Summary: God is still in control and that is something we can hold fast to.

Who’s in Charge Here, Anyway?

I forgot one announcement that I need to mention before we move ahead; On the

way to church this morning, I saw Elvis walking along the road picking up

aluminum cans. Does anyone here believe what I just said? I wouldn’t think so. But

the rumor mill is alive and well in the 21st century. There are Elvis sightings around

the world, alligators in NYC sewers, cow tipping, and atheist Madelyn Murray

O’Hare is circulating a petition to ban religious broadcasting from TV.

In 1887 the coffin of Abraham Lincoln was pried open to determine if it contained

his body. What makes that act so remarkable is the fact that Lincoln’s body had

rested in that coffin for 22 years. Yet, even more amazing is that 14 years later a

rumor circulated again that Lincoln’s coffin was actually empty. The furor so

gripped the land that the only way to silence it was to dig up the coffin--again. This

was done and the rumor silenced when a handful of witnesses viewed the lifeless

body of Abraham Lincoln.

Here’s one for you: When a stretch of street swelled, cracked and then returned to

normal within 20 minutes last summer, one city official joked that it was the work of

a giant earthworm. Fire Dept. spokesman Charlie McCafferty, who made the quip,

later chalked up the 20-foot-long bulge to a natural gas accumulation and forgot

about it. Until Tuesday, when he learned that the weekly National Examiner carried

the headline, “20-foot earthworm terrorizes city,swallows dogs.” The story told

readers about a “top-level investigation ordered into the horrifying sighting of a

giant earthworm.” McCafferty said he heard about the article when two frightened

women phoned him about a creature “eating up dogs” they’d read about in the

magazine. The tabloid quoted unidentified city officials and witnesses who said they

saw the worm grab dogs and swallow them whole. Cliff Linedecker, news editor for

the West Palm Beach, Fla. weekly, said the paper got the story from Frank Kendal,

a stringer who “has given us some pretty good stories. It was a very good story and

I saw no reason to question it,” he said. “We run into a lot of really unusual stories

here.” When asked if he believed in such giant earthworms, he said, “Well I do

now. When you’re dealing with the printed word. All I had to deal with was the

printed word.”

Unfortunately, those tabloids, like the Examiner and, of course, the National

Enquirer perpetuate these “rumors”. Many times they succeed because there is a

very,very tiny kernel of truth in the story. For example, in the previous story, it is

true that the sidewalk buckled and cracked. But that’s about where the truth ended.

The internet is a wonderful tool but has more than it’s share of “not quite truthful”

stories making the rounds. There are websites determined to squelch these rumors

called and I think rumors are here to stay, though.

Rumors are one of the biggest threats to confidence that we face. Just ask workers

when a rumor starts that the company is going to lay people off or shut down.

Before most of the workers were confident and secure in their jobs, but that rumor

produces uncertainty, insecurity, and anxiety. That kind of rumor can destroy morale

and productivity in the workplace.

It’s been said, "Some people will believe anything if its whispered to them." But

rumors on a larger scale can cause even greater insecurity. Some of you might

remember the panic that came from H. G. Wells’ radio broadcast "War of the

Worlds" on Halloween in 1938. Some people were persuaded that we really were

being invaded by Mars. Hysteria has a way of overcoming reason, and lots of

people panicked.

Now we read today the rumor circulating among the Thessalonians that "the day of

the Lord" is already here. According to this rumor, Jesus’ return, this judgment of

God on rebellion and evil had already happened. Yet here the Thessalonians found

themselves still suffering from government oppression because their faith in Jesus,

still rejected by family and friends. Paul doesn’t want them to become unsettled or

alarmed by this rumor because it simply isn’t true.

So, how are we supposed to respond to rumors? We respond to rumors with

spiritual confidence BY KEEPING OUR HEADS.

Our capacity to think and reason is a gift from God, and when we lose our head in

the face of rumors about the end of the age, or anything else for that matter, we’re

no longer anchored to God’s gift of clear thinking. People today lose their heads in

the face of rumors the same ways the Thessalonians did. "Prophecies" have been

around for years claiming to predict the second coming of Jesus. Many churches use

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