Psalms 9 – THE POETIC WARP AND WEFT OF WORSHIP – Parts 1 and 2

PSALM 9:1 – WOVEN WORSHIP – Part 1

Woven in Worship © Image created by Ross Cochrane

Today (Sunday 4-8-2019) I finished a poem on worship. I don’t often write poetry, but Psalm 9 inspired me (see below) with a picture of worship I had not considered. 

Psalm 9 reminds me of a woven cloak made on a loom – two distinct sets of threads, praise and prayer, unique strands, with an array of colours forming a garment of worship intricately woven with subtlety, warp and weft, interlaced into a strong and beautiful design. 

In Psalm 9:1, King David says, “I will praise You, Lord, with all my heart; …” 

It seems it is a function of the heart of a believer to weave praise in and out of their lives, to create a beautiful pattern interwoven with prayer, a harmony of colours. 

David’s heart takes the thread of praise and skillfully propels it across the loom weaving it through the warp threads of prayer. 

It is because of a heart relationship with God, not because of a list of possible benefits that David praises the Lord. It is not based on what God has done, although what God has done is amazing, but in knowing who God is. He does not ask, “what’s in it for me?” but instead, “Whatever happens, Lord, I will praise You with all my heart.” Gradually the garment is created.

I have long loved the sonnets of Gerard Manley Hopkins so I have written this poem in a similar style to express what worship is like for me. I have related it the thoughts above, the warp and weft of prayer and praise …

PSALM 9:1-2 – WOVEN WORSHIP

© Ross Cochrane

Worthy are You, Lord, for woven things –

For warp of worship weaving colours into time;

For weft threads singing subtle, tonal groans of praise;

Soft braided, subdued songs, wordless strings;

Soul-scape, plaited with prayer-laced, twisted strands that climb

With purpose, hues clear, untangled, ablaze.

All loves fibres meandering, rare, whole,  

Beautiful in favour, honour, rhythm, rhyme,

Plaided patterns that proclaim Your ways;

Eternity’s robe: full hearts extol

Your Praise.

Pastor Ross

WOVEN WORSHIP – Part 2

Lord, I choose to praise You, with all my heart because of who You are AND because I am amazed at what You have done in my life and in the lives of others. 

Praise that is only woven with words and not with ALL my heart, slips from the warp and weft and creates holes and imperfections. All I am left with is lip-service. You then help me correct the design. 

In Matthew 15:8 (NLT2) God speaks of religious people who ‘… honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me.” I may miss a thread in my praise at times, Lord. Help me worship You with all my heart, to be fully engaged in worship. Lord, help me not be simply religious in my praise, but wholehearted. 

John 4:24 (NLT2) says, “For God is Spirit, so those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth.” It seems wholehearted worship involves worshiping God in spirit and in truth, not “faking it until you make it”. Truth is being honest with God and allowing Him to be honest with us. Spirit to spirit. 

The design that is produced in me is not based on how I feel at the time, not on what I am going through in my life, but upon my relationship with Him. It is not based upon emotions or reason, but an inbuilt, unseen, honest to God, heart to heart, spirit to spirit love for God and His love for me.  

Psalm 9:1,2  “… I will tell of all the marvelous things you have done. I will be filled with joy because of You. I will sing praises to Your name, O Most High.”   

FOR MARVELLOUS THINGS

For all You do that I see

Lord, help me be aware of Your interventions into people’s lives, to see the marvellous things You have done. When I look back I see the design you intended, crafted into the garment, it’s often difficult to visualise just what you have in mind, but the finished result is always so amazing. I can see how You have woven your intentions and purposes through my life. 

Sometimes, I find it difficult to do things Your way, but it is only when I acknowledge that You are the Master Craftsman and press on in praise and prayer, that miracles occur and something altogether magnificent is created. 

Lord, lead me to those with whom I can share these truths. Is that what praise is? Acknowledging what I see You crafting? Is it both public and private? I guess praise reminds me of what You have done in my life, but telling others of what You have done is like putting Your works on display for others to appreciate.

Even in difficult times

Even when I am going through a difficult time, help me praise You with all my heart and be a witness to others of the saving power of Your grace.

David was going through difficult times. He had individual enemies determined to dethrone him. Then, like today, nations were rising up, determined to annihilate Israel. Then there were the enemies of God Himself and His purposes on the earth, enemies who to this day seem to want to wage war on God and upon those who believe in His Word.

For all You do that I don’t see

I don’t always see Your hand upon mine. At times it gets dark and I just sort of get into a rhythm and do what seems right, feeling the way without seeing what I am doing. When morning comes I am often surprised that Your hand was upon mine all the time and the light of day reveals the wonder of how You led me through the dark of night. 

At other times, I give the garment away or I teach others how to weave and they take their new found skills away, and I do not see the results. I want to praise You for ALL those things that You do in me and in others, even those I don’t see. I want to acknowledge all that You have done whether I see it or not.

Worth sharing

Lord, there appears to be a public aspect of Praise and prayer. A time to put what You have created in us on display, to tell others about who You are and what You do. 1 Peter 2:9 (NLT2) describes who we are as followers of Christ. “… for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can SHOW OTHERS THE GOODNESS OF GOD, for He called you out of the darkness into His wonderful light.”    

Let my heartfelt thanks to You always give occasion for sharing with others. When I receive too much praise I become arrogant, but when I praise You I find humility as I recognise who You are, the only One truly deserving of praise.

Thanks for giving me glimpses at what You are weaving into the fabric of my life. No threads are wasted. You use both dark and colourful. You know what you are doing.

Pastor Ross

Advertisements

THE SEVEN TIME STAGES OF MY LIFESPAN

Posted: July 6, 2019 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

THE SEVEN TIME STAGES OF MY LIFESPAN – Some stray thoughts about time and Eternity

Time Abandoned © Image by Ross Cochrane

ETERNITY

Eternity – I am a thought in the eternal mind of God. It is as if time has stopped or at least this is the only way I can describe it because, here, time has never begun. It does not exist. It is not so much that I can move around quickly, but instantly, without reference to time taken, not even nano-seconds or light-year speed.

I have entrance into everywhere, in relationship with God. It is not so much that I can think clearly, but that thought pervades, and I have entrance into a great knowing of everything, at once.

Choices are made but they are eternal and not bounded by sinfulness.

It’s not that I love, but I have all love. Not so much that I am righteous, but I have access into the righteousness of Christ Himself and I am saturated with Him.

In Him I am not bounded by muscle-strength, but can accomplish all things, unbounded might.

Here, Truth is obvious to everyone. Here, unchanging perfection delights me entirely. Yet this is somehow only a beginning.

TIME STARTS IN THE WOMB

The Womb – Time has begun for me, and although it is infinitesimally slow, I feel the speed of everything, great days of tremendous energy, I have infiltrated another world where I belong, a spark of God’s destiny surges into the universe, into the smallness. All eternity still resides, planted within, and yet life has steps and I begin to fill boundaries rather than explore unbounded reaches.

I become atomic, anatomical, time-bound and space-bound. Great capacity of thought within limits. Shocking. Senses-bound, spinning, growing, weak, floating, my world is ignited, not instant anymore, time is not stopped, but beginning, slow slabs of time infused with startled thoughts which still have incredible insight and super speed, but somehow edge-slowed, like a slight breeze against a super-fast spinning planet.

Long days, absorbing everything, sensing everything, developing in everything.

TIME IS SLOW IN CHILDHOOD

Childhood – thrust into a new universe. Everything clearer, brighter, full, new. Long days of learning to live in a finite space.

Time is still slow, fortunately. Sleep-filled with regenerating, connecting pathways. Wake-filled with helplessness.

Eternity continues to turn the controls of time an infinitesimal step faster and it takes longer for me to adjust, yet days are still as decades, filling my life with sensations and thoughts, helping me adjust to this new experience.

TIME IS FASTER IN TEENAGE YEARS

Teenage Years – Then just as I have begun to find balance with time and learning my world, time speeds up again until I can no longer grasp all that needs to be understood within the days I have been given. I am floundering.

Days are still slow but some things are now lost and the doors to the eternal space within have become harder to access.

I have lost my memory of early childhood but I remember that at one point later on in my childhood, I heard the door of eternity slam somewhere deep within and now someone is knocking. I don’t have time to go and see who it is because I must rush to experience everything.

So much happening. Tastes of love and heartache. Time lost. Time wasted. Time found for some things and some people and not for others. All sorts of impromptu choices in a world where my mind is moving slower than the time I have to think.

At one point, I am alone and hear a voice from eternity as I read God’s Word and I am given a key to open once more the door. I find Christ standing there and we are connected in relationship. I want to be with Him in eternity but instead He walks through the door to be with me.

Life and love makes sense and I move towards my destiny.

TIME IS FAST IN ADULTHOOD

Adulthood – Time speeds up and I slow down, realizing that I can never accomplish more than a day gives. Yet now, I get glimpses of eternity through the open door within and time is redeemed. A wonderful wife, children of my own, parents ushered into eternity. Ministry. Making a difference. Valued years.

TIME SPEEDS IN OLD AGE

Old Age – I am very slow and time very fast. My grandchildren grow taller, move faster, fill their lives with things I can barely keep up with. Rich experiences. Days are like moments. Eternity calls but Christ is here and I will stay wherever He is.

At one point, when time has become so fast, measured in nano-seconds, and I am so slow that I have almost stopped, I can no longer keep up. I fall, but He takes hold of my hand and I am ushered towards the door of eternity.

The transition through the door is jolting, almost violent, as time suddenly slows down again like the brakes of a huge plane rushing to a standstill on the runway. A huge Adrenalin-rush of life. My mind is infused with renewed energy and light. This door is where time slows to a stop and life speeds up until all is simply an instant.

TIME/ETERNITY

Eternity – Time has stopped for me. It does not exist here. It is not that I can move around quickly, but instantly. Without reference to time taken, not even nano seconds or light year speed, I have entrance into everywhere, in relationship with God.

It is not so much that I can think clearly, but that thought pervades, and I have entrance into a great knowing of everything, at once.

Choices are made but they are eternal and not bounded by sinfulness. It’s not that I love, but I have all love. Not that I am righteous, but I have access into the righteousness of Christ Himself and I am saturated with Him.

In Him I am not bounded by muscle-strength, but can accomplish all things, unbounded might.

Here, Truth is obvious to everyone. Here, unchanging perfection delights me entirely. Here I recall that life makes sense completely in Christ. I have co-operated with Him in order to make a difference in time and eternity.

This is life to the full.

Cogs of Time © Image by Ross Cochrane

P.S. This last stage of my lifespan I am yet to experience, but looking forward to it.

Pastor Ross

Genesis 37:36 – DIARY OF AN OVERCOMER – Part 7 

Victim or Overcomer? © Image by Ross Cochrane

I imagine that this is the diary of Joseph, writing about the events of his new life in Egypt, extrapolated from the Biblical narrative, and with my personal reflections.  

Diary of Joseph: I am still alive. That’s something, I suppose. No amount of pleading, either with my brothers or my distant relatives, the Ismaelite and Midianite traders, would persuade them to let me go. We may have a common ancestor but obviously business is more important to them than blood ties. I am now twice sold.  

I have been sold to a man called Potiphar. He is some kind of high-ranking officer in this land called Egypt. I am picking up the language quickly. There is no means of escape and I am missing home and even my brothers more than I could have imagined.  

Egypt 

It seems as if my dream of leadership is on a journey in a strange land. God is all I have left in whom I can trust. What is He trying to teach me? What lessons of leadership and service am I to learn from these strange circumstances in which I am found? 

This place and culture is truly amazing. There are beautiful homes, great pyramids and a sophisticated form of government. Most Egyptians are farmers. They are not nomadic.  

Egyptian homes are constructed of mud-brick designed to remain cool in the heat of the day. The walls are painted white and covered with dyed linen wall hangings. The floors are covered with reed mats. It’s all very clean and ordered.  

I am expected to bath in the Nile river using a pasty soap, and to shave all hair from my body for cleanliness. Then I must use perfumes and ointments to cover any body odor. My clothes are very simple, bleached white material. Potiphar and his family wear wigs and jewelry and paint their faces.  

The food is good and varied, bread, vegetables, fruit, wine and meat. 

There is obviously a well-organized trade between Egypt and other lands. Egyptians depend upon merchants for many different kinds of supplies, including slave labor.  

Learning and intellectual pursuits are valued by the Egyptians but their religion binds them to continually think about death rather than life. I have never before seen such craftsmanship, carvings and idol worship. They have an idol for every sphere of life and a dark spiritual blindness that pervades their thinking. 

Victim or Overcomer? 

I think I have good reasons for feeling victimized, but I will not be ruled by such unhelpful emotions. Yes, I was obviously not liked by my brothers. Yes, they rejected my overseers role given to me by my father. Yes, they were negative and cruel and I was thrown into a pit. Yes, they sold me as a slave. Yes, I am miles from home with no way of getting back.  

I could become negative about my circumstances but I will not. I still have God, who loves and cares for me. I still have a God-given dream, and a bent towards leadership. I will seek to line up with the destiny God has chosen for me, not get depressed about what I don’t have. I will lift my thinking to the level of my belief and seek to serve Him and others around me rather than build my life around my problems or my past.  

So rather than continually trying to get free and asking why, I have chosen to live free and ask what God is saying.  

Lord, help me wage a war on my negative thoughts, the strongholds of my human reasoning that try to enslave me and to war against every obstacle that keeps me from trusting in the freedom I have in knowing You. Just as I have been captured physically, I pray that You would help me capture my rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey You. And after I have become fully obedient, I will truly live free inside. 

What will happen to me? I don’t know. Only God can answer that question so I will not be ruled by what may or may not happen. Today I decide to fix my thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. I will think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. I will not be conformed to this world in which I find myself, but I will be transformed by the renewing of my mind as God shows me each step of the way ahead. 

TO BE CONTINUED… 

Pastor Ross 

Genesis 37:25-36 – DIARY OF A DREAM KILLER – Part 6 

Dreamer © Image by Ross Cochrane

I imagine that this is the diary of Judah, writing about the events of his brother Joseph, extrapolated from the Biblical narrative, and with my personal reflections.  

Diary of Judah: I noticed their camels from a distance while we were eating our meal. Traders. Even before meeting them I could tell from their clothing that they were distant relatives. Ismaelite and Midianite traders. We spoke the same language. Ismael and Midian were sons of our ancestor Abraham. I had heard their families had joined together for commercial reasons and for protection as they travelled.  

Solved 

It solved my dilemma with the dreamer in the well. I didn’t like the idea of Joseph starving to death in the bottom of a well. I would have preferred to just kill him but even that was a little distasteful, because as much as I don’t like it, he is my half-brother. Now he will see his visions of grandeur crushed by the realities of life because he did not truly embrace the honour of belonging to his brothers.  

I said to my brothers, “What will we gain by killing our brother? His blood would just give us a guilty conscience. Instead of hurting him, let’s sell him to those Ishmaelite traders. After all, he is our brother—our own flesh and blood!” It was clear that all my other brothers agreed (Genesis 37:26). Reuben was looking after the flocks while we all ate so he was not here. 

Code 

Since Shechem we brothers have had to live by certain rules in order to survive … 

  1. We defend our freedom.  
  2. We make our own decisions. We don’t let anybody tell us what to do. We do what seems right in our own eyes, not what outsiders may think.  
  3. Spur of the moment, gut reactions are often the best way to deal with a problem. Live for the moment. Accept the outcome, whatever it is. 
  4. The right thing is not always the best way to go.  
  5. We are ready for a fight and if necessary, we will go down fighting. Survival is the true test of the rightness of any conflict. 
  6. We don’t trust anyone with authority. 
  7. Life is full of tragedy. (Ask my little sister.) Life is a struggle.  
  8. Honor is important. We look after each-other. We stick together and don’t get too high and mighty. We don’t tolerate anybody who threatens us or betrays us (including those within our ranks). No-one gets away with reporting on our activities or betraying us or trying to hold us accountable to others without consequences. No spying. No exceptions. 

Joseph has to pay the consequences for acting as a spy to our father. No exceptions. So, when the Midianite traders came by, we pulled Joseph out of the cistern and sold him to them for twenty pieces of silver. He deserves what he gets. We rid ourselves of a usurper and betrayer.  

If it hadn’t been for Reuben, Joseph would already be dead. The traders paid us 20 pieces of silver. Win, win. Two pieces of silver each. Reuben won’t get his share, since he wasn’t here.  

It was a good idea. Was it right? … Not exactly. But it solved a problem, and we will finally be rid of Joseph’s influence. What will happen to him? … Not our problem. His dreams of rulership threatened the fabric of our family relationships. Now they are dead and gone. His so-called God-given dream has realised his worst nightmare. From ruler to slave. 

Reuben 

After the Traders left, Reuben came running into camp. His clothes were torn as if he had been grieving. He was shouting, “The boy is gone! What will I do now?”  

“What will you do now?” I said. “What do you mean, Reuben? Were you intending to do something? Did you have some kind of plan, perhaps to let Joseph go secretly? He pulled himself together and said nothing. I explained what had transpired and he stood there with his eyes wide.  

We devised a suitable plan on the spur of the moment. We killed a young goat and dipped Joseph’s robe in its blood. We sent a servant back with a message to our father. “Look at what we found. Doesn’t this robe belong to your son?”  

Grief 

We arrived home yesterday. Our father had already been mourning for many days. He had taken the bate. He surmised that a wild animal had eaten Joseph. Joseph has clearly been torn to pieces!” 

He had torn his clothes as an act of mourning and distress and dressed himself in burlap. He refused to be comforted. “I will go to my grave mourning for my son,” he would say, and then he would weep. 

Responsibility 

Our father is understandably upset with the apparent death of his favourite son, but then he’s also responsible, getting him to betray his own brothers by spying on us and reporting back to him all the time. That doesn’t work for us.  

My father once deceived his father by killing a goat to receive the family blessing and birthright. Now he gets his own back. What goes around, comes around.  This is kind of like God’s judgment on him. We are not responsible. 

Joseph could have been part of us, but he insisted on his dreams of grandeur. He brought it on himself. We’ll be a better family without him. Now, the Dreamer and his dream are dead to us, finally.  

TO BE CONTINUED … 

Note from Pastor Ross: Dream killers are victims of their past and their own flawed laws. They take no responsibility, and continually justify their actions.  

Your God-given dream will often threaten others, even those closest to you. Courage to dream is often tested by Dream Killers. Hold onto your dream. Challenges are part of the adventure of a God-given dream. Trust in Christ, see your circumstances, and even the dream killers, through the eyes of the Cross, and you will find perspective and continue to see your God-given dream realized. 

Pastor Ross 

Genesis 37:18-24 – DIARY OF LOST DREAMS – Part 5 

Joseph the Dreamer © Image by Ross Cochrane

I imagine that this is the diary of Reuben, writing about the events of his brother, Joseph, extrapolated from the Biblical narrative, and with my added personal reflections woven in. 

Diary of Reuben (Firstborn son of Jacob): We saw him coming in the distance, his colored coat like a beacon of cacophonous dissonance flowing around him. Our half-brother, Joseph, with his irritating dreams of self-importance and his constant reconnaissance of our activities, was not welcome here. Father’s spy. We thought we’d be free of this under-aged, opinionated usurper.  

Shechem 

We had been talking about the vermin of Shechem before he came and how they died for their reckless presumptions at our hands. It was a reckless, perverse conversation, I admit, carelessly trivializing and justifying the horror of our actions. If only the prince of Shechem had not raped and kidnapped our sister, Dinah, this would never have happened. He deserved to die, but then Dinah’s brothers, my half-brothers went on a murdering rampage through the village until every man was dead.  

When we saw the carnage, we all rationalised it as part of our vengeance and even I participated, to my shame, by going further. We seized their livestock—everything we could lay our hands on, both inside the town and outside in the fields. We looted and plundered their houses. We took all their little children and wives and made them our captives. My father was only concerned about his reputation.  

Bonded with Rage 

We have become hardened men since then, morose and a little negative, easily aroused to anger, but only because we have become disillusioned by the circumstances of life. We have an ongoing hatred, since that day, of anyone who uses their authority to do whatever they want.  

We are simple men, not aspiring to big-note ourselves with the aspirations of corrupt leaders. We are bonded by the trauma of our past. If anyone confronts or seeks to lord it over us, they will feel the force of a marauding army.  

Joseph walked into our rage, the stupid boy, with his princely dreams of power over us and almost got himself killed.  

“We’ll see what becomes of his dreams!” My brothers would have beaten him to death if I hadn’t quelled their rage by an alternate plan. 

I stepped in just in time and came to Joseph’s rescue. The boy was too young to feel the full force of our hatred of authority. “Let’s not kill him,” I said. “Why should we shed any blood? Let’s just throw him into this empty cistern here in the wilderness. Then he’ll die without our laying a hand on him, slowly.”  

The well was narrow at the mouth, but widened as it descended, so Joseph would have no way to get out. I let my brothers rough Joseph up a bit and then we ripped his coat from him and threw him into the dry cistern. A cold night in the well will deal with his pride and arrogance. 

Possibilities of Forgiveness  

He’ll soon come down to our level. I am secretly planning to rescue Joseph and return him to his father. Hopefully, my father will see the foolishness of Joseph as our overseer and give me back my birthright as his firstborn son.  

I know I have behaved disgracefully with Bilhah (Genesis 35:22). I was trying to usurp his power. Of course, he would find out. How stupid can I be? Maybe returning Joseph to him will make amends for my actions. I hope so. 

I have excused myself from my brothers for a while to write this journal while my brothers eat. I will wait until my brothers are asleep …   

TO BE CONTINUED … 

Pastor Ross 

Genesis 37:14-17 – DIARY OF A LOST DREAMER – Part 4 

Lost – Found © Image created by Ross Cochrane

I imagine that this is the diary of Joseph, extrapolated from the Biblical narrative with my reflections. 

Diary of Joseph: My father is concerned. My 11 other brothers told him they would be pasturing the flocks on our land near Shechem Genesis 37:12. He tried to dissuade them from going back to this town because our family is not well-liked in that area. They have been gone sometime now and he sent me to see how things are going and then to come back with a report.  

LOST 

Finally, I have arrived in Shechem and to our pasture lands. After searching for some time, there is no sight of my brothers. 

Then again, my brothers have always been lost to me. Astray, off-track. Adrift. Going around in circles concerning their faith. They seem to have lost their bearings concerning who they are. Nowhere to be found. Missing to me but I am not missed by them. They are not present even when they are with me. Lost dreams and threatened by my dreams. Lost opportunities.  

What do I tell my father? They have vanished. Are they still alive? Have I lost them to those in the area who desire them dead? 

Why did my brothers come back to Shechem? Are they victims of their past, destined to re-tread their mistakes? Did they come back looking for healing?  

My father still owns property in the area, but why come back to this place with memories of rape and death and trauma. Are they trying to face up to or justify their rampage of revenge and murder of innocent people? Are they trying to big-note their gang mentality, put on a front of courage, taunt those in the area, find a reason to get into another fight?  

Perhaps they are trying to get as far away from my father’s eyes as possible so they will not be micromanaged, or spied upon by me? They would not expect that my father would send me to them if it was anywhere near Shechem? They think he is over-protective of me, but he is also over-protective of his business interests. 

Do they have some kind of business deal going with the people of this area that they don’t want my father to know about? What do I do next? Keep looking I suppose.  

Father God, help me find them. Lord God, save them from themselves. 

LOOKOUT OR ANGEL?

I resumed my search and almost immediately, a man from the area noticed me wandering around the countryside.  

“What are you looking for?” he asked firmly. He was friendly but with an air of authority, perhaps thinking I was a poacher. Whoever he was, I was grateful for any help I could get.

“I’m looking for my brothers,” I replied. “Would you happen to know where they are pasturing their sheep?” The man didn’t know me, but from the wary look he gave me, I knew that he was aware of my brothers presence in the area. He was perhaps, an unofficial lookout around Shechem and I am sure he would not have welcomed my brothers back into this area, probably suggesting strongly that they leave.  

I knew he had been with my brothers when he told me that he had overheard one of them say “Let’s go to Dothan.”  How did he happen to hear this?

God protected our family when we left Shechem. Was this man one of God’s servants, sent to direct my brothers away from the area. Was he sent to find me also in a field and guide me to my brothers? Perhaps I’m simply imagining things. Just a random stranger in a random field.

My brothers head further and further away from home and further away from any form of accountability. 

Only another days journey. Dothan (Two wells) is beautiful, with rich pasture lands. A trading city and quite large. My brothers would head towards the springs. No doubt I’ll find them near the wells. I will wear my overseers coat so they recognize me. I can’t bow to their negativity about my leadership mantle. Those who live in negativity refuse to entertain dreams, but those who dream refuse to be contained by negativity. 

TO BE CONTINUED … 

Pastor Ross 

Genesis 37:1-14 DIARY OF DREAMER  

I imagine that this is the extended diary Jacob kept about the story of his son, Joseph, extrapolated from the Biblical narrative with my reflections. 

Favouritism or Favour? 

Diary of Joseph: I am here for a higher purpose. A calling. My destiny. I had my 17th birthday yesterday but the atmosphere at the special meal that was prepared with the family was strained.  

Leadership 

My father insists on thrusting me into leadership positions with my brothers and they resent it. He presented me with a coat of many colours recently, indicating that he has chosen me to bear the family blessing before he dies. This means – a double portion of the inheritance, management of the family business and spiritual leadership in carrying forward the promises God has given our family. Quite an honour which I will carry willingly and with a sense of responsibility. 

Is this favouritism from my father or favour from God? I am the firstborn son of Rachel but not the oldest son of our family.  

My brothers say my father shows me favouritism. Does life favour those with beautiful coats? Do the sons of Rachel get an unfair advantage in life because of the family line?   

My family carries the promises of God for blessing. We are the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and my father Jacob, but still we are terribly dysfunctional, stumbling over our faith and relationships with eachother, morally questionable, and in need of saving. We have no unfair advantages because of the family tree. We don’t have exclusive rights to achieving anything of worth. 

I refuse to live below my potential. My brothers may think it is because I am the favourite son but I can choose to be squashed by their negativity or stand firm on my beliefs. I choose to embrace the favour of God, even above the favour of my family. 

Contrasts 

Strange. I am loved and favoured by my father, but hated and dishonoured by my brothers to the point where of late, they refuse to even greet me. When they do speak, they remind me that I am only 17 years old. They are all adults, rough men with little faith in God and they do not respect my father for his lack of leadership back in Shechem. They are consumed with what has happened in the past. 

Shechem  

Yes, my sister was raped and my father did nothing. He even managed to entertain the idea of marrying her off to the perpetrator. Yes, my brothers stepped in and overreacted dreadfully, murdering every man in the town of Shechem, and then looting and enslaving every woman and child.  

My father was shocked and bitterly disappointed by their actions. I think they were too. They really needed and wanted some form of discipline for their criminal activity and to be encouraged to repent. Their guilt tracks them like a hungry bear and they long to get it off their trail. Their corrupted past pollutes their present and ultimately their future. 

Elusive Forgiveness 

Sin eats away at my brothers from the inside and they have not been encouraged to repent. They have become lawless with a gang mentally. I have become a target of their inward hostility. They are so continually looking for circumstances and other people to blame for life that they have no time to pursue God’s purposes. 

With my older brothers becoming too unpredictable and untrustworthy, my father insists on reports of their activities every day. No wonder I am regarded as a spy. 

My Dream 

In the middle of all this tension, during the last few nights I have had a dream from God and then another to confirm it. It was a remarkable dream: me and my brothers were out in a field binding sheaves of grain. Suddenly my sheaf stood up and the sheaves of my brothers gathered around my sheaf and bowed down to it. Then the Sun and Moon and 11 stars bowed low before me (Genesis 37:7,9). Leadership is obviously my inheritance. I claim it. I will not surrender to the negativity of my family’s dysfunctional attitudes. 

Life is not dependant on a father’s favouritism or a fancy coat but on the favour I already have with God. I will co-operate with the dreams I have from Him. Here I stand.  

Surprisingly, when I shared my dreams with my brothers, they did not see that God was speaking at all, but somehow thought I had concocted a story to rub salt into their wounds. Such bitterness. 

I expected my father to confirm my dreams speaking about leadership in the family. Instead, he rebuked me strongly, much to the delight of my brothers. This only caters to my brother’s animosity.  

Serving My Brothers

This is obviously not going to be easy. It seems that I may need to approach this in another way. I know that the greatest leaders are there not to serve themselves but to be a servant to others.  It seems that those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted (Matthew 23:11-12).  

I guess if God wants me to lead, then I will lead in His time and in His way and with a desire to serve my brothers. But I refuse to bring my belief in the favour of God down to the level of the negativity of my brothers. I choose to lift my experiences to the level of my belief in the dreams God has given to me. 

Diary of Jacob: I have pondered on Joseph’s dreams ever since he left to find my other sons. He was so willing to go to his brothers and serve them despite their dislike of him. Have I done the right thing in sending him? 

TO BE CONTINUED …

Pastor Ross  

16 AMAZING WAYS IN WHICH JOSEPH’S LIFE MIRRORS THE LIFE OF CHRIST 

JOSEPH JESUS
Joseph’s birth involved the  miraculous intervention of God.  Rachel was barren  (Genesis 30:22-24).  Jesus birth involved the miraculous intervention of God. Mary was a  virgin (Matthew 1:18). 
Joseph had humble beginnings as a  Shepherd and servant of his  brothers (Genesis 37:2).   Jesus had humble beginnings as a  Carpenter’s son and servant of all. Philippians 2:6-11 (NLT) says, “…  He took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being …”  
Joseph was a Shepherd  (Genesis 37:2).   Jesus was the Great Shepherd. In  John 10:11-14 (NLT) Jesus says, “I  am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices His life for  the sheep … I am the good  shepherd; I know My own sheep, and they know Me”. 
Joseph was loved by his father  (Genesis 37:3).  Jesus was loved by His Father in  heaven. At Jesus Baptism Matthew 3:17 (NLT2) says “And a voice  from heaven said, “This is My  dearly loved Son, who brings Me great joy.” 
Joseph was given a coat of many  colours which set him apart for  leadership. It was ripped from him and used to deceive his father  (Genesis 37:23).  Jesus garment was ripped from him before his crucifixion and soldiers gambled for it. John 19:23-24  (NLT2) “When the soldiers had  crucified Jesus, they divided His  clothes among the four of them. They also took His robe, but it  was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom. So they said, “Rather than tearing it apart,  let’s throw dice for it.” 
Joseph was ridiculed when he  shared his dream of rulership over  his brothers (Genesis 37:8).  Jesus was ridiculed when He  revealed to others that He was the Messiah. When the religious  leaders put Him on trial in  Matthew 26:63-65 (NLT2) it says,  “Then the high priest said to  Him, “I demand in the name of  the living God—tell us if you are  the Messiah, the Son of God.”  Jesus replied, “You have said it.  And in the future you will see the Son of Man seated in the place of power at God’s right hand and  coming on the clouds of heaven.” Then the high priest tore his  clothing to show his horror and  said, “Blasphemy! Why do we  need other witnesses? You have  all heard His blasphemy.”     At the crucifixion of Jesus, Matthew 27:37 (NLT) says “A sign was  fastened to the cross above Jesus’ head, announcing the charge  against Him. It read: “This is  Jesus, the King of the Jews.”  
Joseph was sent by his father to his lost brothers to see how they were going but they rejected him and  hated him without cause  (Genesis 37:4).  Jesus was sent by His Heavenly  Father to His lost brothers and  sisters to save them but they  rejected Him and hated Him  without cause (John 15:25).  John 1:10-12 (NLT2) says, “He  (Jesus) 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.” 
Joseph’s brothers conspired to kill  Him (Genesis 37:18)  The religious leaders conspired to  kill Jesus (Matthew 26:3, 4) 
Joseph was betrayed and sold for  20 pieces of silver to slave traders.  Judah instigated this  (Genesis 37:28)   Jesus was betrayed by Judas to the  religious leaders for 30 pieces of  silver. Matthew 26:14-15 (NLT2)  says, “Then Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve disciples, went to the  leading priests and asked, “How much will you pay me to betray  Jesus to you?” And they gave him thirty pieces of silver.”  
Joseph went on to be a saviour of  families during a time of famine.  Jesus went on to be the Saviour of  the World during spiritual famine.  
His brothers intended harm on  Joseph but God used it to save  many. When Joseph assumed  leadership in Egypt, he confronts  and forgives his brothers.  Genesis 50:18-21 (NLT2) says, “You intended to harm me, but God  intended it all for good. He  brought me to this position so I  could save the lives of many  people.”    God turned cursing to blessing at  the Cross when Jesus died for our  sins. In Acts 5:30-32 (NLT2) Peter  and the Apostles speak to the  religious leaders and the crowd.  “The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead after you  killed Him by hanging Him on a  cross. Then God put Him in the  place of honor at His right hand as Prince and Savior. He did this so the people of Israel would  repent of their sins and be  forgiven.”  Romans 8:28 (NLT2)  says, “And we know that God  causes everything to work  together for the good of those  who love God and are called  according to His purpose for  them.”   
Joseph was in a prison between  two criminals. Joseph foretold the  deliverance of one of the criminals with him and the death of the  other. (Genesis 40)   Jesus was on the cross between  two criminals. Jesus foretold the  deliverance of one of the criminals with Him. Luke 23:42-43 (NLT2)  says that one criminal said to Him “Jesus, remember me when you  come into your Kingdom.” And  Jesus replied, “I assure you,  today you will be with Me in  paradise.”  
Joseph was tempted but did not sin (Genesis 39:7)   Jesus was tempted but did not sin (Matthew 4:1). Hebrews 4:14-16  says that Jesus “… understands  our weaknesses, for He faced all of the same testings we do, yet  he did not sin. So let us come  boldly to the throne of our  gracious God. There we will  receive His mercy, and we will  find grace to help us when we  need it most.” 
Joseph suffered but was finally  exalted to a leadership position  (Genesis 41:41)  Jesus suffered but was finally  exalted. Philippians 2:5-11 (NLT2)  says, “You must have the same  attitude that Christ Jesus had.  Though He was God, He did not  think of equality with God as  something to cling to. Instead, He gave up His divine privileges; He took the humble position of a  slave and was born as a human  being. When He appeared in  human form, He humbled  Himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a  cross. Therefore, God elevated  Him to the place of highest  honor and gave Him the name  above all other names, that at  the name of Jesus every knee  should bow, in heaven and on  earth and under the earth, and  every tongue confess that Jesus  Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”  
Joseph reconciled his brothers to  himself  (Genesis 45:1-15)  Jesus reconciles sinners to Himself. Colossians 1:19-20 (NLT) says, “For God in all His fullness was  pleased to live in Christ, and  through Him God reconciled  everything to Himself. He made  peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of  Christ’s blood on the cross.” 
Joseph forgave His brothers  (Genesis 45:1-15)  Jesus brings forgiveness. In  Acts 13:38 Paul preaches to a  Jewish audience. He says,  “Brothers, listen! We are here to proclaim that through this man Jesus there is forgiveness for  your sins.” 
Joseph © Image by Ross Cochrane

Genesis 37:1-13 – DIARY OF A DYSFUNCTIONAL FATHER – Part 2 

I imagine that this is the extended diary Jacob kept about the story of his son, Joseph, extrapolated from the Biblical narrative. 

Jacob: I love who Joseph is becoming. He has already grown to be a young man of bearing, wise in his decisions and honest, often blatantly honest. I can’t say that this has come from me.  

Needless to say, I have chosen this firstborn son of Rachel to lead the family business. I know that Rachel would have been proud of him. I can honour her memory in this way. He is the child Rachel and I longed for and had almost given up hoping for. He has her eyes, her poise but most of all, he honours God. 

O Lord, how I miss Rachel. I loved her so much. Leah and my other wives may not be pleased with Joseph leading the family business, but their sons are wild and undisciplined. They love me, but I fear they do not respect me.  

I know I have not been the best of Fathers. They can see how I showed very little fatherly love and protection for Dinah, my daughter. I have not held them accountable for their violence in Shechem so I can hardly reward them by giving them leadership positions. I can tell that they do not like the way I treat Joseph and resent his natural talents and his trust in God.  

Surely, I can give the first-born rights to any son I want.  Perhaps they think I am showing too much love and protection for Joseph. Joseph keeps an eye on everything that is happening with my flocks, servants and property and he reports back to me about anything that is not going well. His intuitive ability for business has made him invaluable, but his brothers think he is spying on them. They are feeding the flocks in pastures much farther away to avoid interaction with Joseph. 

Joseph says his brothers hate him. I’m sure this is an exaggeration. Hate is a strong emotion for brothers to feel. But today they refused to even greet him with the traditional greeting of blessing, “Shalom”.  

I must speak to my sons about how they are treating Joseph. Not greeting a person is not only discourteous, but it is also a sign of hostility, not only a proof that they do not wish him well, but they give the impression that if they have an opportunity, they will do him an injury. I will not tolerate such lack of good manners and implied malice to the one who will eventually take over the family business. 

I could not attend the morning meeting today, so I gave Joseph the responsibility to hand out the tasks for the day, mainly binding the corn in sheaves. I gave him a gift, the coat of many colours, the coat that signifies leadership and distinction, to make it clear that he was in charge.  

His brothers gave him a hard time. Reuben came to complain later and told me that Joseph shared a dream. Apparently Joseph had said,   

“Listen to this dream, we were out in the field, tying up bundles of grain. Suddenly my bundle stood up, and your bundles all gathered around and bowed low before mine!”  

His brothers responded badly to this dream, “So you think you will be our king, do you? Do you actually think you will reign over us?”  

I was a little embarrassed by this dream. Was he trying to assert his leadership ambitions? Was this dream from God? To soften the blatant message of the dream a little, the next day, I spoke to my sons of my intentions to give the firstborn rights to Joseph but that it would not happen until I died. In the meantime, he would be learning the ropes. I could tell that Joseph’s dream and my announcement did not go down all that well. 

To make things worse, Joseph blurted out another dream. I suppose he thought he was helping. He said, 

 “Listen, I have had another dreamThe sun, moon, and eleven stars bowed low before me!”  

I could see his brothers were jealous of Joseph, so I scolded him this time. “What kind of dream is that?” I said, “Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow to the ground before you?”  

His brothers were grateful for my words, but I have wondered since what these dreams mean. Strange that the dream should be about sheaves which speak of God’s promise of provision and stars when God has promised that my family will one day be numerous like the stars of heaven.  

I don’t want Joseph to think of himself more highly than he should think. It is only by grace that God gives leadership. I want him to think sensibly, as God has distributed a measure of gifting and faith to each one. 

I am a bit concerned. My 11 other sons told me they would be pasturing the flocks on our land near Shechem. This doesn’t seem to be a good idea, given that our family is not well-liked in that area. They have been gone sometime now and I am sending Joseph to see how things are going and he can come back with a report. No doubt time away from him has mended their jealousy of him.  

TO BE CONTINUED 

Pastor Ross 

Hey! That’s me in that story!

Genesis 37:1-13 – DIARY OF A DYSFUNCTIONAL FATHER

I imagine that this is the extended diary Jacob kept about the story of his son, Joseph, extrapolated from the Biblical narrative. 

Jacob: We are moving back to Bethlehem, in Hebron. Abraham my grandfather lived here. This is the place where my family nurtured a relationship with God. This perhaps is where I will find peace and die. 

Will I die without seeing the promises of God fulfilled in my life? 

I am now one hundred and eight years old and God has promised me this land of Canaan, but we are still essentially squatters. How God will fulfil His promise is still a mystery to me as it has been to my grandfather and father before me. All I know is that I can trust in the promises of God. I will not let go. 

What do I know about faith? 

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. I hope that through my faith I will be a good example to my descendants. It is impossible to please God without faith.  

It was by faith that my grandfather Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going. And even when he reached the land God promised him, he lived there by faith—like a foreigner, living in tents. And so did my father Isaac and now I have inherited the same promise.  

By faith, my grandfather’s wife, Sarah, was able to have a child, though she was barren and was too old. She believed that God would keep his promise. And so a whole nation will come from this one man who was as good as dead—a nation with so many people that, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore, there is no way to count them. They died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it.  

How can I have faith when my family is so dysfunctional? 

I have been an absent father in many respects, uninvolved in the lives of my children. I was shocked by the events in Shechem, with the rape of my daughter, Dinah, but I was selfish and afraid and even entertained the thought I could somehow trade and intermarry my daughter with the prince of Shechem, a wicked man. My sons took control and wreaked a heavy vengeance upon the town of Shechem. I still cannot believe that they slaughtered all the men of the village of Shechem and took the women and children into captivity.  

I have lost control and respect, yet God somehow protected my dysfunctional family. Deception, vengeance and murder, slavery and adultery! Why does he continue to care about us? It seems once I expressed faith in Him, He continues to show that He is faithful to me, despite my many flaws. With such faithfulness, I can only ask Him, “What can I do to change things? 

I grew up in a dysfunctional household myself, with constant tensions between me and my twin brother, Esau. I deceived my brother into giving me his birthright and my father into giving me the family blessing.  

Is there any hope for a future? 

I have no idea of how to father my children. Out of all my sons, I see promise particularly in my firstborn from Rachel. He is not my oldest child, since I have 4 wives and children before him, but I have decided that he is the only one I can trust, apart from Benjamin, my youngest, perhaps. I have been trying my best to train up Joseph to take over the leadership of the family when I die.  

I know this creates tensions between my wives and my others sons? I fear further rebellion from my sons so I have instructed Joseph to keep a careful watch of what is happening in the family. I then discuss leadership issues with Joseph to help him. 

Joseph doesn’t have any authority as yet. He is only 17 years old and his other brothers are much older. Reuben is 29, Benjamin is 8. The others between 18-29  

I have Joseph working for his half brothers Gad, Asher, Dan and Naphtali, my sons from Bilhah and Zilpah, looking after my sheep. I could never have him work with Leah’s sons who were so ruthless in Shechem.  

Joseph seems to have a strong sense of discernment, knowing what is right and wrong. Most of all, he has a faith in God. I desire so much for him to have integrity and wisdom, characteristics I have lacked in my lifetime. Unfortunately, my mistakes are evident in the rebellious attitudes of my other sons.  

Who can I entrust my family to when I die? 

I intend to give Joseph the family blessing and double inheritance of my wealth. He is the only one who shows that he can take up the leadership and priesthood of our family. I doubt if he’ll gain their respect immediately, but I leave that in God’s hands. 

Reuben has desecrated his right to the leadership of our family business. God isn’t impressed with the firstborn sons who have no respect for marriage. He thought he could usurp my authority by sleeping with one of my concubines. My outrage is lasting. 

Just because you are born into a family whose parents have faith in God doesn’t make you automatically a believer. It requires a personal decision. What hope does my family have unless they respond to the invitation of God and have their own personal encounter with God. 

TO BE CONTINUED…

Pastor Ross