Hysterical Laws

In Alabama, it is against the law to buy peanuts after sundown. Pennsylvania law books record a case in 1971, when a man sued Satan for his own bad luck. The case was thrown out on the grounds that Satan did not live in Pennsylvania. In Vermont, it is illegal to whistle underwater.

In Lake Charles, the law forbids allowing a rain puddle to remain in one’s front yard for more than 12 hours. And Kentucky has several wise laws. You must bathe at least once a year. If you throw an egg at a public speaker, you will spend a year in jail. And females in bathing suits are  not allowed on any highway, unless they are escorted by two officers armed with a club. This law does not apply to females who weigh less than 90 pounds or more than 200. Nor does the law apply to female horses.

Did you know the ancient Jews had hundreds of laws? They had one law for every day of the year, and another for every bone in the body.

Then a man named Jesus arrived on the scene. He said, “I have come to fulfill the law.” Translation: “Just follow me.”

And don’t visit Kentucky this year unless you took a bath last year.

I’m so glad Jesus came to refocus us from law to grace. The Bible says, “Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes” (Romans 10:4).

Criticism

One of Aesop’s fables tells of an old man and his son bringing a donkey to market. Passing some people on the way, they heard one remark, “Look at that silly pair, walking when they could be riding.”

The old man thought about it, then he and the boy got on the donkey and continued on their way. Soon they passed another group. “Look at that lazy pair,” a voice said, “breaking the back of that poor donkey.”

At that the old man slipped off, but soon heard more criticism. “How terrible! The old man has to walk while the boy gets to ride.”

They changed places, but soon heard, “What an awful thing! The big, strong man is riding, and making the little boy walk!”

The man came up with a final solution. He and the boy carried the donkey on a pole between them. But as soon as they crossed a bridge, the donkey broke loose, fell into the river, and drowned.

Aesop’s conclusion: “You can’t please everyone.”

I love what Dr. Ed Young says about criticism. If one person says you’re a donkey, ignore him. If two say you’re a donkey, don’t sweat it. But if three people say you’re a donkey, it’s time to buy a saddle.

Rarely is all criticism valid. But rarely is it all invalid, either. Knowing how to respond to criticism is one of the marks of a mature believer.

The Bible says, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1).

The Rushmore Report – Christian Singer Lauren Daigle Performs on ‘Ellen’

Grammy-nominated singer Lauren Daigle was featured on NBC’s popular “Ellen DeGeneres Show” last week, where she showcased her new Christian music. DeGeneres called Daigle “amazing” before the Christian singer took the stage to perform “Rolling Stones” off of her recently released album Look Up Child.

Daigle sang, “Six feet under, I thought it was over. An answer to prayer, the voice of a Savior. Rise up, rise!”

After the performance, DeGeneres rushed on stage, hugged Daigle, and joked that the former “American Idol” alum was so successful because DeGeneres was a judge while Daigle did a short stint on the popular singing competition show.

Daigle had announced her special appearance on “Ellen” in a Facebook post, and while some praised her for it, others took issue because of DeGeneres’ open lesbian lifestyle. However, as Daigle said in a recent interview with The Christian Post, she is remaining true to her call of going outside of the church to share the Gospel.

“I think the passage that says, ‘Go out into the world and draw people unto Him,’ the Great Commission, that’s what I think about in regard to the mainstream aspect,” Daigle told CP in the interview. “I wasn’t looking at making my music as in mainstream versus Christian. I was like, ‘Okay, what is the purest version of me? Or what is the purest thing that God has written into my spirit and how do I express that? How do I communicate that?’”

The 27-year-old Louisiana native said she’s not afraid to appeal to the world with her message of hope, which some fear might lead her astray and to abandon her worship roots to become a secular artist. Daigle, however, said her faith and mission in life have never been clearer.

 

The Rushmore Report – Six Governors Races to Watch

The midterm elections are just one week away. While the media has focused heavily on the Senate and House races, 36 gubernatorial elections are up for grabs as well. Republicans have the most to lose, having won control of 33 of the 50 governorships in 2016. Six races are considered toss-ups, each with Republicans currently in office.

These are the six elections to follow closely.

1. Wisconsin

Scott Walker is running for a third term. Opposed by Tony Evers, Wisconsin’s superintendent of public instruction, Walker was once considered unbeatable. But as voters have become weary of the incumbents’ long tenure, Evers has opened up a 3.6 percent lead, according to Real Clear Politics.

2. Georgia

The race for Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal’s open seat is a toss-up between Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp and Democrat former state House minority leader Stacey Adams. Kemp is patterning his race after that of President Trump, calling for voters to “make Georgia great again.” Adams is banking on a large minority turn-out on election day. Kemp has a small lead of 1.5 points in this Republican-leaning state.

3. Florida

Republican U.S. House member Ron DeSantis is running against Andrew Gillum, mayor of Tallahassee. Gillum is a Bernie Sanders progressive, vying to become Florida’s first black governor. DeSantis has the backing of the national Republican Party. Expected to open a sizable lead, DeSantis is trailing by three to five points in most surveys.

4. Ohio

John Kasich will be replaced by Republican Mike DeWine (former U.S. Senator) or Democrat Richard Cordray (whom DeWine once defeated for State Attorney General). Cordray has secured the endorsements of his party’s most liberal stalwarts, such as Elizabeth Warren, while DeWine has the support of pro-life groups. Cordray leads by 2.7 points.

5. Illinois

Another Republican seat is up for grabs in another large Midwest state. Incumbent Governor Bruce Rauner is opposed by Democrat billionaire venture capitalist J. B. Pritzker. Rauner barely won election in 2014 in a state that went for Hillary Clinton in 2016, by 17 percent. Real Clear Politics has Pritzker running away with this one by 12 percent.

6. Nevada

In a state that has elected only Republican governors for the past 20 years, Nevada is listed as a toss-up by both FiveThirtyEight and Real Clear Politics. Current Governor Brian Sandoval is term-limited, opening the door for Democrat Steve Sisolak (Clark County Commissioner) to oppose Republican Attorney General Adam Laxalt. The Republican holds a five-point lead.

Summary

If the other 27 races are won by the party currently in office, and if these six races go as currently forecast – though many are very close – Democrats will pick up four seats, meaning Republicans’ national lead will diminish from 33-17 to 29-21. Their lead among governorships would be cut in half, from 16 to eight.

The Rushmore Report – Is Trump to Blame for Mail Bombings and Pittsburgh?

Last week, Americans were terrorized by mad men yet again. Across the nation, about 15 leading Trump critics received bombs by mail – none that reached their intended target nor detonated – at the hands of Cesar Sayoc of Florida. Then, just days later, Robert D. Bowers opened fire at a Jewish synagogue in Pittsburgh, taking the lives of 11 worshipers and injuring six others. Immediately, such liberal outlets as MSNBC came out against President Trump, laying the blame for the recent acts firmly at his feet, in light of his “heated rhetoric.” Are they right?

MSNBC host Katy Tur said, “It’s pretty clear when you’re talking about this toxic political environment that it did start with Donald Trump.” She then noted the repeated “lock her up” charges at his rallies, targeting Hillary Clinton.

Tur seems to suffer from acute amnesia.

When James Hodgkinson, a far-left supporter of Bernie Sanders, opened fire on congressional Republicans on a softball field in 2017, was that motivated by President Trump? Was it Trump’s fault that Minnesota Democrat leaders said Republicans should “go to the guillotine”? Was it Trump who harassed Ted Cruz and Mitch McConnell while eating dinner with their wives? And was it the President who inspired Democrat Maxine Waters to call for Democrats to keep Republicans out of their places of business or Hillary Clinton to call for an end to civility until Democrats win office or Eric Holder to call for Democrats to “kick Republicans” at every chance?

Writing for Townhall, Matt Vespa said it well. “Don’t lecture me about turning down the rhetoric when you people have become unspooled because Hillary didn’t win an election. Also, Left Wing America, you fired first – with an actual gun – and people were injured, nearly killed. So, spare us your ‘thank God for me’ attitude. It’s nauseating. As for the media, no one trusts you, so quit telling us Trump is to blame for everything.”

The media has a selective memory when it comes to reporting high-pitched political rhetoric.

Should President Trump tone it down a bit? Sure, he should. And recently, he has. But as long as crazy conservatives attack with rhetoric and crazy liberals attack with bullets, let’s not act as though the vitriol that has contaminated the modern political landscape can be laid at the feet of just one man – or one party.

The Rushmore Report – Five Keys to Raising Christian Kids

In the last couple of years, I’ve had the opportunity to speak at several Christian conferences and churches on the importance of parents teaching their kids apologetics (how to make a case for and defend the truth of the Christian faith). When I speak, I often begin by asking the following two questions. First, I ask parents, “How many of you have come here already knowing that our world is becoming very secular and that your child’s faith is likely to be challenged in some way because of it?”

One hundred percent of the hands go up…every time.

Second, I ask parents, “How many of you would go to the next step of saying you’re confident that you know specifically what those big faith challenges are, how to effectively address them with your kids, and how that translates into parenting responsibilities on a day-to-day basis?”

Zero percent of the hands go up…every time.

As I’ve blogged about Christian parenting for the last four years, I’ve had the opportunity to hear from hundreds of parents. This gap between 1) knowing our secular world will influence our kids’ faith and 2) understanding what exactly that means for parents, is nearly universal. And it often leads to fear and frustration—parents know there’s a problem but they don’t know the solution.

It’s that gap that led me to write Keeping Your Kids on God’s Side: 40 Conversations to Help Them Build a Lasting Faith. I wanted to help parents identify and understand 40 of the most important faith challenges they need to discuss with their kids so those challenges no longer feel ambiguous and unmanageable. But even once parents gain this critical understanding, the question remains: How does this translate into parental responsibilities?

Here are five key things to consider.

1. Parents must commit to continually deepening their understanding of Christianity.

In a secular world, kids will frequently encounter challenges to their faith—especially from vocal atheists. Atheists are often well prepared to lay out their arguments against God and Christianity in particular. Unfortunately, many Christian parents are not equally prepared to teach their kids the case for the truth of Christianity and how to defend their beliefs. Questions like the following are critically important for kids to understand today, but few parents are equipped to proactively address them: What evidence is there for the existence of God? Why would a good God allow evil and suffering? How can a loving God send people to hell? Is faith in God the opposite of reason? What are the historical facts of the resurrection that nearly every scholar agrees on? How can Christians believe miracles are even possible? How do we know the Bible we have today says what the authors originally wrote? Does the Bible support slavery, rape, and human sacrifice (as skeptics allege)?

In the past, when society was at least more nominally Christian, parents may have been able to avoid addressing the more difficult questions of faith with their kids (not that they should have!). But today’s challenges require much more from faithful Christian parents. We must learn what the big challenges are, equip ourselves to engage with them, and commit to continually deepening our understanding of our faith so we can guide our kids accordingly.

2. Parents must intentionally make “spiritual space” in their home.

It’s not enough to deepen your own understanding of Christianity, of course. Somehow you have to transfer that understanding to your kids, and that transfer requires carefully set aside time. The kinds of faith conversations we need to be having with our kids today (like the questions listed in point 1) are simply not going to happen in a meaningful way unless you make spiritual space for them. By spiritual space, I mean dedicated time for your family to engage together in growing your understanding of and relationship with God. There’s no reason such a time shouldn’t be scheduled just like all the other (less important) activities in your life. If you’re not currently doing this, start with just 30 minutes per week. That’s reasonable for any family.

3. Parents must study the Bible with their kids. Really.

Even if you know Bible study is important, statistics show you’re probably not doing it: Fewer than 1 in 10 Christian families study the Bible together in a given week. If your kids perceive that you’ve effectively relegated the Bible to the backburner of relevancy, they’ll have little reason to see it as the authoritative book Christians claim it to be. It’s absolutely pointless to talk about the Bible being God’s Word if you’re not treating it as such.

Meanwhile, the Bible is a favorite attack point of skeptics and our kids will have ample opportunity to hear how it’s an ancient, irrelevant book filled with inaccuracies and contradictions. If you’re not regularly studying the Bible with your kids, there’s a good chance they’ll eventually stop caring what it has to say.

4. Parents must proactively and regularly ask their kids what questions they have about faith.

In a secular world, where kids are constantly hearing competing worldviews, questions are guaranteed to continually arise. But there are many reasons kids may never actually ask them—they have too many other things going on, they’re afraid of your reaction, or they are simply not interested enough to bring them up.

In our house, we’ve implemented a scheduled “questions night” to help with this. You can read about how to start your own in my article, How to Get Your Kids to Ask More Questions about Their Faith.

5. Parents must ask their kids the tough questions they don’t think to ask.

If you regularly encourage your kids to ask questions about faith (see point 4), you’ll have lots of great conversations. But many questions that are important for kids to understand in preparation for the secular world they’ll encounter are ones that might never cross their mind to ask. For example, most kids don’t think to ask how we know the Bible we have today says what the authors originally wrote. But that doesn’t mean they won’t almost certainly encounter skeptics who tell them the Bible is completely untrustworthy for that reason. Just as we don’t wait for our kids to ask questions about World War II before deciding when, what, and how to teach them about it, we shouldn’t wait until our kids encounter challenges before we address them. They’ll undoubtedly hear about these topics from skeptics at some point, so there’s no reason they shouldn’t hear about them from us first.

About the Author

Natasha Crain is the author of Keeping Your Kids on God’s Side.

Shootout at the OK Corral

On this day in 1881, the Earp brothers faced off against the Clanton-McLaury gang in a legendary shootout at the OK Corral in Tombstone, Arizona. On the morning of October 25, Ike Clanton and Tom McLaury came into Tombstone for supplies. Over the next 24 hours, the two men had several violent run-ins with the Earps and their friend Doc Holliday.

About 1:30 p.m. on October 26, Ike’s brother Billy rode into town to join them, along with Frank McLaury and Billy Claiborne. The first person they met in the local saloon was Holliday, who informed them that their brothers had both been pistol-whipped by the Earps. Frank and Billy immediately left the saloon, vowing revenge.

At 3:00 p.m., the Earps and Holliday spotted the five members of the Clanton-McLaury gang in a vacant lot behind the OK Corral at the end of Fremont Street. The famous gunfight that ensued lasted all of 30 seconds, and around 30 shots were fired. Though it’s still debated who fired the first shot, most reports say that the shootout began when Virgil Earp pulled out his revolver and shot Billy Clanton point-blank in the chest, while Doc Holliday fired a shotgun blast at Tom McLaury’s chest.

In an odd way, this is a picture of spiritual warfare. We must come armed for battle, equipped with the full armor of God. And when battling the enemy, we are to go on offense. Sometimes, that means taking the first shot.

Pizza

Welcome to the food section of The Proud Americans! I know what you were thinking when you began reading. “Would someone please give me some pizza trivia!”

We sure will. This is just one of the things that make this such a great read. Where else can you get pizza trivia when you want it? So, here we go.

For starters, let’s talk about national policy. Domino’s Pizza locations in Washington, D.C. report that whenever they have a marked increase in late night deliveries to the Pentagon or White House, a major news story will be announced within two days.

Now, for trivia #2. Do you know the day that more pizza was delivered than any other day in history? The date was June 17, 1994, the day that millions of Americans watched O.J. Simpson’s Bronco drive across Los Angeles. Viewers weren’t about to leave their television sets to make dinner.

Pizza plays a defining role in society today. You see pizza at college study groups, kids’ parties, and sporting events. Why is this? We like to be fed. It’s that simple. Do you like to be fed spiritually?

Paul said, “I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready” (1 Corinthians 3:2).

Plant Corn!

There’s an old joke about a farmer whose farm was failing to produce good crops. Then he looked up one day and saw the two letters “PC” in the clouds. Thinking this was a sign from God to “preach Christ,” he left his tractor and enrolled in seminary. But he struggled in his course work. Frustrated, he turned to his adviser and told him about the vision he’d had. Knowing his struggles, his adviser asked, “Son, did you ever stop to think that ‘PC’ might have meant ‘plant corn’?”

Sometimes, we make God out to be too spiritual. Yes, I really said that. Here’s what I mean. God is Spirit, but he is also truth. He cares as much about our physical, emotional, and mental being as he does our spiritual being. He is the God of all four. Only in Western civilization have we mastered the art of compartmentalizing what God has done.

God is not in the business of doing for us what he has already told us to do for ourselves. Sometimes, we cry out, “Why don’t you answer my prayer?” God is thinking, “Why don’t you answer your own prayer?”

The great intellect, O.S. Guinness, said it like this – “Calling is the truth that God calls us to himself so decisively that everything we are, everything we do, and everything we have is invested with a special devotion and dynamism lived out as a response to his summons and service.”

God is a practical God. Sometimes he tells us to preach Christ. Other times, he simply tells us to plant corn.

 

 

United Nations Established

Less than two months after the end of World War II, the United Nations was formally established with the ratification of the United Nations Charter by the five permanent members of the Security Council and a majority of other signatories. The date was October 24, 1945, 71 years ago today.

The first UN General Assembly, with 51 nations represented, opened in London on January 10, 1946. On October 24, 1949, exactly four years after the United Nations Charter went into effect, the cornerstone was laid for the present United Nations headquarters, located in New York City. Since 1945, the Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded five times to the United Nations and its organizations and five times to individual UN officials.

One can argue the effectiveness of the United Nations, going forward. What is indisputable is that it has not fulfilled its mission to “end all war for all time.” The fact is, there have been more wars since the UN charter was signed than in the 100 years before then.

Man cannot legislate peace. That comes only from God to those seeking his face. There will never be peace until Christ is seated at the conference table.