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The Rushmore Report: How a Christian Should Respond to Charlottesville

When I watched the crisis in Charlottesville on TV last weekend, I was filled with both sadness and anger. I am a descendant of Robert E. Lee. Though he was a slave owner (as were George Washington and Thomas Jefferson), I see much good in the man. But the men who have co-opted his memory – white nationalists, neo-Nazis, Ku Klux Klan, and the alt-right – revealed themselves to be thugs of the highest order. But they are not alone in their thugary. The seeds of violence and disharmony have been sewed by movements on the left for years, often fueled by the rhetoric of national leaders and men claiming the banner of religion.

As a white evangelical, I am a part of a demographic that supported President Trump in record numbers. And this group is still largely behind him. They point to the way he has embraced Christian leaders, opened the White House to daily prayer gatherings, and embarked on policy initiatives that have bolstered our economy and national security. On the other side are millions of Americans who can find nothing good to say about their president.

What we have is a national divide. And the chasm is only getting wider.

The question we must confront as Christ-followers this week is simple. How are we to respond to the crisis of the moment – the senseless acts of protest and murder we just witnessed in the otherwise peaceful city of Charlottesville, Virginia? I see three responses, as called upon by the Gospel.

1. Pray for our leaders.

At the risk of sounding harsh and judgmental, I will say what I have observed. We do not pray for our leaders. We criticize them, but we don’t really pray for them. I think God has a standard – do not criticize a person for whom you have not prayed. If you are a never-Trumper, have you prayed for him today? We must pray for our leaders – fervently, daily.

2. Speak out against racism wherever we find it.

Are there white people who support President Trump simply because he is white? You bet there are. And that is a form of racism. But remember, blacks voted for President Obama in numbers never seen in the black community before. Why did they turn out for Obama in numbers that were vastly greater than for Bill Clinton, Al Gore, or Hillary Clinton? I suggest they could not identify, for the most part, a single policy difference that would favor their community, between Obama and the other Democratic nominees, in the years they stayed home and did not vote. And that is a form of racism. Whether we are talking about Black Lives Matter, the alt-right, or any other group that sections Americans into sub-groups, it is not healthy for our unity and purpose.

3. Build bridges, not walls.

I’m not talking about a border wall, but sociological and relational walls. One of my proudest moments was when the black leaders of my town, where I was pastor of a largely white, downtown Baptist church, asked me to serve as Grand Marshal in the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. parade. I was on the program for their annual service every year. Ours was the only “white” church on the program. We hosted the event in our church one year. That is how it is supposed to work.

The Bible is clear that sin isn’t going anywhere. That means hatred and racism will always be with us. We live in a divided nation. Sure, it would be a good thing if our political leaders got their collective acts together. But it must start with the people who elected them in the first place.

The question is not, will there be another Charlottesville crisis down the road, but how we will respond to it.

The Rushmore Report: Who Attends Weekly White House Bible Study?

To the horror of Americans for Freedom from Religion and other far-left groups, many in the Trump Administration are gathering once a week for group Bible Study. A report by the Christian Broadcasting Network confirms that many of those in the weekly group are high-ranking government officials. While the practice is not unique to this administration, the criticism has reached unprecedented levels.

Regular attendees at the Bible Study include Health and Human Service Secretary Tom Price, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Agriculture Secretary Sunny Perdue, and CIA Director Mike Pompeo.

Vice President Mike Pence and Attorney General Jeff Sessions also attend the meetings when their schedules permit.

The sessions are led by Ralph Drollinger, a former NBA basketball player who turned to the ministry after his injury-shortened career. He also leads two Bible Study classes per week on Capitol Hill for members of the House and Senate. For his part, while he does not attend the Bible Studies, President Trump has requested, and receives, weekly notes on each lesson.

This is not the first administration to host weekly Bible Study groups. Under the blessing of former president George W. Bush, his staff held a weekly Bible Study and prayer group. Often, ordained minister and Attorney General John Ashcroft would lead the studies.

There are no rules against studying the Bible in a federal building, though the U.S. government issued guidelines in 1997, titled “Guidelines on Religious Exercise and Religious Expression in the Federal Workplace,” that stresses the importance of supervisors being careful to not press employees to participate in any way.

“Because supervisors have the power to hire, fire, or promote, employees may reasonably perceive their supervisors’ religious expression as coercive, even if it was not intended as such,” the guidelines say. “Therefore, supervisors should be careful to ensure that their statements and actions are such that employees do not perceive any coercion . . . and should, where necessary, take appropriate steps to dispel such misperceptions.”

Is it a good idea for top-level government officials to gather for weekly Bible Study and prayer on government grounds? In 2017, I can’t think of many ideas I like more.

 

The Rushmore Report: Look Who’s Praying for Colin Kaepernick

As all 32 NFL teams prepare for the upcoming season, the average team is carrying five quarterbacks on its training camp roster. That is 160 NFL quarterbacks. Not on that list is a former All-Pro, Super Bowl quarterback in the prime of his career. Colin Kaepernick, the man who refused to stand for the national anthem in last year’s games, is that player. Guess which all-time great is praying for Kaepernick every day?

Ray Lewis.

The 42-year-old former linebacker who played 17 years for the Baltimore Ravens, revealed his prayers for Kaepernick, whose season-long protest last year was in response to his perceived brutality of police officers against black Americans.

Lewis stated on Twitter, “While a bunch of people are talking about this man, Kaep let me tell you something, brother. I pray for you more than you can imagine. Your name is in my Bible. I pray that God gives you the vision . . . I applaud you for the things that you stood up for.”

On a local Fox sports show, Lewis said that he disagreed with the way Kaepernick decided to kneel instead of stand during the national anthem. But more important, Lewis contended, is whether or not the QB could help his team win games. Lewis seems to think the Ravens should consider signing Kaepernick.

“What I’m asking us to do as an organization is let’s make a real decision,” he said. “If we’re going to do it, do it. But if we’re going to do it make sure we know why we’re doing it, and hopefully it’s to win.”

Lewis received a lot of criticism on social media for his comments, and he admitted that people were contacting him to voice their disapproval. None of this has deterred Lewis, who is an outspoken Christian.

Encouraging the former 49ers star to continue his pursuit to play in the NFL, Lewis tweeted, “I wish you the best in life. I hope you chase whatever God got for you to chase. And once again, I applaud what you stood up for because I’m in the streets every day.” Lewis concluded, “If people really want to help you they’ll pray for you, brother.”

While it’s not clear what the future holds for Colin Kaepernick, he clearly has one future Hall-of-Famer in his corner. More importantly, he has God in his corner. While I disagreed with his sitting out the national anthem, and would have a hard time getting beyond that to cheer for his team, I support his right to protest and express himself.

Last season, for 16 Sundays, while everyone else was standing for the national anthem, Colin Kaepernick knelt on one knee. I join Ray Lewis in praying for him. But I’ll take it a bit further. My prayer is that a Sunday football game isn’t the only place where Kaepernick takes a knee.

The Birth of MTV

On August 1, 1981, MTV began broadcasting in the United States and aired its first video, “Video Killed the Radio Star,” by The Buggles.

The first broadcast words were, “Ladies and gentlemen, rock and roll,” spoken by John Lack. They were played over footage of the first Space Shuttle launch countdown of Columbia, which took place later that year, and the launch of Apollo 11.

MTV’s effect was immediate in areas where the new music video channel was carried. Within two months, record stores in areas where MTV was available were selling music that local radio stations were not playing, such as Men at Work, Bow Wow Wow, and the Human League. MTV sparked the Second British Invasion, British acts, featured heavily on the channel.

It’s hard to believe MTV is celebrating its 36th birthday. What was cutting edge yesterday is old school today. The world changes at a pace never known before.

I am grateful that one thing never changes. Actually, I mean one person never changes. He is the one who Scripture describes as “the same yesterday, today, and forever.” So no matter what is going on around you, stay tethered to your anchor. When life is crazy, He’s not. He is our rock and our shelter in times of trouble. Anchor your life to him today.

The Rushmore Report: Marco Rubio Mocks Politico for Saying Proverbs Is Republican

GOP Senator Marco Rubio blasted left-leaning media, Politico, which published an article commenting that he was tweeting “the most Republican part of the Bible,” referring to his use of verses of the book of Proverbs in the Old Testament. “Proverbs is the Republican part of the Bible? I don’t think Solomon had yet joined the GOP when he wrote the first 29 chapters of Proverbs,” Rubio wrote.

Politico had written, “Each day, the Florida senator is quoting a verse from Proverbs, the GOP’s favorite part of the Bible.” The article didn’t stop Rubio from quoting Proverbs.

Hours after commenting on the Politico article, the senator’s tweet read, “Where words are many, sin is not wanting; but those who restrain their lips do well. Proverbs 10:19.”

The author, Joel. B. Baden, professor of Hebrew Bible at Yale Divinity School, wrote that the senator had been tweeting Bible verses since May 16.

“He has tweeted a biblical verse almost every day since then. Almost all of them come from the Old Testament, and specifically the book of Proverbs,” Baden wrote, remarking that “Proverbs is probably the most Republican book of the entire Bible.”

The author said other Republicans also like to quote Proverbs, citing Ben Carson as an example.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Carson “compared himself favorably to the blustery style of then-candidate Donald Trump by quoting Proverbs 22:4. ‘By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches and honor and life.'”

Gerald Ford’s favorite Bible passage was Proverbs 3:5-6. “Trust wholeheartedly in the Lord, put no faith in your own perception; in every course you take, have him in mind: He will see that your paths are smooth,” Baden added. “Ford repeated this when he served in the Navy during World War II, throughout his presidency and in his swearing in.”

When Rubio first started posting Bible verses to Twitter, there were some negative reactions, which Rubio described as a “Twitter freak out.” One political blogger called the Bible verses “oddly terrifying.”

Despite the left-wing criticism of posting Bible verses on his personal Twitter account, the senator does not plan to stop anytime soon.

About the Author

Anugrah Kumar is a frequent contributor to The Christian Post.

 

 

The Rushmore Report: Bill Gates Makes Seven Predictions

Bill Gates’ physical body might reside in the present, but his brain lives in the future. The billionaire philanthropist has made a career out of predicting what will happen in matters of computing, public health, and the environment. He correctly predicted the rise of smart phones and social media, and his latest predictions could be on track, too. Here’s what Gates envisions for the future of our world.

1. Bioterrorism could wipe out 33 million people in less than a year.

In February, Gates remarked at a conference in Munich, Germany that one of the biggest threats to global health is an airborne pathogen deployed by bioterrorists. It could be a synthetic smallpox virus or a super-flu that is far deadlier than normal strains.

2. When it comes to food, Africa will become entirely self-sufficient.

In his 2015 Gates Annual Letter, he made the prediction that Africa’s agriculture industry will increase productivity by 50 percent by 2030. This would make the entire continent entirely self-sufficient.

3. Mobile banking will help the poor transform their lives.

In African countries where cash is hard to come by, people often face the difficult choice of paying for healthcare, food, education, or repairs – all four aren’t always an option. But by 2030, two billion people who don’t have a bank account today will be storing money with their phones.

4. By 2035, there could be almost no poor countries.

In his 2014 Annual Letter, Gates boldly predicted that continued levels of foreign aid could mean there will be almost no more poor countries by 2035. “Almost all countries will be what we now call lower-middle income or richer,” Gates said.

5. By 2030, the world will discover a clean energy breakthrough to power our world.

One of Gates’ more hopeful predictions came in 2016 when he declared that wind, solar, or some other renewable resource will power the majority of the world within the next 15 years.

6. Countless jobs will be lost to automation.

Over the next 20 years, warehouses and factories across the country are poised to replace human workers with automated robots, Gates says. The resultant loss to the labor force could be in the thousands, if not millions, depending on which industries automate jobs the most.

7. The world could eradicate polio by 2019.

By last count in 2016, the world saw just 37 new cases of polio. That’s down from more than 400 in the late 1980s. All told, only a few hundred cases remain around the world, and Gates is hopeful the disease will become the second disease, after smallpox, to disappear for good.

About the Author

This article was first published by the World Economic Forum.

The Rushmore Report: Is It a Sin to Provide Services for a Gay Wedding?

California megachurch pastor and author John MacArthur has weighed in on the question of whether or not it’s sinful for a Christian baker or florist to provide services for a same-sex wedding. MacArthur, pastor of the evangelical Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California, participated in a Ligonier Conference.

During a question and answer session, MacArthur answered two theological questions pertaining to homosexuality.

One of the questions posed to the panelists asked if it’s “truly sinful” for a Christian business person to make a product for a same-sex wedding.

Although panelists were initially hesitant to answer, MacArthur responded by saying that providing products to same-sex weddings is not a sin.

“No, it’s not sinful for a cake maker to make a cake for a gay wedding any more than it’s sinful for a guy who runs a restaurant to serve dinner to somebody who is gay, sits in a booth and eats the food, or goes to the market and buys a loaf of bread and you own the market,” he argued. “What the issue is, is not whether that’s sinful. It’s whether the federal government can demand that people do certain things that go against their Christian conscience.”

MacArthur argued that this is “more of a political governmental issue.”

“I actually think that we need to show love to everyone and particularly, we need to do good to all those that are outside the kingdom, as well as inside the kingdom, as much as possible – a gesture of kindness toward some unregenerate person is in itself not a sin,” he added.

However, MacArthur suggested it is plausible for Christians to feel that serving a gay wedding violates their “conscience in some way” and argued that they should have the right to act in accordance with their conscience.

“You don’t want to train yourself to ignore your conscience,” he said. “I think it’s a personal issue. The issue becomes when people are basically fined or imprisoned for doing things that are religious-conscience matters. And, that speaks to the issue of how much authority the government has to make you do that.”

In 2015 a Christian couple who owned an Oregon bakery were fined over $135,000 for their refusal to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding. Those bakers have since gone out of business.

Months after the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling making same-sex marriage legal nationwide, Kentucky clerk Kim Davis was arrested and jailed in September, 2015 after she violated a court order to provide marriage certificates to same-sex couples that had her name and title on them because doing so would have violated her Christian convictions. Kentucky later passed a law that granted Davis and other clerks the religious accommodation she was looking for.

MacArthur also answered earlier in the discussion when the question was posed about whether or not a Christian who identifies as gay will get into heaven. MacArthur answered by arguing that “no one is gay.”

“If you mean by that, ‘That’s some hardwiring,’ no one is gay,” he said. “People commit adultery, they commit sins of homosexuality, they lie, they steal, they cheat. That’s like saying, ‘You know, I keep robbing banks, but I’m a robber. I’m a bank robber.’ That is not an excuse for what you do.”

“Are there certain kinds of impulses that lead people in that direction? Yes. But I think one of the really deadly aspects of this is to let people define themselves as gay,” he continued. “They are not gay any more than an adulterer is hardwired to be forced by his own nature to commit adultery. Those are all behavioral sins that are condemned in Scripture. God didn’t hardwire anybody in such a way that they are not responsible for certain behaviors.”

MacArthur concluded his answer by saying that it is a disservice to people who struggle with homosexuality by “letting them define themselves by that sin.”

About the Author

Samuel Smith is a writer for The Christian Post. You can follow him on Twitter: @lamSamSmith.

 

The Rushmore Report: America – Why Didn’t Someone Do Something?

“There is no nation on earth powerful enough to accomplish our overthrow. Our destruction, should it come at all, will be from another quarter. From the inattention of the people to the concerns of their government, from their carelessness and negligence.” Those were the words of Daniel Webster. Why didn’t someone do something? Those five words still haunt my thoughts today.

Sometime ago, I sat speechless as I listened to a man recount his trip to a holocaust museum with his young daughter. As they walked by photos of the death camps, gas chambers, and countless bodies piled one upon another, his daughter silently contemplated the horrors that were unfolding before her eyes.

When the tour ended, they drove home without saying a word. The father wondered if she truly understood the significance of the event. Was she too young to view such depravity? Was she too fragile to cope with the truth of the holocaust? Would it make a negative impact on her life? Would it leave her fearful and wounded? Would she begin to doubt God?

His questions were answered nearly two hours later when his daughter finally spoke. She looked at her father and asked, “Daddy, why didn’t someone do something?”

Will we hear those same haunting words from our children and grandchildren? Yes! if we fail to contend for what is right, we may see a time in our history when our children will ask, “Why didn’t someone do something?” Sadly, we may not be able to answer.

America can been desensitized one generation at a time, one court decision at a time, one compromise at a time, and we are drowning in a cesspool of relativism. “The wicked freely parade and prance about while evil is praised throughout the land” (Psalm 12:8).

What can I do? What can we do? People are often willing to help, but they lack motivation; they also don’t know where to begin. How can we honor God and preserve our values? Here are just a few ways:

1. Lead a life of integrity regardless of what society promotes.

Although only a select few can change government policy, all of us can build a life of moral integrity while staying committed to God’s Word. Certain “rights” and “wrongs” called absolutes are given by God to save man from himself. One of the best ways to make a difference is to live a life based on moral absolutes, and by letting honesty and integrity guide our decisions. Society changes as individuals change.

M. H. McKee states it well, “Integrity is one of several paths. It distinguishes itself from the others because it is the right path, and the only one upon which you will never get lost.” Proverbs 11:3 adds, “The integrity of the upright will guide them.”

2. Pray and fast for our nation.

Prayer is more powerful than protest! We should not rely on political power, but on the power of God through prayer. The great preacher, C. H. Spurgeon, once said, “I would rather teach one man to pray than ten men to preach.”

For those who doubt the power of prayer in America’s history, consider this excerpt from the book, One Nation Under God – The History of Prayer in America. “Prayer stands as one of the most critical and indisputable factors to have influenced the course of American history.”

3. Vote for principles, not parties.

“He who rules over men must be just” (2 Samuel 23:3). We need more humble, God-fearing leaders. The Lord hates pride, arrogance, and self-centeredness. Without humility and a teachable spirit, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to govern properly. Humility does not mean that leaders become passive pawns, but that they live in total surrender to God; they’re more concerned with God’s opinion than opinion polls.

We can no longer hide behind the excuse, “I don’t want to get involved.” As citizens, we are given the privilege, for now, to place people in positions of leadership. Whether we like it or not, we are involved. Millions are not registered to vote; and millions of registered voters stay at home. We’ll stand in line to see a movie, but we won’t stand in line to vote and elect leaders who will affect the direction of our country. This makes a statement about what we value.

God is our only hope. “Wilt thou not revive us again, that thy people may rejoice in thee?” (Psalm 85:6).

About the Author

Shane Idleman is a contributor to ChristianHeadlines.com.

The Rushmore Report: How Many People Pray Before Meals?

How many people pray before their meals? Is this old-fashioned practice still done anymore? Outside of the Bible belt and the most devout among us, does anyone really take time to pray before they eat? The Washington Post and Kaiser Family Foundation came together to conduct a national poll. They surveyed rural and urban Americans, Northerners and Southerners, Democrats and Republicans, and Catholics and Protestants.

The poll showed that people from all those groups prayed before meals to at least some degree. Even some Americans who do not believe in organized religion still say grace, the study found.

According to the poll, 48 percent of all Americans say a prayer before meals at least a few times each week. In rural and urban America, 51 percent pray before meals. In the suburbs, 45 percent pray before meals regularly.

Among Republicans, 62 percent pray at least a few times a week, while 43 percent of Democrats say grace a few times a week. Among Independents, the number is 41 percent.

About 60 percent of Protestants pray before meals a few times a week, while 52 percent of Catholics do, according to the poll.

“It’s a powerful way of reminding yourself that you are not self-sufficient, that you are living by somebody’s grace, that plenty of other people who work just as hard as you don’t have anything to eat,” said Tim Keller, the founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City.

About the Author

Amanda Casanova writes for Religion Today.

The Rushmore Report: Nancy Pelosi Says Pro-Life Stance ‘Dishonors God’

Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water, the House Minority Leader has said something outrageous about Christians who are crazy enough to defend the lives of the unborn. Such a position, taken by political leaders, “dishonors the God who made us,” said Pelosi. The California Democrat is a strong supporter of abortion rights and Planned Parenthood.

Recently, in comments about the proposed GOP healthcare bill which aims to repeal the Affordable Care Act and defund the biggest abortion provider in America, Planned Parenthood, Pelosi seemed to equate caring for God’s creation with support for the organization.

“I know my colleagues are people of faith,” she said. “They tell us that all the time. So, this is God’s creation, we have a real responsibility to it . . . to minister to the needs of God’s creation is an act of worship. To ignore those needs is to dishonor the God who made us.”

She also called on Republican legislators to “examine their consciences and look into their hearts” before they vote so they can “make a decision in favor of what is right.”

Guy Benson, of Townhall, offered a response to Pelosi’s comments. “This condemnation on behalf of ‘God’s creation’ comes from a woman who, as a professed Catholic, has amassed a 100 percent pro-abortion rating from both NARAL and Planned Parenthood,” writes Benson. “She has opposed virtually every conceivable limitation on abortion, over her political career, including measures to ban the barbaric procedure known as partial-birth abortion. Read up on the grisly details of what that entails, then circle back to this lecture from Nancy Pelosi about faith, conscience examination, moral responsibility, and honoring God.”

It really is remarkable that the highest elected Democrat in America can call out those who support birth over barbarism as “dishonoring God.” And still, many left-leaning Christians question why it is so hard for Bible-believing believers, supporters of the rights of the unborn, to support Democrats.