Archive for October, 2013

Matthew 16:16-18 – WHEN RUINS COME TO LIFE

Cornerstone - Image by Ross Cochrane

Cornerstone – Image by Ross Cochrane

I regret not taking one of the bricks that day. My overwhelming sense of loss wanted to restore the scattered remnants of lost history. Somewhere deep inside was a sob for a dog and butterflies in spring, scented bushes and silkworms, an old copper full of hot water for the bath, a clothesline and a rusting corrugated iron toolshed, but most of all for the old cottage that held such memories in context. They were all cleared away the next time I came, as if it had all meant nothing, and an apartment block stood in the place of my childhood home. It was time for my life to be built on surer things, for my identity to be found upon a more stable foundation. Time for dreams to mature into destiny.

It is as if my life was one of the lost stones, scattered across the earth, not knowing my purpose in the scheme of things, until Christ began looking through the rubble.

It is the declaration Peter makes about who Jesus is (“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God”) upon which Christ begins to construct His Church. But it is also the declaration Jesus makes of who Peter is (“…you are Peter, which means ‘rock’”), upon which He will build. Peter found his own identity that day in words that have reverberated from the pages of the Bible ever since. “Upon this rock I will build my Church.” (Matthew 16:16-18).

Ephesians 2:19-22 (NLT) says “Together, we are His house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus Himself. We are carefully joined together in Him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord. Through Him you Gentiles are also being made part of this dwelling where God lives by His Spirit.” 

Peter the Apostle, squaring his life to Christ, was a stone in the foundations of the Church at Pentecost. Peter’s teaching and preaching of the Truth of God’s Word and the miraculous signs and wonders that followed his ministry were building blocks. In Acts 2:42-43 (NLT) it says “All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer. A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders.” Peter was an instrument through whom Christ was revealing His truth, and building His Church.

Years passed and somewhere in the scattered ruins of a world gone wrong Christ reached down to touch a peculiar shaped stone from some forgotten, bulldozed cottage. That day He chose me and I found my identity in Him. All followers of Christ are picked from the broken bricks of abandoned sites and mosaic-like arranged to fit; chosen in Christ to reflect something of the architectural beauty of His life; a magnificent expression of faith. Peter himself declares this in 1 Peter 2:5-8 (NLT) when he says “… you are living stones that God is building into His spiritual temple …” 

The Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 3:9-17 (NLT) echoes these thoughts “… You are God’s building.   Because of God’s grace to me, I have laid the foundation like an expert builder. Now others are building on it. But whoever is building on this foundation must be very careful.   For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have—Jesus Christ … Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you?   God will destroy anyone who destroys this temple. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.”

The invitation is for our lives to be built on surer things; for our identity to be found upon a more stable foundation; for dreams to mature into destiny; for scattered ruins to be restored in Christ, touched with eternity, infused with His life and divine intention, a magnificent expression of faith. 

Pastor Ross

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Matthew 16:13-20 – THE ROCK WITH A HEARTBEAT

ROCK WITH A HEARTBEAT - Image created by Ross Cochrane

ROCK WITH A HEARTBEAT – Image created by Ross Cochrane

My Dad’s nickname for me was Rock. I don’t know why. Rocky Balboa? Rocks in my head? Rock-n-Roll? Rock of Gibraltar? Alcatraz? Just a term of affection? Perhaps it was because I collected interesting looking rocks, old keys and other objects of interest and put them in my desk drawer? It weighed a ton. I didn’t like the name Rock much, but it was his name for me and I had to live with it. 

If Jesus had said to me, like once He said to Peter, “You are Peter (which means Rock) and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven” I would have been more interested and my curiosity for old keys might have taken on a new dimension (Matthew 16:18-19).

What did Jesus mean that His Church would be built on this rock, set up in a hostile environment to prevail against the gates of hell?

Jesus is normally spoken of as the cornerstone, the rock of ages, the stone that the builders rejected, but not in Matthew 16:18. Here, He is the BUILDER. Jesus, son of a carpenter, still wants to build something incredibly creative and innovative but now from people’s lives. Peter calls Him the Messiah, the Son of the living God. Life is found in His Name. Reliable, strong, dependable, solid, yet with the heartbeat of God. Living stones.

Peter is the GATEKEEPER and he is given the KEYS of the Kingdom of Heaven. He is able to lock or open the door in terms of heaven’s authority on earth. Keys are a symbol of that authority. Peter will go on to release heaven’s authority on earth through his teaching about who Christ is, especially on the day of Pentecost. He is also used to write some of the divinely inspired scriptures called the New Testament and exercise the authority of heaven through his gift of healing. Jesus says his name means stone (Petros) but the structure upon which Christ will build is a large solid shelf of rock (Petra). A stone is only a tiny reflection of such a rock.

Peter has just made the strong confession; “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” (Matthew 16:16). Our words about who Christ is are the foundational superstructure of solid rock on which the organic architecture and landscape of the Church are built. For those who know Christ, such words are our motto; our rallying cry; our declaration of faith, our foundation rock shelf. Peter’s name reflects his confession of Christ. I’m warming up to Dad’s nickname.

Many today still make the same definitive, unequivocal declaration of who Christ is that Peter made so long ago. The Church refers to followers of Christ; explorers of the extraordinary; adventurers into mysteries. Literally it means “Called out ones” (Ekklesia). Called out for the greatest purpose on earth.

The declaration of Christ is that the gates of hell (Hades, death) that have held you back from giving your life to Christ will be battered down as you acknowledge Christ as the Son of the Living God and allow Him to breathe life into your soul. Like Peter, you become a living stone, a stepping stone of life, called out to be placed upon the foundation of the life-giving Christ and used to build the masterpiece of God, His prevailing Church. 

This organic, sculptural, architectural creation called His Church is Christ’s magnum opus, and somewhere among the millions of living stones that He has collected to form such a masterwork as this is me! How amazing is that! Perhaps my Dad was right, afterall. 

Pastor Ross

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Matthew 16:13-19 – S.W.A.T – PARABLE

The Gates of Hell Shall Not Prevail! - Picture created by Ross Cochrane

The Gates of Hell Shall Not Prevail! – Picture created by Ross Cochrane

Standing on a precipitous rock, at least a thousand feet above the valley, He could see the smouldering fires of the fortress, the towering spires rising above the early morning mist and warning of the malice within it’s walls. Captain Joshua Davidson could almost smell the evil stench emanating from this edifice built in the pit of hell and from this vantage point He could just make out the top of the massive gates. Somewhere, beyond those walls, inside the wandering corridors and immense chambers they would be waiting. Nothing would delay Him or distract Him from this high risk operation. He had everything necessary; specialised equipment, tactics and utmost precision but most of all the sure expectation of success.

Joshua Davidson was born to lead a team such as this. Known as the Builder He had first conceived the idea of forming a specially trained and equipped unit when the need arose to manage critical situations involving hostages. The commander in chief, His Father, had approved the idea, and He formed a small select group of volunteer officers. His SWAT unit (Spiritual Warfare Assault Team) initially consisted of 12 men. Their mandate: “To set the captives free!” (Luke 4:18). They were given special status and benefits, and attended specialist training sessions. Blessed with highly-developed resources (Ephesians 1:3) and totally committed to their Leader, these men were willing to obey without question and risk their lives in this rescue mission. Their motto and catch cry; the Rock solid foundational statement by which they lived: “We serve Christ, the Son of the Living God.” Their code-name was Ekklesia”; the Church; called out ones (Matthew 16:18).

Once prisoners themselves and now trained for hostage rescue, His team secured the ropes and rapelled down the rock face in silence towards their target. They were exposed at first but moved fast and avoided coming under fire from the heavily armed forces on the parapets. Soon the mist and darkness below provided them with the cover they needed to arrange their equipment with practised precision.

Within seconds and in unison the SWAT team moved relentlessly and silently towards the armoured and barred gates. To breach the doors quickly, Peter, a specialist Gatekeeper, used an explosive charge and a small hand held battering ram with percussive shocks called the Key. The lock and hinges were totally demolished and the gates fell inwards. They could not prevail against such force (Matthew 16:18).

The rest of the team moved in quickly as the alarms screamed their warnings. They used their ballistic shields in the dark corridors to provide cover and deflect possible terrorist gunfire. Each one wore body armour and night vision optics. Using a motion detector Captain Davidson was able to determine the exact position of hostages and although some of them refused to come, those who were willing to trust their rescuer were extracted to safety where a helicopter winched them to the cover and refuge of the Rock.

The rescue has resounded off the walls of history’s pages ever since; “… upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:17-18 NLT).

Romans 8:1-2 says “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.   And because you belong to Him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has set you free from the power of sin that leads to death.” 

Pastor Ross

SWAT team prepared

SWAT team prepared (Photo credit: OregonDOT)