Game Shows

One of the ways Beth and I spend the “dog days of summer” is by watching game shows. ABC has produced a series of shows based on old programs from bygone years, such as “To Tell the Truth,” “The $100,000 Pyramid,” and “Match Game.” Two of my favorites as a child were the original “Newlywed Game” and “The Dating Game.” If you remember “The $64,000 Question,” you are older than color television. I love game shows because I like to watch other people make fools of themselves, just for a change of pace.

My favorite viewing ever was an old episode of “Family Feud.” The question was, “In which month do most pregnant women begin to show?”

The first answer was “September.”

On “The Weakest Link,” host Anne Robinson asked, “In which H. G. Wells novel does an inventor travel in a machine of his own making?” Answer: “The Simpsons.”

On another episode, Robinson asked, “Who wrote ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof?'” The answer: “Dr. Seuss.”

Then there was another “Family Feud,” hosted by Richard Dawson. He said, “Name a famous ‘Willie.'” The contestant replied, “Willie the Pooh.”

I’ll never go on a game show, as I ascribe to the old adage, “Better to keep your mouth shut and let others think you are stupid than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.”

Let others do the talking. You do the listening. Especially when God is speaking. The world will be better for everyone.

The Bible says, “Whoever belongs to God hears what God says” (John 8:47). So let’s talk less, listen more, and keep watching others embarrass themselves in front of 50 million people on TV.

The Rushmore Report – God’s Design for Marriage

It’s easy to think that only “other people” get divorced. That your own marriage is somehow immune to heartache, infidelity and fights over who gets the house, the car, the dog. After all, how many of us would walk down the aisle if we believed our relationships would end up in divorce court? Truth is, no relationship comes with a lifetime guarantee.

Even men and women who grew up in stable homes, who attend church and consider themselves Christians, who promise “until death do us part,” can have it all fall apart.

As Christians, we know that applying biblical principles to marriage will give us a stronger foundation than those of our unbelieving friends and neighbors. We know this, but what are we doing about it? In other words, what makes a marriage “Christian”?

According to author Gary Thomas, we’re not asking the right questions. What if your relationship isn’t as much about you and your spouse as it is about you and God?

Instead of asking why we have struggles in the first place, the more important issue is how we deal with them.

In Sacred Marriage, Thomas has not written your typical “how to have a happier relationship” book. Rather, he asks: How can we use the challenges, joys, struggles and celebrations of marriage to draw closer to God? What if God designed marriage to make us both happy and holy?

1. View Marriage Realistically

“We have to stop asking of marriage what God never designed it to give — perfect happiness, conflict-free living, and idolatrous obsession,” Thomas explains.

Instead, he says, we can appreciate what God designed marriage to provide: partnership, spiritual intimacy and the ability to pursue God — together. So, what does Thomas think is the most common misconception Christians have about marriage?

“Finding a ‘soul mate’ — someone who will complete us,” he says. “The problem with looking to another human to complete us is that, spiritually speaking, it’s idolatry. We are to find our fulfillment and purpose in God . . . and if we expect our spouse to be ‘God’ to us, he or she will fail every day. No person can live up to such expectations.”

Everyone has bad days, yells at his or her spouse, or is downright selfish. Despite these imperfections, God created the husband and wife to steer each other in His direction.

Thomas offers an example: “When my wife forgives me . . . and accepts me, I learn to receive God’s forgiveness and acceptance as well. In that moment, she is modeling God to me, revealing God’s mercy to me, and helping me to see with my own eyes a very real spiritual reality.”

While it’s easy to see why God designed an other-centered union for a me-centered world, living that way is a challenge. So when bills pile up, communication breaks down and you’re just plain irritated with your husband or wife, Thomas offers these reminders to help ease the tension:

  • God created marriage as a loyal partnership between one man and one woman.
  • Marriage is the firmest foundation for building a family.
  • God designed sexual expression to help married couples build intimacy.
  • Marriage mirrors God’s covenant relationship with His people.

We see this last parallel throughout the Bible. For instance, Jesus refers to Himself as the “bridegroom” and to the kingdom of heaven as a “wedding banquet.”

These points demonstrate that God’s purposes for marriage extend far beyond personal happiness. Thomas is quick to clarify that God isn’t against happiness per se, but that marriage promotes even higher values.

“God did not create marriage just to give us a pleasant means of repopulating the world and providing a steady societal institution to raise children. He planted marriage among humans as yet another signpost pointing to His own eternal, spiritual existence.”

2. Serve Your Spouse

He spends the entire evening at the office — again. She spends money without entering it in the checkbook. He goes golfing instead of spending time with the kids. From irritating habits to weighty issues that seem impossible to resolve, loving one’s spouse through the tough times isn’t easy. But the same struggles that drive us apart also shed light on what we value in marriage.

“If happiness is our primary goal, we’ll get a divorce as soon as happiness seems to wane,” Thomas says. “If receiving love is our primary goal, we’ll dump our spouse as soon as they seem to be less attentive. But if we marry for the glory of God, to model His love and commitment to our children, and to reveal His witness to the world, divorce makes no sense.”

Couples who’ve survived a potentially marriage-ending situation, such as infidelity or a life-threatening disease, may continue to battle years of built-up resentment, anger or bitterness. So, what are some ways to strengthen a floundering relationship — or even encourage a healthy one? Thomas offers these practical tips:

  • Focus on your spouse’s strengths rather than their weaknesses.
  • Encourage rather than criticize.
  • Pray for your spouse instead of gossiping about them.
  • Learn and live what Christ teaches about relating to and loving others.

Young couples in particular can benefit from this advice. After all, many newlyweds aren’t adequately prepared to make the transition from seeing one another several times a week to suddenly sharing everything. Odds are, annoying habits and less-than-appealing behaviors will surface. Yet as Christians, we are called to respect everyone — including our spouse.

Thomas adds, “The image I use in Sacred Marriage is that we need to learn how to ‘fall forward.’ That is, when we are frustrated or angry, instead of pulling back, we must still pursue our partner under God’s mercy and grace.”

Lastly, Thomas suggests praying this helpful prayer: Lord, how can I love my spouse today like (s)he’s never been loved and never will be loved?

“I can’t tell you how many times God has given me very practical advice — from taking over some driving trips to doing a few loads of laundry,” Thomas says. “It’s one prayer that I find gets answered just about every time.”

While other marriage books may leave us feeling overwhelmed, spotlighting our shortcomings and providing pages of “relationship homework,” Sacred Marriage makes it clear that any couple can have a successful, happy and holy marriage.

With a Christ-centered relationship, an other-centered attitude and an unwavering commitment to making it work, your marriage can flourish — just as God designed.

Scripture teaches that marriage is ordained by God and part of His original design for us as well as a foreshadowing of our eternal relationship with Him. Helping families thrive with the support of friends like you.


3. Discovery the Strengths and Weaknesses of Your Marriage

In order to strengthen and grow your marriage, it is important to first know and evaluate how it is doing.

Take a free marriage assessment to identify the key areas where you could use improvement and the tools that will help you with that. We want your marriage to be thriving and healthy. Take this free assessment to strengthen your marriage!

About the Author

Carol Hoffernan writes for Focus on the Family.


American Idol – Nick Fradiani

Nick Fradiani was the winner of the 14th installment of the Fox hit is a 29-year-old rocker from Guilford, Connecticut. Fradiani knocked off Clark Beckham of White House, Tennessee in the finals. “This is amazing,” Nick told host Ryan Seacrest. “This is the best day of my life.” Joining Idol alums such as Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson, and Kris Allen, Fradiani is set to receive close to half a million dollars in benefits for his trouble. “I can’t even think right now,” said the newest Idol. The show will bring its final installment next year, confirmed Fox executives, as its Nielson ratings have plunged from 30.3 million viewers to 9.15 million in 2015. Nick Fradiani is a big deal . . . today. But in a few weeks, only the most astute Idol fans will remember his name.

That’s how it usually works with idols. Think about some of your celebrity idols from years gone by. My childhood idol was Willie Mays, the “Say Hey” kid, and best baseball player of all time. As a young musician, I idolized jazz trumpeter Maynard Ferguson. As a football fan in Houston, I came to idolize Earl Campbell, the greatest player I ever saw. I would later idolize Ronald Reagan. As far as comedians go, my idol was Bob Newhart. But it’s funny. None of these men really affected my life. Mays never hit a ball with his bat or Ferguson a note with his horn that changed me. Campbell, Reagan, and Newhart did nothing that altered the trajectory of my life. But I’ll tell you who did. His name was Elga Steward. His name was Jim Trevathan. His name was Cecil Sewell. And his name was Gene Wofford. You won’t find their pictures in People or their stories in Newsweek. But they were my idols. They did change my life. In order, these men were my eighth grade English teacher, senior high band director, pastor, and college professor.

John Maxwell had it right when he said, “You impress people from a distance, but you influence them up close.” I confess. I watched the last part of the last episode of American Idol. Nick Fradiani is a rare talent. But I will never be able to spell his last name from memory and I won’t remember his first name tomorrow. He impressed me, but he didn’t influence me. American’s Idol is not my idol. You can have Nick. I’m sure he’s a fine young man. But as for me, I’ll stick with the men who have proven themselves over the course of time: Elga, Jim, Cecil, and Gene. They are difference-makers. They are my mentors. And in the best sense of the word, they are, and will forever be, my idols.

Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day dates back to 1868, when Anna Jarvis created a committee to establish “Mother’s Friendship Day” in honor of her mother, Ann. After Ann’s death in 1908, Anna held the first Mother’s Day celebration in a Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia, backed by retail owner John Wanamaker. Anna lobbied to make this a national celebration, and in 1914 got the attention of President Woodrow Wilson, who proclaimed that the second Sunday of each May would “belong to moms across the nation.” Interestingly, Anna Jarvis, the founder of Mother’s Day, never became a mother herself. Rudyard Kipling famously said, “God couldn’t be everywhere, so he made mothers.”

A Spanish proverb says, “An ounce of mother is worth a pound of clergy.” And Abraham Lincoln commented, “All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.” So how will you honor your mother this Mother’s Day? You can buy her something. The average consumer spent $168.94 on Mother’s Day last year. Or better yet, you can pay her for all she does as a mother, cook, cleaner, and housekeeper. A recent estimate puts her annual salary at $65,000. I’m sure she will be happy to accept cash or credit card. I would argue that $65,000 is too little. You can’t put a price on what a mother is worth. But you can honor your mother. Start this Sunday. If possible, take her out. Or you can take her candy. Probably, she just wants you to take her hand. Thank her for being unlike anyone else in your life. Everyone else stands with you when you are right. Your mother stands with you when you are an idiot. You can’t put a price on that. So love her. Pray for her. And for just one day, do what Anna Jarvis did. Make your mother feel like she is the most important person in the world. Because she is.

The Rushmore Report – When Adult Children Move Back Home

“Alone at last!” you and your spouse exclaimed when the last of your kids flew the coop to take on such formerly alien concepts as rent, utility bills, and car payments. But wait. Who’s that familiar face coming up the walk with suitcases in hand? It’s your grown progeny!

These days, many so-called “empty nesters” find themselves with at least one grown child living at home. Some pundits refer to these adult children as the “boomerang” generation. Whatever you label them, they’re returning home in record numbers. Some come back hoping to save money for school. Others return so they can take time to search for the perfect job. Still others may have personal problems and need a refuge.

If you and your spouse find yourselves hosting kids you thought were launched, there are practical steps you and your child can take to minimize conflict and maximize the opportunity to strengthen family bonds. Before any move-in takes place, have a family powwow to discuss mutual expectations and establish house rules. Do this as early as possible to help prevent misunderstandings and friction later on.

Setting Boundaries

If you don’t approve of overnight guests, blaring stereos, bad language, questionable religious practices, the use of drugs or alcohol, etc., then make sure those expectations are clear before your son or daughter moves back in. Depending on the child and the circumstances, you might want to draft a brief “contract,” naming the conditions that must be met in order for them to live under your roof. Have your son or daughter indicate by signature that they agree to your terms. Inform them (lovingly) that if the rules are broken, eviction may follow.

Healthy Relationships

Generally speaking, most kids are just looking for a temporary retreat while figuring out their next step. If you want to maintain a healthy relationship with your adult child, consider these tips:

  1. Trust your adult children to make wise choices.
  2. Squelch the impulse to give advice unless it’s asked for.
  3. Communication is key.
  4. Practice grace.

We all need a refuge from time to time in our lives. Your kids should know that home is a safe, accepting place to land when they need to regroup. Be thankful that your kids like you enough to want to come home. Your dream of an empty nest can wait a bit longer. Besides, you may actually enjoy this chance to relate to your children as grownups – just like you.


About the Author

Roberta Rand Caponey writes for Focus on the Family.

The Rushmore Report – The Feel Good Story of the Year

Even a dog with a microchip can go missing for a long time. But even a dog that’s missing for a long time can end up back home where she belongs. That’s what a Pennsylvania family learned recently when they recovered their black Labrador mix, Abby, who had run away 10 years ago from the family’s home in Apollo, 33 miles east of Pittsburgh.

After some time went by, Debra Suierveld and her family assumed Abby had died. But on January 27, Suierveld received word that someone had found their dog. Abby showed up on George Speiring’s front porch in Lower Burrell, 10 miles west of Apollo. Speiring contacted Animal Protectors of Allegheny Valley, which discovered the dog’s microchip and was able to contact Suierveld.

Someone had taken good care of Abby over the years. The dog was in great health and still remembered some things the family taught her, Suierveld said.

“She would lie on the floor and cross her paws, and she remembers my daughter’s commands, and she remembers the commands I taught her,” Suierveld told KDKA-TV.

Suierveld called her 22-year-old daughter, who is a student at Miami University, in Oxford, Ohio, to share the news.

“She cried,” Suierveld told the Tribune-Review.

Suierveld’s family has planned a reunion dinner for Sunday to welcome Abby back. “It feels like a part of my kids’ childhood is back, part of our family is back,” Suierveld said. “It’s pretty awesome.”


The Rushmore Report: Where to Take Your Family in 2018

Nothing beats a great family vacation. I still cherish the trips we took as a family when I was a kid – to California, the Smoky Mountains, and Orange, Texas. Well, Orange wasn’t so hot! Now is a good time to start planning your family vacation for 2018. U.S. News has surveyed families nationwide. Here are the top 15 destinations for your next family vacation.

But first, a few suggestions. I have been to ten of these 15 destinations. They are all great. I suggest a few things before you go to any of these incredible spots.

First, enjoy the journey. When David was young, we usually drove on our vacations. Some of our best memories came from the journey. Don’t get in a hurry. Make memories along the way.

Second, go when the weather is good. Nothing is worse than going to a great place at a bad time. None of the places on the list below is fun when it is 100 degrees outside.

Third, don’t get in a rush. It’s good to have a plan. But expect crowds, lines, and things to go wrong. That’s okay. Take things slowly and expect the unexpected.

Fourth, take lots of pictures. This may be my only regret, looking back on our family trips through the years. We didn’t take enough pictures. Today’s pictures are tomorrow’s memories.

Fifth, pray before you go. Nothing makes for a great trip more than the presence of God. Invite him along; he’ll be there anyway!

Now, according to U.S. News – and a lot of children everywhere – here are your top 15 destinations for your 2018 family vacation.

1. Disney World

2. Disneyland

3. Branson

4. San Diego

5. Grand Canyon

6. Yellowstone

7. Ocean City

8. Washington, D.C.

9. Maui

10. Honolulu

11. Outer Banks

12. Hilton Head

13. Yosemite

14. Gettysburg

15. Chicago


Remembering Dad

I got the call – 38 years ago today. “Your dad has had a heart attack. Get to the hospital quick.” By the time I got there, he was gone.

But this isn’t about his death. It’s about his life.

I loved my dad. I’ll list just ten of the zillion reasons, in no particular order.

  1. Dad taught me to love and respect my mom.
  2. Dad taught me to reverence God.
  3. Dad taught me how to throw a ball.
  4. Dad took me to Astros baseball games.
  5. Dad led the prayer over the Thanksgiving meal each year.
  6. Dad took me camping – a lot.
  7. Dad bought me two saxophones – and never missed a band concert.
  8. Dad taught me how to play chess.
  9. Dad made my pinewood derby car every year in Cub Scouts.
  10. My pinewood derby car won the race every year in Cub Scouts.

Yes, I loved my dad. I still do. He was a child of the Depression, a World War II hero, an entrepreneur, a business owner, an incredible husband, a great provider, and the best dad I ever knew anything about.

What about your dad? There’s never a bad time to reflect on the good times you once shared – and if he’s still alive, to make more good times.

I miss you, Dad. I always will. Every single day.

Family Tree

The great American novelist Mark Twain said he spent a large sum of money to trace his family tree and then spent twice as much trying to keep his ancestry a secret.

He was like the family that reportedly wanted its history written up, so they hired a professional biographer to do it, but they were worried about how the document would handle the family’s black sheep. Uncle George had been executed in the electric chair for murder.

“No problem,” said the biographer. “I’ll say that Uncle George occupied a chair of applied electronics at an important government institution. He was attached to his position by the strongest of ties, and his death came as a real shock.”

We can’t do much about our ancestors, but we influence our descendants greatly. I have often commented that I will change the world more by the way I pastored my son than by the way I pastored my three churches.

Even if you could change your ancestry, would it matter? Spend your time where you have the most influence, with your family. The seeds you plant today will bear fruit tomorrow. The Bible says your greatest inheritance is your kids.

The Day Dad Took Me Fishing

I was about eight or nine years old. Dad took my brother and me on an overnight camp out. We were fishing late at night. My brother had fallen asleep as my Dad and I kept fishing. I did what boys do. I kept checking my bait to see if the fish had taken my worm. Because it was dark, I had to swing my pole over toward my Dad, who had the flashlight. Each time, Dad looked at my line and said, “Looks like they got your bait again.” Then he put on another worm.

After a couple hours of this, Dad excused himself for a few minutes. While he was away, I reeled in my line and checked the hook myself. No more worm. So I reached over for the carton of worms to put another one on my hook while Dad was away. To my surprise, there were no more worms left in the carton.

I didn’t want Dad to know we had just run out of bait, because I was enjoying the moment so much. So when he returned and encouraged me to check my line, I said, “I think it’s fine, Dad.”

Dad insisted he check my line, so I reeled it in one last time. When I swung the pole toward my Dad, he checked the hook and said, “Yep, the fish took your bait again. I’ll put on another worm.” And then he messed with my hook, and said to cast it out again.

Then the light came on. I had been out of bait of hours. Dad was acting like we still had worms for one reason – he wanted to extend the moment.

Dad wasn’t really there to fish. What he really wanted was time with his two sons – even if one of them was fast asleep.

Last week, my son asked me to name my favorite time with my Dad. And this is the story I told him. Unfortunately, I lost my Dad at a young age. I was 19 when he died at the age of 55. That was 38 years ago. I’ve lived twice as long without Dad as I lived with him.

But I shall never forget that night on a central Texas lake, a half century ago. I had an amazing Dad. And that was an amazing night – one I will take with me for the rest of my life.