Writing on President Bush's faith has almost become a new beat at many news services. Several new articles run every week. Most of these stories focus on how his Christian beliefs affect his policies and leadership. Last week, Newsweek devoted its cover story to "Bush and God."
But how has the president's faith changed the man? James Robison, a Texas preacher and spiritual adviser to Bush, says the change has been great. In fact, he says he has never seen conversion change a person's life more than it did for George W. Bush.
Robison, president of Life Outreach International and host of the TV show Life Today, is the author of The Absolutes: Freedom's Only Hope (Tyndale). In the book, Robison looks at why America's leadership needs to embrace biblical ideals if the country is to remain strong.
You say in The Absolutes that we're at a moment of truth as a nation. What do you mean?
I realized that this nation was headed for some difficult days due to the fact that we were making choices void of judgment, void of wisdom. I could see greed on the prowl. I could see relativism becoming the order of the day. If we don't move away from relativism and back to the absolute principles upon which the nation was solidly founded and established, we would have a very instable, insecure, and indefinite future.
I began writing the book four years ago. I was well into the writing of it prior to September the 11th. I had written the chapter "Greed Destroys" before Enron. I knew we were in trouble and actually began sharing these principles with a man that I had once not even cared for, and that's George W. Bush.
I visited with him one day and realized that this man had an encounter with God that was so profound. He said a year or two ago that had he not had this encounter with God, he'd be sitting in a bar in Texas. But as a result of an encounter with God, he's in the White House.
How did this encounter with God change him?
The man was changed totally, miraculously, and supernaturally. He has never tried to market "his faith," he has never been ashamed of it, and never denied it. But it has transformed every area of his life, causing people who've been around him forever to notice not only what happened but what continues to happen.
The Texas governor, Rick Perry, heard me once at a prayer meeting say that the greatest change I have ever seen in an individual came in the life of George W. Bush. The next day he told me, "I've known this man a long time and I was his lieutenant governor. And I've known his family. I'm going to tell you this: It took a big, big God to change a man like God changed George W. Bush."
He said that it was also the greatest life change he'd ever seen. I'll tell you, the man had an encounter. Is he going to be flawless? Is he going to be a man who never makes a mistake? No. He will. But he's willing to admit it. He walks in humility. The man is teachable.
My wife and I met with him in the Oval Office late last fall, and we marveled at how broken he is before the Lord and how he's seeking God. That's the reason it is important for us to pray for him, because he really is seeking to hear the Lord and know and do his will.
What do Christians need to understand about how these absolutes integrate into national leadership?
The thing we've got to understand is that when you really consider the true absolutes, they're not only the standard of measure, but they're the standard by which we build our life, our relationship, and our future. We cannot force these principles on others. We have to adopt them into our life. We have to so adopt them that they transform our life and that the radiant glow of that transformed life and light transforms others who behold it.
I wrote this book because I love this country and because I love people all over the world. I believe America is to be a light. And I believe God has blessed us beyond any nation ever in human history. But if we're going to experience comfort, security, and freedom, if we are going to enjoy the liberties that we have had in the past, it will only be because we return to the absolutes and not because we force them on others.
Our hope is the Lord. We're going to have to have his wisdom. We either return to God with our whole heart in this country—and that doesn't mean the whole population, but it does mean the general thinking in this country and the thinking of our leadership—or comfort, as we have known it, and security and peace will be a thing of the past.
The Lord says you'll find him when you seek him with your whole heart. And when we know the truth, and we abide in it, and we live in it, it makes us free. Freedom is a reality because of biblical absolute principles. We've got to come back to them or I'm telling you, we don't have a future.
How did you become a follower of Jesus?
I don't have a background conducive to becoming a Christian. I'm actually the product of a forced sexual relationship. My mother, a 40-year-old practical nurse, was raped by the alcoholic son of the elderly man she was caring for. This was 1943. She tried to have an abortion, but the doctor refused, saying it wasn't right. The woman went home, prayed, and said that God told her to have this baby. She said he told her, "The baby will bring joy to the world."
When she gave birth, she named me Joy. But thank God, upon discovering I was a boy, she changed my name to James. I had a tough enough row to hoe without having to be carrying that name around like a boy named Sue.
I had a tough start. She put an ad in the paper and asked for someone to care for me. I was taken into the home of a Baptist pastor and his wife. They cared for me until I was 5. They thought they were going to get to adopt, but my mother never signed the papers for adoption. She took me from them when I was 5 and we literally hitchhiked across Texas. She had no money.
I lived in obscurity and poverty for the next 10 years, moving 17 times. We would live behind somebody's place or in an alley or on the backside of a dump or a dirty river. We had nothing. It was 10 percent white where I lived. I got beat up everyday. I was always in trouble.
So what was the point of your actual conversion?
My alcoholic father, who had raped my mother, actually came back in our lives when I was a teenager. He became a total hell on earth. It was a very dangerous situation. I stayed with the pastor and his wife for a week to get away.
During that week they really prayed for me in their church. When I came to the service, teenagers gave their witness of how Christ had changed their lives. That night I was touched by God. I've never had a father. But somehow I knew in my heart that if I committed my life to God he would say of me, I am pleased. I wanted so bad for someone to be pleased with me.
I gave him my life. He did change my life as a teenage boy. A few years later, he called me to preach.
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