Clear Direction

Pastor Clifford Stewart, of Louisville, Kentucky, sent his parents a microwave oven for Christmas one year. This is how he recalls the event.

“They were excited to join the instant generation. When my dad unpacked the microwave and plugged it in, within seconds, it transformed my parents’ smiles into frowns. Even after reading the directions, they couldn’t make it work. Two days later, my mom was playing Bridge with a friend and confessed her inability to even get the microwave to boil water. Her friend asked her, ‘What seems to be the problem?’ My mom responded, ‘The problem is that only my son knows how to work it. What I need is for my son to come along with the microwave.'”

When God gave us the gift of salvation, he didn’t send a complicated booklet to give us directions to figure everything out. He sent us his Son. Life is complicated. We have the Bible as our manual. But even that is not enough, because until you know the Author, it is difficult to understand the Book.

But God left nothing to chance. For your salvation, there is no assembly required – for one simple reason. God has given us his Son.

Trust Him Anyway

Helen Roseveare, a British missionary in Conga, survived the uprising that resulted from the invasion of the Mau-Mau revolutionaries. This godly, gracious lady was raped, assaulted, and humiliated. But she never abandoned her faith.

While recovering from the horrible attack, Helen and the Lord grew closer together than they had ever been. She wrote a statement in the form of a question that every person needs to ask himself, from God’s perspective. “Can you thank me for trusting you with this experience, even if I never tell you why?”

Golfer Bernhard Langer had one putt that would decide the Ryder Cup winner, between Europe and the United States. He missed the putt. But he told a reporter afterwards, “If I had made that putt, it wouldn’t have made God love me more. And by missing it, it didn’t make God love me less.”

God’s love is perfect, whether our shots go in or not. It’s one thing to trust him when you miss a putt. But when you go through a truly horrific experience, listen for God’s voice. “Can you thank me for trusting you with this experience, even if I never tell you why?”

The Death of a Comic

We need to laugh more. The Bible says laughter is good medicine. It really is. That’s why we love comics so much. I grew up watching The Bob Newhart Show and The Mary Tyler Moore Show with my parents every week. I still love the classics: The Dick Van Dyke Show, Leave It to Beaver, Get Smart, and that “it really makes you think classic,” The Three Stooges.

Yep, we love our comedy and we love our comics.

That’s what makes this day in history so sad. It was nine years ago today – it’s hard to believe it’s been that long – that George Carlin died. The 71-year-old comedian died of heart failure.

Carlin made his first appearance on The Tonight Show in 1962. He became known as a clean-cut, conventional comic. But around 1970, that all changed.

Carlin reinvented himself as one who disdained all things conventional. He became a biting critic and commentator in a successful effort to appeal to a younger crowd. In 1973, the FCC held the comic’s famous routine “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television” to be “indecent,” and the FCC order banning its broadcast was upheld by the United States Supreme Court.

This did not curtail Carlin’s rise to fame. In 1975, he was the first guest host on Saturday Night Live. Two years later, he starred in the first of a series of 14 comedy specials for HBO. Carlin continued to perform his HBO specials and his live comedy gigs into the early 21st century.

No, Carlin’s brand of humor wasn’t to my liking. He became too distasteful for me – and millions of others. But he always had his following, and it was a loyal following, to be sure.

Why? Because we need to laugh. Even if what we are laughing at isn’t that funny, even if it’s rather crude – we still need to laugh.

So, while I don’t miss the comedy of George Carlin, I do miss what he brought a generation of Americans. He brought what we need now more than ever. He brought laughter.

The Rushmore Report: Dolly Parton’s Brush with Suicide

Dolly Parton, one of country music’s greatest stars, shares in her new memoir how she contemplated suicide, but believes God intervened to stop her. Her new memoir, Dolly on Dolly: Interviews and Encounters with Dolly Parton, reveals much about Parton’s life that had not been made public. In the book, she confesses that she went through a horrible period in which she considered taking her own life.

Parton confesses that in the midst of her depression, she began binge-eating and she cheated on her husband. Her life seemed to be falling apart, and one night she was so depressed that she took out the gun she kept for protection, pondering whether to use it to kill herself.

“I looked at it a long time. Then, just as I picked it up, just to hold it and look at it for a moment, our little dog, Popeye, came running up the stairs,” Parton recalled. “The tap-tap of his paws jolted me back to reality. I suddenly froze. I put the gun down.”

Instead of taking her own life, Parton turned to prayer. “I kinda believe Popeye was a spiritual messenger from God,” said the music icon. “I don’t think I’d have done it, killed myself, but I can’t say for sure. Now that I’ve gone through that terrible moment, I can certainly understand the possibilities even for someone solid like me if the pain gets bad enough.”

That dark experience showed Parton that “a belief in God is essential. You have to believe in something bigger than yourself. We grew up believing that through God all things are possible. I think I believed that so much that I made it happen.”

Parton, now 71, has a strong relationship with her husband of 51 years, Carl Dean. She is still touring and playing music.

The Rushmore Report: Selena Gomez Talks about Her Faith

Pop star Selena Gomez is not afraid to share her Christian faith. Recently, she did a radio interview in which she discussed her attendance at Hillsong Church and her relationship with Pastor Carl Lentz. Charisma News reports on Gomez’ interview with “Elvis Duran and the Morning Show” in which she said, “I haven’t really been all over the place lately, and that’s kind of intentional.”

Gomez continued, “I think it’s important to balance out where I am, and I’ve been doing this for a really long time, and my sanity has meant everything to me, and a lot of that is my faith. I took 90 days off, I went away, I was very vocal about it because to me, where I get my confidence is my vulnerability. I can’t sit there and pretend that everything is good, because I’ve done that for years, and it doesn’t really work for me.”

Gomez is not only a regular attendee at Hillsong; she has also led worship at the megachurch. On her recent album, she even wrote a worship song called “Nobody,” which she performed at a Los Angeles concert, along with Hillsong Young & Free.

Gomez also said of her time at HIllsong and interacting with Lentz, “I feel very refreshed. He’s the best.”

She ended the interview by inviting Duran and his colleagues to visit Hillsong anytime.

The Rushmore Report: The World’s Oldest Person – ‘The Secret to Longevity’

Her name is Violet Mosse-Brown. She lies in Jamaica. And at 117 years of age, she is the world’s oldest person. Born on March 10, 1900, Violet has revealed the key to longevity. Also known as “Aunt V,” Mosse-Brown has shared the one key to a long life. And what she says has nothing to do with diet or exercise. But still active, living with her 97-year-old son, Violet is sure of one thing.

The secret to a long and happy life, says Violet, is a strong Christian faith and serving God. Christian Broadcasting News reports her story. Violet is amazed to think back over the changes she has seen in the world throughout her lifetime. But she gives God the credit for everything good in the world and in her own life.

“Thank God for what he has given to me,” she says. “This is what God has given me, so I have to take it – long life.” “I’ve done nearly everything at the church. I spent all my time in the church.”

Mosse-Brown was raised in a Christian home and was baptized at the age of 13 – 104 years ago – at Trittonville Baptist Church in the Duanvale district of Trelawny Parish, Jamaica.

About the Author

Vernonic Neffinger is editor for Christian Headlines.

The Rushmore Report: The Next 100 Days Will Determine the Trump Legacy

Since the days of Harry Truman, presidents have been graded more by their first 100 days in office than their next 1,361 days – Donald Trump more than any other. But with the constant obstruction thrown up by Democrats and the president’s struggles to get firm footing, Trump’s first 100 days will pale in comparison to what is coming next. I am convinced that the next 100 days will determine the Trump legacy. Four key challenges, and the way the president responds to them, will set the trajectory for the 45th president.

1. North Korea

Presidents are largely judged by world events, over which they often have little influence. But make no mistake, North Korea – not Russia or Syria or Afghanistan – will mark the defining moment of the Trump legacy on the world stage. President Kim Jong-un will push this president as far as he can. Already, he has kidnapped Americans, returned one in a comatose state, and taken illegal steps to threaten Japan, South Korea, and the United States militarily. President Trump must know by now that he cannot count on help from China. North Korea will be his “Cuban Missile Crisis.” The strength of his response – and it must come quickly – will send a message to the world.

2. Tax Reform

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan is the man to make this happen. The U.S. continues to burden her companies with the highest corporate tax rate of any developed country. And it’s not even close. In Ryan’s tax speech Monday, he laid out his plans. For those who were able to stay awake and not drown in the detail, they seemed pleased. Certainly, the stock market has responded well, continuing to shatter unthinkable records previous administrations would have never dreamed we could reach. With the House set to bring this legislation forward in the next few months, this can be the crown jewel of the Trump presidency to date.

3. Repealing Obamacare

New Mexico just did what so many other states have already done. It became a one-carrier state, as insurance providers continue to pull their support of Obamacare. Insurance companies are coming to a universal conclusion – they cannot afford to stay in the current system. The Affordable Care Act is quickly dying under its own weight. But this may present the new president with his greatest challenge. The House barely passed their version of repeal & replace. Tomorrow, we get our first peek at the Senate’s version, and early reports make it clear that it will be nearly impossible for the Senate to craft a bill that is tolerable to both wings of the Republican caucus, represented by Cruz/Lee on one end and Collins/Murkowski on the other.

4. 2018 Budget

The Trump budget proposal received expected condemnation by Democrats. The fact that it had “Trump” written on it meant it had zero chance of support from the party of no. But the real challenge is getting the near-unanimous Republican support necessary to pass a conservative budget. The good news is that what will likely emerge from the Trump/Ryan compromise will be a plan that gets to a balanced budget, strengthens military spending, is pro-business, and is well-received by both Main Street and Wall Street. Again, one need look no further than the record Dow Jones Industrial Average to see how economists are judging what they see.

President Trump’s first 100 days were entertaining. In some respects, they were highly successful. In other ways, they were not. But by September 30 – 100 days from today – we will know a lot more about the Trump legacy. The trajectory he will find himself on in 100 days is the trajectory that will guide the next 3.5 years. And if he proves successful in these four areas, I predict his approval ratings will rise from 35-40 percent (pick your poll) to near 50 percent.

Will Donald Trump have a successful presidency? We’ll know in 100 days.

The Rushmore Report: Cosby Juror Speaks Out

A mistrial was declared Saturday in the Bill Cosby case, after the jury was hopelessly deadlocked, unable to make a decision on Cosby’s guilt or innocence. Prosecutors say they will retry the 79-year-old star on charges that he drugged and molested a woman in 2004. Now a juror is speaking out, in an interview with Pittsburgh radio station WDVE. His name is Mike McCloskey, and this is his story.

McCloskey was an alternate on the jury, and therefore he was present for the entire trial. While the actual jury was instructed to not discuss their deliberations with the media, this did not apply to McCloskey, as a non-voting alternate.

Riding on the bus back to the courtroom with the other jurors, Mike described the ride as “the craziest, eeriest bus ride I’ve ever taken,” as he jury was completely silent on the bus ride.

Though he does not know the exact vote of the official jury, McCloskey thinks it was fairly even. As for himself, “I would have probably voted ‘guilty,'” he says. “The evidence was just so strong.”

Cosby’s attorney, Angela Agrusa is relieved to be back home in Los Angeles just a few days after the Pennsylvania judge declared the mistrial. “My body was in a state of clench for the entire week,” she said. Agrusa feared the jury would return a guilty verdict.

She said, “We wanted an acquittal, but a mistrial or a deadlock is the same result as the group of jurors finding him not guilty. Prosecutors didn’t have the evidence.”

After the verdict, the Montgomery County DA’s Office immediately put out word there would be a re-trial. However, Agrusa isn’t sold on the idea.

“I believe that the Commonwealth had to state [the intention of a re-trial] when they stated it,” said Agrusa, referring to the prosecution. “They have a lot of searching to do when they make a decision. I hope they don’t re-try. I don’t think the outcome would be any better for them. Everyone knows that cases don’t get better with time.”

The Rushmore Report: Six Habits of Healthy Couples

We are creatures of routine and can often find ourselves stuck in these bad cycles of either fighting, being too busy, or not having the right expectations. The only way to create new habits to build a stronger connection in your marriage is to become proactive. Here are six habits we have established that build healthy marriages. We promise you’ll see results if you put them into practice in your own marriage.

1. Cultivate positivity.

Maybe your spouse says something critical, something off handed that doesn’t quite land the right way. Our natural response is to retaliate or shut down. This can easily put couples in a toxic cycle of tit for tat. Trust us, we ran on that treadmill for years. Don’t do it. Go positive.

2. Compliment often.

It’s not enough to know how much you might love your spouse, you need to communicate that as often as possible. Words are extremely powerful. Practice a daily 60-second blessing.

3. Dream together.

Couples who stop sharing common goals together often drift apart and become more like roommates than lovers. You must cultivate a sense of excitement and anticipation about the future, which helps carry you through those dry seasons.

4. Own your mistakes.

We are constantly making mistakes and failing to deliver on our promises. When you apologize, it shows that you are willing to take responsibility for your actions in the marriage. Ask your spouse frequently if there is anything you need to apologize for in the relationship.

5. Pray together.

There is power as it is the practice of the presence of God. It is the place where pride is abandoned and hope is lifted. And when couples do this together, they simply become unstoppable in all that they do. Try it tonight. Pray as a couple.

6. Do date nights.

Yup, you guessed it. It’s our go-to cure for 100% of couples we coach. Date nights are about rekindling the romance and friendship by building emotional intimacy. Plan your next date night today.

About the Author

Meygan Caston is co-founder of Marriage 365, where she blogs on marriage and family issues.

The Rushmore Report: Trump Did not Obstruct Justice

A dangerous argument is now being put forward by some Democratic ideologues namely that Donald Trump should be indicted for the crime of obstructing justice because he fired FBI Director James Comey. Whatever one may think of the president’s decision to fire Comey as a matter of policy, there is no legitimate basis for concluding that the president engaged in a crime by exercising his constitutional authority.

As Comey himself wrote in his letter to the FBI, no one should doubt the authority of the president to fire the director for any reason or no reason at all.

It should not be a crime for a public official whether the president or anyone else, to exercise his or her statutory and constitutional authority to hire or fire another public official. For something to be a crime there must be both an actus reus and mens rea – that is, a criminal act accompanied by a criminal state of mind.

Even assuming that Trump was improperly motivated in firing Comey, motive alone should never constitute a crime. There should have to be an unlawful act. And exercising constitutional and statutory power should not constitute a crime. Otherwise, the crime would place the defendant’s thoughts on trial, rather than his actions.

Civil libertarians, and all who care about due process and justice, should be concerned about the broad scope of the statute that criminalizes “obstruction of justice.” Some courts have wrongly interpreted this accordion-like law so broadly as to encompass a mixture of lawful and unlawful acts. It is dangerous and wrong to criminalize lawful behavior because it may have been motivated by evil thoughts. People who care about the rule of law, regardless of how they feel about Trump, should not be advocating a broadening of obstruction of justice to include the lawful presidential act of firing the FBI director. Such an open-ended precedent could be used in the future to curtail the liberties of all Americans.

So let’s put this nonsense behind us and not criminalize policy differences, as extremists in both parties have tried to do. Republican and Democratic partisans often resort to the criminal  law as a way of demonizing their political enemies. “Lock her up” was the cry of Republican partisans against Hillary Clinton regarding her misuse of her email server. Now “obstruction of justice” is the “lock her up” cry of partisan Democrats who disagree with Trump’s decision to fire Comey.

I opposed any criminalization of policy differences when Texas Governor Rick Perry, Congressman Tom Delay, and Senator Bob Menendez were indicted, and I strongly oppose the investigation now being conducted against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The criminal law should be used as the last resort against elected officials, not as the opening salvo in a political knife fight. There is no place in a democracy for elastic statutes that can be stretched to fit lawful conduct with which political opponents disagree. If they are allowed to be stretched today to cover your political enemies, they could be stretched tomorrow to go after your political friends.

The debate over the propriety of the president’s actions, about which I have opined repeatedly, should continue, but let’s take the allegations of criminal obstruction of justice out of this important debate. There is more than enough fodder for a debate over the merits and demands of the president’s actions without muddying the waters with politically motivated charges of criminality.

Partisanship seems to have no limits these days. Both parties are equally at fault, as are extremists among the public and within the media. It is getting harder and harder to have a nuanced debate about complex political issues. Everything is either evil or good. Nothing has elements of both. Actions either deserve criminal indictment or the Nobel Prize.

Nobody benefits from this kind of ideological shouting match. So let’s agree to disagree about important issues, but let’s not distort the debate with extremist slogans like “lock her up” or “obstruction of justice.”

We are better than that.

About the Author

Alan Dershowitz (@AlanDersh) is the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law, Emeritus, at Harvard Law School and is the author of Taking the Stand: My Life in the Law and Electile Dysfunction: A Guide for the Unaroused Electorate.