ObamaLast week saw the swearing in of the 44th leader of the United States of America as Barack Obama officially began his role as president.

President Obama's inauguration and speech can be viewed on You Tube by clicking here. A full transcript of his address is available from the New York Times web site (click here).

Not everyone likes Obama. There are concerns about his policies on a number of important issues, including abortion (see Jim Wallace's recent article on this). President Obama is not perfect. He is not the messiah. He needs our prayers and God's wisdom. He plays a crucial role at this important time in world history.

Overall, I thought President Obama's inauguration speech was very inspiring. Here are some of the things I really liked about it …

  1. Obama addresses the crucial issues head on – war, the economy, health care, education, the environment, energy, nuclear threat, terrorism, and world poverty. He names the challenges and refuses to ignore them. He brings them right out into the open where they can be discussed and where decisions can be made. Leaders must always clearly define the current reality. 

  2. Obama offers hope over fear. He said, "… the challenges are real, they are serious, and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time … but .. they will be met." People need hope and leaders need to be dispensers of hope. See the music video 'Yes We Can' for an example of hope-filled words.

  3. Obama has an global interest and perspective, which is essential for a leader of one of the most powerful nations of earth. No doubt, his Kenyan father and the number of years he lived in Indonesia have helped this. Although I love America and spent 10 very enjoyable years of my life there, there is a still a tendency in American culture to be somewhat insular and to think that America is the world. The fact that they call their national baseball finals the 'World Series'  is a classic illustration of this. The fact that fewer than 10% of Americans have a passport or have traveled outside of the US also doesn't help (a statistic from the book The Extreme Futureby James Canton, PhD). I believe that Obama will help to change this.

  4. Obama calls people to a spirit of service – "a willingness to find meaning in something greater than ourselves."  It's a call to kindness, selflessness, honesty, hard work, loyalty, tolerance, courage, and responsibility. Government and leaders can only do so much. People must rise to the challenges of their time and be the kind of people that make the world a great place to live.

  5. Obama seeks to lead for the 'common good'. He said, "We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and nonbelievers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this earth." As the president of an entire nation, his role is to create an environment where diversity is valued, where religious freedom is preserved, and where open dialog can take place. Christians currently living in places where there is no freedom of religion would love to hear this said by national leaders.

  6. Finally, Obama speaks with confidence but without arrogance. He models a graciousness and a humility that is important for all leaders. He honours the past. He acknowledges God. He makes it clear that government exists to serve the people and not the other way around.

If you'd like to know more about who Barack Obama is, where he has come from, what makes him tick, and what his policies are, then I'd recommend his book The Audacity of Hope.

P.S. Pastor Rick Warren from California's Saddleback Church prayed at President Obama's inauguration. For responses to his prayer, click here.

9 thoughts on “President Obama’s Speech

  1. Hi Mark, I think that was a good summary of Obama’s speech. I was inspired too and see him as one who make a big difference in the US and the world as a whole. I agree he does need our prayers and God’s wisdom.
    God Bless,

  2. Hi Mark, thanks for the reflection on Obama’s Inaugural speech. While his overall speech was good and the fact that he had Rick Warren categorically delcaring America’s allegiance to Yeshua through prayer was admirable. But Obama did lack the punch he posessed in comparison to other speeches he made earlier. May be the mess up in the oath put him off a bit!! I also felt that the justice gave him a bit of pay back for the voting against him several years ago. Thus, the reason to speak too fast on oath.
    Some folks consider Obama as the hope of the world; while Rick Warren re-affirmed and i trust every heard it well, that Jesus Christ is indeed the hope of the world for peace and prosperity.
    Blessings, James Chacko

  3. Hello Mark!
    Thanks for your thoughts on President Obama.
    To be absolutely honest, I do not know much about Obama. However, his stand on abortion leaves much to be desired. How can a President claimed to a Christian when he condone abortion?
    Killing babies is nothing short of murder. Poor defenceless innocent babies in their mothers’ wombs being murdered.
    The shedding of innocent blood is one of the seven things that God hates. Proverb 6:17
    Anyway, we should pray for Obama that he would not give in to this abomination. Lest he perish.
    Just my opinion.
    Stephen Chia

  4. Thanks Mark for articulating the case of Obama so well. I can see that you are more than just a little excited and inspired by this great leader of our time!
    In his first inaugural address President Roosevelt who faced an economy on the brink of depression said- “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself”. While economists will proffer myriad different reasons for how we got into the current state of financial crisis in the first place, all of them will agree on one thing- it is Fear for the future that is holding us there. Consequently the world needs a leader who inspires people to look beyond the present physical appearance of scarcity and to act with faith in a future of abundance for all. I believe that the world has been sent Barrack Obama for this reason.
    Watching Barack Obama’s inauguration the other night(4am) I couldn’t help but conclude that his election to the highest office in America was an act of God delivered through the ballot. When I look at some of the leaders God chose in the Bible they appear to have one common characteristic. God consistently seemed to choose the least likely most unqualified candidates to lead His people.
    Moses was a stammering ex-murderer whose only experience at leadership was herding goats for 40 years on the edge of the desert. In fact he had such little confidence in his ability to lead that God had to virtually compel him. Yet he successfully led Gods people out of a crisis from the land of Egypt and through crisis after crisis in the desert to the edge of the promised land at the age of eighty with nothing more than a stick!
    Gideon was a coward who hid from the Midianites in order to press his grain. Yet God called him a mighty man of valour and with barely 300 men he faced armies massively greater than his- and yes- he defeated them. Once again God chose a non-descript rather than someone highly qualified to lead His people out of a crisis.
    Perhaps the best example of Gods raising a social nobody to the level of a great leader was that of David. David was the least likely of all his brothers to be anointed. He wasn’t even considered by his own father Jesse when Samuel came to his house to select Israel’s next king. Surely there were better qualified generals amongst the military academies in Israel with more experience than a sling wielding shepherd boy who could have been chosen lead!
    Somehow I cannot help but think that God has chosen Barack Obama in the same vein. Two years ago on almost this very day when he announced that he was running for president he was probably the least likely of all the candidates in the field.
    Obama was a first term African American senator(there were only 3 in the entire history of the US up to that time) with absolutely no executive or for that matter any leadership experience of significance. No one who has ever become president in the last 232 years (including Jefferson) has been as unknown and as apparently unqualified.
    Worse, America was at war with Iraq and Al Qaida and the villains of the war had the names of Hussein and Osama both of which sounded remarkably similar to Barack Hussein Obama. Truly from a marketing perspective he was a disaster brand.
    Worse still was that he faced heavyweight opponents like Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden and John Edwards for the Democratic party nomination all of whom were well known to the American electorate. NO one seriously gave him a chance (except TIME) of lasting even a few weeks into the campaign.
    Worst of all America was facing the greatest financial crisis since 1929 and mired down in two wars overseas! Surely conventional wisdom would opt for someone with experience who had a proven past record.
    Yet not only did Obama prevail despite almost everything against him but he decisively trounced John McCain who was considered a war hero! And in the process he has galvanised America to believe “Yes We Can” to a brighter future! We are witnessing the rise of a great leader of possibly Biblical proportion in our generation! Our God is not confined to acting within the systems of man!
    I believe that America is truly a blessed country which God has favoured abundantly. And it is because as a nation they have collectively honoured Him. NO other nation acknowledges our God on their currency notes. When the Pilgrim Fathers landed on American soil the first thing they did was fall on their knees and thank God. No other nation has set aside a special day in the year to honour and thank Him (except Canada-I once heard someone say rather facetiously that Canada has a day of thanksgiving for having America as its neighbour).
    Today Obama faces possibly the greatest challenges any president has ever had to face since George Washington. Not even Roosevelt or Lincoln had such an enormity of problems! That is why I believe that God in His infinite mercy has specially chosen Barack Obama(after another burning Bush)!

  5. Hi Mark,
    Just occured to me:
    What do Moses and Barack Obama have in common?
    Answer: Both had to speak to a Bush before taking the reins of leadership
    God Bless
    (just kidding of course)

  6. Thanks Mark,
    A great summary and I’ll definitely be praying for President Obama, especially for him to change his view and way forward for those areas/issues/policies which are not aligned with our Christian faith.
    As an FYI – your comment ‘still a tendency in American culture to be somewhat insular and to think that America is the world. The fact that they call their national baseball finals the ‘World Series’ is a classic illustration of this’ gave me the shivers 🙂 I was in Dallas and mentioned the same topic to support my view American’s are somewhat centric and naive of cultures and locations outside of the USA. I was immediately shot down as I was told the ‘World Series’ is a US competition and so called because many years ago it was sponsored by a newpaper called ‘The World’. Fortunately for me I was in a friendly environment.

  7. Interesting background, David.
    What is a bit funny is that although the Americans invented baseball, I think Japan tends to win most of the gold medals for that sport in the Olympics nowadays!

  8. Mark,
    It was certainly an historic moment for us here in the US. YES! Quite a speech. But as you know, history is filled with sad chapters of men & women who delivered convincing, inspiring, motivated speeches to gain leadership and rally support then lead their forces, organizations, churches, nations into ruin. So far there is very little to rejoice over in the Obama presidency so far. He does wear cool watches. But in four years we will be a much poorer nation, deeper in debt than ever, far more vulnerable to our enemies and therefore less available to our friends (like Australia), and more murderous worldwide as we restore and increase funding for international abortions. The world watched and wept for joy at the changing face of American politics. They applauded the victor and enjoyed the drama. Obama deserves the Oscar for best actor this year for sure. PLEASE PLEASE pray for our nation and for the salvation of our President and his lovely wife and children. Pray that America is turned back to decency and justice in this generation. Blessings on you Mark. Grace & Peace. Bill Welsh (And say hi to my good friend Pete Claproth)

Leave a Reply