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Garry Kasparov’s Lost Chess Match

It happened 20 years ago today. The impossible took place. Garry Kasparov, widely recognized as the greatest chess player who ever lived, lost. The grandmaster resigned before official “checkmate” could take place. Even more amazing than his loss was the fact that Kasparov’s opponent had never won a single chess tournament in his life, nor was he world-ranked. He had never won a single trophy or beaten another chess champion.

Still, he beat Garry Kasparov on May 10, 1997.

Who was it? He went by the name of Deep Blue. And “he” was actually more of an “it.” Deep Blue was a supercomputer designed by IBM. It was able to calculate over 100 billion moves in three minutes.

Kasparov’s resignation to Deep Blue was his first ever. And for its victory, the computer was donated to the Smithsonian Institute. Kasparov retired from competitive chess in 2005, and is now a writer and political activist.

I can sort of relate. I used to play chess – a lot. In high school, I won the school championship and the Houston High School Chess Championship. I loved to play chess. But I didn’t win every match. Nobody does. The thing is, man is fallible. We make mistakes. We fall short.

But that’s okay. That’s where grace enters the picture. Where man falls short, God shows up.

The Rushmore Report: The Best Marriage Advice I Ever Heard

You hear a lot of marriage advice before you get married. “Keep a date night.” “Never go to bed angry.” “Make the relationship your first priority.” “Don’t walk out during an argument.” But of all the counsel my husband and I received before our wedding day, one thought has proven to be the most challenging and transformative, and it came from my father-in-law.

A gifted pastor and teacher, he was the only person we could imagine officiating our wedding. During the final preparations for the ceremony, we sat across a table from him in a small restaurant to discuss the details: who was responsible for what, when would everyone arrive, which Bible verses had we chosen to use, and who would be reading them. Somewhere between the end of our meal and the waitress returning a receipt to be signed, we asked him what advice he had for us. He paused, smiled, and looked down for a moment to thoughtfully consider his response. His eyes shot back up and looked directly at us as he simply said, “Forgive quickly.”

I had enough self-awareness on that day to know this would not come easily to me. If there was ever a place where I would feel justified to harbor bitterness and keep a tab on the ways I had been wronged, it would be within marriage. Where else would I share such a wide array of intimate moments with one person? Space, money, parenting responsibilities, highs, lows, personal time, a bed . . . becoming “one” is about more than sex. It requires a level of vulnerability that opens the door for deep hurt, and letting go of those wounds was going to require more change than I would like to submit to.

What forgiveness means

It is rare for me to be without words, especially when I am upset. In the first year of our marriage, we struggled to resolve arguments because of my need to say “just one more thing.” With each additional statement, I churned up the dirt and pulled out new arguments that were both painful and unproductive. I thought I’d feel better by presenting every offense of which I thought my husband was guilty; and if I felt better, I could forgive. If I felt better, I could let it go. In time, I learned that feelings of forgiveness follow the choice to forgive.

My son plays a game that teaches him new words and their definitions. I was recently struck by the explanation it provided for the word forgive. “When you forgive someone, you stop being angry.” To my surprise, the Webster definition also speaks to a change in feelings preceding the act of forgiveness – a far cry from the biblical depiction. Rather, in Scripture we find that forgiveness is an action made in the midst of negative feelings, making it a beautiful expression of love.

About the Author

Cara Joyner writes on Christian marriage, and is regularly featured in Today’s Christian Woman.

Apology

In the washroom of his London club, British newspaper publisher and politician William Beverbrook happened to meet Edward Heath, then a young member of Parliament, about whom Beverbrook had printed an insulting editorial a few days earlier. “My dear chap,” said the publisher, embarrassed by the encounter. “I’ve been thinking it over, and I was wrong. Here and now, I wish to apologize.”

“Very well,” grunted Heath. “But the next time, I wish you’d insult me in the washroom and apologize in your newspaper.”

That’s a valuable lesson for all of us. My view is that when you offend someone in private, it is best to apologize in private. But when you offend in public, make amends in public.

We all offend others from time to time, sometimes intentionally and sometimes unwittingly. But there is no greater freedom than to let go of the burden by saying, “I was wrong. I am sorry. Please forgive me.” You will never look more like Jesus than when you speak to others in humility and confession.

The Rushmore Report: Pastor Fired for Alcohol Abuse Returns to Pulpit

In July 2016, pastor Perry Noble was fired from NewSpring Church in South Carolina, a megachurch he founded. Last Sunday, Noble returned to the pulpit at another megachurch, Elevation Church, in North Carolina, at the invitation of pastor Steven Furtick. This leads to a difficult question. Should Perry Noble, fired for personal behavior, be allowed back into the pulpit?

In a Facebook post, Noble thanked Furtick for standing by him during his darkest hours. “In July 2016 I thought I would never preach again! I allowed myself to be deceived by the enemy and depended on alcohol more than Jesus! However . . . during this entire time, Steven Furtick hasn’t been someone who ‘had my back,’ but rather has stood by my side and been a source of encouragement and friendship, and has been willing to tell me what I needed to hear.”

Following the Saturday night service, Noble continued, “Last night he allowed me the honor of returning to preaching on the stage at Elevation – and what I thought was dead came to life again. In life the ‘who’ that stands with you really does matter – and I am more thankful for Steven and Holly than they could ever imagine.”

But should a disgraced pastor who was fired for his own addictive behaviors be allowed back into a pulpit – any pulpit?

Noble addressed that. “Jesus brings dead things back to life – if you are doubting or disbelieving, I understand – I’ve been there. However, if you are dead, then God is not done. His plans for you are still greater than you could have ever imagined!”

When NewSpring, a church of 30,000 people, dismissed Noble, they cited his “unfortunate choices and decisions,” and placed him under psychiatric care.

Last month, Noble hinted at a return to ministry. He says he has completed successful rehab and suggests biblical precedence for a quick return to ministry in the persons of the Apostles Peter and Paul, who each made grave mistakes, but preached the Gospel soon after.

“Peter denied Christ, and 50 days later he preached the Gospel to Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost,” he noted. “Paul, who was murdering Christians, came to Christ in Acts 9 and immediately starting preaching the Gospel.”

Noble’s message was received by a standing ovation of worshipers at Elevation Church. But the debate will not end there.

Should Perry Noble have been allowed back into the pulpit? Do his admitted “bad choices” and addictions disqualify him from ministry on a public stage?

That is a discussion for another day. It is not my desire to judge Perry or Steven, nor to attempt to offer black-and-white conclusions in matters that remain gray in the Scriptures. But I will say this. I have met both Perry and Steven, at various conferences in their churches. I found both men to be genuine, transparent, and authentic. To say Perry Noble is permanently disqualified from public ministry is to say both men missed God on this one. I, for one, am not willing to go there.

When choosing between grace and law, I tend to choose grace. Whether my position is the product of my theological training, godly wisdom, or my own personal failings, I can’t say for sure. But I do know this. When I read Perry’s closing statement on the matter, it felt right.

“If God has put something in your heart, don’t sit around and wait for the approval of people who don’t believe in you in the first place. Do what God called you to do.”

Gambler Robs Bank & Returns to Casino

It happened last week in Charleston, West Virginia. A man stood up at a blackjack table in a local casino, drove to rob a bank, and then returned to the casino to continue gambling. Kerry Johnson, age 52, was then arrested.

Investigators say Mr. Johnson had been at the Mardi Gras Casino in Nitro for several hours when he put down a $25 chip to hold his spot at the table. That’s when police say Johnson drove 13 miles to a Charleston bank, gave tellers a note saying he had a bomb, and robbed the bank.

Police say Johnson then returned to the blackjack table and kept gambling. He could face 10 to 20 years in prison if convicted. As of this writing, it is not known if he has secured an attorney. It would seem he might need one.

Two lessons emerge from this crazy story.

1. Addictions escalate.

According to the American Psychological Association, there are at least 133 verifiable addictions. And most people have at least two of them. The problem with addictions is that they start small and lead us to places we would never imagine going. So it was with Mr. Johnson. He didn’t have a history of robbing banks; he did it just once – when his gambling addiction got the best of him. He just had to keep gambling, no matter the cost. Addictions escalate. If you are battling an addiction, you need to beat it before it beats you.

2. We all need an Advocate.

Mr. Johnson is toast until he gets an attorney to represent him. The Bible says, “If anybody sins [we do], we have an advocate with the Father – his Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 2:1). Because we all have what Celebrate Recovery calls “hurts, habits, and hangups,” we need the Great Advocate to go before the throne of grace on our behalf. In Christ we have such an Advocate.