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The Rushmore Report – Five Striking Members of Time’s Top 100 People

Editor-in-Chief for the Time 100, Edward Felsenthal explained how the magazine chose the 100 people on the list. “Influence increasingly knows no single zip code and no minimum age.” The current list, just released, has expected names such as President Trump. But several names surprise. We have chosen to highlight five of the most interesting members of the Time 100.

1. J.J. Watt

Hurricane Harvey brought Watt to an even higher pedestal than he already enjoyed. The historic storm brought 50 inches of rain to the Houston area, damaging more than 300,000 homes. Watt jumped into the recovery effort right away, raising more than $37 million. In the process, he raised the spirits of the fourth largest city in America.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner: “Every few years, a professional athlete touches the heart and soul of a city in a way that has nothing to do with athleticism. Such is the case with Houston Texans star J.J. Watt, who is a star on and off the field.”

2. Bhavish Aggarwal

You may not know this name. Aggarwal is India’s version of Bill Gates. From the town of Ludhiana, which is best known as the world’s largest manufacturing center for bicycles, Aggarwal co-founded Ola, one of the world’s largest ride-sharing companies. This made him one of the richest men in the world at the ripe old age of 32.

Sachin Bansal: “It’s easy to forget the struggles Bhavish faced while building one of India’s most storied startups. From bootstrapping Ola when Indian consumer tech was still taking baby steps to braving regulatory hurdles and fighting off foreign competitors, Bhavish has driven around the block a few times. He is one of the most polite, soft-spoken, genuine men you will ever meet.”

3. Sean Hannity

The most watched host in cable news, Hannity has risen from construction worker to political heavyweight. With the retirement of Bill O’Reilly, Hannity has emerged as the most popular – and controversial – figure in prime time cable.

Newt Gingrich: “Sean Hannity has a remarkable impact between three hours of radio and an hour of TV every day. His fans listen to him and learn from him. One of his biggest fans is President Donald Trump, who routinely watches the TV show and talks with Sean as a fellow New Yorker. Hannity played a major role in helping Trump get the nomination and win the general election. Sean is both a principled conservative and a ferocious opponent of the left and the deep state. He has made and is making a difference.”

4. Carl June

Dr. June has created a treatment called T cell, that trains immune systems to fight against cancer. It has saved the lives of countless children, through a complex treatment plan and induced coma. One such patient is 12-year-old Emily Whitehead, a child cancer survivor, thanks to June’s treatment.

Emily Whitehead: “I was a fun and energetic child. Then I spent two years in a hospital getting cancer treatment, but it wasn’t working for me. That’s when my parents and I learned about an experimental treatment, called T cell. It hadn’t been tried on a pediatric patient before. My parents believed it was the right choice for me, so we transferred to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to enter the trial. After getting the treatment, I went into a 14-day coma and awakened on my seventh birthday. But the treatment had worked! Dr. June saved my life and had a huge impact on my family. Without him, I wouldn’t be here today writing this. Dr. June is my hero!”

5. Roger Federer

Widely acknowledged as the greatest tennis player to ever pick up a racket, Roger Federer is much more than that. At age 36, he’s still winning Grand Slam tournaments, putting his records further out of reach every year. But it is what Federer has done off the court that landed him a spot on the Time 100.

Bill Gates: “Roger and his team work tirelessly to improve the life prospects for poor children – a mission that stems from his childhood visits to his mother’s home country of South Africa and seeing extreme poverty firsthand. Roger knows that effective philanthropy, like great tennis, requires discipline and time. It will be a sad day for all of us fans when he hangs up his racket – but we can take comfort in knowing that he is committed to making the world a more equitable place.”

The Rushmore Report – Tim Tebow Says Parents Homeschooled Him to ‘Instill Love for God’

Christian sports star Tim Tebow has opened up about his experience being homeschooled as a child. Speaking to Olympic medalist Jessica Mendoza on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Tebow said that his parents, Bob and Pam, wanted to make sure he and his siblings were taught to love God above all else.

“They wanted to instill love in our hearts, love for God, love for one another. They wanted us to be able to learn a work ethic, a dedication,” he continued.

Now the two-sports star says he has “a heart to encourage the homeschooled kid.”

He said, “To let them know that they are loved, and they are special, and they might feel different, and sometimes might feel alone, sometimes might feel afraid. There might be those times where you go through that.”

The athlete, who was homeschooled until college, explained that his days were filled with Bible study and doing chores on the farm. He had some difficulties when interacting with children who attended regular schools while playing sports, however.

Speaking of his football days as a teenager, he said, “I was brand new at this place [high school football field] and you could tell that that group just, it had so much disdain, you know, because I wasn’t part of them.”

The Rushmore Report – NBA Broadcaster Tells How He Became a Christian

He has become the voice of the NBA. Now he is the lead studio host for March Madness, as well. His name is Ernie Johnson. He is one of the top sports broadcasters in America. He is a family man. But more than that, he is God’s man. And now he is speaking out – telling how he became a Christian.

Johnson is profiled in the latest issue of FCA Magazine. He tells the Fellowship of Christian Athletes’ lead publication how his life was changed at the age of 41.

Twenty years into his studio assignment, working alongside Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith, and Shaquille O’Neal, Johnson credits his most significant success to his relationship with Jesus Christ.

This is how it happened. Twenty years ago, Johnson’s two oldest children, Eric and Maggie, asked him why they didn’t attend church as a family. After some discussion, Ernie and his wife Cheryl decided to give it a try. They began attending Crossroads, a nondenominational church in Atlanta.

The Emmy-winning broadcaster was moved by the first service he attended, when the pastor asked the congregation two questions: Who’s the provider in your family, and are you pursuing happiness or wholeness?

Those questions challenged Johnson. He knew he needed to be a better husband and father. He returned to Crossroads the next three weeks, and then asked the pastor, Kevin Myers, out to lunch. On December 10, 1997, at an O’Charley’s restaurant, he prayed to God and became a Christian. Cheryl made the same commitment a few months later.

Their pastor explained to them that even before they became believers, God was working in their lives. For example, beginning in 1990, they began adopting children out of love, empathy, and compassion.

That same year, Cheryl watched a “20/20” report on overcrowded orphanages in Romania, where thousands of children were being neglected. Five months later, in 1991, Cheryl convinced Ernie to adopt Michael, a three-year-old boy with special needs. Michael eventually learned how to walk and later speak. Two years later, the Johnsons adopted Carmen from Paraguay. Then in 2011, they added half-sisters Allison and Ashley to the family. Cheryl had met the girls through her work with Street Grace, a faith-based organization mobilizing community leaders to end the sexual trafficking of children throughout the United States.

“She has taught me so much,” Ernie said of Cheryl. “I wanted to play it safe sometimes. She had bigger dreams. You have to put other people first. This can’t be all about you.”

As his faith grew, Johnson considered leaving TNT. Should he continue his career after turning his life over to God? Should he try to find a faith-based job? He asked Cheryl what he should do. She responded on his spiritual birthday by giving him a large compass as a gift. Cheryl’s handwritten note with it reminded him to remember the day he found his ultimate direction in life – and to let God direct him.

Johnson ended up staying with TNT. He knew the platform God gave him would provide opportunities for him to share his faith. And God did just that.

Several moments for these opportunities stand out. First, in August 2003, after noticing a bump near his ear, Johnson was diagnosed with stage two Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. During that time, “Trust God – Period” became his mantra. He was candid about his cancer after the NBA’s All-Star weekend, and six grueling chemotherapy treatments later, Johnson’s cancer was in remission, where it has remained since. He returned to “Inside the NBA” in 2006, never missing a show. A year later, Johnson won the Emmy for outstanding studio host.

“God sometimes whispers and sometimes shouts that His way is better than my way,” Johnson said during his acceptance speech.

Years later, Johnson experienced hardship again when his beloved father died in 2011. About a month later, Michael, who has muscular dystrophy, was put on a ventilator to remain alive. Since then, Johnson spends most of his mornings caring for Michael, now 29, at their home.

Then soon after the most recent presidential election, “Inside the NBA” decided to discuss on air the results that left the country divided. In just over two minutes, Johnson’s commentary resonated with many and was shared millions of times on social media.

“I never know from one election to the next who’s going to be in the Oval Office, but I always know who’s on the throne,” Johnson said into the camera. “I’m on this earth because God created me, and that’s Who I answer to. I’m a Christian. I follow a guy named Jesus; you might have heard of Him. And the greatest commandment He gave me was to love others. And Scripture also tells us to pray for our leaders, and that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to pray for Donald Trump.”

Johnson sums up these opportunities to shine for Jesus – and the many more chances that will undoubtedly follow – with one concept.

“The Son of Man came to serve, not to be served,” Johnson told FCA. “Being a servant is where I find myself.”

The Rushmore Report – Sweet 16 Team Loyola-Chicago Inspired by 98-Year-Old Team Chaplain

This year, we have witnessed March Madness at its best. Two #1 seeds went out the first weekend. But perhaps the most compelling story is Loyola-Chicago, a Catholic university founded in 1870, with 16,000 students. Many would say their MVP is 98-year-old team chaplain, Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt.

Representing the Missouri Valley Conference, the #11 seed Ramblers have lost games this season to juggernauts such as Milwaukee (not the Bucks), Missouri State, Indiana State, and Bradley (not Cooper). Yet, here they are, two more wins removed from the Final Four. The Ramblers have gone further in this tournament than such historic powerhouses as North Carolina, UCLA, and Indiana.

So what is it about this 98-year-old nun that has inspired the Ramblers? “The way she prays before games just sticks out,” said star player Clayton Custer. “In the middle of her prayers there’s a scouting report mixed in. She tells us who their best players are and what to watch out for. Sometimes she’ll pray for the referee to make the right calls. And at the end, she’ll literally pray that we come out on top.”

Junior guard Marques Townes adds, “She’s the biggest Loyola basketball fan I’ve ever met in my life.”

The nun, who has been the team’s chaplain since 1994, has been inducted into Loyola-Chicago’s athletic Hall of Fame.

Before she was a nun, Sister Jean was a basketball player herself. She once taught grade school, then later joined the staff at Loyola as an academic adviser before being appointed team chaplain.

She is highly valued by the players. “Having her here blessing our team and blessing our coaching staff, giving us a warm prayer before the game, having her bless the team right before the game, it just means so much,” Townes added.

After their first-round upset over Miami, Sister Jean told The New York Times, “We prayed that God would help us. We said we would do our part and make our shots, but needed God’s assistance. We said we were going into this game with great confidence and that we wanted to win this game so badly. We said we would be careful of our shots, careful not to foul.”

Sister Jean lives in a dorm on campus, which also serves as her office.

“Anyone can walk in there, not just us,” said freshman forward Cameron Krutwig. “She’s for the whole university. She’s a celebrity around the university and everyone loves her.”

Loyola-Chicago is set for another upset, as they face off against #7 Nevada Thursday night. As for Nevada’s chances? They don’t have a prayer.

Spring Training

Last week, Beth and I went to a spring training baseball game in West Palm Beach, Florida, to see our beloved Astros beat the Braves, 6-1. The stadium was nearly full and the stars of the defending World Champs were in the game, including Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve. Tickets cost $34 each, parking was $10, and hot dogs were full price. For the day, we dropped close to $100. They played nine innings, kept score, passed out programs, and argued balls and strikes. The fans cheered, booed, and wore their team colors. It was just like every other game – except for one thing.

It didn’t count.

When the preseason is over, they throw away all the stats and start over with the regular season. Spring training home runs, stolen bases, and runs scored count for absolutely nothing. Zero. Zilch.

Here’s the deal. The preseason has one purpose – to get the players ready for the regular season. The preseason is much shorter. It’s okay for players to make mistakes; in fact, it’s expected. In the preseason there will be lots of errors (two in the first inning today), wild pitches, and passed balls. And that’s alright, because in a few years, everyone will look back and not even remember what happened in the preseason. We know Hank Aaron had 755 home runs in the regular season, but even he doesn’t know how many he hit in spring training.

Spring training does serve one purpose. That is when they determine what team everyone is playing for. They have this thing called a 40-man roster and something called spring training invitees. If the Coach invites you to join the team, you get to decide whether or not to sign up. Any sane player does sign up; it would be crazy not to. And so he is on the team. And whatever happens in spring training becomes a distant memory when the regular season begins.

This life is spring training. It seems very real. We keep score, run the bases, and make some good plays. Along the way, we also make errors. Every year about 1,000 players will play significant innings in the major leagues. Every one of them will make an error. The year Babe Ruth set the record of 60 home runs, he also led the league with 58 strikeouts. No one is all good and no one is all bad. What matters is whether or not you are on the team.

The real season, the one that really counts, the one that’s really long, is still to be played. Sure, some of us will end spring training with a higher batting average than others, and will have put more runs on the board than some. But when the regular season begins, none of that will matter. There will be no need for a scoreboard, because by just being on the team, we will have already won. So go ahead and play your spring training games. Enjoy the preseason. But don’t worry too much about wins and losses, because the league Commissioner is going to tear up all the scorecards anyway.

The regular season will be here before you know it.

The Rushmore Report – Which Sports League Is the Most Christian?

When the Philadelphia Eagles upset the New England Patriots to win the Super Bowl two weeks ago, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson was quick to give God the glory. “I can only give the praise to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” he said. His quarterback, Nick Foles, plans to become a pastor. As chaplain for the Houston Rockets, I was amazed that entire teams – the Golden State Warriors and Oklahoma City Thunder – attend chapel. But which of the four major sports – football, baseball, basketball, or hockey – is the most Christian? The answer may surprise you.

Of course, we cannot really say one sport is “Christian” or “non-Christian.” But Ryan P. Burge of Eastern Illinois University has analyzed each sport by an interesting matrix. Burge has looked over the Twitter profiles of each athlete in each major league – Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, the National Football League, and the National Hockey League.

Specifically, Burge analyzed each Twitter account in search of Scripture references. And based on that analysis, it’s not even close. The most Christian sport is baseball.

Burge found that MLB players are the most likely to have Bible verses cited in their bios, with eight percent of the 1,265 accounts having at least one verse.

Next comes the NFL, where about four percent of the players cite Scripture. Coming in third is the NBA, at three percent. And the least Christian league is the NHL, where not a single player cites Scripture in his Twitter account.

Burge speculated as to the reasons for his findings. He attributes the relative strong Christian presence in baseball to demographics. MLB players tend to come from more rural areas and Latino countries, where Christianity is strong.

On the other extreme is hockey, where many players come from non-religious countries in Europe.

What is the most-cited Bible verse? That would be Philippians 4:13, which reads, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Of course, Christians are found in every league, and probably on every team. I suspect this is especially true of the Houston Astros, Houston Texans, and Houston Rockets. And yes, I am from Houston.

The Rushmore Report – Five Devout Christians on the U.S. Olympic Team

The 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in South Korea are well underway, bringing together athletes from across the world to compete in various sports. As the Games begin, the United States has brought a diverse team of competitors to the global event that features many devout Christians.

Here, in no particular order, are five openly Christian athletes who are competing at the Olympic Games under the red, white, and blue banner.

1. Kelly Clark

Professional snowboarder Kelly Clark is a veteran of the Olympic Games, going into this year’s event having already won Gold and Bronze medals.

On her Twitter profile, Clark identifies herself as a “lover of coffee, God, and good times,” with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes noting in a January feature on her that she gave her life to Christ in 2004.

“My ministry, and what God is doing in my life, is really found in my career in the marketplace,” she told FCA earlier this year.

2. Elana Meyers Taylor

World champion bobsledder Elana Meyers Taylor won a Silver medal at the 2014 Sochi Games and a Bronze at the 2010 Vancouver Games.

In an interview with Christian Sports Journal published in November 2016, Taylor spoke about how when she competes internationally, she sees herself as representing not just herself or her country, but also “Christ and what He’s done through me.”

3. Nic Taylor

Professional bobsledder and husband to Elana Meyers Taylor, whom he met at a Bible study, Nic Taylor has accrued his share of medals in various competitions over the past several years.

According to an interview with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes published last month, Nic came to faith in 2005 when he survived three separate car accidents.

“It shouldn’t have taken three, but it took three for me to realize I’m not in control of my life,” he said.

4. David Wise

David Wise made history in 2014 as the first-ever Olympic champion in Men’s Skiing Halfpipe at the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.

Calling himself a “truth follower” on his Twitter profile, wise explained in a 2014 interview that faith plays a “huge role” in his confidence.

“I don’t have to worry about what’s happening or the outside influences as much because I feel like I can trust God, and He’s going to see me through,” Wise said, as reported by CBN.

5. Maame Biney

American short track speed skater Maame Biney started skating when she was six and qualified for the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics before she turned 18.

On her Instagram account, Biney explained that the “smile on my face doesn’t mean my life is perfect. It means I appreciate what I have and what God has blessed me with.”

In response to her qualifying win in Utah last December, Biney took to social media to “start off by thanking God.”

About the Author

Michael Gryboski writes for The Christian Post.

The Rushmore Report – Eagles’ Nick Foles, from QB to Pastor

On Twitter, the bespectacled Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles places his faith in Jesus before everything else that defines him in his tagline. “Believer in Jesus Christ, husband, father, son, brother,” he writes. It’s no surprise then that at the end of his football career, Foles plans to become a pastor.

“I want to be a high school pastor,” the 29-year-old said at a news conference ahead of the Super Bowl. “It’s on my heart. I took a leap of faith last year and signed up to take classes at seminary. I wanted to continue to learn and challenge my faith. It’s a challenge because you are writing papers that are biblically correct. You want to impact people’s hearts.”

Foles continued, “When I speak to students, that’s such a time of young men and young women’s lives that there’s a lot of things that are thrown at them. So much temptation in this world, so much going on with social media and the internet that you want to talk to them, address it, and share the weakness. I have because I’ve fallen many times. It’s something I want to do. I can’t play football forever. I’ve been blessed with an amazing platform and it’s just a door God has opened, but I still have a lot of school left and a long journey.”

After suffering a few years of inconsequential performances since 2013 when he made the Pro Bowl after throwing 27 touchdown passes for the Eagles, he was thinking about retiring. Before making the decision, however, Foles and his family prayed and he chose to remain in the NFL.

He returned to the Eagles this season to play back-up quarterback to the Eagles’ young superstar Carson Wentz. When Wentz got injured with a torn ACL in December, Foles was ready and he powered his team to success with a lot of “faith throws,” passes thrown before the receiver breaks for the ball.

Foles told the Associated Press, “It took a lot more faith to come back and play than it would have taken to go in the other direction. Either way would have been fine. Either way, I would have trusted in God. I would have done something else and glorified God in that instance. I knew as a person that the more growth I’ve had and the more opportunity I would have to glorify God and trust in him would be to go back and play football,” he added.

About the Author

Leonardo Blair is a writer for the Christian Post.

The Rushmore Report – The Faith of Case Keenum

Sunday night, Vikings quarterback Case Keenum led his team to one of the most improbable last-second comebacks in NFL history. Down 24-23, with the clock running out, the Vikings had time for one last play. From his own 39-yard-line, Keenum found a receiver down the sideline for the winning score. But it is what he said after the game that matters most.

In a post-game interview, Keenum called this the third best day of his life. What is first and second? Keenum identified “the day I gave my life to Christ” and “the day I married my wife” and numbers one and two.

This journeyman quarterback, listed as third string to start the season, is suddenly on the precipice of the Super Bowl, which will be played in his home stadium. But there is more to Case Keenum than just football.

I discovered that for myself four years ago. Case spoke at my alma mater, Houston Baptist University. After the meeting I sat with him at lunch. He’s the real deal: humble, kind, and most of all, passionate about his faith.

Keenum was born into football. His dad coached football at McMurry University in Texas. He starred as quarterback at Wylie High School in Abilene, Texas. He then attended the University of Houston, the only major program to offer him a scholarship. At UH, he set major college football records: most passing yards (19,217), passing touchdowns (155), and was twice awarded the Sammy Baugh Trophy as the nation’s top passer.

Undrafted by the NFL – for being undersized at just over six feet – he was signed as a free agent by the Houston Texans. He has bounced around the league, playing for the Texans (twice), Rams (twice), and now the Vikings. He started this season third on the depth chart. But when injuries thrust Keenum into action, he was ready. He responded with one of the best seasons any NFL quarterback has had. He now has the Vikings in the NFC Championship Game this Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Case credits his faith for his success. “My faith is the number one thing that makes me, me. It is what my identity is in; it’s not in this game. I know that, although I do put everything I have into this game. But it’s not a life-or-death thing for me.”

He continued, “I want to do the very best I can, all the time. And I want to honor God when I do that. I think I do when I leave it all on the field.”

Case Keenum is an All-Pro NFL quarterback, just one game away from reaching his football dream of playing in a Super Bowl. But he has already achieved his greatest dream. He says, “I am a child of the King. So I win, regardless of what the scoreboard says at the end of the game.”

The Rushmore Report – Tim Tebow’s ‘Night to Shine’ Hits 500 Churches

More than 500 congregations across the United States and some foreign countries have agreed to host “Night to Shine” events, which are Tim Tebow Foundation-sponsored proms for special needs youth, in 2018. That marks a tenfold increase from 2015, when the first “Night to Shine” was held, according to a statement Tebow has released.

“Night to Shine” is an unforgettable prom night experience, centered on God’s love, for people with special needs ages 14 and older,” notes the foundation’s website.

In 2017, 375 churches from around the world hosted “Night to Shine” for 75,000 honored guests.

A native of the Philippines and a devout Christian, Tebow gained notoriety for his accomplishments as quarterback with the University of Florida before being drafted by the Denver Broncos in 2010. Tebow garnered national headlines for his quarterbacking the Broncos and was credited for getting the team into the 2011 playoffs. In 2012, Denver traded him to the New York Jets. From there, Tebow was briefly with other NFL teams, including the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles.

Last year, Tebow began his professional baseball career, being signed by the New York Mets as part of a minor league deal.

In addition to his pro sports career, Tebow has pursued many charitable efforts through his foundation, which was established in 2010. “The Tim Tebow Foundation exists to bring faith, hope, and love to those needing a brighter day in their darkest hour of need,” notes the foundation’s Facebook page.

“The Foundation will utilize the public platform that God has given to Tim Tebow – through media, publishing, speaking engagements, special events, and mission trips – to inspire friends and supporters to work with the Foundation as a team in helping to make a difference.”

News of the record number of churches participating in “Night to Shine” comes around the time Tebow himself spoke to a crowd of about 2,000 at the Clemente Center at Florida Institute of Technology.

In his remarks, he stressed the importance of faith and teamwork, with the Florida event also featuring a silent auction for Tebow-related sports items.

About the Author

Michael Gryboski writes for The Christian Post.