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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 Rushmore Report – Actor Dennis Quaid on How Faith Role in Movie Changed Him

Hollywood veteran actor Dennis Quaid described the impact his role in the movie I Can Only Imagine has had on his life and what he now thinks heaven will be like. The crossover hit I Can Only Imagine has been certified platinum three times over. And the movie made a difference in Quaid’s outlook.

Quaid told The Christian Post, “I Can Only Imagine, the song, is such a beautiful song. It’s the most celebrated and successful Christian or faith song that’s ever been recorded. The reason it was so successful is that everybody takes that song and makes it personal to their own lives, and I think that’s what this film has done.”

The movie is about the life of Bart Millard, lead singer of the Christian band MercyMe. His father died of cancer, and this inspired him to write the mega-hit song, which illustrates that nobody is ever too far from God’s love – or too far from an eternal home in heaven.

When asked what his thoughts are on heaven, the award-winning actor said, “What do I imagine heaven will be like? I think we all get a little taste of it here on earth through prayer and meditation. That’s actually the good news that’s given – you feel it here on earth. To imagine it? I don’t know – that takes other eyes.”

Quaid grew up in a Baptist church in Texas and recently said he was baptized at the age of nine. As he grew older he sought to make his faith more real. But throughout his life, he says he has been devoted to Christ as his Savior and Lord.

The Rushmore Report – Sweet 16 Team Loyola-Chicago Inspired by 98-Year-Old Team Chaplain

This year, we have witnessed March Madness at its best. Two #1 seeds went out the first weekend. But perhaps the most compelling story is Loyola-Chicago, a Catholic university founded in 1870, with 16,000 students. Many would say their MVP is 98-year-old team chaplain, Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt.

Representing the Missouri Valley Conference, the #11 seed Ramblers have lost games this season to juggernauts such as Milwaukee (not the Bucks), Missouri State, Indiana State, and Bradley (not Cooper). Yet, here they are, two more wins removed from the Final Four. The Ramblers have gone further in this tournament than such historic powerhouses as North Carolina, UCLA, and Indiana.

So what is it about this 98-year-old nun that has inspired the Ramblers? “The way she prays before games just sticks out,” said star player Clayton Custer. “In the middle of her prayers there’s a scouting report mixed in. She tells us who their best players are and what to watch out for. Sometimes she’ll pray for the referee to make the right calls. And at the end, she’ll literally pray that we come out on top.”

Junior guard Marques Townes adds, “She’s the biggest Loyola basketball fan I’ve ever met in my life.”

The nun, who has been the team’s chaplain since 1994, has been inducted into Loyola-Chicago’s athletic Hall of Fame.

Before she was a nun, Sister Jean was a basketball player herself. She once taught grade school, then later joined the staff at Loyola as an academic adviser before being appointed team chaplain.

She is highly valued by the players. “Having her here blessing our team and blessing our coaching staff, giving us a warm prayer before the game, having her bless the team right before the game, it just means so much,” Townes added.

After their first-round upset over Miami, Sister Jean told The New York Times, “We prayed that God would help us. We said we would do our part and make our shots, but needed God’s assistance. We said we were going into this game with great confidence and that we wanted to win this game so badly. We said we would be careful of our shots, careful not to foul.”

Sister Jean lives in a dorm on campus, which also serves as her office.

“Anyone can walk in there, not just us,” said freshman forward Cameron Krutwig. “She’s for the whole university. She’s a celebrity around the university and everyone loves her.”

Loyola-Chicago is set for another upset, as they face off against #7 Nevada Thursday night. As for Nevada’s chances? They don’t have a prayer.

The Rushmore Report – You Won’t Believe Why the CMA Booted Mike Huckabee from Their Board

Within a 24-hour period, Nashville’s music industry honored former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee with an appointment to their Foundation Board, and then removed him from the same Board. So what happened? You won’t believe what Mike Huckabee did to get booted off the Board.

Prominent artist manager Jason Owen led the quick charge against the former governor from Arkansas. He called Huckabee’s appointment “grossly offensive.” But again, what did Huckabee do that was so “offensive”?

It’s simple. He stood up for his personal values and faith. And what could be more offensive than that?

Owen wrote, “Huckabee speaks of the sort of things that would suggest my family (who is largely gay) is morally beneath his and uses language that has a profoundly negative impact upon young people all across the country. Not to mention how harmful and damaging his deep involvement with the NRA is. What a shameful choice. I will not participate in any organization that elevates people like this to positions that amplify their sick voices.”

The Board gathered to reconsider their appointment. But before they reached their inevitable, weak-kneed solution, Huckabee resigned, saying he hoped to end “the unnecessary distraction and deterrent to the core mission of the foundation.”

Huckabee then called on the music industry to be clear about whether it ever wants support from the faith community.

“If the industry doesn’t want people of faith or who hold conservative and traditional values to buy their tickets and music, they should be forthcoming and just say it,” he wrote.

So Mike Huckabee is not good enough for the Country Music Association. Why? Because he dared to have personal views which happen to be Christian. And worse yet, he is open about those views. Move over, Second Amendment. You aren’t the only Amendment in trouble in today’s America. It appears “free speech” is no longer “free.” It comes with a high price.

Gay leaders are welcome to join the leadership of the Country Music Association. But there is no room for a man who represents the values of 100 million self-identifying Christian Americans, not to mention 240 years of freedom to express one’s religion.

This is a sad day for the Country Music Association – and a sadder day for America.

The Rushmore Report – Guess Who’s in Trump’s Corner Now?

You won’t believe who is coming to the support of President Trump. Last week, when liberal MSNBC host Rachel Maddow expressed hostility over Trump’s announcement that he would meet with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, this comedian came to Trump’s defense. It’s hard to believe, but it’s true.

First, back to Maddow. “Why has no other sitting president ever met with the leader of North Korea? You’d think this president would see that and learn from it.”

Of course, Maddow conveniently forgot that this was exactly what President Obama promised to do while running for president in 2007. In a debate, Obama was asked if he would “be willing to meet separately, without precondition,” with the Korean leader. Obama responded, “I would. And the reason is this, that the notion that somehow not talking to countries is punishment for them – which has been the guiding diplomatic principle of this [Bush] administration – is ridiculous.”

But Obama never met with Kim, and relations between the North Koreans and United States have deteriorated ever since.

So, to Trump’s defense comes . . . Bill Maher.

A true Trump hater, Maher said on his HBO show last Friday that Trump’s plan has merit.

“I was watching all the cable news last night. All these liberals who are reflexively hating on this proposed the exact same thing in 2008 and they loved it.” Then he characterized Obama’s strategy against North Korea as “failed.”

Maher admitted that the pending meeting and conciliatory tone the North Korean leader has recently adopted may well be the result of Trump’s tough talk and sanctions. “If you hate Trump so much – and I do – you must admit this may actually be happening because of Trump. Because of his tough talk.”

Maher concluded, “Another stupid argument I heard on TV last night was, ‘Well, we’ll just be giving Kim the respect he and his family have always craved.’ Well, so what? It might actually work!”

So there you go. Bill Maher defending Donald Trump. Enjoy it while you can. A liberal late-night TV host offering sensible, unemotional commentary – we may not see this again in our lifetime.

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 – Chip and Joanna Slammed for Having a Baby

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, the sharks are back. The other day, my wife told me the happy news. Her Twitter buddy, Joanna Gaines, posted the news that she and husband Chip Gaines are expecting their fifth child. But it didn’t take long for the “I have nothing better to do with my time” critics to go nuts. How dare them have another child!

Their “sin,” apparently, is that they are helping to overpopulate the earth. At least when the earth burns up, we’ll know who to blame. It’s those crazy Christians who live on a ranch, teaching their children the truths of God’s Word while living wholesome and entertaining lives in front of millions of Americans on the most popular show on HGTV.

One critic posted, “Thank you for contributing to the over population of the planet. I hope this one [baby] will be your last and you will use wiser judgment.”

Another idiot posted, “I like them ok, but enough with the kids already!”

To their credit, Chip and Joanna are being wise and harmless in their response. They have not responded.

I love Fixer Upper. Beth and I have visited the famous silos twice. I once spent $45 in Joanna’s bakery, on a boatload of cupcakes. (I recommend the strawberry cupcakes.) We have things around our house that we bought at their shop. So I guess, in a way, we have become enablers – encouraging them to keep up their wholesome, Christian, uplifting ways.

And for that I am proud. Call me silly, but I think we could use more wholesomeness, not less; more Christianity, not less; and more encouragement, not less.

The Bible says, “Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them” (Psalm 127:3-5).

My advice to Chip and Joanna is this: keep doing what you’re doing, ignore the critics, and please, please, please – change your mind and return for one more season of Fixer Upper! 

The Rushmore Report: The Rock Says He May Run for President in 2024

Can you smell what The Rock is smelling? Apparently it’s a 2024 run for the White House. Speaking to Variety, actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson said that he’s considering launching a 2024 run for president. Johnson has been the subject of political rumors since 2016, but this is the first time that he’s actually suggested a specific election as a target.

Johnson is a registered Independent and has attended both the Republican National Convention and the Democratic National Convention.

Variety wrote, “The multi-hyphenate superstar, who landed a star on the Walk of Fame this week and is gearing up for the release of his holiday blockbuster, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, has a jam-packed slate of projects lined up through the next presidential election. Yet, Johnson says he would 100 percent consider running for office.”

“I couldn’t do both,” he admits when asked by Variety about his burgeoning career as a movie star, producer, and the businessman behind his company, Seven Bucks Productions, which he co-owns with his longtime manager and ex-wife, Dany Garcia. “Realistically, as we go into 2018, when you look at my slate as we’re developing and shooting into 2019 and 2020, the slate goes deep into 2021, so it feels like the realistic consideration would be 2024.”

Johnson said the reason he would run is that he “cares deeply” about the United States and believes that he has the character necessary for a leader. He did not elaborate on any of his potential policy positions to Variety, but he said he was open to having a running mate who was not in a traditional field. The qualities that Johnson said he’d look for in a VP were that they were a “tremendous leader and a high-quality human being.”

As far as celebrities go, Johnson has a solid reputation in the industry and seems to be fairly well-liked and level-headed. This is definitely not an endorsement, but it’ll be interesting to see what happens over the next seven years.

About the Author

Christine Rousselle writes for The Christian Post.

The Rushmore Report: Time’s ‘Man of the Year’ Nominees Include a Monster and Police Hater

It’s not as though Time Magazine has to burnish its leftist credentials any further, but the magazine sure appears as if it wants to. On Monday, Time released the names of their nominees for Person of the Year. Along with President Trump, there was a hashtag, a monster, and an athlete who hates American police.

The hasthtag #MeToo, a reference to the women around the country and the world who claim they have been sexually harassed or assaulted, is not offensive in itself, but it’s hard to claim that a hashtag is the equivalent of a person.

But then things get nastier: Colin Kaepernick has become the emblem of people who feel that there is something fundamentally wrong with America, after he initiated the protests of the national anthem. This is the same guy who wore socks with police depicted as pigs on them.

A further plunge into the abyss: the selection of Kim Jong-un, a real-life monster who has subjugated the North Korean people to one of the most brutal repressions of the last 100 years, and is consistently threatening to throw the world into a nuclear conflagration with his missile launches.

As Jonah Goldberg wrote in National Review, “But what I find interesting about the just-released shortlist is that picking anyone else on the list – including Xi Jinping and #MeToo – would amount to, to one extent or another, a troll operation of the president. The most obvious example is Robert Mueller [also on the list]. To date, there is no reason to give him the title, other than for fan service to Trump-hating liberals and others emotionally invested in the Mueller probe. It’s conceivable that next year Mueller would deserve it. But not yet. The Dreamers [on the list], likewise, would be a political shot. Unlike the #MeTooers, the Dreamers themselves haven’t really done anything special in 2017.”

“Man of the Year” apparently has new meaning to the editors at Time. What is not clear, however, is how this aligns with any serious definition of journalism.

About the Author

Hank Berrien writes for the Daily Wire.

The Rushmore Report: Justin Timberlake and Stephen Colbert Talk about God

Justin Timberlake got his start singing in church and now the entertainer is explaining why it’s the best place to begin a music career. “You know that church is the best place to sing because you can go up there and completely botch anything and then at the end everyone says, ‘Amen,’” Timberlake said on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

The pair joked about God in a light-hearted satirical segment called “Big Questions with Bigger Stars,” where Colbert got to ask Timberlake, “If the universe is so infinite, then what’s beyond?”

The singer responded, “Everything other than bed and bath.”

Timberlake asked the comedian and late night talk show host, “Hey Steve, if God made the universe, then who made God?”

Colbert responded, “Like most stuff, I think probably a factory in China.”

Despite the jokes, Colbert has been vocal about his Catholic faith in the past. He previously spoke about the fusion of his faith and comedy on the Witness program in 2015.

“Faith ultimately can’t be argued, faith has to be felt. And hopefully you can still feel your faith fully, and let your mind have a logical life of its own, and they do not defy each other, but complement each other, because logic itself, I don’t think, for me, and you know – logic itself will not lead me to God,” Colbert previously said. “So hopefully, I can use my mind to make my jokes, and not deny my love for God at the same time.”

Colbert said his mother heavily influenced his faith, but he also has told Rolling Stone that he was moved by the words of Christ.

“I saw how my mother’s faith was very valuable to her and valuable to my brothers and sisters, and I’m moved by the words of Christ, and I’ll leave it at that,” he added.

About the Author

Christine Thomasos writes for The Christian Post.