The Death of a King

The king died 41 years ago today. It hardly seems possible. On August 16, 1977, music icon Elvis Presley died in Memphis at age 42. The death of the king of rock and roll brought legions of mourning fans to Graceland, his mansion in Memphis. Doctors said he died of a heart attack, likely brought on by his addiction to prescription barbiturates.

Elvis’ record “Heartbreak Hotel” made him a national sensation in early 1956. He followed up with the double-sided hit record “Hound Dog” and “Don’t Be Cruel.” In September of 1956, he appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, and teenagers went into hysterics over his dynamic stage presence, good looks, and simple but catchy songs. Presley continued to dominate the music charts and film screens into the 1970s. Presley is buried on the grounds of Graceland, which continues to attract fans and has been turned into a highly successful tourist attraction.

The lesson of Elvis Presley is two-fold. First, we want a king we can see. Presley was on TV, the radio, and in the movie theaters. We grew up with him. He was accessible and obvious. He was someone we could get close to at his concerts. We felt we knew him. He was real. The prophet Elijah lived in a day when people bowed to any god they could see. We have not changed since. Millions would rather worship the king they could see than the King they cannot see.

Second, all mortal kings face the same future. They all die. If he was still with us today, Elvis would be 81 years old. But whether he died of drug overdose, cancer, or other natural causes, he was destined to die. And therein lies the difference between the king and the King. Jesus died, but his grave could not hold him. As for Elvis, where he was buried 39 years ago, you can still find him today.

Praying Lions

The man was an experienced mountain climber, hiker, and outdoorsman. But this day would be unlike any other in his entire life. Lost, searching for a way down, he spotted a lion nearby. Worse yet, the lion spotted him. The lion started his approach. The man had no chance to escape. So he prayed.

He said, “God, you can see I’m in trouble here. I’m lost and I’m stuck. There is a lion coming, and he looks really hungry. If you get me out of this mess, I’ll do anything you want me to do. I’ll give to the poor, I’ll be a better husband, I’ll be a good father, and I’ll even go to church this Easter. Just get me out of this mess.”

When he finished his prayer, he looked up. It was a miracle! Just as he prayed, the lion stopped. The lion sat. And then the lion prayed.

“Wow! A praying lion!” the man thought to himself. “This lion must be a Christian!”

Then he heard the lion’s prayer. “Lord, thank you for this meal you have prepared for me.”

Don’t worry. No animals (or people) were hurt in the telling of this joke. But you can get hurt, really badly. How? By waiting until you are in trouble before you pray.

The Fire Upstairs

One evening a few months ago, Marcos Ugarte was doing his homework. His father, Eduardo, a teacher, was busy preparing lesson plans. They heard yelling from outside. They stepped onto the porch and saw the problem. Four doors down, they saw a glow coming from inside a neighbor’s house.

“The house is on fire!” exclaimed Marcos to his dad.

They raced over to the house as the neighbor, Yim Ma, stumbled out, nearly overcome with smoke.

“Is there anyone else in the house?” asked Eduardo.

“Yes, my son Cody!” cried Mr. Ma.

Eduardo ran into the house in search of the boy, but to no avail. Little did he know what his own son was doing.

Marcos heard a noise from the second floor. He grabbed a ladder and raced up to the window. He grabbed the infant boy, Cody. And he carried him down the ladder to safety.

Mark Maunder, the Fire Chief, arrived moments later. He said, “If Marcos had not gone into the fire, Cody would have never come out.”

That is what Jesus did for us on the cross. He went into the fire of temptation, death, and hell, so we could come out.

Of eternity, Jesus said, “Then they would go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life” (Matthew 25:46).

The Rushmore Report – Sen. Warren Calls Criminal Justice System ‘Racist,’ Officials Respond

During a speech at Dillard University in New Orleans earlier this month, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) said the American criminal justice system is “racist…front to back.” Police were not thrilled by those comments, to say the least. “I now cannot trust her words are real,” Yarmouth Police Chief Frank G. Frederickson told the Boston Herald  on Friday. “It appears she is telling the audience in front of her what she thinks they want to hear.”

Warren has “diminished the sincerity of her condolence efforts” and “slapped in the face” all law enforcement, Frederickson added. Dudley Police Chief Steve Wojnar also demanded an explanation from the senator. “Labeling the entire criminal justice profession as ‘racist’ spreads false and damaging information about our members,” he wrote in a letter. “We feel we do a very good job in Massachusetts of producing professional and community oriented police officers.” The dangers police face can best be calculated by the number of fallen officers year after year. Ab0ut 135 cops died in the line of duty in 2016, making it the deadliest year for police officers in at least five years.

At least 54 law enforcement officers have died while on duty since the start of 2018. In the past few years, anti-police sentiment has resulted in police being victims just because they wear the badge. Five officers were killed in Dallas during a Black Lives Matter protest on July 7, 2016. The next day, an officer in Ballwin, Missouri was shot from behind and critically injured during a traffic stop while he was walking to his patrol car.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions offered his own strong response to Warren’s verbal attack on the criminal justice system, calling her comments “a slander of every law enforcement prosecutor in American. And frankly, I think it is an insult to their families and to the crime victims they have helped to face their attacker.”

About the Author

Cortney O’Brien writes for TownHall.

The Rushmore Report – Florida Atlantic Coach Lane Kiffin’s Remarkable Journey of Faith

Lane Kiffin has been a football coach at some impressive places: the Oakland Raiders, University of Tennessee, USC, and Alabama to name a few. Along the way, the colorful coach has made a lot of friends – and enemies. He has developed a reputation as the coach the other teams’ fans love to hate. But along the way, God never gave up on him. And now, the coach who has resurrected the anemic program at Florida Atlantic University, has found God. This is his story.

After his USC team lost a game to Arizona State, the coach was pulled off the team bus, where he was told he had been fired. He had to find another way home.

“I don’t wish that feeling upon anyone,” he says. “I wanted to die, because at the time, I was defined by my job.”

But God had other plans.

Kiffin says, “Just when I needed God most, he answered in a big way. I don’t know if God is a sports fan or not, but I do know this: he loves a good comeback.”

When he was at Tennessee, team chaplain Roger Woods gave the coach a copy of Rick Warren’s book, The Purpose Drive Life. Years later, that book would change his life.

“On the first page were four words that changed everything,” he says. “It’s not about you.”

Kiffin says that brought an old message a fresh meaning to his life. He believes he had “too much success, fame, and money in life too soon.” He was the youngest head coach in NFL history.

Looking back on his dismissal from USC, he says, “What it turned out to be was the beginning of God humbling me to become the man I am today. I was not using the platform he put me on for him. As my pastor once said, God wan’t punishing me; he was just giving me a wake-up call.”

Kiffin plans to use the rest of his career to point others to Christ. Already, he has made a difference in the life of the man he respects most, as his dad has come to Christ, as well.

The coach says, “I don’t like to focus too much on my past, because then it stops becoming your past and starts to become your present. However, my story is a special exception, because it shows people that it’s never too late to discover God, and we can overcome anything in our past. I like to tell people these days, if God can forgive me, he can forgive anyone.”

Texas v. White

This was a landmark decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in 1869, that decreed by law what the Union’s victory in the Civil War had established by force; namely, that the United States is an indestructible union from which no state can secede. In 1850 the State of Texas had received $10 million in federal bonds in settlement of boundary claims. In 1862 these bonds, which lacked the necessary signature of the Governor, were transferred to pay for Confederate supplies. At the war’s end, Texas brought a suit in the Supreme Court, to recover the bonds.

The defendants claimed that because Texas had seceded from the Union, it could not sue. The court upheld the right of Texas to sue and recover the bonds. The ruling stated, “The unsuccessful effort of Texas to secede may temporarily have lost the state the privileges of membership in the Union, but not membership itself.”

Now, what is the point of this history lesson? The Bible says believers are “adopted” into God’s family. Even if they wanted to “secede,” they could not. Our membership in God’s Union is secure.

Make no mistake. Saved people act differently than those who are unsaved. But their relationship with the Father is secure.

Standing Still

The Tartar tribes of central Asia spoke a certain curse against an enemy. They didn’t call for their enemy’s swords to rust or for their people to die of disease. Instead they said, “May you stay in one place forever.”

The best way to assure yourself that you will never get better is to stand still. Jim Rohn said, “In order to do more, you first have to be more.”

Peter Drucker, the father of modern management, said, “The great mystery isn’t that people do things badly but that they occasionally do a few things well. The only thing that is universal is incompetence.”

Drucker’s point is that we all have flaws, and that’s okay. What’s not okay is standing still, not doing anything to improve.

I read a story about a St. Louis doctor who met a young man in high school who had lost his hand at the wrist. When the doctor asked about his handicap, the teenager responded, “I don’t have a handicap, sir. I just don’t have a right hand.”

It turns out the boy was the leading scorer on his basketball team. He learned to focus on what he had left rather than on what he had lost. He learned to not stand still.

Paul said, “But as for you, be strong and do not give up. Your work will be rewarded” (2 Chronicles 15:7).

Paying the Fines

Once when Mr. LaGuardia, the famous ex-mayor of New York, was presiding at a police court, they brought a trembling old man before him, charged with stealing a loaf of bread. He said his family was starving.

“Well, I’ve got to punish you,” said Mr. LaGuardia. “The law makes no exception, and I can do nothing but sentence you to a fine of ten dollars.”

Then he added, after reaching into his pocket, “and here’s the ten dollars to pay your fine. And now I remit the fine.”

Then, tossing the ten dollar bill into his famous outsized hat, he said, “Furthermore, I’m going to fine everybody in this courtroom 50 cents for living in a town where a man has to steal bread in order to eat. Mr. Bailiff, collect the fines, and give them to this defendant.”

The hat was passed, and the incredulous old man, with a light of heaven in his eyes, left the court room with $47.50.

We are all like that old man. We have made mistakes. They are called “sin.” We are all guilty. A fine has been assigned. But a loving Judge has already paid the penalty, and blessed us with far more than $47.50.

Did You Know?

The Olympics aren’t what they used to be. For example, did you know the last time the gold medals were solid gold was in 1912? I bet there are other things you didn’t know!

Did you know your middle fingernail grows fastest and your thumbnail grows slowest? Did you know the word “news” comes from North, East, West, and South? Did you know the most dangerous job in the United States is being a fisherman? Did you know “Goodnight, sleep tight” comes from Shakespeare’s time, when mattresses were secured on bed frames by ropes – when you pulled on the ropes, the mattress became tight, or firm. Did you know that 95% of American television viewers keep their volume level on an even number? Did you know that “a bug in the computer” comes from a moth that invaded a computer at Harvard in 1945? Did you know that in the United States, more toilets flush during halftime of the Super Bowl than any other time? Did you know the man who pitched the ball that Babe Ruth hit for his last home run also pitched the ball that Joe DiMaggio hit for his first home run? Did you know that if you multiply your age by 7, then multiply that number by 1,443 – the result will be your age repeated three times?

Did you know a fetus starts to develop fingerprints at the age of eight weeks?

Whoa! What was that last one? Did you know God has already put his unique mark (fingerprints) on every child several months before the United States says it’s okay to abort that baby?

One more – Did you know America used to value the unborn child? That’s right. From 1776 until 1973 abortion was illegal. So, for 82% of all American history, abortion was considered murder.

Two more . . .

1. Did you know some people still call this a “Christian nation”?

2. Did you know there are actually people who claim to love God, love the Bible, and love children – who are perfectly fine with the taking of the unborn child?

Sounds impossible, huh?

How to Preach

One day, St. Francis of Assisi said to one of his young monks at the Portiuncula, “Let us go down to the town and preach!”

The novice, delighted at being singled out to be the companion of Francis, obeyed with excitement. They passed through the principal streets, turned down many of the byways and alleys, made their way into the suburbs, and at great length returned by a circuitous route to the monastery gate.

As they approached it, the younger man reminded Francis of his original intention. “You have forgotten, Father, that we went to the town to preach!”

“My son,” Francis replied, “we have preached. We were preaching while we were walking. We have been seen by many; our behavior has been closely watched; it was thus that we preached our morning sermon. It is of no use, my son, to walk anywhere to preach unless we preach everywhere as we walk.”

The unknown writer said it well. “I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day. I’d rather one would walk with me than merely show the way.”

Your job is to preach every day. And on a few occasions, this may even involve words.

Jesus said, “In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).