“THE GREAT BUNDEENA MILK-CRATE HEIST”

You’d think that cleaning out a shed would be pretty dull. But lurking in ours was a dark and dastardly family secret……

A few year ago, while helping to clean out my grandparents’ garage, I came across a few dozen plastic milk crates that were being used as stackable storage boxes. Over lunch, I innocently asked my grandmother where my grandfather might have collected them from. My grandmother looked thoughtful, then paled, and then a shocked expression stole across her face.  She let out a breathless “Oh, my goodness!!”

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Over the next hour she related a crime so shocking, so disturbing, so heinous, that Oprah would barely believe it…. so I’ll tell you instead.

During the 1980’s, when the world was young and unspoiled, life was simple in the sleepy township of Bundeena, a community far enough south of Sydney to avoid both hustle and bustle.

That is until THE SCANDAL broke.

News spread across back fences and through the community that someone, in the middle of the night, was stealing milk crates from the corner shop. Each evening, three or four crates that had been left by townspeople who had milk delivered to their door were being stolen in audacious night-time raids.

Many thought the innocence of the town was being shattered.

As always, the youth were blamed. Police were alerted and the little grocery store organised a safer way to return the empty crates. Over the years the township of Bundeena tried to move on – but many point to this incident as the first time people started locking their homes!

Little did they know that in their midst was a seventy-year-old man – my grandfather – harbouring a secret stash of stolen milk-crates. In fact, it was about forty of these “secrets”, and they were storing fishing line, old tennis balls, and gardening tools.

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Finally, the Great Bundeena Milk Crate Heist was no longer a mystery.  My very own grand-father was the culprit. As I pieced together the crime over lunch with my grandmother I felt like I was Sherlock Holmes.

But what was I to do now? What would we do with the family shame stored in all those crates? My grandmother made a tough moral decision.  She’d make me take them back.  “Because it’s the right thing to do”, she said – “We need to make things right!”

The way I saw it I had two options. One was to front up to the shop and try to explain the actions of my grandfather fifteen years previously, and explain that my grandmother now wanted them returned. The other alternative was to take them back in the middle of the night – like a coward – hoping no-one would see me.

So at midnight that night, I dropped the forty stolen milk-crates by the door of the shop and scurried home.

As I lay in bed late that night I imagined the look on the store owner’s face when he arrived for work the next day – and found milk crates not seen for a two decades. That’s a long time to keep milk, even in the fridge!

At least, as my Nan put it, ‘a wrong was made right.’

Do you feel like your life needs a clean out? Or, like my grandparents’ shed, are you storing some secret sin or mistake? And does that stored guilt need to be made right if possible – even if it takes an awkward apology, some kind of restitution, or even another attempt to re-start a relationship?

God Himself wants to make right this world – even though He didn’t cause the breakdown. Day by day He is working towards a new world, a world without selfishness, greed, arrogance, broken families, hurting children, the loss of loved ones to sickness and death.

That’s why He came as a baby 2,000 years ago.

And God also wants to make things right with you personally.

So, do you have any metaphorical milk-crates you’d like to give back to Him? It feels great when you do. Just ask my grandmother.

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About this blog: Pastor David Riley is a minister of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and lives on the Gold Coast in Australia. This article is from his “Reverential Ramblings” series – which you can subscribe to by clicking “follow” on this website.

Want to read more inspirational stories of faith from this series? Click here to read the inspiring story of how one soldier’s sacrifice changed an entire prisoner-of-war camp during World War II.David speaking 2

Benjamin Franklin: Let Your Light Shine

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Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)

Benjamin Franklin was a famous eighteenth century American thinker, writer, and inventor. One of his most well-known experiments was to prove that lightening was electrically charged – and Franklin did this by flying a kite in a storm with a metal key attached to the kite.

Benjamin Franklin lived in the U.S. city of Philadelphia and hoped to interest his fellow neighbours in the possible benefits of street-lighting at night. Ben Franklin didn’t simply try to persuade his fellow citizens by talking about street-lighting, what he did do was practically demonstrate the benefits. Franklin placed a candle in an ornamental lantern on a long bracket on the outside wall of his own home. He ensured the glass on his lantern was highly polished, and each day as the sun began to set Benjamin Franklin would personally light the lantern’s wick. His neighbours would see the light from a distance and how it helped them avoid obstacles and stepping on rocks near Franklin’s home. Soon, other people also began to place a lantern outside their own home and before too long street lighting took shape in the American city of Philadelphia.

Benjamin Franklin didn’t simply talk about the benefits of street lighting, he let others see how it would make a difference.

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In the same way, it’s not enough to only talk about the reality of Jesus Christ – our family and neighbours need to see how surrendering to our Saviour has made a difference in your life.

“You are the light of the world,” Jesus told His listeners in the famous ‘Sermon on the Mount’ – “so, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify the Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)

Allow your light to shine so a world in darkness may see our loving Creator more clearly.

 

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About this blog: Pastor David Riley is a minister of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and he lives on the Gold Coast in Australia. This article is from his “Reverential Ramblings” series – which you can subscribe to by clicking “follow” on this website.

Want to read more inspirational stories of faith from this series? Click here to read the funny story of how one orchestra member saved his colleagues from their famous boss’s wild temper tantrums

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Catching Monkeys, Losing Your Soul

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There are stories from Africa a century ago of the locals trapping monkeys to sell to the colonialists as pets.

The way they trapped the wild monkeys was simple and almost unbelievable – and the method has a spiritual message for us today.

Monkeys in the wild are very elusive. As soon as they see or hear someone approaching they jump quickly high into the tall trees and hide themselves in the canopy. The only way the white colonialists could catch them was to shoot them trying to only injure the monkeys and not kill them – but you can see straight away this method of catching monkeys had significant flaws.

The locals had a better method – one that captured the monkeys without any harm or shots being fired.

They tied a bottle to the base of a small tree and placed a delicious peanut inside the bottle. These professional monkey catchers would then walk away and give the bottle plenty of space for the monkeys to feel safe. A monkey would smell the peanut and come down to investigate. Seeing the peanut at the bottom of the bottle the monkey would squeeze his hand through the bottle’s opening and grab hold of the yummy meal.

Once the monkey had hold of the peanut, the monkey catchers would then calmly walk towards the tree. The monkey would see the humans approaching and scream and flail about, but the monkey couldn’t escape from the bottle tied to the tree. His small hand that had squeezed through the bottle’s opening was now formed into a fist as he held onto the peanut… and because the monkey wasn’t willing to let go of his food he wouldn’t be able to pull his hand out of the bottle’s opening.

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A still image from a century old film of how to catch monkeys

The monkey catchers would then grab hold of the monkey, tie him up, and then train him for a lifetime of captivity as a pet to some wealthy foreigner.

For the sake of not letting go of a peanut the monkey spent a lifetime in captivity.

Before we pass judgment on the monkey or comment on their foolishness, how many of us are holding onto metaphorical “peanuts” in our lives and being held captive by them.

We remember with resentment the harsh comment by a former school teacher or friend – and allow the residual bitter feelings to well up inside us and just like the monkey we’re held captive to something that happened a long time ago. Or we allow someone else’s beliefs about us to become our own limiting beliefs and we’re held back from becoming the person our Creator wants us to be. Sometimes we even hold onto an unfulfilling job or relationship and never truly experience the freedom the Lord wants us to have.

In the Gospel of Luke it records Jesus standing up to preach in a synagogue one Sabbath, and he says to those willing to listen: “”The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, for I have been anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. I have been sent to proclaim that captives shall be released… and the oppressed will be set free.”

How many of us are not living life with more freedom because of a peanut we’re holding on to? How many of us feel like we’re captive to something else?  Won’t you let go, and let God give you a life more abundant. Won’t you let your Creator set you free.

Let go… and let God.

To view a YouTube clip of locals catching monkeys a century ago click here

 

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About this blog: Pastor David Riley is a minister of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and he lives on the Gold Coast in Australia. This article is from his “Reverential Ramblings” series – which you can subscribe to by clicking “follow” on this website.

Want to read more inspirational stories of faith from this series? Click here to read the sad and inspiring story of a soldier who was willing to die for his fellow prisoners.

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