Grand Final Fever
by John Morris
Grand Final Fever --- Heroes of Faith
You should have been at our place on the night of the 2003 National Rugby League Grand Final (October 5, 2003). You didn't need to be watching the TV or listening to the radio to know what was happening. Both my son-in-law Colin and grandson Craig had eyes peeled to the screen. Every Penrith try was signalled throughout the house. Every dropped ball generated low moans or gasps. It's much the same now with State of Origin matches, though the comments and reactions are conveyed by telephone.
Over a few weeks we saw the culmination of various football code programmes for the year 2003. For the sporting fans it was an impressive time. The Brisbane Lions for the third successive year took the AFL Grand Final trophy home. Eastwood defeated Randwick 29-14 in the club Rugby Union Grand Final. Then the Penrith Panthers rode over Eastern Suburbs Roosters, becoming premiers for only the second time since they have been in the competition.
The papers were full of predictions, surmising, and guesses about who was going to win each of the finals. At times it seemed that half the paper was devoted to the coming game. For example, Andrew Johns predicted in the Daily Telegraph on the Grand Final morning that Penrith were going to win.
"I am not really into omens but it took me back to 2001. The Knights stayed in the same hotel and remaining relaxed was a feature of our preparation before we went out and stunned Parramatta. I honestly believe the Panthers have the players to pull it off."
The Sun Herald of the same day seemed to be a little bit more even handed in its assessment of the situation but occasionally dropped its guard to rave. Preston Campbell from Penrith was likened to a magician. "There doesn't seem to be any bottom to the bag of tricks Preston Campbell delves into on the field, so we thought we would really test him to see if he could pull a rabbit out of the hat….He is so elusive that even the best defenders are occasionally left clutching at shadows."
Of course it was not all over then. October 10 followed with the first match of the Rugby World Cup for 2003 with Australia playing Argentina. Some pundits had doubted that the Wallabies performance was good enough over the last year. They aired their doubts in word pictures of the reaction of the world to the reigning champions losing their first match. But it was not to be - thankfully, the Wallabies defeated the Argentineans 24 to 8.
The Cosmic Grand Final
Like it or not we are all engaged in a program that is leading towards a Grand Final. We are all caught up in the conflict between two opposing teams, The Devil's Demons versus the God Squad and while the tussle is fought between these two opposing sides - like it or not we are party to the "game".
The key players and characteristics -
Jesus Christ on the one hand - playing the love game - the soft approach - always truthful, ready to forgive - does not want to lose any to the other side.
Satan the Barbarian on the other - playing a deceptive game - the hard sell - gets you in on any pretext - does not care about the standard of play as long as it is dirty.
The Godhead did not want to lose Satan, let alone the third of the angels that decamped with him. The devil had many chances to remain as centre forward on God's team. Notice the following quotation from the Origin of Evil in Great Controversy, page 495:
"God in His great mercy bore long with Lucifer. He was not immediately degraded from his exalted station when he first indulged the spirited discontent, or even when he began to present false claims before the loyal angels. Long was he retained in heaven, again and again he was offered pardon on condition of repentance and submission. Such efforts as only divine love and wisdom could devise were made to convince him of his error."
Hebrews, Chapter 11 lists a number of the front-row forwards. Beginning with Abel, Paul concludes with the destruction of Jericho and the prostitute Rahab living in the walls of the city. Paul apologises for the lack of time in the relatively short letter that he was writing to tell of 6 or 7 others. No doubt he could have produced hundreds of others from Old Testament times and his own era. Not all of the team members were perfect, in fact there is some significant variation in performance standards during the lifetime of a number of the names quoted by Paul.
The key reason for reviewing these identities is to remind you that almost irrespective of your past performance, God wants you on the team. He can adapt, re-manufacture, repair, change, so that there will be no evidence of the old you, and get you into the position most suited to your skills. And, should you slip back, he will hold out the "help" hand to bring you back up again.
Pastor Paul, writing some 25 - 30 years after Jesus resurrection and ascension, could not and will not know about some of the recent additions to the Faith Hall of Fame until the greatest Grand Final party ever, .
Joseph Bates was a ship's captain at the time when the motivating power for a ship was the wind. He was well respected, so much so that his backers gave him cart blanche as to dealings with the load and the boat. In 1821 Bates took command of the "Talbot" sailing from Alexandria in United States loaded with cargo flour for South America. The owners of the ship left it to the judgement of Bates when and where to sell the flour. He headed firstly for Rio de Janeiro where part of the flour was sold then to Montivideo where they disposed of the balance. He then went back to Rio de Janeiro to pick up hides and coffee and then returned safely to the United States.
On another occasion as the Captain of the "Chatsworth" he sailed from the United States to Buenos Aires, around Cape Horn and to the harbours of Chile and Peru, where he disposed of the cargo most profitably. Then he did what few would be prepared to do, he accepted an offer for the boat itself and returned to the United States on another vessel.
On the night of November 13, 1833 Joseph Bates was woken up by his wife shaking him and crying the house is on fire, but the reason for the astounding amount of light inside the house that evening was falling stars and Joseph Bates immediately identified this with the prophecy in Matthew 24. Bates was influenced then by the teachings of William Miller regarding the second coming of Jesus Christ. It did not take too long before he committed himself 100% to the cause - vesting time, life and his money.
On one occasion his wife asked him to buy some flour. He went down to the shops and came back with a small bag of flour in his hand. "Joseph", said Prudence Bates, "Where did this flour come from?" "I bought it he said, didn't you say you needed some!" Mrs Bates was astonished and responded, "Here is Captain Bates who sailed vessels out of New Bedford to all parts of the world. He went and bought 4 pounds of flour." "I might as well tell you that for flour I paid out the last cent I have" stated Bates. Ostensibly they were penniless but at that very time a letter was waiting at the post office with money that Bates was not expecting. Bates was impressed to go down to the post office and see what was there. He didn't even have the money to pay for the postage. (In those days you paid on receipt of the letter). But the postmaster pushed the letter to him and said, "It's okay, take it and pay me some other time." But Bates didn't want to get into debt even a small amount and asked the postmaster to open the letter. "If there is no money I won't take the letter, if there is deduct the postage and give me the balance with the letter" directed Bates. The postman agreed and on opening the letter found it contained $10.00. Bates was able then to supply a few more needs of the family at that time.
Joseph Bates was 60 years of age when Fanny Smith wrote the hymn, "I saw one weary sad and worn." The first verse describes Bates and his ideals. He had a life that was consistent with the principle that he adopted when he first became a Christian: "All that I am, all that I have, belongs to God."
Adoniram Judson acquired a zeal for evangelism at the Theological School he attended in the United States. He was quite active in the United States. With the support of 6 seminary students; he succeeded in getting the general association of the Massachusetts Congregational Group to establish the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. Judson was sent to England to confirm an affiliation with the London Missionary Society. Delayed by the capture of his vessel by a French privateer L'Invincible Napoleon, Judson spent a short time in prison following which he returned to America. Judson then married and after his ordination set out for India. On the way they studied Baptism and were converted to the Baptist point of view and left the Congregational Church to form a Bapist missionary board in 1914.
Judson, after opposition from the British East India Company in India relocated to Rangoon where he mastered the language and literature and learned Pali the Buddhist canonical language. His work and that of his trained preachers resulted in a church community of the Baptist profession of some 500,000 people. Burmese forces in the war with Britain imprisoned both Judson and his wife in 1824 to 1826. His wife died shortly after Judson's release from prison. He continued to combine evangelism with literary work and in 1834 translated the Bible into Burmese and then came out with English Burmese and Burmese English dictionaries in 1849 and 1852. A man of great faith.
Kata was born on the island of Kuratarae in the Solomon Islands in 1902. Life at that time was a series of kill and payback and with the complication of black birders, slave traders from the east coast of Australia tossing islanders into the hulls of ships to see beads and trinkets and then slamming the hatches shut and then sailing away to sell the victims as slaves. A number of Australian people of Solomon Island descent living in the sugar cane areas of Queensland have this as their background.
Kata Ragoso's father was sick and tired of the cycle of killing and the insecure way of living and encouraged the local communities against those old customs. The name Kata Ragoso means "Without Devil Strings" and this was given to him by his father to impress upon him that perhaps there was an alternative. It wasn't until 1914 when Captain Jones, a Seventh-day Adventist missionary came to the area and began to introduce the nationals to Christianity and Jesus Christ. Kata Ragoso's education began in a small school and eventually he became an ordained minister in the Solomon area. In 1936 Kata Ragoso went to the General Conference in San Francisco as a delegate from the church in the area.
During the Second World War under the control of Kata Ragoso, Solomon Islander's members of the Adventist Church, operated a search and rescue service to locate shot down and otherwise lost allied soldiers, sailors but mostly airmen. Ragoso's team protected them and returned them to the allied forces, often through Japanese lines. Ragoso and the church members, after the war was over, collected funds locally to complete the translation of the Bible into the Marovo language receiving compliments from the British and Foreign Bible Society as it then was as to the clarity of the manuscript.
Ragoso died in 1964 stating in a letter that he wrote before he died: "My greatest hope and faith is to meet you all with Christ when He comes."
There are others that time does not permit me to review, George Muller, Dwight L Moody, Mother Teresa to name but three.
What a contrast with the team members on the other side. Haaman, Sennacharib, Ghengis Kahn, Napoleon Bonaparte, Adolph Hitler,
What does it all mean to us today?
1. Jesus said - If you are not on my team - you are, by default, on the other side, Matt 6:24.
2. The game is already won - though Satan's trying to convince you that there is still a winning chance
3. Book your place on the team
Who is on the Lord's Side?
Answer now the call
Who is on the Lord's side?
Will you give your all?
Volunteers are needed
Read it in God's Word
Who is on the Lord's side?
Let your voice be heard.
Words by F R Havergal.
This article is Copyright © 2012 by John L Morris. Used by permission.
Copyright © 2015 Thornleigh Seventh-day Adventist Church