Praying Lions

The man was an experienced mountain climber, hiker, and outdoorsman. But this day would be unlike any other in his entire life. Lost, searching for a way down, he spotted a lion nearby. Worse yet, the lion spotted him. The lion started his approach. The man had no chance to escape. So he prayed.

He said, “God, you can see I’m in trouble here. I’m lost and I’m stuck. There is a lion coming, and he looks really hungry. If you get me out of this mess, I’ll do anything you want me to do. I’ll give to the poor, I’ll be a better husband, I’ll be a good father, and I’ll even go to church this Easter. Just get me out of this mess.”

When he finished his prayer, he looked up. It was a miracle! Just as he prayed, the lion stopped. The lion sat. And then the lion prayed.

“Wow! A praying lion!” the man thought to himself. “This lion must be a Christian!”

Then he heard the lion’s prayer. “Lord, thank you for this meal you have prepared for me.”

Don’t worry. No animals (or people) were hurt in the telling of this joke. But you can get hurt, really badly. How? By waiting until you are in trouble before you pray.

Too Much Caffeine

If you get a tax refund of $2,000, you can do one of two things with that money. First, you can use it to make a good down payment on a new car. Or you can do what millions do every day, and buy one cup of coffee at Starbucks.

If you have $10,000, you can get five cups. But take it easy on the caffeine. I’m not a coffee drinker but I can recognize one anywhere. They are the ones bouncing off the walls. The other day, I saw a man who was so high on caffeine that he was duck hunting with a rake. Too much caffeine.

You know you’ve had too much coffee when you find yourself answering the door before the doorbell rings or you have converted your car’s radiator to brew a pot on the way to work.

You’ve had too much coffee if Juan Valdez names his donkey after you, or you can play ping-pong without a partner. Your coffee filters are monogrammed. You chew on other people’s fingernails. Your eyes stay open when you sneeze.

And you know you’ve had too much coffee when you can jump start your car without cables or you can photograph yourself ten feet away without a timer. Or maybe you ski uphill.

Perhaps it’s time to lay off the coffee and just start your day the way Jesus did.

“While it was early in the morning, Jesus went into a mountain by himself, and there he prayed” (Mark 1:35).

The Rushmore Report: Look Who’s Praying for Colin Kaepernick

As all 32 NFL teams prepare for the upcoming season, the average team is carrying five quarterbacks on its training camp roster. That is 160 NFL quarterbacks. Not on that list is a former All-Pro, Super Bowl quarterback in the prime of his career. Colin Kaepernick, the man who refused to stand for the national anthem in last year’s games, is that player. Guess which all-time great is praying for Kaepernick every day?

Ray Lewis.

The 42-year-old former linebacker who played 17 years for the Baltimore Ravens, revealed his prayers for Kaepernick, whose season-long protest last year was in response to his perceived brutality of police officers against black Americans.

Lewis stated on Twitter, “While a bunch of people are talking about this man, Kaep let me tell you something, brother. I pray for you more than you can imagine. Your name is in my Bible. I pray that God gives you the vision . . . I applaud you for the things that you stood up for.”

On a local Fox sports show, Lewis said that he disagreed with the way Kaepernick decided to kneel instead of stand during the national anthem. But more important, Lewis contended, is whether or not the QB could help his team win games. Lewis seems to think the Ravens should consider signing Kaepernick.

“What I’m asking us to do as an organization is let’s make a real decision,” he said. “If we’re going to do it, do it. But if we’re going to do it make sure we know why we’re doing it, and hopefully it’s to win.”

Lewis received a lot of criticism on social media for his comments, and he admitted that people were contacting him to voice their disapproval. None of this has deterred Lewis, who is an outspoken Christian.

Encouraging the former 49ers star to continue his pursuit to play in the NFL, Lewis tweeted, “I wish you the best in life. I hope you chase whatever God got for you to chase. And once again, I applaud what you stood up for because I’m in the streets every day.” Lewis concluded, “If people really want to help you they’ll pray for you, brother.”

While it’s not clear what the future holds for Colin Kaepernick, he clearly has one future Hall-of-Famer in his corner. More importantly, he has God in his corner. While I disagreed with his sitting out the national anthem, and would have a hard time getting beyond that to cheer for his team, I support his right to protest and express himself.

Last season, for 16 Sundays, while everyone else was standing for the national anthem, Colin Kaepernick knelt on one knee. I join Ray Lewis in praying for him. But I’ll take it a bit further. My prayer is that a Sunday football game isn’t the only place where Kaepernick takes a knee.

The Rushmore Report: ‘A Friend Among Friends’: Evangelicals Pray Over Trump – Again

A group of evangelical leaders prayed over President Trump in the Oval Office, with Vice President Mike Pence in attendance as well. Following a meeting hosted by the Office of Public Liaison last week, the evangelical leaders met with Trump and other Administration leaders. Johnnie Moore, president of the KAIROS Company, snapped a photo of the men laying their hands on Trump in prayer.

In a statement emailed to The Christian Post, Moore described the event as “a very special moment, but it was also not an unusual one.”

Moore continued, “Various ones of us have prayed with him many times and have been praying for him a long time. We believe we are a praying nation, and we begin by praying for our leaders. As you know, most evangelicals believe it’s a sacred responsibility to pray for the president, and this is very much in our tradition as Americans who once took – and sometimes still do take – this responsibility seriously.”

Moore also noted that while he and other evangelical leaders had prayed for former President Barack Obama, “it’s different with President Trump.” He says, “When we are praying for President Trump we are praying within the context of a real relationship, of true friendship.” Moore called it “a visit among friends.”

When he first declared his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination in 2015, Trump’s relationship with evangelicals was a tenuous one. Many prominent evangelical leaders endorsed other Republican candidates, especially U.S. Senators Marco Rubio of Florida and Ted Cruz of Texas.

However, after securing the Republican nomination and since taking office, Trump’s support among evangelicals has grown and remains steady despite his controversies.

Moore is not the only evangelical leader to see the Trump Administration as offering unprecedented welcome for evangelicals.

Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas, said there has “been no American president in history who has reached out to evangelicals to the extent that Trump has.”

About the Author

Michael Gryboski is a writer for The Christian Post.

The Rushmore Report: How Many People Pray Before Meals?

How many people pray before their meals? Is this old-fashioned practice still done anymore? Outside of the Bible belt and the most devout among us, does anyone really take time to pray before they eat? The Washington Post and Kaiser Family Foundation came together to conduct a national poll. They surveyed rural and urban Americans, Northerners and Southerners, Democrats and Republicans, and Catholics and Protestants.

The poll showed that people from all those groups prayed before meals to at least some degree. Even some Americans who do not believe in organized religion still say grace, the study found.

According to the poll, 48 percent of all Americans say a prayer before meals at least a few times each week. In rural and urban America, 51 percent pray before meals. In the suburbs, 45 percent pray before meals regularly.

Among Republicans, 62 percent pray at least a few times a week, while 43 percent of Democrats say grace a few times a week. Among Independents, the number is 41 percent.

About 60 percent of Protestants pray before meals a few times a week, while 52 percent of Catholics do, according to the poll.

“It’s a powerful way of reminding yourself that you are not self-sufficient, that you are living by somebody’s grace, that plenty of other people who work just as hard as you don’t have anything to eat,” said Tim Keller, the founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City.

About the Author

Amanda Casanova writes for Religion Today.

The Greatest Gift

At the tender age of 20, Solomon was king of Israel. His kingdom was so respected that Pharaoh, the Egyptian monarch, formed an alliance with the new king by giving Solomon his daughter in marriage. Because Solomon understood that his youth and inexperience could topple the kingdom, he cried out to God for help, asking for divine approval and guidance. Solomon was so sincere that he offered 1,000 burnt offerings to God. Then the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream with an incredible offer. “Ask for anything you want.”

What would you have asked for?

As you probably know, Solomon asked for wisdom. Wisdom is the ability to discern and apply what you know. And the foundation for wisdom is Scripture. Samuel Chadwick said it best: “No man is uneducated who knows the Bible, and no one is wise who is ignorant of its teachings.”

Let me ask you again. If God came to you with the same offer – ask for anything you want – how would you respond?

Dark Clouds

There is a really odd verse in the Bible. You may have skipped over it a hundred times. It’s found in 1 Kings, a book you probably have never read with much intent.

“Then spoke Solomon, ‘The Lord spoke from a dark cloud'” (1 Kings 8:12).

I’m all about God speaking through the beauty of nature. I see God in sunrise, sunset, birds chipping, rivers flowing, and snow falling.

But dark clouds?

Here’s the message. When you and I are traversing easy ground, God is there, to be sure. But it is during the storms of life that we need him the most. And he is always there.

Are you going through a storm right now? Are the clouds gathering overhead? When your world gets darkest and the sun is not shining, take heart. The voice of God is about to speak.

C.S. Lewis

One of the most prominent minds of the first half of the twentieth century was philosopher and author C.S. Lewis. As a young man, he met Joy Greshem, a poet. They established a strong friendship that grew into love. They eventually married, then Joy was diagnosed with cancer. After a hard battle, she died. But there were many ups and downs along the way.

During a period when Joy was responding well to treatment, a colleague of Lewis’s approached him with words of praise. “I know how hard you’ve prayed. God is answering your prayers,” he said.

Lewis replied, “I didn’t pray for that. I prayed because I can’t help myself. The power of prayer isn’t that it changes my circumstances, but that it changes my heart.”

Most of us practice what I call “outcome prayers.” We pray in order for God to change an outcome. But real spiritual maturity is marked by the man or woman who prays in order to get in touch with the Father out of a desire to change their heart.

Joy still died. But C.S. Lewis went on to change the world. But before he changed the world, God changed his heart.

Inauguration Day – A Christian Response

Today is the day. Donald J. Trump will be inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States. Whether you supported Trump’s run for the White House or spiraled into major depression with his win on November 8, he is about to be your president. The question is how we, as believers, should respond on this historic day.

One of America’s most prominent ministers has weighed in with great wisdom. Dr. David Jeremiah, the senior pastor at Shadow Mountain Community Church, says he believes the 2016 election has been a “moment in history when God has reminded us that our ultimate citizenship is indeed in heaven, and not on earth.”

Rather than placing focus and inherent trust in fellow men, Jeremiah said he’d like to encourage Christians to look to God, asking for prayer for Trump and his administration, and expressing hope that God will have mercy on the United States.

“We pray that God might have mercy on our nation and that our leaders might know and fear Him, for as the Scriptures say, blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,” he said. “This is a time when we must hold fast to our calling to be good citizens.”

So how can we be “good citizens” on this historic day? I suggest we can do three things.

1. Pray – I learned a long time ago, I should never criticize a man for whom I have not first prayed. Pray for President Trump’s wisdom, inner circle, and total reliance on God.

2. Serve – Do your part. Do random acts of kindness. Make a difference in your own way. You don’t have to hold elective office in order to change your world.

3. Lead – Lead by example. Someone is watching you. While others are either blindly cheering our new president or outwardly hoping for his demise, stay on track. Let others see the grace and love of God in you. Jesus said, “They will know we are Christians by our love.”

The Rushmore Report: Pray for Our New President

Dear friend, God is never surprised. The election of Donald Trump shocked the pundits and Washington elite and even surprised some of the candidate’s own voters – but it is God who cleared the way for him, whether he fully realizes that or not. That’s because, whichever person had been elected, the rise and fall of a nation’s leaders happens under the sovereignty of God, who is often working in larger ways and with a longer perspective than we can know. The Bible says, “Wisdom and might are his. And he changes the times and the seasons; he removes kings and raises up kings” (Daniel 2:20-21).

No one should think that electing Donald Trump will fix our country. America is still a sin-saturated and divided nation, and Trump himself is a leader with human flaws. Elections matter, and this one will have lasting consequences, but only God can heal and restore a nation – and that comes through committed, faithful prayer.

When the people of Israel asked for a king after centuries without one, God gave them one. But the Prophet Samuel reminded the people that ultimately they did not choose their national leaders: “Take note, the Lord has set a king over you” (1 Samuel 12:13). The new king was inexperienced in governing, and God made no promise that things would automatically turn out well for either the new king or the nation. Instead, Samuel presented the people with God’s pathway to success, placing responsibility on both the people and their leader.

Samuel made this commitment to the new king. “As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you” (1 Samuel 12:23). Will you make that same commitment to pray for our new president?

About the Author

Franklin Graham is President of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan’s Purse.