The Rushmore Report – John Piper Answers: What Is My Reason for Existence?

John Piper, reformed theologian and head of the popular website DesiringGod.com, has offered answers to hundreds of questions about faith, doctrine, and the Christian life. Recently, he was asked one of the most intriguing questions of his ministry. It is the question at the heart of most people: “What is my reason for existence?” His answer will inspire you. In an episode of the podcast, Ask Pastor John, a listener named Tyler asked the “why” question.

“What is the overarching concept for my life, my reason for existence, and relationship with God?” Tyler asked. “I know if I better understood this, I would dive into the details and perform them more effectively and joyfully within the larger contest.”

Piper responded by saying that the purpose for his life was to “live to make Christ look magnificent.”

He said, “Almost everything I’ve done in the last 50 years has been a working out of what it means that God created the universe for his glory. The greatness of being human is to join him in that eternal purpose. Everything else finds its ground and its significance in God’s purpose to create and do all acts of providence and all acts of redemption for his glory.”

Piper encouraged Tyler that if he lives “in view of this great overarching purpose,” he can “be able to dive into the painful and happy particulars in your life.”

To review, the great purpose of life, in Piper’s words, is “to make Christ look magnificent.”

He is right. As Rick Warren says in his introduction to The Purpose-Driven Life, “It’s not about you.” It’s about God. A Christ-centered life is a life full of purpose. It’s that simple.

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.”

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?

The Rushmore Report – Ray Lewis Inducted to HOF, Talks Faith & Second Chances

A conversation with former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis is typically dotted with homespun philosophy, frequent mentions of faith, and biblical references. Upon his induction to the NFL Hall of Fame, Lewis has encouraged members of the press to read Psalm 91, which ends, “With long life I will satisfy him, and show him my salvation.” This isn’t the first time the all-time great has spoken out about his faith. And Ray Lewis also likes to talk about the God of a second chance.

Lewis said, “For me, through the ups and downs, the roller coasters of 17 years, you have to find a safe place. You have to find that place that is very quiet in your head, and anytime I read it, anytime I come across it, my Bible, the first Scripture I read is Psalm 91.”

The former NFL Player of the Year compared himself to the character of David in the Old Testament. He sees David as a flawed, but righteous king, warrior, musician, and poet.

Speaking of his personal faith, Lewis said, “Man doesn’t dictate what you do or how you do it. If you believe in God, never stop trusting. That is where my faith lies.”

Back to the comparison with David, Lewis identifies with him because he was a sinner who turned his life around and made good. There were ramifications for his mistakes, but David discovered a God of a second chance.

Lewis has become a force in the community and a mentor to young athletes. His standard piece of advice to them is not to use his life and career as a model. “Follow my advice, not my footprints,” he says. “Don’t ever do it the way I did. You got to be willing to walk in a storm. That’s what I tell people all the time. If there’s something in your life that you know needs changing, make sure you change it before God has to do it for you. Because if God’s got to change it, you ain’t going to like it.”

Ravens executive Ozzie Newsome, himself a former NFL great, said of Lewis, “It’s not about how many times you get knocked down but how many times you get back up. And Ray has gotten up. He has followed his faith to a second chance God. Ray Lewis is a Hall of Fame player, but more than that, he has become a Hall of Fame person.”

About the Author

William Rhoden writes for the New York Times.

The Rushmore Report – College Football Icon Talks about His Faith

Clemson’s head football coach, Dabo Swinney was recently interviewed during the press briefing for the upcoming season for the Atlantic Coast Conference, where the Tigers are picked to win another conference championship. The coach of the 2016 national championship team, Swinney was asked about football – and then his faith. Clearly, Swinney cherished the opportunity to talk about his faith, and how Christ has changed his life.

“Man, that’s the easiest question I’ve had all day,” Swinney commented. Enthusiastically, he responded, recounting his childhood, being raised by parents who taught him there was a God, and later, coming to Christ at the age of sixteen: “And that was a game-changer for me,” he said, “That’s really become the foundation of my life.”

Swinney continued, “It’s hard to survive and thrive in this world if you don’t have a spiritual foundation and have something that that you know, [sic] will give you peace, because life is hard. And we’re all going to experience death and failure and setbacks and disappointments and cancer. God has always – in my relationship with Christ – given me hope and peace.”

Swinney also shared his life verse, Jeremiah 29:11, saying that he applied it to his life’s journey. The Coach of the Year said that, even though he is the head coach of Clemson’s football program, this life hasn’t always been this way.

“I’ve always used that as, to me, if there’s really hope in the future, then there’s power in the present to deal with whatever mess you’re dealing with in your life. You know, to step through, to hang in there, to persevere, to continue to believe in something. And that’s what my relationship with Christ did for me. It gave me a hope and a belief – the ability to have a hope and a belief beyond my circumstances.”

Referring to his greatest accomplishment, Swinney said it is his three sons’ professions of faith in Jesus Christ.

Swinney concluded, ‘Trust me, the people that know me know I ain’t perfect, but I do try to live my life in a way that can be pleasing to my Maker, because I know I’m going to meet him one day. And he’s not going to pat me on the back, talking about how many wins I had, how many coach of the year trophies we got, or how much money I made. Rather, he’s gonna hold me accountable to, you know, how I took advantage of the opportunity and the blessings that he gave me, the impact that I had on young people, the type of men that we develop through a game.”

The Rushmore Report – Christian Boxer Manny Pacquiao Caught Changing Life of Filipino Ice Cream Vendor

Well-known Christian athlete Manny Pacquiao, now a senator in his native Philippines, was caught on camera changing a Filipino ice cream vendor’s life. Facebook user Jen Manilay recorded a moment when professional boxer Pacquiao met a local ice cream man and decided to help him with more than a few purchases of  ice cream. “Sen. Manny Pacquiao is such a good and humble man,” Manilay wrote.

She explained that she was with Pacquiao recently during a sweltering hot day in the Philippines when they decided to get some ice cream from a local vendor. She bought 10 ice treats and handed the dessert to each team member, including the boxing champ. Pacquiao called for the ice cream vendor and after some small talk, he was made aware that the man, Marciano, had recently suffered from a stroke.

The professional boxer turned politician then handed him 3,000 Philippine pesos which is about 57 U.S. dollars to help cushion his monetary and children’s educational needs. Not satisfied with his love offering, Pacquiao felt compelled to give even more and then raised the gift to 30,000 pesos (about $570 in U.S. dollars). The Christian athlete was so moved by Manilay’s life that he even offered him a job, a house and a lot.

Pacquiao has made helping people in his native Philippines a priority, and previously told The Christian Post that they inspired him to become a politician. “I want to provide opportunities for my fellow countrymen that will improve their situations. As a politician, I want to help create jobs so that I can bring them out of their poverty,” Pacquiao said to CP. “I want to give them hope. Boxing has been my passion, but public service is my calling. I love my boxing, but I realize now that is not what my life is all about.”

The 39-year-old grew up in poverty. He has shared publicly that his family was extremely poor during his childhood. He dropped out of high school at the age of 14 in order to support his family of seven. Pacquiao is a former eight-division world champion with 60 wins in his career. He previously told The Christian Post that he fights for both God and country.

“I want to please the Lord, my family, and my fans with this fight,” he told CP last April. “I want them to know I fought for God and my country, to bring them honor and glory.”

The Southpaw is now a politician and reportedly serves in the Philippines military reserve with the rank of lieutenant colonel.

About the Author

Jeannie Law writes for The Christian Post.

Four Keys to Raising Godly Kids

The National Study of Youth and Religion recently released the results of an important research project. It represents one of the most ambitious and comprehensive studies of U.S. youth ever undertaken. What emerged were four distinctive consistencies that predict teen behavior – before it’s too late.

1. Role models – Parents are still the single most influential factor in a child’s spiritual development. The Lord gives moms and dads unique opportunities to teach their children about godly living. Through their parents’ lifestyle and instruction, kids can discover that they are personally accountable to God. Because some parents cannot give what they do not have, others can sometimes step into the gap and make a difference.

2. Influencers – The old African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child” is actually true. Other adults in a child’s extended family, church, and school are influential. The support, advice, love, and help they offer are important ingredients in a child’s faith development. The more godly adults children have in their lives, the more likely it will be that they become devoted Christ-followers.

3. Prayer. Andrew Murray wrote, “Time spent in prayer will yield more than that given to work. Prayer alone gives work its worth and success. Prayer opens the way for God, himself, to do his work in us and through us. Let our chief work as God’s messengers be intercession; in it we secure the presence and power of God to go with us.” Prayer is paramount in kids’ lives. The more they pray and see prayer modeled at home and church, the more they become connected and committed to God.

4. God’s Word. The poem spells it out: “Children learn what they live.” We do that which we believe is most important. If we believe that God reveals himself in his Word, then the Bible should be central in our lives at home and in church. Kids will recognize the value and priority of the Bible as they see us read, meditate, and study his Word. We can help children develop a passion for God as we develop and model a passion for his Word.

Obviously, these four key elements are not new, but they do serve as reminders that the basics of our faith are unchanging and vitally important. The average parent has spent half of his life’s time with his child when they are just ten years old. We need to make a difference – while we can.

Game Shows

One of the ways Beth and I spend the “dog days of summer” is by watching game shows. ABC has produced a series of shows based on old programs from bygone years, such as “To Tell the Truth,” “The $100,000 Pyramid,” and “Match Game.” Two of my favorites as a child were the original “Newlywed Game” and “The Dating Game.” If you remember “The $64,000 Question,” you are older than color television. I love game shows because I like to watch other people make fools of themselves, just for a change of pace.

My favorite viewing ever was an old episode of “Family Feud.” The question was, “In which month do most pregnant women begin to show?”

The first answer was “September.”

On “The Weakest Link,” host Anne Robinson asked, “In which H. G. Wells novel does an inventor travel in a machine of his own making?” Answer: “The Simpsons.”

On another episode, Robinson asked, “Who wrote ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof?'” The answer: “Dr. Seuss.”

Then there was another “Family Feud,” hosted by Richard Dawson. He said, “Name a famous ‘Willie.'” The contestant replied, “Willie the Pooh.”

I’ll never go on a game show, as I ascribe to the old adage, “Better to keep your mouth shut and let others think you are stupid than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.”

Let others do the talking. You do the listening. Especially when God is speaking. The world will be better for everyone.

The Bible says, “Whoever belongs to God hears what God says” (John 8:47). So let’s talk less, listen more, and keep watching others embarrass themselves in front of 50 million people on TV.

The Rushmore Report – Guess America’s Favorite Fast Food Restaurant?

The survey is in and Americans have spoken. For the third year in a row, they have agreed on the best fast food chain in the country. Is it McDonald’s? Taco Bell? Subway? Pizza Hut? Those are all among the most popular, but Americans’ favorite fast food restaurant is the one most criticized in the national press. And it is the only one that does not open on Sundays. So which fast food chain is tops among American consumers?

Chick-fil-A.

“Chick-fil-A was named America’s top fast food chain for the third year in a row in the 2018 American Customer Satisfaction Index’s Restaurant Report, which surveyed more than 22,500 American consumers, reports the Ledger-Enquirer .

The Left’s most hated chain beat out notable names such as Pizza Hut, Arby’s, Taco Bell, Subway, and Starbucks for the title. It totaled a satisfaction score of 87, trailed by Panera Bread and Papa John’s, which each had 82. Subway was next with a score of 81.

The report continued, “The chicken specialist dominates the rankings with the highest score across both restaurant categories, and its food quality continues to rate higher than the competition. Chick-fil-A maintains a wise lead over chicken rival KFC, which slipped to a score of 77.”

The Atlanta-based company has held the top spot for three years in a row, which means their popularity only climbed following the backlash over CEO Dan Cathy expressing support for traditional marriage. The controversy reached such a fever pitch that even city mayors tried to ban them from doing business.

And this year, two major publications have begged people to boycott the business: the New Yorker and Huffington Post. But none of the backlash has diminished the purpose of Chick-fil-A to offer the best customer satisfaction in the business. In fact, no one does it better.

 

The Rushmore Report – ‘America’s Got Talent’ Star Stands Up for Christ

Joseph O’Brien is a student at Boyce College in Louisville, Kentucky. But he’s not your average Joe. Joe’s got talent. And because Joe lives in America, America’s got talent. So it was a natural fit for Joseph O’Brien to try out for America’s Got Talent. He made it. Last week he played keyboard and sang a rendition of “Hello” by Lionel Richie. He received a standing ovation from the crowd. But it was what he said next that is newsworthy.

The judges loved him. Judge Mel B. said, “There’s so much potential of where you could go with your vocals. I absolutely adore you.”

Howie Mandel said he sensed O’Brien was nervous, but believed he could go far on the show.

Another judge, Heidi Klum, added, “I absolutely love it.” Then all four judges voted to promote him to the next round.

But before he sang, the native of Columbia, Tennessee was asked a few awkward questions about dating and kissing. Klum asked him if he came alone to the show.

“I’m by myself,” O’Brien responded.

Klum continued, “Do you have a girlfriend or a wife?”

Joe said, “No, I don’t have a girlfriend. I’ve actually been single my whole life. I’ve never been on a legit date or anything like that.”

“Really? You’re a handsome guy. How is that possible?”

“I guess the right opportunity hasn’t come along,” O’Brien countered.

While the other judges looked on in disbelief, Klum continued. “Have you ever kissed anyone?” she asked.

“No, I have not,” he said.

Klum let it go at that.

O’Brien’s Facebook page says: “My goal is to write music that is centered around Scripture and inspires a generation to stand up for Jesus Christ!” His father, Michael O’Brien, is a former member of the group NewSong.

Denny Burk, professor of Biblical Studies at Boyce College, said he, too, was impressed. O’Brien is one of his students. Boyce is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention.

“I thought Joseph’s performance was fantastic,” Burk told ChristianHeadlines. “He is a rare talent. His poise and good humor in the face of awkward questions from the judges was impressive. I couldn’t be more proud.”

To their credit, the panel of America’s Got Talent did not denigrate O’Brien because of his faith and strong moral stance. And to his credit, Joe O’Brien took a stand for Christ . . . one that will not be soon forgotten.