Archive for January, 2015

Genesis 31:1-13 – LEARNING FROM A TOXIC WORKPLACE 

Toxic Workplace by Ross Cochrane using Paint.net and Morguefiles.org

Toxic Workplace by Ross Cochrane using Paint.net and Morguefiles.org

He has been bullied into working for them for many years. Now he overhears his co-workers making derisive comments about him in a private conversation. Jealous of his success, the boss’ sons accuse him of prospering at their expense. They attack his character. Even though they don’t work directly with him it seems his reputation has been tarnished (Genesis 31:1,2).

Their loss is not the forfeiture of wealth but of relationship with Jacob. He is, afterall, a gifted businessman who has worked hard in the company for many years. They grumble about him, ostracize him and criticize him rather than embrace him and what he has to offer.

I can learn much from Laban’s sons and Jacob’s toxic workplace. If jealousy is allowed it’s way, it will fester and rule over my life. It will mislead my motives and prejudice my perspectives. The murmurings of malice will begin to spill venom into my speech.

The noxious taste of envy has already soured in Jacob’s mouth. Deceptive half-truths and distortions have shadowed his family history. Lies and malicious rumours now dog his own steps and bite at his heels, stripping away pieces of his reputation.

“Am I willing to be bullied by the limiting attitudes of others?”

Laban & Sons is a toxic workplace. If we reverse the curse of their poisonous bullying we can find some positive principles for a healthy workplace environment. If only Laban and his sons would…

  1. TAKE RESPONSIBILITY AND ENCOURAGE OTHERS (instead of play the Blame Game)

The company hasn’t made a profit this year and Jacob becomes an object of false blame, a scapegoat. Surely a healthy workplace culture depends on a boss who takes responsibility and encourages his workers to succeed in their endeavours.

  1. ENCOURAGE CREATIVITY AND INNOVATION (not Workplace Inflexibility and Oppression)

“Are the results of my changes welcomed or does the boss think that I am trying to take over?” A healthy workplace encourages creativity and innovation.

  1. BE INCLUSIVE AND BUILD HEALTHY WORK RELATIONSHIPS (instead of playing Power Politics and Bullying) 

“There are unwritten laws and expectations. Workplace politics! All you have to do is tow-the-line and not challenge the status quo; do things my way; make me look good; stop trying to get any credit; stay within the limits I set; submit to my demands no matter how unreasonable they may be.”

“Am I willing to challenge those who legislate rules in favour of their autocratic leadership style and bigotry?”

It is often the few, like Laban and his sons, who have the loudest voices and they market their ideas in the cauldrons of power in order to coerce others to become a puppet of their political correctness. Jacob could well ask,

“Am I destined to ape the morality of those I admire the least?”

Building healthy working relationships without autocratic power-mongering and bullying, is the sign of a healthy workplace environment. 

  1. INSPIRE SUCCESS (not being Threatened by it)

“Does my workplace culture remain fluid and open to new ideas, inspiring success rather than being domineering and repressive?”

In educational institutions as well as political arenas, workplaces as well as neighbourhoods, there are authoritarian, arrogant, narcissistic personalities, who feel a strong need to control or dominate, and who use bullying as a tool to conceal their shame and boost their self-esteem, demeaning others in order to feel empowered; the Laban & Sons of our world. We can choose to refuse a bullying culture.

Finding purpose and fulfilment in life will involve overcoming the obstacles, the barriers, brick walls, roadblocks and hurdles ahead. If I am to seek the direction and the courage I need to move forward in my life, I will find myself disentangling myself from toxic environments and toxic people.

Jacob has faith in the promises of God for his life, but having purpose and privilege in being involved in that which has eternal value does not make it easier for him to find the courage he needs to face his detractors; those who dislike him; critics or cynics; and those who say disparaging things about his faith and play the bully in the name of tolerance. 

Jacob is no innocent, perfect man. He’s under pressure, and obedience to God will often involve going against the flow. He is learning not be bullied by the restrictive attitudes of others. Once, he had his manipulating mother to push him past his problems using deception, but now he will find other allies and a different courage inspired by faith instead of fear. The invitation he gives us is that of pursuing your God-given destiny.

It’s time to become a returnee and brave the journey to the land of promise. But will he be prepared to lose his job to pursue his destiny? What about you? 

Pastor Ross

Job 1-42 – I’VE BEEN SELECTED FOR THE OPENING TEST!

Stumps on fire3.jpgThe Ashes by Ross Cochrane

A promising future ahead of him, PHILLIP JOEL HUGHES, in one of those Cricketing moments that no-one can account for, was struck by a SHORT BALL, A BOUNCER, and lost his life on November 27, 2014, at the Sydney Cricket Ground in Australia.

Grief-stricken, MICHAEL CLARKE said it well for all Australians in the light of Philip Hughes untimely death.

“We must dig in and get through to tea. And we must play on.

WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE SELECTED FOR THAT KIND OF TEST?

In the Bible, there is a man called Job who knows what it is like to lose those he has loved and yet still play onWhat if Job had played Cricket?

He has been named to represent us and lead us in the Opening Test, A DIFFERENT KIND OF TEST.

  1. FITNESS TO PLAY

Satan says that Job is UNFIT TO PLAY because of injury, but God, Chairman of selectors, has chosen him despite this and declared him FIT TO PLAY under match conditions, subject to proving he has overcome all obstacles at the SCG.

WHAT IS THE SCG? Yes, I know it stands for the Sydney Cricket Ground. For Job, it stands for SACRIFICE, CHALLENGE AND GROWTH. 

It’s as if God has said “Over the coming days My plan is to build him up with the ultimate aim of playing a high-intensity match in the OPENING TEST. Job is one of the elite, one of the finest in the world, a quality player.”

Sometimes we can start to believe the Boo’s of the crowd that accuse us of being unsuitable and unfit rather than hear the voice of God who encourages us to “Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive His approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth.” 

  1. FOCUS ON VICTORY NOT THE ASHES 

WHAT ARE THE ASHES IN CRICKET? The term originated in a mocking obituary published in a British newspaper, The Sporting Times, immediately after Australia’s 1882 victory at The Oval, their first Test win on English soil. The obituary stated that English cricket had died, and the body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia. A bail was cremated and placed in a small urn, now called The Ashes.

In the book of Job, it’s as if Job is awarded a mock trophy before he began playing when he was found sitting in the dust and ASHES. Satan has published an obituary in advance of the game stating that Job is AS GOOD AS DEAD because of his LACK OF TRAINING and PAMPERED LIFESTYLE.

The Ashes in a SMALL TERRACOTTA URN, believed to be from a bail of a game Adam once played, is presented to him as a perpetual prize to encourage him to bail out. It’s like a reminder of DEFEAT AND DEATH.

1 Corinthians 15:56 says “For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ. So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.”

  1. REFUSE TO GET OUT FOR A DUCK

The Devil has been MATCH FIXING, with the intention of cashing in on bets on the result of the game, but the UMPIRE warns him about UNETHICAL PLAY. So Satan leaves the Lord’s presence and prepares the OPPOSING TEAM. Who opposes Job? His so-called friends.

At one point, Job wants to die. He is in a bad way. It’s as if He wants to shout “Howzat!” … for himself and get out for a duck. He is barely able to lift a bat because of injury, illness and personal struggles, but Job has stumbled onto the PLAYING ARENA and arrived at the CREASE to begin the game. He has ELECTED TO BAT and he is playing for his life. 

As long as we are alive God has a purpose for our lives. 

  1. DON’T ALLOW SLEDGING TO PUT YOU OFF YOUR GAME 

Eliphaz the Temanite bowls an ATTACKING SHOT designed to score the advantage. His approach is aggressive.“You’re a fool, Job. You’re not fit to play. You might as well appeal to the umpire now, and save us the trouble of getting you out. If you stay on the pitch you’ll only get hurt.”

Job swings wildly and the ball almost grazes the top edge of his bat before being picked up by the wicketkeeper. Ephiphaz the Temanite shouts “Howzat!” but the appeal is lame and dies on his lips.

Job’s so called friends are guilty of SLEDGING. WHAT IS SLEDGING IN CRICKET? It’s a PSYCHOLOGICAL TACTIC to gain advantage, trying to frustrate him and break his concentration.

He’s there in the Baggy Green, playing at Lord’s; no batting pads or helmet, and no gloves and he is feeling EXPOSED to every punishing delivery. Ever felt a little out of your depth? 

But the bails remain unmoved.

  1. DEFEND YOUR POSITION

Defending his innocence and fitness Job responds to the sledging accusations of Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar “You are all miserable players! You have defected to the wrong team! You are supposed to be on my side!” (see Job 16:2) 

Sometimes we feel everyone is against us, but the Bible assures us that “if God is for us who can ever be against us?” (Romans 8:31 NLT). Timothy 4:2 (NLT) says “Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not.”

During the next Over BILDAD, THE SHUHITE has Job on the back foot as he bowls up a ball with A PITCHING LEG SPIN with plenty of bite and Job is taken by surprise with the twisted delivery as it breaks. 

“You’re a loser, Job, and God has sent you out here to suffer.” But of course, we know that isn’t true. The Bible promises that “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). 

  1. EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED

Each bowler delivers a Fruit Salad. WHAT IS A FRUIT SALAD IN CRICKET? It is a different kind of punishing delivery each time, rather than bowling a constant speed, length and angle.

Job knew what it was like to get a fruit salad of criticism and accusation.

If Job had been playing a game of cricket, he would begin to believe that it is over for him because of all the different kinds of tactics his friends are using against him.

But he handles himself well. Somehow his batting is exemplary. Can he keep this up? Does he want to?

One of Job’s so-called friends ZOPHAR bowls a terrible accusation at Job. He says in effect “You make a mockery to the game and God! There’s no escape, Job.”

It’s like a BOUNCER that comes from nowhere, a fast short pitched ball directed at his head. It grazes him. He is reeling back but still able to resume play. When you are faced with a Test then expect the unexpected.

  1. TAKE A REST BREAK.

Can you imagine a full game of cricket without any breaks in play, just a continual barrage directed at the batter?

Do you sometimes feel like you need a rest when you face the continual onslaught of life? That’s what it’s like for Job.

Jesus says don’t stop serving God, but you can find rest for your soul in knowing Him. Jesus says, “Take My yoke upon you. Let Me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:29 NLT)

When you feel rested that’s when you can face life and give it your best shot.

  1. GIVE IT PLENTY OF MAKERS NAME.

There’s a point in the book of Job when he gives it his best shot. If he was playing cricket, we would say he hit a powerful DRIVING SHOT for six, with the full face of the bat, where the Creator’s logo is located.

WHAT IS THE MAKERS LOGO IN CRICKET? It’s the name of the maker of the bat on the front of the bat, and when you hit the ball squarely on the front of the bat it is said that you are giving the ball plenty of MAKERS NAME.

When we get our relationship right with God then we can give it our best shot with plenty of MAKER’S NAME. We are made in the image of God. It’s almost like having our Creator’s stamp on our lives. We are designed to win in life, not merely survive.

Well, it’s as if Job hits a beautiful on-drive into the stands, giving it plenty of Maker’s Name. Listen to what he says “But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and He will stand upon the earth at last. And after my body has decayed, yet in my body I will see God!” He remains consistent and they can’t bowl him out.

He says it doesn’t matter what happens in life because he knows that he will one day see God. Jesus tells us, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one can come to the Father except through Me.”

  1. FIND THE CORRIDOR OF TRUST

The next delivery to Job by Elihu is in the CORRIDOR OF UNCERTAINTY.

What is the CORRIDOR OF UNCERTAINTY in Cricket? It’s when you don’t quite know which is the best way to hit the ball.

Who feels a little uncertain at times about what to do? Job certainly didn’t know what to do.

It’s like when you are playing cricket and someone bowls up a ball and you don’t know if you should leave the ball, play defensively or play an attacking shot.

When you live in the Corridor of Uncertainty then your faith takes a battering. And that’s what happens with Job. Job’s TRUST takes a battering.

When you faced with a delivery in the Corridor of Uncertainty, Proverbs 3:5,6 says “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take.”

  1.  WAIT FOR HAWKEYE TO VINDICATE YOU

Job is like one of those cricket players that rarely makes a mistake. He goes out of his way to honour God in the way he lives.

Job’s so-called friends believe that Job has sinned and that God is punishing him.

If Job was a cricket player it would be as if his friends called him out for LBW. And Satan cries out with them “Howwwzaat!” confidently.

WHAT IS LBW IN CRICKET? Leg Before Wicket.

Well, Job isn’t accused of Leg Before Wicket but he is accused of LIES, BETRAYAL, WICKEDNESS. When Satan accuses us we can call in HAWK-EYE.

WHAT IS HAWK-EYE IN CRICKET? It’s a COMPUTERISED CAMERA that can show you whether you are out or not.

GOD IS LIKE HAWK-EYE. He sees all. He is called in to show the trajectory of the ball and it is clear that Job is DOWN BUT NOT OUT!

Romans 8:1 in the Bible says “there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.”

When we go through testing times we need to …

  1. LISTEN TO THE UMPIRE

In the book of Job, unexpectedly, A STORM GATHERS ON THE HORIZON and God rebukes Job’s friends for getting things so wrong.

If it was a cricket match you would have to stop play. It’s as if God the Umpire stops play. He rebukes the other team for their BAD SPORTSMANSHIP. His friends are guilty UNFAIR SLEDGING, and lots of NO BALLS.

WHAT ARE NO-BALLS IN CRICKET? Bowling which is WIDE OF THE MARK. In the Bible the word for “sin” means “missing the mark”.

  1. ADMIT IT WHEN YOU GET THINGS WRONG

Job’s friends have missed the mark. They have been wrong about Job and wrong about God.

All of us get it wrong. We miss the mark. We sin. Romans 3:23 says “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” God wants to give us His forgiveness so that we can succeed in life. He invites us to find forgiveness in knowing Christ. Christ died on the Cross so that we could be forgiven.

It’s as if God wants us to be chosen as the MAN OR WOMAN OF THE MATCH.

If Job had been playing cricket, then when Test was over, Job would have been awarded as the MAN OF THE MATCH; the highest scoring batsman, leading player and best overall performer in a match. His average is excellent.

Job says in effect “Every time I bat I run to win the game, to make a difference for God and the team. I have learned a lot about TRUST.”

The Bible says, “Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize” (1 Corinthians 9:23-25 NLT).

Hebrews 12:2 says we do this by focusing on our Captain, the best player of all time. “We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting Him, He endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now He is seated in the place of honour beside God’s throne.”

  1. FOCUS ON THE NEXT DELIVERY

The invitation Job gives you and me is to focus on the next delivery in life and the unlimited possibilities it presents to us. WE CAN MAKE THE BEST OF EVERYTHING IN LIFE. The Bible says, “God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.”

You have been selected for the Test to wear the Baggy Green and represent the Lord at the SCG (SACRIFICE, CHALLENGE AND GROWTH). Keep your eye on the ball and run to win as you trust in Christ.

Pastor Ross