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.

 

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.

The Rushmore Report – Joel Osteen Goes Off Script

Joel Osteen is the pastor of America’s largest church. Lakewood Church in Houston boasts a weekly worship attendance of about 47,000. A gifted communicator and best-selling author, one would assume Osteen doesn’t have a care in the world. One would assume that nothing fazes him. But that would be wrong. At a recent appearance at a Virginia church, Joel Osteen went off script. And what he said about his personality was not expected. Osteen shared a personal flaw with his audience.

That flaw, in his own words, is that “I want people to like me.” But he has accepted that some people never will.

“My personality type is that I want people to like me. This is my nature. I got into the public eye, and I realized that some people won’t like me because they don’t like what I stand for. They don’t like that I’m successful. But I realized that you won’t get everyone to like you.”

Osteen shared his thoughts at Lifepoint Church, near Washington, D.C., while promoting his new book, Next Level Thinking.

Before delving into a discussion with Lifepoint Church’s senior pastor, Osteen told the 1,650 people who had gathered to hear him speak that he didn’t come prepared with a special message, but ended up sharing one anyway.

“I believe that God can take you places that you can’t go on your own. When you honor God with your life, when you keep him in first place, you don’t know what kind of door God’s gonna open. I never dreamed I’d be a minister, but you know what? God’s plan for your life is always bigger than your own.”

When questioned about the negative chatter on social media, Osteen replied, “I don’t spend any energy on the Twitter universe or social media. And I don’t mean that disrespectfully. I just don’t put any energy into it. I mean, life is too short to put energy into negative emotion and I feel at peace when I’ve done the right thing.”

Do-Overs

In golf it’s called a mulligan. In life it’s called a do-over. The idea is simple. We have messed up, we’ve paid a price, and we want a second chance.

There was an old prophet named Joel. He preached in the days of a great locust infestation in Israel. The people had turned from their God and paid a huge price. Their crops were gone, their livelihood was in doubt, and they were facing a national crisis. That is when God stepped in.

These are the words of Joel. “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten – the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm – my great army that I sent among you. You will have plenty to eat, until you are full, and you will praise the name of the Lord your God, who has worked wonders for you. Never again will my people be shamed” (Joel 2:25-26).

God is the God of a second chance. Just when his children had lost all hope, he showed up in a big way.

Gordon MacDonald wrote, “If our yesterdays are in a state of good repair, they provide strength for today. If not repaired, they create havoc.”

What about your yesterdays? Have the locusts destroyed your crops? If so, you are in a good place today. God is about to show up, and when he does, “you will have plenty to eat, until you are full.”

The Rushmore Report – John Piper on How to Keep Kids Off Porn

The use of pornography is at epidemic levels. More people view porn online than go to Netflix, Twitter, and Amazon combined. One site alone was visited 23 billion times last year. And porn use among Christians is nearly identical to that of nonbelievers. Most kids have been exposed to porn by the age of 11. The results are devastating. Porn users are three times more likely to have chronic affairs. What is the answer? Popular Christian author John Piper has a solution.

Piper suggests that in order to raise children to resist their porn-saturated digital culture, the Gospel must be a constant theme of conversation in the home.

In response to a question from a concerned mother last week, about how she and her husband can raise their sons to not fall into the various kinds of lust that so many godly men have, the Reformed theologian offered several bits of advice.

He began, “Seek to be utterly authentic in your own love for Christ, your own joy in him, and your own delight in his ways. You can’t force upon a child satisfaction in God when it does not look as if he’s satisfying Mom and Dad.”

Piper continued, “Saturate your family with Scripture. Talk about it morning, noon, and night. Talk of it when you get up, when you go to meals, when you’re riding in the car. Talk of the Word of God, and seek to help children understand it. Treat the Bible as the absolute authority in your life. Pray that your children will grow up believing that this book is the highest authority in the universe under God.”

Piper added that wise parents get protection on their kids’ electronic devices. But the ultimate solution, he said, is to tap into the supernatural power of God through prayer and fasting.

The Rushmore Report – NFL’s Philip Rivers Credits the Success of His Marriage to Jesus

Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers is known for many things. Since taking over the reins as starting quarterback in 2006, Rivers has never missed a start, has thrown at least 20 touchdowns a season, and passed for more than 4,000 yards in eight of the last nine years. And while he is well on his way to being the greatest QB in Chargers history, less discussed is his unwavering commitment to his family and his strong connection to his faith.

In a recent sit-down with Rock Church’s Pastor Mile McPherson (a former San Diego Charger himself), Rivers opened up about his Catholic upbringing and how his relationship with Christ informs every decision that he makes.

Born and raised Catholic in a small town in northern Alabama, Rivers described Jesus as the “center of my life” since a very young age. He was an altar boy at church and attended mass every Sunday with his parents and two younger siblings, but it wasn’t until he went away to college at North Carolina State that his faith “really became my own.”

“My faith has always been very important to me,” Rivers told McPherson. “When I went to college is really when it became my own. I had to get up out of that dorm room and go to church, go to mass on Sunday. That’s when I took ownership of my faith.”

Rivers married his middle school sweetheart at the age of 19. Some 16 years later, the two have eight children—six girls and two boys—together. He shared that “remaining pure” and “being chaste” prior to getting married were “very important” to them, and since he “didn’t have a penny to my name” when they got married, Rivers said the foundation of their relationship was and is Jesus.

“I think that the center of our marriage and the foundation of our relationship was on Jesus,” he said. “That is why it’s worked to this point.”

Toward the end of the discussion, Rivers shared one of his favorite Bible versus, 2 Corinthians 1:3-7, which became particularly important to his family in the wake of his son Gunner’s type one diabetes diagnosis.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.”

“I hope that God has used me to touch one of you in your faith journey with Jesus,” he concluded.

About the Author

This article first appeared on the newswire of the Christian Broadcasting Network.

The Rushmore Report – A New Christian Denomination Is Born

Brian Houston founded what would become known as Hillsong 35 years ago, along with his wife Bobbie. Now he has announced that they are officially forming their own denomination. Hillsong is one of the largest and most influential churches in the world, with 123 locations around the world. Until now, they have been affiliated with the Australian Christian Churches (ACC), a branch of the Assemblies of God fellowship. The Assemblies of God are the largest Pentecostal denomination in the world.

In a letter to church members, Houston said they have “no grief or dispute at all with the ACC,” but after two years of consideration, made the move because of the church’s global growth.

He wrote, “As Hillsong Church has continued to grow, we no longer see ourselves as an Australian Church with a global footprint, but rather a Global Church with an Australian base – our global office now resides in the USA. Two thirds of the people attending Hillsong Church each weekend live in countries beyond Australia. We have pastoral staff in 24 nations around the world, representing 123 campuses and locations, with 263 different church services on any given weekend. We consider it to be ‘One House, with many rooms.'”

Houston explained, “We are now registered by the Australian Department of Births, Deaths, and Marriages, as a recognized denomination with the ability to credential pastors in our own right.”

In a statement to Eternity News, ACC President Wayne Alcorn said, “Recently Hillsong Church advised us of its desire for a change in its relationship with the ACC. In a way, this can be likened to a child who has grown up and now has a larger life outside the family home.” He also reiterated that there was no dispute with the leadership.

Houston added, “I believe wholeheartedly that Pastor Wayne Alcorn is doing a wonderful job in leading the movement, and I want to make it clear that we have no grief or dispute at all with the ACC. Instead, this decision comes after almost two years of prayerful discussion within both our global and Australian church boards.”

The Rushmore Report – Carrie Underwood’s Tearful Revelation

Last Sunday, music and entertainment icon Carrie Underwood did an interview with CBS Sunday Morning. The winner of multiple Grammys, three-time Female Singer of the Year, and most decorated star in AMA history talked about her faith, her family, and her fears. It was her fears that brought Underwood to tears. She, with her husband Mike Fisher (NHL star), has a three-year-old son named Isaiah. But it was her account of a second child that brought a tearful revelation.

The couple had planned to have a second child in 2017. Although she became pregnant in early 2017, she now says “it didn’t work out.” The 35-year-old star says she felt it just wasn’t God’s timing, and that she would bounce back.

The native of Checotah, Oklahoma got pregnant again that spring. Again, she says, “It didn’t work out.” When she had her third miscarriage early this year – that’s when she broke down.

“It was just kind of like ‘what’s the deal?’ she recalled thinking. “What is all of this?”

Underwood continued, “I had always been afraid to be angry because we’re so blessed. My son Isaiah, he’s the sweetest thing. He’s the best thing in the world and I’m like, if we can never have any other kids, that’s okay because he’s amazing. And I have this amazing life. Really, what can I complain about? I can’t.”

She continued, “I have an incredible husband, incredible friends, an incredible job, an incredible kid. Can I be mad? No. And then I got mad.”

While sobbing one night, she poured her heart out to God, asking him, “Why?”

“Why on earth do I keep getting pregnant if I can’t have a kid? Do something, God! Either shut the door or let me have a kid,” she told God.

Underwood concluded, “For the first time, I feel like I actually told God how I felt and I feel like we’re supposed to do that. It still hurts, but I’m going to keep on trusting God when it hurts and when it doesn’t. If he doesn’t answer my prayers the way I want, I’m still so incredibly blessed.”

About the Author

Sheryl Lynn writes for the Christian Post.

The Rushmore Report – ‘Deeply Religious’ Chelsea Clinton Sees Abortion Ban as ‘Unchristian’

Chelsea Clinton has said that, as a “deeply religious person,” the idea of America going back to a pre-Roe v. Wade society where abortions were banned is “unchristian.” In an interview with Sirius XM’s “Signal Post,” on Thursday, Clinton said every day she makes the “moral choice” to be optimistic for her children when it comes to what she says is the battle for women’s rights.

“That my efforts and my energies, particularly when I’m fortunate enough to be in partnership with fellow travelers, hopefully will make a difference,” the activist and former first daughter said.

“And when I think about all of the statistics that are painful of what women are confronting today in our country, and what even more women confronted pre-Roe and how many women died and how many more women were maimed because of unsafe abortion practices, we just can’t go back to that,” Clinton said, referring to the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the country.

“Like that’s unconscionable to me, and also, I’m sure that this will unleash another wave of hate in my direction, but as a deeply religious person, it’s also unchristian to me,” she added, referring to her Methodist faith.

Clinton added that she has been receiving “a lot of hate” over the issue, and has been compared to slave-owners and Nazis.

Several conservative figures, including evangelist Franklin Graham, have recently taken objection to Clinton’s continued comments on abortion. Back in August, she spoke at a pro-abortion event “Rise Up for Roe” in New York City against Judge Bret Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court.

At the event, she seemed to suggest that the ability to have legal abortions has led to economic growth in the U.S.

Graham wrote on Facebook that such notions are a “lie,” however.

“Hitler probably also claimed that killing the Jews would be good for their economy. Legalizing abortion hasn’t added anything to our country, it has only taken away. It has cost this nation more than 60 million lives — lives precious to God,” Graham said.

“Just think of the contribution these people would have made. There will be another high cost. I believe God will judge America for allowing the heinous murder of our own children in the womb,” he added.

Clinton added in a subsequent statement that what she is saying is not that having an abortion is good for the economy, but that women were more likely to enter the workforce due to the legalization of abortion.

“From 1973–1985, American women’s deaths from abortion declined 5-fold. Reproductive rights are also about women’s economic rights and agency,” Clinton tweeted.

Susan B. Anthony List, a nonprofit that seeks to advance pro-life women in politics, responded to Clinton’s original comments on the economy and abortion by asking her to consider “the 60 million aborted babies who won’t enter the labor force or pay into Social Security.”

“Their parents won’t purchase diapers, clothing, toys, cars or houses to accommodate them. … Yes, abortion’s had a huge impact on America’s economy and it hasn’t been good. Not only are we hurting economically, we’re missing 60 million blessings from God and the good they would have contributed,” Brad Mattes of the institute said.

About the Author

Stoyan Zaimov writes for the Christian Post.