It Happened in January

January 1, 1863 – Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

January 2, 1788 – Georgia entered the Union.

January 3, 1959 – Alaska became the 49th state in America.

January 4, 1989 – The United States shot down two Libyan fighters.

January 5, 1933 – President Calvin Coolidge died.

January 6, 1919 – President Theodore Roosevelt died.

January 7, 1789 – George Washington won the first presidential election.

January 8, 1814 – General Andrew Jackson led American forces to a win in the Battle of New Orleans to end the War of 1812.

January 9, 1861 – Mississippi seceded from the Union.

January 10, 1933 – The Holocaust began.

January 11, 1757 – Alexander Hamilton was born.

January 12, 1722 – The Alamo was built.

January 13, 1969 – The Beatles released their album, Yellow Submarine.

January 14, 1914 – Henry Ford introduced the assembly line.

January 15, 1967 – The Green Bay Packers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs in the first Super Bowl.

January 16, 1920 – Prohibition began.

January 17, 1950 – Brinks, Inc. reported a robbery of $2.8 million.

January 18, 1862 – President John Tyler died.

January 19, 1955 – President Eisenhower held the first televised presidential news conference.

January 20, 1981 – Iran released 52 American hostages.

January 21, 1977 – President Jimmy Carter pardoned all Vietnam draft evaders.

January 22, 1973 – On the day that President Lyndon Johnson died, the Supreme Court issued the Roe v. Wade decision.

January 23, 1789 – Georgetown University was founded.

January 24, 1848 – Gold was discovered in California.

January 25, 1949 – The first Emmy Awards were held.

January 26, 1870 – Virginia was readmitted to the Union.

January 27, 1880 – Thomas Edison invented the light bulb.

January 28, 1986 – The Space Shuttle Challenger exploded after take-off.

January 29, 1845 – Edgar Allan Poe published The Raven.

January 30, 1933 – Adolf Hitler became Chancellor of Germany.

January 31, 1861 – Robert E. Lee was named General-in-Chief of the Confederate Army.

Why Your New Year’s Resolutions Will Fail

Tomorrow is January 1, and it is easy to get caught up in the excitement of the new year and new opportunities. It’s that time again, America. It’s time for New Year’s resolutions. But Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist at Harvard Business School, warns your resolutions are very unlikely to come true and may do more harm than good.

In her new book, Presence, Cuddy writes, “We’re really bad at setting reasonable goals. And when we don’t meet an unreasonable goal, we fill ourselves with feelings of anxiety and lower our self-worth.” Dr. Cuddy offers four common mistakes with New Year’s resolutions.

1. They deal with absolutes.

“People are making absolute statements about what they’re going to do, and that’s setting them up for failure immediately,” Cuddy says, “because they’re not always going to go to the gym three times a week.” Circumstances beyond a person’s control will inevitably come between him and his absolute goals. But Cuddy warns to avoid the other extreme, one of setting vague and distant goals, such as “I’m going to get a job,” because that lacks specificity.

2. They are framed by negativity.

People tend to focus on things they want to change about themselves and things they don’t like about themselves. Cuddy argues, “When you do this, you’re eliciting in yourself negative emotions. Some negative emotions are motivating, but for the most part, they’re not.” It is better to attain “healthy eating,” rather than “no junk food.”

3. They are focused on the outcome and not the process.

Cuddy writes, “If you’re focused on walking 100 miles, and you’re constantly focused on that number, it’s going to be pretty demoralizing most of the way. You’re going to feel like a failure for so much of that because the comparison is between where I am now versus where I want to be.” Our best long-term outcomes are produced by lifestyle changes, not setting goals that are way out there.

4. They are reliant on outside forces.

It is unwise to set a goal to get a promotion at work. That is dependent on outside forces over which we have no control. Cuddy advocates for “self-nudging,” a process of constantly setting small goals in lieu of large ones. As a personal example, she says one of her goals last year was “to fall in love with running,” rather than something like “to go running three days each week.” As a natural byproduct of this approach, her pace began to pick up. And she didn’t even have to shame herself into getting into better shape.

Goals are a good thing. The man who aims for nothing will always hit it. Nehemiah had a goal to build a wall. Joshua had a goal to enter the promised land. Noah had a goal to build a boat. Solomon had a goal to build a temple. Jesus has a goal to build the kingdom. So go ahead – set goals. But in the process, remember that God numbers your days. It is good to think about where you want to be in one year. But it is even better to do something about it today.

Ken Johnson, Only Pitcher to Lose No-hitter, Dies at 82

Ken Johnson did something no one has ever done. He pitched a no-hitter . . . and lost. It happened on April 23, 1964 at Colt Stadium in Houston. Pitching for the Colt .45s (now Astros), he gave up no hits against the Cincinnati Reds. The game’s only run was scored in the ninth inning. Pete Rose reached second base on an error by Johnson. He went to third on a ground out and then scored on another error, this one by the great Nellie Fox, playing second base. Reds’ pitcher Joe Nuxhall retired the side in the bottom of the ninth to make Johnson a no-hit loser.

Johnson had a successful 13-year career pitching for the Kansas City Athletics (1958-61), Cincinnati Reds (1961), Houston Colt .45s/Astros (1962-65), Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves (1965-69), New York Yankees (1969), Chicago Cubs (1969), and Montreal Expos (1970). With a career ERA of 3.46 and 1,042 strikeouts, Johnson had a record of 91-106, playing mostly for poor teams. But it was his one loss in the first month of the season in 1964 that Johnson is known for. It was the day that perfect wasn’t good enough.

By pitching a no-hitter, Ken Johnson did something Grover Cleveland Alexander, Lefty Grove, Steve Carlton, Greg Maddux, and Pedro Martinez never accomplished. He didn’t give up a hit. On April 23, 1964 Kenneth Travis Johnson was perfect. But perfect wasn’t good enough. It would have been, but for a couple of unintended errors, one by himself.

Wise old Solomon said, “There is no one on earth who is righteous” (Ecclesiastes 7:20). Paul said, “There is none righteous, not even one” (Romans 3:10). It took President William Howard Taft less than two months in office to conclude, “We are all imperfect. We can expect nothing more.” He went on, in his Washington address of May 8, 1909, to lower the bar of high expectations for his administration.

In life, we all strike out. In baseball, Babe Ruth did it more than anyone. We all fail. Billy Graham, speaking to David Frost, used “failure” as the one word that best described his life. And when we aren’t committing gross sins (whatever those are), we still make errors. Another former Houston Astro, Joaquin Andujar, famously said, “In America, one word says it all – ‘you never know.'”

In life, one word says it all – “perfect isn’t good enough.” Because we all make errors, we are at risk of losing even the best-pitched game. But we have something Ken Johnson didn’t have 51 years ago. We have a God who gets the last at bat. And no matter the mess we have made of our lives, God is the ultimate clean-up hitter. The lesson of Ken Johnson is that good isn’t good enough, and perfect isn’t even good enough. But God is.

Battle of Wounded Knee – 125 Years Ago Today

On December 29, 1890, in the final chapter of America’s long Indian wars, the U.S. Cavalry killed 146 Sioux at Wounded Knee on the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota. Throughout 1890, the U.S. government worried about the increasing influence at Pine Ridge of the Ghost Dance spiritual movement, which taught that Indians had been defeated and confined to reservations because they had angered the gods by abandoning their traditional customs. Many Sioux believed that if they practiced the Ghost Dance and rejected the ways of the white man, the gods would create the world anew and destroy all nonbelievers, including non-Indians. On December 29, the U.S. Army’s 7th cavalry surrounded a band of Ghost Dancers under the Sioux Chief Big Foot near Wounded Knee Creek and demanded they surrender their weapons. As that was happening, a fight broke out between an Indian and a U.S. soldier and a shot was fired, although it’s unclear from which side. A brutal massacre followed, in which it’s estimated almost 150 Indians were killed (some historians put this number at twice as high), nearly half of them women and children. The cavalry lost 25 men.

The Battle of Wounded Knee was sparked by bad theology. The Sioux had an image of a God who was motivated by anger. Their difficult plight must have been the result of the gods’ wrath somehow. And if they danced hard enough and long enough, the gods would be appeased.

Today, millions of Christians are still dancing. We do the “good works” dance, the “go to church” dance, and the “if I only try harder” dance. If that’s where you live today, in the “dance to get God’s blessing” world, I have good news. There is nothing you can ever do that will make Him love you more than He already does. It’s not that He doesn’t want to see you dance. But rather than dancing for the blessings you hope to receive, dance because anything He can do to bless you now is nothing compared to all He has already done. God is on your side. The angels are singing and the trumpet of God will soon play, “Here comes the bride,” as the church is ushered into the eternal presence of God. You have plenty of reasons to dance. But appeasing the God of the Bible is not one of them.

The Rushmore Report: The Iowa Winner – Ted Cruz

The Iowa caucuses are just one month away – February 1. Anyone can tell you the winner on February 2. But we are better than that. We can tell you the winner of the 2016 Republican Iowa caucuses will be Senator Ted Cruz of Texas. Finishing second will be Donald Trump, and in third place will be a candidate to be named later. Don’t just listen to me, but to the veteran political reporter for the Des Moines Register, Erin Murphy. This is her story.

Ted Cruz has assembled an impressive presidential campaign structure in Iowa, veteran political observers here say, with one going so far as to describe Cruz’s campaign as perhaps “the most sophisticated” the first-in-the-nation caucus state has ever witnessed.

Because of that grassroots organization, Cruz is primed to maintain his recent surge in the polls and win the Iowa Republican caucuses in five weeks.

Cruz, the tea party firebrand and first-term U.S. senator from Texas, was the first Republican candidate to enter the presidential race, on March 23. Nine months later, he has overtaken longtime front-runner Donald Trump in multiple polls published recently in Iowa, including a 10-percentage-point lead in the highly regarded Iowa Poll.

In Iowa, Cruz has appealed to the state’s evangelical Republicans and attempted to tap into the anti-establishment sentiment that pervades among GOP voters this year. Cruz’s success also stems from a massive and innovative campaign structure, according to Iowa campaign veterans.

“Cruz has probably put together one of the most sophisticated, if not the most sophisticated, organizational efforts this state has ever seen,” said Dave Nagle, a three-term Democratic congressman and now an attorney in Waterloo.

Doug Gross, who led Mitt Romney’s 2008 presidential campaign in Iowa and has served on numerous other campaigns, called Cruz’s the best campaign operation among the 2016 candidates. “Frankly, it’s a textbook operation on how to win a caucus campaign,” Gross said.

Cruz started his Iowa campaign by solidifying support among tea party voters, the bloc that launched his election to the U.S. Senate in 2010, according to Catherine Frazier, the national press secretary for Cruz’s campaign. Then, Frazier said, Cruz courted evangelical voters, libertarians, and even moderates.

Cruz’s campaign has a chairman in all 99 counties – many with several co-chairs – more than 2,000 volunteers, and a network of pastors advocating for Cruz, according to Frazier.

Sen. Cruz has won the endorsement contest in Iowa, with the state’s top elected Republicans – U.S. Senators Charles Grassley and Joni Ernst and Governor Terry Branstad – pledging to stay neutral. That has left a trifecta to make big waves with their Cruz endorsements – Rep. Peter King, social conservative leader Bob Vander Plaats, and radio personality Steve Deace.

And Ted Cruz is peaking at the right time. Two months ago, on November 1, his polling, according to Real Clear Politics, was just 9.6 percent. He now has a commanding lead, with 30.2 percent.

Nagle concludes, “Ted Cruz is in prime position to do very well in Iowa. And he should do well on Super Tuesday. He’s the real deal.”

About the Author

Erin Murphy is a prolific writer and political analyst, steeped in Iowa politics. She is the Des Moines Bureau Chief for Lee Enterprises.

The Rushmore Report: 22 Americans Who Died in 2015

Another year has passed and this is a good time to look back on significant lives lost in 2015. One website lists over 500 people who left great legacies in their recent passing. We will narrow that list to 22. These Americans are listed in the order in which they died. May we celebrate the better nation we are because they lived among us.

January 1 – Mario Cuomo, 82, politician, Governor of New York

January 1 – Donna Douglas, 82, actress who played Elly May Clampett in “The Beverly Hillbillies”

January 3 – Edward Brooke, 95, first African American Senator, from Massachusetts

January 4 – Stuart Scott, 49, ESPN anchor

January 7 – Rod Taylor, 84, star of Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds”

January 8 – Andre Crouch, 72, gospel singer

January 23 – Ernie Banks, 83, Hall of Fame baseball player, Chicago Cubs

February 11 – Jerry Tarkanian, 84, Basketball Hall of Fame, head coach at UNLV

February 11 – Bob Simon, 73, CBS journalist who was captured in Baghdad in 1991

February 27 – Leonard Nimoy, 83, actor, Mr. Spock in “Star Trek”

April 14 – Percy Sledge, 74, singer, “When a Man Loves a Woman”

May 14 – B.B. King, 89, legendary blues musician

June 23 – Dick Van Patten, 86, actor, star of “Eight Is Enough”

July 31 – “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, 61, legendary wrestler

August 9 – Frank Gifford, 83, NFL Hall of Fame, legendary broadcaster

September 13 – Moses Malone, 60, Basketball Hall of Fame, “Chairman of the Boards”

September 19 – Jackie Collins, 77, author of 32 best-selling books

September 22 – Yogi Berra, 90, Baseball Hall of Fame, legendary New York Yankee

October 24 – Maureen O’Hara, 95, actress from the Golden Age

November 1 – Fred Thompson, 73, actor and U.S. Senator from Tennessee

November 26 – Guy V. Lewis, 93, Basketball Hall of Fame, coach at the University of Houston

December 28 – Meadowlark Lemon, 83, legendary member of the Harlem Globetrotters

The Rushmore Report: Why Does Hillary’s Security Team Carry Guns?

Hillary Clinton is campaigning on a war against gun stores, gun makers, and gun owners, yet she has spent decades of her life – perhaps the majority of her life – enjoying around-the-clock armed protection either for offices she occupied or those occupied by her husband, Bill Clinton. For example, Bill Clinton was Governor of Arkansas for 12 years (1979-81 and 1983-93). It seems fair to presume the governor and his wife enjoyed armed security and transport. And Bill Clinton’s departure from the office of governor coincided with his entrance into the White House, where he served as president from 1993 to 2001. Upon entering the White House, the armed security went to its highest levels, as the president and First Lady Mrs. Clinton were surrounded by defensive Secret Service teams, tactical response teams, and integrated law enforcement and military personnel wherever they went.

At this point, Hillary Clinton was literally living a life that was shielded from the world’s dangers by the many, many barrels of many, many guns used to maintain and project a security bubble around the first family.

And when Bill Clinton’s second presidential term ended in January 2001, Hillary Clinton’s first term as a U.S. Senator was just beginning. She served as a Senator (D-NY) from 2001 to 2009, which means she sat behind layers of armed security and oversight in the Russell Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C. for eight years.

Once Hillary Clinton’s time as a senator was over, she would have enjoyed the protection of the Secret Service detail that remains with her husband post-presidency. ABC News reports that that is a protective detail which President Obama revised in 2012, to be sure it protected wives of presidents and children of presidents – until age 16 – as well.

The bottom line – it is safe to say Hillary Clinton has spent approximately 35 years of her life with the benefit of armed security which, in some cases, would have included the advance security work of the Secret Service. Yet her current presidential campaign is framed around taking away the same benefit for average, hardworking Americans.

Clinton has made clear that she supports extending instant background checks indefinitely by changing the amount of time the FBI has to conduct them. She also wants to place new regulations on gun shows and sales that result from guns advertised online. She wants to expand the definition of domestic violence to include dating relationships and use that expanded definition to ban entire new categories of individuals from owning guns. Clinton wants to change current law to allow gun manufacturers to be sued by crime victims, and she wants gun stores to face a greater degree of regulation and oversight.

And she has been crystal clear about her intention to do many of these things via executive action if Congress refused to act. On October 16, she told an audience at Keene State College that an American-style gun ban is “worth looking at” as it pertains to gun policy in the United States.

About the Author

AWR Hawkins writes for Andrew Breitbart’s multiple websites and was a Visiting Fellow at the Russell Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal. He holds a Ph.D. in military history from Texas Tech University. He can be reached at awr@awrhawkins.com.

 

 

 

 

The Rushmore Report: Faith of the Leading Candidates

With the presidential primary season now in full force, we will review the faith of the leading candidates. For now, we will consider these political leaders: Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, and Ben Carson. For more on the other candidates, and for a far more detailed discussion on each of these candidates, go to proudamericans.org.

1. Donald Trump

In typical Trump fashion, the billionaire proclaims he will be “the greatest jobs president God ever created.” He tends to toss in God-talk that runs outside the lines a bit. But we do know a few things about his faith. First, Donald Trump is a Presbyterian, a member of Marble Collegiate Church, a reformed church once led by Norman Vincent Peale. Second, Trump is a collector of Bibles. He told CNN he houses them in “a very nice place,” and gives Bibles away to the less fortunate. Third, he rarely attends church. He goes “always on Christmas. Always on Easter. Always when there’s a major occasion.” Fourth, Trump is no fan of Islam. He told Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly we have a “Muslim problem.” He has since famously called for a temporary ban on Muslim immigrants. Fifth, he considers himself a defender of Christianity. “I will be the greatest representative of Christians they’ve had in a long time,” he says. Sixth, Trump is (now) pro-life. This is a “firm belief” he has come to in just the past year. Seventh, He does not describe a conversion experience of any kind.

In conclusion, Donald Trump is a Presbyterian who seldom attends church, but is a defender of his faith. His faith seems to inform his positions, but there is little evidence of spiritual zeal or depth to the man who has said he “has no need to ask for God’s forgiveness” in his life.

2. Hillary Clinton

Very inclusive in her tone, Mrs. Clinton has affiliated with mainstream Christianity since her youth. First, she is a Methodist. Growing up in Chicago churches, she credits her Methodist student pastor, Don Jones, with her early faith formation. Second, the former first lady often carries a New Testament in her purse. This is a private practice she has not confirmed in recent years. Third, Clinton claims prayer as a strong anchor in her life. She speaks of having a “running conversation with God.” Fourth, for Hillary Clinton, faith calls us to action. Fifth, Clinton rarely cites Scripture or the doctrines of her church as informers of her political positions.

In conclusion, Hillary Clinton is a Methodist who claims a Christian faith, a proud religious heritage, and mainstream Christianity. But she is not outspoken on her faith, and her toned down statements about Islam and perceived religious pluralism have put her at odds with American evangelicals.

3. Ted Cruz

Possibly the most outspoken evangelical in the field, Senator Cruz is proud and up front in expressing his religious views. First, we know that his faith is central to his life and positions. He speaks of his “personal relationship with Jesus” in very concrete terms. Second, he is a Southern Baptist. Raised in Baptist churches in Houston, Cruz currently attends Houston’s Second Baptist, led by Dr. Ed Young. Third, Cruz is adamantly pro-life. He offers just one exception for abortion – when the mother’s life is in danger. Fourth, the junior senator from Texas makes his faith a big part of his family life. He says their faith brings a “bond to our family.”

In conclusion, Ted Cruz is unabashedly Christian and thoroughly evangelical. His unwavering faith informs his politics clearly and boldly. He considers his faith to be the “cornerstone of his personal and private life.”

4. Ben Carson

Dr. Carson’s faith has not been examined much, as he has led a quiet life outside of the political spotlight. But we know a few things about his faith. First, Carson is a Seventh-day Adventist, proudly so. Second, he has become an outspoken advocate for Christian views. As an example, he often speaks out for the “biblical tithe.” Third, Ben Carson is consistently pro-life, citing his faith as the basis for his position. Fourth, he is a student of Scripture. In his book, Gifted Hands, he says he has made Bible reading a part of his daily schedule. Fifth, Carson supports traditional marriage. Sixth, in large part because of his interpretation of the Bible, Carson does not believe in evolution.

In conclusion, Ben Carson is a quiet, but devout evangelical. His understanding of Scripture informs his active faith as he seeks to live his life redemptively.

5. Marco Rubio

The Florida Senator has become an outspoken evangelical, but did not arrive there quickly. First, Rubio was once a Mormon. At age eight, he moved to Las Vegas, where he was baptized a Mormon and lived as a Mormon for several years. Second, he is now officially a Roman Catholic. Though often attending other churches, he was confirmed a Catholic and considers himself a “practicing Catholic.” Third, he also attends a Southern Baptist megachurch in Miami. He splits time between Christ Fellowship and St. Louis Catholic. Fourth, Rubio is firmly pro-life and proudly Christian in his lifestyle. In recent years, he has become more outspoken about his faith.

In conclusion, Marco Rubio is a unique blend. He is proudly Catholic but speaks like an evangelical. He cites his faith for many of his views, especially on issues of life.

6. Jeb Bush

Mr. Bush is his father’s son. This is true of his temperament and also his faith. Here’s what we know. First, Bush was raised an Episcopalian in Midland, Texas, embracing the faith of his parents. He maintained his ties to the Episcopal church until 1996. Second, Bush has converted to the faith of his wife, becoming a committed Catholic. Third, Bush says his faith informs his views. “My faith was strengthened when I converted to my wife’s faith. It gives me a serenity that is really important.” Fourth, he often shares his faith in the form of tweets. He loves to tweet quotes from Pope Francis.

In conclusion, Jeb Bush is a converted and committed Roman Catholic. Though not as outspoken on his faith as others, such as Ted Cruz, Bush considers his faith a cornerstone for his life, giving him daily direction and strength.

7. Chris Christie

As the New Jersey Governor rises in the New Hampshire polls, his faith becomes more interesting to the masses. First, we know Mr. Christie is a Catholic from birth. Unlike fellow Catholics Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush, Christie has maintained his Catholicism from childhood through his college years at Seton Hall, into his adulthood. Second, though his faith informs his positions, it does not dictate them. For example, he says, “Though my religion says homosexuality is a sin, I don’t believe that.” Third, he often works his faith into his public discourse. A favorite comment is that “all our rights are given to us by God.”

In conclusion, Chris Christie is committed to his Catholic faith. While not as outspoken about his faith as candidates such as Mike Huckabee or Ted Cruz, he is a proud Catholic and defender of the faith he first embraced as a child.

 

The Rushmore Report: Americans Are Done with Church, not God

An estimated 30 million Americans are former churchgoers who have nevertheless kept their faith in God. These are their stories. Kyle Rice quit church a few years ago. Still, the marriage and family therapist says he has maintained his personal Christian faith. He asserts the need for community has not left him, just the need for church. Mr. Rice, in his late twenties, says “the Sunday morning experience” just isn’t for him. Why did he quit church? He says it interfered with his relationships with nonbelievers, taking up all his time.

Jimmy Wolfe is a pastor who has left the institutional church. The father of four lives near Atlanta. He still ministers to people in informal settings such as coffee shops and home gatherings. He cites the problem with the church as being a closed communication system. “Outside the traditional church, I can live out love. If I have an opinion about same-sex marriage, I can share those thoughts without being told I’m right or wrong.”

Olivia is a college professor in her mid-thirties. She recalls church being a sanctuary for her as a child growing up in a broken home. “The members were really there for me,” she recalls. But Olivia eventually left the church because she didn’t like the way she had come to judge those outside of her particular faith tradition. “I think the reason I will never go back to church is I was becoming too judgmental. I judged my parents, all of my friends – everyone.”

Fifteen years ago, Mike Rea was a successful executive for General Electric. He followed “a call” to ministry, but abandoned that journey in seminary, where he was taught the corporate model as a new paradigm for how to do church. He left the traditional church for the growing house church ministry, which draws a diverse gathering. “I got introduced to people from other denominations, and it was good,” he says.

What are we to take away from this growing trend?

1. People are looking for the church, not a church.

Josh Packard, sociology professor at the University of Northern Colorado, says that as tens of millions are leaving the traditional church, “many of them are getting together and finding other ways to do life and community together, and they are not so hung up on, do you believe what I believe?” Believers are seeking authenticity and relationship. Sitting in a pew staring at the back of a stranger’s head doesn’t always provide that. But a Bible Study at Starbuck’s does.

2. Christians need to be with nonbelievers.

In addition to the 30 million who are done with church, another seven million are on the verge, according to the Pew Research Center. Part of the reason isn’t what they are leaving from, but what they are leaving to. We tell our church members to reach the lost, then we keep them so busy at church that they will never meet anyone who is lost. The early church was persecuted. The result was that they abandoned their ideas to build temple-like Christian edifices and instead kept it simple – and personal. Sometimes, the worst thing the church can do is add another class, prayer meeting, or dinner event. Satan has no objection to what we do at church so long as it stays there.

3. Pluralism isn’t a bad word.

The millennial generation is more interested in community than doctrine. It’s not that they don’t care about doctrine, they just don’t care about all doctrine. They see value in agreeing on the main points, but not on every point. Many of these 30 million people are finding new ways to connect around a mission. We have entered a post-denominational era in which believers will be more apt to gather around what they support rather than what they oppose. They have no interest in rooting out heretics; they are in search of converts. They are committed,  not to a set of beliefs, but to a cause, a mission, and a Person. And that’s not all bad.

We have seen 30 million people leave the church without leaving God. While I certainly don’t support that, I can understand it. God has chosen to tie his mission to the church. Jesus died for the church. The church is the Bride of Christ. The Great Commission was given to the church. We can respond to this growing trend, or we can ignore it. You can jump up and down and scream at your fellow believers who are leaving the traditional church in droves. But to do so will only confirm in their minds that they have made the right decision.

The Birth of Jesus

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.