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Social Engineer (as used in Political Science) © Image by Ross Cochrane using Paint.net and Morguefile.org

Matthew 19 – SOCIAL ENGINEERING (term as used in Political Science) IS NOW PREVALENT IN AUSTRALIAN CULTURE

The arrogant efforts to influence particular attitudes and social behaviors on a large scale, whether by government educational programmes, media or social activist groups (the Pharisees of our day), in order to produce desired characteristics in a target population can be quite contrary to the original intentions of God. In political science, it is called Social Engineering. In the Bible, it is called following people instead of God.

Followers of Christ invite others to respond to the gospel of Christ. Manipulating the social climate, Social Engineers, however, can use deceptive political agendas and critically vilify those with different values as bigots.

  1. DISTORTED VIEWS ABOUT MARRIAGE

In Matthew 19, The Pharisees, the Social Engineers of Jewish culture, were seeking to argue with Jesus over divorcing their wives. Strangely, married parents were determined to come to Jesus for their children to be blessed.

In the midst of distorted views of marriage which the Pharisees were seeking to promote, Jesus gives us the original intentions of God for marriage. And children, a picture of the oneness we share in marriage, born of the union of a man and woman, are embraced and blessed.

It’s difficult today to be accepted if you hold to the views of Jesus concerning marriage being between a man and a woman, and children being raised with the values of the Bible. Christian values and beliefs are no longer taught and in fact, discouraged in the classroom.

  1. DISTORTED VIEWS ABOUT TRAINING CHILDREN

Over the years, I have watched in Australia the Government taking more and more of the responsibilities away from parents, particularly, it seems, parents who believe and follow Christ. This is disconcerting because, according to the Bible, the Government is not responsible for raising Children or shaping their values, but parents are, as they humbly submit themselves to God and His Word.

Recently the Social Engineering programme has culminated in introducing laws which will eventually be used to train up children to accept that marriage is not only between a man and women, and that fluidity of gender is to be accepted and embraced, with no regard, and indeed contempt, for any parents who think otherwise.

  1. FOLLOWERS OF CHRIST RESPOND WITH SECURE TRUST IN CHRIST AND HIS WORD

Loving our neighbors but not necessarily their choices, attitudes, values or lifestyles, some followers of Christ are paying the price for their beliefs. They stand firm with a secure trust in Christ and the truth of God’s unchanging Word.

1 Corinthians 1:20 says “Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?”

Colossians 2:8 says, “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.”

Romans 12:1-3 says, 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.”

Those who follow Christ respect Government authorities and pray for them to have wisdom in their decisions. When these decisions are contrary to the Bible, Christians continue to believe the Bible and continue to make a difference in the world by sharing the life-changing values of the gospel of Christ and inviting others to respond, not manipulating and imposing their views through name-calling and negative media saturation.

Unlike the Social Engineers of our time, Christ invites us to be like little children, coming in humility to admit that we need His help to live the life for which we were created. We are invited, not forced, to find perspective through the plethora of distorted thinking today, by applying His absolute Truth to our lives. 

Pastor Ross

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https://godinterest.com/2017/12/07/24-lecrae-quotes-that-will-challenge-how-you-practice-faith/

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Adult and child

MATTHEW 19:13 – WHY WE BROUGHT OUR CHILDREN TO CHRIST TO BE BLESSED

As Christian parents, Julie and I decided to bring our children to Christ to be blessed moments after they were born. I remember clearly in that miracle moment following the births of our children, lifting them up to Christ for His blessing. We still bring our children to be blessed in prayer.

Matthew 19:13 says, “One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so He could lay His hands on them and pray for them.”

What I love is that children were received by Jesus. He was more than willing to take time and pray for them.

At the very beginning of their lives, the spiritual prayers of righteous people are important for their lives. James 5:16 (NLT) says “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.”

Laying His hands on these children was a way of identifying with them in order to symbolize the bestowal of blessing from God and dedication to God (Genesis 48:14; Numbers 27:23).

As I was reading the POSB commentary recently on this passage, I was prompted to think of the reasons why we bring our children to Christ to be blessed.These six reasons express the deepest prayers I have for my own children, even though they are now adults with children of their own.

 

  1. WE BRING OUR CHILDREN TO CHRIST BECAUSE WE BELIEVE THAT CHRIST IS THE ONLY SAVIOUR OF THIS WORLD, not science or technology or medicines as wonderful as they may be.We believe that their only hope in this world is through relationship with Christ. Jesus made it clear. He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but through Me” (John14:6).

1 Timothy 2:5 says “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus”

We bring our children to Christ because we have personally experienced what it means to become born again into the family of God ourselves and know the reality of Salvation and new life in Him. We want them to be blessed with new life in Christ.

 

  1. WE BRING OUR CHILDREN TO CHRIST BECAUSE HE WANTS TO BLESS THEM, then and now. In Matthew 19:14, Jesus says, “Let the children come to Me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.”

 

We refuse to allow them to grow up neglected, ignored, by-passed, and pushed aside, given no direction and left to fend for themselves. We care enough to want the best for them, too.

We want them trained up in the ways of God, not squashed by the world’s values by being left unrestrained to express whatever sinful desires they like and indulged to the point of being totally selfish.

Because they belong to God, He wants the best for them. I want so much for them to look outside themselves and acknowledge that they need the help of God for the challenges they face in life. He wants to bless them with guidance.

 

  1. WE BRING OUR CHILDREN TO CHRIST SO THAT THEY WILL HAVE GOD’S PERSPECTIVE CONCERNING THEIR IDENTITY AND FUTURE. He knows them better than they know themselves. They are unique and God has a unique destiny and purpose for them. We want them to learn that they are created by God for a purpose and that they make a difference in the world for Christ.

 

  1. WE BRING OUR CHILDREN TO CHRIST SO THEY LEARN TO BE PEOPLE OF FAITH IN GOD AND BELIEVE IN HIS WORD, not simply look towards the popular opinions of the media. I don’t want the world and its influences to shape their thinking.

 

The TV and social media might be useful in their lives but I don’t bring them to the TV or computer to be blessed. I believe in helping them to shape their spiritual values and beliefs on what the Bible says. And this will be a blessing.

We want them to grow up with discernment about what is sin and not simply embrace the world’s popular values. We refuse to contribute to them becoming weak spiritually and feeling as if they have to accept anything and everything the world offers. We don’t want to leave them struggling to swim and sink in the cultural assault of a valueless society.

We are not so preoccupied with life that we don’t see our responsibility and the importance of raising our children in the ways of the Lord.

 

  1. WE BRING OUR CHILDREN TO CHRIST TO BE BLESSED WITH HIS LOVE: that they know God’s love and learn to love others, which incidentally, is not necessarily accepting the lifestyle choices of others.

 

  1. WE BRING OUR CHILDREN TO CHRIST BECAUSE THEY BELONG TO GOD and although He entrusted them to us, we want to acknowledge that they are His, which is why we raise them according to the principles of the Bible.

 

In Isaiah 64:8 (NLT), Isaiah sees a people that have deliberately chosen to be shaped by the world’s values, and he says “Yet You, Lord, are our Father.We are the clay, You are the potter; we are all the work of Your hand.”

The invitation is that we might bring our children to Christ that they may be crafted with a distinctive identity and future, not in our image but in the design and purpose of God for their lives.May the blessing of the Master Potter uniquely shape the lives of our children with His blessing, to be all they were intended to be.

Pastor Ross

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“WE’RE ALL AUSTRALIANS NOW” 

In 1915 Banjo Paterson wrote, as an open letter to the troops, a poem he titled “We’re All Australians Now”. In 54-55 A.D. the Apostle, Paul wrote an open letter to Christians called 1 Corinthians. I have taken some of the verses from Chapter 12-13 and made them into a poem entitled “We’re All One Body Now” as an addition to Banjo Patterson’s poem, “We’re All Australians Now”.

Australia takes her pen in hand

To write a line to you,

To let you fellows understand

How proud we are of you.

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From shearing shed and cattle run,

From Broome to Hobson’s Bay,

Each native-born Australian son

Stands straighter up today.

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The swagman from the bush has come

From far-out Queensland runs,

He’s fighting side by side with some

Tasmanian farmer’s sons

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The fisher-boys dropped sail and oar

To grimly stand the test,

Along that storm-swept Turkish shore,

With miners from the west.

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The old state jealousies of yore

Are dead as Pharaoh’s sow,

We’re not State children anymore —

We’re all Australians now!

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Our six-starred flag that used to fly

Half-shyly to the breeze,

Unknown where older nations ply

Their trade on foreign seas,

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Flies out to meet the morning blue

With Vict’ry at the prow;

For that’s the flag the Sydney flew,

The wide seas know it now!

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The mettle that a race can show

Is proved with shot and steel,

And now we know what nations know

And feel what nations feel.

 

The honored graves beneath the crest

Of GabaTepe hill

May hold our bravest and our best,

But we have brave men still.

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With all our petty quarrels done,

Dissensions overthrown,

We have, through what you boys have done,

A history of our own.

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Our old world diff’rences are dead,

Like weeds beneath the plow,

From many countries, foreign-bred,

They’re all Australians now!

 

So now we’ll toast the Third Brigade

That led Australia’s van,

For never shall their glory fade

In minds Australian.

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Fight on, fight on, unflinchingly,

Till right and justice reign.

Fight on, fight on, till Victory

Shall send you home again.

 

And with Australia’s flag shall fly

A spray of wattle-bough

To symbolize our unity —

We’re all Australians now.

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WE’RE ALL ONE BODY NOW

© Ross Cochrane

In 54-55 A.D. Apostle, Paul wrote an open letter to Christians called 1 Corinthians. I have taken some of the verses from Chapter 12-13 and made them into a poem entitled “We’re All One Body Now” as an addition to Banjo Patterson’s poem, “We’re All Australians Now”.

The Bible takes it further

When faith is in our hearts

It says we are one body,

With many different parts

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Some are Jews, some Gentiles,

Some are slaves, some free

Baptised into one body,

No longer “I”, but “we”

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If the foot says to the hand

I am not at all like you

It is no less of the body

Diff’rent roles and jobs to do

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If an ear says to the eye

I don’t look the same as you

It’s still part of the body

Diff’rent purpose, just as true

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And we all need one another

And united we are led

Each with dignity and honor

By Christ, the living head

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When one suffers all will suffer

When honored all are pleased

All of us together

If in Christ we have believed

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Some are gifted teachers

And some have gifts to heal

Some are leaders, some are preachers,

Together strong as steel,

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Not all can teach or heal or lead

But each one has a place

And all can share the gift of love

And all can have God’s grace

 

If I could speak all languages

Of earth and those above

I’d only be a noisy gong

Without the gift of love

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And if I had the strongest faith

To move a mountain to the sea

But didn’t have the gift of love

How useless that would be

 

Love is patient, love is kind

Is not jealous, and does not boast

Love is never proud or rude

Won’t selfishly demand the most

 

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And love is not bad-tempered

Does not rejoice with things unjust

keeps no record when it’s wronged

But celebrates with truth and trust

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Three things last forever

Three things from above

Love combines with faith and hope

But the greatest gift is love

 

Love bids the petty quarrels gone,

Like weeds beneath the plow,

And through what Christ alone has done,

We’re all one body now.

Christ

 

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Yoke © Image created by Ross Cochrane using Blender

Matthew 19:1-12 – E-MAIL FROM JESUS ON MARRIAGE

1 When Jesus had finished saying these things, He left Galilee and went down to the region of Judea east of the Jordan River. 2 Large crowds followed Him there, and He healed their sick. 3 Some Pharisees came and tried to trap Him with this question: “Should a man be allowed to divorce his wife for just any reason?” 4 “Haven’t you read the Scriptures?” Jesus replied. “They record that from the beginning ‘God made them male and female.’ 5 And He said, ‘This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’ 6 Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together.” 7 “Then why did Moses say in the law that a man could give his wife a written notice of divorce and send her away?” they asked. 8 Jesus replied, “Moses permitted divorce only as a concession to your hard hearts, but it was not what God had originally intended.  9 And I tell you this, whoever divorces his wife and marries someone else commits adultery—unless his wife has been unfaithful.” 10 Jesus’ disciples then said to Him, “If this is the case, it is better not to marry!” 11 “Not everyone can accept this statement,” Jesus said. “Only those whom God helps. 12 Some are born as eunuchs, some have been made eunuchs by others, and some choose not to marry for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.”   

E-MAIL TO JESUS FROM ME

Jesus, You are so old-fashioned. You think that from the beginnings of creation and probably beforehand (very old-fashioned), God invented marriage. If that’s the case, then modernity can only try to interfere with it or break it, but will fail since it is firmly established by God. You are saying that His original intentions remain unchanged. So no court or government can change the nature of what God has established. 

This makes sense to me, Lord. If marriage was designed by human beings and particularly by our present cultural hegemon (ruling class) who commandeer the social commentariat (media) we would see the downward annihilation of the basic union that holds society together, the family.  

But what I love about You, Jesus, is that although You are still being as vigorously questioned by the religious Pharisees of our day, You still show Your love for all people, while not buying into all of the popular cultural norms we try to justify. 

I recall that Paul says in Ephesians 5:22-33, that God created marriage to be a picture of Your love for Your church. It speaks to me of Your absolute faithfulness. Jesus, You are not going to write us a letter of divorce. You, at least, are faithful to Your Bride – the Church. We are not always as faithful to You as time and time again we choose to conform to the world around us.  

It’s easy to see then, why You hate divorce, Lord. It’s because You love marriage. Especially since marriage is designed to reflect the relationship we can have with You. But through hard-heartedness, many remain divorced from You, Jesus and from eachother.  

It occurs to me that divorce and other invented marriage anomalies, even unwittingly, picture a war on the beauty of the gospel, God’s grace, and faithfulness and on the basic unit of our society, the family.  

It seems to me that You make Yourself clear. God has designed marriage, so we don’t need to redefine it. Marriage is the union of a man and a woman in a lifelong covenant relationship, as is our bond with You, Lord Jesus. 

Lord, it’s difficult to stand up against those who feel they can decide what the cultural position should be. The vitriol concerning gay marriage is an example.  

Nevertheless, as a Christian, I am compelled to stand up for my faith and to proclaim the answers from the Bible for living a life as God intended from the beginning.  

I’ve been reading some history, Lord. When You taught these principles, Jesus, women were regarded as property to be possessed by men. They had no rights. Women were abused: used and discarded, neglected and violated. Divorce was common. And the principles outlined clearly by Moses were often challenged and twisted to mean whatever the hegemon decided.  

The social commentariat that You spoke with would come up with all the loopholes or blatantly disregard God’s original intentions to proclaim their views as law. Leprosy and childlessness became reasons for divorce and along with countless other complicated reasons to break the marriage vows that God intended for a lifetime.  

Jesus, You didn’t side with Shammai or Hillel, respected Jewish scholars, but to what God originally intended and to God’s Word. As always, though not forever, You extend Your grace and forgiveness to those who respond to Your Word and Your love by entrusting their lives to You, Lord Jesus, in relationship. 

“Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together. I love the way You use the imagery of a yoke (joined together). Two oxen are yoked together, and they work together and are more effective in their work than they are separate. This is the picture of a man and woman united as one. Adam Clarke says  when persons (a man and a woman) were newly married, they put a yoke upon their necks,  to show that they were to be one, closely united, and pulling equally together in all the concerns of life.”  

“For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her” (Ephesians 5:25 NLT) 

In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered. (1 Peter 3:7 NLT). 

Thanks, Lord. I value my marriage and love my wife. I also value and love my relationship with You. Help me to live out these principles.  

Yours, 

Ross 

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Yoke of Marriage © Image created by Ross Cochrane using Blender

Matthew 19:1-12 – E-MAIL FROM JESUS ON MARRIAGE 
1 When Jesus had finished saying these things, He left Galilee and went down to the region of Judea east of the Jordan River. 2 Large crowds followed Him there, and He healed their sick. 3 Some Pharisees came and tried to trap Him with this question: “Should a man be allowed to divorce his wife for just any reason?” 4 “Haven’t you read the Scriptures?” Jesus replied. “They record that from the beginning ‘God made them male and female.’ 5 And He said, ‘This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’ 6 Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together.” 7 “Then why did Moses say in the law that a man could give his wife a written notice of divorce and send her away?” they asked. 8 Jesus replied, “Moses permitted divorce only as a concession to your hard hearts, but it was not what God had originally intended.  9 And I tell you this, whoever divorces his wife and marries someone else commits adultery—unless his wife has been unfaithful.” 10 Jesus’ disciples then said to Him, “If this is the case, it is better not to marry!” 11 “Not everyone can accept this statement,” Jesus said. “Only those whom God helps. 12 Some are born as eunuchs, some have been made eunuchs by others, and some choose not to marry for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.”    

 

PS I found three commentaries particularly helpful when looking at Matthew 19:1-12 – Christ-Cantered Exposition – Exalting Jesus in Matthew, and Bible Exposition Commentary – Be Loyal (Matthew) and Ivor Powell commentaries. I have paraphrased some of their material because of their obvious desire to be faithful to the Biblical text.

In summary, the Bible tells us,

  • God invented marriage.
  • Marriage is a picture of the relationship of Christ and the loving relationship believers share with Him.
  • Marriage is a covenant made with God and a man and a woman for a lifetime. (Incidentally, this means He did not include group marriages, or gay marriages or many of the other marriage departures from His original intention that we have today.)
  • God intensely dislikes (hates) divorce because it is a departure from His original intention. This is because he loves marriage and faithfulness. In the same way, we could say that God hates unbelief because He loves and wants the best for men and women. He may hate divorce but not the one divorced. He may hate unbelief but not the person who does not believe.
  • God, in His grace, regulates the anomaly of divorce, just as he forces no-one to believe in Christ. Nevertheless, …
  • There is only one reason for divorce and that is adultery due to hardheartedness.
  • There is only one reason for a broken relationship with God and that is not trusting in Christ as Lord and Saviour.
  • God is always forgiving and He is always faithful, but not forever.
  • God, in Christ, will never be unfaithful to you.
  • If you are single, that singleness can be an advantage in serving God’s purposes.
  • If you are married, love your spouse in a way that pictures the love of Christ to those who respond to Him by entrusting their lives to Him.
  • If you are considering divorce, remember that divorce is an anomaly to what God intended for your marriage, and pictures hard-heartedness towards Christ and towards His love for those who entrust their lives to Him.
  • If you are divorced because of your partner’s adultery and single, rest in Christ’s love for you. Serve Christ in your singleness or possibly in a future marriage.
  • If you are divorced because of your adultery and single, admit to God that you have sinned and turn from that sin by entrusting your life to Christ and serve Him in your singleness.
  • If you are divorced because of your adultery and have remarried, admit to God that you have sinned and turn from that sin by allowing your present marriage to reflect Christ’s love for you and serve His purposes.

 

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One © by Ross Cochrane – Created with Blender

Matthew 19:7-11 – EMAILS TO JESUS – About Marriage and Divorce – Part 2

 

The Pharisees Write to Jesus

Dear Jesus,

We are offended and insulted. You don’t seem to realize that Your words are the source of misunderstanding and can significantly damage our standing in this community. You have impugned our character with Your accusations and implied that we have flagrantly disobeyed the law concerning divorce. This amounts to hate speech and Your public ridicule amounts to defamation. We take offence and have no intention of turning the other cheek. Your slanderous, libelous or defamatory comments have caused us to consider legal action.  

Pharisees Investigative Group Surveillance (P.I.G.S) team.

 

A Man Who Has Considered Divorce Writes to Jesus

Dear Jesus,

I have seriously been considering divorcing my wife for a younger woman I am interested in. You got my attention today when You said ‘a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’ 6 Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together.” 

As a potter, I was reminded of a deep brown clay and a light yellow clay I mixed together recently to make a pot. After it was fired, my customer dropped it on the way out and it broke in half. Although it was broken in two, the 2 halves will never be the brown and yellow clay again, but each half will always retain the substance of the other. The image has disturbed me since You spoke.

I guess that’s why I was interested in how you responded to what the Pharisees said to You concerning divorce.  They asked You, “… why did Moses say in the law that a man could give his wife a written notice of divorce and send her away?”  

I was hoping you would say something which would back up what I intended to do, to show me a way to make it a little easier to divorce my wife. But You were more concerned with keeping the marriage relationship strong. I must admit, You masterfully cut across the attack of the Pharisees and that’s why I am writing this letter. 

I thought the Pharisees had You cornered when they spoke about what Moses said, but you didn’t flinch. You replied, “Moses permitted divorce only as a concession to your hard hearts, but it was not what God had originally intended.”  

You also made me think when You said rather forcefully, “And I tell you this, whoever divorces his wife and marries someone else commits adultery—unless his wife has been unfaithful.”

You made Your point crystal clear and went a lot further than I was willing to hear. You didn’t allow any leeway. I had never really considered directly what God intended for my marriage and, like the Pharisees, I was more interested in what Moses the lawgiver said about concessions for a divorce. 

When they tried to imply that You were setting Yourself above Moses, You kept bringing what God originally intended into the argument. This didn’t sit well with me at first but when I think of what God originally intended then I can see that God believes in my marriage more than I do. The master potter has mixed the clay and fired the pot to last a lifetime, … if well cared for.

So if God wants marriages to succeed, then He doesn’t want me to be looking for loopholes in the law to accommodate my failures in working on my marriage. I can see that He wants me to look for ways to normalize a strong marriage. He doesn’t want me to look for the exemptions to accommodate my sexual fantasies, but to find ways to enhance my faithfulness.

You have given me perspective. Lot’s to think about. All this time I have been blaming my wife for our marriage difficulties rather than addressing my own hard-hearted attitudes. 

When we married I never contemplated that one day I would consider divorce, but I have incrementally edged us towards the precipice, and deliberately tried to make her life miserable to justify my sinfulness. 

During one argument with my wife, I warned her of my intention to divorce her. It caused her such pain, and I can see why divorce is not what God originally intended. 

Anyway, I wanted to tell you that you have messed with my thinking. It’s too soon to give up on us yet. It’s better to just go with what God wants and see what happens, even when it would be easier to simply write her a letter of divorce.

Lord, thankyou for softening my heart. I’ve got a long way to go, but thankyou for helping me to look for the incremental changes that will bring healing grace and restore trust to my marriage.

A convicted follower

 

Divorced Wife of a Pharisee writes to Jesus  

Dear Jesus,

I was in the crowd today and heard what You said about divorce and adultery, but you didn’t go far enough!

Leviticus 20:10 (NLT) says “If a man commits adultery with his neighbor’s wife, both the man and the woman who have committed adultery must be put to death.” That’s what you should be saying! Re-marriage wouldn’t be a problem. Further adultery wouldn’t be an issue then.  ‘Til death do us part.

The Scriptures clearly say that the penalty for adultery is the death penalty, but You ignored this. I know that since this was written, God seems to break His own rules and offers grace to those who deserve death, but why?

Why should grace be given to my scoundrel husband? Why should it be so easy for him to leave me? Moses wrote it clearly enough in the commandments, “You shall NOT commit adultery or covet your neighbor’s wife”. So why is it that my husband should get away with adultery and with leaving me for my neighbor’s wife simply by writing me a notice of divorce? You didn’t give any answers for this!

I’d be the one throwing the first stone at both of them. He doesn’t deserve God’s grace. Something inside me had died. Why should he live?

I overheard your disciples say, “If this is the case, it is better not to marry!”  I agree! Finally some sense. It’s not worth the pain.

If my husband wasn’t ready for the commitment, he shouldn’t have married me in the first place. It’s meant to last a lifetime, through the good and bad. Even You said that. And I agree. It’s a spiritual commitment. A gift from God that shouldn’t be split apart.

I know that King David got away with adultery because God was gracious to him.  He deserved death. Why is God so gracious? And Solomon was even worse. And don’t bring up Hosea and how he forgave his harlot wife, or talk to me about forgiving my husband. I won’t! I can be just as hard-hearted as him. I’m through with my husband, with Moses, and God and You too!

As far as I am concerned, God is far too gracious to adulterers and that’s all I have to say.

An Angry Divorced Wife

 

Divorced Wife of Pharisee writes to Jesus Again

PS  I’ve been meeting with some women who are all divorced. One of them is a young woman who once felt like me, but she has not remained bitter since becoming a follower of You. I envy her peace and even her faith. She was the one who encouraged me to write to You. Perhaps I’ll stay with her for a while, but don’t get the idea that I agree with the kind of mercy You are peddling to hard-hearted sinners like my husband.  

The truth is, I don’t really want him to die. I wish he would repent, but it seems I will now remain single for the rest of my life. You said some remain single. As You say, “Not everyone can accept this statementOnly those whom God helps.  My friend is praying that God will help me. …  

Dear Jesus,

After the explosive email I sent to You the other day, I thought I had better write to You and apologise. It was my hurt speaking. Somehow I know that you will forgive me. Something struck me about what you said about those who remain single all their lives. You said, “Some are born as eunuchs, some have been made eunuchs by others, and some choose not to marry for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.”  

For the moment I choose not to marry again, even though, according to the principles you have taught, I am able to remarry. You see, even as I write, I have decided to become one of Your followers, something I thought I would never do.

And I have chosen not to seek marriage again. Like those who remain unmarried for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven, I have chosen to come under Your authority as my Lord and King; to serve the purposes You have set for my life. This is a radical but welcome change that has occurred in my life.  

I’ve been talking about my husband not repenting of his sins against me but not realising I needed to repent of my own sins towards God and that all of us need God’s grace if we are to be saved. 

Single for The Sake of the Kingdom

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Follow Button © by Ross Cochrane using Blender 2.78c

Matthew 19:1-2 – E-MAILS TO JESUS

The Pharisees write to Jesus

Dear Jesus,

We didn’t realize You were coming into our area but now that You have arrived we notice You are attracting large crowds. Proselytising is strongly discouraged in our community. 

We, the Pharisee Investigative Group Surveillance, will be on hand and will see to it that you and your followers are scrutinized with the appropriate checks and balances of all you say and do.

We ask that you comply with the following

  • Do not speak against religious and government authorities, local customs and laws.
  • Do not share heretical teaching, or engage in defiling acts such as healing or associating with undesirable people such as sinners and those with leprosy or Gentile dogs, especially on the Sabbath.
  • Do not throw furniture or act violently in and around the temple or synagogues.
  • Do not leave food scraps around after meal times
    • Do not refuse to answer the questions of the Pharisees Investigative Group Surveillance group or hesitate in asking for any further legal advice.

Pharisees Investigative Group Surveillance (P.I.G.S.)

 

A Woman Writes to Jesus

Dear Jesus,

1 You finished teaching in Galilee today and You said You are going down to the region of Judea east of the Jordan River. Large crowds have been following You there and You have been healing their sick. I just wanted You to know that I am going with them.

It is difficult to make the adjustment of leaving, but I know that I must move on. One painful season of my life has finished. 

I almost left it too late. Making the right move depends on making sure you make the right choices. It’s not always easy, is it? I knew I had to go from here but I wanted so much to put it off. That’s partly why I am writing this letter.

Unlike me, You always understand the right time to go. When You finish saying what You want to say, You just move on, so resolute for some reason to move ever closer to Jerusalem. I am not sure why.

Jesus, I have noticed that You never stop people like me from following You. Even though I am all alone and have no right to expect anything from You, somehow I know that when You welcome the crowds, You are welcoming me too.

In fact, I have discovered that believing what You say for my life is a continual journey of following You, Lord. You say You still want to heal people like me on the inside and make me whole.

I feel safe with You. You will never turn me away or leave me to face the journey of life alone, but neither will You compel or coerce me to obey and follow You.

I am praying that God will help me in the next part of the journey but I know it will not necessarily be easy.

Jesus, You simply invite me to come, and in coming, I know that I must turn from all else, from the directions I could take to the directions You want for me to take. You say we have all gone astray from God and that You are the only way back.

I have found that this is what faith is all about. Simply turning around and following You, instead of trusting in the direction I wanted to go without You.

I just wanted to thank You.

Yours,

A follower.  

 

The Pharisees Write to Jesus

Jesus,

We warned you about associating with sinners, the sick, proselytizing and teaching about culturally sensitive issues. You will now be subject to the public questioning of the Pharisees Investigative Group Surveillance (P.I.G.S) team.

 

A Woman Follower Writes to Jesus

Dear Jesus,

3 Today, some Pharisees came and tried to trap You with this question: “Should a man be allowed to divorce his wife for just any reason?” 

They seem intent on wanting to trap You, to set You up and discredit what You teach. They want to see You fail. You can speak freely but only if You agree with their point of view.

You are healing the sick but they are more concerned about a theological issue concerning divorce. Go figure.

I felt as if they were looking at me. Why did they choose this question? One of them looked at me with derision. Do they know my secrets, a Christ-follower who is divorced? I shrank back into the crowd. But I don’t feel rejection from You, Lord, only respect.

I think I know what the Pharisees are doing. That’s the reason for this letter. There is more to their question than meets the eye. Their question has political overtones.

That’s why I am warning You, Lord, but already it seems too late. I know You are not concerned for political games but I also know that Your forthright views won’t endear You to the Pharisees. The truth is that the Pharisees don’t only want to trap You, Lord, but they want to get You into trouble with King Herod. Herod does not tolerate those who say anything against divorce.

I was a friend to Herod’s wife, Phasaelis. King Herod has divorced her. I tried to warn her about Herod’s affair with his own niece, Herodias, and it was me who helped her escape to her father, Aretas, king of Arabia.

When my husband found out I had helped Phasaelis, he was furious. He did not want to be associated with me for fear of King Herod’s wrath, so he divorced me, and threw me out of the house. He threatened to turn me in to the authorities.

And that’s why I am hesitant to follow You now that you are moving closer to Herod. 

King Aretas has put a contract out on King Herod’s life for the shameful way he has treated his daughter. He has declared war on Herod and there is a bitter battle taking place on the Northern border.

And Lord, it’s not only Herod You should be concerned about. You should know that Herodias, Herod’s niece, and lover, is just as dangerous as Herod himself. She caused Your friend, John the Baptist, to be murdered.

When Herod arrested John the Baptist, Herodias sought to justify her relationship with Herod, but John the Baptist denounced her “marriage” saying that it was against God’s law (Leviticus 18:16, 20:21). John was just like You, anything but politically correct.

Herodias didn’t like anyone exposing her sinfulness. Her conscience was seared with a life of excess, and she had the political backing to get her way. With a heart as black as the dungeon wall in which John the Baptist was imprisoned, Herodias tried to rid herself of what she considered to be an irritation, this badly dressed and ill-spoken man, … and she succeeded.

Herod granted her request. It was quite a table that had been set. Adultery, incest, debauchery, seduction, murder and the macabre all sat together at the king’s table that night as John’s head was brought in on a platter. You see, it doesn’t pay to say anything about God’s views on the marriage relationship. It is considered to be hate speech.

I know You are not intimidated by the dangerous question the Pharisees asked. But Lord, they are trapping You into speaking against Herod’s incestuous, adulterous marriage, even indirectly, and this could get You into a lot of trouble and I don’t want this to lead to Your death, too.

I would recommend that You leave this place as soon as possible,

Yours,

A Concerned Follower

 

The Pharisees write to Jesus

Jesus!

How dare you question our theological understanding! Your narrow views about the Scriptures are not wanted here. Not once did you mention the views of our esteemed Scholars and experts, Shammai and particularly Hillel, who have interpreted the Scriptures to be more culturally appropriate? This matter will not end here.

Pharisees Investigative Group Surveillance (P.I.G.S.)

 

A Woman writes to Jesus

Dear Jesus,

I’ve been thinking about the way You answered the Pharisees when they asked You about divorce. You answered their question. 4 “Haven’t you read the Scriptures?” You replied. “They record that from the beginning ‘God made them male and female.’ 

They wanted to argue and impose their thinking upon You, not read the Scriptures in order to understand what God was saying to them.

You cut across the plans of the Pharisaical social engineers, beyond all the popular opinions of the Romans and Jews, beyond all their justifications and You went back to what God has already declared in the Bible. I love the way You said, “Haven’t you read the Scriptures?”

The simplicity of Your statement struck me. You said that God created them male and female for the purpose of marriage. I am a Roman woman and I am so aware that we Romans practice polygamy, homosexuality, adultery, incest, keeping of concubines, prostitution, and divorce. But you made it clear that the original blueprint God made for marriage involves one man, one woman, who become one in Marriage.

5 You said, ‘This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’ 

I’ve been thinking about this Oneness. You seem to be suggesting more than just the physical union but a oneness like a spiritual glue that God uses to bond us together as a husband and wife and this eventually leads to us to become a mother and father ourselves.

My husband and I had a son. You said a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife. But Your words only remind me of the pain I feel.

When my husband divorced me, he took our son. Our son, the miracle of the oneness of our marriage, torn from me. 

You expressed it well. 6 Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together.” 

My divorce at first left me with less than I started out with. I felt bereft in every way, split apart from the oneness I experienced with my husband and torn apart from the expression of our oneness – our only son. I miss my son with an unbearable pain and all I can do is ask God to protect him.

Yet, despite the devastation and pain, my relationship with You has somehow made me whole. If only my marriage had the oneness I experience spiritually as I trust in You. If only my husband knew that it was God who joined us together.

Yours,

A Reflective Follower

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Rainbow © by Ross Cochrane

Genesis 9 – Part 1 – RAINBOWS AND EMPTY ROOMS

We saw the colours of a rainbow reflected on the wall yesterday. A rainbow is a uniquely Biblical symbol. A rainbow. There, like a mysterious portent of blessing, defying the mist of rain and piercing the imagination with its multiplicity of colours, the heart with its beauty, and I smile, as often I do when I see a rainbow.

I’ve always felt that way about rainbows.

If the altar was Noah’s expression of his commitment to God, the rainbow is God’s expression of his commitment to Noah and ultimately to me. Thanks Lord, I’m still touched and inspired by your watercolours.

In Genesis 9:8-10 (NASB95) it says, “Then God told Noah and his sons, “I hereby confirm My covenant with you…” but He doesn’t stop there. He says 3 more significant words full of hope and promise for me – “and your descendants,” THAT’S ME! He includes me in the promise He made to Noah. Now that is cool!

He even includes the animals. “and with all the animals that were on the boat with you—the birds, the livestock, and all the wild animals—every living creature on earth.”

Why did God worry about the animals? Because God promised Adam and Eve that they would rule over the earth and the animal kingdom. The rainbow speaks of being good stewards of the earth. GOD KEEPS HIS PROMISES!

The word “COVENANT” appears 8 times in a very short space in the next few verses. So it must be important.

WHAT IS A COVENANT? It’s an agreement, a promise. God says, “Yes, I am confirming My covenant with you. Never again will floodwaters kill all living creatures; never again will a flood destroy the earth.” 

“Where do we go from here?” Noah would say, “TRUST IN THE PROMISES OF GOD.” Look for the covenant promises. Make sure you have entered into a covenant relationship with Jesus, not based on my promises to God but on His promises to me (It’s much more reliable that way).

“Then God said, “I am giving you a sign of My covenant with you and with all living creatures, for all generations to come. I have placed MY RAINBOW IN THE CLOUDS. It is the SIGN OF MY COVENANT with you and with all the earth.”

A RAINBOW IS A BEAUTIFUL PICTURE OF CHRIST. Jesus is called the light of the world. A rainbow has 3 primary colours, red, green and purple. RED SPEAKS OF THE BLOOD OF CHRIST – His sacrifice on the cross for me. Genesis 8:21 says “The intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth;” Jesus paid the price for my sin. “The blood of Christ”, the Bible says, cleanses from all sin.” Now that’s good to know. Isaiah 1:18 puts it this way “Come now, and let us reason together,” says the Lord, “though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool.”

GREEN SPEAKS OF NEW LIFE after the storm. Genesis 8:11 (NASB95) says, “The dove came to him (Noah) toward evening, and behold, in her beak was a freshly picked olive leaf. So Noah knew that the water was abated from the earth.” The olive leaf was a picture of new life after the storm. Jesus said “I came that you might have life and have it more abundantly” Whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.

PURPLE IS THE COLOUR OF KINGS. When Jesus was being tried, they mocked Him and dressed Him in purple. He is called King of kings and Lord of lords. Jesus knew what it was like to go through a storm. He is still my King of kings and my Lord of lords.

The Rainbow declares to me today and perhaps to you too, “If I have been through a storm, then God still has a future for me.” In fact, you can’t have a rainbow, without having a storm or at least rain.

Where did I start all this. Oh yes, with a rainbow. Beautiful. Makes me smile. Just after the rain subsided – a rainbow in the sky from heaven touching earth. In Europe the rainbow is called “the bridge of the Holy Spiritand as I sit with my computer on a card table in the middle of a mostly empty study (gave away my beautiful desk), the Holy Spirit is here right now.

“WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE, LORD?”

Like Noah of old, He says to me “It’s time to trust in Me, as always”. So I build an altar, – surrender my life afresh to Christ as an act of worship. And I offer up my worship to my Lord and Saviour who loves me with an indescribable love, intercede on behalf of my community with a fervency and expectation of Gods miraculous intervention into the circumstances of our everyday lives, renew my dependence on Him, believe in the power of a rainbow, and let the covenant relationship with my Lord wash over me with it’s colours by trusting in His promises.

“Lord You do everything in your time. Thankyou for continuing to complete the work You have begun in my life and in Julie’s life and in my family and Church. Father, when the storms abate and the floods recede, I am washed by Your promises and stand clean before You, and as I’m looking out this window into the garden beyond, I’m almost expecting to see a rainbow again. It’s there in my heart.

Thankyou Lord Jesus for taking the full force of the storm when you died on the cross, that the ground is now dry for me to walk upon with You.

Holy Spirit, continue to speak with me and guide me. I don’t want to stay huddled up with the security of Your past guidance and afraid to move with Your most recent guidance.

Help me Lord, today, to act upon what You are saying, now. I choose to be obedient today and take the risk of faith.

 Cover me Lord with the rainbow of Your protection and grace. Thank You for establishing Your covenant with me. I commit myself and my family, my Church and my friends to you. Help us make a difference in this world.”

Genesis 9 invites you to marvel at the colours of a rainbow and make this your prayer too. … And thanks for sharing my quietime with me.

Pastor Ross

Mountain Island in mist Final

Peace © Image created by Ross Cochrane using Blender

Psalm 4:6-8 – CAN ANYTHING GOOD COME OUT OF THIS?

“Many people say, “Who will show us better times?” Let your face smile on us, Lord. You have given me greater joy than those who have abundant harvests of grain and new wine.” (Psalm 4:6-7 NLT)

The everyday person today is asking the same question that is asked in this Psalm “Can anything good come out of this? We want something better than this. Who will show us better times?” We ask it of Politicians, Educators and the Social Engineers and so often the decisions they make are not satisfying and at times disturbing. It is a question born out of discouragement with what we see happening in our world. It’s not asking for the good old days. The good old days are so often fuelled by a bad memory and a good imagination. No, it’s not living in the past. It’s asking for better times, here and now, but not based on imposed popularist worldviews or socially engineered political agendas, but on something far more secure.

Someone said, “When the grass seems greener on the other side of the fence, water the grass on your side.” That seems like good advice, but David’s choice for better times is not fed by comparison. David is praying that he will live in such a way as to make God smile, no matter what the grass is like on his side of the fence. Having better times independent of God’s favor is meaningless to David. Better times and indifference to God’s purposes would be absurd in his thinking.

I read an article a friend sent to me recently written by Greg Sheriton in The Australian newspaper, entitled, “Is God dead? The West has much to lose in banishing Christianity.”

He quotes George Orwell, 1944 “One cannot have any worthwhile picture of the future unless one realizes how much we have lost by the decay of Christianity.”

Sheridon says, “In abandoning God, we are about to embark on one of the most radical social experiments in Western history. It is nothing short of the reordering of human nature. Short of war, nothing is as consequential.”

JOY

Sheridon quotes A.N. Wilson The Book of the People, 2016, “Materialism, the most boring as well as the least accurate way of experiencing the world and recording experience, is the dominant mindset of the Western intelligentsia in our day.”

Things haven’t changed since the times of King David. Many people were satisfied with the joy of good harvests and plenty of livestock, but David understood that Joy is not the product of an abundant harvest. Joy is the harvest of God’s abundant favor. The wind rippling its way through a wheat field ready for harvesting does not compare to the wind of the spirit rippling with joy through the soul.

Romans 15:13 (NLT) says “I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in Him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.”

PEACE

“In peace I will lie down and sleep, for You alone, O Lord, will keep me safe” (Psalm 4:8 NLT).

Surrounded by the danger of a rebel army led by his own son, Absalom, you would expect David to experience some anxiety. Yet David is obviously inwardly secure and he expresses trust in God for each day. The battle is not yet won, but spiritually David has victory.

Warren Wiersbe says, “The Hebrew word for “peace” (shalom) means much more than the absence of conflict. It carries with it the ideas of adequacy for life, confidence and fullness of life.” (Bible Exposition Commentary)

Isaiah 26:3 (NLT) declares in prayer, “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, all whose thoughts are fixed on You!”

The invitation of Psalm 4 is to experience incredible joy and peace even in the midst of trouble. It is as if David is speaking in harmony with Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT), “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”

When Nathanael heard that Jesus came from Nazareth, he asked, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Philip simply said, “Come and see for yourself” (John 1:46).

What good can come from all of this? What good can come from what this world offers? Philip invites us to find a deep and satisfying peace with God through trust in Christ instead of trusting in a Godless materialism. Come and see for yourself.

Psalm 4 reminds me of the blessing in Numbers 6:24-26 (NLT) which I pass on to you today, “May the Lord bless you and protect you. May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord show you His favor and give you His peace.”  

Pastor Ross

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Anger © by Ross Cochrane

Psalm 4:4-5 – EXAMINE WHAT CONTROLS YOUR LIFE

“Don’t sin by letting anger control you. Think about it overnight and remain silent. Interlude” (Psalm 4:4 NLT).

I wondered who David was addressing in this part of Psalm 4. Is he talking to himself, his own followers or his enemies? Is he trying to protect himself against the sin of being controlled by anger rather than, as he has said in the previous verse, be set apart as a godly man? Or is this the Lord speaking and answering David’s prayer? Then I realized that these words are relevant to all parties no matter who said them or to whom they are addressed.

Ephesians 4:21-27 (NLT) gives us similar instruction to those who believe in Christ. “Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from Him, … let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy. So stop telling lies. … And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil.”

My take on Psalm 4:4 is, “If you think you have a reason to be angry, don’t let that anger make you think you have a right to act independently of God. Consider this deeply before taking any action. Sleep on it rather than do something you’ll regret.” The idea is the intention for reflection which leads to repentance.

Psalm 4:4 gives me a choice to examine myself. I can make choices that can change the way I respond to life’s circumstances. I don’t have to be controlled by my emotions. I can, as Psalm 4:5 (NLT) says, “Offer sacrifices in the right spirit, and trust the Lord.”

1 Samuel 15:12 speaks about Absalom offering sacrifices to impress people. When religious rituals become an excuse for power-plays then it has nothing to do with trusting in God and it is hypocritical. Religious rituals and laws are never enough to replace the right spirit and relationship of dependence to God.

Psalm 4:4-5 invites me to a life of integrity and trust in Christ. He became a sacrifice for sin once and for all and trusting in Him alone brings forgiveness and a right spirit. I am not to live a life controlled by my emotions, but as Romans 12:3 (NLT) says, “… 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.”

Pastor Ross