During World War II a group of Scottish soldiers were captured and forced to build the Burma Railway. Conditions were harsh, the guards’ treatment of the POWs was brutal and the death rate was high. Ernest Gordon, in his book ‘Miracle on the River Kwai’, recounts the true story of how at the end of a particular work party the guards counted the shovels back in as they did each evening; only on this occasion the count was short, a shovel was missing!
The officer in charge was furious and began ranting at the prisoners demanding that the person responsible for stealing or hiding the shovel should step forward. They stood silently in line; no one moved. Incensed, the guard shrieked “All die! All die!” and began to aim his gun at the defenceless men. At that moment one man stepped forward and the officer beat him to death right before the eyes of his colleagues.
The survivors were permitted to pick up his bloody corpse and carry him, along with the shovels, back to the camp. Here the guards carried out a second tool check and found that all the shovels were accounted for, there had never been a missing shovel! The first check point had simply been a miscount. News of the incident spread quickly through the entire prison camp. The realisation that an innocent man had been willing to die to save others had a profound effect, binding the prisoners together in deep loyalty.
Before his death Jesus told his disciples: “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” [ John 15:13 (ESV)] He knew that he would shortly be betrayed by a friend, arrested in the middle of the night, stood before a kangaroo court and condemned to death on a cross. He also knew that he could turn and walk away from his destiny but he chose to embrace death. Jesus’ death is far greater than a good man dying for the benefit of others. At Easter, Christians across the world celebrate Christ’s death and resurrection; confident that in his death Jesus received the punishment that we deserve and so we can receive forgiveness, assured that through his resurrection the power of sin and death is broken and we can look forward to eternal life with him. Why not join with us during this Easter season and experience for yourself the liberation that Jesus offers you.
This blog post featured in the March 2013 edition of Hook Focus
This little book is deceptively powerful; easy to read but a hard hitting message. In 6 brief chapters Randy Alcorn unlocks the Treasure Principle (You can’t take it with you but you can send it on ahead!) with key biblical truth that not only challenge our attitudes to giving but to money and wealth full stop.
- God owns everything. I am his money manager. We are the managers of the assets God has entrusted – not given – to us.
- My heart always goes where I put God’s money. Watch what happens when you reallocate your money from temporal things to eternal things.
- Heaven, not earth, is my home. We are citizens of “a better country – a heavenly one” (Hebrews 11:16)
- I should live not for the dot, but for the line. From the dot – our present life on earth – extends a line that goes on forever, which is eternity in heaven.
- Giving is the only antidote to materialism. Giving is a joyful surrender to a greater person and a greater agenda. It dethrones me and exalts Him.
- God prospers me not to raise my standard of living, but to raise my standard of giving. God gives us more money than we need so we can give – generously.
Do you dare read this book and apply these principles? Can you afford not to?
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He was a young man, still in the prime of life, strong, healthy, loved by his family and a wide circle of devoted friends. Although he was not married, as the eldest son, he had taken responsibility for helping his mother raise a family because his own father had died while he was still a teenager. Now he too was dying. As he bled and gasped for breath, he could see right into the eyes of the soldiers who had fatally wounded him. What goes through a dying man’s mind? Worries for his family? Concern for his friends? Thoughts about the purpose and meaning of his own life? Emotions towards the men who were killing him?
With the 11th November Remembrance events coming up soon, perhaps you thought this description was of one of the fallen from the 2 World Wars, or perhaps a soldier who has been killed or maimed in the more recent conflicts in the Gulf and Afghanistan. It is good to remember with gratefulness those who have sacrificed their lives and their limbs for the freedom we enjoy in this country. It is good to offer comfort and support for family and friends who have been left behind. It is good to pray that wars and armed conflicts will cease and that there will be peace amongst all the nations on the earth. You are welcome to join us for our act of remembrance which starts at 10:30am in the Elizabeth Hall on Sunday 11th November, when we will do just that.
In fact when I wrote those opening words, I had in mind Jesus hanging on a cross. Jesus, who looked into the eyes of his executioners and said “Father forgive them, they don’t know what they are doing”. Jesus, who spoke to his best friend and his mother saying “Son behold your mother, mother behold your son”. Jesus, who as he breathed his last breath gasped “It is finished”. He said this not out of a sense of resignation, but out of the knowledge that in his death his whole life purpose was accomplished. Only hours before, he had instructed his friends to remember his death as the means by which we can receive forgiveness. This November 11th, as you recall the sacrifices made by British servicemen to preserve our present life, allow your thoughts to go back a further 2 thousand years and remember Christ who died so that you too can enjoy eternal life.
This blog post featured in the November 2012 edition of Hook Focus