Enemy Attack

I loved an old comedy show, on in the 1970s when I was a baby. It was “The Flip Wilson Show.” The star of the show was, surprisingly, Flip Wilson. He did all sorts of silly stuff, and had some unique guests. But Wilson’s mantra was to get in trouble, then say, “The devil made me do it.” He was so funny that CBS kept him on the air for less than two years. But let’s talk about that statement. “The devil made me do it.”

Do you believe in the devil?” (I know, some of you ladies may think you are married to him.) Well, the Bible sure believes in the devil. St. Peter said, “Your adversary the devil, is a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Lions roar when they are hungry. The “roaring lion” (Satan) is roaring because he wants to devour you.

I heard about a hiker who came upon a lion, but was pleased to see him praying. Then he heard what the lion was saying. “Thank you, Lord, for this meal you have now set before me.”

When the devil looks at you, he sees a “meal set before him.” But it doesn’t have to end that way. Submit to God, and the devil can’t make you do anything, despite what Flip Wilson says.

How People Pray

Let’s tackle three issues about prayer. First, why do Christians put their hands together when they pray? This custom is not rooted in the Bible, but in Roman culture. In the ninth century, a man would put his hands together as a symbol of submission, and it was accepted by the Christian Church.

Second, did you know that people used to say “grace” before each meal? In ancient times, food spoiled quickly, sometimes causing death. Nomadic tribes were often poisoned from eating bad food. Before a meal, they would ask the gods to protect them, and after a meal, they thanked their gods for the “grace” by which they were still among the living.

Third, why do we say “amen” after a prayer? The word “amen” appears 13 times in the Old Testament and 119 times in the New Testament. The word originated in Egypt around 2500 B.C. It meant “hidden one.” That evolved to mean “so it is,” and was passed down to both Christians and Muslims.

And here’s a fourth question. If we really believe in the power of prayer and in the God of the universe, why don’t we pray more? I wish I had a good answer to that one.

The Rushmore Report: How NFL Players Should Respond to the National Anthem

This past Sunday, more people tuned into NFL games to see how the players would act during the National Anthem than to watch the games. My natural response to these players who won’t stand for the Anthem is to say, “Go find a better place to live, where you can make insane amounts of money to play a game.” But rather than address their feelings toward America, let me offer a better plan for dissenters to express themselves.

We will always have dissenters. And while it’s true that these 25-year-old men have little concept, for the most part, of the freedoms they enjoy and the price that was paid to secure that freedom, the dissent will continue. So, rather than trying to convince the unconvinceable, let’s offer them a better way to express themselves.

The irony is that these players – about 200, or 12 percent of the league – are kneeling during the anthem to protest the division they see coming from President Trump. In the process, they are causing more division. So their answer to division is more division.

So here’s my plan for dissenters . . .

1. Never compromise yourself.

If you oppose the direction of the President or the country, that’s your right. No one is asking you to compromise your positions. You have a fundamental right of dissent.

2. Learn the difference between nationality and specific leaders and positions.

To stand for the National Anthem does not mean you agree with every leader or position of the country. That has never been the requirement or expectation for those standing in honor of the flag. You are kneeling to express the fact that you disagree with President Trump, war, or whatever. Join the crowd. If the only ones who stood were those who agreed with everything the country is doing, I would have quit standing the day abortion became the law of the land.

3. Stand for the National Anthem.

You say you love your country. Show it.

4. Find other ways to show your dissent.

Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the anthem, while he did not vote. That mutes his voice. It should. If players want to make a difference, there are far better ways to do so than by disrespecting the flag. You want to make a difference? Do what J. J. Watt did. Make a difference. Anyone can take a knee for three minutes. It’s what you do when you get back up that counts. Don’t make a mockery of your dissent by protesting the direction of the country, then not voting. Stand up. Speak out. Give to a worthy cause. Visit a youth center. Go to the Boy’s Club.

Here’s the bottom line. If NFL players want to make a difference in this country and its leadership which they find so reprehensible, they will make a far greater impact by being known for what they are for, rather than by what they are against.

Anyone can take a knee. It takes real character to take a stand.

The Rushmore Report: America’s Most Dangerous City

The FBI has just released its annual list of America’s most dangerous cities. The city on the top of the list may surprise you. (It’s not Chicago.) The top five cities have two things in common. The city on top isn’t happy about it, as they’ve been there before. But the statistics don’t lie. They leave that to the city leaders who pretend they don’t have a problem. So here’s the list . . . five cities you may want to avoid on your next vacation.

Detroit has regained the title as the most violent big city in America, witnessing more murders last year than Los Angeles, which has four times as many people, according to new FBI crime figures released Monday.

Detroit Police Chief James Craig offered this defense: “Just because it’s coming out of the FBI” doesn’t mean it’s accurate. (He offered internal data to bolster his claim.)

Mayor Mike Duggan declined comment.

FBI data concludes that violent crime in Detroit has increased each of the last two years, and is up 15.7 percent in just the last year. A total of 13,705 violent crimes – murders, rapes, assaults, and robberies – were reported last year.

Rounding out the top five most violent cities are: St. Louis, Memphis, Baltimore, and Rockford. While St. Louis ranks second in overall violence, it is #1 in murders.

Nationwide, in 2016 there were 1.2 million violent crimes. Murder and manslaughter offenses increased 8.6 percent in one year. Also up were aggravated assault, rape, robbery, and property crimes, of which 7,919,035 were reported. A total of 10.7 arrests were made, excluding traffic crimes.

As for the two things the five most violent cities have in common: they all have strict gun laws and are led by Democratic mayors.

Hmm …

About the Author

The material and data for this column were provided by Tresa Baldas, who is a writer for USA Today. The closing sentence was my own commentary.

gun laws

democratic mayors

The Rushmore Report: Jim Carrey Preaches Grace of Christ to Former Inmates

Comedian and Hollywood actor Jim Carrey preached the hope of Jesus to former inmates and said that he’s learned that suffering leads to salvation. The Ace Ventura star attended a Homeboy Industries event in Los Angeles, where he addressed former gang members who had been incarcerated. In his remarks, Carrey went spiritual, telling the attendees that real hope is found outside ourselves.

In his emotional speech, Carrey said, “I want to speak to the fact that I believe that this room is filled with God, and that you are heroes to me and I admire you. You’ve made a decision to transcend and to leave darkness behind, and it takes a champion to make that decision.”

Carrey continued, “I really want to speak to the fact that I’ve had some challenges myself and ultimately I believe that suffering leads to salvation. In fact, it’s the only way. We have to somehow accept – and not deny – our suffering, feel our losses, and then we make one of two decisions.”

The actor said we all must choose between what he called “two gates.” He described one of the gates as resentment, which leads to self-harm. The other gate, he said, is forgiveness, which “leads to grace.”

“Your being here indicates that you’ve made that decision already. You’ve made the decision to walk through the gate of forgiveness, of grace, just as Christ did on the cross. He suffered terribly and he was broken by it to the point of doubt and the feeling of absolute abandonment. That’s all he felt,” Carrey explained.

The comedian explained that in spite of being in such horrible circumstances, Jesus made the decision to look on the people responsible for his suffering with “compassion and forgiveness.”

“That’s what opens the gates of heaven for all of us,” he said.

Carrey added that although he’s suffered many things, he knows those in attendance have suffered greater losses. He then expressed admiration for them all. Before concluding, he went on to say that the concept of omnipresence in the Bible reveals that God is in all, and he encouraged everyone to think about the power behind knowing that.

“When you decide to transcend the negativity and attempt to do something positive for yourself and your family, you are the heart of God, you are the eyes of God. When you speak from that place, you are God’s voice.” He concluded, “Serving the world with your work, that is the Body of Christ.”

In the past, Carrey has expressed his distrust of organized religions. He was raised Catholic, then ventured into Presbyterianism. He has spoken about looking for spiritual answers as a child while being inspired by the Buddha, yet this shows that he is now clinging to Jesus after times of suffering.

It appears suffering turned Jim Carrey’s heart toward God. May it do the same for each of us.

The Rushmore Report: Tony Robbins’ 2-Step Strategy to Daily Success

Each year Tony Robbins, best-selling author and speaker, takes on seven high-profile clients, which include tennis champion Serena Williams and award-winning actor Hugh Jackman. To get his one-on-one training costs $1 million, and there is a five-year waiting list. But Robbins doesn’t keep all his training a secret. At a recent meeting in Florida, he recommended two steps to personal success.

1. Daily reflection

Robbins says to set aside ten minutes each morning for personal reflection and mindful breathing. He says this is a process that keeps him focused and motivated each day. Robbins says to take the first three minutes to think about things you are grateful for. Spend the next three minutes feeling at peace and thinking about people you care about. Then spend the remaining time envisioning three things you want to accomplish.

2. Read a book on overcoming

Make time to read a physical book, or listen to an audiobook that helps you overcome. If you don’t have time to read a book, listen to an audiobook while exercising or driving. Robbins says to “prime yourself for courage, rather than hoping you show up that way, based on the triggers of your environment.”

With daily practice, Robbins says, anyone can get control of their lives and be highly successful. But it starts with doing the right things daily – establishing good habits that have worked for countless others.

The Rushmore Report: Why Republicans Can’t Govern

You might think that securing the White House, Senate, House of Representatives, and a majority of seats on the Supreme Court would enable a party to practically dictate laws and policy. But so far, unified government hasn’t worked out too well for Republicans. The GOP controls it all – but has no major legislative accomplishments to show for it. So let’s tackle the obvious question. Why can’t Republicans govern?

The U.S. system is designed to slow down and complicate attempts at change, so parties in charge must learn to navigate their way. What makes this so hard? There are several things that a majority party needs in order to convert political victories into legislative ones, and the GOP doesn’t have them.

1. A prioritized agenda

This one seems obvious but can be deceptively difficult. Research shows that agenda control is a key source of power for the majority party in Congress. For a party to effectively implement an agenda, it has to agree on a) what that agenda is, and b) how that agenda should be prioritized. The first part isn’t a given; Republicans largely support lower taxes, for instance, but – as the recent healthcare debate showed – they are less unified on health care policy. Even when there is agreement on the issues, parties must also decide on which ones to focus. The President is short on details to his policies, and there is much diversity within the Republican Party. A prioritized agenda has yet to emerge.

2. Public support

Whatever agenda emerges, it helps a lot if it has public support. Public opinion doesn’t always direct policy, of course. But members of Congress tend to be motivated by an interest in reelection, and don’t want to be caught on the wrong side of a national debate.

The GOP is finding this out the hard way. Some of the few core positions that have been staked out by Republicans in Congress – such as bills to repeal the Affordable Care Act – have proven very unpopular. Trump also ran into this problem with the Russian sanctions bill: he opposed it, but widespread public support translated into veto-proof majorities in Congress.

In simple terms, President Trump won the Electoral College, but not the popular vote. Until he turns his low poll numbers around, it will be hard to garner much unified support behind his agenda.

3. A way to address internal divisions

Even with a governing agenda and public support, there will be disagreements over specifics, clashes between factions and disputes over resource allocation. Institutions can help resolve these disputes – especially organizational rules in Congress that create incentives for compromise.

An opposition party has the luxury of a unifying objective – pointing out the shortcomings of the majority. As the musical Hamilton tells us, “Governing is harder.”

About the Author

Julia Azari is an associate professor of political science at Marquette University. Her research interests include the American presidency, political parties, and political rhetoric. She is the author of Delivering the People’s Message: The Changing Politics of the Presidential Mandate. 

The Rushmore Report: Betting Odds on 2020 Election

The year 2020 and the next presidential election may seem miles away, seeing as we’re just months into the Trump Administration, but nothing comes too soon in the world of gambling. Newsweek has published the latest odds from Bovada.lv, an online gambling site based in Las Vegas. They have set forth the odds on all kinds of possible candidates – including Michelle Obama and Mark Zuckerberg.

While President Trump has low approval ratings, he is still the favorite for 2020. The person with the best odds of unseating Trump is Elizabeth Warren. Most candidates under consideration come from the world of traditional politics, but there are a few interesting names thrown into the mix, as well.

For our purposes, we will only list the potential presidential candidates given at least a 1/100 chance of winning. So here are your early favorites, in order, along with the betting odds that they will win in 2020.

  1. Donald Trump (9/4)
  2. Elizabeth Warren (15/2)
  3. Mike Pence (9/1)
  4. Michelle Obama (15/1)
  5. Hillary Clinton (20/1)
  6. Bernie Sanders (20/1)
  7. Cory Booker (20/1)
  8. Paul Ryan (25/1)
  9. Joe Biden (25/1)
  10. Julian Castro (33/1)
  11. Marco Rubio (33/1)
  12. Tim Kaine (33/1)
  13. Amy Klobuchar (33/1)
  14. Kamala Harris (33/1)
  15. Michael Bloomberg (33/1)
  16. Andrew Cuomo (33/1)
  17. Mark Zuckerberg (33/1)
  18. Kirsten Gillibrand (40/1)
  19. Ted Cruz (40/1)
  20. Nikki Haley (40/1)
  21. Sherrod Brown (40/1)
  22. Trey Gowdy (50/1)
  23. Oprah Winfrey (55/1)
  24. John Kasich (60/1)
  25. Mitt Romney (60/1)
  26. Mark Cuban (60/1)
  27. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (66/1)
  28. Jeb Bush (80/1)
  29. Martin O’Malley (80/1)
  30. Rand Paul (80/1)
  31. John Hickenlooper (80/1)
  32. Tammy Duckworth (100/1)

The Rushmore Report: Top Ten Qualities of a Great Leader

Having a great idea, and assembling a team to bring that concept to life is the first step in creating a successful business venture. While finding a new and unique idea is rare enough, the ability to successfully execute this idea is what separates the dreamers from the entrepreneurs. The key to success in business, and in life, is becoming a great leader. As I see it, there are ten qualities of a great leader.

1. Honesty

Whatever ethical plane you hold yourself to, when you are responsible for a team of people, it is important to raise the bar even higher. Your business and its employees are a reflection of yourself, and if you make honest and ethical behavior a key value, your team will follow suit.

2. Delegate

Finessing your brand vision is essential to creating an organized and efficient business, but if you don’t learn to trust your team with that vision, you might never progress to the next stage. It’s important to remember that trusting your team with your idea is a sign of strength, not weakness.

3. Communication

Knowing what you want accomplished may seem clear in your head, but if you try to explain it so someone else and are met with a blank expression, you know there is a problem. If this has been your experience, then you may want to focus on honing your communication skills.

4. Confidence

There may be days where the future of your brand is worrisome and things aren’t going according to plan. This is true with any business, large or small, and the most important thing is to not panic.

5. Commitment

If you expect your team to work hard and produce quality content, you’re going to need to lead by example. There is no greater motivation than seeing the boss down in the trenches working alongside everyone else, showing that hard work is being done on every level.

6. Positive Attitude

You want to keep your team motivated toward the continued success of the company, and keep the energy levels up. Whether that means providing snacks, coffee, or relationship advice, remember that everyone on your team is a person.

7. Creativity

Some decisions will not always be so clear. You may be forced at times to deviate from your set course and make an on the fly decision. This is where your creativity will prove to be vital. It is during these critical situations that your team will look to you for guidance and you may be forced to make a quick decision.

8. Intuition

When leading a team through uncharted waters, there is no roadmap on what to do. Everything is uncertain, and the higher the risk, the higher the pressure. That is where your natural intuition has to kick in.

9. Inspiration

Creating a business often involves a bit of forecasting. Especially in the beginning stages of a start-up, inspiring your team to see the vision of the successes to come is vital. Make your team feel invested in the accomplishments of the company.

10. Approach

Not all human beings are the same. It is a basic concept, but something that is often overlooked. You have cultural  perspectives, language barriers, different educational backgrounds, personality traits, and varying value systems with which individuals come pre-conditioned that greatly affects how information is processed and interpreted.

About the Author

Tanya Prive is a contributor to Forbes.

Heal Thyself!

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said, “I am fully convinced that the soul is indestructible, and that its activity will continue through eternity.”

Philosopher Teilhard de Chardin said it like this: “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”

The ancient Hebrews did not draw a sharp line between the physical and the spiritual. They understood the interplay between the two. Modern medicine is coming to the same conclusion.

A study by Purdue University found that people who practice their religion regularly develop only half as many medical problems as nonbelievers. “We have recently completed a systematic review of over 1,200 studies on the effects of religion on health,” the study concluded. “The vast majority of these studies show a relationship between greater religious involvement and better mental and physical health, and lower use of health services.”

This confirms what most of us already knew. Believers are happier, more at peace, and healthier. So if you are unhealthy, I suggest you visit the Great Physician.