“The Light of the World”

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A self-portrait by William Holman Hunt (1827-1910)

 

A painting by Englishman William Holman Hunt completed in the mid-nineteenth century was for many years the most famous picture in the British Empire.

Titled “The Light of the World” the painting was taken on world tours, and when it was brought to Australia in the early 1900’s it’s estimated that up to 80% of Australia’s population at the time came to see it.

Reports from the painting’s public viewings in Melbourne describe minor injuries in people stampeding in attempts view it. Large crowds are described as being in hushed reverence in front of the artwork. There are even reports of people fainting when they saw the painting.

The surprising aspect of this art story from over a hundred years ago is the painting – “The Light of the World” – is a portrait of Jesus Christ.

The artist had been inspired by a verse in the Bible, Revelation 3:20 – which says “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.”

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William Holman Hunt’s famous painting of Jesus as described in Revelation 3:20

And in the portrait Hunt paints Jesus standing with a lantern, knocking on a closed door overgrown with weeds. According to the artist this closed, dilapidated door represents the stubbornness of our hearts to have faith in Christ.

What’s not obvious when you first look at the painting is the door has no external handle or doorknob. The door can only be opened from the inside by the occupant of the home.

The message in the painting (and the words of Christ in Revelation 3:20) is clear: our Saviour Jesus is standing at the door of our hearts and knocking. And the person who hears that knock and also His quiet voice calling to them needs to open the door for Him. Christ doesn’t barge into our lives uninvited – His humility waits for each of us to open the door to Him.

Today the painting hangs in London’s famous St. Paul’s Cathedral, but the words of Christ in Revelation 3:20 that inspired the painting hang forever in our hearts.

Won’t you hear Christ knocking on your heart today and open the door for Him. He desires to come in and spend eternity in your company.

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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 fascinating story of what the thirteenth-century theologian Thomas Aquinas said when he walked in on Pope Innocent II counting his gold and silver.

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Diving Deep: The Saving of Tony Bullimore

“IT WAS LIKE A WASHING MACHINE FROM HELL!” – Tony Bullimore

 

The English sailor Tony Bullimore shivered in the cold Southern Ocean waters. His upturned yacht was 1,500 miles south-west of the Australian coast and only 1,000 miles from Antarctica. He’d been in the water for four days after his boat was capsized by monstrous seas and bracing winds of up to a hundred miles an hour. “It was like a washing machine from hell!” was how Bullimore would later describe his experience. “But I couldn’t afford to get scared; I had to focus on how to stay alive for a little longer — just in case rescuers were coming.”

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Tony Bullimore’s upturned yacht was tossed around the Southern Ocean for four days before rescuers found him.

 

Tony Bullimore survived by sheltering underneath his upturned hull in an air pocket, in complete darkness. His only food was taking an occasional bite from a chocolate bar he’d managed to scramble in the wreckage. The year was 1997, and this ship-wrecked sailor was presumed dead by family and the media after so many days missing in wild seas.

When the rescue ship – the HMAS Adelaide – finally arrived at the wreckage site, one of the highly trained team climbed aboard the upturned boat and began knocking on the exposed hull. As Tony Bullimore huddled in the cold, wet darkness can you imagine how he might have felt the moment he heard someone on the other side of his boat knocking. Tony says he started shouting `I’m coming, I’m coming!”. He took a few deep breaths, dove under the water from inside his capsized boat, and then emerged into the morning sunshine. He would later say the experience of coming into the light was “heaven, absolute heaven”. The captain of the rescue ship recorded Tony Bullimore’s first words as: “Thank God… It’s a miracle!”

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This photo captures the moment rescuers knocked on the hull of his boat – and Tony Bullimore swam into the light after sheltering in his overturned boat for four days

The experience of the saving of Tony Bullimore twenty years ago from the Southern Ocean is similar to the those who’ve chosen to follow Christ. We too can feel lost in the swirling ocean of a confused existence, and yet Jesus – our spiritual rescuer – provides us with hope. “I stand at the door (of your heart) and knock” Jesus says in the book of Revelation. “If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to them and be with them.” (Rev. 3:20)

Can you hear the knocking of your Saviour on the hull of your heart? You may have given up hope – but the truth is your Creator has come, and He’s inviting you to take a few big breaths, to dive deep, and come into His light.

 

Want to read more inspirational stories of faith? Click here to read the incredible story of how a rural monk unexpectedly closed down the gladiatorial violence of the Roman Coloseum.

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About this blog: Pastor David Riley is a Christian minister residing 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.

The Skydiver Who Forgot His Parachute

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As Ivan McGuire boarded the small airplane with his video camera, the experienced skydiver didn’t know this would be his final ever flight.

Ivan worked as a cameraman filming nervous student parachuters taking their first-ever jump. He’d made hundreds of these flights, and any fear of leaping out of a plane from a height of three kilometres had left Ivan long ago.

On April 5th, 1988 Ivan McGuire jumped from a plane with his heavy VHS recording deck strapped to his back and the camera mounted to his helmet. Ivan had already completed two of these filming jumps that day, so he was a little fatigued – which may account for his soon-to-be-discovered forgetfulness.

On this final jump for the day Ivan calmly filmed the student strapped to his instructor as they both went through their free-fall and finally opened their combined parachute. Ivan then reached around to open his parachute…. and discovered that he’d forgotten to put one on.

The surviving video footage then goes from relaxed to frenzied.

How had Ivan forgotten to put on a parachute? Maybe it was simply tiredness, or perhaps he’d mistaken the video pack on his back as his usual parachute. Imagine what might have gone through the experienced skydiver’s mind as he was free-falling to Earth from ten thousand feet with nothing to save him. The salvaged footage recorded from his helmet shows Ivan going from matter-of-fact calmness to understandable panic.

 

It seems Ivan McGuire – on the day of his death – had simply gone-through-the-motions of his day without ensuring he had one very important thing with him.

As I reflect on this sad story, can you forgive me as a minister of religion for likening it to a spiritual cautionary tale? Yes, we need to live each day as if it might be our last. But we also need to be double-checking the faith we have in a loving Creator as our ‘saving parachute’.

For those who’ve recognised Christ in their life the Bible says: “Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9). This biblical promise is a daily ‘parachute of faith’ that allows each of us to be saved whenever we fall.

Click here to view Ivan McGuire’s helmet video of his final jump

Click here to read about one man whose ‘one word sermon’ for thirty-five years was viewed by over one billion people

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About this blog: Pastor David Riley is a Christian minister residing 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.

The Missing Piece

“THE MISSING PIECE”

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There’s a bizarre story of a young lad who loved to take apart the family’s household appliances so he could see how they worked. His parents encouraged his curiosity (as they reasoned it was better than spending hours playing games on Xbox) just as long as their son put the equipment back together again in perfect working order.

His parents went out one afternoon for a few hours leaving the teenage boy at home alone – and this young, inquisitive tinkerer thought he would challenge himself. He decided to take apart the family’s antique grandfather clock.

He carefully swirled his screw-driver and twisted his favourite tools to have all of the vintage mechanisms lying across the lounge room floor. He admired the craftsmanship of the inner-workings of a hundred-year-old clock, and he was careful to remember where each part went.

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As he put the antique timepiece back together again he felt a rush of adrenaline. His parents had warned him away from the heirloom clock for years as they feared the teenage boy would damage it, but now he’d been able to examine it without their knowledge and his parents would never know.

But, the feeling of achievement began to disappear as he neared the end of the restoration. The young lad had one piece left over and he had no idea where it was meant to go. As he considered an attempt to take the clock apart again he heard his parents’ car coming up the family driveway, and so he ran upstairs to his bedroom and thrust the left-over mechanism under his pillow.

That evening as the family ate dinner the antique clock operated as it always did. They watched a long movie together and the clock continued to strike the bells of the hour with military precision. As the family prepared for bed after a long day the boy’s worries began to ease. He sensed he’d escaped any parental discovery of an expensive heirloom’s unauthorised dismantling.

At midnight, as the teenager lay in bed thinking about the close-call, the clock began its usual chimes. The young lad counted them to help get to sleep – nine, ten, eleven, twelve…. thirteen, fourteen! The boy sat up in his bed. The clock continued ringing…. eighteen, nineteen, twenty. The boy – once again his body surging with adrenaline at the probability of being discovered – jumped out of bed. “Bong…. Bong…. Bong….” – Thirty-six times, thirty-seven times…the clock continued as if it would go on for eternity. He grabbed the missing piece from under his pillow and began to run down the hall towards his parents’ bedroom unsure of what he was going to say.

The teenager banged on the bedroom door, and with the chimes still ringing through the family home he yelled out the first thing that came into his head: “Wake up, everybody! Wake up! It’s later than it’s ever been!!”

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This wry story is, in a way, a reminder of the Bible’s promise of eternity. Jesus of Nazareth spoke with His followers about having a sense of urgency regarding the coming of the Kingdom of God. He discouraged any delay in surrendering our sins to Him as our Saviour, and then seeking His ever-lasting forgiveness as we align our lives with Him.

To illustrate this sense of urgency Jesus told a story of five maidens who were sleepy, foolish and complacent, and another five who were wise and stayed ever-alert to the coming of their master. Jesus concluded the story by saying to His Disciples – “Keep watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which I am returning.” (Matthew 25:13)

So, for believers in the return of Jesus Christ there is a message. And that message is: “Wake up! It’s later than it’s ever been”

(Read about another teenager from three hundred years ago who showed incredible faith in her Saviour despite her deplorable circumstances)

 

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About this blog: Pastor David Riley is a Seventh-day Adventist minister residing 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.

 

 

 

Feed the Right Wolf

There’s an old story from American folk-lore of a Cherokee elder speaking with his grandson.

“Grandson,” the wise elder says to the young lad, “Let me tell you about a battle that goes on inside everyone. It is the battle between two wolves”

As the young impressionable boy looks up his grandfather continues: “One of the wolves inside us all is called ‘Evil’.  This wolf is anger, it is hatred, it is discord and jealousy, It is rage and envy, greed, arrogance, self-pity, resentment, lies, lusts, and superiority.

“The other wolf that is inside us” continued the Grandfather “is called ‘Good’. This wolf is hope, it is serenity, it’s humility, joy, contentment. It’s love, peace, kindness, gentleness, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.”

The Cherokee elder was then silent, and the grandson thought about these words for a moment. After a few minutes the young boy looked up and asked: “Grandfather, in the end which wolf wins?”

The old Cherokee elder replied simply, “My son, the wolf you feed is the one that wins.”

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The truth of this often told tale are echoed in the Bible. The ancient words of Scripture speak also of a battle between good and bad. It’s a battle we see in our wider world, and it’s a battle we see in our own souls.

Christ in His battle with Satan in the wilderness gained victory by reminding the Devil of godly values found in scripture (Matt 4:1-11). Through Christ’s sacrifice and example you and I can also have the same victory over Evil that our Saviour had.

In the letter to the Philippians the Apostle Paul gives similar counsel to the Cherokee elder: “Whatever is true and noble”, Paul says, “Whatever is lovely and admirable, if anything is excellent and worthy of praise – allow you mind to consider only these things. And the God of peace will be with you always.” (Philippians 4:8)

In ‘the battle of the two wolves’ – the battle between Good and Evil – going on in your own heart and mind make sure you’re feeding daily the one based on the truth of Jesus Christ.

 

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About this blog: Pastor David Riley is a Christian minister residing 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.

Dr. John Hunter’s Prophecy of His Own Death

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DR. JOHN HUNTER’S PROPHECY OF HIS OWN DEATH

John Hunter was a celebrated Scottish medical doctor of the 18th-century. He was a pioneer in the field of surgery and was appointed as the personal physician of King George III. Towards the end of his life Hunter was appointed as the surgeon-general of the entire British Army.

But Dr. John Hunter – like all of us – had his faults. One of his assistants who worked with him towards the end of his life described John Hunter as ‘warm but impatient, readily provoked, and when irritated not easily soothed’.

Dr. Hunter had a problem with anger, and he suffered with a heart condition.

When he discovered his heart problems were often brought on by anger, Hunter complained:

“My life is at the mercy of any scoundrel who chooses to put me in a passion.”

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A statue of Dr. John Hunter is in London’s famous Leicester Square

This personal lament of Dr. John Hunter proved to be prophetic. At a meeting of the board of St. George’s Hospital in London in 1793, Hunter became entangled in a heated argument with other board members. He stormed out of the meeting, and dropped dead in the next room.

“My life is at the mercy of any scoundrel who chooses to put me in a passion” Hunter had grumbled only a short while before his own death.

Dr. John Hunter’s untimely demise at the age of 65 is a cautionary tale to anyone today who allows their own emotions to be determined by the whims and inclinations of others.

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There’s an ancient proverb found in the Bible that says: “It is better to be patient than powerful. It is better to have self-control of your own emotions than to be in control of an entire city.” (Proverbs 16:32).

The result of living in the spirit of Christ is love and joy, peace and patience, gentleness and self-control. For our Creator has given us a spirit of love and self-control of our own emotions (Galatians 5: 22-23, 2 Timothy 1:7).
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About this blog: Pastor David Riley is a Christian minister residing 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.

 

Broken Batons

BROKEN BATONS

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Arturo Toscanini was the Beyonce of the operatic world for the first half of the twentieth century. For over fifty years Toscanini was the world’s leading conductor of orchestras, and was the headline performer at Milan’s famous “La Scala” and New York’s Metropolitan Opera.

Apart from his musical genius, Toscanini was legendary for his fits of rage. If rehearsals weren’t going perfectly, the Italian maestro would scream and swear and throw whatever item was closest to him.

The librarian who looked after all the sheet music in one of Toscanini’s orchestras became quite distressed by Toscanini’s habit of hurling expensive musical scores at the musicians when he became angry. After a few episodes of expletive-laden rage, the librarian observed that one of the first things Toscanini did when he lost his temper was to take his conductor baton in both hands and attempt to break it. If the baton snapped, Toscanini would calm down and the rehearsal could continue. If the baton didn’t break, Toscanini would become even more enraged and rush around grabbing the expensive sheet music tearing it to pieces and hurling it at his musical colleagues.

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So the orchestra librarian developed a cunning plan to minimise both the emotional damage to the orchestra and also the expensive waste of musical scores. The sneaky librarian made sure all of Toscanini’s batons had a slight crack in them so Toscanini could break them easily whenever he started one of his childish rants. Once Toscanini broke the baton he’d calm down and the music (and musicians!) would be saved from further abuse.

Our world today is filled with anger. We see it online in our dialogue, we see it on our roads in our driving, it’s in our political diatribes, and unfortunately anger is also occasionally invited to our our own dinner tables. Yet unchecked anger is an emotion that has no place in the words and actions of a follower of Christ.

There’s an ancient Jewish saying found in the Bible: “A fool vents all his feelings, but the wise  bring calm to all circumstances” (Proverbs 29:11). And someone close to Jesus of Nazareth wrote to first century Christians saying, “All of us must be quick to listen, slow to speak, and even slower to get angry. Anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.” (James 1:19-20).

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Anger may break batons and even bones, and it often damages our bond with our loving Creator.

The Apostle Paul wrote something to the Philippians I remind myself of whenever I feel the red mist of anger descending:

“Let your gentleness be known to all men because the Lord is at hand.

Be anxious about nothing, but through prayer and with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God – and the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:5-7)

As Alexander Pope once said, “To be angry is to revenge the faults of others on ourselves.”

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About this blog: Pastor David Riley is a Christian minister residing 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.

A Royal Story

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When Queen Victoria was a young girl she understandably didn’t quite understand the full responsibilities of being the next in line for the throne of Great Britain.

 

The story is told that the young Victoria’s private tutors would become frustrated as they tried to prepare her for the role of being Queen one day. They were unable to motive the young princess to concentrate on her lessons and take her studies seriously.

 

Finally, one of her teachers became exasperated with the young girl and sternly reprimanded her: “This is not the way the future Queen should behave!” the vexed tutor exclaimed.

 

Upon hearing this, it’s reported that the young Victoria went quiet for a few moments and then said quietly “Yes. From now on I will be good.”

 

And she was.

 

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A young Victoria – painted by Franz Xaver Winterhalter of Germany

The realisation of a young girl that she had inherited this high calling immediately gave Victoria a sense of responsibility that profoundly affected her conduct for the rest of her life.

 

This royal story from two hundred years ago reminds me of the Apostle Paul writing: “Don’t you know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? It is because Christ died for you that you are holy.” (1 Corinthians 3:16-17)

 

And the Apostle John had a similar realisation when he wrote: “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1)

 

When we realise we are a son or daughter of the King of the universe that should compel us to take our earthly duties more seriously.

 

Perhaps we should respond to our calling from Christ with the same words as a young Queen Victoria: “Yes. From now on I will be good.”

 

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About this blog: Pastor David Riley is a Christian minister residing 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.

 

 

One Man, One Word

One word written by one man over 500,000 times on the streets of Sydney (Australia) for thirty-five years would inspire millions.

 

When Arthur Stace awoke hungover in a gutter on that Wednesday morning – he wouldn’t have contemplated that thirty years after his death his writing would be read by over two billion people.

 

The date was August 6, 1930 and Arthur Stace had been sleeping rough in the streets of Sydney for ten years. His addiction to methylated spirits had been his decade-long closest friend robbing him of home and health. As the fog slowly cleared in his head that Wednesday he contemplated attending a nearby church. His motivation wasn’t spiritual but more rudimentary – the church offered homeless men a small meal if they would sit through a sermon from the minister.

 

 

Yet something unexpected would happen that night to Arthur. The minister spoke to the homeless men gathered at the church about a Creator who wished for an eternity with each of them – and something supernatural quickened the heart of an alcoholic. Arthur Stace later joked that he came to St. Barnabas Church for a rock cake but left with the “Rock of Ages” – Jesus Christ.

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Through his commitment to his Saviour, Arthur’s life began a renovation. He “cleaned himself up”, earned himself a job, and began to help out in ministries at the church aiding other homeless men. Arthur Stace became an example of the direction given in Galatians 6:2 – “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ.”

 

Like many men in the 1930’s of Australia, Arthur Stace only had a primary school education – so reading and writing was a difficulty for him. So it would seem incredulous at the time that decades later millions of people would be inspired by his one-word-sermon.

 

Two years into his Christian faith in 1932 Arthur was attending a Monday night church service. The preacher (himself a veteran of the Great War – just like Arthur) quoted Isaiah 57:15 and exclaimed “Eternity! I wish that I could sound or shout that word to everyone in the streets of Sydney…..where will you spend “Eternity”?”

 

Arthur Stace felt compelled. He walked out of the building onto the street outside the church and felt in his pocket where he found a piece of chalk. Arthur would later say: “(The word) “Eternity” (was) ringing through my brain and suddenly I began crying and felt a powerful call from the Lord to write.”

 

On the pavement he knelt down and wrote out that word – “Eternity” – in white chalk with a beautiful swirl.

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The next morning Arthur woke at 4am and prayed. He again felt compelled to go out in the streets while it was still dark and write again the word “Eternity”. And he did so – only this time the wrote it every 100 metres or so for the next few hours – about 50 times in total. As people made their way to work later that morning they saw the word “Eternity” in bold, beautiful script throughout their suburb – and they wondered what it meant.

 

Arthur would later say: “I had no schooling and couldn’t have spelt ‘eternity’ for a hundred quid. But suddenly I began crying and felt a powerful call from the Lord to write the word. It came out smoothly, in a beautiful copperplate script.”

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Arthur Stace would continue writing this word “Eternity” each day before dawn for the next 35 years – until his death in 1967.

 

During this time this one word sermon became famous on the streets of Sydney. It caused an entire city to contemplate life’s shortness and also the possibility of what happens after we die. They also wondered who was writing the word, with children exhilarated to see “Eternity” written in their suburb in the famous copperplate script, and newspapers offering front-page possibilities as to who the author was and also the word’s meaning.

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On the few occasions the police would catch Arthur pre-dawn with chalk in hand, Arthur would tell them he “had permission from a higher source” to graffiti the streets – and because the word was only in chalk the police would let him go.

 

One word – washed away in the next rain.
One word – written with passion and dedication for decades.
One word – that captured the city’s heart.

 

Arthur Stace died in 1967 knowing he’d faithfully followed his Saviour. And yet, thirty-three years after Arthur’s death there would be a resurrection.

 

At the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve in 1999 with Sydney’s world-famous fire works in full swing – and an estimated billion people watching on television with Sydney as the first major world-city to welcome in the new millennium  – the culmination of the celebration was the lighting up of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. And there was Arthur’s famous swirl of a word “Eternity” emblazoned across the famous coathanger as the crescendo.

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The word once again inspired so many people that Arthur’s “Eternity” was used again a few months later at the Opening Ceremony of the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

 

One word – “Eternity” – where will you spend yours?

 

As the biblical prophet Isaiah wrote 2,700 years ago: ‘For this is what the high and exalted One says— He who lives for eternity: “While I live in a high and holy place – I also live with anyone who has a contrite and lowly spirit. For I revive the spirit of the lowly and also the hearts of those contrite.” ‘ (Isaiah 57:15)

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Arthur Stace – “Mr. Eternity”     (1885 – 1967)

 

 

 

About this blog: Pastor David Riley is a Christian minister residing 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.

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Death by Dictator

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General Idi Amin was the dictator of Uganda from 1971 to 1979

 

DEATH BY DICTATOR

The African country of Uganda was a violent place during the 1970’s under the dictator army general Idi Amin.

Colin Chapman, in his book “The Case for Christianity” quotes Ugandan bishop Festo Kivengere’s account of the 1973 execution by firing squad of three men from his diocese: “February 10th began as a sad day for us in Kabale. People were commanded to come to the stadium and witness the execution. Death permeated the atmosphere. A silent crowd of about three thousand was there to watch. I had permission from the authorities to speak to the men before they died, and two of my fellow ministers were with me. They brought the men in a truck and unloaded them. They were handcuffed and their feet were chained. The firing squad stood at attention.

As we walked into the center of the stadium, I was wondering what to say. How do you give the gospel to doomed men who are probably seething with rage? We approached them from behind, and as they turned to look at us, what a sight! Their faces were all alight with an unmistakable glow and radiance.

 

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Bishop Festo Kivengere fled Uganda in 1973 under death threats from General Idi Amin. He returned a few years later to help his country rebuild after the destruction caused during the 1970’s. Bishop Kivengere later wrote a book titled “I Love Idi Amin” to draw attention to the qualities of forgiveness for those who wronged you and love of those who persecute you.

 

Before we could say anything, one of them burst out: “Bishop, thank you for coming! I wanted to tell you. The day I was arrested, in my prison cell, I asked the Lord Jesus to come into my heart. He came in and forgave me all my sins! Heaven is now open, and there is nothing between me and my God! Please tell my wife and children to accept Him into their lives as I did.”

The other two men told similar stories, excitedly raising their hands, which rattled their handcuffs. I felt that what I needed to do was to talk to the soldiers, not to the condemned. So I translated what the men had said into a language the soldiers understood. The military men were standing there with guns cocked and bewilderment on their faces. They were so dumbfounded that they forgot to put the hoods over the men’s faces!

The three faced the firing squad standing close together. They looked toward the people and began to wave, handcuffs and all. The people waved back. Then shots were fired, and the three were (dead). We stood in front of them, our own hearts throbbing with joy, mingled with tears. It was a day never to be forgotten. Though dead, the men spoke loudly to all of Kigezi District and beyond, so that there was an upsurge of life in Christ, which challenges death and defeats it. The next (weekend), I was preaching to a huge crowd in the home town of one of the executed men. Again, the feel of death was over the congregation. But when I gave them the testimony of their man, and how he died, there erupted a great song of praise to Jesus! Many turned to the Lord there.”

Bishop Kivengere’s experience in witnessing the death of three men – who had unexpectedly committed their lives to Christ – not only changed his life but also the lives of many others.

But those three executed prisoners were simply mirroring the death of the Messiah. Jesus’ submission to death by execution on a cross by Roman dictators two millennia ago has impacted the lives of billions since.

Jesus “died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him.” (1 Thessalonians 5:10) 

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About this blog: David Riley is a Christian minister residing on the Gold Coast in Australia. This article is from his “Reverential Ramblings” series.