Archive for January, 2014

Matthew 16:27-28 – DON’T MAKE ME COME DOWN THERE … TOO LATE!

Too Late!

Too Late!

As the first seal is broken an ant trails its way through the polished ridges of the page, across the clear lines of the image; detecting only the light and dark and acute movement of the unrolling scroll, it’s feelers detecting the chemicals of the glue and coloured wax, the air currents and vibrations. It is brushed away as the manuscript is unrolled from side to side across the huge table.

As each section is exposed, another seal is broken, separating each particular aspect of a continuous and meticulously illustrated manuscript. At first, only very limited depictions from the images are understood with any clarity, just ant-like impressions of the page and variations of the artist’s subjects. How is each event depicted on the scroll related? It only makes sense when the last seal is broken. Suddenly, each individual page is revealed to be part of the whole. Undeterred the ant returns to the first page feeling its way along the edge before venturing out across the coloured intricacies of the lines and eventually making its way to a particularly luminous section of the scroll where it stops. At the very end everything is explained, … but not yet to one so small, so limited in understanding, so tiny in the scheme of things.

In Matthew 16:26-28 (NLT) Jesus says to His disciples “And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul? For the Son of Man will come with His angels in the glory of His Father and will judge all people according to their deeds. And I tell you the truth, some standing here right now will not die before they see the Son of Man coming in His Kingdom.”

The picture of Matthew 16:28 has proved to be a quandary for many. What does Jesus mean when He says He will judge the world and that “SOME STANDING HERE RIGHT NOW WILL NOT DIE before they see the Son of Man coming in His Kingdom.” (Matthew 16:28 NLT) The first part about Him coming to judge the world is clear and foreboding, but it doesn’t seem to connect with this last part? What does He mean when He says they “will not die” before it happens? Is He talking about two different events? Coming to judge in the future but coming in His Kingdom now? When did this happen? Has it happened? One thing is sure; it is related to the soul, losing it or keeping it.

We need to get beyond an ant’s eye view to understand the scroll as it is unrolled in the life of Jesus. When He speaks about “Coming in His Kingdom” He speaks about His rule and reign as the King of kings which is relentlessly approaching; a Kingdom which prophets have painted in countless words since ages past. His Kingdom has always been coming and is already here (Luke 17:21) but its expression is not as openly and personally manifest as it will be in the future (Luke 17:22-24).

Peter has already received the keys to such a kingdom as He hears the voice of God rather than the voices of the world around him. His acknowledgement that Christ is the Son of the Living God is tantamount to coming under His authority as the King of kings. Nothing will withstand such a Kingdom. Not the gates of hell. Not death itself. (Matthew 16:13-19).

This kingdom is revealed in the images on the pages of the scroll in a thousand ways, masterfully illustrated, unrolling the mysteries of His reign. We see it in the face of a leper healed, in the hope of a woman who touches the hem of His robe, in the feeding of 5000, in the gracious influence of His teaching, but mostly in the sparks of belief that set hearts on fire for God. It is confronting at the Cross for a thief and Roman soldier, victorious at the Resurrection for a woman at the tomb, empowering for Peter at Pentecost and all-consuming for a world facing His coming judgment. The Kingdom of God is present here and now in the world, but not of this world, and yet it is coming to the world, big time.

When Jesus speaks about the coming kingdom in Matthew 16:28 it is a picture found on that particularly luminous fragment of the scroll in Matthew 17:1-3; His Kingdom would come to a few who were standing there who did not comprehend what was happening yet some of them would personally experience a glimpse of His glory, magnificently revealed in shards of brilliant light at His Transfiguration. They would not be consumed by it as would be expected at such an event. 

The Transfiguration was a foretaste of heaven’s reign; a downpayment of what is to come, an ant’s eye view of something bigger than we could ever imagine, and most of all an invitation for us to come under the authority of Jesus and be saved. Not because an angry Father is saying “Don’t make me come down there!” but because a loving Saviour is saying “I have come that you may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10 NIV) “Come to Me … find life … and unfailing love” (Isaiah 55:3 NLT). 

Pastor Ross

Matthew 16:24-26 – WHEN SELF-ESTEEM MET SELF-DENIAL

When Self-esteem met Self-denial. Image created by Ross Cochrane and Morguefile

When Self-esteem met Self-denial. Image created by Ross Cochrane and Morguefile

Recently a firm of reputable psychologists were looking to hire another partner and Selfishness applied. The interview went well and his résumé was impressive; in fact very convincing. Selfishness pointed out that his best-selling book “Be Selfish, Be Happy” is in great demand of late because everyone needs a “healthy selfishness” to drive them through life with passionate enthusiasm. His picture on the front cover didn’t look at all like him. It seems that the camera of psychological pursuit, when faced with the stark realities of our humanness, develops it’s images with Photoshop to arrive at the image it wants, inverting the colours and disguising the blurs at times. All the partners were so fascinated by his credentials, however, that they decided to try him out in the firm for a probationary period.

Self-esteem, Self-worth, Self-respect, Self-care and Self-nurturing, Partners in Psychology, have all worked well together for some time. They spark off each other in animated conversation and are able to laugh at themselves. They all belong to the same cycling club because they all believe that to show true care to others involves staying healthy themselves. They continually upgrade their own credentials and each has a Personal Development Plan (PDP) to motivate them in their successful business. The plaque on the waiting room door is from the Bible. It reads “Love your neighbor AS YOURSELF.” (Matthew 19:19 NLT).

At the time of his dismissal, Selfishness was continually placing his own wishes above the well-being of both the clients and the firm. When confronted by Self-Respect he made it clear that he did not need her advice. He went to his office muttering under his breath about never needing anyone. But he had to admit that Self-Respect had almost changed his mind. She startled him with her intelligence and beauty and he secretly hungered for her company more and more. His infatuation with her grew so much that he thought he would never be himself again.

Selfishness was asked to leave the firm. He foolishly made sexual advances to Self-Respect and it was discovered that he was having affairs with two of his clients, Self-interest and Egotism. The partners soon saw the shallowness of his ways. The cold manipulation of Selfishness takes rather than gives. The partners were not convinced that he was as healthy as he had declared. Selfishness decided to form his own company running one man shows and seminars.

Fortunately the partners soon hired a man who Jesus had recommended all along – “Self-denial”. Self-denial is not as popular as Selfishness, but he was trained by Integrity. As a committed Christian the first thing Self-denial did was to place a plaque above his desk which reads. Jesus says “If any of you wants to be My follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow Me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for My sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?” (Matthew 16:24-28 NLT)

Although Self-denial is related to Self-love, there is no conflict of interest. He is often confused with Self-doubt because he seems so serious and your first impression of him may be that he is Negative because he was chosen above Selfishness, but once you get to know him you soon discover he lives life to the full. He has learned the value of thinking long-term. He chooses the interests of God above his own interests in order to show love to others and in turn to himself. He is healthy and athletic and inevitably wins races against Self-interest.

Self-denial has developed a wonderful mentoring role with Self-esteem, the daughter of Truth. He inspires her to see herself as God sees her, both in terms of her negative and positive behaviours. Self-esteem was mixing with Recognition, Social-acceptability, Status, and Appreciation, but inevitably found such friendships so fragile that they were easily lost. Self-denial says that we do not find Self-esteem from others or from ourselves but from God. Seeking after God enables us to find a true appraisal of ourselves, and to grow in maturity. It is not dependent on what others think about us.

Self-denial works closely with Self-evaluation, a consultant for the team; a valuable member who recognizes his own strengths and weaknesses, whereas Self denial encourages us to co-operate with God, and live beyond ourselves. Another favourite saying of Self-denial is Proverbs 3:5-7 (NLT) “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take. Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil” 

What does Self-denial mean? Self-denial invites us to make an active commitment to turn away from Selfishness and Status-seeking and to make a deliberate, voluntary choice to follow Christ with a determined and unwavering resolve, no matter what the cost (Matthew 16:21). 

Pastor Ross

Matthew 16:21-24 – THE COST OF SAYING GOODBYE

The Cost of Saying Goodbye

The Cost of Saying Goodbye

I move close to his right ear. “Gidday Dad. It’s Ross. I know you are going through a tough time. We love you. You have had a stroke and we are here to pray for you.” My father-in-law breathes out a rasping “Thanks”. … then, all too soon, at 84, he is gone.

The numbing shock of his funeral is now over and his memory leaves ineffaceable marks, raw but beautiful on our hearts. So soon, and now the morning saps strength from my lovely wife as she is confronted with her loss afresh in the waking moments.

This morning I read Matthew 16:21 (NLT) “From then on Jesus began to tell His disciples plainly that it was necessary for Him to go to Jerusalem, and that He would suffer many terrible things at the hands of the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but on the third day He would be raised from the dead.”  

I am reminded that God is intimately acquainted with our grief; the gravity of death and sorrow. Jesus has spoken of his death before. Now in the light of Peter’s confession; “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God”, He says it more plainly. No more parables, pictures and symbols, just simple, direct words that cut to the core and whisper grief into the air. Peter’s confession of faith marks a tipping point in history that now inexorably hurtles Jesus towards the horror of the Cross. Everything within us opposes such utterances of loss. The cost of commitment on our hearts is too deep, even in the light of the resurrection.

So it is not surprising in Matthew 16:22 (NLT) when “Peter takes Jesus aside and begins to reprimand Him for saying such things. “Heaven forbid, Lord,”He says. “This will never happen to You!” 

It is not an unusual response of the human heart, but it is not accurate and not at all helpful. Rebellion and denial rise up in us when faced with the death of those we love. Peter has just been commended by Jesus for hearing from God. He is given the Keys to the Kingdom but in a wave of grief he now seeks to lock the doors of heaven’s will from the earth. The rock becomes a stumbling stone.

“Jesus turns to Peter and says, “Get away from Me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to Me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.” (Matthew 16:23 NLT). No longer is he blessed as one who has heard from God, but rebuked as one who he has spoken blasphemy in denying the reality and inevitability of the Cross.

Peter is desperately urging Jesus to bypass the Cross. How tempting for Christ to compromise rather than be committed. Jesus had heard such temptation in a wilderness 3 years earlier and recognised the voice of Satan (Matthew 4:1-11). Satan it seems also sees things from a human perspective. God’s perspective was for Jesus to suffer and die for our sins, not avoid the Cross for a crown? To be an adversary to the Cross is to be an adversary to God. The way to God is through surrender not through selfish presumption. To war against Satan is to take up the Cross, not refuse it. “… Jesus says to His disciples, “If any of you wants to be My follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow Me.” (Matthew 16:24 NLT). 

In a hospital room Jesus is not distant even though we don’t want to think about suffering or death. He insists that things must flow from heavens point of view not ours. We may not always understand the “Why’s” but we are called to hear God’s voice and trust in Him.

When death is thrust upon us there is no choice but to accept it, but when death is planned and deliberate and willed by God Himself through all eternity, we stand in awefilled disbelief. Yet 1 Peter 3:18 (NLT) says “Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but He died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but He was raised to life in the Spirit. “

Jesus does not burden us with more than we can endure or with anything that He has not borne Himself. The joy and hope of spending eternity with Christ encourages us to bear the barren heartache of seeing someone we love die. We prefer another way but there is no other door but death to lead those with faith in Christ to the Father’s throne. There is no other invitation so important as the one Christ gives to turn from our selfish ways, take up the Cross and follow Him.

Reluctantly at the service we release into the hands of God Colin Malcolm Shedden, Dad, Pa, Great Pa, a man after God’s own heart. David Brainwood plays so beautifully the hymns of faith as we recoil at the cost of grief. His father Rev. Ernest Brainwood the evangelist, long ago, led Colin to the Cross. Now the music of the Son echoes in the corridors of heaven to accompany Colin safely home.

Pastor Ross

COMMITTAL AND TRIBUTE TO COLIN MALCOLM SHEDDEN

Created by Ross Cochrane for the funeral of Colin Malcolm Shedden using Animato, Imovie and Paint.net

Just before Christmas, on the 23rd December, my Father-in-law died, the man I most respected in the world. On new years Eve we gathered in a Church with close to 300 people to say goodbye to a man we all loved and cherished. In the middle of holidays, still they came to say goodbye and pay their respects.

Colin Malcolm Shedden; Dad; Pa; Great Pa was a Christian accountant. Everyone knew he was a man who lived out his personal faith in Christ. He even kept a Bible on his desk, and was not ashamed to lead people to a personal faith in Christ, if the opportunity presented itself. His identity was characterised by Faith, Family and Fun. In the past we have laughed and celebrated together as a family until we cried, and yesterday we cried together in grief at his loss as we celebrated his life.

Accountancy relates well to being a Christian. Since maths was such an important part of his life, let me count out the ways.

1. ABSOLUTES

An accountant is one of those practitioners, who work according to a given set of rules of maths and measurements. Clients disclose information to him and he helps people manage finances and tax so that they can make wise decisions for the future.

He took his Bible even more seriously than his calculator. The Bible gave him absolute laws with which he could assess his life. Aligning his life and character with God’s Word he was able to make wise decisions for his marriage, business, family and Church. His life was centred around Christ and the serving Christ through the Church.

2. TRUST AND INTEGRITY

You have to trust your accountant. Colin was a man we knew we could trust implicitly. He was an honest man who took his Christian ethics seriously in his business and his business prospered because he was a man of integrity. David carries on that legacy.

3. PLANNING

He planned for the future, even planning out his own funeral service. He always lived with the expectancy that Christ may return this year. Bible prophecy was very important to him and he would share every article and book he read on the end times with me and others. The Herald of Hope was always offered. He planned ahead for life and eternity.

He wanted 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 read at his funeral.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 (NLT)

And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died. 15 We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. 17 Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. 18 So encourage each other with these words. 

4. PROFIT AND LOSS 

The two main reports in accountancy are the Profit and Loss account and the Balance Sheet. Dad would say “what would it profit a man if he should gain the whole world and lose his own soul.”

He was always so excited to hear when one of the family had responded to Christ. I loved his conservative values and he not only balanced the books but balanced fun with faith, and love with integrity. He regarded the greatest asset of his life to be knowing Christ and serving Him.

5. INVESTMENT 

His investment into the life of this family is his legacy of Faith, Family and Fun.

He continues to invest in our lives. He has been to me the finest example of a Christian husband, father, grandfather that I have ever seen. His consistency, his love, his character, his faith.

We placed tributes on the casket and took time to say our goodbyes to Colin, Dad, to Pa, to Great Pa in our own way we all gave thanks to God for his life.

Someone said If you want an accounting of your worth, count your friends. I am richer for having known and loved my Father in law. We all are.

“Lord we commit our Colin into Your hands. We thank You for his life and the privilege of knowing him and loving him”

 Pastor Ross