Texas v. White

This was a landmark decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in 1869, that decreed by law what the Union’s victory in the Civil War had established by force; namely, that the United States is an indestructible union from which no state can secede. In 1850 the State of Texas had received $10 million in federal bonds in settlement of boundary claims. In 1862 these bonds, which lacked the necessary signature of the Governor, were transferred to pay for Confederate supplies. At the war’s end, Texas brought a suit in the Supreme Court, to recover the bonds.

The defendants claimed that because Texas had seceded from the Union, it could not sue. The court upheld the right of Texas to sue and recover the bonds. The ruling stated, “The unsuccessful effort of Texas to secede may temporarily have lost the state the privileges of membership in the Union, but not membership itself.”

Now, what is the point of this history lesson? The Bible says believers are “adopted” into God’s family. Even if they wanted to “secede,” they could not. Our membership in God’s Union is secure.

Make no mistake. Saved people act differently than those who are unsaved. But their relationship with the Father is secure.

Flotation Device

On my flight from Tampa to Dallas the other day, I had forgotten to put my tray table up in its “upright and locked position.” The flight attendant gave me “the look.” I left my phone on as the plane was approaching Love Field. The pilot spoke over the speaker, “Turn off your electronic devices.” It felt like he was speaking just to me.

My immediate thought was, “Is my tray table really going to bring this plane down if I don’t lock it into place? And will my iPhone really throw off the million-dollar computer on this aircraft?” One day, out of sheer curiosity, I think I’ll throw caution to the wind and leave the tray table up and maybe even leave my phone on, just to see what happens.

But what the flight attendant said just before take-off was the most troubling thing I’ve heard in awhile. Pointing to the sides of the plane, she instructed, “The white lights lead to the red lights that lead to the exit doors.” Now, I’m thinking, “Why do we need exit doors at 30,000 feet?” But she wasn’t through. The flight attendant then told us our seat cushions doubled as “flotation devices.” Now I was really worried. If my plane dove into the Gulf of Mexico from 30,000 feet, at 300 mph, if I’m remembering my physics class from the 12th grade (and I took it twice), this will not be a smooth landing. It’s hard to imagine a scenario in which my seat cushion will save me.

At least the plane had a “black box.” You know what that is. It’s the thing they retrieve after the crash. It tells them how the tray table, cell phone, exit doors, and seat cushion all went in together to bring the plane down. The black box will be the sole survivor of such a crash.

So here’s my question. Why don’t they just make the entire plane out of the same material they use to make the black box? Until they do, I’m avoiding the exit signs, keeping my tray table up, disarming my cell phone, and holding onto my “flotation device.”

Wouldn’t it be easier if they just gave us all a parachute?

That’s what God did. He understood that in life, sometimes we crash. And nothing can save us when our plane starts to go down. So he provided a parachute in the person of his son, Jesus Christ. In life, there are no guarantees of a gentle take-off, a smooth flight, or a soft landing. But we know that even if our plane goes down, we don’t have to go down with it.

Feeding the Dead

I have a friend who used to be a nutritionist at a hospital. Ashley’s job was to tell patients what to eat. One day, she walked into a room, ready to feed the patient. There was just one small problem. When Ashley approached the patient, she noticed that he was dead.

The man had died four hours earlier. Her assignment was to feed the man, but she made an executive decision. Ashley decided that it really wouldn’t be worth the trouble. Dead people don’t need food, they need life.

One day, an old man was wondering if his wife had a hearing problem. He was standing behind her while she was sitting in her chair. He asked her, “Honey, can you hear me?”

There was no response. He moved closer and repeated the question, “Honey, can you hear me?” When there was still no response, he asked her again.

His wife replied, “For the third time, yes!”

We all need to hear God’s voice. We all need to be spiritually fed. But unfortunately, some of us have had our ears clogged by the things of this world. Or worse yet, we are spiritually dead. We don’t need food; we need a resurrection.


The Rushmore Report – Rick Warren: ‘You Don’t Have to Forget’

You’ve heard this phrase over and over: “Forgive and forget.” There’s only one problem: You can’t do it. It’s impossible! You really can’t forget a hurt in your life. In fact, you can’t even try to forget it. Because when you’re trying to forget it, you are actually focusing on the very thing you want to forget. Forgetting is not what God wants you to do. Instead, he wants you to trust him and see how he can bring good out of it. That’s more important than forgetting, because then you can thank God for the good that he brought out of it. You can’t thank God for things you forget.

Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

It doesn’t say that all things are good, because not all things are good. Cancer is not good. Disease is not good. Death is not good. Divorce is not good. War is not good. Rape and abuse are not good. A lot of things in life are evil. These are the realities of living in a world that has been contaminated by sin.

But God says he will work good out of the bad things in life if you will trust him. When you come to him and say, “God, I give you all the pieces of me life,” he will return peace for your pieces. His peace in your heart comes from realizing that even if you don’t understand the hurt in your life, you can still forgive, knowing that God will use that pain for good.

You don’t have to forget the wrong thing that someone did to you. You couldn’t do it even if you tried! But God says you don’t have to forget it. You just have to forgive and then see how he will bring good out of it.

About the Author

Rick Warren is senior pastor of Saddleback Church and author of The Purpose Driven Life.

Miracle at Niagara Falls

On July 9, 1960, Jim Honeycutt took his co-worker’s children for a boat ride on the upper Niagara River. Jim wanted to give the two kids, 17-year-old Deanne Woodward and her seven-year-old brother Roger, a great view of the rapids, so he took their boat past the marked “point of no return.” Soon, he was being quickly swept downstream, and his efforts to turn back were useless. The boat flipped, and Jim and Roger were rushed toward the brink of the Falls, while Deanne was rescued by John R. Hayes, a New Jersey police officer, who leaned over the protective railing and pulled her out of the water.

Mr. Honeycutt and the young boy fought with all their might, but were no match for the three thousand tons of water that crash over the Horseshoe Falls each second. Predictably, Honeycutt plunged to his death. But Roger, unable to swim, was spotted by Clifford Keech, Captain of the Maid of the Mist sightseeing boat, who saw his orange life jacket popping up within the white water. Keech threw the boy a life preserver, and Roger Woodward became the first survivor to go over Niagara Falls.

In 1990, Roger Woodward returned to Niagara Falls, Ontario, on the thirtieth anniversary of the event. He shared his story with the Glengate Alliance Church, telling of the panic that gripped his heart as he was thrust into the rushing waters. “I was scared to death. I can remember going through the rapids and being thrown into the water and being beaten up pretty badly. My panic shifted to anger as I saw people up and down the shoreline and wondered why they wouldn’t come out and rescue me.” How did the seven-year-old boy survive? “It wasn’t the hand of fate,” he says. “It wasn’t the hand of luck. It was the hand of God that saved my life that day and saved my sister so that we could one day come to know Him.”

Last week, Beth and I visited Niagara Falls. We rode the Maid of the Mist boat and observed the very spot young Roger went over the Falls. Indeed, it was the hand of God that saved him. While there were great numbers of tourists on either side of the Falls that historic day 55 years ago, God did for Roger what no person could possibly do. I’m sure many of them were well-intentioned. But none of them were a match for the raging Falls of Niagara. The boy himself did not know how to swim. All he knew how to do was take the life preserver that was thrown in his direction. That was a decision he had to make for himself.

Each of us were headed toward the inevitable falls. Our efforts could not save us, our friends could not reach us, and our works could not help us. The words of the Psalmist come to mind: “He lifted me out of the slimy pit . . . he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand” (Psalm 40:2). The miracle of Niagara Falls can be your miracle. The Captain has provided your life preserver in his Son, Jesus Christ. There is no more work to be done, but there is a decision to be made. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). Like Roger Woodward, you have been preserved for a moment like this. It isn’t the hand of fate. It’s not the hand of luck. It is the hand of God that is reaching out to you today.

FBI Debuts Ten Most Wanted – This Day in 1949

On this day in 1949 the Federal Bureau of Investigation instituted the “Ten Most Wanted Fugitives” list in an effort to publicize particularly dangerous fugitives. The creation of the program arose out of a wire service news story about the “toughest guys” the FBI wanted to capture. The story drew so much public attention that the “Ten Most Wanted” list was given the okay by J. Edgar Hoover the following year. To date, nearly 500 of the criminals on the list have been apprehended or located, 153 as a result of tips from the public. The Criminal Investigative Division (CID) of the FBI asks all 56 field offices to submit candidates for inclusion on the list. The CID in association with the Office of Public and Congressional Affairs then proposes finalists for approval by the FBI’s Deputy Director.

I did the math. The FBI, with its $8.3 billion annual budget and 30,000 employees, has managed to apprehend eight criminals off the “Ten Most Wanted” list per year. That comes to $1 billion and 3,700 personnel for every capture. Admittedly, the FBI probably does more than chase down the “Top Ten” guys. But when I did the math, I sent an email to James Comey, current FBI Director. I offered to find one man off the list for $900 million. So far – no response.

We spend an incredible amount of time, talent, and treasure tracking down the men on our “Most Wanted” list. God has a similar list. Your name is on it. Would God spend $1 billion and 3,700 angels to apprehend you? No – he spent so much more. He gave his son who shed his blood. To have spent $1 billion would have meant getting off easy for God. So he went all in. Why? Because you are on his “Most Wanted” list. He will not rest until he finds you.

The $180,000 Car that Won’t Start

They only made 503 of them. This particular 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona cost $3,993 new. The second owner, an Alabama man, bought it for $1,800 in 1974 and painted a set of flames on the front fenders for a spring bread trip to Panama City. He drove it sparingly until 2011, until he was in a wreck. The car was then put under an open shed, where it has deteriorated and rusted ever since. Today the car is worth about $180,000.

The red coupe has just 20,553 miles on its numbers-matching 440 Magnum V8, and features the rare combination of bucket seats and a console-mounted 3-speed automatic transmission. Despite its poor condition, the car will pass the auction block in Kissimmee, Florida next month at the Mecum Auction. It is expected to draw between $150,000 and $180,000. Not bad for an investment of $1,800.

The psalmist asked, “What is man, that Thou art mindful of him?” (Psalm 8:4). Max Lucado writes, in his daily devotional, “God sees us with the eyes of a Father. He sees our defects, errors, and blemishes. But He also sees our value. What did Jesus know that enabled Him to do what He did? Here’s part of the answer: He knew the value of people. He knew that each human being is a treasure. And because He did, people were not a source of stress, but a source of joy.”

The Environmental Protection Agency has calculated the value of a human life at $9.1 million. The Food and Drug Administration’s current estimate is $7.9 million. The Transportation Department puts the number at $6 million. A lung alone can bring $100,000.

But when you break it down on the periodic table, we aren’t worth so much. A corpse’s raw resources are worth about a dollar. Once the water is drained from the body, there are trace amounts of sulfur, which is the most valuable element in the human body.

So according to one perspective, man is worth $1. Other estimates take man to over $9 million. God puts the value much higher than either. When King David asked the question, “What is man that Thou art mindful of Him?” he said what most of us were thinking. What is there about me that brings value to God? Do I have value in the eyes of God? Paul said, “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). On our worst day, we were of such great value that God would sacrifice his only Son for us.

Lucado nails it. God sees each human being as a treasure. And because He does, people are not a source of stress, but a source of joy. The 1969 Daytona finds its value, not in its condition or how well it runs. It was created unlike most other cars. With its deteriorated condition and rusted out body, its value is not diminished; in fact, it has gone up. I have more miles on me than at any other point in my life. Every morning, it takes a few more seconds to knock off the rust so I can get out of bed. I don’t look new and I don’t drive new. Sometimes, my engine won’t start. But the One who made me still sees value in me. On my worst day, to God I am not a source of stress, but a source of joy.

The Rushmore Report – A Dying Pastor’s Final Wish Come True

Shane Hall was the beloved pastor of First Southern Baptist Church of Oklahoma City. For three and a half years, the 46-year-old battled stomach cancer. Friday, the battle ended, as he went to be with the Lord. Knowing all medical options had been exhausted, Hall knew his fate. He had one dying wish. And that wish came true.

Hall’s final desire was to see his youngest daughter, Mallory, come to faith in Christ before he died. Here is the timeline of the pastor’s final days.

On Wednesday, February 7, Mallory trusted Christ as her personal Savior. Two days later, on February 9, Misti, Shane’s wife, announced that all medical options to save Shane’s life were exhausted, and they were now focused on pain management until his death. Then, on Sunday, February 11, Pastor Hall baptized his young daughter. On February 16, Misti posted, “Tonight he is worshiping with Jesus.”

The last person Hall would baptize would be his daughter.

The funeral service for Shane will be today in Oklahoma City. This week, Misti posted, “We continue to see God’s sustaining grace in all of this. Shane said he just wanted to baptize Mallory. So, for him to say that and then to see it within two or three weeks was just a precious gift to him. I felt like, that’s what kept him here for awhile, his wanting to fulfill that desire to see her come to know the Lord.”

Frank Page, President and CEO of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, prayed with Hall many times in his final weeks. “When I heard about Shane’s miraculous efforts in helping to baptize his daughter, I wept,” he said. “It spoke of a father’s love. It spoke of a pastor’s determination. God bless his wonderful family.”


Congress Enacts Slave Law – This Day in 1793

On February 12, 1793, Congress passed the first fugitive slave law, requiring all states, including those that did not allow for slavery, to forcibly return slaves who had escaped from other states to their original owners. The law stated that “no person held to service of labor in one state, under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labor, but shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such service or labor may be due.”

Several Northern states enacted measures prohibiting state officials from aiding in the capture of runaway slaves or from jailing the fugitives. This disregard of the first fugitive slave law enraged Southern states and led to the passage of a second fugitive slave law as part of the Compromise of 1850 between the North and South. The second fugitive slave law called for the return of slaves “on pain of heavy penalty” but permitted a jury trial under the condition that fugitives be prohibited from testifying in their own defense. Notable fugitive slave trials, such as the Dred Scott case of 1857, stirred up public opinion on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line.

The Bible says we are slaves to sin (Romans 6:20). But someone came to set us free. His name was Jesus. And Scripture proclaims that those who are free from sin are “free indeed” (John 8:36). But an odd thing happened in the old slave days. Some of them returned to their former owners and acted as if they had never been set free.

One day a man captured a monkey. To make sure he never left him, he tied a rope around his neck and attached it to a tree, allowing the monkey the freedom to roam about 100 feet in any direction from the tree. After a few months, he noticed the monkey was no longer even trying to break free, so the man removed the rope. For the rest of the monkey’s life, he stayed within 100 feet of the tree.

The monkey was free, but lived like a slave. If you have trusted Christ as your Savior, you have been released from your sin and your past. You are no longer a slave. You are free – free to enjoy life, live for God, and be victorious in every way. You are no longer a slave. It’s time to act like it!

Lost Cat Found 1,400 Miles Away

It takes about 22 hours to travel from Wisconsin to Florida – unless you’re a cat. In that case, the 1,484-mile journey takes more like two months. At least that’s how long it took Nadia to get from her snowy home in Wisconsin to sunny Florida. The Naples Daily News reports that Cheri Stocker adopted the cat nine months ago in Wisconsin. On Christmas Eve, the cat escaped.

A woman in Naples, Florida found the kitty last week. Workers at an animal shelter found the cat’s microchip and, through a pet relocation service, got ahold of Stocker’s sister, who had been listed as an emergency contact. Now, the cat has been returned to her owner.

This is a parable on life. Let me count the ways.

1. We all have lost our way. The Bible says, “All we like cats have gone astray” (2 Barnicles 7:14). Ok, I made that up. But people are like cats. We are independent thinkers who like to do life our own way. That’s why, out of the top 100 businessmen in America, not one owns a cat. You don’t “own” a cat. Jay Leno said he came home one day and “found my cat ignoring the neighbor.” He told his cat, “Hey, I’m your owner. You’re supposed to ignore me!” Most of us have gotten really good at ignoring our Owner.

2. We follow who feeds us. Put food down for a stray cat and he is no longer a stray. He’s now yours. They follow their stomachs. Where they find food, shade, and comfort, they go. We are like that. We bow to the god of pleasure. Whatever feeds us for the moment becomes our friend.

3. Rarely is the return permanent. I’m sure Nadia was happy to be back home. And she will stay at home – until the urge hits her again. We say we will never sin again, but we do. We say we are done with our cheatin’ ways right up until the moment we cheat again. The Bible says we are like the dog who returns to his vomit (Proverbs 26:11). Only a radical transformation and all-out commitment to our God will keep us from straying again.

4. Our owner celebrates our return. I know. I’ve been there. When Beth and I came home from a wonderful vacation several years ago, we were greeted with the news that the people watching our cat left a door open, and the cat escaped. We put up flyers, went door-to-door, and recruited a gang to help us in our search. After a nine-day journey to who knows where, Tabitha was found. She was weak, tired, and dirty. But she was still our cat. When we spotted her, Beth lit up with a joy I haven’t seen since the last time I left for a week’s business trip. Our cat was lost, but now was found. We celebrated her return.

You and I were weak, tired, and dirty. But mostly, we were just lost. Never one to quit searching, our God found us, took us back home, and then he cleaned us up. We don’t know what Nadia was up to for those 22 months or how she managed to stray so far from home. And to the owner, it doesn’t really matter anyway. All that matters is that she is home now. It matters not how far we stray or how much dirt we collect in the process. The important thing – the only thing – is that we come home.