Archive for January, 2012

BREAKING THE CHAINS OF SUPERSTITION – Part 2

Superstition

When one little girl was asked what FAITH is, she said, “Well, faith is believing what you know ain’t true” (Vernon Magee). That’s a great definition of SUPERSTITION but not of faith. If the only way to come to God is by faith (Hebrews 11:6), then how would you describe faith? Is it a leap in the dark, an uncertain gamble? If that is what it means to you, then you do not have the faith that the Bible speaks of.

What is the difference between FAITH AND SUPERSTITION? Is one mans faith another mans superstition? Surely that’s ridiculous. Hebrews 11:1 (AMP) distinguishes between faith and superstition – “FAITH is the SUBSTANCE of things hoped for, the EVIDENCE of things not seen.” This means that it rests on something TRUE AND CERTAIN, not on an uncertain leap into the unknown.

The New Testament was originally written in Koine Greek and the word for “SUBSTANCE” is “hupostasis”. It is a scientific word but it doesn’t mean hypothesis or theory. It has the opposite meaning. It rests upon FACTS. It is the essential nature of something or the UNDERLYING REALITY of something, the HEART AND SOUL. If your faith does not rest upon the truth of what God has revealed then it is not faith.

“The EVIDENCE of things not seen.” 2 Corinthians 5:7 (NIV) says “We live by faith, not by sight.” Although unseen, the evidence spoken of here is the kind of evidence which is accepted in a court of law. Faith is not a leap in the dark. Faith is not a wish. Faith is SUBSTANCE AND EVIDENCE. There is no reason why you can’t believe. God wants your faith to rest upon the truth of the Word of God. What evidence do I have that the Word of God is true? It’s truth evidenced by a CHANGED LIFE.

1. Gwen, blind and unable to walk, has a confident assurance that leads her to pursue truth. That’s FAITH. John, old and troubled, believes in a religious SUPERSTITION that manipulates and cripples him by it’s lies. That’s FEAR. Superstition has it’s basis in FEAR. If I touch wood or wear a good luck charm it’s because I fear that if I don’t I will have something bad happen.

Faith is not based on fear of what MIGHT HAPPEN. Faith expects the best and enables me to endure the worst. It builds it’s perceptions confidently on revealed truth, not on false hope.

2. Superstition with it’s negativity distorts the truth. Faith seeks the truth, like the Bereans in Acts 17:11 (NLT) who “listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth.” 

3. Superstition amplifies the voice of fear. Faith silences the voice of fear with PURPOSE and destiny, a love for God and others. 1 John 4:18 (NLT) says “such love has no fear, because PERFECT LOVE EXPELS ALL FEAR. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced His perfect love.” 

4. Superstition is fearful of initiating action. Faith dreams big, clarifies your dreams and inspires you to run the race (1 Corinthians 9:24). Whereas superstition stops me from moving forward, faith knows the value of stepping out with confident assurance and trust in God. Superstition refuses to take risks. Faith positions us for opportunities despite the risks. Abraham stepped out in faith when he left the land of Ur without knowing where God would lead him (Genesis 12:1-4).

5. Superstition bullies us and destroys our potential. Faith steadfastly refuses to be intimidated by dream killers. It enables David to fight against Goliath (1 Samuel 17).

6. Superstition limits us to imaginary problems. Faith lives a life that points to the real solutions . 1 Timothy 4:7-8 (NIV) says “Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly.”

7. Superstition is limiting because it is based upon me. Faith believes that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13). It is based on relationship with God, not religious rituals and traditions.

Although it cannot adequately be tested by my senses, my faith is based on a relationship with Christ over many years. My confidence in Him grows rather than diminishes. It takes me deeper into His revealed truth. My changed life is perhaps the only evidence of faith in Him that I can produce and even that is not adequate. My faith is no less real.

Romans 10:17 (NLT) says “…faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ.” 

John 16:13 (NLT) speaks about God the Holy Spirit as “THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH” who “will guide you into all truth” John 16:8 (NLT) says “… He will convict the world of its sin …” of unbelief. God’s Word invites me to consider looking beyond myself for the answers I need in life?

Pastor Ross

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BREAKING THE CHAINS OF SUPERSTITION – Part 1

Superstition – Photo Creation by Ross Cochrane using Paint.net and MorgueFile.com

The 2nd Friday in January was Friday the thirteenth, 2012. For those who believe in SUPERSTITION an unlucky day – a bad day for a journey, to marry, to make any investment. One woman I spoke with yesterday reads the stars each morning in the paper and prays that God will allow it to happen. Lets add to that walking under a ladder, a black cat, crossing your fingers, touching wood, reading the stars, petals plucked to discover if she loves me, she loves me not.

RELIGION especially can be the hive of superstitious nonsense. One man wears a cross as a kind of rabbits foot against bad luck, while another wears it as a symbol of what Christ did for us on the Cross in dying for our sins. One person prays as a meaningless ritual while another uses prayer as an expression of relationship with Christ.

SUPERSTITION is evident when I have a belief or practice resulting from ignorance, fear of the unknown, trust in magic or chance, or a false conception of cause and effect. Many people would add that a belief in the supernatural, in miracles, in God, in the resurrection and ascension of Christ is also SUPERSTITION.

I’ve been reading a lecture (blog) by Robert G. Ingersoll (1833-1899), an Atheist. I love his ability to express himself but I am amazed by the arrogance of his assertions and how he intentionally associates SUPERSTITION WITH FAITH. He is particularly scathing about regarding the Bible as the inspired Word of God and proclaims SCIENCE AS OUR SAVIOUR, which will “destroy bigotry in all its forms… It will abolish poverty and crime, and greater, grander, nobler than all else, it will make the whole world free.” (Ingersoll lecture on Superstition)

And years after his death in the scientific age in which we live we are still mesmerised by the superstition of believing that science is the saviour of the world. Yet far from freeing the world, the evidence suggests we are destroying it by the very discoveries we have made. Science hasn’t lived up to the arrogant claims and promises Ingersoll makes because it keeps limiting us by ignoring the very things that truly set us free.

If I was not willing to accept Christ for who He is I guess I would be forced to come up with some fanciful explanation that allowed my atheism or superstition some credence and would not obligate me to come under God’s authority – scientific or religious – it wouldn’t matter much which.

In delivering a series of messages based on The Truth Between Us, Erwin McManus, founder of Mosaic, recently said that true atheists and followers of Christ both want to rid themselves of SUPERSTITION. Thankfully, both atheists and followers of Christ ask us “Is that really the truth?” and if we were honest sometimes the answer is “No, it’s more connected with superstition and rituals and our own biased desires.” It may even be based on our self imposed limits.

Arnold (not his real name) has worked so long as a scientist that he has allowed his empirical rationalism to limit his ability to discern truth by relying only on his SENSES. Allowing for a multiplicity of ways to discern truth and not simply restricting discernment to the five senses allows me to exercise FAITH as a valid system of perception. When Arnold, shackled and restricted to the evidence of the senses as he must be for his scientific research to be meaningful, refuses to acknowledge any OTHER pathways to truth but it’s own self imposed world of choices, then far from practicing science he is involved in “SCIENTISM” (as my geologist friend Bob calls it). Closing itself up to other possibilities outside the field of it’s own restricted measures of obtaining truth, scientism arrogantly seeks to cut us off from the possibilities of discovering a more holistic range of truth for our lives and from the divergent thinking that leads us to new discoveries. Should I restrict myself to my senses as the ONLY means to living life I could never be accountable to anyone but myself, limited by my “INGROWN THINKING”.

Erwin McManus speaks about the impossibility of trying to see something with the sense of smell or hear something with the sense of sight. It’s not that faith and science are diametrically opposed. They are not. It’s that we sometimes apply the wrong apparatus of perception when seeking truth.

It isn’t Jesus who is responsible for leading me to believe in superstition. No-one should be more committed to pursuing truth than a follower of Christ, who says He is the way, TRUTH, and life and that the TRUTH will set us free (John 14:6, John 8:32). He will never take me anywhere where truth is not.

Pastor Ross

Matthew 14:1-2 – BREAKING THE CHAINS OF MY LIMITATIONS

Breaking the Chains of My Limitations

One hundred and one years have passed and he still believes in a SUPERSTITION that once haunted Herod Antipas almost 2000 years ago. The centenarian I spoke with yesterday doesn’t like the idea of the afterlife, of heaven and hell, of continuing to live on past death, nevertheless he clings to a belief in REINCARNATION, that the soul is recycled. It is recorded that Herod Antipas also believed you could return and inhabit a different living person (Matthew 14:1-2). Reincarnation with a twist.

In delivering a series of messages based on The Truth Between Us, Erwin McManus, founder of Mosaic, recently said that true atheists and followers of Christ both want to rid themselves of SUPERSTITION. Thankfully, both atheists and followers of Christ ask us “Is that really the truth?” and if we were honest sometimes the answer is “No, it’s more connected with superstition and rituals and our own biased desires.” It may even be based on our self imposed limits for discovering half truths.

Religion especially can be the hive of superstitious nonsense. But then again science and rationalism can also limit our ability to discern truth by relying only on our senses. Allowing for a multiplicity of ways to discern truth and not simply restricting and limiting discernment to the five senses allows me to exercise faith as a valid system of perception. When science refuses to acknowledge that we know things beyond our senses it becomes scientism. It cuts us off from the possibilities of discovering a more holistic range of truth for our lives.

No-one should be more committed to pursuing truth than a follower of Christ, who says He is the way, TRUTH, and life and that the TRUTH will set us free (John 14:6, John 8:32). Sometimes the only verifiable truth I have is the truth evidenced by a changed life. It isn’t Jesus who is responsible for leading me to believe in superstition. He will never take me anywhere where truth is not.

When Herod hears that some people think that Jesus is John the Baptist risen from the dead (Luke 9:7-9), with superstitious fear and a guilty conscience, he readily grasps at this explanation (2 Timothy 4:4). This is weird because he claims to be a Sadducee, and Sadducees don’t believe in life after death.

Years later Herod meets Jesus face to face when Jesus is on trial to be crucified (Luke 23:8–12) but even then He misses his opportunity to discover who Jesus really is and examines Him as a curiosity.

Strange that all the conclusions about Jesus that people come up with don’t include what John has been telling them all along. God has promised to them a Redeemer. Jesus is the promised Messiah, the Saviour. Instead they come up with a quasi reincarnational theory.

Where does imagination stop and truth start? Children mix imagination and truth, but discerning that which is imaginary and that which is a possibility is the process that allows me to discover truth.

If I was not willing to accept Christ for who He is I guess I would be forced to come up with some fanciful explanation that allowed my atheism or superstition some credence and would not obligate me to come under God’s authority. Scientific or religious. It wouldn’t matter much which. There’s a downward trend here in Herod’s life that must tear him to pieces inside. He can’t explain away the miracles of Jesus and he desperately wants to maintain control of his world, so he must grasp at staws.

The invitation that both Herod and John the Baptist gives to us is to seek the truth. In the palace Herod entertains the truth but allows superstition and pride to reject Christ for who he really is. In the dungeon John the Baptist speaks the truth and though he is beheaded by Herod, it is the Truth about Jesus that sets him free.

Perhaps the questions worth asking are “What superstitions am I willing to embrace when it comes to seeking for the truth about Jesus? Am I simply applying limited constructs in a desire to eradicate Christ and His authority in my life? Am I really willing to seek the truth about who Jesus is? Am I willing to act on truth that I perceive beyond my senses and beyond my superstitions?”

John 16:13 (NLT) speaks about God the Holy Spirit as “THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH” who “will guide you into all truth” John 16:8 (NLT) says “… He will convict the world of its sin …” of unbelief. Am I willing to look beyond myself for the answers I need in life?

Pastor Ross

2011 in review

Posted: January 9, 2012 in New Year

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

 

Here’s an excerpt:

 

Sydney Opera House

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 10,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Matthew 14:1-12 – BRAVEHEART VS THE MAFIA

Braveheart vs the Mafia

He is drawn to the MAN IN THE DUNGEON. Beliefs are tested in the dark dungeon experiences of my life where everything is ripped away to expose who I really am. A dungeon is that place where everything is pointless without the purposes of God. Yet when all I have to offer to God is a dungeon it becomes a place of His presence, a throneroom, a place where His authority and intentions overrule my circumstances. A place of FREEDOM.

 The Godfather is dead. “Herod the king”, psychopathic mass murderer who killed the baby boys of Bethlehem in a last ditch attempt to destroy Jesus is now gone (Matthew 2:13-18). Long live the Dons. Long live “HEROD THE TETRARCH” who has survived to rule a quarter of his fathers kingdom. His tetrarchy extends from the Sea of Galilee to the northern part of the Dead Sea. Ambitious and just as deadly as his father, HEROD ANTIPAS has now been ruling about thirty-two years. In the luxury and excess of his kingdom he is imprisoned by a dungeon of his own making, far more oppressive than John’s. What a mess.

Meet his comare (mistress). Granddaughter of the late great “Herod the King”, HERODIAS is niece to both her husband PHILIP, and her lover. Herod and Herodias? Days of our lives! She seeks to justify her relationship with Herod but the man in the dungeon DENOUNCES it saying that it is against God’s law (Leviticus 18:16, 20:21). He is anything but politically correct and his influence is far-reaching with the people. He lives out Ephesians 5:11 (NLT) which says “Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, EXPOSE them, even in the presence of a Godfather figure like King Herod. He may be in a dungeon but the dungeon is not in him. He declares that sin separates me from God, that genuine repentance is needed and that I need to come under the authority of Jesus whose way he is preparing.

With a heart as black as a dungeon wall, Herodias tries to rid herself of the irritation, but what mother would involve her own daughter in such a quest? What kind of trauma will result from such a gruesome plan?

Herod doesn’t hold back when it comes to his birthday party or in celebrating the anniversary of his accession as king. He holds a magnificent banquet. Good food, questionable entertainment. He lives a life of debauchery.

Salome dances seductively before Herod. She is the daughter of Herodias and Herod is not so much seduced by her dance as he is obligated to her mother to give her whatever she desires. He makes a foolish oath to grant her any wish, up to half his kingdom, but her heart too is imprisoned, and she too is drawn with malicious intent to the man in the dungeon. Salome consults with her mother.

Herod is deeply grieved by her request but doesn’t want to lose face. So, with only a moments hesitation, he grants her desires and orders John the Baptist to be BEHEADED. This is quite a table that has been set. Adultery, incest, debauchery, seduction, murder and the macabre all sit together at the kings table as John’s head is brought in on a platter.

Why did John have to die? The key to understanding this is found in Acts 20:24 (NLT) – “But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.”

Courage. Humility. Faithfulness. Selflessness. Reformer. Servant and Ambassador for Christ. Martyr. Who says it’s easy being a follower of Christ? Would I be willing to stand boldly with the message of repentance and faith in Christ that God has give to me in the face of death? In the words of BRAVEHEART “You have come to fight as free men. And free men you are! What will you do without freedom? Will you fight? …Fight and you may die. Run and you will live at least awhile. And dying in your bed many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that for one chance, just one chance, to come back here as young men and tell our enemies that they may take our lives but they will never take our freedom!”

Galatians 5:1 (NIV) puts it this way – “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

Philippians 1:20-21 (NLT) could well be used as John’s vision and his epitaph – “For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honour to Christ, whether I live or die. For to me, TO LIVE IS TO LIVE FOR CHRIST AND TO DIE IS GAIN.” 

Pastor Ross