. . . and though they be alive, they are dead men walking!
This is a clarion call to all my past, present and future friends – a clarion call trumpeted to all known Football Association (soccer) players, managers, coaches, administrators, officials and referees i have had the privilege of meeting, playing for and playing against, and also having socialised with over the past years.
This cry out is pertinent at this most urgent time we live in. Being a member in two social media groups on Facebook – titled ‘Natal League’ and ‘The Old MDFA Soccer Days (Shamrocks, Pirates, Savages, Park Villa)’ – i take this opportunity to make right any wrongs i have committed against any individual or club team in the football (soccer) fraternity i had been a part of since my junior days at Fynnland FC on The Bluff, Durban in the early 1970s, at Empangela Park FC in Empangeni, Zululand and from 1980 at various clubs under the Pietermaritzburg and District Football Association (MDFA) and Natal Football Association (NFA). Please forgive me for any wrongs committed against you in our past playing days . . .
Since 1980, some would say i have had more ‘clubs’ than South African golfer Gary Player – having played at various stages for Pirates FC (U17 to Seniors MDFA and Natal League), Shamrocks FC (MDFA, Natal Premier Reserve League and The Witness Regional League), Howick FC (MDFA), Hearts FC (MDFA) and Savages FC (MDFA ‘Barflies’ and Over 35s) and as an ‘unofficial player’ for the University of Natal: Pietermaritzburg at the RAU Inter-Varsities Tournament in the 80’s!
Over the past few years or so, many of our generation of players and coaches have died and passed on into eternity. Some have hopefully died with a living hope, whilst others have sadly and tragically died with no hope at all and are damned for all eternity. It is for this very reason i come to you my friends, in love, with this message: My friends are dying and though they be alive, they are dead men walking!
Bill Shankly, a Liverpool manager on Merseyside from 1959–1974 is quoted as saying: “Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.”[*] Well, the socialist William “Bill” Shankly came to realise on Tuesday 29th September 1981 at the age of 68 when he passed into eternity[**] that football is not “much, much more important” than life and death, when he died of a heart attack. The front page headline of the Liverpool Echo newspaper read: SHANKLY IS DEAD. It recorded the official Broadgreen Hospital statement: “Mr Shankly suffered a cardiac arrest at 00.30 am and was certified dead at 01.20. Shanks had been battling for life since he suffered a heart attack early on Saturday morning. He had been making good progress until his condition deteriorated yesterday morning and he was transferred to the Intensive Care Unit. His wife Nessie was by his side when he died.”
Dear friends, how will your epithet read one day when you pass from this life into eternity? Will you be remembered as having lived with a hope and being born-again? Or, will you be remembered as having wasted your life and being damned for all eternity? GOD’s Word tells us in advance, giving a clear warning, whether you believe it or not,
27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: ~ Hebrews 9:27
Friends, whilst we played our football according to the prescribed Football Association (FA) Laws, the matches always had foul play in them. As in life so in football – every law broken has a consequence to the lawbreaking: in football the consequences would be a free-kick, a penalty, a booking or a sending-off which latter offence would most likely have ended up in a suspension for the offending culprit, or the like.
Therefore, it is a no-brainer that whilst the games were played hard, they were certainly never fair. Lawbreaking of the Football Association Rule Book were always common place and practice. Be it stealing ground at throw-ins and free-kicks, lying about whether the ball came off your opponent last before going out of bounds with cries of “My Ball!!!”, cheating by pulling shirts, shorts or other body parts to gain an unfair advantage, diving illegally, or feigning injury or an unfair tackle to punish your opponent, or even more callously by deliberately “going over the top” which could result in a broken leg or ankle! These were the grievous deeds we mostly participated in – however a minority did try to play the game hard and fair – and whilst many of you might cry ‘foul’ and say it is the nature of the game, these actions were a direct result of a competitive and covetous spirit that lusted for vain glory – vanity of vanities!
Friends, our socialising after matches were also played hard. From my own experiences as many of you can vouch for back in the day; and yes, many of you too, have engaged in many of these following practices. Filthy and foul language used with open abandonment by and amongst ourselves, not even taking into consideration the ‘ladies’ or ‘elderly’ in our company, and engaging in crude joking. Drunkenness and vile affections were not only practiced but encouraged amongst our mates. Gossip and slander were often directed at some players and coaches and the referees and linesmen – often referred to as “The Three Blind Mice” – never escaped poisonous tongues, and sadly often carried the brunt and anger from the players for a lost game or decisions that never went a particular way. We also indulged in many late nights that carried on into the wee hours of the morning filling ourselves with copious amounts of poisonous alcoholic beverages, or maybe philandering and chasing after some skirt at nightclubs like Da Vincis, Crowded House, The Black Stag, Stables and at our various clubhouses amongst others PMB Collegians, The Wanderers Club and the Midlands Club to mention but a few watering-holes.
In reality, by our actions it revealed to us that we were – and to a degree, many are still – wretched lawbreakers. The Holy Bible sums up lawbreakers as sinners. In 1 John we read,
4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. ~ 1 John 3:4
In this Scripture, the law mentioned is GOD’s commandments and not man’s football laws. Man has a real dilemma – for there is none that is righteous, no not one. Man is conceived and born into this world in sin as a result of Adam and Eve’s sin against GOD in the Garden of Eden, and as a direct result thereof mankind is already condemned unto a physical and a spiritual death until such time that he/she comes to “. . . repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (see Acts 20:21). We read about the soul that sins, and that each person is answerable for their own sin,
20 The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him. ~ Ezekiel 18:20
So, how we have in time past, and even now in the present, conducted our lives as can be seen from the above descriptions, man’s actions are referred to most clearly in GOD’s Word. In the Bible, there is correction brought against the hypocritical Pharisees and scribes in a story in their day, which is still applicable for us today, where the Lord Jesus Christ says that a man is not defiled by eating with filthy hands for the things eaten passes through the body, but what comes out of a man is what defiles a man, for it is the issues of the heart, as we read,
20 And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man.
21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,
22 Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness:
23 All these evil things come from within, and defile the man. ~ Mark 7:20-23
We further read of the serious predicament that sinful man has,
19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,
20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,
21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. ~ Galatians 5:19-21
We can also read what the apostle Paul had to say to the church in Corinth,
9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. ~ 1 Corinthians 6:9-11
Scripture tells us,
23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; ~ Romans 3:23
And therefore, not all are washed, not all are sanctified, and not all are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of GOD. Verse 11 of 1 Corinthians above was written to believers and not wretched sinners, for we read,
4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. ~ James 4:4
It is for this very reason that this plea is made to you, to humble yourself and cry out to GOD to save you, if HE is speaking to you by drawing you to HIMSELF, for none of your works righteousness’s (in other words, your bribes, your so-called good deeds, your filthy works, etc.) can get GOD to turn HIS wrath away from your account before HIM come Judgment Day! Even all the memories, the accolades, medals and trophies that you have accumulated through-out your football career is worthless and cannot save you,
36 For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?
37 Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? ~ Mark 8:36,37
You are not ‘good enough’ in your own stead to receive GOD’s pardon come Judgment Day, if you are walking after the flesh and not the Spirit of GOD! Here, take a quick test using GOD’s perfect and righteous Law, The Ten Commandments (see Exodus 20:1-17; Deuteronomy 5:6-21) to see your plight when you have to give an account before the great white throne judgment seat – How many lies have you told in your life time? If you have told but just one lie you are a liar. Have you stolen anything – irrespective of the size or value of the object, including piracy of music CDs and film DVDs? If you have, that would render you as a thief. Have you looked at a person with lust of the heart – either in acts of heterosexual and/or homosexual lust? Jesus calls that adultery of the heart (see Matthew 5:27-30)! Or maybe idolatry is your violation of GOD’s Law. Idolatry is not only in a religion of idol worship, but idolatry can be a love of money, material possessions, sex, drugs, music, etc or maybe it is football players and teams which are your idols. For many years Liverpool Football Club, its players and the game of football in general was a deep-rooted idol in my life until i came to repentance and GOD delivered me from this idolatry. GOD sees all,
3 The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good. ~ Proverb 15:3
GOD being good, perfect, righteous and holy therefore has a good, perfect, righteous and holy standard! Judging by GOD’s standard, any person breaking HIS commands would leave that person guilty of breaking GOD’s Law and therefore GOD must punish their sin! Scripture reads,
12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. ~ Revelation 20:12-15
Dear friends, if you have violated GOD’s commandments that would leave you guilty before the Judge of the Universe. We all must appear before GOD, as we read,
13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.
14 For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil. ~ Ecclesiastes 12:13,14
10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.
11 Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences. ~ 2 Corinthians 5:10,11
You have heard that old cliché: “You do the crime, you do the time.” Well, GOD will punish all sin wherever it is found, and so, if you are found to have transgressed GOD’s Law and is found to be a lying thief, an adulterer at heart, and an idolater (just to mention a few violations of GOD’s Law) then you are guilty as a criminal who should do the time! And GOD’s place of punishment is hell as a holding cell until Judgment Day which results in an eternal sentencing into the lake of fire as mentioned in Revelation 20:12-15 here-above.
Whilst “God is angry with the wicked every day” (Psalm 7:11b), GOD is also merciful and gracious. GOD is love (1 John 4:8,16) and HE shows HIS love by making a way for wretched sinners to be saved from HIS wrath, and reconciled back to HIMSELF,
16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.
21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God. ~ John 3:16-21
As can be seen that the salvation of GOD is obtained through HIS Son Jesus Christ and not through the thousands upon thousands of man-made religious practices, customs and traditions! Man worships his plethora of idolatrous gods through his man-made cultic religions such as Roman Catholicism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, the ZCC, the TACC, Shembe Nazarenes, Seventh-Day Adventism, Jehovah Witnesses, Mormonism, the 38,000+ “ecumenical Protestantism denominations” (the Papacy’s harlot daughters) that have little unity in their doctrines and teachings, and atheism which is a religion of worshipping and serving the creation and not the Creator, as we read,
20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,
23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.
24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:
25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. ~ Romans 1:20-25
Yeshua haMessiach, the Lord Jesus Christ, said He is the ONLY WAY to GOD the Father when,
6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
7 If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. ~ John 14:6,7
The prophecies of old that were prophesied by the prophets in the Old Testament concerning the Saviour came to pass as YEHOVAH (YHVH), the One and Only True and Living GOD, ordained it to be. GOD confirmed through the prophet Isaiah: “For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver, the LORD is our king; he will save us” (Isaiah 33:22). In the Historical account when Mary was pregnant with the baby Jesus, she said: “My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour” (Luke 1:46,47). Jesus confirmed,
56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.
57 Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?
58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. ~ John 8:56-58
The Lord Jesus Christ used the very “I am” that YEHOVAH GOD used when HE spoke to Moses out of the burning bush concerning saving HIS people Israel out of Egypt,
14 And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.
15 And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations. ~ Exodus 3:14,15
And Jesus also confirmed that “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30). For Jesus the Word (logos) has always existed from eternity to eternity, for “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty” (Revelation 1:8) for Jesus was in the beginning with GOD, as we read,
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2 The same was in the beginning with God.
3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. ~ John 1:1-3
14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. ~ John 1:14
Much more can be written concerning the Saviour Jesus Christ[†], but if you reject Jesus’ dying in your stead, a propitiation (a substitutionary atonement) on your behalf then you will be damned for all eternity. GOD can save you through HIS Son Jesus Christ. And ONLY through HIS Son, the Lord Jesus Christ! The Bible tells us that you must be born-again to see the Kingdom of God (John 3). For salvation is a work of GOD,
8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. ~ Ephesians 2:8-10
In closing, often when a bereavement takes place the common condolences’ message shared is “RIP so-and-so”. The “RIP” stands for “Rest In Peace.” Kindly bear in mind that unless the deceased person was born-again and had the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour of his/her life then that soul will experience peace with GOD, but if the soul dies without finding peace with GOD the wrath of GOD will still abide on that person, as we read,
36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him. ~ John 3:36
Also football players do not go to a football heaven to kick footballs around with each other when they die. You will either be in heaven worshipping GOD or be in hell experiencing the torments of the fire. Today, while it is still today, find peace with GOD for you are not guaranteed another minute, another hour, or another day upon this earth. There are more people headed for hell than heaven, for Jesus warned,
13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:
14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. ~ Matthew 7:13,14
Do repent of your sins and believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ, for this is your only hope. You reject the Lord Jesus Christ, you reject GOD at your own peril!
38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. ~ Acts 2:38
* From the Bill Shankly website Own Words, we read:
Whether Shankly said the exact words… "Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that," is maybe not exactly accurate, but he DID say when reflecting on the relationship between the Liverpool and Everton fans.
"I’ve seen supporters on Merseyside going to the ground together, one wearing red and white and the other blue and white, which is unusual elsewhere. You get families in Liverpool in which half support Liverpool and the other half Everton. They support rival teams but they have the same temperament and they know each other. They are unique in the sense that their rivalry is so great but there is no real aggro between them. This is quite amazing.
I am not saying they love each other. Oh, no. Football is not a matter of life and death… it’s much more important than that. And it’s more important to them than that. But I’ve never seen a fight at a derby game. Shouting and bawling… yes. But they don’t fight each other. And that says a lot for them."
** I do hope Shanks repented for I have not come across any information confirming that Bill Shankly had repented of his sins and surrendered his life to the Lord Jesus Christ. However, I have seen some of Shankly’s other quotes where he blasphemes the name of Jesus Christ.
† The Saviour of the world Scriptures ~
47And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. ~ Luke 1:47
11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. ~ Luke 2:11
42And said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world. ~ John 4:42
31Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. ~ Acts 5:31
23Of this man’s seed hath God according to his promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus: ~ Acts 13:23
23For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. ~ Ephesians 5:23
20For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: ~ Philippians 3:20
1Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope; ~ 1Timothy 1:1
3For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; ~ 1Timothy 2:3
10For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe. ~ 1Timothy 4:10
10But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel: ~ 2Timothy 1:10
3But hath in due times manifested his word through preaching, which is committed unto me according to the commandment of God our Saviour; 4To Titus, mine own son after the common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour. ~ Titus 1:3, 4
10Not purloining, but shewing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things. 11For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; 13Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; 14Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. ~ Titus 2:10-14
4But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, 5Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; 6Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; 7That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. ~ Titus 3:4-7
1Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ: ~ 2Peter 1:1
11For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. ~ 2Peter 1:11
20For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. ~ 2Peter 2:20
2That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour: 3Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, 4And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. ~ 2Peter 3:2-4
18But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen. ~ 2Peter 3:18
14And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. ~ 1John 4:14
25To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen. ~ Jude 25
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