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Initiative

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.”

The Rushmore Report: Tim Tebow Opens Up about His Faith and Baseball

Tim Tebow has traded in his football helmet for a baseball bat. Through it all, the 29-year-old athlete has kept his faith front and center. Born a son of missionaries, Tebow is spreading the gospel in a different way. He told Fox News how being a Christian has had a major impact not only in the NFL, but also in his budding career in baseball. “It impacts me daily. My faith impacts the way I treat people,” Tebow says.

“It affects how I pursue life, my vantage point. How I interact with people. Hopefully in how I’m a little more patient with people and certain things,” he said, laughing. “And how I treat people, but my faith is something that changes the way I act, the way I live, the way I think, the way I breathe, everything, because it puts things into perspective – especially what matters, and that’s something I’ve very grateful for.”

Late last year, Tebow singed with the New York Mets. He will start this baseball season playing for the Columbia Fireflies, a Class A affiliate.

“My teammates have been so supportive from the major league guys to, all the way down. Everyone has been supportive, especially they guys here,” Tebow said.

Nearly 4,000 fans showed up to Tebow’s first practice at South Carolina’s Spirit Communications Park. Heidy Webster was one of the fans who drove a great distance to be there. She said, “I think it’s great. I wish more people would do it.”

Tebow, in an interview after practice, said, “I think God has a specific plan for every single one of us. And I think that we also have choices that we can make to pursue and I think that the one thing I try to share with young people is that you matter and that you’re special, you’re unique. That God created you for a reason and a purpose. You aren’t an accident, you are special, you are important. And when you understand that and you look at it that way, you can live that way,” Tebow continued.

He admitted that he misses football. “I still love the game of football and sometimes you miss it. But I’m pursuing something else that I love and you can love more than one thing.”

The Fireflies play their first game against the Augusta Greenjackets on April 6.

The Rushmore Report: A Growing Number of Americans Love Jesus but Don’t Go to Church

While an increasing number of Americans are reportedly abandoning the institutional church and its defined boundary markers of religious identity, many Americans still believe in God and practice faith outside its walls, a new Barna study has found. The Barna survey has looked into the “fascinating segment of American population who “loves Jesus but not the church.” These are their surprising findings.

One-tenth of the population comprises those who self-identify as Christian and who strongly agree that their religious faith is very important to their lives, but are “dechurched,” meaning they have attended church in the past, but haven’t done so in the last six months or more. Barna adds that only seven percent belonged in this category in 2004.

More than 60 percent of the people in this group are women, and 80 percent are not millennials. “This group also appears to be mostly white (63%) and concentrated in the South (33%), Midwest (30%), and West (25%), with very few hailing from the Northeast (13%),” the study reveals.

“This group represents an important and growing avenue of ministry for churches,” says Roxanne Stone, editor in chief of Barna Group. “Particularly if you live in a more churched area of the country, it’s more than likely you have a significant number of these disaffected Christians in your neighborhoods. They still love Jesus, still believe in Scripture and most of the tenets of their Christian faith. But they have lost faith in the church.”

What’s more, their beliefs about God are more orthodox than the general population, even rivaling their church-going counterparts, the study shows.

“For instance, they strongly believe there is only one God (93% compared to all U.S. adults at 59% and practicing Christians at 90%), affirm that “God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and the perfect creator of the universe who rules the world today (94%, compared to all U.S. adults at 57% and practicing Christians at 85%).”

Furthermore, while they might not be comfortable with the church, this group still maintains a very positive view of religion, the study adds.

“When asked whether they believe religion is mostly harmful, their response once again stood out from the general population, and aligned with their church-going counterparts. However, only 55 percent disagree that all religions basically teach the same thing, compared with 86 percent of evangelicals.

The study notes that this group falls outside of the characterization of “spiritual but not religious” folks. “But unlike practicing Christians and evangelicals, this spirituality is deeply personal – even private – with many preferring to keep spiritual matters to themselves: only two in five say they talk with their friends about spiritual matters often.”

“The critical message that churches need to offer this group is a reason for churches to exist at all,” Stone concludes. “What is it that the church can offer their faith that they can’t get on their own? Christians need to be able to say to these people – and to answer for themselves – that there is a unique way you can find God only in church. And that faith does not survive or thrive in solitude.”

About the Author

Anugrah Kumar is a writer for The Christian Post.

How Can I Know that I’m Saved?

Ephesians 2:8-9 “It is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of god – not by works, so that no one can boast.”

In Luke 23:42, one of the criminals hanging next to Jesus on the cross prayed, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

Notice that he didn’t ask Jesus to stop his pain, although he would have been in excruciating pain on the cross. By that time, Jesus was famous for doing miracles, but the man didn’t ask Jesus to save him from death, either.

He said, “Jesus, remember me.” Why? Because he knew that his deepest need was salvation from sin – not just salvation to get into heaven. He believed in Jesus.

The Bible says, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31).

So how do you know for sure that you’re saved? How do you know you’re going to heaven when you die? How can you be certain? How can you eliminate doubt?

Your assurance of salvation is not by your works, because you can’t earn your salvation. Your assurance of salvation is not by your feelings, because feelings come and go.

What is your assurance of salvation? The promise of God’s word. If God says it, that settles it, because God cannot lie. You can trust the promise of God’s Word. You can rest in it.

Jesus replied to the criminal hanging on the cross, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). Your assurance of salvation is the same: God’s promise that you will be in heaven with him one day if you believe by faith.

Crossing the Antarctic Circle

James Cook went where no man had gone before. The captain of the Royal Navy was the first person to cross the Antarctic Circle. He did it on this day in history – January 17, 1773.

I’m not sure how he knew it. The Antarctic Circle is an imaginary line lying at latitude 66.30 degrees south. The line is defined by being the northern-most area where the sun does not set for an entire 24-hour period (winter solstice – December 21) or rise for a 24-hour period (June 21). From the Antarctic Circle southward, the length of uninterrupted day or night continues to increase from one day until, at the South Pole, a day or night lasts six months.

On the same 1773 Pacific expedition, Cook charted Easter Island and Tonga in the Pacific, as well as the South Sandwich Islands and South Georgia Island in the Atlantic. In 1779, while searching for the supposed Northwest Passage connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, Cook stopped in the Hawaiian Islands, where he was killed by the islanders.

Let’s go back to the Antarctic Circle. The lesson is that a courageous explorer was willing to go where no man had gone before, even if he couldn’t see the Circle. The Bible says “the just shall live by faith,” and that faith is the evidence of things not seen. It also says it is impossible to please God apart from faith.

Are you living by sight or by faith? And where are you going where no man has gone before?