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Monday, April 24, 2017

Don’t Gloat Over Bill O’Reilly

On Friday, April 21st, we marked the five year remembrance of the passing of Chuck Colson. His was a remarkable life. After ascending to the heights of power while serving Richard Nixon in his White House years, Chuck’s world came crashing down in the humiliating events of Watergate.

Colson’s missteps put him in prison. The charge was obstruction of justice and, in 1974, he served seven months in the Maxwell Prison in Alabama. This also earned him the distinction of being the first member of the Nixon team to be incarcerated for charges related to Watergate.

Before the prison term however, a new Chuck Colson was born. Or, as followers of Jesus would say, he was re-born. While his arrest was pending, Chuck’s close friend Tom Phillips of the Raytheon Company gave him a book: Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. It compelled Chuck Colson to ask God to change his heart and make him a new man. And it happened. The “broken” man was healed.

A few years after his release from prison, Chuck founded Prison Fellowship. It remains the largest outreach to prisoners, ex-prisoners, and their families in our country. He also was behind the development of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview.

I met Chuck several times. Usually for an interview or as a casual introduction. I considered it an honor. He had such a significant influence after his faith developed.

In the last several days, another rough and tumble “person of importance” has fallen. Bill O’Reilly. As the host of The O’Reilly Factor for 21 years on the Fox News Network, he had more viewers than anyone else on that network. He made lots of money. He wrote bestselling books. He did personal appearance tours with large audiences in tow. Bill O’Reilly had it all! But not quite.

The allegations of several women were that Bill pushed the envelope way too far in his work relationships. If the claims are accurate, Bill was using his power and influence for self interest at the risk of harming others—emotionally and professionally. He was ripe for a downfall. And it came.

Bill O’Reilly has some significant Catholic roots. Thus, I believe the words of Jesus and the message of His life must have crossed Bill's path. Often. Now would be a good time for Bill to reflect on the importance of Jesus’ message.

Jesus of Nazareth is an expert in dealing with broken human vessels. He offers the understanding of our deepest human needs. He also offers the most powerful of all healing treatments. There is no cost for this. But there is a requirement. Brokenness.

Roy Hession in The Calvary Road said that “brokenness is simply the response of humility to the conviction of God.” That is certainly an excellent starting place. Roy added, “Our brokenness and openness must be two-way, horizontal as well as vertical, with one another as with God.”

Bill O’Reilly’s life can take a dramatic turn. His very best days may yet be ahead. A beginning point would be to admit he was wrong. He needs to take that personal confession and regret vertically—to God—and horizontally—to those he offended. God will certainly forgive. His other accusers may take a while.

My guess is that there are many enemies who cheered the downfall of Bill. They should be careful. King Solomon’s words hold weight: “Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice, or the Lord will see and disapprove and turn his wrath away from them.” (Proverbs 24:17-18, NIV)

My modern day proverb might be: “Don’t gloat. Or you may find yourself in the moat. And there are PLENTY of alligators waiting.”

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Let’s Talk with Mark Elfstrand can be heard weekdays from 4-6 PM Central. To listen outside the Chicago area, tune to for live streaming or podcasts, or download the AM1160 app.

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