How to Win Carnival Games

Ethan Trex has done the world a great favor. He has studied carnival games and devised a winning strategy. Follow these simple tips and you can be the king of carnivals, a prince to preschoolers. Let’s start with the “Balloon Dart Throw.” The scam is that the darts are dull and much lighter than normal darts. And the balloons are under inflated, which makes them harder to pop. The strategy is to not hurl the darts hard, but to loft them up, so they can come down onto their target with the assistance of gravity.

Ever tried the “Basketball Shoot”? The rims are smaller than regulation and oval-shaped. The backboards have a harder bounce, the balls are overinflated, and the rims are higher. The trick is to toss the ball underhanded; it’s all about getting a good arc on the ball.

Then there’s the “Milk Bottle Pyramid.” The bottoms are heavier. So if you aim for the middle, you’ll never win. You must go low!

Now let’s talk about the “Game of Life.” The scam is that it looks like you can win by your own strength. The trick is to recognize you can’t win unless you depend totally on God. God said, back in the first book of the Bible, “I will go with you to Egypt, and I will bring you up again.”

Holy Huddles

I was insecure as a child. I think it goes back to my infant years. When mom used to rock me, she used really big rocks. My insecurities carried over into my teen years. When I watched football games on television, I hated it when the players got into huddles. I assumed they were talking about me.

Actually, there was a day when they didn’t huddle up at all. The quarterback would tell each player what to do. Then it all changed at the powerhouse of college football: Callaudet University. Located in Washington, D.C., Gallaudet is a school for the deaf. The quarterback calls the plays by sign language.

In the old days, one of their quarterbacks noticed the defense was watching him call the plays. So he asked the players to “huddle up,” so he could call the plays without being seen by the opposition.

The custom continues today, on the football field and in the church. yes, in the church! In most churches, we are more concerned with “holy huddles” (meetings, gatherings in our buildings) than we are with putting points on the board (ministry, service).

Church, it’s time to break the huddle!

The Rushmore Report – Should Christians Care about Earth Day?

This Sunday, April 22, is Earth Day. This is the day set apart for citizens of the world to honor their planet, while committing to new ways to preserve her resources. For the environmentalist, Earth Day is his national holiday. But what about the Christian? How important should the environment be to a follower of Christ?

Billy Graham was posed this very question a few years ago. Following, we offer his response – unedited.

“In reality, many churches and mission groups are speaking out about these issues. A number of denominations, for example, have passed resolutions urging their members to be more active in environmental issues.

“Why should we be concerned about the environment? It isn’t just because of the dangers we face from pollution, climate change, or other environmental problems – although these are serious. For Christians, the issue is much deeper. We know that God created the world, and it belongs to him, not us. Because of this, we are only stewards or trustees of God’s creation, and we aren’t to abuse or neglect it. The Bible says, ‘The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it’ (Psalm 24:1).

“When we fail to see the world as God’s creation, we will end up abusing it. Selfishness and greed take over, and we end up not caring about the environment or the problems we’re creating for future generations. It’s not surprising that some of the world’s worst environmental damage was done by the old atheistic regimes of Eastern Europe.

“I hope you won’t lose your concern for these issues, for they are important. But don’t lose sight of something that is even more important: your relationship with God. Is Christ first in your life, and are you seeking to follow him every day?”

About the Author

Billy Graham wrote this letter in response to a reader, on Earth Day several years ago.

The Rushmore Report – The Top 50 Christian Universities in America

Picking a good university to attend involves many factors: your major, cost, location, and the culture of the university and its campus. I can make a great recommendation – Houston Baptist University. I’ve never known a finer institution. But setting all bias aside, here is a Top 50 list, via Anna Rebekah Orr.

1. College of the Ozarks (Point Lookout, Missouri)

2. Wheaton College (Wheaton, Illinois)

3. Whitworth University (Spokane, Washington)

4. Messiah College (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania)

5. Grove City College (Grove City, Pennsylvania)

6. Calvin College (Grand Rapids, Michigan)

7. Taylor University (Upland, Indiana)

8. Union University (Jackson, Tennessee)

9. Cedarville University (near Cleveland, Ohio)

10. Asbury University (Wilmore, Kentucky)

11. Abilene Christian University (Abilene, Texas)

12. Corban University (Salem, Oregon)

13. Point Loma Nazarene University (San Diego, California)

14. Eastern University (Saint Davids, Pennsylvania)

15. Milligan College (Milligan College, Tennessee)

16. Northwestern College (Orange City, Iowa)

17. Westmont College (Santa Barbara, California)

18. Dordt College (Sioux Center, Iowa)

19. Hope International University (Fullerton, California)

20. Greenville College (Greenville, Illinois)

21. Bethel College (Mishawaka, Indiana)

22. Seattle Pacific University (Seattle, Washington)

23. George Fox University (Newberg, Oregon)

24. Lipscomb University (Nashville, Tennessee)

25. Azusa Pacific University (Azusa, California)

26. North Park University (Chicago, Illinois)

27. Geneva College (Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania)

28. Bethel University (St. Paul, Minnesota)

29. Houghton College (Houghton, New York)

30. Dallas Baptist University (Dallas, Texas)

31. Simpson University (Redding, California)

32. Gordon College (Wenham, Massachusetts)

33. Roberts Wesleyan College (Rochester, New York)

34. Huntington University (Huntington, Indiana)

35. Liberty University (Lynchburg, Virginia)

36. Anderson University (Anderson, Indiana)

37. Biola University (La Mirada, California)

38. Fresno Pacific University (Fresno, California)

39. Northwest University (Kirkland, Washington)

40. The Master’s College & Seminary (Santa Clarita, California)

41. Midamerica Nazarene University (Olathe, Kansas)

42. LeTourneau University (Longview, Texas)

43. John Brown University (Siloam Springs, Arkansas)

44. Mount Vernon Nazarene University (Mount Vernon, Ohio)

45. Oral Roberts University (Tulsa, Oklahoma)

46. Concordia University (Irvine, California)

47. Oklahoma Christian University (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma)

48. Bob Jones University (Greenville, South Carolina)

49. Trinity Christian College (Palos Heights, Illinois)

50. Spring Arbor University (Spring Arbor, Michigan)

About the Author

Anna Rebekah Orr writes for Christian Universities Online.

Heart Transplant

A man who was having trouble went to the doctor to see what his options were. The doctor recommended a heart transplant. The man reluctantly agreed, and asked if there were any hearts immediately available, considering that money was no object.

“I do have three hearts,” said the doctor. “The first is from an 18-year-old kid, non-smoker, athletic, swimmer, with a great diet. He hit his head on the swimming pool and died. It’s $100,000.”

The man asked about the second heart.

“It’s from a marathon runner, 24 years old. Great condition, very strong. He got hit by a bus. It’s $150,000.”

“And what about the third heart?” asked the patient.

“The third heart is from a heavy drinker, cigar smoker, and steak-lover. Man was grossly overweight. This heart is $500,000.”

The patient asked, “Hey, why is that heart so expensive? He lived a terrible life!”

The doctor explained. “It’s true the man lived a hard life. But he was a lawyer, so his heart has never been used.”

Okay, that’s a bad joke! But here’s the point. It doesn’t matter how we live our lives unless we live them from the heart. If we make all our choices and plan all our futures only from the brain, we will miss the best part of life. Jesus said it is what comes from the heart that really matters (Mark 7).

So learn the lesson now. An unused heart is a terrible thing to waste.

The Rushmore Report – Awesome Christian Quotes by U.S. Presidents

Historians disagree on how “Christian” America was and is. One thing is for sure. Throughout our history, our presidents have often stood on biblical principles. You don’t have to take my word for it. Consider some of these direct quotes from some of our most popular leaders. Their words speak for themselves.

George Washington – “It is impossible to rightly govern a nation without God and the Bible.”

John Adams – “We recognize no sovereign but God, and no King but Jesus!”

John Quincy Adams – “The Bible is the first and almost the only book deserving of universal attention.”

James Monroe – “Before any man can be considered as a member of civil society, he must be considered as a subject of the Governor of the Universe. And to the same Divine Author of every good and perfect gift we are indebted for all those privileges and advantages, religious as well as civil, which are so richly enjoyed in this favored land.”

Andrew Jackson – “My most fervent prayer is that the Almighty will overrule all my intentions and actions.”

Abraham Lincoln – “I am profitably engaged in reading the Bible. Take all of this Book upon reason that you can, and the balance by faith, and you will live and die a better man.”

Grover Cleveland – “All must admit that the reception of the teachings of Christ result in the purest patriotism, in the most scrupulous fidelity to public trust, and in the best type of citizenship.”

Theodore Roosevelt – “A thorough knowledge of the Bible is worth more than a college education.”

Calvin Coolidge – “The foundation of our country is the Word of God.”

Herbert Hoover – “The study of the Bible is a post-graduate course in the richest library of human experience.”

John F. Kennedy – “The rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God.”

Ronald Reagan – “If we ever forget that we are one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under.”

George H. W. Bush – “We asked for God’s help; and now, in this shining outcome, in this magnificent triumph of good over evil, we should thank God.”

George W. Bush – “Each day millions of our citizens approach our Maker on bended knee, seeking his grace and giving thanks for the many blessings he bestows upon us.”

The Rushmore Report – Max Lucado: Christianity Would Collapse if This One Word Is False

Max Lucado, the popular best-selling author and preacher at Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas, has identified the one word on which all of Christianity stands upon, and said that if it turns out to be false, then the whole faith “collapses like a joke.””Three words in English. Just one in Greek. Egerthe. So much rests on the validity of this one word. If it is false, then the whole of Christianity collapses like a poorly told joke. Yet, if it is true, then God’s story has turned your final chapter into a preface,” Lucado wrote on Easter Sunday on Facebook.The English translation of “Egerthe” is the phrase “He is risen.”

“If the angel was correct, then you can believe this: Jesus descended into the coldest cell of death’s prison and allowed the warden to lock the door and smelt the keys in a furnace,” the pastor said, referring to the angel who announced to Mary Magdalene and the other women who came to Jesus’ tomb following His crucifixion that He was no longer there.

“And just when the demons began to dance and prance, Jesus pressed pierced hands against the inner walls of the cavern. From deep within He shook the cemetery,” he wrote.

Dr. Richard Land, president of Southern Evangelical Seminary and executive editor of The Christian Post, also recently pointed out that Jesus rising from the dead is more than essential for the Christian faith.

“His (Jesus) death, while necessary, was not enough. Golgotha was required. Without the empty tomb, however, it would have been a tragic and meaningless death. As the Apostle Paul told us in 1 Corinthians, if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith,” Land wrote.

“But Jesus has been resurrected. ‘O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is they victory? They have been swallowed up in the resurrection of Jesus Christ,'” he added, quoting 1 Corinthians 15:55.

Theologian and apologist Robin Schumacher contemplated in another blog post for CP in 2015 that without the resurrection, Jesus would be a liar, the Bible itself would be a lie, and billions of people would have “committed their lives to fantasy,” enduring “persecution, grief, and loss for absolutely nothing.”

“But that’s not the outcome we reach when we look carefully at the events and evidence of Jesus’ resurrection,” Schumacher added.

“The great news is we don’t have to wonder what things would be like if there were no resurrection of Jesus. We can confidently say, and thank God today, for what Peter did two thousand years ago:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1 Peter 1:3).”

About the Author

Stoyan Zaimov is a writer for The Christian Post. You can follow him on Facebook at CPSZaimov.

The Rushmore Report – The Disengaged Are Destroying America

There is no shortage of emotion on the part of the two-thirds of American adults who harbor strong feelings about the condition and direction of the country. During the past decade, in particular, activist conservatives and liberals have been feverishly pushing their ideals and desires for the nation in full view of the public. The clash of worldviews represented by those two factions has created something that feels like an angry stalemate in which America is not making any progress. Some have called it a (mostly) non-violent civil war. We are definitely in a time of agitation, desperately seeking resolution.

Recent studies by the American Culture and Faith Institute have noted that no matter how you measure it, people are eager to arrive at new solutions because we are leery of our own government.

Six out of ten Americans are angry about the state of the nation. Two out of three contend that the government cannot be trusted to do what is in the best interests of the country. Seventy percent say that government has too much control over our lives. Huge majorities of the people argue that the United States is moving in the wrong direction on at least three important fronts: politically, morally, and culturally.

So if we are in a democratic republic, why aren’t things changing for the better?

One reason is that we lack leadership that is coalescing the people around a positive, shared vision of America. We experience that paucity of leadership everyday, as Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, Christians and non-Christians, Millennials and Boomers, whites and non-whites express their divergent perspectives and refuse to give an inch. Without strong leaders casting a compelling portrait of a superior future and showing us how we can move forward, that existing animosity will not end.

But another crucial component of our national stalemate is the large share of the voting-age population that is disengaged from the multifaceted battle of worldviews. These people are the tiebreakers. But they refuse to show up.

There are two key segments of the disengaged. The first is those who have moderate views – i.e., obstinate ambivalence – on both politics and theology (31% of the adult population). They will not take stands on the important issues of the day, from immigration to abortion, from the veracity of the Bible to the role of Jesus Christ in modern life.

The second segment is people who are not registered to vote and pay little attention to political news and information (21%). There are times when all of us get frustrated with the political system and its players, and harbor ill-will toward the biased media. But rather than work through the garbage and distortions in the pipeline, the disengaged retire from the game altogether.

Obviously, these two groups are kissing cousins. In total, 35% of adults fit one or both of those categories.

Their ambivalence is obvious when you see that:

  • They are less likely to feel angry about the state of the nation: 47% vs. 70% among other adults
  • They are less likely to have an opinion about President Trump’s current job performance
  • They are more than twice as likely as other Americans to give President Trump a middling grade (a “C”) or to have no opinion about his first year’s performance in office
  • They are much less likely to claim that they are actively working for the positive transformation of American society

Why are such bland feelings and lack of participation a problem to harp on? Because, unfortunately, this group of absentee citizens may hold the future of our nation in their hands.

We are essentially in a political impasse and they hold the tiebreaking vote. Imagine if the U.S. Senate had an evenly-divided floor vote and the Vice President refused to show up to cast the deciding ballot. What would we call the VP? Irresponsible. Abandoning his civic duty. Wreckless. Uncaring. Derelict in his duties.

Conservatives and liberals want to change America. But the Disengaged, through their apathy and ignorance, are effectively destroying it.

Let me make this even clearer. The latest ACFI survey asked people to summarize their feelings about capitalism, socialism, and democracy.

Republicans, Democrats, conservatives, and liberals agree on very little. But three-quarters of them expressed positive feelings about democracy. The Disengaged? Just 37% of them had positive feelings about the basis of American civic life. A majority said they were either undecided on the matter or had no feelings at all.

When asked to make a choice between capitalism and socialism, conservatives overwhelmingly opted for capitalism, liberals vied for socialism. The Disengaged? A majority of them (56%) said they had no preference.

Part of the challenge may be their lack of information. Whereas two-thirds of the engaged population follows news about politics and governance “a lot” or “quite a bit,” few of those who are Disengaged pay attention to such information.

These are the people who don’t know and don’t care. Their failure to participate in the battle for the nation’s future is paralyzing us all.

On the one hand, I hate to have these cultural sluggards shift the direction of the nation one way or the other. Will they be as irresponsible in their choices as they have been through their disengagement?

On the other hand, if they do not engage, without vibrant leaders suddenly emerging to put the nation on course, we will all continue to suffer. If the Disengaged would man-up and uphold their civic duty to participate in national life, we could break out of our political paralysis.

Wouldn’t it be better for the nation to move forward than to continue our agonizing slide into the quicksand of ambivalence and throes of political chaos?

If you are among the one out of every three Americans who fit the description of the Disengaged, would you please invest yourself in your own (and everyone else’s) future by getting involved in the society around you? We know you’re busy and overwhelmed; the rest of us are, too. Hiding from cultural controversies or not “taking a stand” is not helping you or your countrymen. There is no real value in staying neutral. Please, spend a little time studying the state of the union and the opportunities and challenges that lie before us. Figure out what you believe and how to translate those views into positive action.

No, you don’t have to be a brain surgeon or rocket scientist to take your obligation to your country and freedom seriously. Less than one percent of us are in those heady professions yet we’re engaged in the admittedly messy sociopolitical process, trying our ragged best to make the world a better place. We need your help!

About the Author

George Barna is the Executive Director of the American Culture and Faith Institute.

 

The Rushmore Report – Rick Warren: ‘You Don’t Have to Forget’

You’ve heard this phrase over and over: “Forgive and forget.” There’s only one problem: You can’t do it. It’s impossible! You really can’t forget a hurt in your life. In fact, you can’t even try to forget it. Because when you’re trying to forget it, you are actually focusing on the very thing you want to forget. Forgetting is not what God wants you to do. Instead, he wants you to trust him and see how he can bring good out of it. That’s more important than forgetting, because then you can thank God for the good that he brought out of it. You can’t thank God for things you forget.

Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

It doesn’t say that all things are good, because not all things are good. Cancer is not good. Disease is not good. Death is not good. Divorce is not good. War is not good. Rape and abuse are not good. A lot of things in life are evil. These are the realities of living in a world that has been contaminated by sin.

But God says he will work good out of the bad things in life if you will trust him. When you come to him and say, “God, I give you all the pieces of me life,” he will return peace for your pieces. His peace in your heart comes from realizing that even if you don’t understand the hurt in your life, you can still forgive, knowing that God will use that pain for good.

You don’t have to forget the wrong thing that someone did to you. You couldn’t do it even if you tried! But God says you don’t have to forget it. You just have to forgive and then see how he will bring good out of it.

About the Author

Rick Warren is senior pastor of Saddleback Church and author of The Purpose Driven Life.

Reflections on Robert Schuller

Three years ago, we lost one of the most influential religious leaders of the 20th century. Rev. Robert Schuller, founder of the Crystal Cathedral, died at age 88. The charismatic televangelist built an empire over 50 years, starting with a small church meeting at a drive-in movie theater. In recent years, this empire crumbled under the weight of divided leadership, declining attendance, and lost donations that drove the church into bankruptcy, with debt topping $43 million. The glass-paned cathedral was sold to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange in 2011. Schuller lost a lawsuit to recoup $5 million.

At his popularity peak, Schuller was seen by 20 million viewers in 180 countries every week. In his declining years, the author of over 30 books lived in a care facility where he received treatment for tumors that spread from his esophagus. Schuller was roundly attacked by the establishment and by fundamentalists. He was widely viewed as a heretic and humanist. His friendship with President Bill Clinton sparked an outrage among the conservative citizens of Orange County and among other religious leaders around the nation. Schuller was mocked for being self-serving, shallow, and Biblically illiterate.

But this is not a time to pile on. It is too easy to take shots at those in the spotlight. I loved Robert Schuller, for I do not make agreement on every point a necessity for acknowledging the good and the God I see in that person. It was Schuller who said, “Tough times don’t last, but tough people do.” As a young minister, I remember hearing him ask, “What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?” He said, “Always look at what you have left, not at what you have lost.” “Build a dream and that dream will build you.” And I love this word of encouragement: “Let your hopes, not your hurts, shape your future.”

On September 16, 1926, Robert Harold Schuller was born in the small town of Alton, Iowa. Yesterday he stepped into the presence of God. The man who hosted Hour of Power for 40 years has lived his last hour in this world. Today he has a new body as he has joined his wife of 64 years, Arvella, before the throne of God. Today is not the day to criticize one of America’s most influential spiritual leaders. It is a day to grasp the hope and grace that he taught millions around the world.

To you whose life is touched by both hopes and hurts (all of us), I leave you with these words: “Let your hopes, not your hurts, shape your future.” And as you follow your hopes, thank God for a simple man from Iowa – a loving husband, adoring father, gifted author, influential leader, faithful pastor, and child of the King. Breathe a prayer of gratitude for the father of positive living. Without him, earth just got sadder. With him, heaven became an even happier place. It is truly amazing – what God can do through one man. His name was Robert Schuller.