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