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





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

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.

‘Twas the Night Before Jesus Came

There is much we could write about this Christmas Eve. We could respond to the politics of the day, entertainment world, or barrage of coming football games. Instead, we will keep things where they belong, with a focus on the reason for the season. I share with you the timeless words of an unknown author, repeated for generations.

‘Twas the night before Jesus came and all through the house, not a creature was praying, not one in the house. Their Bibles were lain on the shelf without care, in hopes that Jesus would not come there.

The children were dressing to crawl into bed, not once ever kneeling or bowing a head. And Mom in her rocker with baby on her lap was watching the Late Show while I took a nap.

When out of the East there arose such a clatter. I sprang to my feet to see what was the matter. Away to the window I flew like a flash, tore open the shutters and threw up the sash!

When what to my wondering eyes should appear, but angels proclaiming that Jesus was here. With a light like the sun sending forth a bright ray, I knew in a moment this must be THE DAY!

The light of His face made me cover my head. It was Jesus, returning just like He had said. And though I possessed wordly wisdom and wealth, I cried when I saw Him in spite of myself.

In the Book of Life which He held in His hand was written the name of every saved man. He spoke not a word as He searched for my name; when He said “It’s not here” my head hung in shame.

The people whose names had been written with love, He gathered to take to His Father above. With those who were ready He rose without a sound, while all the rest were left standing around.

I fell to my knees, but it was too late; I had waited too long and thus sealed my own fate. I stood and I cried as they rose out of sight; oh, if only I had been ready tonight.

In the words of this poem the meaning is clear; the coming of Jesus is now drawing near. There’s only one life and when comes the last call, we’ll find that the Bible was true after all!

The Rushmore Report: Why Men Hate Going to Church

A few years ago, my faith in Christ was hanging by a thread. I loved God, but I hated going to church. Sunday morning would find my body in the pews, but my heart was elsewhere. I was so desperate I began exploring alternative religions, including Islam. Did I mention I was an elder in my church?

I was not alone. Truth is, a lot of faithful, churchgoing men are not all that excited come Sunday morning. Quite a few attend out of habit, surviving on the memories of victories won years ago. Others attend services simply to keep their wives happy. Most guys do nothing midweek to grow in their faith. Few churches are able to sustain a viable men’s ministry.

Why are men so bored in our churches? Of course, there are the hypocrites. But even men who are born-again, Spirit-filled, longtime Christian guys are clamming up and dropping out. What’s going on?

A business guru once said, “Your system is perfectly designed to give you the results you’re getting.” Christianity’s primary delivery system, the local church, is perfectly designed to reach women and older folks. That’s why our pews are filled with them. But this church system offers little to stir the masculine heart, so men find it dull and irrelevant. The more masculine the man, the more likely he is to dislike church.

What do I mean? Men and young adults are drawn to risk, challenge and adventure. But these things are discouraged in the local church. Instead, most congregations offer a safe, nurturing community – an oasis of stability and predictability. Studies show that women and seniors gravitate toward these things. Althought our official mission is one of adventure, the actual mission of most congregations is making people feel comfortable and safe – especially longtime members.

How did Christianity, founded by a man and his 12 male disciples, become the province of women? There is a pattern of feminization in Christianity going back at least 700 years, according to Dr. Leon Podles, author of The Church Impotent: the Feminization of Christianity. But the ball really got rolling in the 1800s. With the dawning of the industrial revolution, large numbers of men sought work in mines, mills, and factories, far from home and the familiar parish. Women stayed behind – and began remaking the church in their image. The Victorian era saw the rise of church nurseries, Sunday schools, lay choirs, quilting circles, ladies’ teas, soup kitchens, girls’ societies, potluck dinners, etc.

Soon, the very definition of a good Christian had changed: boldness and aggression were out; passivity and receptivity were in. Christians were to be gentle, sensitive and nurturing, focused on home and family rather than accomplishment and career. Believers were not supposed to like sex, tobacco, dancing, or other worldly pleasures. The godly were always calm, polite, and sociable. This Victorian spirituality still dominates our churches. Those of us who grew up in church hardly notice it; we can’t imagine things any other way. But a male visitor detects the feminine spirit the moment he walks in the sanctuary door. He may feel like Tom Sawyer in Aunt Polly’s parlor; he must watch his language, mind his manners and be extra polite. It’s hard for a man to be real in church because he must squeeze himself into this feminine religious mold.

Men, if you’ve felt out of place in church it’s not your fault. If you’ve tried and failed to get a men’s ministry going in your church, it’s not your fault. If you can’t get your buddies interested in church, it’s not your fault. The church system is getting the results it’s designed to get. Until that system changes, men will continue to perish, both inside and outside our congregations. Some of you don’t know what I’m talking about. A feminized church? Some guys are happy with church just as it is, and see no need for change. But try to see church through the eyes of a typical guy. It’s intimidating for a man to hold hands in a circle, to cry in public, or to imagine falling deeply in love with another man (even if his name is Jesus).

If we’re going to be fishers of men, we’ve got to do a better job considering men’s needs and expectations. Jesus did it; so must we.

About the Author

David Murrow is founder and president of Church for Men, an international organization committed to informing and influencing the local church to strive for relevance in ministering to men. His book, Why Men Hate Going to Church, offers more than 60 pages of practical ideas for bringing a healthy, life-giving masculine spirit to the local congregation.

Wallet Returned – 70 Years Later

A 91-year-old U.S. army veteran now living near Fresno, California, recently got back a wallet he lost 70 years ago in Austria, where he and fellow soldiers helped rescue prisoners from concentration camps, according to his family and the VA Central California Health Care System. The veteran, Eligio Ramos, completely forgot about the wallet until a fateful letter from an eye doctor in Salzburg, Austria arrived at his home on June 18, according to his daughter, Sylvia Gonzalez.

“I was having breakfast at home with my dad like our usual routine three days out of the week, and I was reading through the mail when I stumbled upon the letter,” Gonzalez, 72, said. “I said, ‘Dad! Look! Somebody found your wallet you lost in 1945 in Austria.'” Gonzalez then handed over the letter to her brother, Rosando Ramos, who then worked with his son to get back the wallet from Dr. Josef Ruckhofer, who said in his letter that he stumbled upon the wallet while cleaning out his farmhouse. The farmhouse was apparently handed down to him by his grandfather.

Ruckhofer’s grandfather was the man who offered to let Ramos and the rest of his buddies in the 250th field artillery spend the night at his farmhouse as they were going village to village rescuing prisoners, VA public affairs specialist Carmichael Yepez told ABC News.

ABC reports that Eligio Ramos left the wallet under a floorboard. The wallet contains a “treasure load” of family photos, including baby photos of relatives now in their 70s who showed up at a special reunion celebrating the lost-and-found at Fresno VA Hospital, Yepez said. He added the wallet also had other information such as Eligio Ramos’ military ID and money order receipts for money he sent back home to his family in the 1940s.

“Everything in the wallet is of sentimental value,” the vet’s son said at the reunion. “He had a ton of pictures in his wallet in case he didn’t make it back. He wanted to have his family with him in his heart.” Now the Ramos family plans on framing the photos, documents, and the wallet itself as keepsakes for younger generations in the family to have.

This reminds me of a story told by Jesus, a couple thousand years ago. He told of the woman who lost a coin (Matthew 13). She committed her life to finding it, sweeping the floor until the sound of a jingle graced her ears. In like fashion, Jesus said, God seeks his lost children. He stated his central mission in life: “The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).

Thank you, Mr. Ramos, for your service to our country. May the return of your wallet serve to remind us of your sacrifice and love for country and family. And may this serve to remind us of the value of something lost, especially the soul of man. Seventy years after his wallet was lost, it was found. There is always hope. Whether you are 70 or seven, the grace of God extends to you this Christmas Season. And there is no greater celebration than the family reunion of the followers of Christ, over one lost soul that is found.