Monthly Archives: December 2013

If Only There Were Some Way To Check

Thamsanqa-Jantjie_2763290kThe story of how bogus sign interpreter, Thamsanqa Jantjie, mis-signed his way through the Nelson Mandela Memorial speeches is common knowledge by now. And every blogger, reporter, and major media outlet has reported on this bizarre story. The “joke” was so obvious that it even made for some good humor on Saturday Night Live.

But “the story that couldn’t get any stranger” just has…in a BIG way. It turns out that Jantjie, a man who stood a few feet away from some of the world’s most powerful leaders, was charged with murder in 2003! He was, sources say, one of several men who “accosted two men” and “burned them to death by setting fire to tires placed around their necks.”

Unlike the other men involved in the attack, Jantjie didn’t go to prison because he was deemed mentally unfit to stand trial! Rather, Jantjie was institutionalized for over a year. When he got out of the mental institution, he began sign language interpretation at events. So, despite his past, previous complaints that he lacked even a basic knowledge of sign language, and a clear metal imbalance, Jantjie was chosen to sign for South Africa’s most important memorial ever.

No one likes being lied to. And as a preacher, there is no greater frustration than seeing people fall victim to false interpreters of God’s Word. Doesn’t anyone vet these people? If only there were some way to check them out… Oh, wait. Of course there is! We can, like the Bereans, test every word against scripture. Rather than blindly accepting credentials, Bereans searched the scriptures daily to check if Paul & Silas’ words were accurate.

But like those who hired Jantjie, most people don’t take the time to properly check their sources. Most people blindly accept that their preacher must be telling the truth because a lot of people are listening to them! Check every word that anyone tells you about God’s Word…even mine! And if any of us (even a prophet or angel) should teach a gospel different from the one the Apostles taught, Paul warns that they will be accursed (Galatians 1:8-9).

Stabbed in the Back

Have you ever been stabbed in the back? Of course, I don’t mean literally. I mean when someone abuses your trust and friendship for personal gain. We call this “getting stabbed in the back.” And if it has happened to you, you know how difficult it is to rest easy with a “knife” in your back.

But apparently sleeping with an actual knife in your back isn’t nearly as difficult! According to recent news, a New Jersey man slept soundly for about 10 hours until he awoke complaining about a pain in his back. He called his brother and asked him to take a look. That is when his brother told him he had a 5” blade stuck in his back!

The wound had been the result of a struggle the man had that evening with someone on his front porch. His attacker had walked up asking for a cigarette, there was an argument and fight between the two, and then the attacker ran off. The man thought he had won the fight and decided not to chase his attacker into the night. He awoke the next morning to find quite a surprise!

If you have ever felt “stabbed in the back,” then you are in good company. Did you know that Jesus was stabbed in the back once too?  It is true! No, it wasn’t a literal knife, but Jesus’ close companion, Judas Iscariot, stabbed Him in the back. He betrayed Jesus for a small bag of money – hardly worthy of putting a knife in the back of the Son of God.

Despite having been betrayed, Jesus loved and prayed for His enemies, and He taught His disciples to do so too. And when He had the opportunity to have retribution on Judas…He just let Him go off into the night. Do you “chase your attackers into the night,” or love and pray for them instead?

If we trust people, we might occasionally take a knife to the back, but we do well to remember that vengeance belongs to the Lord (Deuteronomy 32:35; Romans 12:19). When I follow Christ’s example, I sleep better…how about you?

Are You Zoned Out? Awake O Sleeper!

Workers on the corner where the Metro-North train derailment took place

Ever get the feeling that someone you are talking to has their mind somewhere else? Do you feel like there are days when you can’t seem to concentrate and stay focused? If so, perhaps you know how it feels to “zone out.”

If you have ever checked out of a conversation, drifted off into a daydream, or nodded off slightly when sitting still, you probably know what it means to “zone out.” Experts say that zoning out can range from a harmless moment of rest to serious dangers. Drivers, for example, can suffer from an extremely dangerous “zoning out” called “highway hypnosis” or “micro Sleep.” This occurs when the driver loses perspective by looking ahead and seeing miles of railroad track or highway with no significant changes.

Perhaps no one knows that danger more than William Rockefeller. Last Sunday, Rockefeller, the driver of the New York commuter train that derailed, told investigators that he had “zoned out” shortly before the crash which killed four people, injured 11, and held back 26,000 commuters on the Metro-North Hudson line.

Rockefeller did what he could to react once he “snapped out of it,” but unfortunately, it was too late. Did you know that we can suffer from the danger of “zoning out” in our faith? And often it is far too late to recover by the time we “snap out of it.”

Are you gliding through life zoned out? Have you been lulled to sleep by the apparent long road ahead of you? Paul reminds us to “Awake, O Sleeper” and look to Christ for our salvation (Ephesians 5:14). If you aren’t a child of God, have you “zoned out” in your desire to know the truth? If you are a believer, are you wide-awake and focused on the task? Satan is well-pleased when we are distracted.

The families of those who were injured or lost their lives in this terrible accident are in our prayers. Unnecessary loss of life is always sad. That is why we must be so vigilant, especially with eternal life. Stay vigilant until the end, endure in faithfulness, and receive your reward in heaven.