Archive for April, 2013

Matthew 15:12 – THE UNMASKED CRUSADER AND THE SCANDAL OF GRACE

KNOXIE, THE MASKED CRUSADER

KNOXIE, THE MASKED CRUSADER

My wife writes in her blog called life-times-two, “This morning my 2 yr old grandson, Knoxie, came to me and asked for my help. He was trying to put a mask on his face. Knoxie’s toybox has all manner of superhero masks, but this wasn’t one of them. This morning Knox had found a different kind of mask to wear. It was one of those masks you are given on aeroplanes to help you sleep. He had the right idea about placing this mask across his face, but he just couldn’t manage to get the elastic bands over his forehead and positioned around the back of his head. So I bent down and helped out. “There you go!” I said as I stood up. Knoxie turned around, poised to walk off down the hall.

“You can’t walk around with that on Knoxie,” I said, “You’ll bump into something.” “No, Nanny”, was his response as he set off down the hall. It came as no surprise that about 5 seconds later I heard – THUMP! Followed by –  “WAHhhhh….” The Masked Crusader had hit the wall. I found him sitting on the floor in tears, still masked. I picked him up, hugged him and repeated my earlier advice, “Knoxie, you can’t walk around with that mask on. You’ll bump into something.” Taking the mask off his poor little head, I put him down on the floor and looked at the egg that had appeared on his forehead.

Still sniffling, he took the mask out of my hand and attempted to put it back on, once again asking my help. So I obliged, repeating the same warning, with added emphasis. “Now don’t walk around Knoxie or you’ll bump into something again.” “No Nanny,” came the reply, again. Off he went. Before I could stop him he tripped over the pram which was lying in the hall. And this time he cried even louder. One of those I’m seriously hurt cries. I went over and picked him up. My poor little masked crusader cried like his heart would break. He buried his little face (still masked) into my neck and sobbed. I felt his pain. Tears welled up in my own eyes … but I’m rather ashamed to say at this point that the tears flowing from my eyes were not the result of empathy. Rather they were caused by a desperate attempt to stifle an incredibly irresistible urge to laugh hysterically. Heartless grandmother… So funny, yet so sad.” (http://life-times-two.blogspot.com.au/) 

Knoxie, the Masked Crusader reminds me of a more serious blindness that Jesus confronts in Matthew 15:13-14. The disciples are concerned that the Pharisees (Religious Leaders) are offended by what Jesus is teaching (Matthew 15:12 NLT) but Jesus makes it worse. He says, “They are blind guides leading the blind, and if one blind person guides another, they will both fall into a ditch” (Matthew 15:13-14 NLT). They have an inevitable destiny with a ditch, and to align myself with them is to align myself with their destiny.

2 Corinthians 4:4 (NLT) says “Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.”

John 3:18-21 (NLT) says that to follow Christ is to have 20/20 vision and walk in the light. “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.” 

Better to be an Unmasked Crusader. We get our word “scandalised” from the original word translated as “offended”. Are you offended by Jesus like the Pharisees, blinded to the truth of the ditch? The invitation Jesus gives is to be unmasked and to see instead the offence of the Cross. Songwriters Matt Crocker and Joel Houston from our Church home @Hillsong have written these beautiful words,

THE SCANDAL OF GRACE

Grace, what have you done?
Murdered for me on that cross
Accused in absence of wrong
My sin washed away in Your blood

Too much to make sense of it all
I know that Your love breaks my fall
The scandal of grace, You died in my place
So my soul will live…

Death, where is your sting?
Your power is as dead as my sin
The cross has taught me to live
In mercy, my heart now to sing

The day and it’s trouble shall come
I know that Your strength is enough
The scandal of grace, You died in my place
So my soul will live

Chorus:

Oh to be like You
(To) Give all I have just to know You
Jesus, there’s no one besides You
Forever the hope in my heart
 

It’s all because of You Jesus!

Pastor Ross

 

Duck in Oil Spill GrungeImage Created by the Ross Cochrane using Paint.net, Morgue File and Filter Forge.

Matthew 15:10-11 – POLLUTION

Like a Duck in an Oil Spill...  Image created by Ross Cochrane with Paint.net. MorgueFiles and Filter Forge

Like a Duck in an Oil Spill…
Image created by Ross Cochrane with Paint.net. MorgueFiles and Filter Forge

An acrid smell of damp coal lingers in the air and inflames her throat and nostrils, stinging her eyes. Handkerchief over her mouth and nose, she walks through the thick blanketing haze, discarding her third cigarette for the morning on the pavement, leaving it to smoulder unseen by those venturing out in what was to be known as “The Great Smog.” Just another Pea Souper.

The Great Smog, with its sulphur dioxide from chimney smoke and a host of other accumulated airborne pollutants defiled every corner of London in 1952, seeping into the respiratory system and extinguishing the flicker of life from over 12,000 people.

Grateful for some respite, Anna finally reaches her one bedroom apartment, but even as she opens the door the smog seems to invade the atmosphere inside the building with its hazy presence; sinister, dark and cold.

A report like a shotgun sounds as a train rumbles by near her building and she spills some of the precious hoard she is pouring into a glass. Cursing, she skulls the liquor, allowing it to bite the back of her throat. In the Great Smog, percussion caps were activated by the wheels of trains as an audible warning to the driver who was unable to see the signal. She feels like a duck in an oil spill unable to save herself from her own lifestyle.

Noise pollution, air pollution, radioactive pollution, water pollution, soil pollution, visual pollution. She lives in a polluted world.

Anna hesitates for a moment as she sees the small Bible on her desk given to her by a friend. She slowly opens it, only to be confronted by what Jesus speaks about as the greatest polluting influence of all. Personal pollution; the most contaminating force on the planet. He isn’t making a judgment about the contamination of her body and lifestyle by excessive smoking, drinking and drug abuse. He isn’t just speaking about the emotional and physical abuse she has experienced. He isn’t speaking of her poor living conditions. As bad as all these things are. He is speaking about a defiled heart; which expresses itself in defiling words gushing out like oil from a gashed tanker in pristine waters. Our words inevitably expose a heart polluted by our sin.

The Pharisees have polluted the environment for years with their teaching, traditions, and customs, but Jesus shows them that it will ultimately lead them to ruin.

Jesus calls to me in the crowd “… to come and hear. “Listen,” He says, “and try to understand.”” (Matthew 15:10 NLT) Hear Me above the noise pollution; the other voices that clamour for attention. His still, small voice is surprisingly clear. He says, “It’s not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth.” (Matthew 15:11 NLT) “… For whatever is in your heart determines what you say.” (Matthew 12:34 NLT). Toxins may have a devastating effect on my body, but what is expressed from my heart can have devastating effects on my ability to connect genuinely with God and others. Words won’t break bones, but they will break my relationships.

When Jesus speaks of the defiling nature of words He is not just speaking about openly hostile words; filthy language, critical, deceiving, censoring, harsh, unkind, uncaring words, but essentially any words, including sugar-coated venomous words, that despoil a relationship. “Defile” means “to make common; to make unholy, unclean; to become polluted and despoiled.” Jesus points to the religious leaders and says that it is they who are the pollution mongers. They wash their hands ceremonially while they ooze contaminated invective. It’s not food that defiles, but words that issue from a polluted heart.

In Hebrews 7:26 (NASB) Jesus is described as “…holy, innocent, undefiled,” Followers of Christ are invited to be like Jesus. God calls me to be clean, pure, holy, undefiled, spotless, unpolluted. Matthew 5:8 (NIV) says “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

But like a duck in an oil spill, I cannot save myself. The only way I can have a pure heart is by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ who purifies my heart and washes away my sin. Psalms 51:7 (NLT) says “Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.” In Ezekiel 36:26 (NLT) God says “I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you.” A divine exchange.

He takes my oily rags and clothes me in His righteousness. 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NLT) says “For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.”   

Pastor Ross

 

 

Cross = Love. Created by Author using Paint.net, morgueFile and Photoforge.

“Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal.” Matthew 6:20 He came to a rusty, broken world and took upon Himself the stains of our sin to open heaven’s door and show us that #CrossEqualsLove  #Easter

Cross = Heart2

 

Cross = Love. Created by Author using Paint.net, Filter Forge,
Love = Cross7