Remembering Rush Limbaugh

Rush Limbaugh, the longtime conservative radio personality died on 2/17/2021 of complications of lung cancer.  He was 70 years old.  No one will ever be able to understand, equal, or completely appreciate what Rush’s effe­ct was on the political landscape as well as on media, particularly AM radio.  It is not an understatement to say that he came in at the right moment and basically saved radio broadcasting in general, and AM radio in particular.  It is also no understatement to say that he revolutionized media journalism as a whole.  Prior to 1990, the mainstream media could be considered one gigantic monolith regarding news, and overwhelmingly, the sole angle or opinion that came through most was almost always leftist.  The media was not unbiased, and if a conservative watched the news on television, or read it in the newspapers, one would think that all the world was completely liberal-left, with ivy-league’s educated intellectuals (or at least that is what they looked like) who were supposedly the paragon of wisdom and virtue talking down their noses at millions of Americans who believed differently but were afraid to voice their opinion.  Hence came Rush Limbaugh to the scene in 1991.

Rush did not have a college degree (something that made him different from all the other members of his family).  His start in radio came from his high school days and would eventually take him to such places as Kansas City (where he worked with the Kansas City Royals baseball team in their public marketing department) and Pittsburg (where he had a similar job with the Pittsburgh Pirates) and to Sacramento where his radio talk show work began to take form, and eventually to New York City.

Rush’s first and only love (as a profession) was radio, and having studied the medium when I was and undergraduate, I know the difficulty of achieving success in this media.  You usually start off in small radio stations in small towns or cities with barely a salary; this can go one for months or years.  In Rush’s case, he said as radio disc jockey, that by the time he was in his 30s, he was making $18,000—nothing to be proud of, especially in a family of very successful college graduates.  Rush had an idea for a radio show, and increasingly, his conservative opinions were being in aired on his DJ program. Eventually, one producer decided to take a chance on that idea and his conservative opinions.  And the rest is history, which is easily said but too simplistic an explanation.

It is not easy making such a radio program.  Rush found an audience that had always existed but was only tapped into by Christian programs in decades past, and that only minutely.  It turn out America was (and still is) made up of people who believe in the exceptional nature of America: a group of people who did not identify with anything they saw in the standard news media or in the entertainment world.  They had a Biblical sense of decency, an old-time work ethic, a sense that living off the government was a last resort and never to be accepted as a way of life.  A group of people who feared the leftist push of the nation because they feared that such a push would eventually take their freedoms, one at a time.  A group of people who were brow-beaten and insulted by the psychotic elements of the entertainment industry, given no recourse to defend themselves without being lampooned by the press.  And that group of people responded in every one of the 50 states of these United States.  Over the next 32 years, Rush Limbaugh accumulated the largest daily audience in the history of the media: between 25 and 30 million people per day.

Rush’s rise became the catalyst for a new media industry which the left has tried its best to destroy (but has failed to do so, and will continue to fail).  What is derisively called “right wing media”—conservative talk radio, Foxnews, Breitbart, Newsmax, One American News, and hundreds of bloggers, commentators and digital freelance journalists—they all started and flourished from 1991 to the present because of Rush Limbaugh.  And as I said, they will not be silenced by the left if they, like Rush, will come to understand that many of the ideas that they stand for as conservatives are transcendent ideas that often find their foundation from the Bible, which will not be defeated by anyone, let alone CNN!

I began listening to Rush when I was in 8th grade.  Years later, after I got married and was blessed with children, they too literally grew up listening to Rush Limbaugh with me.  When he and his wife wrote the Rush Revere series, we got all the books in the set, along with the audio books on CD, so we could read along with him!  I shall be always be grateful that my children received a more accurate version on the history of the founding of these United States than they have received in many history lessons in the public education system through the years.

One may wonder why I would take time to honor this man, particularly on a church website and from the Pastor’s Desk.  Well let me get rid of the other talking points first.  Rush had three failed marriages before he married his fourth wife Katheryn.  For much of the early years, he was overweight and made no secret regarding his views that he did not trust diet fads, opinions or other advice given by the medical professionals.  Often on his broadcast, when he would cite an article, he would ruffle the papers on the mike and say “in my formerly nicotine stained fingers”.  So the question comes, why would we honor such a man?

Rush’s radio show did not come as the summation of wisdom.  Rather it was journey which enabled him to find and understand the reason for conservative ideas as well as the foundation of this nation.  This was a journey not exclusive to Rush; the late William F. Buckley had a similar experience, as did the late Charles Colson.  As with these gentlemen (and many others), if they are being intellectually honest and spiritually open, it will eventually lead them to the Bible.  And then they will find that not only the reason for their viewpoints, but also the foundation of them, rest on the Bible, and in Jesus Christ in particular.

Author Joel C. Rosenberg, in a recent article in All Israel News, detailed Rush’s journey to salvation.  Rosenberg had known Rush since 1993 and had worked for him for many years since.  His career as a bestselling author was very much boosted by Rush interviewing him on his radio show after having read his book (it should be mentioned that Rosenberg’s book ended up #1 on the New York Times’ Best Sellers’ List for 11weeks).  Rosenberg’s writing is considered a mix of political thriller and Christian prophetic eschatology and evangelism.  Many of his best sellers are sold in Christian outlets and books stores.  It should also be said that Rosenberg is a Jewish Christian living in Israel—not a small feat or a less-challenging one.

Rosenberg mentioned Rush’s relentless pursuit of broadcast excellence as well as of promotions and financial success.  As much as he loved the man, Rosenberg did not hide the fact that Rush Limbaugh had his own demons to deal with.  Toward the last 20 years of his life, certain things happened in Rush’s life that began to bring about moments of introspection.  Among them was the following:  In the early 2000’s, he began to lose his hearing—something that would have ended his radio career permanently.  Through the miracle of science and technology, Rush got a new lease on his radio life with the use of cochlear implant, but just as it was for Ludwig Von Beethoven two centuries prior, the whole experience was earth-shaking.  There were people who God brought into Rush’s life during this period who began to interact with him and bring about a Christian influence into his life, such as Rosenberg, and Rush’s brother David, who made a commitment to Jesus Christ in the 1990s that so changed his life, that he has pursued a ministry in Christian apologetics.  I say that such people are like the burning bush for Moses in the wilderness (in Exodus 3); through them, Rush began to be drawn to the presence of Jesus Christ.  I would say also that anyone who had to cover the event for every day of every year after the tragic events of September 11, 2001 would be searching for meaning and some way to make sense of an increasingly erratic world.

Prior to his cancer diagnosis, Rush began making lifestyle changes.  He did something that he previously disdained—he went on a diet and exercise regimen in which he lost over 95 pounds!  He married his fourth wife Katheryn, and privately, began yielding to that voice from the Burning Bush.

Despite their close relationships with Rush, Christian friends such as Joel Rosenberg (and even his brother David) had to tread lightly on how they could talk about the subject with him.  Rush was an intensely private person and hardly anyone was allowed to intrude into his personal life—a trait that many of the saner or smarter famous people tend to share.  “All I could do was pray for him”, said Rosenberg.  God would have to do the rest—and He did.

It would be best to hear from Rush’s own words at this point from his Oct. 19 program (An Update on My Health: It’s a Roller Coaster), when he shared that he had come to the very hard realization that he was under a “death sentence,” and that his time was running out:

It’s tough to realize that the days where I do not think I’m under a death sentence are over. Now, we all are, is the point. We all know that we’re going to die at some point, but when you have a terminal disease diagnosis that has a time frame to it, then that puts a different psychological and even physical awareness to it.

You know, I wake up every day and thank God that I did. I go to bed every night praying I’m gonna wake up. I don’t know how many of you do that, those of you who are not sick, those of you who are not facing something like I and countless other millions are. 

But it’s a blessing when you wake up. It’s a stop-everything-and-thank-God moment.

And every day, thus, results in me feeling more and more blessed. Hearing from you, knowing that you’re out there praying and everything else you’re doing, that is a blessing. It’s just a series of blessings. And I am grateful to be able to come here to the studio, tell you about it, and really maintain as much normalcy as I can.

I know a lot of you out there are going through your own challenges, whether it’s cancer or another medical illness or some other life challenge. Maybe even in the hospital right now. Someone told me—I think this is good advice, may be helpful—the only thing that any of us are certain of is right now, today. 

That’s why I thank God every morning when I wake up.

It is of immense value, strength, confidence, and that’s why I’m able to remain fully committed to the idea that what is supposed to happen will happen when it’s meant to.  

I thank God that I did. I try to make it the best day I can no matter what. I don’t look too far ahead. I certainly don’t look too far back. I try to remain committed to the idea what’s supposed to happen, will happen when it’s meant to. I mentioned at the outset of this—the first day I told you—that I have personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

 It is of immense value, strength, confidence, and that’s why I’m able to remain fully committed to the idea that what is supposed to happen will happen when it’s meant to. 

There’s some comfort in knowing that some things are not in our hands. There’s a lot of fear associated with that, too, but there is some comfort. It’s helpful…God, is it helpful. It’s helpful to be able to trust and to believe in a higher plan.

So again, let me just thank all of you for your support, your prayers. I send the same to all of you through anything that you are facing. 

So now the objective here is rounding third, not having to head back to second base and slide in there. Here’s to rounding third and heading towards home. That’s the objective. That’s the goal.

 I do not think that I could add anything else to those words.  It is enough to wipe out the vile commentary of the leftists in the media. They have nothing but noise that means nothing.  As usual there is a double standard for anything and anyone conservative, but let us see if they will be able to defeat the following:

“Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God; nor does the perishable in the imperishable.  Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.  For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality.  But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP IN VICTORY.  O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY?  O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?”  The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.” (1Corinthinans 15:50-58 NASB).

May God comfort the grieving family of Rush Limbaugh.  Good night Rush.  I look forward to seeing you again one day at the throne of God in the New Jerusalem!