Chapter 16 Written / Published 17.7/23.7.18 (Pics by author, unless indicated)
To some the Greatest Show on earth caused football overload during June/July 2018. Here the FIFA World Cup provided magic in this chapter, right in the first sentence.
Again, I make no apologies, more than one church video screen came to live with a message, a foolish one maybe? So be it.
A significant event in Thailand fascinated the media globally. Questions came that needed to be asked. Perhaps all is scripted? Perhaps by the author of salvation, Almighty God, Himself?
At times it feels selfish to be writing in the first person singular all the time. Autobiographies tend to be written that way. My family does not want to be mentioned. One birthday, however, had to be included. God showed up!
16. Foolish, weak and good.
It should not come as a surprise that right here at the beginning of Chapter 16 (in Book 16) the number 3 should be the first one to feature. The number three fits perfectly into the story you are about to read. It's the story of the Saviour, (in German Retter!) the One who died and rose.
It all started on a football field in Moscow during the FIFA 2018 World Cup. England's dream of once again reaching the final and winning soccer's greatest trophy came to an end after losing the semifinal 2:1 against Croatia. I couldn't help myself noticing the names of England's players No.3 and that of No.4 - Rose and Dier.
If this were all there was to point to our Saviour's story, the essence of which is indeed a man, who died and rose again, it would suffice. But with God there's always more!
Four days later, two days before starting this chapter, the word rose crossed my path again, literally inside a cross. (Read on, it will make sense). On Sunday 15th July 18 my wife and her mother Agnes Rose, were not in church. I sat on my own in the usual spot toward the back. What I saw next sounds very repetitive. But... so be it. Amen!
Without trying to pick it up, during one song my eyes fell onto the word rose. The microphone cable ran through it. Next, there came a message which ran along the cable. Strange it is - but so true:
He (my God) H e rose - Jesus!
There was still more. If any readers still believe in coincident, let them. The words of the cross will always be foolishness in their narrow minds. But what came next, only 24 hours before writing this paragraph, two days after above church service, is not foolishness. It's fact.
In the evening I started a crossword puzzle, one of those German ones, written about in previous chapters. Sure enough, here it came again:
*The theme of the (rose) church service on 15/7/18 was: Surprise the World! The Christian walk may not be a bed of roses, but the journey is full of surprises!
The world is in urgent need of being rescued. All are on the road to damnation, except those who accept God's gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Everyone must choose. Would you not rather be rescued?
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(Back to Russia's big football show). As I watched a few games on SBS television I took a few photos; just for the record and perhaps, something to blog about here? Sport does provide a certain amount of entertainment and pleasure, especially when doing it, rather than watching while reclining on the couch. It's just like our faith - don't just sit and believe - get up and do something. (More of that in a moment).
Here are a couple of pictures I captured off the TV screen. In preparation for this chapter one surprise came after another, even during writing; names, numbers, links:
How amazing that God would choose an event, watched by hundreds of millions, to make his presence felt and to drive home once again the simple gospel message of John 3, 16.
The last Book in the Bible, Revelations speaks of an event, when... "every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him"; and all peoples on earth "will mourn because of Him." So shall it be! Amen. (Revelations 1, 7).
Only in the past few decades has there been technology available, where this prophesy could become a reality - live television. When this scripture was written everybody thought the earth was flat. Anyone looking skyward would see the same thing. A round earth made this impossible. Only live television can broadcast an event globally. Every eye can see it simultaneously. Later we shall return to that little word 'eye', having a little fun with it.
But first back to the memorable Sunday morning (rose) church service on July 15, 18. The preacher delivered a really challenging sermon. He aimed it at those Christians, who find it hard to engage with non believers, who don't know how to best talk about their faith and the hope they have in Jesus Christ; a message for everyone.
The practical lesson that morning was based on a teaching series by Australian author Michael Frost, who leads an organization called Crossover. The speaker gave five main points to remember, which have proven successful in reaching out (crossing over) to unbelievers.
One way was to invite people into your home for a meal. At the end the preacher asked listeners to raise their hand, those who wanted to commit to it. He was very specific that the invitation should be for a minimum of three people, one of which must be a non-church going person.
My hand went up without hesitation. There was a good reason for it. Already during the sermon I had contemplated inviting three particular people for a meal, either for the following Monday or Tuesday evening. (They were overseas visitors, leaving town on Wednesday).
I was astounded. Neither had my wife been in church, nor did she know anything about the sermon. Of course, I did as I was told. One and a half hours later we shared a meal with three lovely people. They had been to our place for a meal about two years earlier.
Friends, on the Christian journey there are no co-incidences; only surprises, where God's Holy Spirit is evident, working things together for good, our good and that of others.
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Sorry to readers who are not enthusiastic for the real football, but one more Sunday morning incident, surrounding the World Cup, provided a number of surprises. As strange as it may seem, it started also with a picture I took after a world cup football match:
Below: Dejected Swedish players, after losing to Germany
As I sat in church for the (June 24th) church service to start, sitting quietly in my seat, the 2 4 picture of Sweden's losing team was long behind me. Suddenly, as happens every Sunday, on the front on the video screens certain graphics came up. Various upcoming events are announced that way.
One graphic made me take note, getting my phone ready to take a picture. Two numbers, 2 and 4, were central of this graphic. At this point the football photo, Sweden's 2 and 4, from the TV screen a short time earlier, came to mind. Everything suddenly fell into place, like pieces that fitted into a big puzzle:
CELEBRATE THE 4th ON THE 2nd!
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On the same day a news item flashed across the television screen. A man who had been missing for two weeks was found dead in scrubland. As it is in our media driven society, so much drama dominates the news, other people's tragedy becomes our entertainment. In ancient Rome it was the same, except the killings were staged in an arena to entertain the crowds. Nobody dare suggest that today's events could be staged!
The name of the dead man, Roger Jacobs, struck a cord in my brain. In the chapter I had just published, the previous Chapter 15, both names Roger and Jacob had played a big part. What should I make of it? The printed press gave the name of the deceased man's dog - Bandit. Code ao could create this - Good id t.
A far more prominent news story, one that captured global interest, came out of Thailand. A youth soccer team, twelve boys, and their coach went missing after training one day. Outside a cave searchers found their bicycles and rucksacks; no sign of the boys, aged 11-15 and their 25 year-old coach. They were called the 'Wild Boars'.
The more this event unfolded, the more questions arose in my mind. When I read somewhere that the Thai Prime Minister's name starts with Pray... my curiosity only increased. The first news item on our screens, from memory, was on June 23rd 2018, then ... nothing; not on the 6 PM news, nor online even, no more updates for a day or two. Had the media forgotten these boys?
In contrast, after the stranded team had been found and rescued, there was news overload. Every detail, over and over, was shown. The media went to the other extreme. After their release from hospital one reporter said: "The media is in a feeding frenzy. Some boys had to be moved to a secret location and were not allowed to speak..." or words to that effect. (Source: Liam Cochrane, Twitter)
The number 20 has always been a sacred number, ever since writing the chapter called 'The two tens of Jesus'. Jesus had been a coach*. HE had a team of 12 to look after.
(*On writing I decoded coach - cc H ao - or 'God sees it).
One television personality, when referring to the safe rescue of the boys, spoke about their 'salvation'. The story had a happy ending. But one must not forget the ONE, who lost his life so all could be free.
The rescue divers had to get through a 38 cm gap; the distance was described as the length of 3 Mars bars! It made me think, what did the 25 year old coach of the Wild Boars think? First we have hard training, then a bike ride before all 13 will scramble for eight kilometers in and out of that cave? Even without rain, what madness!
The suggestion was broadcast that the trapped group may have to wait until the monsoon rains stopped four months later. Imagine, four months in a dark, wet prison!. It was a ludicrous idea, just to do nothing and wait for the rains to stop. How did the parents react to this possibility? They already had weeks of agony to cope with.
After the first (or second) group of boys had been brought out I heard TV Channel Seven reporter Chris Reason say this: "The divers now need 20 hours rest ..." (Our No.20 again!) This also sounded strange. When over 1000 people allegedly were involved in the rescue, wouldn't others be on standby to immediately continue?
Earlier in above TV segment the word DIVER took my fancy as I read it backward; a V in the center.
(Hey, I just noticed - Retter - Re HE with two tt in the center. WOW!)
I remembered the V sign one trapped boy had given to a television camera. It called for an email to the station to have some fun, but also ask some questions. (Note: In the first sentence there are seven palindromes:)
The word palindrome, according to Wikipedia, comes from the Greek 'palin' meaning 'back' and 'drome' direction. It not only applies to words, but also to whole sentences.
A very clever brain (not mine) with an equally sharp eye, came up with this brilliant example: A MAN A PLAN A CANAL PANAMA.
As readers know by now I do see things, sometimes ordinary things, which then turn into weird stuff. On 1.7 after publishing the previous chapter, on 17th June, my wife Isobel, her mother Agnes Rose and myself visited the Heights Church Modbury. No microphone cables are hanging from their ceiling. But there was a message at the front, which came in a huge graphic on the wall behind the platform:
That Sunday, July 22nd 2018 was a special Sunday for the Heights Church. It was the very first Church service after two large congregations in the North Eastern Bible belt of Adelaide had combined. (We live not far down the road, in the lower parts, the Old Testament).
The speaker for the well advertised event was veteran Pastor AE, a well known personality in church circles and the political scene in Australia. His text could not have been more appropriate. His message spoke right into my heart. It was so germane, pointing in my direction, when the scripture was projected onto the screen I took a picture:
1. Corinthians 1, 27: (The date 22.7)
AE stands for Andrew Evans, a spiritual giant who over decades has influenced many lives all over the world.
The draft of this chapter was ready for editing on the morning of publishing. But there was more, events very early that day, which needed to be added. Two letters in the alphabet, the letters DT, triggered another story. Timing is again central to it all:
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Good things seem to happen early in the morning, especially on Sundays. On July 8th 18 my wife asked me to write a brief something onto the birthday card of one of our sons. (The handsome, blond young man would hate to be named or shown here). We were in a bit of a rush, as many church goers are every Sunday. So I scribbled the first thing that dropped into my mind: "Trust in the Lord, with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding" (Proverbs 3, 5).
But there was more, more good came the next day, as I pondered what had happened, how God had showed up the previous day. Next this came: It was our son's 35th birthday. (Surely goodness and numbers shall follow me ...)
The God of Israel, the only true God, is indeed for real. Open your eye to see HIM. HE certainly sees you and ALL.
During the recent big football event in Moscow, for the first time, video action replay, has been used to assist the referee making the right decisions. Players who do the wrong thing no longer get away with it. The replay in slow motions reveals every detail.
So will it be on the day of judgment. Nothing is hidden that will not become evident, nor anything secret that will not be known and come to light. (Luke 8, 17).
In the book of Romans the bible warns those who think God does not see the evil they do, those who don't take God seriously:
How different the future will be for those who do good for God's glory:
Isn't it time to decide how you want to live?