Helping the Helpless

A few days ago (October 23, 2011), a 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck eastern Turkey. The damage was great. More than 2,000 buildings have collapsed and the death told is more than 400 people (and counting). It’s all a reminder of the fact that we live in a fallen world.

Perhaps the most heart-warming story came from Ercis, Turkey, where rescuers were able to pull a 2 week-old baby (Azra Karaduman) from the rubble of a five-story apartment building, nearly two days after the quake hit. Shortly thereafter, her mother and grandmother were also pulled from the wreckage alive. It was a great rescue.

This is a good picture of our salvation. We were completely helpless, until God stepped in and pulled us out of the rubble of sin. “While we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6).

The Rise and Fall of Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods is (er, … was?) one of the greatest golf talents ever.  His meteoric rise to dominate the golf scene is historic.  I still remember watching in amazement as this 21-year-old golfer won the 1997 Masters by 12 strokes!  He looked unbeatable.  Over the years, I have very much enjoyed rooting for him to win.

Jack Nicklaus saw it coming.  In an interview with Billy Morris, on April 10, 1996, Nicklaus said, “Arnold and I both agree that you could take his Masters and my Masters and add them together, and this kid should win more than that. This kid is the most fundamentally sound golfer that I’ve ever seen at almost any age. … I don’t know whether he’s ready to win yet or not, but he will be your favorite for the next 20 years. If he isn’t, there’s something wrong.” Well, seeing the above chart, something is wrong.

For 719 weeks in a row (almost 14 years), Tiger Woods was ranked as #1, #2, or #3 in the world.  Yet, now, he has fallen out of the top 50.  It is no accident that his fall has coincided with the exposure of his sexual sin (in November 2009). He hasn’t won a tournament since.  The reason he didn’t lose his #1 ranking earlier than October 2010 is because the world rankings take into account all the golf tournaments for the past two years.  He was so dominant that without even playing very much (or very well), it took nearly a year to lose his #1 post. I’m hoping that he can regain his form and be #1 again.

Learn the lesson of Tiger’s fall.  Sin will destroy you. Don’t be deceived, “be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23). Sooner or later, your sin will come to light.  When king David kept silent about his sexual sin, he said, “my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. … My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer.”  After more than a year, David finally confessed his sin to the Lord and found forgiveness.  He spoke of the blessing that  “How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered!” (Psalm 32:1-5).

What’s David’s counsel to us? “Let everyone who is godly pray to You in a time when You may be found” (Psalm 32:6). So turn to Christ today, while grace and mercy awaits and know the joy and relief of forgiveness of sins.

Clergy Not Welcome

Do you remember where were you when you learned that the World Trade Centers in New York were attacked on September 11th, 2001? I remember where I was. I was at my desk and my wife came and told me what happened. It proceeded to consume the rest of the day, as we watched the horrific images of the burning buildings and then the collapse of the towers. I suspect that most everyone old enough can remember what they did on that day.

Here are some follow up questions: do you remember what took place that evening? Congress spontaneously erupted in singing “God Bless America”! Many prayer meetings were held that evening. I was at one of them. Do you remember what happened over the next few days? People flooded into houses of worship in record numbers. Churches were full the next few Sundays.

How ironic is it that the current New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has decided that there will be no clergy present on stage at the ceremony commemorating the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks. Is God good enough for a crisis, but not good enough for a ceremony of remembrance?

This is a good picture of how most people in our society view God. Oh, He’s good for a crisis. But, He’s not very good for regular life. But, if God isn’t good enough for regular life, how can He be good enough for the crisis?

Who’s Next?


In recent days, we have seen an outbreak of sexual scandals of those in positions of power. Anthony Weiner sent lewd pictures of himself to a woman following his twitter feed. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s marital infidelity came to the surface. Dominique Strauss-Kahn was arrested for sexual assault on a housekeeper at a hotel in Manhattan. This is nothing new; such scandals hit the news all the time. Remember Mark Sanford? Tiger Woods? Bill Clinton?

I’m not surprised by these scandals. They are simply a reflection of the sinful heart of men. They will occur again. When they do, let us all be reminded of the sin that is deep within all of us.  “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one” (Romans 3:10-12). Here’s my question: Who’s next to remind us of our sin?

Praise the Lord for Jesus, who through our faith has “forgiven us all our trespasses” (Colossians 2:13).

Millerites

In light of Harold Camping’s false prophecy of the judgment day on May 21, 2011, I thought a brief history lesson might be helpful today.

In the 1840’s William Miller (pictured above) began teaching that Christ would return on October 22, 1844. Many believed him.  They were called Millerites.  Well, as you well know, that day came and went without anything spectacular happening. Rather than admitting that they were just plain wrong, Millerites tried to explain the day away. The most popular teaching was that Christ came “spiritually” on that day.  He didn’t come to earth.  Rather, He entered his heavenly tabernacle, and began the work of cleansing the heavenly tabernacle before coming to earth. This is the official teaching of the Seventh Day Adventist Church (see article 24).

Rather than admitting the errors of his way (see Matthew 24:36), Harold Camping has tried to explain it all away. He is still insistent that the judgment day was on May 21, 2011. Only it was a “spiritual” judgment day. The end of the world will occur later (on October 21, 2011). Sound familiar?

That which has been is that which will be,
And that which has been done is that which will be done.
So there is nothing new under the sun.
(Ecclesiastes 1:9)

We Are Still Here!

So, how are we to think of such people like Harold Camping, who predicted that the end of the world was yesterday? Among other things, he is a living illustration of the fool in Proverbs, who separated himself from the Christian church (in 1994) and was wise in his own eyes (Proverbs 12:15; 18:1).

Click here for the best article I have read about his foolish predictions.

They are Both Wrong

Harold Camping has predicted that the world is going to end on May 21, 2011 (that’s tomorrow).  In a recent  interview, he said, “When we get to May 21 on the calendar in any city or country in the world, and … when the clock says about 6 p.m., there’s going to be this tremendous earthquake that’s going to make the last earthquake in Japan seem like nothing in comparison. And the whole world will be alerted that Judgment Day has begun.”

Stephen Hawking recently came out denying an afterlife. In a recent interview, he said, “I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.”

They are both wrong.  Tomorrow, we will find out that Harold Camping is wrong.  When we die, we will find out that Stephen Hawking is wrong.

To be sure, the judgment is coming, … it’s just not coming tomorrow.  To be sure, there is an afterlife, … we need to be ready.  Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, … but of that day and hour no one knows. … Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming” (Matthew 24:35, 36, 42).