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The Rushmore Report – Seven Lies Christians Tell

I walked into the filled college lecture hall. The room seats about 200. The seats are terraced up to the two-doored exits at the auditorium’s rear. I took my place alone on the floor of the semicircle, eight foot white boards and smart screens behind me. And then I told the student the seven lies that Christians tell.

1. We lie when we claim we are more confident than we really are.

The culture of pretending within Christianity seems almost at an epidemic level. Many of us feel the need to hide our doubts and questions. We feel compelled to act like our faith life is totally satisfying, when we often feel dry, cold, or numb.

2. We lie when we claim that unexplainable things are in fact explainable.

God is transcendent and beyond even the shadowy wisps of imagination in our finite minds. The Trinity, for instance, is not as simple as a metaphor of water (ice, liquid, gas) or an egg (shell, white, yoke). Sometimes I think we would be better off if we just said, “These ideas are so beyond me that if God did reveal them to me, I’m pretty sure my brain would explode.”

3. We lie when we don’t acknowledge our doubts within the drama of faith.

This is similar to number one above but just on a more detailed level. When another person challenges us with a difficult theological issue, sometimes it is best to just admit we don’t know.

4. We lie when we pretend that the Bible doesn’t say some really nasty things when in fact it does.

For instance, God commands genocide. He just does – at least from a clear and honest reading of the Bible. There is also a verse that says, “Happy is the one who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks” (Psalm 137:9). If we want the Bible to be our document, we need to own the whole thing.

5. We lie when we claim we understand other beliefs, faiths, and world views.

We need to stop saying, “I understand Islam,” or, “I know what a Muslim believes.” Do you want someone saying that they understand your faith experience just because they met a Christian?

6. We lie when we claim that all of our beliefs are a “10.”

This one is probably going to frustrate some people, but we are disingenuous when we claim all of our dogmas with equal veracity. To put it another way, on a scale of one to ten, not all Christian beliefs are a “10.” For example, I’m not sure I’m ready to put my life on the line for my belief in a floating zoo. Was the Noah story real, or a parable? I think it was real. But I can’t give it a “10.”

7. We lie when we pretend we really love the other person when we don’t.

We do not love people when we dismiss their story. We do not love people when we do not empathically listen to them, as opposed to spending that time formulating our counter-argument. We do not love others when we reduce them to labels, caricatures, or opponents. If we love, then we will find them shockingly beautiful and fascinating creations. We will find their stories riveting. We will radiate affection. Humans know deep down if they are really loved or not.

About the Author

Tony Kriz writes for Christianity Today.

To Tell the Truth

It is an all-time great game show. To Tell the Truth debuted in 1956. Hosts have included Bud Collyer, Garry Moore, Joe Garagiola, Lynn Swann, Alex Trabek, and John O’Hurley. The show features a panel of four celebrities whose task is to correctly identify which contestant is telling the truth about his or her unusual occupation.

The 2016 version just began, hosted by Anthony Anderson. As my wife and I watched the other night, we guessed who was telling the truth in each of the five segments. Both of us got it right one time, missing four. A blind dog would have done better.

In the 1960s I remember being able to identify the liars and the truth-tellers at a much higher rate of success – and I was just a young boy. Here’s my take on it. We, as human beings, have become better liars with time. That’s what we do. We lie.

Dr. Robert Feldman, of the University of Massachusetts, conducted an interesting study. He concluded that on average, people tell two to three lies in a ten-minute conversation. It also showed that only 40 percent are able to go ten minutes without lying, even if prepared for the task. A study in England revealed that men lie twice as often as women. A different study concluded that men and women lie at the same rate, but about different subjects.

Bottom line – we struggle To Tell the Truth. In the world of addiction, it is common to say, “We lie. That’s what addicts do.” And we know that the average person has 1.3 addictions. We lie.

Is there any hope? Yes. Jesus said to stop lying. Honesty is commanded through the Old Testament. So apparently, it is possible to live a life of total honesty. It starts by being honest with God, then ourselves. Until we are completely honest with God and ourselves, we will never be honest with others.

Mark Twain famously said, “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.” As my mind and memory slowly slip away (not so slowly at times), I appreciate that advice.

Try it – just for a day. Be honest. Start by being honest with God, then yourself. And then, when you talk to others today, tell the truth. It may not be easy, but it’s easier than remembering everything you say.

First Olympic Games

Today marks the 120th anniversary of the first modern Olympic Games. The long-lost tradition of ancient Greece was reborn in Athens 1500 years after being banned by Roman Emperor Theodosius I. At the opening of the Athens Games, King Georgios I of Greece and a crowd of 60,000 spectators welcomed athletes from 13 nations to the international competition.

The first recorded Olympic Games were held at Olympia in the Greek city-state of Elis in 776 B.C., but it is generally accepted that the Olympics were at least 500 years old at that time. The ancient Olympics, held every four years, occurred during a religious festival honoring the Greek god Zeus. In the eighth centery B.C., constestants came from a dozen or more Greek cities, and by the fifth century B.C. from as many as 100 cities from throughout the Greek empire. Initially, Olympic competition was limited to foot races, but later a number of other events were added, including wrestling, boxing, horse and chariot racing, and military competitions.

Against the backdrop of the ancient games, the Apostle Paul had much to say about athletic training as it relates to the Christian life. He wrote to the church of Corinth, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it” (1 Corinthians 9:24). To young Timothy, he said, “An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules” (1 Timothy 2:5). And then he said, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).

In the Christian life, we need to remember to run for the prize, stay within the rules, and finish strong. Notice that Paul says nothing about the start of the race. So wherever you are in the race today, the goal is still within reach. What matters is not where you started, how many hurdles you’ve had to overcome, or how many times you may have stumbled and fallen. What matters is that you are in the race today. So when you have failed, keep running. When you hurt, keep running. When no one is cheering, keep running. When you are tempted to look back, keep running. The end is in sight, the prize is yours for the taking, and the God of the universe is waiting to greet you at the finish line. So keep running.

 

The Rushmore Report – The Men Who Knew Too Much

One time, Jesus was on the beach and saw a group of fishermen putting away their empty fishing nets. They had been out all night. Jesus walked over to them and asked if he could borrow their boat so he could push away from the shore and teach a large crowd of people that had gathered. The fishermen didn’t know him, yet they allowed him to take their boat.

When Jesus was finished, as a way to thank them, he told them to launch out into the deep and promised they would catch a great haul of fish. The fishermen must have thought, “We are professional fishermen, and he’s telling us how and when to fish. Doesn’t he know this is how we make our living? We’ve been doing this for many years. We are experts in our field. We know when the fish are biting and when they aren’t. And now it not the time to fish!”

Friend, do you realize that sometimes you can know too much? Sometimes our own intellect can keep us from God’s best. If you listen to some of the experts on the economy long enough, they’ll talk you into going under. They’ll talk you into living a defeated life. Some medical reports will talk you into staying sick. Some news reports will keep you from pursuing your dreams. I know it’s always good to have information and understand things in the natural. I’m not saying to hide our heads in the sand. But at some point, you’ve got to get out of the natural and say, “This may be impossible with men, but I know with God all things are possible.” At some point, you’ve got to say to yourself, “I am not going to let circumstances direct me. I’m not going to allow any more doubt and unbelief to come into my mind. Yes, I want to know the facts, but the truth  of God’s Word is what stands forever!”

Today, are you considering your circumstances, or are you considering your God? Are you fully persuaded that God is going to do what he promised? Or have you talked yourself out of it? It’s easy to think that your dream is too big or your problem is too great in the natural. But remember, we serve a supernatural God! Keep believing, keep moving forward, and keep obeying his Word because he is faithful. If he said it, he will do it. Let your faith connect with his power and watch him do extraordinary things in your life!

About the Author

Joel Osteen is pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston, the largest congregation in the United States.

A New Year

Do you know the difference between an optimist and a pessimist? An optimist will stay up until midnight to welcome the New Year. A pessimist will stay up to make sure the old year leaves.

I like the way an elderly man prayed for the New Year. “Lord, grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked anyway, the good fortune to run into the ones that I do, and the eyesight to tell the difference.”

Are you a “resolution” person? I always set New Year’s resolutions.

One guy was worried about his weight. His New Year’s resolution that year was to get his weight under 180 pounds. The next year his resolution was to get his weight down under 200. And the year after that, he resolved “to develop a realistic attitude about my weight.”

Last year, he resolved to join a gym. And this year’s resolution is “to drive by the gym at least three days a week.”

I like what Mark Twain said. “New Year’s Day is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving the road to hell with them as usual.

The Bible says life is really short, like a vapor. You really don’t have the promise of a New Year, but of a new day. So celebrate that promise. And if you’re really serious, go drive by a gym.

Happy New Year! May 2018 be your most blessed year yet.

Driving on Empty

Larry had a lot on his mind when he noticed that his fuel gauge was on empty. Quickly finding the closest gas station, he pulled in. At this particular station, the “pay at the pump” feature was not working. So he went inside and paid the cashier ten dollars. Then he walked out to his car, got in, and drove off without ever filling up.

He kept running errands until finally pulling into his driveway when he looked down at his gas gauge, which was now well below “E.” He had stopped at the gas station, paid, but never pumped.

Talk about distracted! Bill was literally driving on fumes.

This is a picture of most of our lives. We need a fill-up. The price has been paid in advance. We may be at church, God’s filling station. But too often, we drive off without truly filling up.

Sometime today, slow down. Return to the pump, in prayer. Remember, the fuel is already paid for.

Babe Ruth

In 1926, Johnny Sylvester got kicked in the head by a horse. The wound got badly infected. Doctors told his parents the bad news. Johnny would die.

“I wish I could see Babe Ruth wallop a home run before I die,” Johnny told his parents.

So they sent a telegram to the great slugger of the New York Yankees. And Babe Ruth sent an answer. He would hit a homer just for Johnny in the next game.

Johnny Sylvester instantly became one of the most famous boys in baseball history. Did Babe Ruth slug one for Johnny? Yes! In fact, he hit three homers in that game. It was an incredible gift for young Johnny, and a feat Ruth would never achieve again.

But let’s get back to Johnny’s injury. Were the doctors right? Did Johnny Sylvester die, as predicted?

Yes, they were right. Johnny Sylvester did die – at the age of 74.

The Bible says, “It is appointed to man once to die.”

Babe Ruth was a legend. He still is. Perhaps it was his inspiration that led Johnny Sylvester to become one of America’s great business executives.

We can learn a lot from that. Inspire someone today. You never know when their last days will come. But God does.

The Rushmore Report: What Is the Most Read Verse in the Bible?

According to a recent article by Anugrah Kumar in The Christian Post, more people are reading the Bible now than ever. He cites data supplied by the popular YouVersion Bible App. With the aid of modern technology (smart phones), people are reading, hearing, and reflecting on the Word of God all times of the day. But what is interesting is the most read verse in the Bible. And no, it’s not John 3:16.

The most read verse in Scripture is not even in the New Testament. It is Joshua 1:9, which reads, “This is my command – be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

That verse has been shared, bookmarked, and highlighted most often by the global Bible App community so far in 2017. However, the same report states that when asked, people cite a different verse as their favorite.

And no, it’s not John 3:16, either.

The most popular verse is Romans 8:28, which reads, “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.”

Created in 2008 as one of the 200 apps available in the iPhone app store, the YouVersion Bible App has now reached the 295 million download mark.

It’s hard to imagine that this is what the Apostle Paul had in mind when he told young Timothy to “study to show himself approved.” We are getting the Bible in more ways today than ever before. And the fact that more people are hearing the Good News is good news.

I’m old school. I still carry a Bible to church every Sunday. But when I think about it, there are actually more people carrying the Bible to church now then ever before – if they have a smart phone. Yes, people are getting the Word in more ways these days. Wherever our phones goes, the Word is there. It makes sense that the most read verse reminds us that “God is with us wherever we go.”

Huddles

I was insecure as a child. I think it goes back to my infant years. When Mom used to rock me, she used those big rocks. My insecurities carried over to my teen years. When I watched football games on television and the teams went into their huddles, I thought they were talking about me.

Actually, there was a day when they didn’t huddle up at all. The quarterback would tell each player what to do. Then it all changed at the powerhouse of college football: Gallaudet University. Located in Washington, D.C., Gallaudet is a school for the deaf. The quarterback calls the plays by sign language.

In the old days, one of their quarterbacks noticed that the defense was watching him call the plays. So he asked the players to “huddle up,” so he could call the plays without being seen by the opposition.

The custom continues today, on the football field and in the church. Yes, in the church! In most churches, we are more concerned with “holy huddles” (meetings, gatherings in our buildings) than we are with putting points on the board (ministry, service).

Church, it’s time to break the huddle and run some plays!

First Football Game

A man took his blonde girlfriend to her first football game. After the game, he asked her how she liked it.

“I loved the game,” she said. “But I can’t understand why everyone was killing each other over 25 cents.”

“Over 25 cents?” asked her boyfriend. “What do you mean – 25 cents?”

She explained, “All the fans kept screaming, every time they hiked the ball, ‘Get the quarter back! Get the quarter back!'”

That is what is known as a simple misunderstanding. Unfortunately, life is also full of huge misunderstandings. Such as good works get us into heaven. Or God only loves us when we “live right.” Or there are many roads to heaven.

Clear communication doesn’t matter so much when you are watching a football game. But when playing the game of life, it means everything.