The Rushmore Report – A Dying Pastor’s Final Wish Come True

Shane Hall was the beloved pastor of First Southern Baptist Church of Oklahoma City. For three and a half years, the 46-year-old battled stomach cancer. Friday, the battle ended, as he went to be with the Lord. Knowing all medical options had been exhausted, Hall knew his fate. He had one dying wish. And that wish came true.

Hall’s final desire was to see his youngest daughter, Mallory, come to faith in Christ before he died. Here is the timeline of the pastor’s final days.

On Wednesday, February 7, Mallory trusted Christ as her personal Savior. Two days later, on February 9, Misti, Shane’s wife, announced that all medical options to save Shane’s life were exhausted, and they were now focused on pain management until his death. Then, on Sunday, February 11, Pastor Hall baptized his young daughter. On February 16, Misti posted, “Tonight he is worshiping with Jesus.”

The last person Hall would baptize would be his daughter.

The funeral service for Shane will be today in Oklahoma City. This week, Misti posted, “We continue to see God’s sustaining grace in all of this. Shane said he just wanted to baptize Mallory. So, for him to say that and then to see it within two or three weeks was just a precious gift to him. I felt like, that’s what kept him here for awhile, his wanting to fulfill that desire to see her come to know the Lord.”

Frank Page, President and CEO of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, prayed with Hall many times in his final weeks. “When I heard about Shane’s miraculous efforts in helping to baptize his daughter, I wept,” he said. “It spoke of a father’s love. It spoke of a pastor’s determination. God bless his wonderful family.”

 

The Rushmore Report – Which Sports League Is the Most Christian?

When the Philadelphia Eagles upset the New England Patriots to win the Super Bowl two weeks ago, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson was quick to give God the glory. “I can only give the praise to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” he said. His quarterback, Nick Foles, plans to become a pastor. As chaplain for the Houston Rockets, I was amazed that entire teams – the Golden State Warriors and Oklahoma City Thunder – attend chapel. But which of the four major sports – football, baseball, basketball, or hockey – is the most Christian? The answer may surprise you.

Of course, we cannot really say one sport is “Christian” or “non-Christian.” But Ryan P. Burge of Eastern Illinois University has analyzed each sport by an interesting matrix. Burge has looked over the Twitter profiles of each athlete in each major league – Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, the National Football League, and the National Hockey League.

Specifically, Burge analyzed each Twitter account in search of Scripture references. And based on that analysis, it’s not even close. The most Christian sport is baseball.

Burge found that MLB players are the most likely to have Bible verses cited in their bios, with eight percent of the 1,265 accounts having at least one verse.

Next comes the NFL, where about four percent of the players cite Scripture. Coming in third is the NBA, at three percent. And the least Christian league is the NHL, where not a single player cites Scripture in his Twitter account.

Burge speculated as to the reasons for his findings. He attributes the relative strong Christian presence in baseball to demographics. MLB players tend to come from more rural areas and Latino countries, where Christianity is strong.

On the other extreme is hockey, where many players come from non-religious countries in Europe.

What is the most-cited Bible verse? That would be Philippians 4:13, which reads, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Of course, Christians are found in every league, and probably on every team. I suspect this is especially true of the Houston Astros, Houston Texans, and Houston Rockets. And yes, I am from Houston.

The Rushmore Report – Five Devout Christians on the U.S. Olympic Team

The 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in South Korea are well underway, bringing together athletes from across the world to compete in various sports. As the Games begin, the United States has brought a diverse team of competitors to the global event that features many devout Christians.

Here, in no particular order, are five openly Christian athletes who are competing at the Olympic Games under the red, white, and blue banner.

1. Kelly Clark

Professional snowboarder Kelly Clark is a veteran of the Olympic Games, going into this year’s event having already won Gold and Bronze medals.

On her Twitter profile, Clark identifies herself as a “lover of coffee, God, and good times,” with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes noting in a January feature on her that she gave her life to Christ in 2004.

“My ministry, and what God is doing in my life, is really found in my career in the marketplace,” she told FCA earlier this year.

2. Elana Meyers Taylor

World champion bobsledder Elana Meyers Taylor won a Silver medal at the 2014 Sochi Games and a Bronze at the 2010 Vancouver Games.

In an interview with Christian Sports Journal published in November 2016, Taylor spoke about how when she competes internationally, she sees herself as representing not just herself or her country, but also “Christ and what He’s done through me.”

3. Nic Taylor

Professional bobsledder and husband to Elana Meyers Taylor, whom he met at a Bible study, Nic Taylor has accrued his share of medals in various competitions over the past several years.

According to an interview with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes published last month, Nic came to faith in 2005 when he survived three separate car accidents.

“It shouldn’t have taken three, but it took three for me to realize I’m not in control of my life,” he said.

4. David Wise

David Wise made history in 2014 as the first-ever Olympic champion in Men’s Skiing Halfpipe at the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.

Calling himself a “truth follower” on his Twitter profile, wise explained in a 2014 interview that faith plays a “huge role” in his confidence.

“I don’t have to worry about what’s happening or the outside influences as much because I feel like I can trust God, and He’s going to see me through,” Wise said, as reported by CBN.

5. Maame Biney

American short track speed skater Maame Biney started skating when she was six and qualified for the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics before she turned 18.

On her Instagram account, Biney explained that the “smile on my face doesn’t mean my life is perfect. It means I appreciate what I have and what God has blessed me with.”

In response to her qualifying win in Utah last December, Biney took to social media to “start off by thanking God.”

About the Author

Michael Gryboski writes for The Christian Post.

I Can’t Believe What I Just Saw

I can’t believe what I just saw. Saturday, I was in Texas to conduct a wedding ceremony. After the wedding, Beth and I stopped at a Raceway Station. When I started to pump gas, I saw the lady at the next pump – smoking a cigarette while pumping gas. I walked toward her and warned her of the danger of smoking while pumping gas. She said some rather unpleasant things to me. It was clear she was not going to put her cigarette out. So I got in my car and drove off out of fear of what might happen next.

And then it did happen next. As we began to drive off, Beth saw it in our car’s side mirror – a spark – and then a flame. I turned the car around and saw the lady waving her arm violently. She was on fire.

Within seconds, several customers had run to her with some sort of blanket, throwing it around her arm as fast as they could, to put the fire out. But before they could get to her, the sound of her screams and the sight of her waving arm, completely aflame, were etched in my mind. It was a horrible sight and sound.

We got out of our car. Just then, a police car pulled up. It must have already been close by. The officer got out of his car and walked over to the lady. After making sure the fire was out, he proceeded to do the unexpected. He put her into the backseat of his car.

When the manager of the store left the scene, walking back toward the store, many of us gathered around him. “Why did the officer put her in the car?” I asked him. He said, “The police put her under arrest.”

“Why did they arrest her?” I asked him.

The man replied, “For illegally waving a firearm.”

Okay – so that’s a horrible (but funny) story. But there’s a point. You bought it, didn’t you? I know I did, when I heard that story last week!

Here’s the lesson. Don’t believe everything you hear. Sounding true and being true are two different things. We live in a world in which the media is screaming messages at us every day. I won’t get into the politics of that. But I will say this – again. Be careful what you believe. The Bible says to “test the spirits.” That means to make sure what you buy into is really true.

And avoid illegally waving a firearm.

The Rushmore Report – Eagles’ Nick Foles, from QB to Pastor

On Twitter, the bespectacled Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles places his faith in Jesus before everything else that defines him in his tagline. “Believer in Jesus Christ, husband, father, son, brother,” he writes. It’s no surprise then that at the end of his football career, Foles plans to become a pastor.

“I want to be a high school pastor,” the 29-year-old said at a news conference ahead of the Super Bowl. “It’s on my heart. I took a leap of faith last year and signed up to take classes at seminary. I wanted to continue to learn and challenge my faith. It’s a challenge because you are writing papers that are biblically correct. You want to impact people’s hearts.”

Foles continued, “When I speak to students, that’s such a time of young men and young women’s lives that there’s a lot of things that are thrown at them. So much temptation in this world, so much going on with social media and the internet that you want to talk to them, address it, and share the weakness. I have because I’ve fallen many times. It’s something I want to do. I can’t play football forever. I’ve been blessed with an amazing platform and it’s just a door God has opened, but I still have a lot of school left and a long journey.”

After suffering a few years of inconsequential performances since 2013 when he made the Pro Bowl after throwing 27 touchdown passes for the Eagles, he was thinking about retiring. Before making the decision, however, Foles and his family prayed and he chose to remain in the NFL.

He returned to the Eagles this season to play back-up quarterback to the Eagles’ young superstar Carson Wentz. When Wentz got injured with a torn ACL in December, Foles was ready and he powered his team to success with a lot of “faith throws,” passes thrown before the receiver breaks for the ball.

Foles told the Associated Press, “It took a lot more faith to come back and play than it would have taken to go in the other direction. Either way would have been fine. Either way, I would have trusted in God. I would have done something else and glorified God in that instance. I knew as a person that the more growth I’ve had and the more opportunity I would have to glorify God and trust in him would be to go back and play football,” he added.

About the Author

Leonardo Blair is a writer for the Christian Post.

The Rushmore Report – Evangelical Leader Explains Why Evangelicals Still Support Trump

Tony Perkins is president of the Family Research Council and has been an ardent supporter of President Trump. This has brought him under fire, due to some of Trump’s past indiscretions and his comment that evangelicals had given Trump a “mulligan.” Perkins recognizes Trump’s shortcomings. Still, he remains a strong supporter – for one reason.

Trump has kept his promises.

Perkins admits that supporting Trump is not always easy. He says evangelicals have forgiven the president for his past behavior, but don’t want to see him repeat himself now that he is in office.

“Nothing has changed since the evangelical community agreed to support President Trump,” he said, noting that he wasn’t an early Trump supporter, but that he came around once the general election came down to Trump and Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.

In the end, Perkins said that many evangelical leaders decided to come around Trump so long as he abided by a few requests: nominating pro-life judges, having a sold running mate, and not diminishing the Republican Party platform. Perkins said that Trump has kept his promises; he has abided by all of those pledges and continues to keep his promises.

“Evangelicals kind of gave him a mulligan,” he said. “They said, ‘Look, we know your past, we don’t agree with it, we don’t like it – it’s reprehensible to us, but we’re going to start fresh and work forward.'”

As for evangelicals not addressing moral concerns with the president, that is not true, Perkins asserts.

“They are wrong in saying that evangelical leaders are not addressing it. If I can talk to you, if you will allow me to express my concern about things, I will do so privately. These things are being communicated.”

And it seems Perkins has had that opportunity with the president. He says evangelicals have had more access to Trump and a better relationship with him than they did with George W. Bush during the entirety of his presidency.

“This president has more aligned with and shown concern about the issues that matter to pro-life Americans, those who advocate for religious freedom, than any other president in my lifetime,” he said.

Despite all of this, Perkins said that evangelical leaders’ support for Trump isn’t unconditional and that it really hinges on him keeping his promises and not falling into bad patterns of past behavior.

 

The Power of Surrender

When J. Wilbur Chapman was in London, he had an opportunity to meet General William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, who at that time was past 80 years of age. Dr. Chapman listened reverently as the old general spoke of the trials, conflicts, and victories. Then the American evangelist asked the general if he would disclose his secret for success.

“He hesitated a second,” Dr. Chapman said, “and I saw the tears come into his eyes and steal down his cheeks, and then he said, ‘I will tell you the secret. God has had all there was of me. There have been men with greater brains than I, men with greater opportunities; but from the day I got the poor of London on my heart, and a vision of what Jesus Christ could do with the poor of London, I made up my mind that God would have all of William Booth there was. And if there is anything of power in the Salvation Army today, it is because God has all the adoration of my heart, all the power of my will, and all the influence of my life.'”

Dr. Chapman said he went away from that meeting with General Booth knowing that “the greatness of a man’s power is determined by the measure of his surrender.”

The Rushmore Report – A Sad Day for the U.S. Senate and the Lives of the Unborn

Monday was a sad day for America. Once again, in the U.S. Senate, the Democratic minority imposed its will on the majority out of its commitment to stand with countries such as North Korea and against the lives of the unborn. The measure would have banned abortion after 20 weeks, when fetuses feel pain. Here’s my question: Where’s the outrage?

The Senate voted for the bill, named the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, 51-46. The vote fell short of 60, which is needed to cut off a filibuster. All Republicans voted for the measure, with the exception of Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. And all Democrats voted against the bill, except for the few pro-lifers still among the party: Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, and Joe Manchin of West Virginia.

In defense of her vote against life, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts said, “Abortions are safer today than getting your tonsils out.” Well, that would be true, except when you get your tonsils out, nobody dies.

Thom Tillis of North Carolina has it right. “The life of the unborn is a precious life, and we as members of the United States Senate and the U.S. Congress are tasked with making sure we protect all lives in America.”

It is interesting that the same senators who defend their global warming positions on the grounds of “established science” ignore the science that confirms a fetus at 20 weeks can live outside the womb and feels pain.

Almost no civilized nations still allow this practice. But senators like Warren and nearly every other Democrat are beholden to the abortion lobby. To be “feminist” means “pro-abortion.” The terms have become synonymous. And that’s sad.

They don’t even pretend abortion is not the taking of a life. The procedure at 20 weeks “is safe.” That’s their argument. As long as the only thing “bad” that happens is the taking of the unborn life, it’s okay.

Still, Monday’s vote barely registered a blip on the conservative newscasts. We have grown so accustomed to the sickness called abortion that it somehow makes sense to some to call themselves “personally pro-life,” while voting for candidates who will continue to support the taking of the lives of the most vulnerable. That’s as irrational as telling your neighbor that you are personally against arson, but that if you see his house on fire, you will neither grab a fire extinguisher nor call the fire department. In fact, when given a chance, you will actually vote to bring more arsonists into the neighborhood. But you are personally against arson. Yeah, right. Makes a lot of sense.

Yes, this is a sad day for America, the U.S. Senate, and, mostly, for the lives of the unborn.

I repeat. Where’s the outrage?

The Rushmore Report – Jim Caviezel Warns Against ‘Fake Christianity’ in ‘Pagan World’

Actor Jim Caviezel put on his preacher’s hat during a recent conference held at the Fellowship of Catholic University Students Leadership Conference in Chicago, Illinois, where he warned those in attendance against false Christianity and urged them to publicly express their faith in “this pagan world.”

Caviezel, who stars in the upcoming film, Paul, Apostle of Christ, surprised the attendees by sharing a portion of his testimony and encouraging them to be warriors for faith.

He explained that portraying Jesus in Mel Gibson’s box office hit Passion of the Christ put him through great physical suffering. He was struck by lightning, had his shoulder separated, and suffered from hypothermia for five months, which later resulted in him needing to have open heart surgery.

“The suffering made my performance, just as it makes our lives,” Caviezel said.

“Some of us now embrace a fake Christianity where it’s all happy talk and all happy Jesus and glory. Guys, there was a lot of pain and suffering before the resurrection. Your path will be no different, so embrace your cross and race toward your goal,” he advised.

The Hollywood star then charged everyone listening to be like Jesus’ true followers in the Bible.

“I want you to go out into this pagan world, I want you to have the courage to step into this pagan world and shamelessly express your faith in public. The world needs proud warriors animated by their faith,” he declared. “Warriors like Saint Paul and Saint Luke who risked their names, their reputations to take their faith, their love for Jesus into the world.

“God is calling each one of us, each one of you to do great things – but how often we fail to respond, dismissing it as some mental blurp. It’s time for our generation, now, to accept that call, the call of God urging all of us to give ourselves entirely to Him,” Caviezel stressed.

He encouraged the audience to first make the commitment to pray, fast, read, and meditate on the Scriptures. Then he warned that the world is entrenched in sin and God is calling out to everyone to give themselves to Him.

Paul, Apostle of Christ, stars Caviezel as Luke; James Faulkner as Paul; and Olivier Martinez, Joanne Whalley, and John Lynch.

The film showcases when “Paul suffers alone in a Roman prison, awaiting his execution under Emperor Nero. Mauritius, the ambitious prison prefect, can hardly see what threat this broken man poses,” the film’s synopsis reads.

“Once he was Saul of Tarsus, the high-ranking and brutal killer of Christians. Now his faith rattles Rome. At great risk, Luke the physician visits the aged Paul to comfort and tend to him – and to question, to transcribe, and to smuggle out Paul’s letters to the growing community of believers. Amid Nero’s inhuman persecution, these men and women will spreak the Gospel of Jesus Christ and change the world.”

About the Author

Jeannie Law writes for the Christian Post.

The Rushmore Report – Who’s Behind These Bible Studies in the White House?

A spiritual awakening is underway at the White House. Some of the most powerful people in America have been gathering weekly to learn more about God’s Word, and this Trump Cabinet Bible study is making history. They’ve been called the most evangelical Cabinet in history – men and women who don’t mince words when it comes to where they stand on God and the Bible.

Ralph Drollinger of Capitol Ministries told CBN News, “These are godly individuals that God has risen to a position of prominence in our culture.”

They’re all handpicked by President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.

“I don’t think Donald Trump has figured out that he chained himself to the Apostle Paul,” Drollinger laughed.

Drollinger is a former NBA-playing giant of a man with an even bigger calling. He founded Capitol Ministries with the idea that if you change the hearts of lawmakers, then their Christian world view will guide them to make good policies.

He’s started Bible studies in 40 state capitols, a number of foreign capitols, teaches weekly studies in the U.S. House and Senate and now leads about a dozen members of President Trump’s Cabinet in weekly studies of the Scriptures.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Agriculture Secretary Sunny Perdue, and CIA Director Mike Pompeo are just a few of the regulars.

“It’s the best Bible study that I’ve ever taught in my life. They are so teachable; they’re so noble; they’re so learned,” Drollinger said.

It’s groundbreaking since he doesn’t think a formal Bible study among executive Cabinet members has been done in at least 100 years.

America’s top cop, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, also attends the study.

“He’ll (Jeff Sessions) go out the same day I teach him something and I’ll see him do it on camera and I just think, ‘Wow, these guys are faithful, available and teachable and they’re at Bible study every week they’re in town,'” Drollinger said.

President Trump is invited to attend the Bible studies, too. Each week he receives a copy of Drollinger’s teaching.

And Vice President Pence is also planning to join the study as his schedule permits. He also serves as a sponsor. In Pence, Drollinger sees many similarities to biblical figures like Joseph, Mordecai, and Daniel – all men who rose to the number two position in governments at different times in history.

“Mike Pence has respect for the office. He dresses right – like it says Joseph cleaned himself up before he went to stand before the Pharaoh,” Drollinger told CBN News.

“Mike Pence has uncompromising biblical tenacity and he has a loving tone about him that’s not just a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal,” he continued. “And then fourthly, he brings real value to the head of the nation.”

Like others, Drollinger often compares President Trump to biblical strongman Samson.

“I just praise God for them,” he said. “And I praise God for Mike Pence, who I think with Donald Trump chose great people to lead our nation.”

About the Author

Jennifer Wishon writes for the Christian Broadcasting Network.