The Rushmore Report – Why Faith’s Influence on Politics Isn’t Going Away

“Social issues to return to the forefront on GOP trail.” That’s the title of an article in the Washington Post. What is striking about the article is its title.  “Return to the forefront?”  First, from the earliest days of the last presidential campaign to the present, social issues – protecting the unborn and their mothers, religious liberty, the radical agenda of LGBT activists, etc. – have been in the top tier of issues politicians have been discussing.
The debate over the North Carolina legislation prohibiting men from using women’s bathrooms, as well as issues like dismemberment abortion and protecting the free exercise of religious conviction, are not sudden intrusions, as if unwelcome and unruly guests had burst into a sedate dinner party.  These concerns are at the heart of the kind of country we want to be.  Will we honor life at all its stages, uphold religious liberty as our most essential freedom, esteem marriage as the union of one man and one woman, for life, and strengthen families to better enable every child to be raised in a home with a mom and a dad?  Or will we exalt radical sexual autonomy, continuously redefine human sexuality, treat the unborn as mere collections of blood and tissue and dehumanize their mothers through abortion-on-demand, and encourage the fracturing of families through laws that foster divorce, cohabitation, promiscuity, and pornography?
Second, secular journalists seem perpetually amazed that issues like abortion and religious liberty are actual concerns of real people.  It is natural that like-minded people talk mostly to others with the same perspectives and don’t engage as much with those whose outlook is fundamentally different than their own.
Yet over the past several decades, has it not become apparent that a massive, even preponderant number of Republican voters are socially conservative and that, as the country undergoes profound social turmoil, the convictions of these voters will inform what their party’s candidates discuss in their campaigns?
As Terry Mattingly has convincingly documented for many years, most reporters “don’t get religion.” Mike Cromartie, long-time director of the Ethics and Public Policy Center’s Faith Angle Forum, has spoken of once being called by a journalist at a premier publication who “asked for the name of the author and publisher when Cromartie mentioned the book of Ephesians.”
Christians should not belittle journalists for their ignorance, but nor should journalists fail to recognize the significance of the traditional religious faith of tens of millions of their fellow citizens and its implications for American public life.  As the Pew Research Center on Religion and Public Life documented in a study last year, more than 70 percent of the American people identify as Christians and many Jews and Muslims carefully observe the tenets of their faiths.
Of course, not all of these self-identified believers share the same convictions about the doctrines and practices and political implications of their faiths.  But faith does have implications, real and compelling ones, for one’s beliefs about and conduct regarding the kind of government we should have and the kind of culture we should be.  To dismiss them or pretend they are inconsequential shows a certain contempt for one’s fellow citizens and a measure of intellectual dishonesty when reporting about law, politics, social life, and so forth.
Writing of that great 19th century French observer of our then-new republic, Alexis de Tocqueville, historian Alan Kahan argues that “Tocqueville rejected the militant secularism that saw religion as the enemy, and there is no reason to believe he would have changed his mind today. He rejected equally the claim of some religious people that freedom was the enemy of religion. For Tocqueville, the only way for either freedom or religion to prosper in the long run was by recognizing that they were mutually necessary, and mutually beneficial.”
When journalists, on television or in print or online or on the radio, miss this central insight – that religion and liberty are entwined not only in the fabric of our country but the hearts and hands of scores of millions of Americans – invariably they will be surprised by social issues that just keep “returning” to the fore of public concern.
And that should be no surprise to anyone.
About the Author
Rob Schwarzwalder writes for the Family Research Council.

The Rushmore Report – New York Giant Odell Beckham, Jr. Boldly Shares His Faith

Odell Beckham is perhaps the most exciting star in the National Football League. The stand-out wide receiver for the New York Giants made what is described as the most sensational catch in NFL history last year. He has been rewarded with the largest contract of any receiver in history. But the life of Odell Beckham is much deeper than what happens on the gridiron. Every Sunday, well before the National Anthem is played, Beckham takes a knee. Why?

Odell Beckham is happy to answer that question.

Beckham says his life was changed when he turned it over to God this past summer. He took to Instagram to share with his 11.5 million followers that he has dedicated his life to Jesus Christ. In July, Beckham was on a trip to the Holy Land when he decided to get baptized. The receiver shared a photo of the experience with the caption, “FRESH START.” He said he had “been forgiven.”

For Odell Beckham, this is about his life, not just a single event in Israel. He said, “My journey is just beginning.” The next month, he posted, “God, I can’t even put into words my gratitude. This is only the beginning. I’m thankful.”

And before the start of the NFL season, Beckham posted,  “Lord, I come to you at this time, not to ask you for anything, but just to say Thank You.”

And in his most recent post, the Giant wrote, “Mind. Body. Spirit. God I can’t thank u enough for completely puttin me back together and givin me another opportunity. It’s OUR time.”

The LSU product, first round draft choice, and three-time Pro Bowler is a role model for today’s youth. In a time when kids are starving for men to look up to, God has provided such a man. His name is Odell Beckham.


Seven Keys to Wisdom

The Bible has a great passage about wisdom. It’s found in 1 Chronicles 28:9-10.

“And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever. Consider now, for the Lord has chosen you to build a house as the sanctuary. Be strong and do the work.”

Within this passage, we find seven keys to the wisdom of Solomon.

1. Acknowledge God. This means acknowledging that God is real. He loves us and wants us to succeed. Acknowledging God also means realizing that we depend only on him.

2. Serve him wholeheartedly. if we don’t take action, our acknowledgment becomes empty. God deserves our full obedience through diligent service. We serve God by serving others.

3. Keep motives pure. If we serve only for what we get out of it, we’re really not serving. We’re being selfish. Instead, we should be sure that people benefit from our service by being drawn closer to God.

4. Be faithful. Regardless of results, circumstances or progress, if we’re faithful in our walk with God, our efforts will never be in vain. We see from the stories of David’s life that God blesses faithfulness, despite our faults and failures.

5. Realize that God chose us. We’re not accidentally a part of God’s plan. He chose us to serve him. He has a specific purpose for each of us to fulfill.

6. Be strong. God goes beyond choosing us. He also equips and energizes us to do whatever he sets before us.

7. Do the work. Knowing these keys, it’s time to get to work. When God calls and we get moving, he’ll be able to accomplish incredible feats through us!

Alice Chapin said, “How could I possibly be the apple of God’s eye when my behavior is not yet perfect? Because green apples are apples, too! One day I shall be a mature September apple, perfectly formed. But for now, I am still growing.”

Big Boys Don’t Cry

When we were little boys, a simple scraped knee or a harsh word from a friend could send us instantly into the arms of our parents. We felt no sense of shame in our tears or in seeking the comfort of a loving person.

And then we grew up and became big boys.

As men, we find that too often the pain and weight of failure, loss, disappointment, and regret weigh relentlessly on our hearts and souls. The more intense our emotional or mental distress, the more our bodies feel resulting aches, pains, and fatigue. As big boys, we presume the correct “macho” response is a grin, and we are to endure it and just get over it. “Bite the bullet,” we tell ourselves.

King David was a man’s man, and a woman’s man; a bare-handed killer of bears and lions and a slayer of giants; a brilliant military strategist and a decisive national political figure. Yet, when in distress, David didn’t just “get over it.” Rather, he felt his aches and pains fully, to the point of becoming faint! In the Psalms, David wept profusely and openly groaned about his feelings of despair and anguish.

Jack Hyles said it like this: “Laughter means nothing unless there have been tears.”

The Mazeroski Home Run

The 1960 World Series was significant in many ways. For example, it was the only year in which the World Series Most Valuable Player came from the losing team – Bobby Richardson, of the New York Yankees. But the series is best known for the greatest home run in baseball history.

The date was October 13, 1960. The place was Forbes Field, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The New York Yankees and Pittsburgh Pirates were tied, 9-9. It was the bottom of the 9th inning. The Pirates were at bat. The pitcher was Ralph Terry. And the hitter was Bill Mazeroski.

Mazeroski was not a power hitter. In his 17 Major League seasons, he hit just 138 home runs. Maz was known as a defensive player, turning more double plays than any second baseman in history, making 10 All-Star appearances in the process.

But this day would be different. The light-hitting second baseman stepped to the plate with the world watching. And then he hit a fastball 430 feet, over the head of left fielder Yogi Berra, over the 406-foot sign, and over the fence and out of the park.

As a side note, a 14-year-old boy named Andy Jerpe recovered the ball, had Mazeroski sign it for him, and then lost the ball while playing in a park six months later.

But the lesson of “the home run” is this. We are defined by single moments. Bill Mazeroski played 17 seasons, set fielding records that still stand today, and made it into baseball’s coveted Hall-of-Fame – as a defensive genius. But he is known for one swing of the bat – producing the only walk-off ninth inning, game 7 home run in World Series history.

For good or bad, people will remember you for your defining moments. Here’s the good news. No matter your past, no matter your failures, your best days are still ahead. And here’s the even better news. God gets the last at-bat.

Teddy Roosevelt Was Shot This Day in 1912

Before a campaign speech in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Theodore Roosevelt, the presidential candidate for the Progressive Party, was shot at close range by saloon owner John Schrank while greeting the public in front of the Gilpatrick Hotel. Schrank’s bullet, aimed directly at Roosevelt’s heart, failed to mortally wound the former president because its force was slowed by a glasses case and a bundle of manuscript in the breast pocket of Roosevelt’s heavy coat.

Schrank was immediately detained and reportedly offered as his motive that “any man looking for a third term ought to be shot.” Roosevelt, who suffered only a flesh wound from the attack, went on to deliver his scheduled speech with the bullet still in his body. After a few words, the former “Rough Rider” pulled the torn bloodstained manuscript from his breast pocket and declared, “It takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose.” He spoke for nearly an hour and then was rushed to the hospital.

Neal Shusterman said, “The measure of a man is not how much he suffers in the test, but how he comes out at the end.” We all take our share of shots in this life. What determines a man’s greatness is not what leads up to the shots, but is found in his response.

The Rushmore Report – Five Principles for Raising a Godly Family

Godly families are the bedrock of any spiritual community, and having godly children is a blessing that many parents long for. The big question many are asking is how does one actually produce a godly family. Issues of parenting and family discipline are not easy to advise on, because hard and fast rules are difficult to come by.

Even a cursory look at both biblical and historical heroes of faith shows that these men and women were not necessarily the best parents. So, is there any hope? Strategies that work with certain children and certain families don’t work exactly the same way with others; advice from younger parents (I am currently raising five children myself) doesn’t have the blessing of hindsight, while advice from older parents has to be tempered with the understanding that parents today are parenting in a different culture to that in which the previous generation was raised.

Despite these challenges, there are some timeless principles that we should not deviate from. And in examining these principles, I asked my own parents for advice. For the record, they raised four children, who are all serving the Lord in some capacity—my brother Wes and I have been part of the leadership team at International House of Prayer in Kansas City for most of the life of this organization. So, here is the advice from my parents.

Principle One: Godly Families Begin with Godly Marriages.

“It is critical to begin with a right understanding about the subject of families, and that is this: God is FOR family, and God is for you. The Godhead is a family, and it is clear throughout scripture that it’s God’s desire to extend this family. Family begins with the marriage of a man to a woman. Marriage is a God covenant, a God idea—it was not just a good idea thought up by someone down the centuries. The permanency of such a covenant, in an age where marriage is anything but permanent, is the primary foundation to create a good bedrock for a godly family.”

Principle Two: Raising Godly Children Is a Parent’s Mandate and Responsibility.

“God said to the first married couple, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth.’ As man was made in the image of God, His desire was that His offspring would also be reproduced in His image. This injunction from God has not changed. Christian couples must always be mindful that God desires them to send out kingdom offspring, in His image, and as lights into a dark world. This is a big responsibility that God has given to married couples.”

“It can never be emphasized too strongly that bringing up children in the nurture and love of God is a divine call and command. There is always a danger that couples, perhaps unconsciously, consider their children to be appendages and burdens which bring restrictions upon their own personal plans and lives. The reality is that in the span of eternity (and let’s be honest, even the span of an adult life), the time taken to raise a child from birth to adulthood is very brief. In these years, the influence that parents will have on their children, for good or bad, is incalculable. The Word says, ‘Train up a child in the way he should go, and . . . he will not depart from it.’ Remember—however you act as a parent, will train your child.”

“Further, a married couple who are Christian must always be aware that it is their own responsibility as parents to bring their children up in the love and nurture of the Lord. So many couples abdicate this responsibility, and seek to transfer it onto their church leaders and church communities. Other influences can be good, but cannot replace parental responsibility before God.”

Principle Three: Discipline in a Godly Family.

“Discipleship is about living in obedience to God’s will and purpose; many people find it difficult to live in obedience to God when they have never learnt to be obedient to their parents in the first place.”

“People often equate discipline and punishment as being the same thing; it is not. A couple must be united, one together, with the disciplines they place around their family for safety and protection. Punishment only occurs when children flagrantly disobey what they have been clearly told by their parents to do, or not to do. We always found when our children understood this, there was rarely any need for punishment.”

Principle Four: Maintaining a Right Attitude.

“One important family value, which we have built in as a discipline, has been that we do not argue or carry bad attitudes with each other—the child is taught from an early age to resolve conflict with a right attitude. These issues were often what we talked and prayed about at the ‘family altar,’ and this was how issues were generally settled.”

Principle Five: Praying as a Family.

“It can be cliché, but it is true—the family that prays together, stays together. Parents must pray together as a couple, and with their children. The importance of such a family altar can never be emphasized enough. Many have asked us through the years, ‘At what age do you start to pray with your children?’ The truth is that couples should already be praying together before the children arrive, as part of a healthy marriage, so that when children are born, they are brought into the correct environment. Children should never be in an environment where family prayer is not a normal part of family life. A family’s life in God together should never be underestimated—it is the foundation of a strong family in an ungodly world.”

Families who pray, pull, and play together stay together, and shine out as a bright light in a dark and confused world.

About the Authors

Jim Hall started life as a farmer in Northern England. He entered full-time Christian ministry in the 1970s, working as an evangelist with British Youth for Christ. Jim has also served as a Senior Pastor, planting two churches in the North East of England.

He has been married to Jessica, who is originally from the London area, for nearly 50 years.  Jessica has worked alongside Jim as well as being a high school teacher. They have four children who are all married and actively involved in serving the Lord in different capacities. Two of their sons Wesley and Jono have been on staff at IHOPKC for a number of years.

Get Out of Bed!

“Get out of bed!” said the mother to her son, who was 38. “I don’t want to,” he groaned, as he pulled the covers back over his head. “But you have to get up,” she insisted. “It’s Sunday, and church starts in an hour!”

“But I don’t want to go to church,” he complained. “Why do I have to go?”

Trying to maintain her patience, his mother suggested, “You need to go to church for three reasons. First, you need to go to church because I am your mother, and I said so. Second, church will do you good. And third, you’re the pastor!”

There are times all of us would rather stay in bed. I heard about a minister who told his church, “I’m here because I have to be. I’m paid to be good. But most of you are good for nothing.” Now, that’s honesty.

So what do you do this Sunday, when you’d rather sleep in? You deserve the extra rest. The church will be there on Easter. Get up anyway. Here’s an idea. Don’t go to church for yourself. Do it for everyone else. Whether you’re paid to be good, or you are “good for nothing,” your church will be a better place if you listen to your mom and get out of bed!

The Bible says, “Praise the Lord. Praise God in the sanctuary” (Psalm 150:1). But first, you have to get out of bed!

“I’m No Moses!

Gladys Aylward must have felt something like Moses leading the children of Israel out of Egypt. The year was 1940 and Gladys was in China, leading 100 orphaned children away from the invading Japanese armies. Eight years earlier Gladys had followed God’s calling and moved from London to Yangcheng, China, with one plan in mind: to serve God by serving lost children.

But when the Japanese army came to Yangcheng, no one in the orphanage was safe. Gladys had no choice but to lead the orphans on a treacherous journey over the mountains to reach free China. After one particular sleepless night in the mountains, as the bleakness of this month-long journey overwhelmed her, Gladys was ready to give up hope.

That was when a 13-year-old orphan girl came to sit by her side. The child tried to encourage the missionary by reminding her of the time when Moses and the Israelites had escaped from the land of Egypt.

“But I’m no Moses,” Gladys explained.

“Of course you aren’t,” the orphan replied. “But Jehovah is still God.”

Gladys suddenly realized that, like Moses, she was an imperfect person. But that didn’t matter, because God had chosen her to shepherd his children to safety. And with his guidance and direction, an imperfect person could work miracles.

It took a full month, but with God’s help Gladys and all 100 children made it safely to freedom.

Do you ever feel overwhelmed, exhausted, and ready to throw in the towel? Are you convinced that the situation you’re in is bigger than your abilities to overcome it? Then take a cue from the stories of these two faithful workers. As did Moses, and as did Gladys, accept that you’re imperfect and remember that God loves to work through imperfect people.

Charles Cos said, “God calls me to be faithful. The end result is in his hands, not mine.”

Advice from a Dad

Heinrich Bullinger was a good pastor and a better father. He was born in 1504 to a priest who, in his old age, embraced Reformation views, such as “the just shall live by faith.” Though it cost him his church, it gained him a son.

Young Heinrich fell in love with Martin Luther’s writings, Melanchthon’s books, and the study of the Bible. At the remarkably young age of 27, he was asked to take the place of slain Swiss Reformer Ulrich Zwingli as pastor of the Grossmunster of Zurich. He ascended the pulpit there on December 23, 1531.

Bullinger continued Zwingli’s practice of preaching through books of the Bible, verse by verse. His home, like his Bible, was open from morning till night, and he freely distributed food, clothing, and money to the needy. His wisdom and influence spread across Euroope. No one was more affected than his son, Henry.

When Henry packed his bags for college, Heinrich gave him this piece of advice: “Fear God at all times, and remember that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.”

Great advice from a great man. And what worked for Henry will work for you.

James said, “The wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure, then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere” (James 3:17).