Stuck

The 19th century evangelist, D.L. Moody, loved to tell the story of a man who was asked by his ten-year-old son, “Daddy, why don’t you ever go to church with us?”

The father replied, “I don’t need to go to church, son. My faith is established.”

Later that same day the man drove his horses out of the barn and hitched them to the buggy. As he and his son drove out of the yard, the horses became mired in a mud hole. The man tried in vain to extricate them, whereupon the boy observed, “They’re not going anywhere, Daddy. I believe they’re established.”

The Bible warns us, “Do not forsake the assembling of yourselves together, as has become the habit of many.”

In America, that is so true! Most Americans skip church regularly. They come to church disguised as empty pews. I was raised going to church consistently, every Christmas and Easter.

Most of us think we are “established,” but we are really “mired in a hole.” We aren’t going anywhere. This Sunday, that can change for you. If you like, you can even go to church on your horse.

Your Cheatin’ Heart

According to Psychology Today, a survey of 2,153 juniors and seniors from colleges across the nation found that 70 percent of men and women confessed to cheating during high school. Nearly half of all college students surveyed cheated, as well.

According to polls reported by USA Today, Americans lie more than we realize. Citing statistics from the book, The Day America Told the Truth, the newspaper reported that 91 percent of Americans lie routinely. Here are the specifics: 36 percent tell big lies, 86 percent lie to their parents, 75 percent lie to their friends, 73 percent to their siblings, and 69 percent to their spouse.

What are we lying about? Eighty-one percent lie about their feelings, while 43 percent lie about their income. And 40 percent lie about sex.

A study by the American Management Association indicates that U.S. businesses lose over $40 billion to employee theft each year, $4 billion to embezzlement, $2.5 billion to burglary, and $2 billion to shoplifting.

Here’s what the Bible says. “Do not lie.” “Let he who stole, steal no more.”

There is really only one solution for those who lie. It’s called repentance. It’s not easy. If it was, everyone would do it.

The Rushmore Report: The Tweakability Factor

What if, for one day, Jesus were to become you? Would you still do what you had planned to do for the next 24 hours? It’s dangerous to sum up grand truths in one statement, but I’m going to try. If a sentence or two could capture God’s desire for each of us, it might read like this: “God loves you the way you are, but he refused to leave you that way. He wants you to be just like Jesus.”

That’s good to know, right? You are tweakable. You aren’t stuck with today’s personality. Where did we get the idea that we can’t change? If our bodies malfunction, we seek help. Shouldn’t we do the same with our hearts and our attitudes? Jesus can change our hearts. He wants us to have a heart like his. Can you imagine a better offer – than to be just like Jesus?

You can do it – if you embrace the tweakability factor.

About the Author

Max Lucado is a best-selling author and the senior pastor of Oak Hills Church in San Antonio.

The Rushmore Report: Five NFL Players You Didn’t Know Were Christians

In America, football has become a religion. While more people attend church on Sundays than watch NFL games on TV, the NFL is gaining – fast. But Christianity and the NFL are not mutually exclusive. There are plenty of NFL players who work on Sundays – and are very active in their faith. Here are just a few football players who have embraced Christianity, and aren’t ashamed to talk about it.

1. Drew Brees

The man is a saint – twice. First, Brees plays quarterback for the New Orleans Saints. But more importantly, he lives out an active faith in Christ. He accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Savior on his 17th birthday, after having knee surgery. He credits his faith for helping him through multiple episodes of adversity in his life.

2. Aaron Rodgers

Widely recognized as the best player in the NFL, the quarterback of the Green Bay Packers grew up in a Christian home. This is how he lives out his faith as a football player: “Let your actions talk about your beliefs. Start a relationship with others, then finally when there is a chance for questions, tell them about God.”

3. Russell Wilson

A featured speaker in churches nationwide, Wilson credits his faith for the stability he has come to experience in his personal life. He explains, “I don’t have highs and lows because I play for Him.” Wilson has shared his faith with teammates, and the Seattle Seahawks now have one of the strongest chapel ministries in the league.

4. Mark Sanchez

The back-up quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys has experienced a lot of adversity in the NFL, bouncing from team to team. He expresses his faith by the way he treats others. He says, “How can you show your love for God? He doesn’t need anything you’ve got. You love Him by loving others.”

5. Robert Griffin III

Having earned Rookie of the Year honors with the Washington Redskins, it once looked as though RG3 would become the face of the NFL. Then injuries began to mount. Through trades and down times, he has remained faithful to God. He says, “My relationship with God has been my most important influence. I praise God for everything. Purposefully, you live every day for Him, and when He gives you the opportunity to speak up for Him or to do something in His name, you do it.”

The Rushmore Report: The Best Marriage Advice I Ever Heard

You hear a lot of marriage advice before you get married. “Keep a date night.” “Never go to bed angry.” “Make the relationship your first priority.” “Don’t walk out during an argument.” But of all the counsel my husband and I received before our wedding day, one thought has proven to be the most challenging and transformative, and it came from my father-in-law.

A gifted pastor and teacher, he was the only person we could imagine officiating our wedding. During the final preparations for the ceremony, we sat across a table from him in a small restaurant to discuss the details: who was responsible for what, when would everyone arrive, which Bible verses had we chosen to use, and who would be reading them. Somewhere between the end of our meal and the waitress returning a receipt to be signed, we asked him what advice he had for us. He paused, smiled, and looked down for a moment to thoughtfully consider his response. His eyes shot back up and looked directly at us as he simply said, “Forgive quickly.”

I had enough self-awareness on that day to know this would not come easily to me. If there was ever a place where I would feel justified to harbor bitterness and keep a tab on the ways I had been wronged, it would be within marriage. Where else would I share such a wide array of intimate moments with one person? Space, money, parenting responsibilities, highs, lows, personal time, a bed . . . becoming “one” is about more than sex. It requires a level of vulnerability that opens the door for deep hurt, and letting go of those wounds was going to require more change than I would like to submit to.

What forgiveness means

It is rare for me to be without words, especially when I am upset. In the first year of our marriage, we struggled to resolve arguments because of my need to say “just one more thing.” With each additional statement, I churned up the dirt and pulled out new arguments that were both painful and unproductive. I thought I’d feel better by presenting every offense of which I thought my husband was guilty; and if I felt better, I could forgive. If I felt better, I could let it go. In time, I learned that feelings of forgiveness follow the choice to forgive.

My son plays a game that teaches him new words and their definitions. I was recently struck by the explanation it provided for the word forgive. “When you forgive someone, you stop being angry.” To my surprise, the Webster definition also speaks to a change in feelings preceding the act of forgiveness – a far cry from the biblical depiction. Rather, in Scripture we find that forgiveness is an action made in the midst of negative feelings, making it a beautiful expression of love.

About the Author

Cara Joyner writes on Christian marriage, and is regularly featured in Today’s Christian Woman.

The Rushmore Report: Hillary’s Four-Point Plan for 2020

Just when you thought it was safe to go into the water again – Hillary is running. Again. In 2020. She has slowly been re-entering the public spotlight. She has slowly returned to the speaking circuit. She has begun doing the things a future candidate must do. Does it sound crazy? Maybe. But insiders offer a four-point plan for Hillary to run – and win – in 2020. This is that plan.

Step 1 – Let them come to you.

Positioning herself as the prohibitive front-running inevitable juggernaut soaking up dollars like gravy on a biscuit has never worked for Hillary. Her best moments have come when she appeared to be the underdog. Whether it was living through the Monica Lewinsky scandal or her bully-opponent in the New York Senate race, Hillary does best when playing the role of outsider or underdog. So her best first step is to not step first. Wait and let party leaders come to you. Be the reluctant candidate.

Step 2 – Fly casual.

In a crucial scene in Return to the Jedi, Han Solo pilots an imperial transport ship onto the forest moon of Endor. Trying to avoid detection by the enemy, he offers Chewbacca crucial advice: “Fly casual.” This must be Clinton’s mission for the next two years – stay visible without attracting too much attention. Do not look too eager.

Step 3 – Support everyone – and no one.

In her effort, a central goal will be to provide support for Democrats who will be seeking re-election in 2018. She should give a boost to each and every potential presidential candidate, saying nice things about them when prompted, but not showing any favoritism. Let the crowded field remain crowded.

Step 4 – Enter late – and humbly.

Do what George W. Bush did in 2000. Act so casual that you have to be drafted. Hillary has 100 percent name recognition, so there will be no reason to enter the fray early. The one label she cannot wear is “Frontrunner.” The best way to avoid that is to not run at all – until drafted.

Will this work? It’s too early to tell. My best guess is that Hillary will be encouraged to remain on the sideline. But if and when no other candidate emerges, she can become the consensus candidate. Will she be too old in 2020? Well, she will be one year younger than Donald Trump. The betting money says Hillary won’t run in 2020. But then, those were the same pundits who said she would win in 2016.

If 2016 taught us anything, it is to expect the unexpected. So get ready. We may be looking at Trump-Clinton. Again.

The Rushmore Report: Democratic Chief – The 48% We Don’t Want in Our Party

The Democratic Party has just staked out unchartered territory. They have gone where no political party has gone before. The Democratic National Committee Chairman, Tom Perez, just dropped a bombshell that only the most liberal and divisive of the party faithful can possibly applaud. Perez told Huffington Post there is no room in the Democratic Party for 48 percent of the American electorate.

Democrats can disagree on guns, national debt, the economy, and national defense. But there is one issue that, in the chairman’s own words, “is not negotiable.” What is that issue that now defines all Democrats?

Abortion.

Perez: “Every Democrat, like every American, should support a woman’s right to make her own choices about her body and her health. That is non-negotiable.”

It didn’t take long for a pro-life response. Marjorie Dannenfelser, a top pro-life advisor to President Trump, fired back. “Never has it been so clear: on abortion, there is no room for dissent or exceptions among Democrats; only support for the party’s radical platform, which calls for abortion on-demand, up until the moment of birth, paid for by taxpayer dollars.”

The National Right to Life’s president also blasted the DNC chairman’s abortion stance.

“Dating back to the ouster of (pro-life) Pennsylvania Governor Bob Casey from their 1992 convention, Democrats have become increasingly intolerant of pro-life Americans within their own ranks. By forcing all Democrats to pledge fealty to the abortion industry’s extreme agenda, Tom Perez has completed the party’s transformation and sent the message that pro-life Democrats are no longer welcome in their party,” said NRL President Carol Tobias.

Indeed, Perez is attacking more than one-fourth of his own party, and nearly half of all Americans. A recent Pew Research poll confirmed that 28 percent of Democrats believe abortion should be illegal in all or most cases. Meanwhile, a Gallup poll found that 48 percent of all Americans consider themselves “pro-life.”

So, to be clear, the man selected by the Democratic Party to represent their views is now on record. To be a Democrat, one must take the position that taking the life of the unborn child, right up to the point of birth, is not only acceptable – to believe otherwise is simply “nonnegotiable.”

One can be a Democrat and disagree with most of the party platform – but not the issue of life.

Is it still possible for a person to be a Bible-believing, God-loving Democrat? Yes. I know several who are. But in the face of this radical pro-abortion “non-negotiable” position of the Democratic Party, at the very highest level of party leadership, it’s not as easy as it used to be.

 

The Rushmore Report: What Trump Has Accomplished in His First 100 Days

As Donald Trump approaches the 100-day mark of his presidency, now is a good time to review what he has accomplished so far. Last week, Trump said, “No administration has accomplished more in the first 90 days.” It has been a bumpy and eventful ride so far. Since the Franklin Roosevelt Administration, the first 100 days have been heralded as the first test of a president’s success or failure. So how does President Trump stack up? Let’s start with what he has done so far, and then address the initiatives that may soon come to fruition.

What Trump has done so far

1. New bills: Trump has signed 28 bills into law, 13 aimed to reverse Obama policies. Many of these have been minor housekeeping bills. But no major pieces of legislation have yet been enacted.

2. Executive orders: To date, Trump has signed 24 executive orders, 22 presidential memorandums, and 20 proclamations. These numbers are not unusual when compared to past administrations.

3. Lagging appointments: While Trump has deservedly received high marks for his high-profile appointments, he is lagging in filling dozens of positions. Even Senate-confirmed positions remain unfilled. To his credit, the president’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Judge Neil Gorsuch, won approval and wide acclaim.

4. Foreign policy: The airstrikes in Syria and tougher stands against North Korea and Iran are a refreshing dose of presidential leadership that has been sadly lacking for the past eight years. Clearly, to Mr. Trump, red lines mean something. Still  uncertain, however, is how this new posture will play out on a most complicated world stage.

What to watch for in the next 100 days

1. Health care: It appears congressional Republicans may finally be getting their act together, and a major health care reform bill may be passed soon.

2. Border wall: A centerpiece to his presidential campaign, the famous wall may be coming online soon. While many uncertainties remain, the wall is slowly making progress.

3. Tax reform: Tax cuts seem imminent. How will they be paid for? Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says the plan will “pay for itself with growth.” In his argument, he promises that reducing business and individual tax rates will unleash so much economic growth that the lost revenue will be almost completely recouped. Predictably, this view is not met with support across the political divide.

Conclusion

While it is clear that the Trump Administration has failed to enact significant legislation, the fault must be shared with congressional Republicans, who must put laws on his desk, and congressional Democrats, who would oppose legislation that guarantees world peace and wipes out hunger everywhere – if it was proposed by Republicans. Trump can chalk up great victories in the make-up of his cabinet and his Supreme Court nominee. He should also receive credit for his posture on the world stage, especially in the face of tyrannical leadership around the globe.

Trump has enjoyed many great achievements so far. Most importantly, he is keeping his promises to the American people. He is actually doing the things he was elected to do. But when history looks back at the Trump Administration, these first 100 days – though significant – will matter far less than the next 1,361 days.

The Rushmore Report: Six Steps to Retire Debt Free

Wondering how you’ll ever be able to retire with your current retirement savings nest egg? Make a plan to retire debt free. When you retire with fewer expenses, you may find that retirement is more affordable – and feasible – than you think. Here are six simple steps you can take now in order to retire debt free. While some of these steps may seem hard, or even impossible, you can do it – one step at a time.

1. Keep your housing costs low.

Whether you opt to own your home or rent, Credit.com advises that you keep monthly housing expenses (which include the cost of rent/mortgage, plus insurance and taxes) to no more than 28% of your monthly income.

2. Consider shorter-term loans.

When your goal is to retire debt free, financing major purchases like a home or a car with a shorter term loan (like a 36-month car loan or a 15-year mortgage) can help you stay honest about what you can truly afford, while reducing how much you pay to borrow, and for how long.

3. Eliminate credit card debt as soon as possible.

According to Bankrate.com, paying off your credit card debt is one of the best investments you can make, especially when your goal is to retire debt free. As you decrease your credit card balances, you’ll have increased cash flow that you can use to aggressively pay off other debts – which may include your home mortgage

4. Never co-sign.

If your name is listed on any credit account or loan as an official co-signer, it’s legally considered your debt – even if you didn’t make the purchases required to create it. If you want to retire debt free, don’t put your name on any debt you don’t have complete ownership of.

5. Set tangible goals.

You may know you want to retire debt free. But how exactly will you get there? Form an action plan for how much you’ll need to save in order to slowly pay down your debts each month.

6. Resist lifestyle inflation.

As you become debt free, you’ll have more spendable income. Ironically, that can reduce the pressure to budget carefully and cause you to spend more freely than you did when you had less cash. Give purpose to your new budget, and stay on track.

About the Author

This article was written by Discover, a popular credit card service in America.

Eradication of Polio

On this day in 1954, the Salk polio vaccine field trials, involving 1.8 million children, began at the Franklin Sherman Elementary School in McLean, Virginia. Children in the United States, Canada, and Finland participated in the trials, which used for the first time the now-standard double-blind method, whereby neither the patient nor attending doctor knew if the inoculation was the vaccine or a placebo. As a result of successful trials, on April 12, 1955, researchers announced the vaccine was safe and effective, and it quickly became a standard part of childhood immunizations in America.

Millions of dollars and hours of research resulted in the eradication of polio. That meant that children of my generation no longer had to worry about suffering from this dreaded disease.

But there is another disease for which man still has no cure. It’s called sin. Fortunately, God stepped in and did for man what he could not do for himself. Through the death of his son on the cross, an eternal cure for sin has been provided. That is why Jesus could say, from the cross, “It is finished.”

Your children and grandchildren don’t have to worry about polio. And thanks to Jesus, we no longer have to worry about sin either.