Billy Graham… Incognito

Billy-graham.jpg

Pastor Billy Graham would sometimes tell the story of a time he travelled to a city in Canada for one of his famous public evangelism campaigns. He arrived a day early and went along to a church service where he sat incognito.

For decades he was one of the most famous Christian communicators, but on his impromptu visit to a Canadian church Pastor Graham was wearing a hat and dark glasses, and no-one recognised him as he sat at the back of the congregation.

As Billy sat alone, he noticed an older gentleman sitting in front of him who was listening intently to the preacher’s words. At the end of the presentation the preacher invited people to come forward to the alter as a symbol of public commitment to Jesus Christ.

In an act of personal evangelism the famous preacher leaned forward and touched the shoulder of the older man sitting in front of him. Billy asked the gentleman:  “Would you like to accept Christ? I’ll be glad to walk down the front with you if you’d like.”

Pastor Graham says the elderly gentleman looked at him, thought for a moment, and then responded: “No, I think I’ll just wait for the big gun Billy Graham to come tomorrow night.”

While the story is funny in a small way, it does underline a bigger issue – the problem of Christians thinking the job of evangelism is for the “Big Guns”; famous preachers in large auditoriums. But for thousands of years the kingdom of God has expanded one soul at a time. The Gospel has mainly spread through one person’s willingness to extend themselves to someone else.

Rather than “evangelism” being the job of the Big Shots in large auditoriums and stadiums, the spreading of the Gospel is often the result of the small sacrifices of humble followers of the Saviour.

How is God wanting to use you as an agent of his grace today?

******

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 what the Duke of Wellington can teach us about taking Communion.David speaking 2

When Success Comes Through Helping Others

Eugenio_monti.jpg

Every athlete dreams of winning an Olympic gold medal in their chosen event, but even among professional athletes very few have the privilege of standing on the highest dais when the medals are presented.

But there is one very special award given at each Olympic Games to only one athlete. It’s the “Pierre de Coubertin International Fair Play Trophy” – named after the French founder of the modern Olympic movement.

The Fair Play Trophy is given to one athlete every four years who is deemed to have exhibited the spirit of fairness, compassion, and good-sportsmanship.

The first ever Fair Play Trophy was awarded to an Italian bobsledder named Eugenio Monti in the 1964 Innsbruck Olympics. It was for a gesture that exhibited incredible selflessness. Monti was representing Italy in the two-man bobsled event at the 1964 games, and was the competition’s leader after his final run. The only competitor with a chance to beat Monti was a British bobsledder named Tony Nash.

As Nash and his teammate prepared for their final run, they discovered that a critical bolt on their sled had snapped at the last moment. Without the crucial part the Great Britain team couldn’t make their final run and the Italian team would win gold.

Eugenio Monti of Italy was informed of his competitor’s problem. Without thought or discussion, Monti immediately took the corresponding bolt from his own sled and sent it up the mountain to Nash.

Nash fixed his sled with Monti’s part, then came hurtling down the course to set a record and win the gold medal.

He may have came second, but Monti won the hearts of his nation and was awarded the first ever Pierre de Coubertin International Fair Play Trophy.

This Olympic story from over half a century ago reminds me of the Apostle Paul’s words in Scripture:  Let nothing you do be done through selfish ambition or greed, but in humility let each of you think more about others than yourself. Let each of you constantly look out for the interests of others. When you do this you will have the same approach to living as that of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:3-5)

Jesus says that for those who live a selfless life as they surrender daily to Him their “reward in heaven is great” (Matthew 5:12). May Christ’s promises be the award and recognition you seek.

******

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 of short stories – 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 story of the link between monkey catchers in Africa and losing one’s soul.David speaking 2

“The Gift of One Minute”

Fyodor Dostoevsky, the famous Russian writer from the nineteenth century, is one of the most celebrated novelists of all time.  

Dostoevsky describes an experience when he was 27 as a major turning point in his life. Even though the celebrated author was born into a privileged family in imperial Russia,  Dostoevsky committed himself to helping the poor under-classes who were being deliberately oppressed throughout society.

Fyodor-Dostoyevsky-1876.jpg
Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821 – 1881)

Dostoevsky joined a progressively-minded group of writers and teachers in St. Petersburg, but was then arrested by Emperor Nicholas I. The Russian Emperor feared Dostoevsky and his friends would cause a revolution. 

The arrested group of writers and academics were placed in a fortified prison where conditions were deplorable. For over a year Dostoevsky and his fellow prisoners survived in damp cells without much light. They were continually tortured and interrogated to hand over more names of people who might be a threat to the Emperor and the status quo in Russia at the time.

One cold December morning, all of the prisoners were taken from their cells without explanation and taken to the town square. The sentence of death was read out to them, and they were tied to stakes in front of a firing squad. The condemned men waited in front of raised rifles to be shot. They waited for a minute when unexpected one of the Emperor’s messengers rode in on a horse. The messenger had a royal proclamation, and he announced the Emperor had changed the sentence from death to life-long exile. The prisoners were untied, taken back to the prison, and soon after sent to Siberia.

c2d57c7bd4 (1).jpg
A 19th-century sketch of the ‘mock execution’ of Dostoevsky’s “Petrashevsky Circle” in St. Petersburg in 1849

Later, in a letter to his brother Mikhail, Fyodor Dostoevsky described how that single minute of waiting for death changed his outlook towards life. Dostoevsky told his brother: “When I look back on my past and think how much time I wasted on nothing, how much time has been lost in futilities, errors, laziness, incapacity to live; how little I appreciated it, how many times I sinned against my heart and soul – then my heart bleeds. Life is a gift,” 

The Russian author concluded, “And every minute can be an eternity of happiness.”

As I retell this story of a nineteenth century Russian novelist’s experience of waiting one minute for what he thought would be his death, I’m reminded of the words of Jesus Christ. He told the listeners during His Sermon on the Mount: “Don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries” (Matthew 6:34). Jesus continued by telling His listeners that we are simply to focus on the tasks and travails of the day we’ve been given. 

Each day is a gift from God. Maybe that’s why it’s called the present.

******

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

Martin’s Half Coat

As a young boy Martin knew would one day he would be compelled to join the military. He was the son of a senior army officer during the time of the Roman empire, and it was expected he would follow his father’s career by the age of fifteen. Martin was always obedient to his family’s wishes – except for one thing…..

At the age of ten, young Martin started attending a Christian church and began contemplating the claims of Christ. This practice disappointed his parents, and while they hoped Martin would grow out of this interest in Christianity, they stopped short of forbidding him from attending Christian worship services.

The story is told of Martin as an 18 years old, riding with his army colleagues into the city of Amiens, in modern day France. On that bitterly cold winter’s day the soldiers were grateful for the exercise that was keeping them warm.

Martin was not just young in years compared to his seasoned army compatriots, but Martin was also young in the Christian faith. During his teenage years he’d been intrigued by the teachings of this man named Jesus and the idea that a Creator God could love mankind so much that He would become one of them in the person of Jesus.

As Martin rode along that freezing day his attention was diverted to a figure on the side of the road – just outside the city gates. An old man sitting and shivering in the cold – wearing only threadbare and torn clothing, insufficient at pushing back against the sub-zero conditions.

Martin stopped and pulled out his sword. The soldiers riding behind Martin stopped, thinking their comrade might put the wretch by the side of the road out of his misery. Instead, Martin took off his soldier’s coat and – using the sword – cut his coat in two from top to bottom. He gave one half of the coat to the beggar, and wrapped the other half around himself. Martin rode on, and behind him heard the sniggers of the other soldiers.

St Martin.jpg
Martin and the beggar. Martin cut his coat in two, giving the beggar half.

 

As Martin slept that night he had a dream. In his vision he saw the risen Jesus who was standing before in heaven in all His glory wearing only half a coat. In the dream Martin saw an angel ask Jesus where he’d obtained the coat from: “My friend Martin gave it to me” was Christ’s response.

The dream had a dramatic effect on Martin. He was baptised a short time later and went on to devote his life to the Lord, becoming a bishop in the early Christian church

Martin’s action over 1,600 years ago when he was young Roman soldier echoes the words Jesus found in Matthew 25: “Whenever you feed and clothe and visit and help someone else you are feeding and clothing and helping me.”

Höchster_Schloß_Tor_St_Martin.jpg
A statue at Höchster Castle (central Germany) of Martin cutting his cloak into two parts

Today, as you continue your walk with Jesus and find yourself helping someone in need, remember this story and the need to interact with others as if you’re helping the very Creator of the universe.

******

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

 

 

“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!!”

6438242569_a61e4bff2d_b.jpg

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.

Coloured Milk Crates.jpg

 

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.

*******

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

benjamin-franklin-wc-9301234-1-402.jpg
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.

franklinlight2.jpg

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.

 

*******

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

David speaking 2

 

Catching Monkeys, Losing Your Soul

01.jpg

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.

maxresdefault.jpg
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

 

*******

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.

David speaking 2

 

Miracle on the River Kwai

Captain Ernest Gordon was a company commander in the British army during the Second World War. He was captured by the Japanese and spent three years as their prisoner. During his captivity Captain Gordon – or simply “Ernie” to his friend – was forced to work building the infamous Thai-Burma railway line, including the bridge over the River Kwai.

In his autobiographical book “Miracle on the River Kwai” Ernie Gordon recounts how the barbarous treatment by their Japanese captors had caused the behaviour of the prisoners to degenerate. These British prisoners-of-war were starting to be cruel and malicious to each other, but then one afternoon something terrible happened. One of the shovels was discovered to be missing on the work site, and the Japanese officer in charge of the unit was furious. He ordered that the person who stole the shovel to come forward otherwise he would execute every last one of them there and then. It was obvious the Japanese commanding officer meant what he said as he pulled out his pistol.

Unexpectedly, one of the Scottish soldiers stepped forward. The Japanese officer put his gun away, picked up one of the remaining shovels, and beat the man to death with it.

When the violent execution was over, the other prisoners-of-war picked up their friend’s body and carried it to their next tool check. They planned to bury their friend’s body at the end of the day when they were given permission. As they again counted the tools they discovered that all the shovels were there. A mistake had been made in the previous tool count and actually no shovel had been stolen.

News of the soldier’s death travelled rapidly through the whole camp. An innocent man had willingly volunteered to die in order to save others.

Movie poster
Captain Ernest Gordon’s book was made into a major film in 2002

The episode had an overwhelming impact on the entire prison camp. The prisoners-of-war stopped mirroring their captors’ degrading behaviour and they began to treat each other with kindness, just like brothers should.

The result of one man’s sacrifice for others created a miracle

Captain Ernest Gordon says he became a Christian in that P.O.W. camp, and when he returned from the war he became a minister of the Gospel. It was the examples of Christ-in-Action during his imprisonment – just like the fellow soldier who willingly died for others – that convinced Ernie of God’s sacrifice for each of us. Captain Gordon experienced the transforming power of sacrificial love.

Martin Luther King.jpg
Captain Gordon became a Christian in the Japanese prison camp and went on to become a Minister – working with Martin Luther King in the 1960’s

Jesus says in the the Gospel of Mark: “For I did not come to be served, but to serve others, and to give my life as a ransom for many.” And our Saviour willingly died so you and I might live life more abundantly.

Sacrificial love has a transforming power. Won’t you accept the sacrificial love your Creator has for you, and come to the cross of Jesus Christ?

 

 

Click here to read the fascinating story of someone who dared take Communion alongside the Duke of Wellington.

*******

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 an impoverished monk who stopped the carnage in Rome’s Colloseum 

David speaking 2

The Saving of John Paton

John Paton was a Christian missionary to the New Hebrides Islands in the South Pacific – a group of fourteen islands we know today as Vanuatu.

A native of Scotland, John Paton arrived in the New Hebrides 1858 with his young wife. But only a few months later he would lose his wife and young son to tropical fever. Despite the early tragedy John continued to work on the islands for decades. As a minister, educator, a developer of small industries for the locals, he was a strong advocate against the practice of slavery in the region.

One evening some hostile natives surrounded John’s house and were intent on burning out John and his second wife and killing them – including their young children. The Patons prayed as you would expect a missionary family would, and stayed awake all during that terror-filled night requesting God might deliver them. When daylight finally came they were amazed and relieved to see their attackers leaving. They thanked the Lord for his providence.

A year later, the chief of that tribe was converted to Christ. Remembering what had happened, Paton asked the chief what had kept him from burning down the house and killing them. The chief was surprised by the the question and replied: “Well… we couldn’t attack because of all those men who were there with you”. John Paton was socked because he knew no other men were there with them that night a year previous. The chief continued and said he was afraid to attack because he had seen hundreds of big men in shining garments with swords and spears circling the mission station. John Paton discovered he and his family were saved that night because God had sent a heavenly army to protect them.

quote-if-i-die-here-in-glasgow-i-shall-be-eaten-by-worms-if-i-can-but-live-and-die-serving-john-gibson-paton-75-73-07.jpg

There’s a similar story in the Bible where an opposing army surrounds the city where the prophet Elisha is staying. Elisha tells those close enough to hear: “Don’t be afraid….Those who are with us are more than those who are with them” (2 Kings 6:16).

Elisha then prays to God that his colleague might see more clearly – and the eyes of Elisha’s servant are spiritually opened to see why Elisha told him not to be afraid. Something happens to the servant’s eyes and he sees what Elisha had known all along – the servant suddenly sees an even bigger army of God’s angels surrounding the enemy army, and these angels were ready to protect those who stayed faithful to God.

292074_f068ac666f756d36c642c13d156a0251.jpg

Do you feel under attack at the moment? Is there a difficulty or a disaster weighing down heavily upon you? Keep faithful in prayer and know with confidence your Creator is surrounding you with all the heavenly help you need.

May the opening words to the 46th Psalm in the Bible be of comfort to you:

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in times trouble.”

 

Click here to read a story of another faithful Scot – a dog named “Greyfriars Bobby” who waited by the grave of his owner for fourteen years.

*******

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 fascinating story of a European king’s funeral and how in death we are all the same.

David speaking 2

“What profits a man if he gains the whole world yet loses his own soul?”

Michael Landy is an English artist who did something a few years ago that shocked and enthralled the British public.

London-born Landy spent three years cataloguing every possession he had in his life. Everything from a couple of postage stamps to his most important life documents such as his birth certificate and passport, all his clothing (including his late father’s favourite sheep-skin coat), old magazines, books, and all his furniture. He wrote a list of everything he owned including his beloved SAAB sports car. His list of possessions came to 7,227 items exactly.

Michael's list.jpg
British artist Michael Landy standing in front of some of his list of 7,227 possessions

And in February 2001 Michael Landy, at the age of 37, then spent two weeks destroying EVERYTHING (yes everything, including the SAAB)! He set up conveyor belts in a shop window on London’s busiest street for shopping and invited people to watch as he disassembled, crushed, and shredded all his possessions. Over 45,000 people stopped at the shop window during the next two weeks as Michael Landy eradicated his life’s entire accumulation into nearly six tonnes of waste. The resulting bags of scrap were sent away to either be recycled or dumped into landfill.

Michael's saab.jpg
Michael’s SAAB being disassembled and destroyed

At the end of the self-inflicted exercise Landy was left with nothing but the clothes he was standing in… and some financial debt!

The response from the British public ranged from anger and outrage for such a waste, to applause for his courageous stand against consumerism. It caused many to think about their own relationship with the material things in their lives.

Michael Landy in the shop window.jpg
Michael Landy sits amongst almost six tonnes of assorted waste as the London public look through the shop window on Oxford Street

In a similar way, Jesus Christ has been challenging us for two thousand years on how we approach possessions.

“What profits a man if he gains the whole world yet loses his own soul?” Jesus poignantly asks us in Matthew 16:26. A few chapters later Jesus challenges a rich young man to give away all his possessions and be a part of Christ’s Kingdom, something the wealthy gentleman simply couldn’t do when he considered his worldly riches.

In our daily walk with Christ we’re told that our life is more than the sum of our possessions and status but is instead a realisation of who our Creator is and His love for each of us.

The Bible says Michael Landy’s destruction of all his earthly belongings in 2001 is simply a forerunner to what is going to happen at the return of Jesus to this world. Where reminded by the Apostle Peter that: “The return of the Lord will come unexpectedly like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; and everything will be destroyed…the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare for judgment”
(2 Peter 3:10).

As you look to our Lord’s return with expectation and readiness let’s make sure our possessions don’t take possession of us.

 

Click here to watch a short interview with Michael Landy about his experience destroying all his possessions 

*******

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 fascinating story of a European king’s funeral and how in death we are all the same

David speaking 2