Leap Year

The Roman dictator Julius Caesar is considered the father of leap year. The ancient Roman calendar system was based on a total of 355 days in a year – a full 10 1/4 days shorter than a solar year, which is the length of time it takes the Earth to make one complete orbit around the sun. To keep the calendar system in line with the seasons, Roman officials were supposed to insert an extra month every so often, but by the time Caesar began to rule Rome, the calendar had gotten seriously out of whack. Caesar consulted with the top astronomers of the day, and in 46 BC he decided to add one day (known as an intercalary day, or leap day) every four years to make up the discrepancy between the lunar and solar calendars. Caesar also took the opportunity to rename Quintilis, the fifth month of the year (counting from March), leaving us with the month we now call July.

Leap year comes around every four years. It seems like it is never February 29. In fact, the Michigan Vehicle Code states that people born on February 29th “are deemed to have been born on March 1st.” So how unusual is it to have a February 29 birthday? In the United States, we have 187,000 who were born on that day. Around the world, that number swells to four million. While the chances of being born on February 29 are just 0.068 percent, for the ones whose birthday is today, they still count.

February 29 gave us Dinah Shore and Tony Robbins. And Jimmy Dorsey and Pepper Martin. If not for people born on February 29 we wouldn’t have Tammy Redencic. Tammy was born on February 29, 1972. Today she is celebrating her 11th birthday. That makes her the same age as her granddaughter.

Think about that one. When Tammy is 50 her granddaughter will be 167. Age really is just a number. The Bible says, “With the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Peter 3:8). That is why the psalmist prayed, “Teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12). February 29 is an odd day. But more importantly, it is your only day – of promise. You may not get another one. So make today count.

The Rushmore Report: The Faith of Madonna

Madonna Louise Ciccone is one of the most famous icons of our generation. The 57-year-old singer, songwriter, actress, businesswoman, author, director, record producer, philanthropist, and dancer has a reported net worth of over $500 million. Having sold over 300 million records, Madonna is the best-selling female recording artist of all time. Billboard ranks her the #2 artist of all time, only behind The Beatles. But what do we know about her faith?

Madonna grew up near Detroit, and says she had a ‘rebel heart” from the beginning. Her mother died of cancer when Madonna was very young. Raised by her father in a strict home, she was never one to embrace the norms of society.

Madonna’s Faith Journey

1. The pop artist was raised in a strict Catholic home. Girls wore dresses at all times, which led Madonna to question her dad, “Will Jesus love me less if I wear pants?” Madonna rebelled against organized religion in general, and Catholicism specifically.

2. She has never formally affiliated with any religion or church. “I didn’t affiliate myself with any religious group,” she said in a recent interview. “I connect to ritualistic aspects of different belief systems.”

3. Madonna is loosely Jewish. Though she asserts, “I have not converted to Judaism,” she has studied the mystical offshoot of Kabbalah for 20 years. She hears the Torah every Saturday and says specific Jewish prayers as a personal habit.

4. The entertainment icon embraces many religions. Asked why she wears a cross, she said, “I like crosses. I’m sentimental about Jesus on the cross. Jesus was Jewish, embraced all people. he rattled a lot of people’s cages,” she told interviewer Brian Hiatt. Madonna has dated Brahim Zaibat, a committed Muslim and sought wisdom from a variety of faiths.

Defining Madonna’s Faith

1. Madonna is postmodern. As such, she rejects any one tradition’s claim of objective truth.

2. She is syncretistic. That means she blends a variety of world views while rejecting strict dogma and theology.

3. Madonna is the author of her own religion. She says, “I practice something deeper than religion, including Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.” She has fused her values of individualism with a rejection of the rules of Catholicism, and has largely embraced mystical aspects of Judaism. In short, for Madonna, her faith is what she finds authentic at the time.

About the Author

Adam Holz is a senior associate editor for Plugged In. He also writes for Focus on the Family. He likes to play guitar and construct LEGO kits with his son. Adam and Jennifer are the proud parents of one boy and two girls.

The Rushmore Report: The Sad Story of Delonte West

Delonte West was the first round draft pick of the Boston Celtics in 2004. In his nine seasons in the NBA he earned over $16 million. Out of the league the past two years, West was spotted in a Jack-in-the-Box restaurant parking lot in Houston Monday night – eyes glazed, stumbling aimlessly, wearing a hospital gown and no shoes. A fan recognized him and asked, “Are you Delonte West?” to which he responded, “I used to be, but not anymore.”

This is the sad story of Delonte West.

The budding star out of Greenbelt, Maryland played his college ball for St. Joseph’s, earning All-American honors in 2004, prompting the Celtics’ decision to draft him in the first round. He received an enormous signing bonus and a guaranteed contract. But never living up to his NBA expectations, the 6’3″ guard never stayed with any of his five teams for more than three years.

His downward spiral has been well-chronicled. One night he was pulled over by police and arrested for carrying three unauthorized weapons. He was said to have had an affair with LeBron James’ mother during his stint in Cleveland. He has overdosed on pills and cut himself to the point of extensive bleeding. He was diagnosed as bipolar, but claims that was an overblown assessment. He fights depression and suicidal thoughts. His substance abuse addiction has cost him his entire $16 million.

Twelve years ago, Delonte West was a rising star in the NBA and made more money in his signing bonus than Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain made their entire careers. And now he appears homeless, disoriented, and lost.

Is there any hope for Delonte West? The Bible gives a resounding “Yes” to that question. God is the Great Hope of fallen men. Jeremiah said, “You know if a man falls down, he gets up again. And if a man goes the wrong way, he turns around and comes back” (Jeremiah 8:4). God is the Great Hope of fallen men. Solomon wrote, “The righteous may fall seven times but still get up” (Proverbs 24:16). God is the Great Hope of fallen men.

Muhammad Ali said the key to success was to get up more times than you go down. Few men have known more failures than the legendary Johnny Cash. Not long before his death, he reflected on his life. “You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don’t try to forget the mistakes, but you don’t dwell on it. You don’t let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.”

Delonte West has lived on the mountain and is now in the valley. But at the age of 32, he has so much still in front of him. But it is unlikely his story will end well unless he meets the Great Hope. Anything short of that and the next story written on the former star could be the last. That is the sad story of Delonte West. We must pray that someone, anyone, who really cares will tell him the story of the Great Hope – while there is still time.

Bob Dole Endorses Rubio – Trump Should Send Him a Dozen Roses

The “establishment” has spoken. Former Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole has endorsed Marco Rubio for president, now that Jeb Bush has dropped out. “Now that my good friend Jeb Bush is no longer running, I’m supporting Rubio,” Dole told ABC’s Jonathan Karl and Rick Klein in an interview for Powerhouse Politics.

“He worked for my ’96 campaign in Dade County, Florida, and so I’ve had an acquaintance with him way back in ’96 when he was a hard worker. As much as I love John Kasich, you know, Rubio is probably a better candidate. And he’s young.” Dole added, “He wants to grow the party as opposed to Cruz. I don’t know what he wants to grow.”

The former Kansas senator also had something to say about front runner Donald Trump. Saying Trump could effectively secure the nomination with a sweep of Super Tuesday states next week, Dole said, “Then I think you start printing the inaugural invitation. If Trump has a good day on Super Tuesday, it’s going to be hard to deny him the nomination. And if reality sets in and he’s gonna start counting enough delegates, we’ve got to hope he’ll be a good president. But he’s got to start acting like a presidential candidate and tone down the rhetoric and don’t insult anybody.”

Dole said that if Trump were to become president, the real estate mogul might “surprise people with his performance, especially if he surrounds himself with qualified and experienced advisers. He’s got to understand the presidency is – it’s an overwhelming position and you can’t do it alone, and you gotta have qualified people with some experience. You can’t bring in all the outsiders,” Dole said. “He is a pretty smart guy. He might surprise a lot of people.”

Then with his typical deadpan humor, Dole concluded, “I’d be happy to be his adviser.”

Here’s my take. I love Bob Dole – I always have. But he just drew the picture we have already been looking at for months. First, in his endorsement of Marco Rubio, he talked mostly about Donald Trump. That’s the biggest reason Trump is winning. He is all anyone talks about – the media, his opponents, and even those who endorse his opponents.

The second truth Dole just opened up for all the world to see is that the Republican establishment is clueless and totally adrift. No one personifies the establishment more than Bob Dole – former senator, former senate majority leader, former vice presidential candidate, and former presidential candidate. And in this unpredictable political year, I can predict one thing with certainty. Bob Dole’s endorsement of Marco Rubio means only this: Rubio can count on Dole’s vote in the Kansas primary, and maybe his wife Elizabeth’s.

If Marco Rubio wants to become president, the first thing he needs to do is send out a memo to anyone considered part of the Republican establishment. It should say something like this: “Dear Mr. Establishment, thank you for your 30-50 years of honorable service to our country. Now, for the sake of the country, please, please, PLEASE, do not endorse me, do not say anything good about me, and if you love America, put your considerable political weight behind the candidacy of Donald J. Trump. Do it today. Do it NOW!”

Donald Trump already has the momentum. Now, Dole’s endorsement for Marco Rubio may have just sealed the deal.

The Rushmore Report: Trump’s Secret Weapon against Clinton – How He Will Win

The 2016 presidential race is fluid, with 27 more states holding primaries and caucuses by March 15. So a lot can change. But as of today, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are the clear leaders in their parties. And while it’s true that everyone does better against Clinton in head-to-head match-ups than Trump – Rubio, Cruz, Kasich, and Carson – The Donald has one secret weapon. No one is talking about it, but it just might win him the White House.

In a word – enthusiasm. His voters are passionate. I give you one day as a case in point. On Saturday, February 21, elections were held in two states, and this tells you all you need to know. That day, Republicans voted in South Carolina, while Democrats voted in Nevada. The media reported that Trump won by 10 percent while Clinton won by five percent. And that’s true . . . but it’s not the main story.

On the same day, in two states of relatively equal size, this is what you didn’t know. Clinton got 6,000 votes while Trump garnered 300,000. Said a different way, of all those living in South Carolina, 6.2 percent voted for Mr. Trump. Of all those living in Nevada, 0.2 percent voted for Mrs. Clinton.

In Iowa, the second place finisher for the Republicans won more votes that the winner has had in any election – ever! And again, his name was Donald Trump. Overall, voting among Democrats is down by 22 percent versus four years ago, while Republican voting is up 22 percent.

Sec. Clinton has a deficit among young voters, white voters, and those who care a lot about honesty. But that’s not what will beat her if she loses. Enthusiasm is on the side of the Republicans, especially if the nominee is Mr. Trump.

Hillary Clinton won’t lose to Bernie Sanders. She won’t lose to Donald Trump. But she will lose to enthusiasm. The result is that someone will be inaugurated into the presidency on January 20, 2017. But his name won’t be Hillary Clinton. It will be Enthusiasm.

The Rushmore Report: What You Didn’t Know about Steven Spielberg

Steve had a goal. He could see what he wanted right in front of him – the studio buildings that led to his dream. But a formidable force stood in his way: a stem-faced security guard at the entrance to Universal Studios. Steve refused to be deterred. Dressed in a suit and tie, he marched forward. He carried his father’s briefcase, even though it held only a sandwich and a few candy bars.

Then came the moment of truth. The guard made eye contact. With Steve’s mind focused solely on his goal, he swallowed his fear, gave the guard a casual wave and kept walking. To the young man’s surprise and relief, the guard waved back. With that, Steven Spielberg walked through the studio gate and into his destiny.

For the rest of that summer young Spielberg – with the blessing of an accommodating studio executive – impersonated a movie industry professional. At summer’s end, having gained an immeasurable on-the-job education, Spielberg embarked on a film-directing career that has yielded hits such as Raiders of the Lost Ark, Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan, A.I., and Munich.

Centuries ago, the aging Caleb had a goal – to finally claim the fertile land God had promised decades earlier. To achieve his dream, Caleb had to face daunting obstacles. The first was to overcome his fear. Once he did that, the Scripture says, “Then the land had rest from war” (Joshua 14:15). Do you feel like you are fighting a war? Jesus came to give you rest (Matthew 11:28). In the words of John Donne, “He that fears God fears nothing else.”

As a young man, Spielberg had a goal. And he used his knowledge, skills, and drive to achieve his dream. As an old man, Caleb had a goal. Certainly, he had courage and drive, but he also had God’s purpose and empowerment. Imagine what you can accomplish for God when he gives you both purpose and power!


The Rushmore Report: 18 Very Religious Celebrities

There are a few Hollywood celebrities who have been known for their strong religious convictions through the years. Pat Boone comes to mind. I’ve known Pat for several years, and have never known a man more solid in his faith. He has told me some great stories about other strong believers from his era (1950s – present). But there are still many famous actors who have strong religious beliefs. Here is a sampling of those celebrities.

Evangelical Christians

1. Candace Cameron Bure – The star of Full House (both the old and newer versions) is the brother of Kirk Cameron. Candace speaks in churches, writes about her faith, and endorses Christian causes. She says her faith in Christ has helped her with such personal battles as bulimia.

2. Angus T. Jones – The boy from Two and a Half Men has become an outspoken crusader against the “filth” of the show in which he once starred. Jones tells churches he would only return to acting for “a few different productions that, like do kind of Bible-based stories.”

3. Stephen Baldwin – A member of the famous Baldwin acting family, Stephen told Fox News, “I have no regret about speaking out about my faith.” The actor said he thinks his strong religious faith has a negative impact on his career.

4. Denzel Washington – A devout Christian, Washington is the son of a Pentecostal preacher and a member of West Angeles Church of God in Christ for over 30 years. He reads the Bible every morning. He told Christianity Today, “I believe that Jesus is the Son of God. I’ve been filled with the Holy Spirit. I know it’s real.”

5. Roma Downey – Along with husband Mark Burnett, she said she “was tired of cursing the darkness,” so they started LightWorkers Media. They produced the miniseries The Bible in 2013. Downey said, “I wanted the focus to be all on Jesus.”

6. Kirk Cameron – In his autobiography, he says a girlfriend told him about Christ and he experienced a “life-changing encounter with Jesus” and says he was “born again.” The star of Growing Pains has emerged as the leading actor of Christian films.

7. Tim Tebow – Perhaps the most well-known Christian in America, the former football star is a self-professed virgin who is waiting for marriage to break his virginity. Tebow speaks to large Christian gatherings around the country.

8. Tyler Perry – The filmmaker has been an attender of T.D. Jakes’ megachurch, and has established a close relationship with the pastor. Perry is a big donor to the church and supports their outreach efforts.

Roman Catholics

1. Mark Wahlberg – One of Hollywood’s most popular actors, Wahlberg takes his faith so seriously that he has placed in his bedroom a crucifix art piece that is a replica of the real one in the Vatican. He reportedly keeps a bottle of holy water by the side of the cross. He and his family attend daily mass.

2. Jim Caviezel – The man who played Jesus in Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ built a chapel in Malibu, California, called The Church of the Holy Family. Mass is performed in Latin every morning, and the women are required to cover their heads.

3. Patricia Heaton – The star of Everybody Loves Raymond has stood up for Christian causes. Outspoken about her faith, the actress says, “Jesus said, ‘Don’t be ashamed of me now or my word or I will be ashamed of you at the end of time.'” She speaks often of God’s love demonstrated through the Person of Jesus Christ.


1. Donny and Marie Osmond – Perhaps the most famous Mormons in America, the singing brother and sister have been advocates for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for decades. Though opposed to same-sex marriage, both have come out as friendly to gays and lesbians in recent years.

2. David Archuleta – The rising vocalist put his career on hold to serve as a Mormon missionary. The star of American Idol left his career behind so he could fulfill his two-year commitment to the church.

Jehovah’s Witnesses

1. Prince – Raised a Seventh-day Adventist, the singer became a Jehovah’s Witness in 2001. As a younger man he joined with others of his faith in knocking on doors, inviting people to his church.


1. Richard Gere – A practicing Tibetan Buddhist, Gere told Frontline, “People often ask me what is it about his Holiness and ultimately the only thing that I can really say is you feel safe.” He speaks of the “maybe many hundreds of millions of lifetimes of world systems of lifetimes.”

2. Tina Turner – A longtime Buddhist, Turner told Artemis, “I feel that chanting for 35 years has opened a door inside me, and that even if I never chanted again, that door would still be there. I feel at peace with myself.”


1. Tom Cruise – His devotion has been reported to have led to the breakdown of his marriage with Katie Holmes. In 2005, he shocked fans by criticizing former co-star Brooke Shields for taking antidepressants to relieve her post-partum depression, holding to the Scientology belief that psychiatry is a “pseudo science that kills.”


1. Madonna – Raised a Roman Catholic, in 1996 she became a devout follower of Kabbalah, a mystical offshoot of Judaism. She has been known to dilute her children’s orange juice with specially blessed Kabbalah water and often wears white because they attract positive energy. She uses her religion to “become a better person.”

The Rushmore Report: God Quits Twitter

Fed up with the limits of the medium and the number of trolls He hath created, God is quitting Twitter. More accurately, the man behind the popular (2.29 million followers) account @TheTweetOfGod has issued one final tweet. Former Daily Show with Jon Stewart writer David Javerbaum created a Twitter handle for God in 2010. Since then, the fictional Lord has tweeted acidly about soccer, the Westboro Baptist Church, and how He eventually is going to kill us all.

The tweets inspired a book and a Broadway play, An Act of God, that just started a second run in Los Angeles. “God” follows exactly one person: Justin Bieber. Javerbaum’s God was a left-leaning misanthrope skeptical about His own existence and more than a little disappointed in how this whole humanity project turned out. Among His tweets: “I deeply regret most of you.” “I planted all the evidence for evolution once it became clear it did not serve the best interest of My reputation to take credit for you.” “I don’t believe in you either.”

Here’s how it all began. Says Javerbaum, “Well, actually what started was I had an idea for a book, Memoirs by God, and it eventually became a book. But while I was working on that book my editor suggested I open a Twitter account – to sort of pre-publicize a book – and I did that over the course of a year. And by the time the book came out, the Twitter account had enjoyed such success people thought the book was a spin-off of the Twitter account, but in fact it was sort of the other way around.”

“God” says the tweets have been taking up too much of His time. He decided the time had come to quit playing God. That time was a few days ago. David Javerbaum isn’t the first person who claimed to speak for God, nor will he be the last. Jesus warned, “Many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah'” (Matthew 24:5). But if you really want to hear the voice of God, I suggest avoiding social media. God’s more into something called the Bible. He tweeted all we needed to hear a good while ago, and the message still works today. Make no mistake – God has given up Twitter, but He still speaks through the Bible . . . every day.

The Rushmore Report: Ten Building Blocks for a Happy Family

Most parents are doing a good job of parenting – but don’t realize it. All parents should understand that there are no perfect families. I know for sure that mine isn’t! Likewise, there is no perfect parenting method. Still, my wife Cathy and I have settled on what we believe to be the ten essential ingredients for building and maintaining a happy family. Here they are presented in an “overview” form. For a more in-depth look at these issues, you may find my book, The 10 Building Blocks for a Happy Family, helpful!

1. Be there for your kids. Your children regard your presence as a sign of caring and connectedness (even when they don’t seem to do so). Presence provides kids with a greater sense of security than almost any other quality parents can offer.

2. Express affection, warmth and encouragement. Families with a sense of A.W.E. – as opposed to shame-based parenting – create a home where children and spouses will feel more secure.

3. Build healthy morals and values. The decisions kids make today will often affect them for the rest of their lives. Parents have significant powers of influence – through modeling and teaching – over the morals and values their kids carry into adulthood!

4. Discipline with consistency. Clearly expressed expectations and consistent follow-through produce responsible kids. Make your goal of discipline one of teaching kids responsibility, not evoking obedience.

5. Ruthlessly eliminate stress. The unbalanced life will not be kind to the areas we neglect. Parents must make the difficult decisions of reducing the effect of our culture’s breathless pace on their family.

6. Communication is key. Positive communication is the language of love for our children. Parents must take the initiative to set the tone for family communication – which includes the important skill of listening.

7. Play is necessary for a close-knit family. There is nothing like play to bring about family togetherness and communication. Play builds family memories, reduces family stress, and produces support and affirmation.

8. Love your spouse. A loving marriage brings hope and security to your children. At times, this means putting your spouse’s needs ahead of your children’s needs.

9. Let your life reflect the understanding that the best things in life are not things. Healthy stewardship and financial decisions produce positive family priorities.

10. Energize your family’s spiritual growth. Your greatest calling in life is to leave a spiritual legacy for your children. Pay close attention to your own spiritual health and model a healthy spirituality for your family.

About the Author

Jim Burns is the founder of HomeWord ministry, which serves to bring hope to hurting families. His radio program is heard by one million listeners daily. A prolific public speaker on the topics of marriage and parenting, Jim and his wife, Cathy, and their three daughters live in Dana Point, California.

“Liar, liar!” Bad for Country & Worse for Christianity

In a CNN interview yesterday, a Marco Rubio supporter was asked, “Have you ever heard the word ‘liar’ thrown around so much in a presidential race?” The supporter responded, “No, but I’ve never heard so much lying, either.” Donald Trump is calling Ted Cruz a liar because of his ad in South Carolina accusing Trump of being pro-choice. Marco Rubio is calling Ted Cruz a liar because of his description of Rubio’s immigration stance. And Ted Cruz is calling Trump and Rubio liars because they are “running from their records.” Let me offer a Christian response.

1. Are they really liars?

Probably. We all are. There has only been one man who never lied, and he’s not on the ballot. Ted Cruz said, “Truth matters.” I’ll give him that. Donald Trump is a liar. Marco Rubio is a liar. Ted Cruz is a liar. And the last time someone asked me what I weighed, I fudged by five pounds. I’m a liar.

2. Does name-calling help politically?

Apparently. Each of these guys has more consultants than a Big Mac has calories. Attacking another candidate’s character must work, or they wouldn’t do it.

3. Does name-calling help Christianity?

No. Trump is a Presbyterian. Cruz is a Baptist. Rubio is a Catholic. That puts all three of them under the umbrella of Christianity. They all believe the Bible, read the Bible, and claim to follow the Bible. But what they are doing is not biblical. And most people won’t read the pages of the Bible. Christian celebrities are their Bible. And what is being read isn’t good.

4. Is there a solution?

Yes. Jesus said that when we have a problem with a brother, we are to go to that person in private and try to work it out (Matthew 18:15-17). Donald Trump is threatening to sue Ted Cruz. To that, the Apostle Paul said, “When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to the law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? If you have grievances, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church? I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers?” (1 Corinthians 6:1-4). In short, Scripture teaches that these men, claiming to be Christ-followers, should work out their personal differences quietly and in private.

5. Will they follow this biblical plan for reconciliation?

Probably not.