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 – 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.

The Rushmore Report – Nine Parenting Truths from John Piper

John Piper addressed the question, “Does Proverbs Promise My Child Will Not Stray?” in a recent episode of Ask Pastor John. As you might have guessed, the question was based on Proverbs 22:6: “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

Piper ended the episode by sharing these nine truths for parents to remember and follow:

  1. In general, bringing up children God’s way will lead them to eternal life. In general, that is true.
  2. This reality would include putting our hope in God and praying earnestly for our wisdom and for their salvation all the way to the grave. Don’t just pray until they get converted at age six. Pray all the way to the grave for your children’s conversions and for the perseverance of their apparent conversions.
  3. Saturate them with the Word of God. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17).
  4. Be radically consistent and authentic in your own faith — not just in behavior, but in affections. Kids need to see how precious Jesus is to mom and dad, not just how he is obeyed or how they get to church or how they read devotions or how they do duty, duty, duty. They need to see the joy and the satisfaction in mom and dad’s heart that Jesus is the greatest friend in the world.
  5. Model the preciousness of the gospel. As we parents confess our own sins and depend on grace, our kids will say, “Oh, you don’t have to be perfect. Mom and dad aren’t perfect. They love grace. They love the gospel because Jesus forgives their sins. And I will know then he can forgive my sins.”
  6. Be part of a Bible-saturated, loving church. Kids need to be surrounded by other believers and not just mom and dad.
  7. Require obedience. Do not be lazy. There are so many young parents today that appear so lazy. They are not willing to get up and do what needs to be done to bring this kid into line. So we should follow through on our punishments and follow through especially on all of our promises of good things that we say we are going to do for them.
  8. God saves children out of failed and unbelieving parenting. God is sovereign. We aren’t the ones, finally, who save our kids. God saves kids and there would hardly be any Christians in the world if he didn’t save them out of failed families.
  9. Rest in the sovereignty of God over your children. We cannot bear the weight of their eternity. That is God’s business and we must roll all of that onto him.

The Rushmore Report – Tim Tebow Says Parents Homeschooled Him to ‘Instill Love for God’

Christian sports star Tim Tebow has opened up about his experience being homeschooled as a child. Speaking to Olympic medalist Jessica Mendoza on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Tebow said that his parents, Bob and Pam, wanted to make sure he and his siblings were taught to love God above all else.

“They wanted to instill love in our hearts, love for God, love for one another. They wanted us to be able to learn a work ethic, a dedication,” he continued.

Now the two-sports star says he has “a heart to encourage the homeschooled kid.”

He said, “To let them know that they are loved, and they are special, and they might feel different, and sometimes might feel alone, sometimes might feel afraid. There might be those times where you go through that.”

The athlete, who was homeschooled until college, explained that his days were filled with Bible study and doing chores on the farm. He had some difficulties when interacting with children who attended regular schools while playing sports, however.

Speaking of his football days as a teenager, he said, “I was brand new at this place [high school football field] and you could tell that that group just, it had so much disdain, you know, because I wasn’t part of them.”

The Rushmore Report – NBA Broadcaster Tells How He Became a Christian

He has become the voice of the NBA. Now he is the lead studio host for March Madness, as well. His name is Ernie Johnson. He is one of the top sports broadcasters in America. He is a family man. But more than that, he is God’s man. And now he is speaking out – telling how he became a Christian.

Johnson is profiled in the latest issue of FCA Magazine. He tells the Fellowship of Christian Athletes’ lead publication how his life was changed at the age of 41.

Twenty years into his studio assignment, working alongside Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith, and Shaquille O’Neal, Johnson credits his most significant success to his relationship with Jesus Christ.

This is how it happened. Twenty years ago, Johnson’s two oldest children, Eric and Maggie, asked him why they didn’t attend church as a family. After some discussion, Ernie and his wife Cheryl decided to give it a try. They began attending Crossroads, a nondenominational church in Atlanta.

The Emmy-winning broadcaster was moved by the first service he attended, when the pastor asked the congregation two questions: Who’s the provider in your family, and are you pursuing happiness or wholeness?

Those questions challenged Johnson. He knew he needed to be a better husband and father. He returned to Crossroads the next three weeks, and then asked the pastor, Kevin Myers, out to lunch. On December 10, 1997, at an O’Charley’s restaurant, he prayed to God and became a Christian. Cheryl made the same commitment a few months later.

Their pastor explained to them that even before they became believers, God was working in their lives. For example, beginning in 1990, they began adopting children out of love, empathy, and compassion.

That same year, Cheryl watched a “20/20” report on overcrowded orphanages in Romania, where thousands of children were being neglected. Five months later, in 1991, Cheryl convinced Ernie to adopt Michael, a three-year-old boy with special needs. Michael eventually learned how to walk and later speak. Two years later, the Johnsons adopted Carmen from Paraguay. Then in 2011, they added half-sisters Allison and Ashley to the family. Cheryl had met the girls through her work with Street Grace, a faith-based organization mobilizing community leaders to end the sexual trafficking of children throughout the United States.

“She has taught me so much,” Ernie said of Cheryl. “I wanted to play it safe sometimes. She had bigger dreams. You have to put other people first. This can’t be all about you.”

As his faith grew, Johnson considered leaving TNT. Should he continue his career after turning his life over to God? Should he try to find a faith-based job? He asked Cheryl what he should do. She responded on his spiritual birthday by giving him a large compass as a gift. Cheryl’s handwritten note with it reminded him to remember the day he found his ultimate direction in life – and to let God direct him.

Johnson ended up staying with TNT. He knew the platform God gave him would provide opportunities for him to share his faith. And God did just that.

Several moments for these opportunities stand out. First, in August 2003, after noticing a bump near his ear, Johnson was diagnosed with stage two Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. During that time, “Trust God – Period” became his mantra. He was candid about his cancer after the NBA’s All-Star weekend, and six grueling chemotherapy treatments later, Johnson’s cancer was in remission, where it has remained since. He returned to “Inside the NBA” in 2006, never missing a show. A year later, Johnson won the Emmy for outstanding studio host.

“God sometimes whispers and sometimes shouts that His way is better than my way,” Johnson said during his acceptance speech.

Years later, Johnson experienced hardship again when his beloved father died in 2011. About a month later, Michael, who has muscular dystrophy, was put on a ventilator to remain alive. Since then, Johnson spends most of his mornings caring for Michael, now 29, at their home.

Then soon after the most recent presidential election, “Inside the NBA” decided to discuss on air the results that left the country divided. In just over two minutes, Johnson’s commentary resonated with many and was shared millions of times on social media.

“I never know from one election to the next who’s going to be in the Oval Office, but I always know who’s on the throne,” Johnson said into the camera. “I’m on this earth because God created me, and that’s Who I answer to. I’m a Christian. I follow a guy named Jesus; you might have heard of Him. And the greatest commandment He gave me was to love others. And Scripture also tells us to pray for our leaders, and that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to pray for Donald Trump.”

Johnson sums up these opportunities to shine for Jesus – and the many more chances that will undoubtedly follow – with one concept.

“The Son of Man came to serve, not to be served,” Johnson told FCA. “Being a servant is where I find myself.”

The Revival at Howard Payne

On January 22, 1995, at Coggin Avenue Baptist Church in Brownwood, Texas, two students from Howard Payne University, stood up and confessed their sins. As a result of this incident, many others started to confess their sins before the church. On January 26, a similar event took place on the campus of Howard Payne, a Baptist institution. Word quickly spread to other colleges, and Howard Payne students were soon being invited to share their stories, and similar revivals broke out. From these schools, more students were invited to still other schools, where the movement of God continued to spread.

One of the first two students to confess his sins was a young man named Chris. As he testified about his own life and the spiritual condition of his classmates, “People just started streaming down the aisles” to pray, confess their sins, and restore seemingly doomed relationships,” according to John Avant, pastor of Coggin Avenue. From this time forward, the church  began holding three and a half hour services. Avant said, “This is not something we’re trying to manufacture. It’s the most wonderful thing we’ve ever experienced.”

The events at Coggin Avenue were preceded by about seven weeks of increased prayer. According to Avant, “God is shaking us – something no person could do. God began doing some things in very isolated ways. He transformed the life of a prominent man in the community who was considering suicide, and couples who were within days of divorce were walking the church aisle to seek God’s forgiveness at the altar.” The pastor said that after the events of January 22, the motto among several high school students had become, “God’s going to rock the world, and it’s starting in Brownwood.” They said, “Southern Baptists, Nazarenes, Pentecostals, Independent Baptists, and Presbyterians are getting together just to kneel and pray for revival.”

At Howard Payne, revival broke out during a January 26 “celebration” service, as students praised God in song and shared their testimonies. Students then started to schedule all-night prayer meetings in dormitories. Then, things really got interesting, February 13-15, during five meetings at Howard Payne. A Southern Baptist revival leader preached a series of five worship services, attended by guests who came from as far away as 200 miles. On Tuesday, February 14, more than 600 attended, and student leaders went up to the platform to confess their sins publicly. About 200 stayed after the service to continue praying. Andrea was one of the students there. She reported, “Once we saw the Holy Spirit move, we didn’t want to leave.”

After Howard Payne, some of the first schools to be affected were Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, Olivet Nazarene University in Kankakee, Illinois, Criswell College in Dallas, and Moorehead State University in Kentucky. In each case, students went forward during long services to publicly repent of pride, lust, bondage to materialism, bitterness, and racism.

Like the Great Awakenings, the revival of Brownwood has long since faded. Evangelist Billy Sunday used to say, “Revivals are like baths. They don’t last.” That may be true, but that doesn’t mean we stop taking baths. Today, all over the country, there are hundreds, perhaps thousands of adults ministering in churches, schools, banks, and civic clubs, whose lives were changes in 1995. So, in retrospect, the revival really hasn’t faded. Perhaps you are the product of a revival. Have you been the one to walk the aisle in a church someplace, to confess your sins and receive the grace of Christ?

God did an amazing, unplanned thing 20 years ago. It started in a small church and on a college campus. I have been in that church and I have preached on that campus. I celebrate what God did then. And I celebrate that fact that what God did in Brownwood in 1995, he can do in your town today. You don’t need an evangelist, choir, or committee. You need two people who are willing to confess their sins. Then all heaven will break out. What God did at Howard Payne he can do in you.