Jim Jones

November 18, 1978. I remember the date well. I was a freshman at Houston Baptist University, just starting my college career. As a proud Texan who came to Christ in the Bible Belt, it never really occurred to me that people could believe in anything other than the tenets of the Christian faith.

Meanwhile, there was a 47-year-old man from Crete, Indiana, who had assembled a band of religious followers. They formed the Peoples Temple in Indiana in the 1950s, and would later move to California before eventually establishing the temple in what would be known as Jonestown, Guyana. Under his leadership, 918 members of his cult were either murdered or committed suicide on this date, 38 years ago.

How does this happen? To that question the Bible offers an answer. In the last days, we are told that many “will believe a lie” (2 Thessalonians 2:11).

Deception is as old a tool as the devil himself. He asked Adam, “Did God really say?” (Genesis 3:3). It is so easy to be led astray. While the Jim Jones event was catastrophic by any measure, deception did not die in Guyana 38 years ago.

Perhaps the greatest trap is not believing the devil or even false teachers, but believing ourselves. Leonardo da Vinci said, “The greatest deception men suffer is from their own opinions.”

Opinions get us into trouble. Tragically, 918 people died because they put opinions ahead of truth. The measure of truth is the Word of God. What happened 38 years ago is a tragedy for the ages. The only worse tragedy would be to learn nothing from it.


Have you ever seen those little booklets that tell you everything that happened in a particular year? It’s fun to browse through the one that highlights the events that took place in the year of one’s birth. They sell them at a certain restaurant in town. I will not endorse that restaurant here, but I love their biscuits and rocking chairs.

If you turn 89 in 2018, there’s an excellent chance you were born in 1929. Of course, 1929 is best known for the crash of the Stock Market, which ushered in the Great Depression.

But other things, really good things, happened in 1929. That was the year the Grand Tetons became a national park. The Vatican City became a sovereign State. New York’s Museum of Modern Art opened to the public. And Al Capone cleaned up the streets of Chicago with the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.

Here’s the point. In bad times, God is there. When we see the negative, God shows up. Do you think you’re having a bad year? I suggest you aren’t qualified to make that judgment. King David said it like this: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me” (Psalm 23:4).

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.

Failed Bank Robbery

A guy decided to rob the bank because he really needed the money. He didn’t know anything about robbing banks, so he practiced what he would say. He got the sack to put money in, and a revolver. He practiced sticking the sack over the counter and pointing the gun at the teller and saying, “Don’t mess with me, this is a stick up.”

When it came time for the real thing, he was really nervous. But he was confident he had it down. However, when he got into the bank, fear took over and he handed the lady the revolver, raised the sack, and said, “Don’t stick with me, this is a mess up.” The bank robber was crippled by his own fear.

Remember the children’s story, Chicken Little? Chicken Little thought the sky was falling. She told Henny Penny the sky was falling, and the animals stampeded. At last, they met Mr. Fox, who offered them refuge in his den. Because of their panic, they accepted. Mr. Fox had a feast.

The cure for fear is faith. There is an old Scottish proverb that says, “Fear knocked on the door, faith answered, and there was no one there.” Paul told the church of Rome, “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the spirit of sonship, and by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father'” (Romans 8:15).

The world is full of fear. But God offers the gift of faith. Faith is a muscle. Exercise it and it will grow. Fear will always be lurking in the weeds. But you don’t have to be its slave.


General William Westmoreland was once reviewing a platoon of paratroopers in Vietnam. As he went down the line, he asked each of them a question. “How do you like jumping, son?”

“Love it, sir!” was the first man’s answer.

“How do you like jumping?” he asked the next.

“The greatest experience in my life, sir!” exclaimed the paratrooper.

“How do you like jumping?” he asked the third.

“I hate it, sir,” he replied.

“Then why do you do it?” asked Westmoreland.

“I want to be around guys who love to jump.”

That’s good initiative!

Here’s a story of bad initiative. A store manager was walking through the packing room when he saw a man lounging on a shipping crate. He asked how much he was paid. The man said, “$500 a week.”

At that the manager paid the man $500 and said, “Here’s a week’s pay. Now get out!”

The manager went to the department head and asked why he had hired the man in the first place.

“We didn’t, sir,” he replied. “He was here to pick up a package.”

Initiative can be good or bad. I’d go with the first kind. Find a group going places. Don’t hold back. And at the right moment, jump! But don’t jump alone. Find a church full of believers worth jumping with.

The Rushmore Report: How We Survived Hurricane Irma

Hurricane Irma put 18 million Floridians under a Hurricane Warning – a record. Irma was a Category 4/5 storm for four days – a record. Irma forced the evacuation of 6.5 million people – a record. Four million have been left without power – including my wife and me. I have been through six hurricanes in my lifetime. This is the first one that has displaced my family from our house. But as of Day 4, we have survived. Here’s how.

1. My family decided who is in control – before the hurricane.

Habakkuk, the Old Testament prophet, said it like this: “Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation” (Habakkuk 3:17-18). In other words, we have decided that our dance with peace is determined by relationship, not circumstance. We are at peace because we know the One who is there before, during, and after the storm.

2. We didn’t have much to lose – during the hurricane.

They said the winds in Bradenton, Florida would hit 130 miles per hour. Our house was not built to that standard. So, we knew there was a reasonable chance that, after we evacuated, despite boarding up everything, our house might be turned to rubble in just hours. So we made the decision to fill our cars with everything we owned that really mattered. Surprisingly, that was not a difficult task. I put 57 years of life into the trunk of my Miata. How? Because my real life was in the other car, driving our Sonata. My wife was safe. My son was safe. My dog was safe. So life would be okay.

3. We knew we’d still have a home, no matter what – after the hurricane.

The storm could wipe out our house, but it could not touch out home. The psalmist said, “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it” (Psalm 127:1). God did not build the structure sitting at my physical address. Man did that. I don’t know the men who did that, but I do know the Man who built our home.

So we did what millions did – we left. We are blessed to be a part of a wonderful church and to have incredible friends. A family in our church took us in. We had one big, long, windy hurricane party. We even went out in the midst of the hurricane late at night. I recorded a 72-mph wind gust on my anemometer. We really had a blast. In fact, I am writing this from the guest room of their house, because our house still has no power.

But that’s okay. Our house is without power, but not our home. Our home has a Power that no hurricane can ever touch.

And that’s how we survived Hurricane Irma.

The Rushmore Report: What Steve Harvey Told His Audience when He Thought the Cameras Were Off

Steve Harvey is looking to help people get in touch with the Holy Spirit to live their best lives, with his latest book, Jump: Take the Leap of Faith to Achieve Your Life of Abundance. The comedian and #1 New York Times bestselling author has written about love and success. Now he is talking about God and his personal faith. It’s perfect for anyone wanting more out of life.

“Steve beautifully and thoughtfully explains what faith is and how it can work miracles in our daily lives. He also talks in-depth about the power of human imagination and how we can use it to make our dreams come true,” the description reads. “As God inspires us to build and create a larger vision for our lives, Steve shows us that when we combine our inherent power with God’s divine plan, we can each achieve anything.”

Harvey, who has overcome homelessness and several failed marriages, gets candid about the trials and tests he had to overcome. The inspiration for Harvey’s book came from the Family Feud host speaking to his studio audience after a show last year, thinking the cameras had stopped rolling.

While it was not aired on television, Harvey’s team captured a special moment where the host encouraged his audience by letting them know that God wanted them to live their lives more abundantly.

All they had to do was take a leap of faith by jumping.

“Your Bible says your gift will make room for you – your gift, not your education,” he told his audience. “If you don’t use your gift, that education will only take you so far. I know a lot of people that have degrees and don’t even use them. It’s your gift that matters.”

While Harvey admitted that the process of taking this leap of faith can be painful, he urged his audience to trust in God who has never left them.

“You cannot name one single thing God has not gotten you through. If He’s not gotten you through it, He’s getting you through it now. Your Bible says He came so you can live abundantly. If I were you, I would jump because that’s the only way to get to that abundant life. You’ve got to jump.”

The Rushmore Report: Five NFL Players You Didn’t Know Were Christians

In America, football has become a religion. While more people attend church on Sundays than watch NFL games on TV, the NFL is gaining – fast. But Christianity and the NFL are not mutually exclusive. There are plenty of NFL players who work on Sundays – and are very active in their faith. Here are just a few football players who have embraced Christianity, and aren’t ashamed to talk about it.

1. Drew Brees

The man is a saint – twice. First, Brees plays quarterback for the New Orleans Saints. But more importantly, he lives out an active faith in Christ. He accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Savior on his 17th birthday, after having knee surgery. He credits his faith for helping him through multiple episodes of adversity in his life.

2. Aaron Rodgers

Widely recognized as the best player in the NFL, the quarterback of the Green Bay Packers grew up in a Christian home. This is how he lives out his faith as a football player: “Let your actions talk about your beliefs. Start a relationship with others, then finally when there is a chance for questions, tell them about God.”

3. Russell Wilson

A featured speaker in churches nationwide, Wilson credits his faith for the stability he has come to experience in his personal life. He explains, “I don’t have highs and lows because I play for Him.” Wilson has shared his faith with teammates, and the Seattle Seahawks now have one of the strongest chapel ministries in the league.

4. Mark Sanchez

The back-up quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys has experienced a lot of adversity in the NFL, bouncing from team to team. He expresses his faith by the way he treats others. He says, “How can you show your love for God? He doesn’t need anything you’ve got. You love Him by loving others.”

5. Robert Griffin III

Having earned Rookie of the Year honors with the Washington Redskins, it once looked as though RG3 would become the face of the NFL. Then injuries began to mount. Through trades and down times, he has remained faithful to God. He says, “My relationship with God has been my most important influence. I praise God for everything. Purposefully, you live every day for Him, and when He gives you the opportunity to speak up for Him or to do something in His name, you do it.”

“I’m No Moses!”

Gladys Aylward must have felt something like Moses leading the children of Israel out of Egypt. The year was 1940 and Gladys was in China, leading 100 orphaned children away from the invading Japanese armies. Eight years earlier Gladys had following God’s calling and moved from London to Yangcheng, China, with one plan in mind: to serve God by serving lost children.

But when the Japanese army came to Yangcheng, no one in the orphanage was safe. Gladys had no choice but to lead the orphans on a treacherous journey over the mountains to reach free China. After one particular sleepless night in the mountains, as the bleakness of this month-long journey overwhelmed her, Gladys was ready to give up hope.

That was when a 13-year-old orphan girl came to sit by her side. The child tried to encourage the missionary by reminding her of the time when Moses and the Israelites had escaped from the land of Egypt.

“But I’m not Moses,” Gladys complained.

“Of course you aren’t,” the orphan replied, “but Jehovah is still God.”

Gladys suddenly realized that, like Moses, she was an imperfect person. But that didn’t matter, because God had chosen her to shepherd his children to safety. And with his guidance and direction, an imperfect person could work miracles.

It took a full month, but with God’s help, Gladys and all 100 children made it safely to freedom.

Do you ever feel overwhelmed, exhausted, and ready to throw in the towel? Does the situation seem bigger than you? It’s true – you’re no Moses. But you don’t have to be, because Jehovah is still God.

The Big Step

Martin Luther King, Jr. said it well. “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”

When I was in high school, I wanted to know God’s will for my life. Where would I go to college? Whom would I marry? What career would I pursue? Where would I live?

These are the kinds of questions we all wrestle with. In stepped my student pastor. He gave me an illustration of God’s will I have never forgotten. “Assume you want to drive from here (Houston) to College Station at night. Why do you turn on your headlights – to see College Station or the next turn?”

His point was clear. God rarely shows us our entire future. He sheds just enough light to make it to the next turn. If he showed us more than that, he knows we would often take over control of the steering wheel of life and relegate him to the back seat.

The just shall live by faith, not sight. But that faith is not a faith that shows us the end – just the next step. What Rev. King said 50 years ago is still brilliant today.

“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”