Tag: sermon illustrations

Three days in the belly of a boat


Call him Jonah.

This is the look of a man confronting his rescuer after three days believing he was going to die. Trapped in the belly of a boat.

Back in June, a tugboat cook named Harrison Odjegba Okene spent almost three days in the upturned hull of the boat he’d been sailing in. 30 metres below the surface. A rescue diver sent to retrieve bodies found him. And was sufficiently freaked out when the hand he suspected belonged to a floating corpse grabbed him.

The story is here. But the really stunning bit is the footage of the rescue. Hooray for ubiquitous cameras.

He’d been on the toilet when the boat sank.

“He groped his way out of the toilet and tried to find a vent, propping doors open as he moved on. He discovered some tools and a life vest with two flashlights, which he stuffed into his shorts.

When he found a cabin of the sunken vessel that felt safe, he began the long wait, getting colder and colder as he played back a mental tape of his life — remembering his mother, friends, mostly the woman he’d married five years before with whom he hadn’t yet fathered a child.”

To make the sermon illustration complete, Okene is a Christian.

“I started calling on the name of God. … I started reminiscing on the verses I read before I slept. I read the Bible from Psalm 54 to 92. My wife had sent me the verses to read that night when she called me before I went to bed.”

Psalm 57 seems particularly apt.

1 Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me,
for in you I take refuge.
I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings
until the disaster has passed.

2 I cry out to God Most High,
to God, who vindicates me.
3 He sends from heaven and saves me,
rebuking those who hotly pursue me—
God sends forth his love and his faithfulness.

4 I am in the midst of lions;
I am forced to dwell among ravenous beasts—
men whose teeth are spears and arrows,
whose tongues are sharp swords.

5 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
let your glory be over all the earth.

6 They spread a net for my feet—
I was bowed down in distress.
They dug a pit in my path—
but they have fallen into it themselves.

7 My heart, O God, is steadfast,
my heart is steadfast;
I will sing and make music.
8 Awake, my soul!
Awake, harp and lyre!
I will awaken the dawn.

9 I will praise you, Lord, among the nations;
I will sing of you among the peoples.
10 For great is your love, reaching to the heavens;
your faithfulness reaches to the skies.

11 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
let your glory be over all the earth.


As does Psalm 61…

1 Hear my cry, O God;
listen to my prayer.

2 From the ends of the earth I call to you,
I call as my heart grows faint;
lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
3 For you have been my refuge,
a strong tower against the foe.

4 I long to dwell in your tent forever
and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.
5 For you, God, have heard my vows;
you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.

6 Increase the days of the king’s life,
his years for many generations.
7 May he be enthroned in God’s presence forever;
appoint your love and faithfulness to protect him.

8 Then I will ever sing in praise of your name
and fulfill my vows day after day.

The moral to the story must surely be read Psalms when you’re on a boat.

A modern day Jonah

This guy was swallowed by a hippo. He gives a pretty gripping account of that process.

“I was aware that my legs were surrounded by water, but my top half was almost dry. I seemed to be trapped in something slimy. There was a terrible, sulphurous smell, like rotten eggs, and a tremendous pressure against my chest. My arms were trapped but I managed to free one hand and felt around – my palm passed through the wiry bristles of the hippo’s snout. It was only then that I realised I was underwater, trapped up to my waist in his mouth.

I wriggled as hard as I could, and in the few seconds for which he opened his jaws, I managed to escape. I swam towards Evans, but the hippo struck again, dragging me back under the surface. I’d never heard of a hippo attacking repeatedly like this, but he clearly wanted me dead.

Hippos’ mouths have huge tusks, slicing incisors and a bunch of smaller chewing teeth. It felt as if the bull was making full use of the whole lot as he mauled me – a doctor later counted almost 40 puncture wounds and bite marks on my body. The bull simply went berserk, throwing me into the air and catching me again, shaking me like a dog with a doll.

Then down we went again, right to the bottom, and everything went still. I remember looking up through 10 feet of water at the green and yellow light playing on the surface, and wondering which of us could hold his breath the longest. Blood rose from my body in clouds, and a sense of resignation overwhelmed me. I’ve no idea how long we stayed under – time passes very slowly when you’re in a hippo’s mouth.”

The prodigal turtle…

I was all set to end my blogging hiatus on Friday night, and then our world changed. Briefly. Let me tell you the story…

We have pet turtles (you can read a little about keeping pet turtles here). There names are Franklin (Frankie) and Roosevelt (Rosie). You can’t tell what gender turtles are until they’re a few years old – and, like Swedish parents, we didn’t want to impose gender identities on them – so although they’re female, I sometimes accidentally call them “he,” and that’s pretty interchangeable.

We feed our turtles in a bucket – because their food stinks, and it dramatically cuts down on the amount of time one needs to spend cleaning their tank.

On Friday night, at 2000 (these stories are best recounted in 24 hour time), I put Frankie in the bucket for a feed. I forgot about her. A bit. And at 23:00 I went downstairs. I noticed that our garage door was open… there was a breeze blowing. It was a still night. The moon was full. The scene is now set.

I walked into the man cave – the home of the turtle tank – and the bucket – and reached in to the murky brown bucket to grab Frankie – she’s the bitiest of our turtles – so I was cautious. And the water was stinky. So I didn’t want to keep my hand in the water for too long. But I couldn’t find her.

She had escaped.

Vanished. Like a ninja.

I spent 20 minutes frantically checking every nook, cranny, and sock (a favourite hiding place when they were younger, and free range… It became pretty clear she wasn’t in the house.

These turtles are Robyn’s – they were a birthday present four years ago. She likes them. She was asleep. I had to break the bad news… Frankie was gone. She was outside.

I’d read that if you don’t recover a kidnap victim, or find a missing person, in the first few hours – the prospects aren’t good. I think that was in a Jack Reacher novel. Frankie’s prospects weren’t good.

I grabbed a torch. I spent 2 hours walking around outside checking garden beds, drains, under cars – looking like a creepy prowler. I gave up. I went to bed at 0200.

We had friends coming round for breakfast. I was a little dejected. Frantic. I woke up at 0600. And spent another hour combing the yard looking for our little amphibious friend. A water main had busted up the street – I wondered if we’d find Frankie causing a blockage in the pipe.

But of our turtle there was no sign. I pulled downstairs apart. Turned every stone – and piece of furniture. I spent the day peering out the window, looking for any sign of our turtle – or circling vultures (metaphorically speaking – they were more likely to be myna birds). But alas. There was no sign.

At 1600 I was ready to give up the search. We resolved ourselves to the idea that our little turtle friend was gone. And not coming back.

But still. I stared into the middle distance.

I considered making a lost poster. Maybe a neighbourhood kid had picked her up. It would have looked something like this…

Image (1)

I was doing anything to cling on to hope. We were picturing Frankie eating food, and frolicking in a local creek. Happy. Consoling ourselves with anything we could hang on to.

But we kept staring off into space. Unfocused eyes glancing at the road – in the hope that we’d see our turtle wandering the street. Adventure over. Coming home to comfort.

At about 1700 – the photographer’s golden hour – the sun hovering above the horizon, casting a radiant glow over our suburban street, I looked again.

I shouted. I jumped. A car swerved. Birds swooped – a flock of them. And there. Wandering casually towards a drain, head tucked under her shell to avoid the dive bombing sky-rats, was Frankie. Covered in bark chips after a day spent hiding in a neighbourhood garden. Making her move. For freedom.

Bravely – I ran through the swarm of aerial cane toads – risking neck and eyes (where I imagine myna birds targetting – they are evil) – to save our little turtle.

Frankie is home. The lost is found. She’s now happily hanging out with her turtle buddy. Home. Safe.

We are happy. Elated. Having traversed the kind of emotional roller coaster you might find in the world’s smallest and lamest emotional theme park. We develop all sorts of emotional attachments to pets – and that’s probably healthy. They bring joy, and they are delightful lives created by God. But this gave me a little bit of a taste of the emotions the father in the famous story of the Prodigal Son was feeling as he looked down the road to see his son returning. The lost found.

And that, dear friends, is why there hasn’t been much action here these last few days.

Switzerland: in case of emergency “blow up stuff”

The nation of Switzerland is wired to self destruct in the event of an invasion.

“To interrupt the utility of bridges, tunnels, highways, railroads, Switzerland has established three thousand points of demolition. That is the number officially printed. It has been suggested to me that to approximate a true figure a reader ought to multiply by two. Where a highway bridge crosses a railroad, a segment of the bridge is programmed to drop on the railroad. Primacord fuses are built into the bridge. Hidden artillery is in place on either side, set to prevent the enemy from clearing or repairing the damage.”

There’s a long story about the strategy at Bldgblog.

For some reason this reminds me of one of the pages in Strongbad’s Children’s Book.

Camera washes up on beach: A modern day message in a bottle

Cool story. This camera. A Canon EOS was underwater for over a year. Somebody with a little bit of tech knowledge found it, while diving, and managed to salvage some of the photos. The camera is obviously a write off. The photos were from August 2010, which meant it spent quite some time in the ocean and exposed to the elements.

The cool part of the story is that the guy who found the story managed to crowd source the contact details of the owner, reuniting photographer with photographs…

“The photographs, having spent 440 days on the ocean floor, have been reunited with the photographer and the family. I am very happy to have facilitated the journey back to where the photographs belong! I certainly didn’t anticipate the attention this created, any photographer finding my camera would do the same, right? Thanks again for the great help that came from all of you – the Google+ community. I received an email from the recipient of your help this morning:

“Again thank you so much!!! Seeing the pictures brings tears as we really had forgotten what we were missing by not having them.”

And in a nice little PR twist, perhaps predictably, Canon is replacing the camera for free. It is perhaps a better endorsement for the memory cards than for the camera maker – and San Disk are sending some free goodies to both the finder, and the photographer. Good news all round…

From Google+, Via Engadget.

Bus-ted: Marathon runner hands back prize after sneaky shortcut

File this under “sermon illustrations” or if you don’t write sermons, under “funny stories”…

Marathon “runner” Rob Sloan was in a race on the weekend, he piked, caught the bus, and found himself ahead of the pack, so he decided to cross the finish line. He appeared to have taken third place. There was some suspicion at the time. But he flatly denied catching the spectator bus.

He lied.

“When I finished the race I was asked by the fourth person in the race: ‘Did you come third, because I don’t remember you passing us.’
“My words to him were ‘Yeah, I passed you at approximately 18 miles on the damp’, I remember because you don’t pass many people being near the front.”

The BBC has more… and another story from Digital Journey

Funny stuff.

How to get off a speeding ticket in NZ: Write a completely honest complaint letter

Ahh. New Zealand. Home of the long white cloud, Fergburger, and other holiday memories…

Also, home to this ingenious bloke who wrote a letter that humourously told the department of issuing stupid fines that their infringement notice was riddled with factual errors. Letters of note has the exchange.

Firstly, the ‘date of offence’ is listed as the 23rd of June 1974 with the time being at or around half past six in the evening. This is of grave concern to me because I was not issued a drivers license until sometime in 1990 and I have no desire to be charged with driving while not legally licensed. I do not have a clear recollection of very much at all before I was three and a half years old, so I rang Mum to see if she remembered what I was doing that day. She said that – coincidentally – I was born that day!!

He goes on (and you should read the whole thing).

“This is where it starts to get really strange. The car that I must have crawled into had the same license plate number as the one I have now – AEH924 (according to the infringment notice). However, my car is a dark gray Nissan Bluebird SSS, with dual cup holders, 1800cc’s of grunt, air-conditioning and electric windows.

You will notice that a time-travel option is not included on this model, so that rules out any ‘Back to the Future’ issues and the car I was driving back then could not have been the the one I drive today.

This is clarifed by the infringement notice which states that the vehicle was a Honda saloon. How this relates to my Nissan Bluebird, I cannot fathom. I can only hypothesise that, back in 1974, the first range of proto-type Hondas had an automated number plate changing mechanism (like on the A-Team) which were used to avoid parking tickets and facilitate safer getaways from burglaries, armed hold-ups and the like.”

Hitman fail…

If you’re a hitman. The rules are simple. Don’t fall in love with your target. And if you do, don’t try to cover it up with a photo mock up featuring tomato sauce and the old machete in the arm pit trick. And, failing that, definitely don’t get caught canoodling with your would be victim, especially don’t let the person who paid you catch you…

This, sadly, is not a hypothetical set of happenings.

Only in Brazil…

Yogi Bear could steal with impunity in Yellowstone National Park

Thanks to a legal loophole there’s apparently a portion of Yellowstone National Park in the US (the park the fictional Jellystone National Park was named after) where you can essentially commit crimes without fear of prosecution. Apparently. Legal loopholes are fun.

Image Credit: Legal Aware, a post about the legality of bear picnic basket theft

Here’s the geographic state of play:

“There’s a small portion of Yellowstone National Park that spills over the Wyoming border into Idaho and another small part that’s in Montana that would create an almost perfect crime.”

An upcoming paper in a legal journal makes the following argument (via the BBC and NPR):

“”But Article III [Section 2] plainly requires that the trial be held in Idaho, the state in which the crime was committed.

“Perhaps if you fuss convincingly enough about it the case would be sent to Idaho.

“But the Sixth Amendment then requires that the jury be from the state – Idaho – and the district – Wyoming – in which the crime was committed.

“In other words, the jury would have to be drawn from the Idaho portion of Yellowstone which, according to the 2000 Census has a population of precisely zero.

“Assuming that you do not feel like consenting to trial in Cheyenne, you should go free.””

Solving drinking water problems one iceberg at a time…

This could be the future.

That’s a mock up of a tugboat towing an iceberg. The plan is to stop letting fresh water melt into the ocean and start shipping it to places where there isn’t much water. Seems clever. Though pretty inefficient.

Here’s how it “might” work.

This is just a concept – but it is, to use the obvious pun/metaphor – the tip of the iceberg. You can read more about the pie in the sky plan here.

“The cost of iceberg transport have not been made public yet, but pilot programs–initially just try to tow a mini-iceberg a short distance, says Simard–are underway. And there is talk, at least, of a real-world trial in 2012 or 2013.”

I’m sure there’s some sort of sermon illustration here. And it’s less ecumenically problematic than talking about bringing the mountain to Mohammad.

Serendipity via message in a bottle

This is an amazing story.

British man Richard Morwood discovered his girlfriend was the same girl whose message in a bottle he answered 30 years ago. Mandy English was just 13 when she hurled the note requesting a pen pal into the sea during a 1979 school visit to Scotland.

Two years later, Morwood – then just six years old – spotted the glass bottle on the beach and sent a reply by postcard. English never wrote back, but while sorting through keepsakes last week, she found the 1981 card and realised its sender had the same name as Morwood, her boyfriend since June.

This has been all over the actual news, and it’s not on snopes (after a cursory glance). So I’m going to believe that it’s true. Because skepticism is depressing.

Snot bullets

Man gets shot in head, sneezes bullet. Awesome. And true. Here’s the story.

“The bullet went through the right side of his head, behind his eye socket and lodged in his nasal passage but miraculously did no serious damage.
Bleeding heavily, he was taken to hospital in an ambulance shortly after midnight, but while waiting to be seen by doctors he sneezed and the bullet shot out of his right nostril.”

Only in Italy, because that’s where the Mafia can’t shoot straight.

A real pearler…

This guy named Calvin Wright was one of those loud talkers on a train. But he had a better reason than forgetting that he was wearing headphones…

For 41 years, the Athens man had a pearl from his mother’s necklace stuck in his ear canal. ER staff at St. Mary’s Hospital discovered it when Wright came in suffering from bronchitis this month.

“The nurse was checking my ear and said, ‘Do you use Q-Tips?'” Wright said. “I said yes, and she said, ‘you’ve got one in your right ear, I’ll get it out.’ She tried getting it and then she was like, ‘Whoa, this is hard. This is not a Q-Tip. Looks like you got a pearl in your ear.'”

Build your own Jesus

This picture is filed in the “pictures I will one day use on a powerpoint as a sermon illustration” file.

Here’s the story behind the photo from CNN.

What would Jesus have you do? He’d have you build the world’s biggest Jesus statue. That’s what.

Workers in Poland finished erecting the world’s tallest statue of Jesus over the weekend, a 170-foot (52-meter) giant that towers over the countryside near Swiebodzin.

“This is the culmination of my life’s work as a priest. I felt inspired to fulfill Jesus’ will, and today I give thanks to him for allowing me to fulfill his will,” Father Zawadzki said after the head was attached by a 700-ton crane, according to a report from the Warsaw Business Journal.

Why Cycling is incredibly cool

It looks, to the uninformed, like an individual sport. But check out these quotes from the Aussie guy who came fourth at the Commonwealth Games after essentially sacrificing his energy, and his lead, to help a fellow Australian take gold. Chris Sutton won’t get paid for his sacrifice, nor does he get a medal.

“I never got a medal, but I came here to lead Allan Davis out and that’s what we did, he won,” Sutton said.

“I was so happy when he won because that means we did our job perfect.

“The reward is to represent your country, it’s such an honour, and to be part of a gold medal like that is incredible. Allan Davis, it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.”

This would be an awesome photo, though it has to be described in words because I can’t find it on google images, or any of the stories…

“I saw him put his arms up and I put my arms up and looked to the sky and just went ‘that’s great, that’s what we came here to do’.”

Here’s the SMH story. The SMH seem to understand cycling a little better than the ABC who ran this picture with the story, cropping Sutton out…