Tragic Death of James Dean

On this day in 1955, 24-year-old actor James Dean was killed in Cholame, California, when his Porsche hit a Ford Tudor sedan at an intersection. The driver of the other car, 23-year-old California Polytechnic State University student Donald Turnupseed, was dazed but mostly uninjured. Dean’s passenger, German Porsche mechanic Rolf Wutherick, was badly injured, but survived.

Only one of Dean’s movies, East of Eden, had been released at the time of his death, though Rebel Without a Cause and Giant opened shortly thereafter. But Dean was already on his way to superstardom, and the crash made him a legend. Rumor has it that Dean’s car, which he’d nicknamed the Little Bastard, was cursed. The remains of the car vanished from the scene of that accident and have not been seen since.

It could be argued that James Dean is a bigger figure because he died. Why would that be? I suggest it is because the world knew him just well enough to see his full potential. So in his loss, the world felt a vacuum.

What about you? If you exited the world today, would people say you will be missed because of what you have done? Or would they say you had so much left to do? James Dean is famous, in part, because what he had, people wanted more of.

My prayer is that when I leave this world, people will look at me and say, “He lived a life too short.”

American Woman Climbs Everest

It happened 28 years ago today. Stacy Allison, of Portland, Oregon, became the first American woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest, which at 29,035 feet above sea level is the highest point on earth. Allison, a member of the Northwest American Everest Expedition, climbed the Himalayan peak using the southeast ridge route. In May 1953, climber and explorer Edmund Hillary of New Zealand and Tenzing Norgay of Nepal made the first successful climb to the peak.

Ten years later, James Whittaker, of Redmond, Washington, became the first American to top the peak, reaching Everest’s summit with his Sherpa climbing partner Nawang Gombu. In 1975, Japanese mountaineer Junko Tabei became the first woman to conquer the mountain. Three years later, Reinhold Messner of Italy and Peter Habeler of Austria achieved what had been previously thought impossible: climbing to the Everest summit without oxygen.

Allison did what so many others have failed to do, as two dozen climbers died in attempts to reach the peak of Everest in the last century.

While the death of the failed climbers is a tragedy, it teaches us a valuable lesson. We know the names Allison and Hillary because of what they accomplished. We don’t know the names of those who died trying to reach the mountain’s peak. But we do know this – we all die. The question is whether you will die, satisfied with all you have done. Or will you die while still pursuing another mountain?

I’d rather die while failing to achieve my dreams than to live in the malaise of the valley.

Not Home Yet

A missionary couple came home aboard a ship after many years of faithful service in Africa. It so happened that there was a very important diplomat also on the same ship who got special treatment and special attention. When the ship arrived, this couple stood back and watched from the deck as the band played and the people had gathered and there was great applause. As the diplomat walked down the gangplank and was whisked off in a limousine to the sound of applause, this dear saint put his arm around his wife and he walked off with her into the streets of New York.

“Honey,” he said, “it just doesn’t seem right after all of these years that we would have this kind of treatment when we came home, and here this fellow gets that kind of special treatment.”

Then she put her arms around her husband and said to him, “But honey, we’re not home yet.”

Is life tough for your sometimes? Is your road hard to travel? Do others seem to have the gain while you get the pain? Don’t ever forget, you aren’t home yet. There is a celebration waiting. But until your ship comes in, keep trusting. The best is yet to come.

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4).

The Rushmore Report: Who Won the Debate? Three Views

The first presidential debate is over. Who won? The polls are divided. While most pundits agree that Hillary came out on top, the following polls say Trump won: Breitbart (76-24%), Drudge (82-18%), Politico (77-23%), The Hill (61-39%), and even liberal-leaning CNBC (61-39%). CNN had it 62-38% for Clinton. But you will find these three views on who won the debate most interesting.

1. David Gergen – Clinton Won

The CNN senior political analyst and co-director of the Center for Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School says Clinton won big. He said, “Coming out of the debate, it was clear that she won decisively, but I suggest that the campaign will remain ferociously close.”

Gergen continued, “By all traditional standards of debates, Mrs. Clinton crushed. She carefully marshaled her arguments and facts and then sent them into battle with a smile. She rolled out a long list of indictments against Trump, often damaging. By contrast, he came in unprepared, had nothing fresh to say, and increasingly gave way to rants.”

But Clinton had her own struggles. “Mrs. Clinton struggled in the debate to create closer emotional bonds with voters,” said Gergen. “She has been vexed with the issue of likeability throughout this campaign and in recent months her team has become concerned about her ability to mobilize millennials in the way Barack Obama did so successfully. Her arguments last night should have made voters think, but I’m not sure it was enough.”

2. Mel Robbins – Trump Won

Mel Robbins is a CNN commentator, legal analyst, best-selling author, and strong Clinton supporter. That makes his comments even more surprising.

“As a Clinton supporter, it pains me to say Trump won. Clinton was too restrained, too smart – and as much as I hate to say it – she was too presidential. And being presidential won’t help her win the election. She spoke to the intellectuals tuning in; she did not speak to the average American.”

Robbins continued, “Her advisers told her to restrain from attacking Trump. She got the wrong counsel and it could cost her the election.” Robbins went on to criticize the democratic candidate for a lack of sharpness and toughness.

3. Julian Zelizer: It Was a Tie

A history professor at Princeton University, the author of biographies on presidents Jimmy Carter and Lyndon Johnson, Zelizer calls the debate a toss-up. “Overall, it is unclear that Monday night’s debate will have a huge impact on the direction of the polls. The best moments for Donald Trump came in the first half hour, where he baited her into defending unpopular free trade deals.”

Zelizer wrote, “There were many reasons that Hillary Clinton supporters could be pleased with her performance. At several points, Trump was irritated and angry. He delved into some of his more controversial claims. He referred to Sean Hannity as evidence to support his business record. Clinton’s best moments came when she attacked him on birtherism. In the final half hour, Trump was mired in his Trumpian statements about women’s looks and more.”

“Clinton’s greatest advantage remains the dynamics of the Electoral College and the continued doubts about Trump’s capacity to be president,” he continued. “But it is unclear that this debate had the kind of dramatic moment that will shift the momentum Trump has built in recent weeks. Nothing happened to undercut the Trump campaign in this debate.”

The Rushmore Report: Who Are Christian Leaders Voting For?

The evangelical constituency in the United States is a political prize fought over by both Republicans and Democrats. Pew Research confirms that those who believe a) the Bible is the word of God, and b) Jesus is the way to heaven – heavily support Trump. But where do Christian leaders stand? Here are some of the most popular Christian leaders in America, and where they stand on the 2016 presidential election.

1. James Dobson

On July 22, the founder of Focus on the Family formally endorsed Donald Trump for president. As an outspoken campaigner for traditional views of marriage and against abortion, his voice carries a lot of clout.

2. Jerry Falwell, Jr.

As president of Liberty University and the son of the founder of the Moral Majority, Falwell is a hero to young pastors. He has led his church to become one of the largest ever seen in North America.

3. Robert Jeffress

Jeffress is the senior pastor of Dallas’ First Baptist Church and a frequent guest on Fox News. He serves on Trump’s advisory board and is one of the most frequent guests at major Trump rallies.

4. Wayne Grudem

The Southern Baptist ethicist and theologian calls a Trump vote a “morally good choice.” In an article for Townhall, he admitted Trump is “egotistical, bombastic, and brash,” and has “mistaken ideas.” But he says a Clinton victory would be a huge set-back for traditional Christian values.

5. Paula White

Perhaps America’s most well-known female evangelical leader, White has been a close spiritual advisor to Mr. Trump. According to Politico, the televangelist is one of Trump’s most outspoken supporters.

6. Mark Burns

As a media mogul, Burns carries a lot of weight. He led a prayer at the Republican National Convention, in which he referred to Hillary Clinton and the Democrats as “the enemy.”

7. Jack Graham

The pastor of Prestonwood Church near Dallas says he is happy to “champion Donald Trump” after he attended a meeting with Trump and 900 other evangelicals. “I am convinced he is going to make a great president,” he said.

8. Eric Metaxas

The popular author, speaker, and radio host has written biographies of Wilberforce and Bonhoeffer. He says, “Not only can we vote for Trump, we must vote for Trump, for he is the best hope to keep America from sliding into oblivion.”

9. Max Lucado

The popular author and pastor from San Antonio wrote a stinging post about Trump, but has not backed Clinton, either. He has taken the middle road, backing away from supporting either candidate.

10. Deborah Filkes

As executive adviser to the World Evangelical Alliance, Filkes is perhaps Clinton’s most famous evangelical supporter. She had condemned Trump’s behavior toward minorities and women, saying, “Hillary Clinton is the leader who people of faith are looking for and we are praying that Sister Hillary and not Mr. Trump will be elected in November.”

So here is your scorecard: Trump – 8, Clinton – 1, Unsure – 1.

Certainly this is not a scientific study. But there is no question that most evangelical leaders support Donald Trump. Does that matter? Perhaps the answer to that question depends on how you feel about evangelical leaders.

The Rushmore Report: Is Anything Sacred?

I played the position of catcher in Little League baseball. I played catcher in Pony League baseball. I spent a lot of time behind home plate – thousands of innings. During all these years of baseball, I noticed something. The width of home plate never changed. It was always 17 inches wide. Its dimensions were never up for discussion. And from home plate in baseball, I see a perfect analogy to the Christian life.

When a pitcher couldn’t throw the ball over the 17-inch wide mark, the umpire didn’t offer to widen it. He never said, “Hey, buddy, I’m going to get a new plate just for you. Would 25 inches help?”

No, the width of the plate was immutable. We might even call it holy, because the idea of holiness in the Bible is, in many ways, like the home plate in baseball. Holiness describes something that is “set apart” and predetermined by God. Popular opinion cannot change it. Majority rule does not alter it. My preference does not affect it. The Supreme Court cannot change it. When God deems something as holy, it is holy from Little League to the Majors, from the beginning of life to the end of life.

Would it not be wise, then, for us to take note of what God considers holy? What is holy to God? Why is it holy? Search the Scripture for what God considers holy and the list may surprise you.

1. You are holy.

Peter said, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God” (1 Peter 2:9). If you are a Christ-follower, there is nothing hum-drum about you. By virtue of your union with Christ, you participate in the life of God. His holiness is your holiness.

2. Human life is holy.

God sanctifies human life. Every beating heart matters to God. Whether that life is in the womb of a mother, the cell of a prison, the hallway of a convalescent home, or the corner office of a Wall Street high rise, that life is holy to God. “For God so loved the world, he gave his one and only Son” (John 3:16).

3. Marriage is holy.

When the wedding officiant speaks of holy matrimony, the term is accurate. Jesus described a marriage as “what God has joined together” (Matthew 19:6). Marriage is unlike your friendship at the bridge club or your relationship with your siblings. It is “set apart” from business partnerships.

4. Sex is holy.

Many people see sex as recreation, in the same league as golf or sailing. God sees sex as a unique portrayal of divine intimacy. “Honor marriage, and guard the sacredness of sexual intimacy between wife and husband” (Hebrews 13:4). God is not anti-sex. After all, he invented it! He regards it as a holy act, a portrayal of the relationship he desires with us.

5. The Sabbath is holy.

Let six days be used for work and acquisition. But set one aside for spiritual and physical restoration. “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy” (Exodus 20:8). Under the older covenant, this day was Saturday. As Christians, we set aside Sunday, though many Christians still observe a Saturday Sabbath.

6. The tithe is holy.

“A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the Lord; it is holy to the Lord” (Leviticus 27:30). The first ten percent of everything you earn is, in God’s eyes, holy money. We never give it to God; we return it to what is already his. The tithe is holy.

7. The name of God is holy.

“No using the name of God, your God, in curses or silly banter; God won’t put up with the irreverent use of his name” (Exodus 20:7). Satan never prompts us to say, “Satan-dammit” or “demon-damn you.” Profanity is his way of rubbing the luster off the name of God. He has a simple ploy: dilute the divine name by making it common. For that reason, God fearing people revere the very name of God. It is holy.

About the Author

Max Lucado is a best-selling author and the pastor of Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas. A graduate of Abilene Christian University, Lucado is considered one of the most beloved authors in the Christian community. Winner of the cherished Gold Medallion Book Award, Max and his wife Denalyn have three grown daughters.

The Rushmore Report: Four Things to Consider After the Police Shootings

As a black woman and Reformed Christian, the past week has been rough. As I’ve tried to process the shootings of black men by police officers, compounded by the sniper who took out five police officers where I live in Dallas, I find the Internet full of opinions. People are drawn to simple answers. But as Christians, I see four things we should remember as we continue to process these terrible events.

I’ve noticed two extremes. First, there are those who see every victim as deserving of the treatment because, after all, the police are there to protect and serve. On the other hand, there are those who only see a black man getting shot, which translates into a wholesale police culture gunning for black people.

I suggest it is not that simple. So, as a black woman and Christ-follower, I offer four observations.

1. Experience shapes our response.

We need to step back and evaluate how our experiences play into these divergent perspectives. If your experience with law enforcement has been relatively positive, it makes sense that you might have a hard time imagining a cop abusing power or using unnecessary force. However, for people who have had different experiences, the perspective will be that unarmed victims are innocent, even when there is a criminal record. And given the history of injustices against blacks in America, it’s reasonable that a sort of PTSD settles in, creating an exaggerated sense that these incidences demonstrate that there is a police culture en masse.

Certainly there are communities that experience a culture of police that seems to work against them. And let’s acknowledge that people living in their own communities can best speak what transpires in them. People outside the communities shouldn’t be the first voices to speak about what it going on.

2. Police have the difficult duty to protect and serve.

I get that people, and especially blacks, are angry. I recognize that there is a police culture to examine with suspicion of abuse of authority. But put yourself in the shoes of those who are called to maintain law and order.

The outcry I keep hearing is that criminal backgrounds of unarmed victims don’t matter. Yes, it probably does. If I were a cop, and I knew I was approaching someone who had a history with law enforcement, especially of violence, I probably would have a heightened sense of expectation that person might get violent with me and act accordingly. Police actually do shoot people in a commission of a crime and are conditioned to dealing with criminals, which I’m pretty sure conditions how they deal with people they perceive to be a threat. The question is whether they give all people the equal benefit of doubt.

3. Christians love and pursue truth.

Because of the sensitive nature of police brutality against persons of color, it is quite natural that those most affected by it will tend to exaggerate. Countless times I’ve seen people recite how many black people are getting shot by police. While we’re counting how many black people are getting shot by police, I think in obligation of the ninth commandment, we probably want to compare that to all people who are getting shot, armed versus unarmed (also the incidences we know about compared to all incidences).

Though the information available is not as comprehensive as it should be, these numbers actually do matter if we’re going to make a case that police have it out for black folks. Christians have an obligation to pursue truth.

4. Not everyone is given the benefit of the doubt.

A common retort to the cries over unjust killings has been that if people are compliant with police these kinds of things won’t happen. I’m left to ask how then do you explain a black man who was allegedly compliant being gunned down? It leads me to ask how many black men are not given the benefit of the doubt when being compliant and informing officers what they are doing. Both statistics and perception are worthy of examination.

In all this, we Christians must remember our kinship in Christ. One of the most disheartening responses I’ve seen play out in these events is the fractures they have caused within the body of Christ. It is vitally important to us to remember that our kingdom identity and commitment must outweigh any desire we have to align with simple narratives.

About the Author

Lisa Robinson is a member of Town North Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Dallas and a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary. She is also a non-profit professional, anti-poverty advocate, and writer at theothoughts.com.

The Rushmore Report: Ten Things Great Parents Do

I’ve given parenting workshops all over the country. There is one person I have yet to meet – a parent who wants to do a bad job with their kids. The problem for many parents is not a lack of desire, but knowledge. In my workshops I highlight ten practices I have observed in successful parents; these cross generations and ethnicities. Here, we will offer a simple summary of these ten things great parents do.

1. Do what you say you are going to do.

This goes two ways. Don’t make rules you can’t or won’t enforce consistently, and keep your commitments. It’s important for kids to know that you mean what you say; this builds trust and respect.

2. “Catch” kids being good, and tell them specifically what you liked.

Kids really do want to please their parents, and they thrive on constructive, positive feedback. We parents often focus a lot of time and energy on pointing out things our kids can improve. It’s important to balance those messages with acknowledgements of things kids are already doing well. Like adults, kids want to be appreciated.

3. Harness the power of natural consequences.

Let kids experience the natural consequences of their actions or choices. This is essential to learning. Allowing children to experience the natural consequences of their choices can also minimize power struggles, since you won’t have to intervene.

4. Show them the way.

Punishment only suppresses behavior. Be sure also to tell kids the behavior you want to see instead, and then praise it specifically. Don’t expect your kids to learn more than you teach them.

5. Beware of over-functioning for your kids.

Making mistakes and experiencing “failure” and disappointment are essential life experiences that provide the opportunity for kids to learn and practice good coping skills.

6. Practice positive touch.

Research consistently shows that positive touch (e.g. hugs, loving pats, cuddles) is absolutely critical to children’s development and ongoing well-being. So take time every day to give your kids a long hug or cuddle. If your older child doesn’t want to cuddle anymore, you can still give them a loving squeeze on the arm or a pat on the back.

7. Make a clear distinction between kids and their behavior.

Always communicate with your words and actions that you love them no matter what. When they misbehave, say to them, “I don’t like that behavior” instead of “What’s wrong with you?”

8. Avoid disciplining kids when they are hungry or tired.

When kids are tired or hungry, they won’t be focused on what you are trying to teach them. Since the goal of discipline is learning, make sure that your kids are in a physical and mental state that will enable them to learn from their mistakes.

9. Teach kids the three “P’s.”

Instead of telling kids, “You can’t do anything,” teach them the three P’s: practice, patience, and perseverance. These habits are the cornerstone to success.

10. Help kids learn to feel their feelings and to choose their actions.

Coach kids in how to respond (instead of react). It’s always okay for them to feel whatever they’re feeling, but it may not be okay to follow their feelings into action (e.g. hitting, yelling). This may be one of the most important skills we can teach our children.

About the Author

Erica Reischer, Ph.D., is a psychologist, author, and parent coach who offers both therapy and parenting support for thousands who seek to raise great kids. She leads workshops at the University of California, San Francisco, and is a frequent blogger.

The Rushmore Report: Debate Ignored Four Fundamentals that Will Determine America’s Future

For 90 minutes, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton traded ideas and insults. It was the most watched presidential debate in American history. Predictably, each side has claimed victory. Meanwhile, much has been made of what was not said – little discussion of Trump’s contradictory statements in recent months, and still less about the Clinton Foundation, Benghazi, or the tepid economic growth.

But in the bigger picture, none of that matters – at least not as much as four fundamentals on which America’s future will hinge. Whoever wins will really lose if they ignore these four issues. These are the four fundamental issues completely ignored by Lester Holt and both candidates. And they are the four issues Christians should care about the most.

1. The Supreme Court

It is likely that the next President will name three, maybe even four Justices to the Supreme Court. Given the divided court as it currently stands, the new court will either turn sharply left or sharply right. The issue of life should be enough to convince Christians to pray this doesn’t go wrong. One candidate says that while women should not have the right to do what they want with their own bodies when it comes to wearing seatbelts in cars and helmets on motorcycles, they do have a right to abort the unborn child, with a beating heart and functioning organs. This candidate even supports the radical position of partial birth abortion. Amazingly, this candidate dismisses Trump’s position on climate change as being out of touch with science, while she supports the taking of the innocent life. That the unborn is life is settled science. Only the Supreme Court can stop the insanity of abortion, and only one candidate will appoint Justices who support life. Yet, somehow, the Supreme Court never came up in the first debate.

2. Religious Freedom

The fundamental right to religious freedom hangs in the balance. To say otherwise is tantamount to sticking one’s head firmly in the sand. Only one candidate has questioned the right to continue tax deductions on giving to churches. Only one candidate supports punitive action against Christian universities that refuse to include insurance that covers abortion in their benefits. Only one party has mocked Christians for “clinging to their Bibles and guns.” Yet, religious freedom was completely ignored in the first debate.

3. Limited Government

One party promotes the 14th Amendments, which sanctifies states rights. One candidate supports a literal interpretation of the Constitution, while the other wants to expand government to impose yet more regulations on businesses, while changing the Constitution in the name of a “breathing document.” One candidate served in leadership as the national debt doubled in eight years. But the issue of limited government was of no apparent interest to the mainstream media who gave us the moderator for the first debate.

4. School Choice

President Obama’s children have the blessing of attending fine schools, rather than attending the inner city schools of Washington, D.C. Amazingly, both Obama and Clinton want to deny that same right to millions of less fortunate citizens. By promising free college (another unpaid give-away), one party would drive private Christian schools toward extinction, as they would be driven out of business by the inequality of costs. One candidate wants parents to decide where their children go to school; the other wants government to dictate this to the families.  America is in trouble because our cities are in trouble. And one party has ruled most of the major cities for decades. It is there – Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland – where kids are as likely to get beat up as to get a good education, where shootings are becoming standard, and the economy is in shambles. There is a way out. It’s called school choice. And this most critical issue was completely ignored in the first presidential debate.

 

The Rushmore Report: Trump, You Can Win Second Debate in Two Minutes

With the first presidential debate in the books, dozens of Christian commentators are chiming in on what Donald Trump needs to do differently in the next debate. I’ll add my voice and I’ll keep it simple. Mr. Trump, you can win Debate #2 – and the White House – in just two minutes of the next debate. Just turn to Hillary Clinton, sometime in the debate, and ask her ten simple questions. Then let her talk.

1. If I turn over my tax returns, will you turn over the 33,000 missing emails?

2. I have created tens of thousands of jobs. How many have you created?

3. If you really support equal pay for women, why did you pay the women in the State Department less than the men?

4. You said you carried one devise (smart phone). But the FBI found you had 16. Which was it?

5. Why do you oppose school choice for children?

6. In what ways do you disagree with the Democratic leadership that has dominated Chicago, Detroit, and Cleveland over the last decades, while their economy has gone down and crime has gone up?

7. Do you agree with President Obama’s position that climate change, not terrorism, is America’s greatest national security threat?

8. President Obama is the first president to never see annual economic growth hit three percent a single year in his term. Do you still believe we are on the road to recovery?

9. How can you support a woman’s right to abort her child, even at the point of birth, when you dictate that she must wear seat belts and motorcycle helmets? Does she have a right to what she does with her body or not?

10. You want to raise corporate taxes. Are you aware that America already has the highest corporate tax rate in the free world?

There you go, Mr. Trump. If you stick to these basic points, you will win the next debate. All you have to do is turn to Mrs. Clinton, at some point, and ask her these ten simple questions. It will take a total of about two minutes.