Psalm 9 in context © Image by Ross Cochrane

Psalm 9:15-17 – IS GOD CRUEL, VIOLENT, UNJUST AND INTOLERANT? – Part 6

I was interested to read the take on Psalm 9 from “The Skeptics Annotated Bible”. I was a little shocked by the rather ruthless emojis representing God as cruel, violent, unjust and intolerant, and a statement about this verse. It said, “If you pray to God, he will kill your enemies and destroy cities for you”. I wonder what David would say in conversation with this Skeptic. In this series I have placed words in David’s mouth but sought to remain true to what Psalm 9 and the Bible actually says about God. I hope this last episode will add to your understanding of a loving and just God.

DAVID: “The needy will not be ignored forever; the hopes of the poor will not always be crushed.”    

SKEPTIC: OK. I get that, but what I am talking about is that you pray that God will destroy your enemies. What has that got to do with the poor and needy?

DAVID: What I am saying is that God never forgets those who suffer because of evil, cruel, intolerant, violent and unjust people, people with the very characteristics that you ascribe to God. The poor and needy are destitute directly because of wicked people. They are emotionally defeated because they have been beaten down by evildoers. Justice, however, will eventually be served. 

Galatians 6:7 (NLT) says, “Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant.”

DAVID: “Arise, O Lord! Do not let mere mortals defy you! Judge the nations! Make them tremble in fear, O Lord. Let the nations know they are merely human. Interlude” (Psalm 9:18 NLT)   

SKEPTIC: Do you really think it is right to ask God to judge nations? 

DAVID: Yes. One day God will judge the world, but I pray that He will intervene into the present with His justice now. Innocent people are dying at the hands of my enemies.

I pray that people will fear God while there is still opportunity. God is a universally just judge. He is also a merciful Father, with whom we can have a loving relationship with joy and praise if we but realise that we are merely human and need Him in our lives. 

The nations have fallen into the pit they dug for others. Their own feet have been caught in the trap they set. The Lord is known for his justice. The wicked are trapped by their own deeds. Quiet Interlude   (Psalm 9:15, 16 NLT)  

SKEPTIC: Now you say that it’s not God’s fault that the nations are destroyed, but their own? Isn’t this shifting the blame? After all, God destroyed them, according to your Psalm.

DAVID: The Bible speaks about reaping what we sow. Those who sow violence against God and His people reap judgement. They experience the natural consequences of their choices sooner or later. 

In Aussie (Australian) terms, it’s the “boomerang” principle. It is true that God executes judgment, and also true that people are responsible for the consequences of the choices they make. Both principles are woven together to form the truth. It’s worth pondering.

Some people will never know God’s love and will never know Him as the God of salvation; they will only know Him as the God of judgment because of their choices.

Other people will come to know God personally because of a consideration of His judgment. They run to His offer of salvation (see POSB commentary) and come to know His love personally.

“The wicked will go down to the grave. This is the fate of all the nations who ignore God.” (Psalm 9:17, NLT)

SKEPTIC: That’s exactly what I am talking about. Not only the wicked but anyone who doesn’t believe, dies.

DAVID: Yes, sooner or later. Death in the Bible always speaks of separation or being cut off. Physical death is separation of the soul and spirit from the body. Spiritual death is separation of a person from fulfilling the purposes of God and from a relationship with God, because of our sin. 

You can be alive physically but dead spiritually (separated from God). Many have died physically but are alive spiritually (in relationship with God in heaven). Many have died physically and are dead spiritually (and remain separated from God) because of their own choices. Which is why God is patient. 

PASTOR ROSS: 2 Peter 3:9 (NLT) says, “The Lord isn’t really being slow about His promise, as some people think. No, He is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.”

This is still true. God’s righteous character does not ignore sin as if it didn’t exist. His justice requires a price for sin. In order that His justice could be satisfied and we could be forgiven, God gave His Son as the sacrifice for our sin.

The POSB commentary expresses this well, “God’s redemption is available to all, but it is effective only for those who repent and receive Christ as Savior and Lord.”

Pastor Ross 

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Is God just…? © Image by Ross Cochrane

Psalm 9:11 – IS GOD CRUEL, VIOLENT, UNJUST AND INTOLERANT? – Part 5

I was interested to read the take on Psalm 9 from “The Skeptics Annotated Bible”. I was a little shocked by the rather ruthless emojis representing God as cruel, violent, unjust and intolerant, and a statement about this verse. It said, “If you pray to God, he will kill your enemies and destroy cities for you”. I wonder what David would say in conversation with this Skeptic. 

DAVID: Psalm 9:11 (NLT) says, “Sing praises to the Lord who reigns in Jerusalem. Tell the world about His unforgettable deeds.”  

SKEPTIC: Unforgettable alright. You pray and He annihilates your enemies.

DAVID: I pray to God who will not forget the cry of those who my enemies have annihilated. God alone knows the details of the crimes of my enemies and He is just. 

In the meantime I will encourage the oppressed to sing songs of praises to God who has not forgotten them.

SKEPTIC: So you declare the destruction of people you call your enemies as a good thing? You even sing songs about it.

DAVID: I declare the salvation of the Lord for those who believe in Him. I declare that God does not forget those who are oppressed. 

My enemies are not merely objects of God’s annihilation, but I call all people to share in the blessing of knowing God personally, and I celebrate both God’s love and His justice. My Psalm says in verses 12-13 “For He who avenges murder cares for the helpless. He does not ignore the cries of those who suffer. Lord, have mercy on me. See how my enemies torment me. Snatch me back from the jaws of death.”   

SKEPTIC: That’s exactly what I am talking about. You say God is your Avenger.

DAVID: Are you really criticising me for asking God to deliver me from persecution and death? 

SKEPTIC: No, but I am saying God is like an assassin that you have personally hired to do your work.

DAVID: How God avenges the murder of my people by ruthless and evil people, is best left to Him. I am asking for God’s mercy on me. He alone is just and fair. 

I do not deserve God’s mercy, but by grace, He has given it to me as a gift. Should I remain alive, it will only give me more incentive to declare God’s grace and mercy and salvation to those who trust in Him. That’s why I prayed in verse 14 “Save me so I can praise You publicly at Jerusalem’s gates, so I can rejoice that you have rescued me.” 

PASTOR ROSS: This is still the basis of the gospel cry, “Save me, Lord, not because I deserve it but because of Your grace.” 

The Bible says all have sinned and deserve to pay the price of spiritual separation from God, but Jesus died a cruel death on the Cross as a sacrifice for our sin. He is the only One who came to save us. He offers us the free gift of Eternal Life to those who will accept it. 

God says in Isaiah 43:11-12 (NLT), “I, yes I, am the Lord, and there is no other Savior. First I predicted your rescue, then I saved you and proclaimed it to the world. No foreign god has ever done this. You are witnesses that I am the only God,” says the Lord.”

To be continued… Read Part 6

Pastor Ross

Is God unjust? © Image by Ross Cochrane

Psalm 9:9-10 – IS GOD CRUEL, VIOLENT, UNJUST AND INTOLERANT? – Part 4

I was interested to read the take on Psalm 9 from “The Skeptics Annotated Bible”. I was a little shocked by the rather ruthless emojis representing God as cruel, violent, unjust and intolerant, and a statement about this verse. It said, “If you pray to God, he will kill your enemies and destroy cities for you”. I wonder what David would say in conversation with this Skeptic. 

DAVID: Did you read all of my Psalm. Verse 9-10 reads, “The Lord is a shelter for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. ”    

I thank God that He shields and protects me when I am oppressed and that He is my refuge when I go through times of trouble. He cares for me. He is my safest refuge, above all others, when my extremity of circumstances meets His Sovereignty.

SKEPTIC: He shelters you perhaps, but you are saying that He destroys others.

DAVID: What I am saying is that God is a shelter to anyone who trusts in Him. The word I have used here which you translate as Shelter literally means High place: a place where enemies cannot reach, or see or attack. I am imagining a high cave concealed in a mountain. I am secure in my relationship with God. 

Like any believer of your age, I can be secure from anxious thoughts or insecurities, secure from past and future sinfulness because of what Jesus has accomplished on the Cross. That’s why I wrote in verse 10, “Those who know Your name trust in You, for You, O Lord, do not abandon those who search for You.”

SKEPTIC: So your trust grows when you escape from your enemies or whenever God annihilates them?

DAVID: Knowing God’s Name means, in your language, means “learning about God’s Character by seeing Him at work in our lives”. The more my faith grows, the more I experience Him at work in my life. Perhaps I simply notice He has been at work in my life all along. I always experience His love even when, at times, I see His righteous acts of justice over my enemies. 

SKEPTIC: Are you saying that when God wipes out a nation that He is expressing His love?

DAVID: Justice exercised without love is not really justice. It really would be, as you describe it, cruel. And you or I are not capable of such love to be able to judge with that kind of absolute fairness. 

All I know is that from my point of view, God will not abandon me and I seek Him with all my heart. I may go through some tough times but He will never leave me nor forsake me. 

SKEPTIC: So even though you have tough times, you still think God is a God of love? Even though He doesn’t protect you from trouble you still think He loves you?

DAVID: I agree with Paul in your New Testament who says in Romans 8:35-39, “Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean He no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? … No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

To be continued…

Is God cruel, unjust, intolerant and violent? Stay with me, and read Part 5

Pastor Ross

Is God unjust? © Image by Ross Cochrane

Psalm 9:3 – IS GOD CRUEL, VIOLENT, UNJUST AND INTOLERANT? – Part 3

Psalm 9:5,6 (NLT) says, “You have rebuked the nations and destroyed the wicked; You have erased their names forever.  The enemy is finished, in endless ruins; the cities You uprooted are now forgotten.”   

I was interested to read the take on Psalm 9:3 from “The Skeptics Annotated Bible”. I was a little shocked by the rather ruthless emojis representing God as cruel, violent, unjust and intolerant, and a statement about this verse. It said, “If you pray to God, he will kill your enemies and destroy cities for you”. I wonder what David would say in conversation with this Skeptic. 

SKEPTIC: So, according to you, your enemies are annihilated forever by God. You just pray and they die.

DAVID: No, not at all. There is more to it than that. My words in Psalm 9:4 (NLT) say “For You have judged in my favor; from Your throne You have judged with fairness.”   

I am humbled when the Lord judges in my favour. He does not always do that. When He does, it indicates that my thoughts are lining up with His thoughts. This is not always so. I find myself praying, Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life. (Psalm 139:23-24 NLT)

I ask Him to give me His perspective, from His Word, not my often twisted version of the way things should be based upon flawed social and cultural norms.

I hope He will also give me the grace to disagree with others firmly when I need to, without being a jerk or desiring their destruction. My Psalm is not simply talking about those who have a disagreement with me, but those who are trying to kill me and my people.

SKEPTIC: Aren’t you concerned that this Psalm will give a wrong impression of you? 

DAVID: Let me be less concerned with what others misunderstand about me, or whether others treat me fairly or not, or even whether they exclude me or not, and more concerned about what God thinks is fair. I want to portray God for who He is – not only loving, but just. Let me be more concerned about what He says than what others say. 

I am like Paul in your New Testament Bible. In Galatians 1:10 (NLT), Paul says, Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.”

Save me from self-pity, and wanting to get back at people who seek to mistreat me for what I believe and who I believe in. I leave that in God’s hands. He knows how to fight His own battles without my sin getting in the way, so I pray that He will give me the right words when I need them and the respect for others who disagree. I pray that He will help me know when to stand up and be counted without being self-righteous. 

Only He knows what is right and just. It’s not so much that He is on my side, but I give thanks for the privilege of allowing me to be on His.

SKEPTIC: But your words in Psalm 9:5,6 (NLT) are so severe when you speak about God. You say, “You have rebuked the nations and destroyed the wicked; you have erased their names forever.  The enemy is finished, in endless ruins; the cities You uprooted are now forgotten.” 

PASTOR ROSS: I can only agree with the Skeptic. David’s words are severe when speaking about the justice and the severe judgment of God. His words are shocking. Too few people find them shocking enough to take them seriously.

Psalm 9 makes me concerned for the direction our own country is going. We seem to be making some wicked decisions and placing them in law, laws that contradict God’s Word. My heart cries out to God to prompt us to turn our country towards Him rather than this continual movement away from God. 

I pray that He will rebuke and erase the wickedness from our country and that we would respond in repentance. I pray that He will protect the generation of my grandchildren from the consequences of any wicked lawmakers or social engineers who choose to continually erode the principles of the Bible. 

I pray that He would help me not to be involved in destroying our society with such wicked intent, but actively involved in His loving, fair and just purposes. I don’t want to be deceived by clever words and deception that ultimately applauds what is evil and deplores what is right and just and valuable.  

My prayer is that God will bring His salvation to our lost generation. May we not be erased in the pages of history because of our defiance of God; so insignificant that we don’t deserve more than a passing reference to our demise.

Even before David’s time as King, so many of the nations, once real people who made real choices and a wicked name for themselves, were destroyed so utterly that in the aftermath of such destruction, we cannot even dig up the remnants of one city. Yes, their cities were destroyed, but more tragically, those who chose to stand against God were utterly wiped out to the point of being entirely forgotten by history itself. 

I take the words of this Psalm to heart. Psalm 9:7-8 (NLT) says, “But the Lord reigns forever, executing judgment from His throne…”   Long after this generation perishes, He will reign. Long after this Government is out of office, He will still exercise His authority.  “He will judge the world with justice and rule the nations with fairness.”   

Paul expresses this idea when He speaks to the Athenians about who God is in Acts 17:24-31

“He is the God who made the world and everything in it. Since He is Lord of heaven and earth, … He Himself gives life and breath to everything, and He satisfies every need… He created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall, and He determined their boundaries.

“His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward Him and find Him—though He is not far from any one of us. For in Him we live and move and exist… ‘We are His offspring.’ … “God … commands everyone everywhere to repent of their sins and turn to Him. For He has set a day for judging the world with justice by the man He has appointed (ie Christ), and He proved to everyone who this is by raising Him from the dead.”

To be continued… 

IS GOD CRUEL, VIOLENT, UNJUST AND INTOLERANT? You decide as we look at some other parts of this Psalm. Read Part 4

Psalm 9:7-8 – IS GOD CRUEL, VIOLENT, UNJUST AND INTOLERANT? – Part 2

Is God Cruel and Unfair? © Image by Julie Cochrane

Psalm 9:7-8 (NLT) says,But the Lord reigns forever, executing judgment from His throne. He will judge the world with justice and rule the nations with fairness.”

I was interested to read the take on Psalm 9 from “The Skeptics Annotated Bible”. I was a little shocked by the rather ruthless emojis representing God as cruel, violent, unjust and intolerant, and a statement about this verse. It said, “If you pray to God, he will kill your enemies and destroy cities for you”. I wonder what David would say in conversation with this Skeptic. 

SKEPTIC: What gives your God the right to judge anyone? He’s supposed to support you, not execute judgment on people.

DAVID: I am a little confused here. Are you really saying that God Most High, higher than any authority on earth should not “judge the world in righteousness; that He should not execute judgment for the peoples with equity” (verse 8)? 

SKEPTIC: I am simply questioning a God who would destroy people. 

DAVID: No, you are questioning God’s authority to make righteous decisions based on His perfect character. You Are you saying that God Most High must have your values, your ideas of right and wrong, your standards? Must He do as you want Him to do, as your personal flunky? 

Let me ask you the questions that you are asking of God. “Are God’s plans higher than your plans, and if He is God Most High, then does He have the right of sovereign choice rather than simply obeying you and always agreeing with you, as a Houseboy Creator, Flunky God, Slave almighty. Are you responsible to God Most High or is He responsible to you?”

SKEPTIC: Strange, that’s what I am saying about you. It seems to me that God is responsible to you. You are the one praying that God will kill your enemies.

DAVID: Just as you can’t see that I am asking God to respond with Justice concerning my enemies, I can’t see why you demand of God Most High that He not judge people for going their own way, without reference to Him? 

My Psalm says God is absolutely just, in which case it is disastrous to stand against Him or His purposes?

SKEPTIC: He seems like a harsh God to me.

DAVID: Perhaps you have not known His love. I know Him as a God of Love AND a God of Justice. His purposes are designed for life to be lived to the full. In your New Testament Bible, John 10:10 (NASB) Jesus says, The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”

2 Peter 3:9 (NLT) says, “The Lord isn’t really being slow about His promise, as some people think. No, He is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.”

I admit, I am biased towards God after all these years as His follower. I don’t fully understand those who defy God Most High in their hearts, words and actions. I would rather do life with God than without Him. 

I regard life as a precious gift from God and I am here but a moment. I thank God that in that moment I can serve His purposes and stand in awe in His presence, and have a choice to live life to the full. Physical life is His gift and spiritual life is a gift and a choice. 

I choose life. 

SKEPTIC: But you don’t choose life for your enemies.

DAVID: I do not enforce my standards on my enemies. My Psalm says that the intimidating adversaries of spirituality continue to retreat in God’s presence. I believe that anyone and anything that seeks to steal the valuable resources for living spiritual life based on God’s Word will ultimately withdraw, give way, recoil, run and  fail. 

I have been invited to live life as an overcomer in a world that increasingly rejects and repudiates the claims of the Bible. I claim the words of your New Testament Bible which says in Philippians 4:12-13 (NLT), … For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” 

SKEPTICS: Well, we don’t have enemies trying to kill us today.

DAVID: Perhaps you have not been looking at your world. Does the author of this blog have anything to say on this.

PASTOR ROSS: According to https://www.heraldsun.com.au/blogs/rita-panahi/christianity-is-the-most-persecuted-religion-in-the-world/news-story/fccadd1f30733117c2d9dd338a27e7cc Christianity is the most persecuted religion on earth at the moment. I can’t help but think that the enemies of Christianity today are not so much the Skeptics like yourself, who are at least willing to consider the case for Christ, but the social engineers in our Governments, Universities and Schools seeking to eradicate any semblance of our Christian heritage from our society. Those who see the Bible as hate speech. This is a startling change of values in our society which I believe will lead to disastrous consequences, perhaps for generations to come. 

I love speaking with genuine skeptics, but increasingly, the social engineers of our society,  with an evangelical zeal, berate Christianity today, preferring followers of Christ to be seen and not heard, silenced from any platform that may challenge their agenda. 

It is no wonder that Romans 12:1-3 says, “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you … Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”

Faith that is personal is also faith that it lived out in public. I pray that the Lord would help me to continue to develop my personal faith. Hopefully, without arrogance, I will privately and publicly respond to the principles of the Bible with confidence. May my faith in Christ be a witness in the public square and a gauge for others to consider the claims of Christ and that others will truly understand the awesome character of God. 

I claim the truth of Romans 1:16 (NLT) when it declares, “For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes …”

To be continued…

Is God Cruel, Violent, Unjust and Intolerant? If a believer prays will he automatically be able to curse his or her enemies with death? Read Part 3.

Pastor Ross

Is God cruel, violent, unjust and intolerant? © Image created by Ross Cochrane

Psalm 9:3 – IS GOD CRUEL, VIOLENT, UNJUST AND INTOLERANT? – Part 1

Psalm 9:3 (NLT) says, “My enemies retreated; they staggered and died when You (God Most High) appeared.”   

I was interested to read the take on Psalm 9:3 from “The Skeptics Annotated Bible”. I was a little shocked by the rather ruthless emojis representing God as cruel, violent, unjust and intolerant, and a statement about this verse. It said, “If you pray to God, he will kill your enemies and destroy cities for you”. I wonder what David would say in conversation with this Skeptic. 

DAVID: I have to wonder – is this how people see God when they are reading my Psalm? Is this what people think about God? If it is, then perhaps you have misunderstood me altogether.

SKEPTIC: I don’t think I have misunderstood you. You say your enemies staggered and died in the presence of God (verse 3), that He rebukes and judges people (verse 5), completely erasing them from the earth (verse 6), that this is the fate of all nations who ignore God (verse 17). You actually ask God to judge them (verse 19). 

DAVID: Strange. You have not looked at the full context of my Psalm to see what I am really trying to express about God?

I notice that you have conveniently forgotten that I describe God as One who is a shelter for the oppressed (verse 9), does not abandon people (verse 10), cares for the helpless (verse 12), saves and rescues (verse 14), and has mercy (verse 13). He does marvelous things (verse 1), and reigns forever (verse 7), In fact, He is the only One truly able to judge nations with justice and fairness (verse 4), yet there are some mere mortals who have chosen to defy Him (verse 19-20). 

SKEPTIC: Yet you can just pray to God and ask Him to wipe out people with complete impunity? How can you believe in a God like that.

DAVID: I find great joy in my relationship with God (verse 2) and so I began my Psalm with praise. God is not just anyone. He is God Most High (verse 2), higher in authority than anyone we may encounter on earth.

Impunity hardly applies to a just and fair God. It is not God that needs our impunity. Nowhere in my Psalm do I indicate that God is cruel, violent, intolerant and unjust, as you describe Him. 

My Psalm describes a God who is perfectly Just, not stupid or oblivious to what is going on around Him and He is only One who can respond appropriately in His own way and His own time, always doing what is right. 

Clearly my Psalm indicates that any person is free to defy God, but why would they think that putting their heads in the spiritual sand will somehow mean that a just and fair God will simply stand by. There are consequences for any of our choices, not only with other people but also with God. 

SKEPTIC: So you are OK with Him wiping out your enemies completely?

DAVID: I would prefer that I didn’t have enemies, but I do. By the way, my enemies are characterised by all the things that you attribute to God – cruelty, violence, intolerance and injustice. 

In this Psalm you can obviously see that my enemies are described as wicked (verse 5), oppressive (verse 9), cause trouble (verse 9), hate people (verse 13), appear to be flaunting any form of justice (verse 16), forget the needy (verse 18), destroy hope in people and afflict them (verse 18, 12). My enemies want me, and anyone who follows God, dead. The equivalent in your time is perhaps Isis or the Taliban.

SKEPTIC: So you pray that God will destroy them?

DAVID: I recognise that anyone who tries to stand against God Most High will fail. And yes, I pray for justice to prevail. 

I do pray to God. With all my heart (verse 1). But my prayer is a prayer of praise, not just an anxious cry for help. I am not seeking to be an arrogant man wanting to cause death and destruction to all who disagree with me. 

SKEPTIC: But you clearly think that God is on your side?

DAVID: No. Just the opposite. God is not my servant, like some Genie in a bottle. I am God’s servant. God judges with fairness (verse 4,8) and I do not anticipate God will simply stand aside while my enemies come to annihilate His servants. 

To be continued….

Is God Cruel, Violent, Unjust and Intolerant? What gives Him the right to think He can demand things of me? What gives Him the right to judge me? Read part 2.

Pastor Ross

Hi Everyone,

Password – baptistcare33233

BaptistCare is celebrating 75 years of service to the community. My Artwork in a short film was nominated to kick things off at the first of a number of meetings around the state. It was my privilege to exhibit 14 of my Portraits of the residents of Shalom in the foyer of the huge Conference Room at Rydges, Norwest Sydney. Many people attended.

My portraits were presented beautifully and the film represented my heart for the residents perfectly. The password is baptistcare33233

I am presently painting portraits of people who are over the age of 100 years old. You can see some of them and other artworks at my Instagram account below…

https://www.instagram.com/ross.cochrane.artspace/

Pastor Ross

I just discovered that my Kindle book on the book of Job “Above the Storm” is now on the Best Sellers List at Amazon.com rated at #2,668,129 (That’s popularity not sales).

This indicates that I have a little way to go to be in the top #20 and I would love it if you could help me in my quest.

“Above the Storm” is a book of short creative fictional and non-fictional stories used to illustrate the truths of each chapter of the book of Job. It was a lot of fun to write over a period of years and reading over some of the chapters still makes me smile and reflect on valuable lessons from the Book of Job.

Hope you can help me in my quest to break into the top #20 of Kindle books by purchasing a copy. I am confident that you will think that it is worth the more than reasonable purchase price.

Above the Storm is an exploration of the book of Job for the creative mind. Job sought to explore the untraveled path of grief because his life had catastrophically changed.

Above the Storm is willing to address the tired, age-old question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” but be prepared for unexpected answers.

Within this book, you will find an Elephant and a Termite, a man called Misery, a Hitman, a Dump Truck driver and many others who answer that question and beyond. Each article is brief enabling you to explore specific sections of the whole book of Job, a commentary like no other. You will also find beautiful and creative illustrations, artworks and photographs to enhance your journey.

With each page, you will come across parables and illustrations that creatively bring home the depth of the message of Job with relevance and challenge. Be prepared. You may even find yourself revising your own assumptions about God because of a man called Job.

Joy Kennedy, (Counsellor, Chaplain and proofreader), says, “… Ross, I am in awe of your gift for writing and give God praise that I have been so privileged to be enabled to spend some quality time reading your work and reflecting on your thoughts. Thank you for the opportunity to enjoy your creative ideas!

It occurs to me that this work holds much merit as a potential textbook for people studying Christian Counselling and for students in Christian schools, to assist them to gain a fuller understanding of the need to gain greater skill in the “art of listening” and in overcoming any tendency to need to have all the answers. I too have learned a lot from your work! …”

Pastor Ross

Higher Flight © Image created by Ross Cochrane

Psalm 9:1-2 – HIGHER FLIGHT – Part 3

In Psalm 9:1-2, King David says “I will” four times in relation to praising God, “I will praise You, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all the marvelous things you have done. I will be filled with joy because of You. I will sing praises to Your name, O Most High.” Notice, David ends verse 2 with one of the names of God. ELYON – MOST HIGH. 

I praise Him, not because He needs my praise, but because I recognise that He is Most High (Elyon). Supreme. Over all. David emphasises that God is Most High. Not just high, but Most High. Higher than anything earthly.

I love the poem by the pilot John Gillespie Magee Jr called High Flight. It is almost a poem of worship.

High Flight

“Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth

And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;

Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth

of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things

You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung

High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,

I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung

My eager craft through footless halls of air….

Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue

I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace.

Where never lark, or even eagle flew —

And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod

The high untrespassed sanctity of space,

– Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.”

This poem for me encapsulates something of that sense of exhilaration and extreme height of flying and sensing the presence of God. God most High is so much higher still.

In considering this Name of God Most High, The POSB commentary prompted me to pray this prayer.

Prayer: You are higher than my unsolvable problems and my anxious thoughts. You are higher than the financial struggles I may face. You are higher than my times of depression or the lies I may have about myself. You are higher than any temptation I may face and any spiritual enemy. You are higher than my doubts, because I know instinctively that I can trust You completely and utterly. I trust You today. 

Nothing can come against You or Your purposes, Lord. What about all those aspirations of influential people who continue to wreak havoc against Your kingdom principles? I can trust that You are higher than even the many culturally accepted but spiritually corrupt principles that infiltrate and pollute our world. Even those that are beautifully socially engineered, yet still in opposition to Your Word. 

I can trust that You are higher than cancer and strokes and heart disease and diabetes and every sickness that we may face on this earth. You are higher, Lord Jesus, than death itself. 

Knowing You, Father, gives me a deep-seated joy. Today, I pray that You would help me as I willingly take the opportunity to praise Your Name and honour the Lord Jesus Christ, who is King of kings and Lord of lords, Most High God. 

Pastor Ross

Spiritual Climate Change © Image created by Ross Cochrane

SPIRITUAL CLIMATE CHANGE – PART 1 – INTRODUCTION

Much emphasis is placed on Climate change in a desire, albeit an unwitting desire, to take up the mandate God has given to us to rule over the earth well. Little emphasis is given to Spiritual Climate Change. 

Spiritual Climate Change occurs when new socially engineered patterns, political or legal decisions that can last for at least a few decades, and sometimes generations, depending on the fads, either enhance or destroy our spiritual and social world. The susceptibility to exercise lack of discernment and rejection of the Christian Bible’s principles has existed since creation itself. 

It seems that the tree of the knowledge of good and evil has poisoned the human race with the ability to choose their own kind of right and wrong without reference to God, and we have failed to maintain spiritual balance.

Isaiah 53 says “All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own.”

The spiritual climate system is comprised of five interacting parts,

1.GOD’S CREATION – THE SPIRITUAL LITHOSPHERE (earth’s crust and upper mantle, God’s creation specifically designed for humanity to live out God’s purposes. In the future, the Bible speaks of a new heaven and new earth).

Genesis 1:1 (NLT) “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

2. HUMANITY – THE SPIRITUAL BIOSPHERE (living things created in the image of god),  

Genesis 1:26 (NLT) says, “Then God said, “Let Us make human beings in Our image, to be like Us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.” So God created human beings in His own image. In the image of God He created them; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.” 

Then God said, “Look! I have given you every seed-bearing plant throughout the earth and all the fruit trees for your food. And I have given every green plant as food for all the wild animals, the birds in the sky, and the small animals that scurry along the ground—everything that has life.” And that is what happened.

Then God looked over all He had made, and He saw that it was very good!

3. SIN – THE SPIRITUAL CRYOSPHERE (Ice and Permafrost. When people go cold towards God), 

Romans 3:23 (NLT) “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.”

4. CHRIST – THE SPIRITUAL HYDROSPHERE (water of spiritual life), 

In John 4:13-14 (NLT) Jesus spoke to a woman at a well about living water. “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”

John 7:37-38 (NLT) says “Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to Me! Anyone who believes in Me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’”

5. FAITH – THE SPIRITUAL ATMOSPHERE (the air of spiritual life),

Job 32,33:4 (NLT) says “The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.” … 

Romans 1:17 (NLT) says “This Good News (the Gospel message about believing in Christ) tells us how God makes us right in His sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.”

Romans 10:16-18 (NLT) says, “faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ.” 

Romans 3:27 (NLT) says, “Can we boast, then, that we have done anything to be accepted by God? No…. We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.”

SPIRITUAL ENERGY BUDGET

The Spiritual Climate System receives all of its spiritual power from Christ and reflected power indirectly through His followers. This is not to say that Christ is simply a force or influence. Christ is a person with whom the human race can interact, not only in history but today, through faith. The Spiritual Energy, therefore, is the power of the Gospel.

The passage of spiritual energy (the Gospel’s power to change lives) through the Spiritual Climate system, determines the World’s Spiritual Energy Budget. 

Global Warming © Image created by Ross Cochrane

SPIRITUAL GLOBAL WARMING

As our society receives the spiritual energy of the Gospel, it is distributed throughout the world and gives spiritual balance. However, the wide-spread rejection of the principles of God’s Word increasingly indicate that we are moving towards a time of Judgment and already the spiritual temperature is dangerously high.

1 Corinthians 3:13 (NLT) “But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value.”

Isaiah 2:11 says, “Human pride will be brought down, and human arrogance will be humbled. Only the Lord will be exalted on that day of judgment.”

SPIRITUAL INTERNAL VARIABILITY

Changes can occur as a result of “Spiritual internal variability”, such as when our inherent sinful actions alter the World’s Spiritual Energy budget. 

SPIRITUAL EL NINO

Spiritual El Nino effects can occur. El Nino is Spanish and literally means “the (Christ) child”. Christ came into the world to bring positive spiritual internal variability, but to reject Him will bring a reversal of spiritually positive patterns – for example – the spiritual drought in Australia in the December of our history.

Love, Judgement and the Cross © Image by Ross Cochrane

John 3:16-21 says, “For this is how God loved the world: He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent His Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through Him.

“There is no judgment against anyone who believes in Him. But anyone who does not believe in Him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.”

The Bible indicates that Humanity cannot save themselves from the effects of Spiritual Climate Change and the only person who can is Christ. He is the only one who has come to save us from ourselves and offers us a chance for the next generation to live life to the full. In order to appropriate a way forward we have a considered choice to make to believe in the message of Positive Spiritual Change (the Gospel) and trust in Him.

Pastor Ross

SPIRITUAL CLIMATE CHANGE – Part 2 – THOUGHTS AND CONCLUSION

SPIRITUAL ANTHROPOGENIC CLIMATE CHANGE

Human activities (Spiritual Anthropogenic Forced Change) drive the world’s spiritual climate. It presently drives spiritual climate change, and we move ever closer towards God’s final judgment, a global warming none of us would want to experience without Christ in our lives.

Anthropogenic spiritual climate change is caused by human activity moving closer or further away from the principles of God’s Word.

James 1:21-25 (NLT) even warns Christ followers, “So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls. But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says.”

1 Peter 2:8 (NLT) speaks of those who don’t believe in Christ. He says, “They stumble (over believing in Christ) because they do not obey God’s word, and so they meet the fate that was planned for them.”

1 John 2:5 (NLT) says, “But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love Him. That is how we know we are living in Him.”

SPIRITUAL CLIMATE FORCINGS

Factors that can shape the spiritual climate could be called spiritual climate forcings or “spiritual forcing mechanisms”. 

In recent years these spiritual climate forcings have accelerated eg changes to laws and accepted norms on issues such as same-sex marriage, abortion, and euthenasia. We have entered a period of massive social and spiritual change on many fronts, challenging long held Biblical values.

Isaiah 5:18- “What sorrow for those who drag their sins behind them with ropes made of lies, who drag wickedness behind them like a cart! They even mock God and say, “Hurry up and do something! We want to see what You can do. Let the Holy One of Israel carry out His plan, for we want to know what it is.” What sorrow for those who say that evil is good and good is evil, that dark is light and light is dark, that bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter. What sorrow for those who are wise in their own eyes and think themselves so clever.”

It is therefore increasingly difficult for Christians to have a voice concerning these spiritual forcing mechanisms at work in our society. Romans 12:2 warns “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”

SPIRITUAL TOLERANCE AND ACCEPTANCE

The social and spiritual agenda has moved toward a strange new kind of tolerance and acceptance which sounds like a good thing. This tolerance and acceptance however, extends only to those who agree with the more liberal and popular new views of our society, and importance is placed on being increasingly politically correct (This can mean gagging any debate of these new values since it is viewed as offensive and for those who give voice to other views it has meant risking reputation and career). 

SPIRITUALITY AND SOCIAL ENGINEERING 

New laws reinforce these socially engineered agendas and move us further and further away from a heritage based on the principles of the Christian Bible and Judeo/Christian values.

SPIRITUAL VARIATIONS

These include variations in acceptance of Christian Biblical truth even among those who would call themselves Christians. The world’s key spiritual orbit has changed and the spiritual Albedo effect means we no longer reflect Biblical Truths, except those that fit in what is deemed acceptable, and instead there are a 101 variations of religiously fervent agendas. Christian views are often driven underground.

SPIRITUAL CONTINENTAL DRIFT

The world is experiencing a continental spiritual drift, away from the principles of God’s Word and towards a mountain building pride that rejects God and faith from being discussed, let alone believed in. 

SPIRITUAL DEFORESTATION

The vast majority of anthropogenic spiritual carbon dioxide emissions come from throwing the age-old Biblical truths into the fires of social norms (combustion of what is regarded as fossil fuels), with additional contributions coming from the erosion of good soil, and the deforestation of Biblical principles which have guided our world for centuries. 

Psalm 1 (NLT) speaks of those trees. It says “Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do. But not the wicked! They are like worthless chaff, scattered by the wind. They will be condemned at the time of judgment. Sinners will have no place among the godly. For the Lord watches over the path of the godly, but the path of the wicked leads to destruction.”

The Bible speaks of the importance of having seeds of God’s Word falling on good soil but erosion leaves those seeds falling on the footpath and rocky ground.

Mark 4:20 (NLT) says, “And the seed that fell on good soil represents those who hear and accept God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!”

Matthew 13:18-21 (NLT) says, “Hear then the parable of the sower. When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road. The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away.”

SPIRITUALLY DANGEROUS LIVESTOCK

Even spiritually faithful livestock today are considered dangerous. The sheep of the good shepherd are under scrutiny. Jesus spoke of a day coming when followers of Christ would be considered dangerous for their views. He said in Matthew 24:11-14 (NLT) “Then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world because you are My followers. And many will turn away from Me and betray and hate each other. And many false prophets will appear and will deceive many people. Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come.”

SPIRITUAL CLIMATE CHANGE EMERGENCY

Such a Spiritual Climate Change Emergency, if it continues could cause the World’s Spiritual surface temperature to exceed historical values with harmful effects on the 5 spiritual ecosystems, spiritual biodiversity and human well-being generally. It is already at a dangerous level.

The Bible indicates that Humanity cannot save themselves from the effects of Spiritual Climate Change and the only person who can is Christ. He is the only one who has come to save us from ourselves and offers us a chance for the next generation to live life to the full. In order to appropriate a way forward we have a considered choice to make to believe in the message of Positive Spiritual Change (the Gospel) and trust in Him. There is no other way. Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No-one comes to the Father except through Me.”

Pastor Ross