FDR Signs Neutrality Act

On this day in 1935 President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed into law the Neutrality Act, which he called an “expression of the desire to avoid any action which might involve the United States in war.” The signing came at a time when newly installed fascist governments in Europe were beginning to beat the drums of war. In a public statement that day, Roosevelt said that the new law would require American vessels to obtain a license to carry arms, would restrict Americans from sailing on ships from hostile nations, and would impose an embargo on the sale of arms to “belligerent” nations.

Most observers understood “belligerent” to imply Germany under its new leader, Adolf Hitler, and Italy under Benito Mussolini. It also provided the strongest language yet, warning other countries that the United States would increase its patrol of foreign submarines lurking in American waters. This was seen as a response to Hitler’s March 1935 announcement that Germany would no longer honor the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, which prohibited the country from rebuilding her military.

So America chose neutrality. Of course, we know that didn’t last long. It never does. The lesson from history tells us that we must take a stand – or die. Imagine what would have happened if Roosevelt had stayed the course. We might all be speaking German right now. In neutrality there is comfort – but never victory.

The House You Build

A wealthy man’s foreman had been a great worker. One day, the man told his foreman that he was going on a lengthy vacation. He said, “Build a great house while I am gone. Spare no expense on materials and construction. I will be back in six months, and when I return, I’ll want the keys to the house.”

The foreman started building the house, but soon realized that if he used substandard materials he could pocket the extra money. So that is what he did. The house was second rate because it was built with second rate materials.

When the wealthy man returned, he asked for the keys to the house.

“Did you build me a great house?” he asked.

“Yes,” replied the foreman.

“Did you use the finest materials?”

“Yes,” he said.

Then his boss said, “Great, because this house is for you,” and he handed him the keys.

Think about the house you are building. And remember, the house you build today is the house you will have to live in tomorrow.

Your house is built on character, daily choices, and discipline. If you build with the wrong materials, your dream house will become your worst nightmare.

Solomon said, “Desire without knowledge is not good; how much more will hasty feet miss the way!” (Proverbs 19:2).

Lessons from Hurricane Katrina – 11 Years Later

On this day in 2005, Hurricane Katrina made landfall near New Orleans as a powerful Category 4 hurricane. Despite being only the third strongest hurricane of the 2005 season, Katrina was the worst natural disaster in the history of the United States. After briefly coming ashore in southern Florida on August 25 – as a Category 1 hurricane – Katrina gained strength before slamming into the Gulf Coast on August 29.

In addition to bringing devastation to the New Orleans area, the massive storm brought catastrophic destruction to the coasts of Mississippi and Alabama, as well. A mandatory evacuation of New Orleans was ordered on August 28, when Katrina briefly attained Category 5 status, but an estimated 150,000 people stayed in the city to weather the storm. The hurricane brought sustained winds of 145 mph, which cut power lines and destroyed homes, even turning the Mississippi Gulf Coast that overwhelmed the levees protecting New Orleans. Soon, 80 percent of the city was flooded up to the rooftops of many houses and small buildings.

Katrina – you probably remember where you were when it hit. I see two huge lessons.

1. Storms hit. We don’t know when and we don’t know how strong, but storms hit. And in this life, evacuation is not an option.

2. The clean-up is everything. When the storms of life hit – and they will – you will be measured by how you rebuild. I’m sure many of you are in that critical rebuilding stage right now. Trust God. He is in the business of new construction.

Leaping Frogs

Think of five frogs sitting on a log. One decides to jump off. How many are left? Five. Thinking of jumping and jumping are two different things.

Lots of people “decide” to do things, but they never do them.

Finding Forrester is a great movie. Sean Connery plays the part of a legendary writer who mentors a young man who has great potential as a writer. Connery tells Forrester to begin typing. He said, “Just type what comes to mind.”

The key to success is not planning, but doing.

A construction crew was putting a drain line in a building. A power cable was directly in the path of their work. Construction stopped while an electrician was called who declared that there was no electrical power to the cable.

The foreman asked, “Are you sure the power is dead to the cable and there is no danger?”

“Absolutely,” replied the electrician.

“Well then, you cut the line.”

After a pause, the electrician said, “I’m not that sure.”

Most of us don’t take action because we aren’t that sure. But there comes a time when you need to start typing, and a time to cut the cable.

There comes a time when you need to jump off the log. As the old prophet said, “Forget the old things. Behold, I am doing a new thing.”

The Wizard of Oz Debuts

On this day in 1939, The Wizard of Oz, which would become one of the best-loved movies in history, opened in theaters around the United States. It was based on the 1900 children’s novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum (1856-1919). Nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Picture category, The Wizard of Oz won a Best Song Oscar for “Over the Rainbow,” which became one of star Judy Garland’s signature hits.

Garland won a special award at that year’s Oscar ceremony for Best Juvenile Performer. Filmed at MGM Studios in Culver City, California, The Wizard of Oz was a modest box office success when it was first released, but its popularity continued to grow after it was televised for the first time in 1956. An estimated 45 million people watched that inaugural broadcast, and since then, the iconic movie has aired on TV countless times.

Today, some of the film’s famous lines, including “There’s no place like home,” and “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore” are well-known to several generations of movie goers.

Let’s break down those two lines for a moment.

1. “There’s no place like home.” I have a soft spot for my hometown, which is Houston, and the part of town in which I was raised, which was Sharpstown. I still remember my first home address, the kids who lived on my block, and where we played in the street every day after school. When in Houston, I still love to drive by and make sure nothing much has changed. Indeed, “there’s no place like home.”

2. “We’re not in Kansas anymore.” I love that line, as well. My parents were both from Kansas. As a child, we used to go back there at least once a year, to the big cities of Kingman (dad’s hometown) and Pittsburg (mom’s hometown). I still love Kansas, its wheatfields, and the generous people of that great state.

Here’s the lesson. We like what we know. Familiarity is comfortable and we like comfortable. And for the most part, that is probably a good thing. But don’t get too comfortable. The Christian life is about movement. We are to move closer to our God, our faith, and those around us.

Times change, but the Gospel doesn’t. So share it wherever you go. I know three things. There’s no place like home. We’re not in Kansas anymore. And God is good – all the time.

The Rushmore Report: Road to the White House – Only One State Really Matters

As the 2016 presidential election continues to heat up, the polls are shifting again – this time in Donald Trump’s favor. Some polls have him cutting Hillary Clinton’s lead from about 10 points two weeks ago to nearly tied now. More importantly, the battleground states continue to favor Mrs. Clinton, as does the electoral map. Most observers agree that Clinton has about 248 electoral votes locked up, on the road to 270. By comparison, Trump has about 180.

But neither candidate has this wrapped up. It always comes down to a few states, fewer this year than normal. In order for Trump to win, he must win each of these five battleground states: Florida, Iowa, Nevada, Ohio, and North Carolina. And he would still be four votes short. That means Trump must win one more state, one that is currently leaning Democratic. Those states are Colorado, Michigan, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

But only one state out of 50 really matters. It is the one state that will decide this race – period. Forget the other 49 states and watch only this one. That one state is . . .

New Hampshire.

It’s that simple. Let me explain why. To get to 270 electoral votes, Trump needs to win all 22 states that lean Republican, plus each of the five battleground states listed above. That gets him to 266 of the 270 needed. He needs one more.

So why the tiny state of New Hampshire, with just four electoral votes? There are three reasons.

1. Trump must win one of the six states currently leaning Clinton.

And he trails her less in New Hampshire than in all the other states, by about 9 percent. So it will be easier to catch up in New Hampshire than in any other state.

2. New Hampshire is a hands-on state.

Trump does best when he gets close to the voters. You can do that in New Hampshire, with just 1.3 million people. It takes more votes to get elected mayor of San Antonio.

3. New Hampshire loves outsiders.

This is the state that picked Buchanan over Bush and Dean over everybody. They like underdogs, independents, outsiders, and libertarians. That all helps Mr. Trump.

Trump can win without New Hampshire, but to do so would mean winning in more unlikely states such as Virginia, Pennsylvania, or Michigan. Of all the states he is losing, he is performing best in New Hampshire.

So go ahead and watch the debates, read what the pundits say, and glance at the daily tracking polls. This is a big country, with 325 million citizens. But remember, it is the 1.3 million who live in New Hampshire that really count.

Watch CNN. Watch Fox News. Watch MSNBC. But most of all, watch New Hampshire. Whoever wins tiny New Hampshire will be your next president. You read it here first.

The Rushmore Report: Colin Powell Refutes Hillary’s Email Claims

The New York Times’ Amy Chozick had a great scoop regarding Hillary Clinton’s email practices while she was Secretary of State. Here’s the crux: “Pressed by the FBI about her email practices at the State Department, Hillary Clinton told investigators that former Secretary of State Colin Powell had advised her to use a personal email account. Mrs. Clinton is claiming she is only doing what Powell did.” One problem – Powell says she’s making the whole thing up.

Clinton told the FBI that Powell advised her to use a private email account since he had done so while in the same job. Therefore, Clinton’s assertion that she was simply following the accepted practices of previous secretaries of state is entirely proven out. Done and done!

Um, not really. Let me count the ways in which the Clinton email set-up does not equal the Powell email set-up:

1. Clinton exclusively used a private email account to conduct State Department business. Powell did not.

2. Clinton had a private email server, located in her basement. Powell did not.

3. The rules governing electronic communication changed considerably – and got more strict – between Powell’s time in office and Clinton’s. This is from the Fact Checker:

After Powell left office in 2015, and through 2011, the State Department’s guidance for private email use was “considerably more detailed and more sophisticated.”

In 2002, there was a new requirement for email users to “determine the significance and value of information created on email systems and determine the need to preserve those messages that qualify as records. Secretary Clinton’s cybersecurity practices accordingly must be evaluated in light of these more comprehensive directives.”

Those rule changes – as well as technological advancements made between 2005 and 2011 – were at the center of Powell’s shade-throwing statement in response to the “Well, Colin did it” argument made by Clinton to the FBI.

The attempt to – again – equate what Powell did with what Clinton did is yet more evidence that either the candidate, her senior advisers, or both simply don’t get it. No, Clinton wasn’t indicted by the Justice Department for her email set-up. But she was badly reprimanded by FBI Director James Comey for her email practices: it was an unequivocal condemnation of her conduct in relation to her approach to electronic communications while serving as the country’s top diplomat.

General Powell said, “Her people have been trying to pin it on me. The truth is, she was using the private email server for a year before I sent her a memo telling her what I did.”

For whatever reason – and despite the fact that Clinton has said on several occasions that she knows she made a mistake – she seems incapable of accepting that responsibility and moving on. No secretary of state – up to and including Colin Powell – handled their email set-up like Clinton. That’s a fact.

About the Author

Chris Cillizza is an American political commentator, online writer, and author. Cillizza writes at The Fix, a daily political weblog for the Washington Post.

The Rushmore Report: Ben Hur – A Must See

A remake of the Ben-Hur movie has just hit the movie screens. What’s fascinating to me is the story behind the book, which has also inspired two previous movies – the 1925 silent version and the 1959 movie of the year, starring Charlton Heston. That version won 11 Oscars, more than any movie before it, and only tied by Titanic (1997) since. The new Ben-Hur comes highly recommended by Christian leaders. All of us should see the new Ben-Hur.

Did you know the subtitle of the best-selling 1880 book by Lew Wallace is “A Tale of the Christ”? I own a copy, which was re-released in 1959 to coincide with the Charlton Heston movie. The book’s back cover reads, “Ben-Hur: nobleman, galley slave, chariot racer, follower of Christ.”

After the title page of the book and before the content begins is this quote from John Milton’s Christ’s Nativity: The Hymn – “But peaceful was the night wherein the Prince of Light. His reign of peace upon the earth began; the winds with wonder whist smoothly the waters kiss, whispering new joys to the mild ocean – who now hath quite forgot to rave, while birds of calm sit brooding on the charmed wave.”

But what’s the story behind the book? It didn’t begin as a Christ-honoring work at all. According to writer E. A. Rowell, Ben-Hur was initiated as an attempt to demote Christianity.

In the latter half of the 19th century, one of America’s best known unbelievers, Robert Ingersoll, was talking with a friend, General Lew Wallace, about theology. They both agreed Christianity was  nonsense.

Ingersoll encouraged Wallace, since he was a writer, to take up the pen and debunk Christianity once and for all by showing it rested on a weak foundation and by showing the fallibility of Jesus himself. Wallace agreed to take up the challenge.

But his research into the historicity of Christianity led him to come to see that he and Ingersoll had been wrong and that indeed the Christian faith was based on solid historic fact. He wrote a book all right, but it wasn’t the kind he initially set out to write.

Dr. D. James Kennedy said of Wallace’s novel, “He wrote the book. It became a gigantic success . . . Ben-Hur. But it didn’t present Jesus as a mere man, but as the divine Son of God come from heaven to redeem mankind, including the general, General Lew Wallace, the skeptic turned believer.”

Understandably, the films play up the fast-paced, exciting chariot race scene. But there’s much more in the original book about Jesus.

Even in the 1959 movie, the death of Christ is the key to the resolution to one of the main conflicts in the story – how title character Judah Ben-Hur’s sister and mother are healed of leprosy because of the crucifixion. They had contacted leprosy while wasting away unjustly in a Roman prison.

In the novel, Wallace says this about the dreaded disease: “To be a leper was to be treated as dead – to be excluded from the city as a corpse, afraid to die, yet without hope except in death.”

In the book, he places their healing on the original Palm Sunday, when Christ makes his triumphal entry into Jerusalem. The two leprous women see his public appearance as their only chance to reach him for healing.

As Jesus is passing by, they cry out for his help. When the crowd sees these lepers, they in turn cry out, “Stone them! The accursed of God! Kill them!”

But Jesus stops to face the women, who say, “O Master, Master! Thou seest our need: thou canst make us clean. Have mercy on us – mercy!” They also say to him, “Thou art he of whom the prophets spake – thou art the Messiah!” And Jesus heals them.

Also in the book, one character says of Christ’s reign: “There is a kingdom on the earth, though it is not of it – a kingdom of wider bounds than the earth – wider than the sea and the earth, though they were rolled together as finest gold and spread by the beating of hammers. Its existence is a fact as our hearts are facts, and we journey through it from birth to death without seeing it; nor shall any man see it until he hath first known his own soul; for the kingdom is not for him, but for his soul. And in its dominion there is glory such as hath not entered imagination.”

Thus, Lew Wallace’s novel, Ben-Hur, glorifies Jesus Christ and is a far cry from Ingersoll’s original vision. As the book of Proverbs notes, “There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the Lord.”

About the Author

Jerry Newcombe, D.Min., is an on-air host/senior producer for D. James Kennedy Ministries. He has written/co-written 26 books, including The Book that Made America and What If Jesus Had Never Been Born?

The Rushmore Report: Voter ID – Who’s the Real Racist?

Who’s the real racist? Progressives characterize conservatives as “racists” for demanding citizens produce a photo ID in order to vote. So who’s the racist – the person who wants voters to produce the same ID required to buy a pack of cigarettes or board a plane, or the person who thinks only white people are capable of getting a photo ID? Amazingly, 17 states require no ID to vote, meaning you can vote multiple times. Apparently, progressives are fine with that.

One of the most laughable assertions of modern politics is the suggestion that requiring a voter ID places an undue burden on minorities. By supporting the policy of these 17 states, mostly liberal, progressives are supporting the opportunity of voting multiple times, as each voter can cast multiple ballots under other names within the same precinct.

“It is too much to expect someone to get some form of ID in order to vote,” we are told. But here are 25 things you cannot do without a photo ID. How come the liberals don’t find any of these “demands” objectionable? Why aren’t the airlines, convenience stores, and banks considered “racist”?

Here is a list of just some of the things you cannot do without a photo ID . . .

1. Open a bank account.

2. File for unemployment.

3. Apply for welfare.

4. Apply for food stamps.

5. Apply for Social Security.

6. Buy a home.

7. Drive a car.

8. Buy a car.

9. Rent a car.

10. Board a plane.

11. Get married.

12. Check into a hotel room.

13. Buy a gun.

14. Apply for a fishing license.

15. Adopt a pet.

16. Pick up a prescription.

17. Buy cold medicine.

18. Donate blood.

19. Enter a casino.

20. Buy lotto tickets.

21. Buy a video game marked “M” for mature.

22. Buy a cell phone.

23. Buy cigarettes.

24. Buy alcohol.

23. Hold a rally against voter ID.

Still not convinced that requiring voters to prove they are who they say they are? Still not convinced it’s a bad idea to let people roam from polling station to polling station claiming a false name so they can vote dozens of time in each election? Still not convinced those who must produce ID in order to buy cold medicine or board a plane should have to meet the same criteria to pick the leader of the free world? Then move to any of these states, and you can vote as many times as you like. No ID required – California, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, West Virginia, Wyoming, and Washington, D.C.

Let’s be clear. You need an ID to hold a rally against voter ID, but you don’t need an ID to actually vote. And this is called “progressive”?

Let’s ask the question again. One group (conservatives) suggests everyone should have an ID to vote. The other group (progressives) suggests only white people are capable of getting a voter ID.

Who’s the racist?

The Rushmore Report: Celebrate Recovery Turns 25

If you’ve heard a sermon, small group discussion, Sunday school lesson, or testimony that addressed one of those once-taboo topics – alcoholism, drug abuse, anger issues, porn habits – you probably have Celebrate Recovery to thank. “It used to be if someone was an alcoholic or a drug addict, it was hush-hush,” said Huston McComb, leader of CR at Houston’s First Baptist Church. “We’ve kind of taken that stigma away,” he says.

While some of the shame around addiction has faded over the decades, Celebrate Recovery has shifted how evangelicals in particular view “hurts, habits, and hang-ups.” The ministry hosts regular meetings at 29,000 churches and has trained more than 100,000 pastors in the recovery process.

Its annual summit last weekend marked 25 years since John Baker founded the program at Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church, immediately following his own journey to sobriety through Alcoholics Anonymous. Like many evangelicals at the time, he had reservations about the generic spirituality of AA, whose 12-step program refers to “a Power greater than ourselves” and “God as we understand him.”

Baker saw a need to create a support system rooted in gospel teachings. “In my men’s small group I couldn’t talk about my struggle, and at AA, I couldn’t talk about my Savior.” So Baker proposed the program – with its own version of the 12 steps, each one paired with a teaching from Scripture – in a 13-page letter to Warren back in 1991. From there, Celebrate Recovery as been replicated across denominations, countries, and demographics, beyond what Baker ever imagined.

About a third of the people who attend Celebrate Recovery come for issues with drugs or alcohol. Most struggle with something else. Recently, CR has begun to focus more on “dual diagnosis,” the interplay between multiple issues. New initiatives have been launched, with a focus on military service members and healing for those coming out of sexual exploitation.

Baker says, “The truth is, you’d be hard pressed to find someone in any church whose life, marriage, or faith isn’t hindered by some kind of habit, hang-up, or past hurt. We need to start talking about these very common struggles much more. It’s not enough to just condemn pornography (or whatever else) from the pulpit. You need to help those ensnared by it, give people a better way. Celebrate Recovery does that.”

For more information on Celebrate Recovery, visit their website at www.celebraterecovery.com.