Posts Tagged ‘Light’

Codebreaker.jpg

Code Breaker created © by Ross Cochrane

CODEBREAKER

I found it fascinating when I discovered he was a Codebreaker in the war. He looked somehow smaller now and curled up. I prayed for him, sang to him as light filtered through the window onto his old wrinkled brow.

The movie “The Imitation Game” talked about Codebreaking in the war and the once relatively unknown place called Bletchley Park located in northern England became famous.

Who knew that one of the magnificent old houses in Brisbane’s sophisticated inner northern suburb of Ascot, 21 Henry St, housed the top-secret organization called the Central Bureau of Intelligence, Australia’s equivalent to Britain’s Bletchley Park.

But of course, now we also know of the contribution of Australians like Jim (not his real name) which shortened the length of the war. Within those walls, the great unsung heroes of that war made their unique contribution to victory. It would be over 30 years before Jim spoke about it and only then was he able to receive his medals.

The bible is difficult to interpret at times. it’s a codebook, which if used well, can help us decipher the enigmas of life, fight the right battles, know the real enemy and bring us peace with God.

  1. CODEWORD – “WATER”

In John 4:13-14 (NLT) Jesus is speaking to a woman at a well and He says, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the WATER I GIVE will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them ETERNAL LIFE.” 

He speaks of the Water Of Life. What does He mean?

Well, the woman, like Jim, was a codebreaker. She deciphered the code easily. She knew he was speaking about Heaven.

The bible says heaven is a gift. You can’t earn it or work for it or deserve it. It’s as free as water from a well and it quenches our thirst for spiritual answers.

Jim deciphered that message also when he expressed his belief in Christ. He is now spending his first 10,000 years in eternity with God, Revelation 21:4 (NLT) says God will “…wipe every tear from his eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” 

The only thing that stands in the way of all of us having that gift relates to the second Bible…

  1. CODEWORD – “DARKNESS”

The Japanese used difficult ciphers and complex codes which required intense and concentrated intellectual efforts to break. The Codebreakers were often left in the dark.

In code-breaking and life, we all go through times of darkness.

Isaiah 59:1-21 (NLT) says “… We look for light but find only darkness. We look for bright skies but walk in gloom. We grope like the blind along a wall, feeling our way like people without eyes. Even at brightest noontime, we stumble as though it were dark.”

War itself is a time of darkness, and so is grief, but it’s fairly easy to decode the darkness the Bible refers to here as meaning our sin.

The Bible says we cannot save ourselves from our sin. We all need God’s forgiveness. Jim found that forgiveness. How did that happen?

The next bible code-word explains more of the puzzle.

  1. CODEWORD – “LIGHT”

1 John 1:5-7 (NLT) says, “This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in Him at all.”

This code-word Light tells us that God is sinless, pure and holy.

2 Corinthians 4:4-7 (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.”

Jim came to know the love and light of God in his life. Since the God of light and purity can’t have anything to do with the darkness of our sin, how did that happen? That is an indecipherable problem for us, but not to God.

To solve that indecipherable problem, God sent the ultimate code-breaker into the world to deal with the darkness of our sin.

John 1 explains that “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. … The One who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He came into the very world He created, but the world didn’t recognize Him. He came to His own people, and even they rejected Him. But to all who believed Him and accepted Him, He gave the right to become children of God.”  So

Jesus is that ultimate code breaker.

At the Aged Care center where Jim lived the last part of his life, there was a door code to get in. It is free entrance for those who know it. Which is appropriate because the next bible code-word is

  1. CODEWORD – “DOOR” OR “GATE”

In John 10:2-10 (NLT) Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, I am THE GATE (or THE DOOR) for the sheep … Those who come in through Me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.”

In John 14:6 (NLT) Jesus says, “I am THE WAY, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through Me.”

So what do we do with these codes – Water of Life, Darkness of Sin, Light of the World, and the Door of Salvation? The answer is found in the final bible codewords which are the

  1. CODEWORDS – “EARS TO HEAR”

Jesus puts it this way in Matthew 13:9 (NIV) “He who has ears, let him hear.” Jesus spoke in Codes Himself or parables. Those who deciphered them became His disciples; His Codebreakers; those with Ears To Hear”.

Jesus spoke in parables. He gathered a group of His own codebreakers, His disciples, who were always intrigued by the coded stories Jesus told about heaven. They deliberately asked for Jesus to decipher His parables for them. He did, but there were a whole lot of people in the crowd who didn’t understand and did not want to understand what He was trying to say, so the disciples asked him why He used parables.

What Jesus said was astounding!

In Matthew 13:11 He says “You are PERMITTED to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven, but others are NOT.” The parables were foolishness to them because they refused to put time into deciphering the truth, listening to the signals, discerning the patterns.

Jim knew that the consequences of not being able to decode enemy strategies mean that lives are lost.

The consequences of not decoding the messages of Jesus means that our purpose for life is lost. We are refused the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven. God won’t force us to listen, and equally when I refuse to listen, then He won’t permit me to understand. I’m either receptive or left ignorant. He allows me the consequences of my choices.

1 Corinthians 1:18 (NLT) says “The message of the cross is FOOLISH to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God.” It’s a code that needs to be deciphered to save us spiritually.

Having Ears To Hear refers to faith and faith is the key to deciphering the Door-code of the gospel. Without the Door-code of faith, there is no entrance to heaven’s door.

Romans 10:17 (NIV) says, “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.”

Today we celebrate Jim’s incredible talent for solving puzzles, his imagination and the sheer determination to prevail in the face of incredible technical challenges. He was awarded some long-awaited medals.

Jim deciphered codes in the war but he also deciphered what God was trying to say to him through the message of the gospel. He placed His faith in Christ. The warfare for his soul was spiritual.

In 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (NLT) Paul talks about the spiritual battle. He says “We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God.”

The WATER OF LIFE – heaven is a free gift. THE DARKNESS – the Sin that gets in our way of knowing God. THE LIGHT – a Holy God who loves us but must judge our sin. THE DOOR – relationship with God open to all because Christ died for our sins and finally EARS TO HEAR – FAITH to Hear the message of the Gospel and place our trust in Christ for Eternal life.

Jim kept this secret for many years. He was warned “Do not talk at meals. Do not talk traveling. Do not talk at home.” I’m glad He didn’t keep his faith in God a secret.

At around 12:10 pm on Friday 27th January 2017, Jim deciphered the last part of the puzzle and was awarded the gift of heaven. He was 91 years old. Psalm 139:16 says that “all the days ordained for me were written in God’s book before one of them came to be.”

And the next time you are playing Chess or working on a Crossword puzzle, or placing your code into a computer or typing your password, or simply puzzling over the quandaries of life, remember to thank God that the code is broken. Death and sin have been defeated. Now the invitation remains for us to trust in the Ultimate Codebreaker – the Lord Jesus Christ.

Thank you, Lord, for Water of Life, the Light of the Gospel, Door of heaven, for Your love and forgiveness in Christ, for ears to hear Your voice concerning how to live life to the full. Help us to have ears to hear You for direction and correction in the challenges and blessings of life, in Jesus Name, Amen

Matthew 17:4-5 – THE RIGHT TO SPEAK AND THE CHOICE TO LISTEN 

Listening Button, by Ross Cochrane

Listening Button, by Ross Cochrane

He is always getting into trouble. He opens his mouth and it ends up being offensive and someone goes away upset or embarrassed. It’s not that he doesn’t think or listen. It’s just that he interprets things through the eyes of impetuosity, chauvinism or even racism. As a follower of Jesus he is maturing but he still has a way to go.

Because he thinks that he has something worthwhile to contribute he blurts out ideas and suggestions and that’s what usually gets him into trouble. I shouldn’t talk. Most of the time I am thinking the same thing, but don’t say anything.

I learn a lot from Peter’s impulsiveness although he embarrasses me and himself in the process. He speaks openly when he should listen. He is insensitive and tactless and later regrets saying anything at all. He is spontaneous but borders on recklessness. It’s not as if he doesn’t know others are listening. Classic foot-in-mouth. Unprompted theatre.

Benjamin Franklin said “Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.” Peter maybe impetuous but his suggestion in this case is not stupid, just wrong. He may misunderstand the significance of what is happening but he is actively seeking to piece it all together. He will always remember that although he had the right to speak, he also had the choice to listen.

Having little experience of Jewish culture Peter’s suggestion seems odd to me, but apparently far away in Jerusalem there are many at present who are commemorating the Feast of Tabernacles. They build and live in make-shift shelters for a week to remember the Exodus when Moses led the Hebrews from Egypt; camping out in the wilderness before entering the promised land.

Shelters in the Exodus of Moses were necessary because although Israel was free from oppression, they were not free from their sin. They wandered in the wilderness for 40 years before they entered into the promised land because of their disobedience; their mistrust of God’s appointed leaders and their lack of trust in God’s provision. Their make-shift shelters spoke of their sin. 

Peter blurts out, “Lord, it’s wonderful for us to be here! If you want, I’ll make three shelters as memorials—one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah” (Matthew 17:4 NLT). But associating Jesus and these returned saints with Israel’s sin isn’t a good idea. On the contrary, Jesus death will lead people directly into the freedom of forgiveness and the promises of God. Milk, honey and grapes would have been better memorial symbols. 

“But even as Peter spoke, a bright cloud came over them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is My dearly loved Son, who brings Me great joy. Listen to Him” (Matthew 17:5 NLT).

Sometimes my words are the sound of a broken window and unfamiliar footsteps creeping through God’s truth like unwelcome guests. When such words presumptuously seek to break and enter into God’s territory, then He invites me to listen and obey Jesus. I have the right to speak but more importantly the choice to listen to His voice. I can receive the light of forgiveness rather than dwell in the shadows of the make-shift shelters of my sin. I can give voice to my shame and regrets, or choose to listen to the voice of His mercy. Lord, I’m listening. 

Pastor Ross

Matthew 17:2 – TECHNICOLOUR YAWN OR POEM OF LIGHT?

Opera House Mountain. Image by Ross Cochrane using Paint.net and ForgeFilter.

Opera House Mountain. Image by Ross Cochrane using Paint.net and ForgeFilter.

The mesmerising laser lights transform the city of Sydney into a dazzling spectacle of creativity each year. “Vivid” is a unique demonstration of imaginative possibilities. The world’s largest Art Gallery comes alive, a breathtaking canvas of creative expression, especially when the iconic Sydney Opera House sails become a palette for light artists.

Of course, even the incredible spectacle of Vivid has been accused of “superficiality, of ‘technicolor yawns’ and smartphone-toting happy snappers.” Others, however, describe it as “a poem written in light”. 800,000 visitors from all over the world are attracted like insects to this light, and the festival of Vivid continues to grow each year.

Vivid pales into insignificance when compared to that night when Jesus takes three disciples up on a mountain to pray. Jesus often goes up to a mountain at night to pray (Matthew 14:23-24, Luke 6:12) but this night is bathed in the vivid aura of a miracle.

A week earlier He had tried to tell them 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 kingdom authority of God is about to grasp the vibrant promises of the past, embrace the raw immediacy of the present and infuse it all with shocking future intention.

Matthew 17:2 tries to describe what happens “As the men watch, Jesus’ appearance is transformed so that His face shines like the sun, and His clothes become as white as light.”  

There is no superficial lacklustre, no laser lights or money-making festival atmosphere, just a breathtaking spectacle as Jesus is inexplicably altered in His appearance. A bewildering, disconcerting disturbance of penetrating light explodes from within His being. Filled with transcendent significance, a light so vivid and unexpected that it consumes your senses like a purifying fire from heaven; a light that illumines the very recesses of the soul.

Hebrews 1:3 (NLT) tries to describe it; “The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God…” When Jesus says “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life” He is saying that everything about Him is associated with light. More than analogy, this picture of light is based upon the reality of His being. Psalms 104:2 (NLT) says of the Lord, “You are dressed in a robe of light….” The gospel is the message of Jesus; a light shining in the darkness and here on a mountain the analogy is personified.

To witness this miracle changes a person forever. Many years later, John recalls this event: “…we have seen His glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son” (John 1:14 NLT). Belief in Christ transfigures us. We are changed outwardly as the reality of what has happened deep within reveals itself. We are intended to be a palette of light painted on a mountain in the intimacy of relationship with Christ.

Paul contrasts this experience in 2 Corinthians 4:4 (NLT); “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.” 

Is the transfiguration about transformation? Much more than that of course, but for now, Jesus is inviting us into His presence to be “the children of light” (Luke 16:8 NLT). Shining the light of Christ has to do with our character and changed values; integrity in Christ personified. When we know Christ, we shine that same light. Jesus says “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden” (Matthew 5:14). 

We are not designed to live life in the colours of “superficiality, and ‘technicolor yawns”. Jesus invites us to be a “a poem written in light”. 

Pastor Ross

 

Matthew 7:15-20 – CHARACTER VS REPUTATION – A Parable

“Character is like a tree and reputation its shadow” (Lincoln).

When the light peeked over the mountain and shone down upon the forest glade, there in the faint mist of early morning stood a beautiful fruit tree and its shadow. The shadow would dance gracefully in the mist and as the mist cleared it stretched out upon the earth, full length. It boasted to the tree of how extensive it was but by midday and on rainy days it was humbled again. The tree pointed out to the shadow. “You are only a shadow. You have a distorted view of yourself. Without the light I would not grow and without me you would not grow and recede each day. Don’t think more highly or lowly of yourself than you should. Remember that you represent me but you are not me.”

The shadow did not understand and was insulted by what the tree was trying to say. It was not content to merely “represent” the tree. It wanted more. In the morning when the shadow stretched full length it said, “I am more important to you than you may think. Without me your influence would not be extended to the far corners of the glade. Without me many would not know that you exist! I make you known and give you credibility.”

The tree was concerned about the shadow’s sense of self-importance. It replied “You can certainly stretch the truth about me to others, but you cater to the textures of the personality of all that you are with. Tainted and painted by what you are projected upon, you will always depend on others to shape you, taking on their preconceived ideas. In the end your influence is immaterial when describing my character. Your influence has no substance.”

The shadow began to pout. It found some of the lowest, darkest and most secret of corners and began gossiping and whispering unkind tales about the tree. There was no substance to what the shadow said but others gave the far-fetched tales substance. It was cold and lonely in the shadow of the tree for a time and during the winter months the shadows edges were more and more faded, blurred and indistinct.

As winter became spring the light around the tree defined the shape of the shadow in more truthful terms, but the shadow still did not shed any light at all upon the real character of the tree. Those who spent time on the dark side of the tree were intimidated. “Why are you so arrogant, so black and white in your attitudes” they said to the tree.

“You will never discover anything about me when you listen to stories of those who lack light and who walk in darkness” said the tree. “Walk in the light and look up into my branches and you will have a much more accurate assessment of who I really am. Your views at present are shaded, dappled, two-dimensional silhouettes, mere projections, and only an inadequate outline of what I offer.”

One day in the early stirrings of spring, the glade was suddenly washed in light as God looked down upon the tree. He had recently painted the tree with autumn colours, golden ochers, burnt umbers and raw siennas, a spectrum of brilliance, and with the gentle breath of His Spirit it’s leaves were scattered in the breeze, only to be replaced in the Spring with luscious buds. Unseen in the heart of the tree, far beneath the textured surface of the bark, He fashioned and formed another growth ring. He spoke gently to the tree “Some will pass by and walk within your shadow and see only a dark outline of who you are but I have looked upon your heart. I see that when the winter seasons have left you bare and barren, that deep inside of you there is the dream of Springtime fruit.”

And with these words, soon the tree was heavy with sweet, tender fruit, brilliant in ripe colours, flaring in the light in contrast to the thick deep greenery of its newly formed leaves. And God said “Yes, just as you can identify the character of a tree by its fruit, so you can identify the character of people by their actions. Walk in the light as I am in the light” (See Matthew 7:20 and 1 John 1:7)

Pastor Ross

Matthew 13:36-43 – WILL I SEE MY MUM IN HEAVEN? – Part 12

Will I see my mum in heaven?

I watched the news in the last few weeks as a nation reels in the horror of the aftermath of an earthquake. The devastation of a category 6 earthquake brings everything to it’s knees, buildings awkwardly buckle and crumble as if submitting to a warlord. Darkness falls like a smothering blanket over the city as the electricity grid fails. Debris falls, the dusty malformed tears of a city, the victim of a stroke. She looks contorted and twisted as she struggles in vain, convulsing with each aftershock, trying to stay alive but unable to move, her eyes wide and blinded in the dirt.

A woman is plucked from the wreckage of a collapsed building but nothing can save the twisted misshapen, struggling city from the crushing reality of over 160 deaths. Hell walks the darkened streets of Christchurch, New Zealand and faces are haunted with fear, shock and grief. Their eyes look for someone to tell them that this is not happening, but somehow they know that life will never be the same.

There was no warning. Sudden, unexpected. No-one can tell when death knocks menacingly at the door. She dies, not in the streets of Christchurch but a sea away, in Australia. There is no front page news of this devastating event. Only a lonely ad somewhere in the funeral notices of the local paper. My mum dies of a massive stroke (cerebral haemorrhage) in the early hours of the morning as Christchurch is still reeling from the aftershocks. As I hear this news I cannot believe that this has happened until my sisters and I go to view her body, and I see that she is not there. Just an empty shell. She has departed into eternity. We conduct her funeral a week later.

And all of us are left with unvoiced questions about eternity, questions we don’t really want to think about but which linger in the shadows of the mind. WHAT HAPPENS TO PEOPLE WHEN THEY DIE?

Jesus speaks of HEAVEN as a place where “…the righteous will shine like the sun in their Father’s Kingdom” and HELL as “…the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 13:42-43 NLT).

IS MY MUM IN HEAVEN? If I am honest, I can’t answer that question. I have to leave it in the hands of God. I trust Him to make the decisions of eternity. Did my mum come into a personal relationship with Christ as her Lord and Saviour? I know that I shared with her about how Jesus died for our sins on a number of occasions. Did she ever decide inwardly to trust in Christ? I know that she would pray at night, but was she saved out of the wreckage, plucked from the roof before her life collapsed, before all that was left was shock reverberating in the emptiness of our hearts?

The world didn’t know it but it was experiencing an earthquake of unbelievable magnitude when Christ died. He was reaching out to save us from our precarious condition. When Jesus died on the cross for our sins there was an appropriate blackout that covered the earth which in the physical environment described what was happening spiritually as He was judged for my sin (Mark 15:33).

The only light that not only dispels the darkness but also causes no shadows is one that comes from within, an inner light. God is described as light and some would unkindly say of Christians that the lights are on but nobody’s home, but that’s cruel and patently untrue. No matter how odd Christians are, foolish to many, CHRIST DWELLS WITHIN. 1 John 1:5-7 (NLT) says “…God is light, and there is no darkness in Him at all. So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, cleanses us from all sin.” John 8:12 (NLT) Jesus says “I am the light of the world. If you follow Me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” The invitation is right there.

When the Bible describes those who go to heaven, it says “we will be like Him (Christ), for we will see Him as He really is” (1 John 3:2 NLT). The only way Jesus can describe to me what heaven is like is to say “…the righteous will shine like the sun in their Father’s Kingdom.” (Matthew 13:43 NLT). Although I can’t quite imagine shining like a celestial lightbulb, the contrast and choice is clear – DARKNESS, shell shocked and stubbornly unbelieving among the rubble of a collapsing world, or LIGHT; reaching out to a loving hand, and to salvation from the ruins of the devastating effects of my sin.

I choose LIGHT. Will I see my mum in heaven? Will I see you there?

Pastor Ross