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The Rushmore Report: Beating the Bully

In his book of philosophical and satirical stories, Fuzzy Memories, Jack Handey writes, “There used to be this bully who would demand my lunch money every day. Since I was smaller, I would give it to him. But then I decided to fight back. I started taking karate lessons. but then the karate coach said I had to start paying him $5 per lesson. So I just went back to paying the bully.”

Isn’t that like most of us? We figure it’s easier to pay the bully than to learn how to defeat him.

Sadly, in the same way, we often continue to live lives bound to addictions and personal struggles, rather than wage war to overcome them. We allow our struggles to define us, and we live in defeat rather than victory.

The good news is we’re not alone. The great Apostle Paul – a saint if ever there was one – fought battles his whole life. You can read about it in Romans 6 and 7. But he found the victory through surrender to his Higher Power, Jesus Christ.

And that’s the good news. Tony Campolo was right when he said, “Each of us comes into the world with a predisposition to live in such a way as to inflict pain on those who love us most, and to offend the God who cares for us infinitely.”

But through surrender, we find the strength to win the battles of life – no matter how great.

So you have a choice. You can take lessons from the greatest Coach who ever lived, and learn how to win life’s battles. Or you can spend the rest of your life paying the bully.

Pizza

Welcome to the food section of The Proud Americans. I know what you were thinking when you came to today’s column: “Would someone please give me some pizza trivia!”

We sure will. This is just one of the things that make this such a great read. Where else can you get pizza trivia when you want it? So, here we go.

For starters, let’s talk about national policy. Domino’s Pizza locations in Washington, D.C. report that whenever they have a marked increase in late night deliveries to the Pentagon or White House, a major news story will be announced within two days.

Now, for trivia #2. Do you know the day that more pizza was delivered than any other day in history? The date was June 17, 1994, the day that millions of Americans watched O. J. Simpson’s famous Bronco drive across Los Angeles. Viewers weren’t about to leave their television sets to make dinner.

Pizza plays a defining role in society today. You see pizza at college study groups, kids’ parties, and sporting events. Why is this? It’s simple. We like to be fed.

Here’s the bigger question – Do you have the same desire to be fed spiritually?

Paul said, “I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready” (1 Corinthians 3:2).

Stuck in Time

In 1957 there was a famous neuropsychology case that has been studied for years. The patient was called Henry M. He was born in Harford, Connecticut in 1926. He suffered from a case of epilepsy that was so severe and debilitating that he couldn’t function. At age 27, he underwent an experimental surgery in which parts of his brain were removed to try to treat his epilepsy.

The good news was that after surgery, he no longer suffered constant debilitating seizures. And there was no negative impact on his intelligence, personality, or social abilities. There was just one side effect. He had no short-term memory.

Henry M. couldn’t remember anything that happened after his surgery. He couldn’t recognize his doctors. Once home, he’d do the same jigsaw puzzle over and over, and read and re-read the same magazines.

When interviewed 30 minutes after lunch, he couldn’t remember a single thing he had just eaten. Henry M. was stuck in time, unable ot learn, grow, or change.

As sad as that is, I know a lot of people who are the same way. For them, all change is bad. So they never grow. It’s sad to be stuck in time. Paul wrote, “As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, now grow up in him” (Colossians 2:6).

Don’t be stuck in time.

Battle of Wounded Knee – 125 Years Ago Today

On December 29, 1890, in the final chapter of America’s long Indian wars, the U.S. Cavalry killed 146 Sioux at Wounded Knee on the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota. Throughout 1890, the U.S. government worried about the increasing influence at Pine Ridge of the Ghost Dance spiritual movement, which taught that Indians had been defeated and confined to reservations because they had angered the gods by abandoning their traditional customs. Many Sioux believed that if they practiced the Ghost Dance and rejected the ways of the white man, the gods would create the world anew and destroy all nonbelievers, including non-Indians. On December 29, the U.S. Army’s 7th cavalry surrounded a band of Ghost Dancers under the Sioux Chief Big Foot near Wounded Knee Creek and demanded they surrender their weapons. As that was happening, a fight broke out between an Indian and a U.S. soldier and a shot was fired, although it’s unclear from which side. A brutal massacre followed, in which it’s estimated almost 150 Indians were killed (some historians put this number at twice as high), nearly half of them women and children. The cavalry lost 25 men.

The Battle of Wounded Knee was sparked by bad theology. The Sioux had an image of a God who was motivated by anger. Their difficult plight must have been the result of the gods’ wrath somehow. And if they danced hard enough and long enough, the gods would be appeased.

Today, millions of Christians are still dancing. We do the “good works” dance, the “go to church” dance, and the “if I only try harder” dance. If that’s where you live today, in the “dance to get God’s blessing” world, I have good news. There is nothing you can ever do that will make Him love you more than He already does. It’s not that He doesn’t want to see you dance. But rather than dancing for the blessings you hope to receive, dance because anything He can do to bless you now is nothing compared to all He has already done. God is on your side. The angels are singing and the trumpet of God will soon play, “Here comes the bride,” as the church is ushered into the eternal presence of God. You have plenty of reasons to dance. But appeasing the God of the Bible is not one of them.

Wheaties Box

Putting great athletes on the front of Wheaties boxes is a time-honored tradition in our country, right up there with crossing our hearts during the National Anthem, honoring mothers the second Sunday of May, and watching 27 football games on New Year’s Day. Do you know the first athlete to appear on a Wheaties box? I’ll give you two hints. The year was 1924. His name was Lou Gehrig. Can you guess who it was now?

Here’s another question for you. What athlete has appeared on the Wheaties box the most times? That would be Michael Jordan, with 18 appearances. But here’s my favorite Wheaties trivia. In 1937 they sponsored baseball broadcasts on 95 stations. They held a nationwide contest to find the “most popular announcer.” The winner was a play-by-play announcer from Des Moines, Iowa. His reward was a trip to California. When he was there, he was spotted by Warner Brothers, who gave him a screen test. His name was Ronald Wilson Reagan.

When asked the key to his success, the president said, “I learned as a kid, to be where I was supposed to be and when I was supposed to be there.” Location is everything. That applies to your spiritual walk, as well. Be in the right place at the right time, and your potential will be unlimited. The Bible says, “Many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked. None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand” (Daniel 12:10). A walk with God brings an understanding to believers that the “wicked” (unbelievers) will never understand. It starts by being in the right place at the right time. You probably won’t ever grace to front of a Wheaties box. But you can do even better than that. Start this Sunday by being in church.

Starting Over

After the mistakes of our past, we ask ourselves, “What was I thinking?” We must answer that question. Paul said, “Do not conform to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:1-2). In restoring your mind, you must peel off the old, then put on the new. That involves change. Bad living is the result of bad thinking. There are several lethal assumptions to our thinking.

1. If I find the right person everything will be alright. The fact is, if you become the right person, everything will be alright. Quit trying to find the person you have yet to be.

2. My situation is unique. The fact is, your situation is not unique. Millions have come your way before. The truth is, you are unique, but your situation isn’t.

3. It may not be right, but it makes me happy, and God wants me to be happy. Maybe he does. Maybe not. God is less interested in your happiness than your holiness.

4. If I only had ___________, then I’d be satisfied. Whatever you put in that blank isn’t satisfying you now, so what makes you think more of it will make a difference? Your appetites will never be satisfied. You keep coming back for more food, right? Ever meet someone with just one tattoo?

5. “I owe” is better than “I want.” You think you are better off owing for it than wanting it. You will be dissatisfied either way, so why take on the debt? It is better to want than to owe.

6. My secret is safe with me. The fact is, secrets are unhealthy. They are never safe. Secrecy is the incubator for trouble. That kind of thinking will always get you in trouble.

The Bible says, “As a man thinks, so he becomes” (Proverbs 27:3). You have made mistakes in life. We all have. But your second half can be better than your first half. It starts with your mind. Correct your thinking and you will correct your life.

The Other Side of the Valley

Psalm 23 may be the most famous passage in literature. Most of us can quote it. I want to focus on one word, from verse four – valley. King David, prone to depression and anxiety, said, “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.” There are six lessons we can learn from the valley.

1. God created the valleys. You are in one of three stages right now. You are headed to a valley, in a valley, or coming out of a valley. It is a common myth that God wants you to be happy. Maybe he does. But his real agenda is not your happiness, but your holiness. Another myth is that God won’t give you more than you can handle. That’s not in the Bible. The fact is, sometimes God does give you more than you can handle. You can’t “handle” the death of a loved one, loss of a job, or bad health news. Give that over to God.

2. All God’s heroes won the game of life in the second half. Going into their halftimes (midway through life), the following heroes of the Bible were all behind: Abraham, Moses, Noah, Job, David, Joshua, Gideon, Nehemiah, Jonah, Peter, Thomas, Paul, and John Mark. It was after their valley moments that they did the most good.

3. God caused your valley or he at least allowed it. Paul said all things, not some things, work together for your good (Romans 8:28). “All things” includes death, addiction, pain, and failure. Even the worst things you have done, God allowed. And what he allows, he redeems.

4. Nothing happens to you; it all happens for you. The disciples asked Jesus why a man was born blind. Jesus said it was something God was going to use for his greater good. Every valley you pass through in life is something God will use. God doesn’t want you to just survive; he wants you to thrive.

5. God wants to grow you more than bless you. We love mountain top experiences. But there’s not much growth there. It is in the valley, where the moisture gathers, that plants and vegetation spring forth. God’s plan for your life is to use you. That happens best after he has grown you. Your valley time is for that purpose.

6. You will never walk alone. David said, “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me.” When you live the Christian life you will experience outrageous joy. You will also be in trouble with the enemy. But you will never go it alone.

There is more richness in the 23rd Psalm than we could ever cover here. Just know that your valley times do not go unnoticed by your Father. There will come a day when it all makes sense. Until then, keep walking.

Car on the Roof

Do you ever feel like the roof is caving in? Joyce Kingsley can relate. The 83-year-old resident of Woodhull Township, Michigan heard a loud “kaboom” while sitting in her living room. At first she thought it was the weather. But then she looked up, and when she looked up she saw something she otherwise would have totally missed. There was a car on her roof.

In this quiet neighborhood 20 miles northeast of Lansing, the driver of a Mustang suffered from low blood sugar and passed out. His car went through several bushes, trees, and a fence, before stopping on the roof, which is just above ground level, with the house built on the side of a hill. Mrs. Kingsley said, “I was just watching TV, and I had it up pretty loud – but this was much louder.” State Trooper Ben Rowell, said, “The driver is extremely lucky.” Joyce is putting a tarp over the hole until it can be fixed. “It could’ve been a lot worse,” she said. “I’m glad everyone is all right.”

What would have happened if Joyce hadn’t looked up? Imagine the conversation with the neighbor at the mailbox. “Joyce, what’s with the car on your roof?” “What car?” “The Ford Mustang. How many cars do you usually have on your roof?”

The fact is, we miss a lot when we forget to look up. One day, Jesus’ closest followers stood around watching as he ascended into heaven. The local angel appeared and said, “Why are you guys standing there looking up into heaven? The same Jesus will come again some day” (Acts 1:11). When you forget to look up, you miss a full moon, meteor shower, and rainbow. You miss the play that wins the game, the deer on the side of the road, and the sun rising on the horizon.

The Bible says to look up, for your redemption is drawing near. It says to look up to heaven, and to the Author and Finisher of our faith. The Bible never says to look down. We are to always be looking up. Take it from Joyce Kingsley. When you fail to look up, you may miss something pretty big – even bigger than a Ford Mustang on the roof.

All of Daddy

A close friend once came home from work, and his two young boys rushed outside to greet him at his car. The older boy wrapped his arms around his dad and would not allow his little brother to get in on the action. Finally, as the younger tot began to cry, the older brother looked down at him and scoffed, “Ha, ha! I’ve got all of daddy there is!” Just then, their father reached down and picked up the younger boy and held him tightly. As he began to wipe away the boy’s tears, the younger son glared down at big brother and asserted, “Ha, ha! You may have all of daddy there is, but daddy’s got all of me!”

If you have had a time in your remembered past when you have trusted Jesus as your Savior, you have all of Daddy there is. The Bible says that as many as have the Son have the Father and are sealed by the Holy Spirit. There is no “second blessing” that elevates you to a higher level. The moment you were born again, you got all of Daddy there is. The question for today is, does Daddy have all of you?

Why don’t you take a minute and reflect on that question. And if you decide God is not as close as He used to be, guess who moved! He is waiting for you to come back. He is all about grace. And remember this. Even when times are tough and you aren’t as close to Daddy as you ought to be, you still have all of Daddy there is.

Starting Over – By Andy Stanley

Every great success story in the Bible includes a comeback. Abraham came back from chronic lying, Joseph from imprisonment, Moses from murder, David from adultery, Jonah from disobedience, Peter from denial, Thomas from doubt, Zacchaeus from embezzlement, and Paul from persecuting Christians. The second-chance God came through for them time after time. Pastor Andy Stanley recently taught four lessons on the comeback. Today, I will share the three myths Stanley puts forth on the topic of starting over. If you have made a bad decision, stumbled, messed up, or even found yourself at a crossroads due to no fault of your own, these myths are critical in taking the first steps of starting over.

Myth #1 – Experience makes you wiser. The fact is experience does not make you wiser; it just makes you older. It is evaluated experience that makes you wiser. Many of us are like the children in the wilderness. They didn’t have 40 years of experience. As they just went in circles, they had one year of experience 40 times.

Myth #2 – Since you know better, you will do better. Knowledge isn’t strength; it is knowledge. The reason you need a comeback isn’t because you didn’t know what to do, but because you didn’t do what you knew.

Myth #3 – Time is working against you. Time is your friend, not your enemy. Your pain makes you self-absorbed, and self-absorbed people make bad decisions. You will be able to understand some things later that you can’t see today. Before you jump back in, wait.

Paul said that all things (not some things or most things) work together for your good if you love God. “All things” includes your past, your mistakes, your failures. Joel Osteen says, “Nothing happens to you; it happens for you.” What God allows, he redeems. God has created you for a massive comeback. Whatever your past, you can start over. The journey begins today.