Posts Tagged ‘Dysfunctional Family’

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 

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Genesis 27:30-38 – WHAT ABOUT ME?

What About Me?

What About Me?

No presents were opened until my father-in-law came to the tree. He was the revered head of the family and it was his responsibility to cut the meat, say grace at meals, and hand out the presents on Christmas day. The anticipation for the kids was enormous. Everyone received a gift. The atmosphere of family was palpable.

To continue with the Christmas analogy, it’s as if Isaac decides that Esau would be the only one to receive a gift that year. It’s as if Esau says “I’ve been nice. I’ve prepared the Christmas dinner. Now give me my present, Santa.” In Genesis 27:31 (NLT) Esau’s approach to his father is self-interested and direct. “It’s Esau, your firstborn son. I’ve done as you told me. Here is the wild game. Now sit up and eat it so you can give me your blessing.”” 

Esau has already given away his birthright but he was desperate to receive his father’s blessing. As binding as a legal document, it will activate and bestow leadership, a double portion of the inheritance and spiritual responsibility upon his son. Financially the best Christmas present he could ask for.

Isaac says “Then who just served me wild game? I have already eaten it, and I blessed him just before you came. And yes, that blessing must stand!”” (Genesis 27:33 NLT). The question is rhetorical. Intuitively, both of them know who has received the blessing. Both of them know for whom it was intended, but when it dawns on Isaac that he has been tricked, he’s so shocked by the implications that he trembles uncontrollably. He can’t take back the blessing

It all makes sense to Isaac now. His suspicions have now been verified too late. “Your brother was here, and he tricked me. He has taken away your blessing”” (Genesis 27:35 NLT). It was never really Esau’s gift to have anyway. Esau is devastated. Genesis 27:34 (NLT) says “When Esau heard his father’s words, he let out a loud and bitter cry. “Oh my father, what about me? Bless me, too!” he begged.”

“What about me?” The cry of one who sold his birthright and forfeited the blessing that was passed down from Abraham. The cry of many who want God to answer their prayers but don’t want to come under His authority in any way. In Genesis 27:36 (NLT) Esau exclaims, “No wonder his name is Jacob, for now he has cheated me twice. First he took my rights as the firstborn, and now he has stolen my blessing. Oh, haven’t you saved even one blessing for me?” The “CHEAT” and the “VICTIM” (“Jacob” means “Cheat”. Who names their son “Cheat”??)

Isaac realises that the blessing he has given is fairly comprehensive. In Genesis 27:37 (NLT) Isaac says “I have made Jacob your master and have declared that all his brothers will be his servants. I have guaranteed him an abundance of grain and wine—what is left for me to give you, my son?”

That’s when the big man breaks down and cries. This was something he had really wanted from his father, even if he didn’t really include God in his life. Genesis 27:38 (NLT) says “Esau pleaded, “But do you have only one blessing? Oh my father, bless me, too!” Then Esau broke down and wept” (See Hebrews 12:14-17).

Like the rest of his family, Esau wants to divert or change God’s purposes. He wants God’s blessing but wants to do as he pleases. (Gal. 5:16-24). What stops Isaac from taking back this blessing when he discovers the deception? Why is this blessing not pronounced null and void? It seems that Isaac finally realises that his desire to bless Esau instead of Jacob is wrong (Genesis 27:33f). Abraham’s blessing is not withdrawn but endorsed.

It was wrong for Isaac to secretly seek to bless Esau with the blessing God intended for Jacob. It was wrong for Rebecca to seek to bring about God’s will by deceptive means. It was wrong for Jacob to seek to impersonate someone else and expect to be blessed. It is wrong for Esau to try to change God’s purposes. Let’s face it, we are all dysfunctional because of our sin, but God turns cursing to blessing. Fortunately Christ came to die for our sin. All of us have the opportunity to have peace with God and live under His promises. All of us have the opportunity today to receive forgiveness and the gift of eternal life this Christmas by believing in Christ. It’s interesting to think that God’s promises are offered in the midst of our sin to bring us forgiveness and reconciliation to God. The Abrahamic blessing is designed to bring a Saviour into the world through whom the world would be blessed. He was born into our dysfunctional world and we celebrate His birthday this Christmas. Happy Christmas!

Pastor Ross

Matthew 14:1-12 – BRAVEHEART VS THE MAFIA

Braveheart vs the Mafia

He is drawn to the MAN IN THE DUNGEON. Beliefs are tested in the dark dungeon experiences of my life where everything is ripped away to expose who I really am. A dungeon is that place where everything is pointless without the purposes of God. Yet when all I have to offer to God is a dungeon it becomes a place of His presence, a throneroom, a place where His authority and intentions overrule my circumstances. A place of FREEDOM.

 The Godfather is dead. “Herod the king”, psychopathic mass murderer who killed the baby boys of Bethlehem in a last ditch attempt to destroy Jesus is now gone (Matthew 2:13-18). Long live the Dons. Long live “HEROD THE TETRARCH” who has survived to rule a quarter of his fathers kingdom. His tetrarchy extends from the Sea of Galilee to the northern part of the Dead Sea. Ambitious and just as deadly as his father, HEROD ANTIPAS has now been ruling about thirty-two years. In the luxury and excess of his kingdom he is imprisoned by a dungeon of his own making, far more oppressive than John’s. What a mess.

Meet his comare (mistress). Granddaughter of the late great “Herod the King”, HERODIAS is niece to both her husband PHILIP, and her lover. Herod and Herodias? Days of our lives! She seeks to justify her relationship with Herod but the man in the dungeon DENOUNCES it saying that it is against God’s law (Leviticus 18:16, 20:21). He is anything but politically correct and his influence is far-reaching with the people. He lives out Ephesians 5:11 (NLT) which says “Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, EXPOSE them, even in the presence of a Godfather figure like King Herod. He may be in a dungeon but the dungeon is not in him. He declares that sin separates me from God, that genuine repentance is needed and that I need to come under the authority of Jesus whose way he is preparing.

With a heart as black as a dungeon wall, Herodias tries to rid herself of the irritation, but what mother would involve her own daughter in such a quest? What kind of trauma will result from such a gruesome plan?

Herod doesn’t hold back when it comes to his birthday party or in celebrating the anniversary of his accession as king. He holds a magnificent banquet. Good food, questionable entertainment. He lives a life of debauchery.

Salome dances seductively before Herod. She is the daughter of Herodias and Herod is not so much seduced by her dance as he is obligated to her mother to give her whatever she desires. He makes a foolish oath to grant her any wish, up to half his kingdom, but her heart too is imprisoned, and she too is drawn with malicious intent to the man in the dungeon. Salome consults with her mother.

Herod is deeply grieved by her request but doesn’t want to lose face. So, with only a moments hesitation, he grants her desires and orders John the Baptist to be BEHEADED. This is quite a table that has been set. Adultery, incest, debauchery, seduction, murder and the macabre all sit together at the kings table as John’s head is brought in on a platter.

Why did John have to die? The key to understanding this is found in Acts 20:24 (NLT) – “But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.”

Courage. Humility. Faithfulness. Selflessness. Reformer. Servant and Ambassador for Christ. Martyr. Who says it’s easy being a follower of Christ? Would I be willing to stand boldly with the message of repentance and faith in Christ that God has give to me in the face of death? In the words of BRAVEHEART “You have come to fight as free men. And free men you are! What will you do without freedom? Will you fight? …Fight and you may die. Run and you will live at least awhile. And dying in your bed many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that for one chance, just one chance, to come back here as young men and tell our enemies that they may take our lives but they will never take our freedom!”

Galatians 5:1 (NIV) puts it this way – “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

Philippians 1:20-21 (NLT) could well be used as John’s vision and his epitaph – “For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honour to Christ, whether I live or die. For to me, TO LIVE IS TO LIVE FOR CHRIST AND TO DIE IS GAIN.” 

Pastor Ross

PART 5 – GENESIS 19:1-38 – HAPPILY EVER AFTER – NOT!

Happily Ever After?

Julie and the kids were on their way home from the park when it happened. Ben was only about 5 years old and happily walking and running ahead on the edge of the road. There was no footpath beside the road but he was still on the grassy area. Then he must have seen our house on the other side of the road and headed towards it, edging onto the road just as a car roared up from behind him. Julie screamed for him to stop but there was not enough time.

To this day, Julie does not understand how it happened. He should have been run over. It looked to her as if Ben was picked up and thrown out of harms way onto the grass. She believes a guardian ANGEL PROTECTED HIM.

We have sought to bring our children up in the ways of the Lord. They have an understanding that they are important to Him and to us.

In Genesis 19 ANGELS SAVE LOT, his wife and his girls from the angry gay mob. Mind you, the angels have their work cut out for them in trying to get Lot and his family out! Judgment, DRAGON-LIKE, is just about to be UNLEASHED AND SWEEP DOWN upon the city and Lot is arguing with the angels about which way to escape? Figure.

MY CHOICES DETERMINE MY DESTINY.

Lot was saved because God ANSWERED Abraham’s prayer back in Genesis 18:23-32. James 5:16 (NLT) says “…The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” 

So Lot starts afresh and they ALL LIVE HAPPILY EVER AFTER. NOT!

Lot had argued with the angel about escaping to the mountains. When he sees the destruction of Sodom and his wife, his life is now RULED WITH FEAR and he decides to obey the original suggestion and hives it up into the mountains, living in a cave with his daughters.

From BIG MAN in the city with servants and livestock, sitting in the gate negotiating business to being a frightened little man with a drinking problem. From exercising leadership and power to having NOTHING but the daughters he had tried to offer up to the men of Sodom. God has a way of impressing on Lot what is IMPORTANT in life, but he KEEPS MISSING IT. Here’s a brilliant opportunity to get to know his girls and bring them into relationship with God.

Lot’s girls, having been protected from being raped from the men of Sodom think that they will now never have children, unless they can RAPE THEIR FATHER while he is drunk. SKEWED VIEW OF SEX from the cities they had lived in and a view of themselves based no doubt on the poor view their father has of them! Talk about DYSFUNCTIONAL FAMILY!

Proverbs 22:6 (NLT) “Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.” The opposite is true too. Lot doesn’t seem to direct his children in anything but in DESTRUCTIVE PATTERNS.

IT’S WHAT DIRECTS MY LIFE THAT DETERMINES MY DESTINY.

Lot is a believer but he is ruled by his CIRCUMSTANCES! Ruled by FEAR! Ruled by ALCOHOL! Obviously Lot agrees to GET DRUNK. Can’t blame this on the girls. The girls saw this as the way to get him to sleep with him. Lot may have been a righteous man (a believer) but certainly not disciplined enough not to get drunk.

It happens twice. DRUNKENESS is not unfamiliar to Lot. What I want to know is how come they have so much wine in the cave? Where did it come from? Did they escape in a distillery truck or something? What is it that makes bringing wine up to a cave a priority? Is Lot an ALCOHOLIC?

MY PRIORITIES WILL DETERMINE MY DESTINY.

God bless you Church as you continually CHOOSE to live in obedience to God, and refuse to let the pattern of your life be DIRECTED your sinful actions. May your PRIORITIES be God’s priorities. Seek first His kingdom and you’ll live happily ever after? Well no. Happiness comes and goes. A life full of a deepseated joy in serving the Lord. Yes!

Pastor Ross