Genesis 30:35-43 – RICH DAD RICH KIDS

Speckled Bark. Image by Ross Cochrane.

Speckled Bark. Image by Ross Cochrane.

It’s almost as if Robert Kiyosaki, author of the best-selling book Rich Dad Poor Dad, has been reading God’s business plan for Jacob. I can almost hear him saying to Jacob, “Sooner or later you will have to learn that the moral lesson of your rat-race work-life demands that you become more an entrepreneur than simply an employee. Putting wealth into Laban’s hands with little or nothing to show isn’t what is intended for you. You are intended for blessing, and to be a blessing. You were not destined for exploitation by a greedy and corrupt uncle.”

God invites Jacob, and me, to take the risk of faith rather than be pushed around by life. He always has! We stay where we are unless we make opportunities by taking a risk. But not just any risk. A blatant opportunist who has taken careless risks all his life, Jacob is about to develop a faith literacy and be schooled in honesty rather than take the path that comes so easily to him – deceit and taking advantage of others.

Jacob is working for his uncle to pay off a 14-year-old debt, accumulated by the acquisition of his wives through a shonky business deal. He has no asset base for financial security. Jacob’s assets are not to be found the vague promises from a deceitful man who won’t pay him a wage.

How do you build your asset base? Kiyosaki would say “Stocks, bonds, mutual funds, income producing real estate, notes, and royalties from intellectual property.” Jacob chooses stock because it’s all he understands and he’s been in bonds to his uncle for far too long. He’s still taking notes on royalty and intellect as God invites him to come under His authority and wisdom. God will awaken the financial intelligence inside him, although His method is a little unorthodox.

In order for him to secure all that God plans for him he has to have new ideas. He is still teachable, so he takes a course on faith – buys the latest videos and books, attends the seminars on what God is saying – well OK, maybe not videos, books and seminars, but he knows that he will have to own God’s promises rather than simply wait for Laban to pay him.

His assets are his faith and his family, so he starts to develop a plan for investing in the secure promises of God, minimal risk to Laban, but maximum opportunity for Jacob and his menagerie of wives and children. Honest accounting and investing; he hasn’t tried that before. So he makes a new deal with his uncle – “I’ll look after your flock of plain coloured animals but keep any new-born speckled animals to build my own flock.” His uncle agrees. Plain coloured animals normally produce plain coloured animals. How can Laban lose?

But then Jacob gets weird… Although this seems such an odd thing to do I can only suppose that God is in it… Jacob strips away some of the bark of tree branches and exposes the inner wood in stripes and places them in the drinking troughs as if this will make a difference in producing striped and speckled animals? (Genesis 30:37-39). Now I’m tempted to say Jacob has reverted to superstition, but I know, God does some weird things with branches and rods and staffs (Exodus). A branch makes an axe head float in 2 Kings 6. Moses’ staff becomes a snake in Exodus 4:14 and was used in other miraculous events. Aaron’s rod budded and was included in the ark of the Covenant as a reminder for faith (Hebrews 9:4). God used a bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness as a symbol for expressing healing faith (Numbers 21:6-9).

Does God use the chemicals from the stripped branches in the troughs to change the DNA of Jacob’s breeders? I doubt it. If nothing else, these branches serve as a symbol of faith for Jacob and a witness to Laban, even if it doesn’t do anything for the sheep. Could it be whenever Jacob sees them he prays for speckled sheep? When the sheep look at them they ignore them, drink the water and mate and do what sheep do. There’s no magic or superstition here, just an opportunity for the outworking of a miracle.

So Jacob becomes very wealthy, with large flocks of sheep and goats, male and female servants, and many camels and donkeys, even if they are a motley bunch. You won’t find “Stripping bark from branches” in a chapter of any of Robert Kiyosaki latest get rich books. In Genesis 31:5 (NLT) Jacob says “… the God of my father has been with me.” (see also Genesis 31:10-13). 

Philippians 4:19 NLT invites us to understand that “… this same God … will supply all your needs from His glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.” Rich Dad Rich Kids.

Pastor Ross

Genesis 30:25–35 -PLEASE RELEASE ME, LET ME GO! 

Speckled. Image by Ross Cochrane using Paint.net, FilterForge, and Morguefile.org

Speckled. Image by Ross Cochrane using Paint.net, FilterForge, and Morguefile.org

I hear the old long-playing (LP) record droning on even today, and my Dad’s voice singing above it, “Please release me, let me go…To waste our lives would be a sin…” I watched my Dad waste his life in work that promised him a management position but kept him waiting on meagre wages until he was too old to care.

Jacob wants out. He says to Laban, “Please release me so I can go home to my own country.” Home to my own country. I have a promise to pursue. Let me explore it’s implications before I am too old to care.

Laban is a wealthy business person but spiritually bankrupt. God and Jacob are his good luck charms. As God unfolds His truth and reveals His character even to Laban, Laban understands it only through the eyes of potential fortune. “Please listen to me,” Laban replies. “I have become wealthy, for the Lord has blessed me because of you. Tell me how much I owe you. Whatever it is, I’ll pay it” (Genesis 30:27-28 NLT). 

So you finally admit it. All of a sudden you want to get generous and give me what is owed. No, old man. It won’t work. Not this time. You don’t want me to stay because I am your much-loved Son-in-law, husband to your daughters. All you want is to accumulate more wealth. Watch it uncle, your greed is showing.

Jacob is willing to leave with nothing. The promises of God are more reliable than yours, uncle. All my life I have heard my mother, my father, you and your daughters persuading me to be involved in your plans for my life. I have played the part of a deceiver and been deceived. I have always felt like a sheep in a pack of wolves, but this old lost wether is not willing to be taken by you this time. I have already worked for you for fourteen years, Laban. But I have heard the voice of the Shepherd calling me home, words of destiny in the silence of my heart. If I stay it will be at the request of His voice alone.

“Let me take my wives and children, for I have earned them by serving you, and let me be on my way. You certainly know how hard I have worked for you and how your flocks and herds have grown under my care.” This is business language and he still speaks of his wives as the commodity that he has earned by his work for Laban. Not a romantic bone in his body. You’ve had a good deal. I’ve got Rachel even though you tricked me. We are even. Now feel a little pain yourself. Maybe even enough pain to agree to a deal before I go.

“You had little indeed before I came, but your wealth has increased enormously. The Lord has blessed you through everything I’ve done. But now, what about me? When can I start providing for my own family?” (Genesis 30:29-30 NLT).

“What wages do you want?” Laban asks again. (Genesis 30:31 NLT).Finally, old man. I knew you would get to a deal, but this time you’ll have to do things my way even though one day you may wish you had let me go. “Jacob replied, “Don’t give me anything. Just do this one thing, and I’ll continue to tend and watch over your flocks. Here’s the deal, uncle. Take it or leave it. “Let me inspect your flocks today and remove all the sheep and goats that are speckled or spotted, along with all the black sheep. …” (Genesis 30:32 NLT) Let them be a part of a different flock and take them away to be looked after by your men.

Let’s start with a clean slate; with a flock that consists of only single coloured animals. Let me look after that flock. Most of the sheep are pure white and most of the goats a dark chocolate-brown. You’ll get a good deal, uncle. You can keep all your existing flocks. But this time there’ll be no room for deception. No cheating! So uncle, here’s the deal. I get all those born from your pure, plain coloured flocks that are spotted and speckled as well as any black sheep that are born from your flock (Genesis 30:32). “Give these to me as my wages. In the future, when you check on the animals you have given me as my wages, you’ll see that I have been honest. If you find in my flock any goats without speckles or spots, or any sheep that are not black, you will know that I have stolen them from you.” Take the deal! I’ll trust God and you trust in your greed. 

“All right,” Laban replies. “It will be as you say.” Jacob, you’re a fool. What are you trying to do? You know that plain sheep produce far more plain coloured animals than speckled ones. You’ll only end up with a few animals, if any. You really will need some divine intervention. So Jacob and God go into partnership.

“Please release me, let me go … to waste our lives would be a sin” (Engelbert Humperdink). The story of Jacob invites me to be released from my own deception and the sin that so easily entraps me and to make a fresh start. We are to be released from wasting our lives and from allowing others to govern our lives instead of God. We are to take the risk of faith with nothing but hard work in our hands, and live in the expectation that God “is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20 NLT). “And this same God who takes care of me will supply all Your needs from His glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19 NLT).

Pastor Ross

Genesis 30:22-24 – HOW TO OVERCOME THE REGRETS OF YOUR PAST

HOW TO OVERCOME THE REGRETS OF YOUR PAST

HOW TO OVERCOME THE REGRETS OF YOUR PAST

Regret, like an old injury, seeks to restrict your present and to destroy or control your future.

Confronting regret is like doing battle with a street fighter. He wants to dominate and cut you with a switchblade so that you bleed before you even have the chance to pray. He’ll badger you into doing yet another round and you’ll see the faces of those you have disappointed and hurt in the crowd that gathers. There’s no place to go.

You’ve done battle with regret before but this time you know you must think differently in order to overcome him. You may need to refuse to fight, apologise and seek forgiveness. You may need to spend some time admitting the harm that you have caused until the crowd makes room for you to move on. Rachel comes humbly before God with sin in her hand and places it, with her wounded heart, at God’s feet.

Something changed that day. A breakthrough of faith and the response of God’s mercy. God remembered Rachel’s plight and answered her prayers by enabling her to have children (Genesis 30:24 NLT). At long last, Rachel conceives and gives birth to a son; Joseph (and later Benjamin is added to her family). The mandrakes (love apples) she acquired from Leah had nothing to do with this pregnancy (Genesis 30:5); God hears Rachel’s prayer and gives her a son (Genesis 30:23-24).

She names him Joseph, which means either “to take away” or “to add” (POSB commentary). “God has removed my disgrace …” (Genesis 30:23 NLT). Rachel declares that God has taken away her reproach and added richly to her life. He has turned cursing to blessing. Some read this as referring to the disgrace of not being able to bear children, but no such disgrace exists except in the eyes of her culture. Rachel had much more in her life that was barren. This is a confession of a desolate existence lived without asking for God’s help, not only an account of her neighbours attitudes to her not being able to have children.

What do you do when your life is a trainwreck of regrets; jealousy and abuse and unfulfilled hope.

  • She agreed to marry an old man already married to her older sister.
  • She lived in a bitter jealous power play with her sister
  • She forced her maid servant to be a surrogate mother with Jacob so she could look good in the eyes of others
  • She trusted in superstitious love potions in order to bear children herself 

These choices only served to increase the barrenness between her and God. Our frantic search for happiness without God attracts the dry, famine producing winds that blow ever stronger with the power of regret. But now, as she submits to and is humbled before God, in the midst of her dysfunctional life, God answers her prayer and gives her a child. 

Joseph, her firstborn son, will remind her of the new life that issues like a newbirth as she trusts in God as her Saviour. Joseph will save his family from a terrible famine through the POWER OF FORGIVENESS. He will foreshadow a coming Saviour who will do the same for us. 

I may have to live with the consequences of my choices but I am reminded that there is no twisted dysfunction in my past that is too great for God to forgive, no damaged goods that cannot be redeemed and restored, no distorted perspectives that cannot be cleansed and re-viewed from heaven’s eyes, no regrets that can restrict my present or rule my future. 

Like Rachel “God has removed my disgrace” when Christ bore my sin upon the Cross. I can choose to live a life of grace and beauty as I trust in Him, today. 

Pastor Ross

Genesis 30:19-21 – WHAT TO DO WHEN LOVE HURTS

What to do when love hurts

What to do when love hurts

As I greet him with a smile he looks at me with the confusion of dementia in his eyes and demands that I leave. “I don’t want to talk with you. I don’t know you?” I am a stranger to him, though we have talked as friends many times in the past. In the hall I meet a woman who is walking slowly with the help of a stick. I ask her if she is lost and she tells me that she has never been so insulted in all her life. “I wish all you nosy people would just leave me alone!” she says. I apologise and leave her to sit for a while in the foyer. Through the glass entrance door I see a woman sitting alone and crying. I talk with her about her husband who has Alzheimer’s disease. “He doesn’t recognise who I am anymore and pushes me away” she says, deeply hurt.

I meet people in aged care who experience times when they feel unwanted, excluded, unloved, or even neglected. Times when they feel misjudged or overlooked and sometimes they can choose to let grazes fester and become deep wounds; times when they know an aching emptiness as they see those they care for or love withdraw, reject and ignore them.

The unintentional wounds caused by those with Alzheimer’s disease are felt by those who have known the joys of relationship; those who have loved. It is not really true that love hurts. It is not being loved that hurts. Love is what heals a broken heart.

Leah is not loved by her husband, Jacob, and is vulnerable to the weeping wounds of such loss as he all too often neglects her for her younger sister, Rachel.

God in His grace chooses to give Leah another son to Jacob after a time of barrenness (Genesis 30:19-20) and her broken heart finds expression in the name of her son. She names him Zebulun, which means “dwelling” and “honour.” She chooses this name in acknowledgement that God has not forsaken her and honours her with a sixth son. But in the naming of her son, she also declares her desperate hope that her husband will honour her and finally choose to dwell with her exclusively.

She names him with the tears of her hurt that becry the absence of love “…now my husband will DWELL with me, because I have borne him six sons” (Genesis 30:20 NASB). She is the mother of Jacob’s sons but not the wife of his heart. He will sleep with her but his affections are reserved for Rachel. In her loneliness God also gives a daughter to Leah (Genesis 30:21). Leah calls her Dinah.

Is the desire Rachel and Leah have for children based on the hope of having a share in the blessing of Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3)? It seems that they have disassociated with God’s promises for what has become a race of jealousy; vying for the love of Jacob and the approval of others.

Rachel and Leah invite me to ask myself the difficult questions – “Are my motivations for a fruitful life based on God’s promises; His Word? Or am I involved in a power play for love and acceptance from others?”  

When you experience the absence of love, in whom will you place your trust? Jesus invites you to place your trust in Him, over and above all other relationships, and to find your identity as a person who is loved by God. 

Don’t misunderstand, close relationships with others are important on this journey we make with God, but my identity is shaped essentially by God’s intentions and not the expectations or neglect of others. The healing grace of God’s love gives me a perspective on all my other relationships in life and enables me to live as God intends. 

Pastor Ross

Genesis 30:14 – LOVE POTION NOW BENIGN – FAITH AND SUPERSTITION

Cross = Love. Jesus Loves Us. Image created by Ross Cochrane

Cross = Love. Jesus Loves Us. Image created by Ross Cochrane

Their words are as poisonous as the mandrakes over which they are arguing. Rachel’s anxiety and grief about not being able to conceive and her jealousy of her sister’s success reaches a culmination as she searches for solutions in superstition.

Rachel begs Leah, “Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.” But Leah angrily replies, “Wasn’t it enough that you stole my husband? Now will you steal my son’s mandrakes, too?” (Genesis 30:14-15 NLT).

Obsessed and desperate, Rachel wants the mandrakes, the “love plants”, that Leah’s son Reuben has found in the field. Why is a toxic plant associated with love? Perhaps it aligns itself with Rachel’s love, poisonous with jealousy and delirious with desperation.

The Mandrake plant is toxic, causing hallucinations. It’s root system is bulbous and resembles a human figure. Although it has a pleasant smell, the only part of the mandrake that is not poisonous is it’s red fruit. It is called the “love apple” and is considered to be a powerful aphrodisiac (love potion) which could help a women in conception (Wikepedia).

Rachel answers, “I will let Jacob sleep with you tonight if you give me some of the mandrakes.” (Genesis 30:5 NLT). Steeped in superstitious zeal, Rachel is willing to make whatever sacrifices she needs for the mandrakes. She has already made her servant/slave a surrogate mother. Now she prostitutes her husband’s services. They both know that they can manipulate Jacob to do their bidding.

Jacob hasn’t been sleeping with Leah and Leah doesn’t trust Rachel to follow through with the sleeping arrangements that night for her own husband, so she meets Jacob coming in from the fields and demands that he sleeps with her. There is no romance in her words. She says “I have paid for you with some mandrakes.” Jacob obviously doesn’t care who he sleeps with. He is more interested at this stage in keeping the peace.

Jacob has eight sons now from 3 women. No doubt he realises he is being used by two jealous wives. Nevertheless he spends that night with Leah.

Despite Rachel’s superstitious zeal for the mandrakes in the following days it is not Rachel who conceives but Leah. Leah bears Jacob another son (Genesis 30:17-18). No doubt the guilt of giving her servant to her husband to bear children has played upon her mind because she names him Issachar, which means “reward” “… for she says, “God has rewarded me for giving my servant to my husband as a wife” (Genesis 30:18 NLT). Leah, like Rachel, seeks to justify rather than admit her sin. She falls into the snare of deceiving herself by trying to involve God in her selfishness. Do I really expect God to reward my plans when I violate His? Does God reward immorality/human trafficking? I don’t think so. God heard and answered Leah’s prayer, not to reward her immoral decisions concerning her servant/slave, but to fulfil his promise to Jacob.

Faith is not a good luck charm. Faith does not beg for a superstitious potion in the hope that something might happen. Reuben grows up with the example of his parents superstitious belief in love potions and Issachar has a constant reminder in his name of his Mother’s attempt at trying to justify her sin. What impression do we leave on the next generation by our blatant disregard of living our lives as God intended. God invites us to acknowledge our sin rather than justify ourselves? We can pray as David prayed – “Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin…” God’s love potion for forgiveness and fruitfulness in life is found in knowing Jesus.

Faith expects the best and enables me to endure the worst. It builds it’s perceptions on revealed truth, not on false hope. Superstition limits us to imaginary measures to solve our problems. Faith lives a life that points us to hope in the reality of God’s solutions. Christ continually calls us to be immersed in the truth of all that God has promised; Jesus said “I am the Way, the TRUTH and the Life” (John 14:6). 

Pastor Ross

Genesis 30:9-13 – BUT WHAT WILL OTHER PEOPLE THINK OF ME? 

My head shouts “Who Cares!”, but my heart whispers, “You do, stupid”. (Image Created by Ross Cochrane)

My head shouts “Who Cares!”, but my heart whispers, “You do, stupid”. (Image Created by Ross Cochrane)

All of a sudden she is here, arguing with me. When I question her motives she turns and says “Don’t kid yourself. You care about what others think of you! You think happiness is being liked by others. Everybody does. What will my wife/husband think? What will my parents think? What will my friends think? What will my work colleagues/boss think? What will they think of me if I disagree with them? I’ll be un-cool. I can’t be caught wearing that!”

With a look of resignation she says, Whether I like it or not my status is based on what people think of me. I live my life for their recognition.”

She frowns and confronts me, “Although you must resent it at times, if you are honest with yourself, you feel better about yourself when you have a following on the internet of people who like you, a social acceptability rating. A younger Gravatar. A little more hair.”  

Before I can object she shoutsSo stop judging me! People need a little help in what they think about me. The first impression. It is up to me to manipulate that, how skilful I am to control those impressions. I deserve it. 

How stupid it would be to think that I don’t need anyone’s approval but my own. I don’t live life in a vacuüm. I need you to love me. I won’t ask you outright, like you do on Instagram and your blogs, but I secretly want to know “What do you think of me?” 

Now with tears in her eyes she pleads “I need your approval. It’s a game of chance. If I’m lucky, I’ll win. I don’t have low self-esteem, as long as you respect me. I accept myself if you do. I love myself if you do. I forgive myself if you do. I make my own decisions if you approve of them. I am happy, complete, fulfilled and loveable as long as that’s what you want. It works better that way. I fit in. I’m accepted and acceptable and likeable. You do like me, don’t you?”  

Then, before I have time to reply she is gone as quickly as she came. I find her again in the pages of Genesis as I continue to read…

She has already been blessed with children of her own, but now Leah becomes concerned that Rachel might have an advantage (Genesis 30:9). When she discovers she is no longer able to have children, she wonders whether she will be accepted.

So without too much trouble Leah convinces Jacob to take her servant, Zilpah, and sleep with her. Zilpah’s child will legally belong to Leah. Zilpah doesn’t have a choice. Human trafficking seems rife in this dysfunctional family. Leah names the child Gad which seems to mean “good luck or fortune.” I’m not so sure it was for Zilpah. 

She enters a game of chance and luck and neglects her destiny. Leah, did God withhold more children from you deliberately? Have you failed the trust test? When my life seems barren what do I do? Manipulate my circumstances on the chance that I’ll be loved?

When Zilpah bears a second son, Leah names him Asher, or “happy.” Happiness in the midst of mutual jealousy between sisters is false. I want to help Leah to see that true happiness is found in her relationship with God, not in a competition with Rachel and not in compromising her trust in God in order to gain approval from others.

But Leah says, “What joy is mine! Now the other women will celebrate with me” (Genesis 30:13 NLT). There is no mention of God’s celebration of her son. Does Leah know that her thinking is dysfunctional and distorted? Do I? Or am I so concerned what others think about me that I forget my relationship with God. John speaks of the religious leaders as those who “…loved human praise more than the praise of God.” (John 12:43 NLT). 

The story of Leah helps me find my security beyond human recognition, social-acceptability, status, and appreciation. Security based on human praise is so fragile and so easily lost. It is a game of chance. God invites us to find our self-esteem and happiness, not from others or from ourselves but from a relationship with Christ. He knows us better than we know ourselves and loves us. He invites us to a fruitful life, based on His Truth and a recognition of His blessings. It is not dependent on what others think about us. Trusting in Christ enables us to live beyond our insecurities. 

Pastor Ross

Genesis 30:4–8 – WHEN LIFE SEEMS BARREN, AVOID THE CIRQUE DE LA CULTURE! 

Roller Coaster Merry-go-round. Image created by Ross Cochrane using Morguefile photos and Paint.net

WELCOME TO THE CIRQUE DE LA CULTURE. Does Jacob have dementia? He’s in his 90’s, doesn’t seem to remember God’s promise of blessing and he seems to have given power of attorney to his wives. It seems he is running away from home to join the Cirque de la Culture (the Circus of Culture).

MERRY-GO-ROUND. He is insecure, unable to make decisions for his own life and family. Jacob seems to listen to everyone else’s blueprint for his life, submissively complying with his wife’s plan, just as he had to his mother’s plan years before. He has already submitted to Laban’s proposal by working for another 7 years in exchange for marrying Rachel. He is obeying everyone but God, ignoring what God has established for a healthy marriage and conforming himself to the behaviour and customs of those around him.

ROLLER COASTER. Rachel’s plan, born of envy and jealousy, may have tempted him into immorality, but this could have been an opportunity for Jacob to do the right thing. Instead, sin is a roller coaster ride with this family, plunging them from soaring heights and turning their lives upside down. The Circus theme park they have entered has no safety standards and leaves behind a string of damaged lives.

CHAMBER OF HORRORS. Rachel’s plan is for Bilhah, her servant/slave, to become a surrogate mother. No choice. Just given. We are not told, but for Bilhah, the abuse must have been frightening, the loss of respect must have been humiliating, and when she becomes pregnant to Jacob and bears a son, the grief of losing him must have been traumatic. Bilhah presents him to Jacob because he legally belongs to Rachel and Jacob (at least she is able to remain with him as her son is raised by his adopted family). Rachel, not Bilhah, names him Dan. Bilhah has no rights even to name her own child.

HOUSE OF MIRRORS.Rachel names Bilhah’s child Dan, meaning “Vindication”. Rachel says, “God has vindicated me! He has heard my request and given me a son.” It seems, in Rachel’s distorted thinking, that God has judged her by not giving her children, but now He is vindicating her to be worthy of children through her surrogacy parenting plan? Do I really expect God to agree with my plans when I violate His? Is she praying or trying to manipulate God, Jacob and Bilhah? There has been no mention up until this time that Rachel has even acknowledged God’s part in her life. Now she dishonours Him by saying that He favours her sin. This mirror is totally distorted!

STRONG WOMAN. Few people have heard of Katie Brumbach.Katie was a circus performer with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus for many years and could easily lift her husband above her head with one hand. Katie’s father offered one hundred marks to any man in the audience who could defeat her in wrestling. No one ever succeeded.

Rachel is also a strong woman wrestler. Jacob submits to Rachel’s skill at manipulation concerning her plans for Bilhah. Bilhah has another son with Jacob. Again she must give him away to Rachel. Rachel names him Naphtali, which means “Wrestlings.” She says, “I have struggled hard with my sister, and I’m winning!” Here is the root of Rachel’s motivation; having children is a wrestling match with her sister. Is this about having children or winning at any cost?

God has already promised Jacob descendants. Perhaps what drives Rachel’s plan is that she wants to be included in God’s promise. Unfortunately it prompts her to act recklessly and attribute the results to God. It is our faith and trust in God that pleases Him, not ill-conceived presumption and certainly not trying to attach God’s name to our sin. Hebrews 11:6 “… it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to Him must believe that God exists and that He rewards those who sincerely seek Him.” 

Who is the Ringmaster of this circus? When my life seems barren, my circumstances present to me an opportunity for me to trust in God for fruitfulness. He is not a genie in a bottle giving us whatever we request. He is the Ringmaster, not of the cirque du soleil (the Circus of the Sun) but the Cirque du Fils (The Circus of the Son) and the Cirque de la Foi (the Circus of the faith). As Ring-master He co-ordinates the various events of my life with incredible skill. I need His help to juggle my time on earth successfully. 

Fortunately, God hasn’t finished with Jacob and Rachel yet. Or with me. He is able to turn cursing into blessing, to forgive sin and enable me to have eternal life with Him as I trust in Christ and a fulfilling life on earth as I serve Him (John 10:10). He is able to use your gifts, motivations, abilities, personality and experiences to the full, not to please the crowd, but because you were created for such a time as this. 

Pastor Ross

Jealousy Is A Terrible Counselor - Image created by Ross Cochrane

Jealousy Is A Terrible Counselor – Image created by Ross Cochrane

 

 

 

 

 

JEALOUSY

by Ross Cochrane

Envy sees a world of better things
She vies against a sister with protracted claws
And leaves her grieving, graceless, loveless, insecure.
Self flaying tail of pain, flings it’s stings.
Hateful, harmful hooks take hold and cling. Her jaws
Will maul trust and make truth a prisoner.

Poor in counsel, jealousy lays blame,
Inciting Cain to kill, closing heavens doors,
Her sick soul still seeks a shameful cure.
Yet victory for her will still remain
Unsure.

Genesis 30:1-3- CHECK MATE

Jealousy's Pawn - Image by Ross Cochrane using FilterForge and Paint.net

Jealousy’s Pawn – Image by Ross Cochrane using FilterForge and Paint.net

She begins the game by attacking her husband, who is standing nearby. She is jealous of Leah, her sister, whom she now considers an opponent. She blames Jacob for not concentrating. She needs his support. She is running out of time and patience! The game will be lost! Rachel pleads with Jacob, “Give me children, or I’ll die!” (Genesis 30:1 NLT).

Rachel has chosen the black and God has made the first move, but she seems to think that she is playing against Leah. She is ready to make her first move, but her strategy is flawed and will serve only to achieve short-term advantage and place her emotions and marriage in danger.

Focused on more than simply achieving equality on the board, Rachel feels she must develop a counterplay to unbalance Leah’s position, to neutralise her gains. She does not know how to lose graciously and she feels that her sister has put her at a disadvantage by bearing children while she remains barren. She knows that she must manoeuvre her resources and bring into play some “interferences” and “underminings” to gain a tactical gain and she is willing to make whatever “sacrifices” are necessary to achieve “check mate”.

The game has reached a critical level even at this early stage. She is flustered, not considering the consequences of her action. She refuses to see the big-picture. She is not aligning her actions with God’s strategy for her life. Her next move is too hasty and unexpected, unconventional, wild, crazy!

“Take my maid, Bilhah, and sleep with her. She will bear children for me, and through her I can have a family, too.” (Genesis 30:3 NLT)Move the pawn! But Rachel, you can’t have Check Mate in one move!

When your thinking is distorted then nothing is learned from the failures of history. Instead, they are repeated. Like Sarah, Rachel tries to manipulate the hand of God by giving her maid to Jacob in order to obtain children. Like Hagar, Bilhah is the Pawn moved around the board by Rachel.

Afterall, surrogacy is an acceptable tactical custom of the day, like polygamy, or multiple sexual partners. I guess things haven’t changed. One commentary suggests that this is why Laban provides his daughters with maids; as a back-up in case his daughters had no children; pawns in a game of Chess! Bilhah will never have full rights as a wife and mother. She is owned and her children are owned.

Today, we would call it human slavery and trafficking. For Rachel it was a part of the strategy, an ill-considered move to gain short-term advantage over Leah. Jacob is also playing the part of a pawn. Why doesn’t Jacob object? No complaints from Jacob. He’s in his 90’s and sleeping with three and soon four young women. He’s suddenly not interested in asking God about it. For Jacob and Rachel, there is an erosion of faith and trust concerning God’s promises. Neither of them seem concerned enough to pray. Doesn’t Check come before Mate? 

Without God, life is lived like a game of chess where we try to remain in control and determine the moves we play, but ultimately we lose. Each move we make effects the lives of those around us and their moves influence ours, but our selfish choices can seriously damage relationships. 

Rachel does not accept responsibility for her actions nor does she consider the consequences of the moves she makes. The invitation is to stop treating life like a game of Chess and begin to look for God’s perspective, His strategies, His plans and take His purposes for our lives into consideration. 

The strategy was planned from the beginning of time; Jesus experiences the jealousy of the religious leaders of his day and just as they think they have defeated Him, He makes His move. They are astounded. Slaves of sin are set free. The pawns have become royalty. Death defeated, sin forgiven, sacrifice sufficient! Check mate! The white King wins! He invites us to share in His victory. 

Pastor Ross

Easter and A Soldier's Cross. Photo by Ross Cochrane

Easter and A Soldier’s Cross. Photo by Ross Cochrane

Easter And The Soldier’s Cross

by Ross Cochrane

I found it framed, the old painted image.

It was hidden, lost among a host

of well-read books on benches, forsaken and tossed,

Snubbed, Where dust paid tribute to it’s visage.

Antiquated icon, our heritage

Painted here with tears, and smeared with cost,

One who bears sin and cares upon a cross

Shares nail-scared hands, love’s eternal message.

 

This soldiers name on canvas gives a clue

Of one who knew that death has lost it’s sting,

And though he died, perhaps he always knew,

There where the cruel bullets crack and sing,

His canvas of the cross would speak anew

Of life and peace that faith in Christ can bring.