Rush Limbaugh introduced me to Mannheim Steamroller as it was one of his favorite groups to play on his radio show every Christmas season. O Holy Night was one of the Carols my parents church in Ohio would sing annually as part of their midnight mass on Christmas Eve. The service began at 10:30 p.m. with singing the first half hour. Following this time of worship, a tradition Catholic Mass lasted an hour as the final hymn ended right around midnight every year.
Now in the sixth month [after that], the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 To a girl never having been married and a [v]virgin engaged to be married to a man whose name was Joseph, a descendant of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, Hail, O favored one [[w]endued with grace]! The Lord is with you! [x]Blessed (favored of God) are you before all other women! – Luke 1:26-28.
Before moving to Cleveland, I focused on the commercialism and gifts that I received Christmas morning. Yet, this 90-minute service every Christmas Eve helped turn my attention away from what was waiting for me under a tree at home and toward that holy night more than 2000 years ago. As you listen to today’s feature song O Holy Night, may the lyrics help prepare your heart to make room for Jesus this season and throughout 2023.
Every politician wants to be liked, especially by the media. The apostle Paul speaks to this human desire in Galatians 1:10 as pleasing people comes naturally. Unfortunately, politics in America has become more about fundraising and less about serving a candidate’s constituents. On camera politicians make several promises in order to get elected, but behind the scenes most politicians do what their donors want.
Pilate said to Him, Then You are a King? Jesus answered, You say it! [You speak correctly!] For I am a King. [Certainly I am a King!] This is why I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the Truth. Everyone who is of the Truth [who is a friend of the Truth, who belongs to the Truth] hears and listens to My voice. 38 Pilate said to Him, What is Truth? On saying this he went out to the Jews again and told them, I find no fault in Him, John 18:37-38.
Jesus stood before the Governor on the first Good Friday. If He wanted to avoid death on a cross, Jesus could have turned to politics to save the world. As Pilate was trying to figure out the truth about the claims made about Jesus from Jewish religious leaders, Jesus appears to find spiritual strength from his time of prayer earlier in the morning. Meanwhile, Pilate used a political loophole to give the first century Woke what they wanted.
But it is your custom that I release one [prisoner] for you at the Passover. So shall I release for you the King of the Jews? – John 18:39
When the same people began to attack Paul for his own spiritual conversion, Galatians 1:10 serves as the rationale for his transformation. Politics is based upon convincing the masses that you care to garnish enough votes to stay in power. Rush Limbaugh referred to this as Symbolism over Substance, using the appearance of caring without altering their own lives. The only way shine light into the dark realm of politics is by emulating the life of Jesus and his call in Matthew 5:13-16. God’s love will pierce hardened hearts.
The public expression of opinions or sentiments intended to demonstrate one’s good character or social conscience is on display every day. Virtue signaling comes in the form of interviews, podcasts, and social media posts. Members of the media, politicians, the socially insecure express moral correctness of one’s position on a particular issue. This practice is what Rush Limbaugh deemed symbolism over substance.
Since by your obedience to the Truth through the [Holy] Spirit you have purified your hearts for the sincere affection of the brethren, [see that you] love one another fervently from a pure heart, 1 Peter 1:22.
Unfortunately, many modern leaders practice the philosophy “do what I say, not as I do.” When the camera is off, the true you comes out. You may be able to fake people for a while, but sooner or later your hypocrisy will be exposed. Yet, for now, virtue signal appeases the Cancel Culture from coming after you. This sad state of reality is so shallow, but it serves as a sense of justification and rationalization for many.
We know [absolutely] that anyone born of God does not [deliberately and knowingly] practice committing sin, but the One Who was begotten of God carefully watches over and protects him [Christ’s divine presence within him preserves him against the evil], and the wicked one does not lay hold (get a grip) on him or touch [him]. 19 We know [positively] that we are of God, and the whole world [around us] is under the power of the evil one, 1 John 5:18-19.
While Peter is known for being the most vocal disciple, the one whom Jesus appears to be the most direct in his writing style. According to John, grey areas don’t exist. You’re either living in the light of Christ or residing in darkness. Virtue signaling isn’t an option for Christians. You’re either in or out, with or against Jesus. When you let your actions do your talking, there’s no need for virtue signaling.
The Bible refers to a steward as aservant who is mindful that Jesus will return at anytime. This individual behaves like a servant who will be held accountable by their boss, colleagues and or superiors. My introduction to this term came through reading the Parable of the Talents. This story shared by Jesus illustrates the sense of urgency that a good steward develops and strives for each day they are alive.
As each of you has received a gift (a particular spiritual talent, a gracious divine endowment), employ it for one another as [befits] good trustees of God’s many-sided grace [faithful stewards of the [f]extremely diverse powers and gifts granted to Christians by unmerited favor], 1 Peter 4:10.
Former talk show legend Rush Limbaugh coined the phrase “talent on loan from God.” When Rush was diagnosed with stage for cancer back in 2020, he began to open up about his relationship with God. For most of his life, Rush made it a point to avoid using his conservative radio program to proselytize. Yet, as death drew near, Rush revealed a charitable spirit by donating more than 2 million dollars to the Tunnel to Towers foundation.
And he who had received the five talents came and brought him five more, saying, Master, you entrusted to me five talents; see, here I have gained five talents more. 21 His master said to him, Well done, you upright (honorable, [b]admirable) and faithful servant! You have been faithful and trustworthy over a little; I will put you in charge of much. Enter into and share the joy (the delight, the [c]blessedness) which your master enjoys, Matthew 25:20-21.
For most of my adult life, I made just enough to scrape by. When I was a Christian High School teacher I often relied on private donations to pay my bills. Yet, in the past few years I have been blessed by God with a good paying job. In lieu of this recent success, my heart is convicting me to become a better steward. Instead of accepting hand outs, it’s my turn to begin secretly giving to the causes I believe in. May the Holy Spirit stir all of us to become a good steward in 2022.
For as long as I can remember, I tuned into the Excellent in Broadcasting radio network the day before Thanksgiving. From noon to three in the afternoon, Rush Limbaugh became the godfather of conservative talk radio. Yet, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving was devoted to sharing the real story of America’s first Thanksgiving, not found in modern textbooks. Yet, on February 17th, 2021 Rush lost his battle with lung cancer, ending his 33 year Hall of Fame career in broadcasting.
Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition ([b]definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God. 7 And God’s peace [shall be yours, that [c]tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace] which transcends all understanding shall [d]garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, Philippians 4:6-7.
My brother in law Bob first introduced me to Rush in 1992. Initially, I didn’t get the show. Nor did I like Rush’s humor as some of his comments offended me as a Christian. Yet, the more I listened, I began to understand his political perspective. One comment that has stuck with me through years is “no listener ever graduates from his show as the learning never ends.” When I became a high school teacher back in 2002, I adopted some of Rush’s methods to form my favorite class: Steeling the Minds of America.
Thank [God] in everything [no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks], for this is the will of God for you [who are] in Christ Jesus [the Revealer and Mediator of that will]. 19 Do not quench (suppress or subdue) the [Holy] Spirit; 1 Thessalonians 5:18-19.
Attached is Rush’s detailed explanation of the first Thanksgiving in America. When I heard Rush’s account many years ago, this was far different from anything that I was taught as a child. The Pilgrims believed that God sent Squanto, a native American Indian, to help them survive their second winter in New England. Squanto’s knowledge and teachable spirit led these Pilgrims to have a tremendous harvest in 1621. This is the context of the first Thanksgiving feast so as you gather around a table to break bread with family, thank God for the Squantos in your life.
Frank Costello was the inspiration behind Marlon Brando’s Vito Corleone’s character in the 1972 classic film the Godfather. On Thursday, February 17th, America lost the Godfather of talk radio. Rush Limbaugh’s talent on loan from God has been returned and now conservatives are rushing to find a replacement for his voice. Rush Limbaugh has been a beacon of truth since 1988 when his nationally syndicated midday radio show began. At the height of his popularity, 40 million people tuned into Rush’s radio program. Former President Donald Trump recently said, “To these people who listened to him every day, it was like a religious experience to a lot of people,”
This is he who was mentioned by the prophet Isaiah when he said, The voice of one crying in the wilderness (shouting in the desert), Prepare the road for the Lord, make His highways straight (level, direct). 4 This same John’s garments were made of camel’s hair, and he wore a leather girdle about his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the country round about the Jordan went out to him; 6 And they were baptized in the Jordan by him, confessing their sins, Matthew 3:3-6.
In the early first century, many Jews believed that John the Baptist was the promised Messiah of the Old Testament. Long before the days of radio, John’s popularity spread through word of mouth. Despite John’s native appearance and attire, he was a man of great substance. As John preached on the banks of the Jordan River, hearts were convicted to change their current direction in life. Overwhelmed by guilt, exposed from their conscience, individuals confessed their sins and were baptized. Some of John’s followers may have viewed him as their spiritual godfather.
I indeed baptize you in (with) water because of repentance [that is, because of your changing your minds for the better, heartily amending your ways, with abhorrence of your past sins]. But He Who is coming after me is mightier than I, Whose sandals I am not worthy or fit to take off or carry; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. 12 His winnowing fan (shovel, fork) is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear out and clean His threshing floor and gather and store His wheat in His barn, but the chaff He will burn up with fire that cannot be put out, Matthew 3:11-12.
Despite the praise heaped upon him, John remained humble, recognizing the position God wanted him to play. While John baptized believers with water, Jesus introduced first century followers to the Holy Spirit. When John was arrested, some of his followers were hesitant to turn their attention to Jesus. Yet, as word of Jesus’ ministry began to spread, previous concerns faded away. Anytime you lose a great leader, it’s hard to find a replacement, a substitute to fill this void. Yet, if you believe in the promises of the Old Testament, Micah 2:12, God is always working behind the scenes to raise up a remnant of future leaders.
Endowments are the establishment of funds via donations for a foundation or institution. This gift serves as a means to finance and subsidize future benefactors such as cancer patients and education for less fortunate children. Conversation talk show host Rush Limbaugh used this concept to coin the phrase “talent on loan from God.” The apostle Paul takes this one step further in the passage below, referring to hidden gifts, personality traits, and talents that you were born with but not yet discovered.
Now about the spiritual gifts (the special endowments of supernatural energy), brethren, I do not want you to be misinformed, 1 Corinthians 12:1.
Some of these spiritual gifts defy science with no rationale explanation. Thus, one translation of the Bible points to supernatural energy in the form of a Holy Ghost. These special gifts include healing, prophecy, speaking in tongues, and working miracles. Between the lines, other unique talents exist, often revealed later on in life. The driving force behind this blog is my ability to write in the Spirit. As long as I keep in step with the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:25, concepts, ideas, and thoughts naturally flow out of my heart and mind. As I study the Bible, new revelations are unveiled weekly.
You know that when you were heathen, you were led off after idols that could not speak [habitually] as impulse directed and whenever the occasion might arise. 3 Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking under the power and influence of the [Holy] Spirit of God can [ever] say, Jesus be cursed! And no one can [really] say, Jesus is [my] Lord, except by and under the power and influence of the Holy Spirit. Now there are distinctive varieties and distributions of endowments (gifts, extraordinary powers distinguishing certain Christians, due to the power of divine grace operating in their souls by the Holy Spirit) and they vary, but the [Holy] Spirit remains the same., 1 Corinthians 12:2-4.
In a letter to the Church at Rome, Paul lists several spiritual endowments, Romans 12:6-8. If you are curious about your own spiritual gifts, there are church growth resources that include spiritual gift tests. Before taking one of these, your scores will vary depending upon your mood. The confident often score high in several categories whereas the humble tend to evaluate themselves with much lower scores. My spiritual gift was confirmed during a two day church conference on discernment. While interacting with other believers, Pastor Bruce opened my eyes to this unique ability to hear and discern God’s still small voice. While writing a teenager pastor, Paul urges Christians to fan into flame their spiritual gifts immediately, 2 Timothy 1:6.
There are vast degrees of self-righteousness that exist in today’s culture. However, a term that dates back to 1979 is replacing self-righteous; what Christopher Lasch refers to as moral narcissism. This moral superiority is conceived from a sense that one’s beliefs, ideals, and affiliations are of greater virtue than those of the average person. Moral narcissists can range from obnoxious religious leaders, perfectionists seeking piety to sanctimonious members of the media. If you are not part of an important, powerful or significant group, expect to be looked down upon from one of these individuals who practice symbolism over substance.
He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves and were confident that they were righteous [that they were upright and in right standing with God] and scorned and made nothing of all the rest of men: 10 Two men went up into the temple [enclosure] to pray, the one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector, Luke 18:9-10.
During a first century conversation, Jesus uses prayer as way to highlight the difference between the humble and self-righteous. In this illustration, Jesus compares a Pharisee to a tax collector. To set the scene, Pharisees were considered devout religious leaders, respected by the Jewish community. Meanwhile, tax collectors were often corrupt, tied with prostitutes at the bottom of the least desired occupations of their day. This background reflects how each approaches the Lord in prayer. As long as moral narcissists express how much they care publicly, following through with their convictions isn’t as important.
The Pharisee took his stand ostentatiously and began to pray thus before and with himself: God, I thank You that I am not like the rest of men—extortioners (robbers), swindlers [unrighteous in heart and life], adulterers—or even like this tax collector here. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I gain. 13 But the tax collector, [merely] standing at a distance, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but kept striking his breast, saying, O God, be favorable (be gracious, be merciful) to me, the especially wicked sinner that I am! – Luke 18:11-13.
Becoming self-righteous blinds individuals from their own spiritual condition. When you think too highly of yourself, subtle sins are ignored and overlooked. Instead of looking inward, moral narcissists compare themselves to lesser human beings as a means to feel better about their life. This mindset is a breeding ground for lukewarm spirits. Anyone who continues down this path are in spiritual danger, drifting closer to hell. The only way to snap out of this state is by acknowledging sin. May this parable serve as a warning to those hindered by a big ego, hypocrisy or smugness.
There is a tendency to wait for someone’s death until you honor individuals for what they have accomplished on earth. At the end of his talk radio show on Monday afternoon, Rush Limbaugh shocked listeners with his diagnosis of stage four lung cancer. Perhaps, this explains President Donald Trump’s slight pause in his State of the Union speech to honor Rush with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. This is the highest civilian award that an United States citizen can receive. Since introducing the Stand Up for Betsy Ross clothing line, Limbaugh has donated more than five million dollars to the Tunnel for Towers Foundation. This organization pays off the mortgages of families who have lost a fallen hero, dying in the line of duty.
And He Who searches the hearts of men knows what is in the mind of the [Holy] Spirit [what His intent is], because the Spirit intercedes and pleads [before God] in behalf of the saints according to and in harmony with God’s will, Romans 8:27.
One of the details that Rush Limbaugh revealed following his cancer disclosure was a personal relationship with God. Rush confessed that this spiritual relationship has been concealed, not wanting to use his EIB network, Excellence in Broadcasting, to proselytize. Since Limbaugh’s show is based upon satire, using current events to illustrate the difference between conservatism and liberalism, Rush’s decision to keep his faith private makes sense. This has been his philosophy since The Rush Limbaugh Show became nationally syndicated on August 1st, 1988 airing from New York City via ABC Radio. Prior to this, Limbaugh began his broadcasting career on the radio in Sacramento, California.
We are assured and know that [God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose, Romans 8:28.
My brother in law Bob first introduced me to Rush in 1989 as a non-political college student. At this time in history, Rush was explaining that the national government should never create and establish laws based upon common sense. Rush was referring to proposals of a national seat belt law. This discussion won me over and made me a fan for life. However, just as I cringe when I hear certain comments and tweets by president Trump, I have had a similar reaction to some of Limbaugh’s statements throughout the years. Nonetheless, about a year ago, Rush had a caller on Open Line Friday who spoke about putting what he has learned from Rush into action. When I heard this conversation, I immediately received a rhema, a word from the Holy Spirit, “this is what I want you to do with your blog.” Thus, I have to thank Rush Limbaugh for helping me remember the words of Jesus, Matthew 7:24, “put my words into practice.”
During Bill Clinton’s eight years as president of the United States, the phrase “Symbolism over Substance” was made popular by Rush Limbaugh. Using his weekly radio talk show as a forum, Limbaugh daily illustrated that the political and economic world are driven much more by image than by content. In a 2006 article written by Craig Smith, the Swiss America CEO uses a past public relations campaign to prove his point. Symbolism over substance was behind the mass medias attempt to convince America that a rally on Wall Street is right around the corner.
You see that a man is justified (pronounced righteous before God) through what he does and not alone through faith [through works of obedience as well as by what he believes], James 2:24.
In the past few years, a new form of symbolism over substance is taking center stage, the Woke Movement. “Woke” indicates a healthy paranoia, especially about issues of racial and political justice. The leaders of this movement use current events as a form of ambulance chasing to score political points in the media. Several democratic candidates running for president went on apology tours to confess past political decisions to convey their degree of woke-ness. Hollywood actors and actresses have joined in, serving vegan meals at this year’s Oscars to illustrate their concern about climate change.
For as the human body apart from the spirit is lifeless, so faith apart from [its] works of obedience is also dead, James 2:26.
Def Leppard released their song Action Not Words in 1983. While the album title Pyromania and lyrics send the wrong message about action, most human beings prefer action, not empty words. This mentality leads to an inner desire, “don’t tell me, show me.” In the passage above, Jesus’ earthly brother writes about faith’s role in fulfilling what you believe. According to James, when you fail to live out faith via works of obedience, faith is dead. Thus, symbolic acts like going to church serve as a façade to hide a lack of spiritual substance. May this blog inspire you to become more than just woke. May the power of the Holy Spirit awaken your soul so that your faith becomes alive.