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The Rushmore Report – How God Is Using Louie Giglio to Change the World

Louie Giglio is one of the great Christian communicators in America today. I was honored to be with him in Houston a few years ago when he spoke at HBU, my alma mater. He’s the real deal. And God is using him to change the world. It all goes back to his days in graduate school at Baylor University. He became frustrated when he watched dozens of high school students to whom he had ministered walk away from their faith when they hit college.

“I saw the students who had been in our student ministry arrive at Baylor (a Baptist school) and check their faith on day two,” Giglio said in a recent Essential Church podcast.

The pastor of Atlanta’s Passion City Church said, “You have free choice and free will; every option is on the table and whatever your base beliefs are, they are probably assailed every single day in the classroom. It’s a crossroad of life. It’s the moment where people stop deciding what their parents believe and start deciding what they believe, and that’s where you want to be standing, not with the message of the church, but with the person of Jesus.”

Giglio did something about it. He started Passion.

“When we started Passion, kids didn’t have the opportunity to interact with the world every single second of the day,” he explained. “Now, young people are gaming with people from overseas, instagramming or facetiming with friends across the country and constantly connected to newsfeeds.”

It has been over 20 years since God gave Giglio what he calls a “radical vision” during “one of the most confusing, disappointing, and frustrating seasons in my life.”

That vision led him to launch the now popular Passion movement. It’s main goal is to see university students come to a relationship with Jesus.

And millions of young people have been impacted by it since the first gathering in 1997.

Initially, Giglio did not plan on continuing the Passion gatherings after the fourth year, when 40,000 college students got on their knees at what he felt was “the holiest thing I’ve ever been at to this day.”

Giglio says, “I thought that was the end. We wanted to be a fuse. We didn’t want to build a movement. We wanted to see an explosion.”

It wasn’t until a few years later that Giglio resumed the large gatherings and he says he is amazed that God still has him leading the movement.

The huge gatherings have not interfered with Giglio’s church. Passion City Church, which began in 2009, now has two locations in Atlanta and one in Washington, D.C.

Giglio continues to pray for the church in America to wake up and get back to the church of Acts 2, when, as he says, “the Spirit came, the Gospel was proclaimed, faith and repentance exploded, and 3,000 people were baptized in one day.”

The Revival at Howard Payne

On January 22, 1995, at Coggin Avenue Baptist Church in Brownwood, Texas, two students from Howard Payne University, stood up and confessed their sins. As a result of this incident, many others started to confess their sins before the church. On January 26, a similar event took place on the campus of Howard Payne, a Baptist institution. Word quickly spread to other colleges, and Howard Payne students were soon being invited to share their stories, and similar revivals broke out. From these schools, more students were invited to still other schools, where the movement of God continued to spread.

One of the first two students to confess his sins was a young man named Chris. As he testified about his own life and the spiritual condition of his classmates, “People just started streaming down the aisles” to pray, confess their sins, and restore seemingly doomed relationships,” according to John Avant, pastor of Coggin Avenue. From this time forward, the church  began holding three and a half hour services. Avant said, “This is not something we’re trying to manufacture. It’s the most wonderful thing we’ve ever experienced.”

The events at Coggin Avenue were preceded by about seven weeks of increased prayer. According to Avant, “God is shaking us – something no person could do. God began doing some things in very isolated ways. He transformed the life of a prominent man in the community who was considering suicide, and couples who were within days of divorce were walking the church aisle to seek God’s forgiveness at the altar.” The pastor said that after the events of January 22, the motto among several high school students had become, “God’s going to rock the world, and it’s starting in Brownwood.” They said, “Southern Baptists, Nazarenes, Pentecostals, Independent Baptists, and Presbyterians are getting together just to kneel and pray for revival.”

At Howard Payne, revival broke out during a January 26 “celebration” service, as students praised God in song and shared their testimonies. Students then started to schedule all-night prayer meetings in dormitories. Then, things really got interesting, February 13-15, during five meetings at Howard Payne. A Southern Baptist revival leader preached a series of five worship services, attended by guests who came from as far away as 200 miles. On Tuesday, February 14, more than 600 attended, and student leaders went up to the platform to confess their sins publicly. About 200 stayed after the service to continue praying. Andrea was one of the students there. She reported, “Once we saw the Holy Spirit move, we didn’t want to leave.”

After Howard Payne, some of the first schools to be affected were Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, Olivet Nazarene University in Kankakee, Illinois, Criswell College in Dallas, and Moorehead State University in Kentucky. In each case, students went forward during long services to publicly repent of pride, lust, bondage to materialism, bitterness, and racism.

Like the Great Awakenings, the revival of Brownwood has long since faded. Evangelist Billy Sunday used to say, “Revivals are like baths. They don’t last.” That may be true, but that doesn’t mean we stop taking baths. Today, all over the country, there are hundreds, perhaps thousands of adults ministering in churches, schools, banks, and civic clubs, whose lives were changes in 1995. So, in retrospect, the revival really hasn’t faded. Perhaps you are the product of a revival. Have you been the one to walk the aisle in a church someplace, to confess your sins and receive the grace of Christ?

God did an amazing, unplanned thing 20 years ago. It started in a small church and on a college campus. I have been in that church and I have preached on that campus. I celebrate what God did then. And I celebrate that fact that what God did in Brownwood in 1995, he can do in your town today. You don’t need an evangelist, choir, or committee. You need two people who are willing to confess their sins. Then all heaven will break out. What God did at Howard Payne he can do in you.

Revival

Three churches worked together to sponsor a community-wide revival. It was a rare demonstration of cooperation for the Baptists, Methodists, and Presbyterians. When the revival was over, the three pastors got together to evaluate the revival’s success. The Methodist minister was pleased. “We gained four families,” he said.

The Baptist preacher chimed in. “We did even better than that! We gained six new families!”

Reluctantly, the Presbyterian said, “This was the best revival our church has ever had. We got rid of the ten families who were our biggest trouble-makers!”

I once had a denominational leader ask if our church would start a new church.

“What do you want from us?” I asked.

He said, “We need families to leave your church to be a part of the new congregation. How many families are you willing to send us?”

I responded, “It depends. If you pick the families, I’ll give you five. But if I get to pick which families leave, I’ll give you 15.”

Or course, real revival isn’t about numbers of people joining a church.  But when revival comes to your life, you will never be the inspiration for a column like this!

Can Trump Presidency Fuel a National Revival?

The capacity for a new political leader to usher in a national revival has been a subject of debate across generations. With a culture saturated with relativism, the slippery slope of spiritual and moral collapse is a ship long since sailed. Turning Ship America back to her Captain will be no easier than turning the Titanic away from the iceberg. And we know how that turned out.

But we know God can bring revival. The question is how. Can political change bring moral and spiritual change? Can the new Donald Trump be the old Artaxerxes, a man of little faith, used by God to do big things?

Let’s consider the experiment of 1916 – an election of 100 years ago. The contestants were Woodrow Wilson and Charles Evans Hughes. America’s moral decline and propensity for public drunkenness were at stake. A vote for Wilson was a vote for everything pure. And the “pure” vote won.

President Wilson signed into law prohibition, bringing an end, once and for all, to the social enemy of the day. The movement had been led by rural Protestants and social Progressives. The Women’s Christian Temperance Union and Anti-Saloon League celebrated with raised Bibles in their hands. The 18th Amendment was the nail that sealed the coffin – alcohol in America was dead.

Except it wasn’t. Political strategies, though well-intended, did not bring national revival 100 years ago. Do they ever?

Billy Graham says no. During a 1952 taping of Hour of Decision, Graham said, “I’m absolutely convinced that no matter who’s elected, America is not going to be saved unless we have a moral and spiritual revival. No nation has ever improved morally without revival.”

Can revival come to America? Absolutely. But it won’t happen because Donald Trump is President; it will happen because Jesus Christ is King. If revival sweeps our land, it will not begin in the White House, but in God’s House – and only if we as believers get really desperate.

Sadly, we aren’t there yet.

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.

John Livingston

Let me tell you the story of a common man named John Livingston. It is the story of what happens when God’s sovereignty and man’s willingess to be used come together. It happened on June 30, 1630.

An unusual communion service was held at the Kirk of Shotts in Scotland. Well known ministers from all over the area were invited to assist in the service. The number of worshipers gathered was so large that the service had to be moved outdoors. The ministers had chosen one of their own to deliver the sermon, but when he became too ill to preach, 27-year-old John Livingston was asked to replace him.

Livingston was not yet ordained, nor did he have his own congregation. He was so intimidated about speaking to such an august gathering that he thought seriously about fleeing the responsibility. Finally, he resolved to preach from Ezekiel 36:25-26.

As he delivered his message, rain began to fall. Yet, Livingston continued. Suddenly there was an outpouring of the Holy Spirit and people were overcome by the weight of their sin. Over 500 people were converted that day.

What God did then, He can still do today.

Response to Last Night’s Debate

President Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting.” In exactly 29 days the American people will vote. And the recent controversies swirling around Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, coupled with last night’s debate will go a long way in determining the winner of that vote.

I will not respond to last night’s debate here. This week’s Rushmore Report, which will be out Thursday, will cover the debate and much more. My purpose here is to take a broader view.

Anyone who heard the recently released tapes of Donald Trump’s disparaging remarks about women was either sickened by his comments or is without conscience. His supporters respond that Bill Clinton did worse, and that he is only guilty of misguided locker-room banter. So what we have is a divided nation – divided even further.

One wonders what our first president would think if he were with us today. George Washington spoke of the early Republic: “Observe good faith and justice toward all nations. Cultivate peace and harmony with all.”

Read that second line again. “Cultivate peace and harmony with all.” What this sad election has taken from all Americans is “peace and harmony with all.” And sadly, most will look for political answers to questions that are not political.

I’ll say it, at the risk of being called a simpleton. We as believers in Jesus Christ must pray. And we must learn to love, forgive, and embrace what we share in common, while seeking God more than his blessings, purity over prosperity, service over success, and goodness over gain.

In 1952, President Harry Truman signed a bill into law, initiating the National Day of Prayer, which is held the first Thursday of each May. I suggest we can’t wait that long. May we pray for our great country today. And then may we be the answers to our prayers . . . “cultivating peace and harmony with all.”

Roosevelt was right. We all must vote. And someone will win while another loses. But I suggest that what happens on November 8 will matter less than what happens on November 9. That is the day Christians will have their greatest opportunity – an opportunity to “cultivate peace and harmony with all.”

The Rushmore Report: Why a Clinton Landslide Could Be a Gift from God

Recent polls have Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump by roughly 5-10 percent. This has many evangelicals conducting a google search for the nearest cliff from which to jump should she win the White House. By huge margins, Christ-following, Bible-believing citizens who want to protect the unborn, reduce the national debt, and see a return to traditional values, are rejecting Clinton’s message. Yet, I suggest a Clinton win could be a gift from God, the best thing we as Christians could possibly hope for. Here’s why . . .

First, let’s go with the assumption that the following positions are the right, most “Christian” and “patriotic” positions to hold: pro-life, strong national defense, reduced government spending, protected gun rights, reduced national debt, and new ideas for the war on poverty. If you take those positions, clearly, you are unlikely to vote for Hillary Clinton. And if you are among the roughly 80 percent of evangelicals who say they won’t vote for Clinton, you are likely praying for her loss and rallying behind anything that has a hint of Reaganism.

Yet, I would contend that a Clinton win may be exactly what this country, especially evangelicals, need. The reason is quite simple.

The answer to America’s problems is not political.

That’s it. The fruit of our problem is the slaughter of 15 million babies (abortion), a ridiculous national debt, and inner cities that are less safe than Afghanistan’s war zones. (More Americans have been killed in Chicago in 2016 than in Afghanistan since Obama became president.) But again, that is the fruit of the problem. And God did not tell us to run around whining about the fruit.

It’s the root, not the fruit!

America didn’t wake up one day and decide to take prayer out of schools (1963) or to legalize abortion on demand (1973). The decline of morality didn’t just happen. Those are all symptoms, not problems.

It’s the root, not the fruit!

Here’s what I have observed in my 42 years as a Christian. Christ-followers are not racist, they don’t kill people, they are kind and generous, they are generally pro-life (saying you are pro-life but support a woman’s right to an abortion is a cop out, by the way), they support biblical principles such as reduced debt and protecting the homeland. So what am I saying?

It’s the root, not the fruit!

Read the Book of Acts. The savages that were the government of that day banned church buildings, stole money from the Christians, and even put them to death. So what did the church do in response? The church exploded! How did this happen? It’s simple.

The Church of Acts gave up on the federal government.

The church decided, “It’s too late for a political solution. Rome will never become a Christian nation. They will never support what we believe. No election will EVER change the situation.” And then, only after the early church gave up on political solutions, did this happen . . .

The church turned the world upside down. Non-believers said it first. “These are the men who have turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6). Notice, that was in Acts 17, not Acts 2. In Acts 1-2, the church came together, they sang and prayed and preached and baptized. But the Bible never said “they turned the world upside down.” And then persecution hit, and it hit hard. The church was forced to scatter, to meet in homes, and lose its centralized government. They no longer had denominational headquarters.

And they changed the world.

I suggest that if the emperor of Rome had joined their movement, if the Christian church had been sanctioned, and free church buildings were put up on every corner, Christianity would have died. We wouldn’t be here today, the result of the mission movement that spread west from Jerusalem.

The early church didn’t prosper despite persecution, but because of it.

Let’s assume a Clinton election will send the country further off the cliff. Let’s assume debt will continue to spiral out of control, the second amendment will be under attack, and the military will be weakened. Let’s assume the worst. Let’s assume a Clinton Administration would be as horrible as many evangelical leaders are telling us it will be. What will Christians do then?

Christians will be driven to do what they should have been doing all along.

In the event of this political Armageddon, believers will give up on politics and do what they should have already been doing. They will recognize the problem with man is not his brain, but his heart. And they will – hopefully – return to the tenets of Scripture that teach that true revival, true hope, only comes when those who are following God repent of their sins, forsake their wicked ways, and pray to their God (2 Chronicles 7:14).

America will not be a better place because she elects the right President. She will only be a better place because she returns to the right God. If Clinton win, evangelicals might finally give up on politics to solve the root of the problem. They may actually return to God as The Solution.

If that happens, a Clinton landslide might be a gift from God.

The Rushmore Report: Is America Beyond God’s Reach? Anne Graham Lotz Says No

The daughter of famed evangelist Billy Graham, Anne Graham Lotz, says that even though the United States is facing God’s judgment, the country has not yet passed the “point of no return” and can still turn back to God in hopes of being spared the full wrath of his judgment. The 68-year-old Lotz, who is the founder of AnGeL Ministries and author of the new book The Daniel Prayer: Prayer That Moves Heaven and Changes Nations, was a guest on Point of View.

The show hosted by Kerby Anderson featured Lotz and her positions on America and her standing before God. As Lotz has argued in the past that America is in the “last stage of this downward spiral into the abyss of God’s judgment,” she agreed with Anderson when he suggested that there seems to be more of a concentrated effort to rally people in prayer and asked if America seems to be “praying more as a nation.”

“Prayer is something that is becoming more frequent and more intense,” Lotz said. “The encouraging thing is that I don’t think God would be stirring us up to pray like that if he didn’t want to answer those prayers. So, it reveals to me that I don’t think we have quite passed the point of no return.”

Lotz stressed that Romans 1 shows that if a nation refuses to repent of its sins and immorality, God will keep backing further away until he eventually takes his hand of blessing off a nation.

Although Lotz has labeled America’s embrace of LGBT rights and abortion as “national sins” that are causing God to back away from America, she doesn’t believe it is too late for America to repent and pray for forgiveness.

“If we still refuse to repent, then God just takes his hands off and leaves us to ourselves and leaves us to our own devices, which I feel like is where we are at right now in America,” Lotz said while explaining the stages of Romans 1 judgment. “But, we are not too far gone that I think right now, we can cry out and return to him. And Joel 2 says he will return to us.”

“Because he is stirring so many people to prayer, you know it’s because he wants to answer,” Lotz continued. “Maybe he would delay his judgment. Maybe we could avoid the judgment. Maybe he would stay his hand and leave behind the blessing, as Joel 2 says – There is a breath of the Spirit across our nation calling God’s people to prayer.”

Lotz went on to reason that God lets people have problems “because they move us to prayer. If we didn’t have problems, we would just begin to think that we can handle things ourselves. And Daniel’s problem that he was facing, of course, was that his people had come under God’s judgment. They were separated from God. They were not in a place of God’s blessing. They were being held captive by the enemy.”

But what helped Daniel and his people escape from captivity was Daniel’s covenant with God and his prayers for forgiveness, Lotz explained. She added that Daniel read a promise in Jeremiah that he would be freed after 70 years and called on the Lord to uphold that promise.

“Daniel took that promise that he saw in God’s Word and he applied it to the problems that his people were facing, and he did what Eugene Peterson calls ‘reversed the thunder.’ He took the promise and he prayed it back to God,” Lotz explained. “It makes a big difference when we say ‘God, you said if we would pray, seek your face, turn from our wicked ways, you would hear our prayer, forgive our sin and heal our land.’ So we hold God to his Word. When we base our prayers on God’s promise of his Word, it gives us strength and power to do it. It is different than when we just tell him what we want or what we hope or wish for. Reverse the thunder and that is what Daniel did and it worked.”

Lotz stated that terrorist attacks like the one in Orlando and the troubling political situation in America are proof of the nation’s dire need for prayer.

“We are in such deep, deep trouble,” Lotz said. “The problems that we are facing should compel us to pray. I think after prayer, he can move us to action in some ways. First of all, the first thing we need to do is hit our knees and pray and hold God to his Word.”

About the Author

Samuel Smith is a contributor to The Christian Post and frequent blogger on issues of spirituality and national revival. Follow him on Twitter: @lamSamSmith.

The Rushmore Report: Kansas Post Office Removes “God Bless America”

Pittsburg, Kansas is America. My mother is from there; our family used to spend a couple of weeks there every summer. More than most places, in Pittsburg residents love God, know their neighbors, and go to church. It’s the kind of town where people still leave their doors unlocked at night. It’s the kind of place that puts up a “God Bless America” banner at the local Post Office. And now it is the kind of place that takes that banner down.

The Joplin Globe reports the post office removed the banner after the Wisconsin – based Freedom From Religion Foundation filed complaints. With more than 22,500 members, the foundation has also been busy trying to get Missouri sheriffs to remove “In God We Trust” bumper stickers from department vehicles and “In God We Trust” from U.S. coins and currency.

Pittsburg postal workers paid for the 12-foot-long vinyl banner after the 2001 terrorist attacks. A spokeswoman for the U.S. Post Office says the postal service took the banner down because policy prohibits the placement of notices on postal property unless they’re official government notices.

But local residents have responded like I thought they might. Martin Dickson said, “It’s a shame that 23,000 people can control the desires of millions of other Americans. I recognize the separation and the reason for it. But I also realize that we need God’s blessing more now than ever.” Dickson, owner of Jayhawk Signs & Graphics, has responded by cutting prices on making “God Bless America” banners for residents to purchase for home use. Resident Stephen Hipfl bought a banner to put up at his house. “We’re Americans,” he said. “We’re soldiers.”

The next time you find yourself in southeast Kansas, drop by the wonderful town of Pittsburg. Check out Lincoln Park and the huge swimming pool there, where my brother and I used to hang out so many years ago. And while you’re there, look for the “God Bless America” banners. They aren’t hard to find – they’re everywhere.