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.”

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.”

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.

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 – The Senator on a Mission from God

He’s at it again, poking his finger in the eye of the elite media and secularists everywhere. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) had the audacity to tweet that it’s a bad idea to use the “f-word.” A call for decency – how dare him! This was his specific statement that has infuriated so many: “Sign of the times . . . the F word is now routinely used in news stories, tweets, etc. It’s not even F*** anymore. Who made that decision?”

Many in the mainstream media have suggested that this tweet was meant to criticize a survivor of the Capital Gazette shooting, Selene San Felice, who went on CNN claiming that she “couldn’t give a f*** about the offer of prayers, if there’s nothing else.”

Never mind, there is zero evidence that this was the object of Rubio’s ire, or that he even saw the interview. The odds of Rubio being a regular CNN viewer aren’t too high, actually.

But never one to let facts or research get in the way of a good story, technology outlet Mashable published an article claiming that Rubio “is more concerned about a naughty word used in a news report” than he is about the most recent mass shooting. The author of the article went on to list seven things Rubio should be more concerned about than mainstream profanity.

Other media outlets, such as Salon, piled on, running the story, and more.

Actually, it is possible to be upset about the cultural demise of America and mass shootings at the same time. Rubio has, after all, proposed real legislation to reduce mass shootings. But to get into the facts would only ruin a good story for Salon and others.

This attack on Sen. Rubio is nothing new. He has been on a mission for God for some time now. He continues to tweet daily Bible verses, such as this one a few weeks ago: “The LORD is my strength and my shield, in whom my heart trusts. I am helped, so my heart rejoices; with my song I praise him” (Psalm 28:7).

So there you have it. Sen. Rubio is for God and against public displays of profanity. You might as well get used to it, because he isn’t going anywhere. Why? Because Marco Rubio is clearly on a mission from God.

The Rushmore Report – Tim Allen’s Strange Path to God

He is the star of Last Man Standing, the funniest show on television. Before that, he was the “Tool Man” on Home Improvement. And before that, he was the star of the Santa Clause movies. Tim Allen is one really funny guy. But there is more to his story – much more. Tim Allen has come to faith in God. But the path he took is unlike any you may have ever seen. This is that story.

When Tim Allen was age 11, his father was killed by a drunk driver.

“I wanted answers from God that minute,” he says. “Do you think this is funny? Do you think this is necessary? And I’ve had a tumultuous relationship with my Creator ever since.”

Those were Allen’s words in 2012. His faith has since grown.

He abused drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism and then was arrested and convicted of felony possession of 650 grams of cocaine in 1978.

“Don’t ever sell drugs to policemen,” he says. “They don’t like it, they tend to tell judges, people get you, and then you eat very bad food for a long time.”

After completing a two-year prison sentence, Allen was released and decided to get into comedy, which he says “saved my life.” He would eventually star in the Santa Clause trilogy and much more. Meanwhile, his journey to God was still unfolding.

“For years, I just did not like this idea of God. I was still a churchgoer, but constantly a critic.”

But then the comedian became serious about his quest to know God. As much as he wrestled with his doubts, he couldn’t deny the incredible creation that surrounded him. It begged for a response.

“Whoever built me, this is too much, too weird that it happened by accident. It didn’t happen by accident.”

Slowly, Allen began to open his heart to God. This led to a personal dedication of his life to Jesus Christ, which he says “changed everything.”

Today, Tim Allen has more than a decade of sobriety under his belt. He is happily married to actress Jane Hajduk, has two daughters, and an abiding Christian faith. Asked his best advice to others who struggle with drugs, alcohol, and doubt, his response is unambiguous.

“No man has gone to far. He is still within the reach of God.”

The Rushmore Report – Tim McGraw and Faith Hill Share the Secret to a Great Marriage

Acclaimed country music singers Tim McGraw and Faith Hill have spoken out on marriage, sharing their perspectives on what makes a great marriage work. They speak from the experiences of their own 21-year marriage, in a time when celebrities tend to measure marriage in days, not years. Among their marriage tips, McGraw and Hill cite one specific key to a great marriage.

Prayer.

That’s right. Prayer. They pray together every night.

The pair married in 1996, and have seen their family grow, along with their careers. The parents of three children, they told People magazine that they’re intentional about keeping their love alive.

“As we get older, it’s less about the big gestures and more about just spending time together at home,” McGraw said. “For our 20th wedding anniversary, we stayed home in our pajamas and watched TV. We loved it.”

Hill and McGraw are country music royalty, with 25 #1 hits, the top-grossing tour of all time, five Grammy Awards, and 15 Academy of Country Music Awards between them. They are currently on the road together on their “Soul2Soul” world tour.

Taking time for a few interviews, Hill spoke of the traditions that they have both embraced since early in their marriage.

Prayer.

Hill said they pray together, for each other, and before every concert. “Without prayer, I don’t know where our marriage would be today,” she said.

The Rushmore Report – The Best Marriage Advice I’ve Ever Heard

You hear a lot of advice before you get married.

“Keep a date night.”

“Never go to bed angry.”

“Make your relationship the first priority.”

“Don’t walk out during an argument.”

Veteran couples further down the road look back on young newlyweds and offer insight for the challenges ahead. Of all the counsel my husband and I received leading up to our wedding day, one thought has proven to be the most challenging and transformative, and it came from my father-in-law.

A gifted pastor and teacher, he was the only person we could imagine officiating our wedding. During the final preparations for the ceremony, we sat across a table from him in a small restaurant to discuss the details: who was responsible for what, when would everyone arrive, which verses had we chosen to use and who would be reading them… Somewhere between the end of our meal and the waitress returning a receipt to be signed, we asked him what advice he had for us. He paused, smiled, and looked down for a moment to thoughtfully consider his response. His eyes shot back up and looked directly at us as he simply said, “Forgive quickly.”

I had enough self-awareness on that day to know this would not come easily to me. If there were ever a place where I would feel justified to harbor bitterness and keep a tab on the ways I had been wronged, it would be within marriage. Where else would I share such a wide array of intimate moments with one person? Space, money, parenting responsibilities, highs, lows, personal time, a bed . . . Becoming “one” is about more than sex. It requires a level of vulnerability that opens the door for deep hurt; and letting go of those wounds was going to require more change than I would like to submit to.

What forgiveness means

It is rare for me to be without words, especially when I am upset. In the first year of our marriage, we struggled to resolve arguments because of my need to say “just one more thing.” With each additional statement, I churned up the dirt and pulled out new arguments that were both painful and unproductive. I thought I’d feel better by presenting every offense of which I thought my husband was guilty; and if I felt better, I could forgive. If I felt better, I could let it go. In time, I learned that feelings of forgiveness follow the choice to forgive.

My son plays a game that teaches him new words and their definitions. I was recently struck by the explanation it provided for the word forgive: “When you forgive someone, you stop feeling angry.” To my surprise, the Webster definition also speaks to a change in feelings preceding the act of forgiveness—a far cry from the biblical depiction. Rather, in Scripture we find that forgiveness is an action made in the midst of negative feelings, making it a beautiful expression of love.

When we only forgive in the absence of painful emotions, its meaning is lost. If we wait to stop feeling angry, we rob forgiveness of its value. In contrast, when we say with vulnerable honesty, “I am hurt, I love you, and I forgive you,” our relationships grow in depth and strength.

Choosing to quickly forgive shouldn’t be mistaken with pretending we aren’t disappointed or upset. It is not an excuse to ignore problems or to refuse to take responsibility for unhealthy patterns within our marriages. Instead, it puts conflict within boundaries. It provides a space to work things out and it refuses to let the issue infect the rest of the relationship. Choosing to quickly forgive recognizes the point at which it is time to move forward. It means that we do not withhold affection or kindness from our spouses as a form of passive-aggressive resentment. We do not sulk or complain to our friends. It means that even if sorting through a problem takes months of hard work, we will continue to love each other well in the midst of that work. We will not wait until we “feel like it” before we choose to extend grace. It means that in the heat of the moment, we breathe deeply and remember how we have been forgiven through the Cross.

Why forgiveness matters

Scripture offers of a picture of forgiveness that is intentional. Multiple times it instructs us to make mending broken relationships a priority, urging us to stop other activities in order to address conflict. It is in the lingering that damage occurs. Withholding forgiveness until we feel better becomes poison in our marriages; and it looks nothing like the love we have been shown.

This is one of those moments when loving someone is hard. Perhaps we believe we are right. Maybe he has not apologized, or he apologized quickly and we had little time to fester. Maybe we doubt that he truly understood our reasons for being upset, or we don’t want to admit that we might be wrong. And at the end of the day, being mad feels good.

Why does it feel good? Why do I want to stay mad at my husband? There are likely a dozen reasons that could be suggested, but here is my honest assessment based on my own heart. When I’m mad at my husband, I feel superior. Somewhere in the recesses of my mind, I try to convince myself that I am right because I am better. I deserve to stay mad and he deserves the discomfort of sitting with that. It is an ugly lie of self-righteousness that my heart buys into; and it keeps me from loving my husband well.

From this place, we forgive. Without condition or manipulation, setting aside our pride, we extend to each other the sweet grace that we have received.

God offers us forgiveness as a measure of pure grace. While we were still separated from him, full of sin, he poured out his love and made a way for forgiveness through Christ on the Cross. From this place, we forgive. Without condition or manipulation, setting aside our pride, we extend to each other the sweet grace that we have received.

Three tips for getting started

The next time you and your husband find yourself in the midst of conflict, remember the following:

1. Know when to call it. Have you reached the point where discussion is no longer beneficial? Are you too tired or emotional to clearly communicate with and understand each other? Perhaps it is time to call it. If it is important to continue the conversation, set a time to come back together and talk. If it is better to walk away, do so completely, leaving all bitterness and resentment on the table.

2. Say “no” to a passive-aggressive battle. Nobody wins in an argument your partner is not even aware you are having. Withholding affection, turning a cold shoulder, casting the silent treatment, and engaging in unloving conversations about your husband when he isn’t around all drive you away from your spouse. In the end, you will only become more frustrated and nothing will be resolved.

3.Carefully consider if this is a time for silence.If we choose to delve into a serious conversation every time our husbands say or do something off-putting, we will run our relationships into the ground. Perhaps this is a time for silence. Maybe it is better to reserve your thoughts for a day or two. If you still feel the same way, you will have had time to clarify what you want to communicate, or you may find in the wait that it doesn’t warrant a conversation at all.

About the Author

Cara Joyner is a writer, mother, and graduate student. She is actively involved in her local church and is a contributor to Christianity Today.

10 Things Great Dads Do

Mark Merrill, of Family First, has given us some great advice for being a great Christian dad. With Father’s Day just two days away, I thought I’d share with you some of his thoughts.

1. Love your kids’ mother. This is the best thing you can do. A husband and wife who love each other provide a secure environment for their kids.

2. Spend time with your kids. How you spend your time with your children reflects what is important to you. No matter what you might say to make up for lost time, if your children feel you are not as concerned about them as you are with work, they get the message that they are not valuable.

3. Earn the right to be heard. That means showing a genuine interest in their views and interests. Children want to be led, but the successful father earns the right to lead.

4. Discipline with a gentle spirit. True discipline is a function of a father’s love for his children, which is why it should never be harsh.

5. Be a role model. Fathers are a role model, whether they want to be or not. Being a living example of Christ is worth more than anything you ever say to your kids.

6. Teach the lessons of life. For far too many fathers, teaching is something someone else does. But God has given you the first-line joy of instructing your kids in the ways of the Lord.

7. Eat together as a family. Most children today don’t know the meaning of a family dinner time. But this is your best time to be with your kids and listen to their hearts.

8. Read to your kids. In a world wired for sound, it is important that fathers make the effort to read to their children. Kids first learn by seeing, then by hearing and reading.

9. Show affection. Children long for a secure place in this fast-paced world. They find it most often in the warm embrace of a parent.

10. Realize it’s never too late. Some of your best parenting will come when your kids are grown. They still long for the approval of their dad. It is never too late to be a great dad.