Father Damien

Tourists travel to the Hawaiian Island of Molokai for its quiet charm, gentle breezes, and soft surf. But Father Damein came for a different reason. He came to help people die. He came to Molokai because leprosy came here first. It started about 1840.

Because of their gross disfigurement, lepers were outcasts placed on a small piece of land called Kalaupapa. There they lived out their lives in isolation and poverty. Then, in 1873, Father Damien stepped into the picture. He pled with his supervisors, “I want to sacrifice myself for the poor lepers.”

Father Damien entered their world, dressing their sores, hugging their children, and burying their dead. He sang to them and taught them about God’s love.

He didn’t just join them; he became one of them. Due to his constant contact with them, he became a leper. He wrote to his friends, “It is one thing to treat a leper, but far better to become one.”

On April 15, 1889, Father Damien died of leprosy. But he made a difference. He did what Jesus did. Not content to simply “treat” a man, Jesus became a man. And he died a man. He has been where you are. And now, he is where you can be.

The Bible says, “He appeared in the flesh, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, and was taken up into glory” (1 Timothy 3:16).

Texan Visits London

The story is told of the Texan who visited the Summer Olympics in London. He was taking a taxi tour of London as he was in a hurry to see as many sites as he could in a short amount of time. As they passed the Tower of London, the cabbie explained what it was and that construction started in 1346 and continued until its completion in 1412. The Texan replied, “Shoot, a little ‘ol tower like that? In Houston, we’d have that thing up in two weeks!”

A few minutes later, they passed the House of Parliament. The driver explained that it was built from 1544 until 1618. The Texan responded, “We built a bigger one than that in Dallas in less than a year!”

Then they passed Westminster Abbey, and the driver went silent. “Whoah! What’s that over there?” asked the proud Texan. The cabbie scratched his head and said, “Now that, I don’t know! It wasn’t there yesterday!”

The Bible says that Jesus has been building a mansion for you ever since he returned to heaven. That is 2,000 years of construction. Even for a Texan, that will be an unbelievable place. I hope to see you there someday!

“For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come” (Hebrews 13:14).

Chernobyl – 32 Years Later

On this day in 1986, the world’s worst nuclear accident to date occurred at the Chernobyl nuclear plant near Kiev in Ukraine. The Soviet Union built the Chernobyl plant, which had 400,000-megawatt reactors, in the town of Pripyat. At the time of the explosion, it was one of the largest and oldest nuclear power plants in the world. The explosion and subsequent meltdown of one reactor was a catastrophic event that directly affected hundreds of thousands of people. Still, the Soviet government kept its own people and the rest of the world in the dark about the accident until days later.

The full toll from this disaster is still being tallied, but experts believe that thousands of people died and as many as 70,000 suffered severe poisoning. In addition, a large area of land may not be habitable for as long as 150 years to come. The 18-mile radius around Chernobyl was home to almost 150,000 people who had to be permanently relocated.

The lessons of Chernobyl are many. Let me offer just two.

1. Life is short and uncertain. We, as humans, play this game. It’s called “I am in control.” You aren’t in control. Oh, sure, you control some things, like what you have for dinner and watch on TV tonight. But details such as when your life will end are not in your control. One day, 150,000 people woke up to a normal day. What happened next would be anything but normal.

2. Man lives by the second law of thermodynamics. That’s just a fancy way of saying that things go from order to disorder. The theological way of saying it is, “We make a mess of things.” What happened in Chernobyl happens in the life of every man, woman, and child who doesn’t have Christ at the center of his or her life. What seems to be in order today can fall apart tomorrow.

The Rushmore Report – How Many of our 45 Presidents Served Two Straight Terms?

President Trump has already named his presidential campaign manager for 2020 in his bid to serve a full two terms. If he is successful, he will be the fourth consecutive president to do this, a record in American political history. So here’s a trivia question for you. How many of our 45 presidents have served two full, consecutive terms?

We know the last three accomplished this feat: Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama. The only other time three consecutive presidents did this was awhile back: Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe.

We also know that three presidents were elected to a second consecutive term, but did not complete that term: Abraham Lincoln, William McKinley, and Richard Nixon.

And then there was the two-term president who did not serve two consecutive terms: Grover Cleveland.

So how many does that leave? Of our first 44 presidents, just 13 have completed two consecutive terms. That is  29.5 percent.

So here are your 13 two-term presidents who served at least eight consecutive years in office. (Franklin Roosevelt served into his fourth term.)

  1. George Washington (1789-1797)
  2. Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809)
  3. James Madison (1809-1817)
  4. James Monroe (1817-1825)
  5. Andrew Jackson (1829-1837)
  6. Ulysses S. Grant (1869-1877)
  7. Woodrow Wilson (1913-1921)
  8. Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-1945)
  9. Dwight Eisenhower (1953-1961)
  10. Ronald Reagan (1981-1989)
  11. Bill Clinton (1993-2001)
  12. George W. Bush (2001-2009)
  13. Barack Obama (2009-2017)

It is often assumed an incumbent president has a big advantage in running for a second term. But history tells us that just 16 presidents (26 percent) are elected to a second term, and only 13 (29 percent) actually complete a second term.

Does any of this affect Trump’s chances in 2020? No, but it tells us that the next election will be unpredictable. But with Trump running again, we all probably knew that already.

The Rushmore Report – When Adult Children Move Back Home

“Alone at last!” you and your spouse exclaimed when the last of your kids flew the coop to take on such formerly alien concepts as rent, utility bills, and car payments. But wait. Who’s that familiar face coming up the walk with suitcases in hand? It’s your grown progeny!

These days, many so-called “empty nesters” find themselves with at least one grown child living at home. Some pundits refer to these adult children as the “boomerang” generation. Whatever you label them, they’re returning home in record numbers. Some come back hoping to save money for school. Others return so they can take time to search for the perfect job. Still others may have personal problems and need a refuge.

If you and your spouse find yourselves hosting kids you thought were launched, there are practical steps you and your child can take to minimize conflict and maximize the opportunity to strengthen family bonds. Before any move-in takes place, have a family powwow to discuss mutual expectations and establish house rules. Do this as early as possible to help prevent misunderstandings and friction later on.

Setting Boundaries

If you don’t approve of overnight guests, blaring stereos, bad language, questionable religious practices, the use of drugs or alcohol, etc., then make sure those expectations are clear before your son or daughter moves back in. Depending on the child and the circumstances, you might want to draft a brief “contract,” naming the conditions that must be met in order for them to live under your roof. Have your son or daughter indicate by signature that they agree to your terms. Inform them (lovingly) that if the rules are broken, eviction may follow.

Healthy Relationships

Generally speaking, most kids are just looking for a temporary retreat while figuring out their next step. If you want to maintain a healthy relationship with your adult child, consider these tips:

  1. Trust your adult children to make wise choices.
  2. Squelch the impulse to give advice unless it’s asked for.
  3. Communication is key.
  4. Practice grace.

We all need a refuge from time to time in our lives. Your kids should know that home is a safe, accepting place to land when they need to regroup. Be thankful that your kids like you enough to want to come home. Your dream of an empty nest can wait a bit longer. Besides, you may actually enjoy this chance to relate to your children as grownups – just like you.

 

About the Author

Roberta Rand Caponey writes for Focus on the Family.

The Rushmore Report – Five Highlights from Barbara Bush’s Funeral

It was one of the most beautiful funerals I’ve ever seen. By the time it was over, I was wiping tears from both eyes. I’m talking, of course, of the celebratory homecoming of Barbara Bush, dubbed “the first lady of the greatest generation” by historian Jon Meacham in his inspiring eulogy. Held at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church, where the Bushes have been active members for half a century, the service encapsulated all that is good about America. Let’s review five highlights of this awesome service.

1. President Bush’s socks

The former president ordered a pair of crazy looking socks – his trademark – covered with images of books, from John’s Crazy Socks store. The point, of course, was to honor Mrs. Bush’s commitment to literacy. After the service, Mr. Bush donated the socks to a young fan of his presidency – a man with Down Syndrome.

2. Granddaughters’ Bible reading

Six grandchildren – all women – each read a passage from Proverbs 31, which begins with, “Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband too, and he praises her. Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.” This was a fitting tribute for the only First Lady in American history to be married for 73 years.

3. President Bush at the casket

The day before the service, 8,000 Houstonians filed by the casket at the front of St. Martin’s sanctuary. In typical Bush form, the former president sat there for an hour, in his wheelchair, to greet well-wishers. But first, he had his time alone, before the casket. It was an image of devotion and grace that will not be  forgotten.

4. Jeb Bush’s eulogy

The former Governor of Florida became emotional as he talked about his mom. He said, “We learned to be genuine and authentic by the best role model in the world.” Jeb then spoke of the woman who ran the family that ran the country in terms that clearly moved the hearts of the 1,500 invited guests.

5. Barbara’s personal faith

Jeb described the faith of his mother. He said that during his final visit with Barbara, he asked about her feelings about facing death. She said, “Jeb, I believe in Jesus and he is my Savior. I don’t want to leave your dad, but I know I’ll be in a beautiful place.” The family pastor, Rev. Russell J. Levenson, Jr, confirmed Barbara’s amazing faith. The rector at St. Martin’s told of her confirmation at the age of 90, as well as his private conversation with her three days before her death. “Clearly, she was ready,” said Levenson.

 

The Rushmore Report – Five Striking Members of Time’s Top 100 People

Editor-in-Chief for the Time 100, Edward Felsenthal explained how the magazine chose the 100 people on the list. “Influence increasingly knows no single zip code and no minimum age.” The current list, just released, has expected names such as President Trump. But several names surprise. We have chosen to highlight five of the most interesting members of the Time 100.

1. J.J. Watt

Hurricane Harvey brought Watt to an even higher pedestal than he already enjoyed. The historic storm brought 50 inches of rain to the Houston area, damaging more than 300,000 homes. Watt jumped into the recovery effort right away, raising more than $37 million. In the process, he raised the spirits of the fourth largest city in America.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner: “Every few years, a professional athlete touches the heart and soul of a city in a way that has nothing to do with athleticism. Such is the case with Houston Texans star J.J. Watt, who is a star on and off the field.”

2. Bhavish Aggarwal

You may not know this name. Aggarwal is India’s version of Bill Gates. From the town of Ludhiana, which is best known as the world’s largest manufacturing center for bicycles, Aggarwal co-founded Ola, one of the world’s largest ride-sharing companies. This made him one of the richest men in the world at the ripe old age of 32.

Sachin Bansal: “It’s easy to forget the struggles Bhavish faced while building one of India’s most storied startups. From bootstrapping Ola when Indian consumer tech was still taking baby steps to braving regulatory hurdles and fighting off foreign competitors, Bhavish has driven around the block a few times. He is one of the most polite, soft-spoken, genuine men you will ever meet.”

3. Sean Hannity

The most watched host in cable news, Hannity has risen from construction worker to political heavyweight. With the retirement of Bill O’Reilly, Hannity has emerged as the most popular – and controversial – figure in prime time cable.

Newt Gingrich: “Sean Hannity has a remarkable impact between three hours of radio and an hour of TV every day. His fans listen to him and learn from him. One of his biggest fans is President Donald Trump, who routinely watches the TV show and talks with Sean as a fellow New Yorker. Hannity played a major role in helping Trump get the nomination and win the general election. Sean is both a principled conservative and a ferocious opponent of the left and the deep state. He has made and is making a difference.”

4. Carl June

Dr. June has created a treatment called T cell, that trains immune systems to fight against cancer. It has saved the lives of countless children, through a complex treatment plan and induced coma. One such patient is 12-year-old Emily Whitehead, a child cancer survivor, thanks to June’s treatment.

Emily Whitehead: “I was a fun and energetic child. Then I spent two years in a hospital getting cancer treatment, but it wasn’t working for me. That’s when my parents and I learned about an experimental treatment, called T cell. It hadn’t been tried on a pediatric patient before. My parents believed it was the right choice for me, so we transferred to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to enter the trial. After getting the treatment, I went into a 14-day coma and awakened on my seventh birthday. But the treatment had worked! Dr. June saved my life and had a huge impact on my family. Without him, I wouldn’t be here today writing this. Dr. June is my hero!”

5. Roger Federer

Widely acknowledged as the greatest tennis player to ever pick up a racket, Roger Federer is much more than that. At age 36, he’s still winning Grand Slam tournaments, putting his records further out of reach every year. But it is what Federer has done off the court that landed him a spot on the Time 100.

Bill Gates: “Roger and his team work tirelessly to improve the life prospects for poor children – a mission that stems from his childhood visits to his mother’s home country of South Africa and seeing extreme poverty firsthand. Roger knows that effective philanthropy, like great tennis, requires discipline and time. It will be a sad day for all of us fans when he hangs up his racket – but we can take comfort in knowing that he is committed to making the world a more equitable place.”

The Rushmore Report – The Most Expensive Senate Race Ever

It will be the most expensive senate race in U.S. history. And this one will go a long way in deciding the political direction of the country in 2018 – and beyond. This single election – in a true swing state – will not only make a huge statement; it will be a major factor in determining whether the senate switches from Republican to Democratic leadership. Which state are we talking about?

Florida.

Sitting Governor Rick Scott has announced his intention to run for the senate in a direct challenge to incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson. In making his announcement, Scott called Washington “horribly dysfunctional.”

The Republican governor, a multi-millionaire who won the governorship in 2010 as a political novice, emphasized to Politico that he’s independent-minded, not to be labeled a “Donald Trump Republican.”

“I consider myself Rick Scott. I don’t consider myself any type of anything,” he said.

“I run on what I believe in. I’ve been very clear,” he added. “People ask me that a bunch of times, about ‘Are you this or are you that?’ No, I’m Rick Scott. I grew up poor. I believe in jobs.”

That line is almost an understatement for Scott: The “jobs” message is the raison d’etre for his political identity, born in 2010 when faith in the state and national economy were low and unemployment numbers were high. “Jobs, jobs, jobs” was Scott’s mantra in English and, during phone-banking campaign stops in Miami in 2010 and 2014, in Spanish: “trabajo, trabajo, trabajo.”

“What I focused on when I got elected was getting 700,000 jobs over seven years and changing the direction of the state,” Scott told Politico. “And the business community has really shown up. We cut their taxes, reduced regulation and we’ve added about 1.5 million jobs.”

About the Author

Leah Barkoukis is a writer for Politico.

A Few Good Men

One of the great movies of recent years was A Few Good Men. Jack Nicholson played the role of Colonel Nathan R. Jessup. In a courtroom scene, he bellowed to Tom Cruise, “You can’t handle the truth!”

The same could be said of the modern church. You want the truth? I’m afraid most of us can’t handle the truth. But here it is. Forty-six percent of people in their twenties say Christians get on their nerves. And only five percent of them are drawn to a church that bears a denominational name.

But most churches fall into one of two categories. We are a “checkmark church,” where we check off “I went to church today.” Or we are a “clown church,” driven by entertainment. And as a result, the church is losing ground.

We are like the Black Plague. In 1664, only a few cases were reported. By 1665, 590 died. And within a few years, 100 million were dead. Disease is like decay. It happens slowly.

The modern church must awaken to today’s reality. The world is hungry for Jesus. It’s not Jesus they don’t like; it’s the church. The way most of us are “doing church” isn’t working anymore. Does that make you angry? I told you, “You can’t handle the truth!”

Jesus said, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32).

The First Earth Day – 1970

Earth Day, an event to increase public awareness of the world’s environmental problems, was celebrated in the United States for the first time on this day in 1970. Millions of Americans, including students from thousands of colleges and universities, participated in rallies, marches, and educational programs. Earth Day was the brainchild of Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, a staunch environmentalist who hoped to provide unity to the grassroots environmental movement and increase ecological awareness. “The objective was to get a nationwide demonstration of concern for the environment so large that it would shake the political establishment out of its lethargy,” Senator Nelson said, “and finally, force this issue permanently onto the national political agenda.” Earth Day indeed increased environmental awareness in America, and in December of that year, the Environmental Protection Agency was established by special executive order to regulate and enforce national pollution legislation.

Whatever your position on environmental issues, one thing is certain. God created the heavens and earth. The Hebrew word for “created” in Genesis means to create from nothing. That’s what he did – he took nothing and made something out of it. And what he did for the planet, he can do for you!