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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.

The Rushmore Report: What God Would Say to Matt Lauer

For twenty years, Matt Lauer was perhaps the most popular and trusted news host in America, bringing in hundreds of millions of dollars to NBC every year, from advertising on the Today Show. More than that, he was a champion of women’s rights, beloved by feminists since the 1990s. But this week, that all came crashing down, with the revelation of a far-reaching sex scandal and Lauer’s resulting firing by NBC. You can read the sordid details on other outlets. But only here will you read what matters most. We answer the question, in light of recent events, What would God say to Matt Lauer?

I think that if God were to sit down with Matt Lauer, he would say six things.

1. I love you as much today as I did before the scandal broke.

God would go even further. He’d tell Mr. Lauer, “I love you just as much today as before the scandal broke, and just as much as I did before you committed your first indiscretion.” We don’t know when it all began for Lauer, though that will likely be exposed soon. To God it has no bearing on his love for Matt Lauer. God’s love for him today is just as complete as it was on the day before his first sin. I think God would say it like this – “There is nothing you can ever do that will make me love you more, and  there is nothing you can ever do that will make me love you less.” Upon learning the news, Lauer’s co-host, Cathy Lee Gifford, texted him, “I adore you.” She said, “No person is perfect. No one is sinless. We need God’s mercy.” God’ love for Matt Lauer – and for you – is not diminished by the magnitude of any sin.

2. What you do in secret will always be exposed.

The accusations against Mr. Lauer are growing by the day. Like so many before him, his actions of sexual misconduct have been repetitive. Lauer’s activities seem to have crossed the line into addiction. And as with all addictions, secrecy is the incubator of the compulsive lifestyle. It’s not that men like Lauer, Weinstein, Conyers, and Franken want to battle such ferocious demons. It’s just too hard to overcome in secret.  Sins of darkness cannot be solved in darkness. Jesus said, “There is nothing done in darkness that will not be revealed in the light” (Luke 8:17). For the perpetrator, his exposure is both his worst fear and his very best friend. The reason our sins “find us out” (Numbers 32:23) is not one of judgment, but mercy. God knows that we can only get well in the light. Patrick Carnes, perhaps the foremost expert on sex addiction, says it like this: “The addictive system uses secrecy as a shield. Addiction thrives on secrecy.” God would tell Matt Lauer, “What you have done behind closed doors, I will expose in the light of day – not so you can lose your reputation – but so you can find it.” If he opens himself to God’s grace, Lauer will look back one day and see the day of his exposure as the best day of his life.

3. What you took a lifetime to build can be lost in a moment.

Will Rogers famously said, “It takes a lifetime to build your reputation, but you can lose it in a minute.” Case #1 – David (adultery with Bathsheba). Case #2 – Noah (drunk and naked before his children). Case #3 – Peter (denied Christ three times). Case #4 – Matt Lauer. What is built for 30-40 years can be lost in a moment. But God would tell Lauer – and you and me – that this is not all bad. He would tell Lauer, “You no longer have the ability to write the start of your personal story, but you can still write the ending.”

4. Pride precedes fall.

God would tell Matt Lauer what he has already said in his Word. “Pride comes before fall” (Proverbs 11:2). One of the things all the men who have recently been disgraced in the nightly news have shared in common is power. Matt Lauer is – or was – a powerful man. His mere presence on The Today Show made NBC hundreds of millions of dollars every year. And in turn, they made him the highest paid newsman on television. But power is more often our enemy than our friend. What Abraham Lincoln said over 150 years ago still resonates today: “Nearly all men can stand adversity; but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” NBC gave Matt Lauer power – lots of power. But the higher the pedestal, the greater the fall.

5. The Mike Pence Rule is a good idea.

When Vice President Mike Pence shared the boundary he has erected to protect his integrity, the media scoffed. His rule is simple – never be alone with a woman other than your wife and never be in a room where alcohol is served without your wife there also. Billy Graham lived by this standard, and so did his entire team. It was called the Modesto Manifesto. And now in his 100th year, Graham has never had a hint of personal sexual scandal. Graham once said, “It’s not that I don’t trust the women; I don’t trust myself.” If Matt Lauer, John Conyers, and the rest had followed the “Pence Rule,” their stories would have played out much differently. The same is true of each of us.

6. Get help!

God would tell Matt Lauer it is never too late to seek help. The Bible says, “They cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he brought them out of distress” (Psalm 107:28). The First Step of recovery is to admit one’s powerlessness over his struggles. Yes, Matt Lauer crossed some clear lines. Yes, he has lost his job and his reputation. And yes, of all the paths he may take in the future, the road of recovery will be the road less traveled. There are too many bumps along the road, not to mention exit ramps, for the road to be easy. But there is hope for Matt Lauer if he wants it. But he must really want it. Since their sexual indiscretions were made public, rumors have resurfaced that suggest Bill Clinton and Tiger Woods have not taken their recovery seriously. It is hard to begin the journey, still harder to stay on it. Matt Lauer has apologized. He has admitted personal failings and faults. But will he really seek help for his problems? Will he make amends? Will he put his recovery before anything else? We will know soon. God would say to Matt Lauer, “Seeking help is a good thing, not a bad thing.” To quote Les Brown, “We ask for help, not because we are weak, but because we are strong.” Whether or not Matt Lauer is strong enough to know he is weak, smart enough to know he is not so smart, and helpless enough to know he needs help – will determine how his story ends.

Yes, God has something to say to Matt Lauer. But is he ready to listen? He needs help – help he probably would have never sought until God gave him the gift of exposing his sins. I pray he gets help. He suddenly has a three-hour hole in his daily schedule, Monday through Friday. If he uses his time to get well, he may never return to the fame he once enjoyed. But what God has before him is so much better than what lies behind him. What would God say to Matt Lauer? “Matt, the rest of your life can be the best of your life. But you’ve got to want it – more than you’ve ever wanted anything before.”

Janis Joplin Dies – 47 Years Ago

It doesn’t seem possible. On October 4, 1970, rock singer Janis Joplin died of an accidental heroin overdose. That’s 47 years ago today.

Joplin’s raw vocalizations, uninhibited performances, and fringe lifestyle characterized the hippie generation of the Woodstock era. The native of southeastern Texas dropped out of college in 1963 to sing fold music in Texas clubs. Her hard-rock, bluesy vocals landed her a gig as lead singer of the band Big Brother and the Holding Company. Big Brother’s first album for Columbia Records was Cheap Thrills. In 1968, when the album went to number one, Joplin had completed her transformation to a strong-willed, sexually aggressive rock icon. In 1969, she performed at Woodstock with her own group, the Kozmic Blues Band, and contributed to rock history by continuing to break conventions and cross barriers as a high-intensity female performer. Joplin was inducted posthumously into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995.

Posthumously. That means what she accomplished was not fully recognized until after her death.

On a much bigger scale, a man did something else 2,000 years ago that won him the greatest “posthumously” recognition of all time. Jesus, after his death, did something even more significant than anything he ever did in life. He was resurrected the third day. And that changed everything.

Jesus was the greatest man who ever lived – and died – and rose again. Janis Joplin is worthy of our recognition. But only Jesus Christ is worthy of our praise.

The Rushmore Report: The Break-up of the Cast of TV’s #1 New Comedy – What Happened?

I’ll admit it. I was hooked. The #1 new comedy of this past television season quickly became a can’t-miss show at our household. We rarely watch the current crop of comedies on TV because they a) aren’t funny, b) are crude, and c) are dumb. But Kevin Can Wait was different. And much of the laughter was generated by the on-air connection of Kevin James and Errin Hayes – until she was fired. So what happened?

It’s pretty simple. After working with Leah Remini for nearly a decade on The King of Queens, James established a kinship with his on-screen wife. So, he invited her to appear as a guest on one episode of Kevin Can Wait. And soon after, Hayes was released from the show that drew the highest audience of any new comedy of the year.

Insiders say Kevin James simply felt he had a better chemistry with Remini. What is not clear is how his wife of season one will suddenly be replaced on-air for season two.

Hayes isn’t saying much. She said in Twitter, “True, I’ve been let go from the show. Very sad, I had a great experience season 1. Thank you for all the support from our wonderful fans.”

Here’s the lesson for all of us. We are not promised anything for tomorrow. In fact, we aren’t even promised tomorrow. In a second, we can lose the security of a great job, a great marriage, and great health. In an instant, it can all be gone.

I’m sure Errin Hayes will be okay. I’m guessing she was paid handsomely for her work in season one. And surely she will get another acting job soon.

Others are not so fortunate. The Bible warns against making assumptions about the future. That’s why we need to live fully in the only day any of us is ever promised – today.

Disneyland’s First Day

On July 17, 1955 – 62 years ago today – Disneyland Park, originally called Disneyland, opened under the direct supervision of Walt Disney himself. Walt came up with the concept after visiting amusement parks with his daughters in the 1930s and 1940s. He bought the 160-acre site near Anaheim in 1953. Construction began a year later.

Disneyland was dedicated at an “International Press Preview” event held on Sunday, July 17, 1955, which was only open to invited guests and the media. Although 28,000 people attended the event, only about half of those were actual invitees, the rest having purchased counterfeit tickets. The following day, it opened to the public, featuring 20 attractions.

The Special Sunday events, including the dedication, were televised nationwide and anchored by three of Walt Disney’s friends from Hollywood: Art Linkletter, Bob Cummings, and Ronald Reagan.

Yes, Ronald Reagan.

ABC broadcast the event live, during which many guests tripped over the television camera cables. In Frontierland, a camera caught Cummings kissing a dancer. When Disney started to read the plaque for Tomorrowland, he read part way then stopped when a technician off-camera said something to him, and after realizing he was on-air, he said, “I thought I got a signal,” and began the dedication from the start. At one point, while in Fantasyland, Linkletter tried to give coverage to Cummings, who was on the pirate ship. He was not ready, and tried to give the coverage back to Linkletter, who had lost his microphone. Cummings then did a play-by-play of him trying to find it in front of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.

So Disneyland didn’t get off to a great start. But Walt Disney famously said, “It’s not how you start that matters, but what you do next.”

The same is true in life. To get the full thrill of this ride God calls “life,” it’s not about how we start, or even where we are now – but what we do next.

The Death of a Comic

We need to laugh more. The Bible says laughter is good medicine. It really is. That’s why we love comics so much. I grew up watching The Bob Newhart Show and The Mary Tyler Moore Show with my parents every week. I still love the classics: The Dick Van Dyke Show, Leave It to Beaver, Get Smart, and that “it really makes you think classic,” The Three Stooges.

Yep, we love our comedy and we love our comics.

That’s what makes this day in history so sad. It was nine years ago today – it’s hard to believe it’s been that long – that George Carlin died. The 71-year-old comedian died of heart failure.

Carlin made his first appearance on The Tonight Show in 1962. He became known as a clean-cut, conventional comic. But around 1970, that all changed.

Carlin reinvented himself as one who disdained all things conventional. He became a biting critic and commentator in a successful effort to appeal to a younger crowd. In 1973, the FCC held the comic’s famous routine “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television” to be “indecent,” and the FCC order banning its broadcast was upheld by the United States Supreme Court.

This did not curtail Carlin’s rise to fame. In 1975, he was the first guest host on Saturday Night Live. Two years later, he starred in the first of a series of 14 comedy specials for HBO. Carlin continued to perform his HBO specials and his live comedy gigs into the early 21st century.

No, Carlin’s brand of humor wasn’t to my liking. He became too distasteful for me – and millions of others. But he always had his following, and it was a loyal following, to be sure.

Why? Because we need to laugh. Even if what we are laughing at isn’t that funny, even if it’s rather crude – we still need to laugh.

So, while I don’t miss the comedy of George Carlin, I do miss what he brought a generation of Americans. He brought what we need now more than ever. He brought laughter.