Posts Tagged ‘Family’

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

Ancient E-mails to Esau © Image created by Ross Cochrane

Genesis 36 – E-MAILS TO ESAU – Part 1 

Hi Esau, 

It was great that you and I were there when our Dad died. So strange to think we won’t see him or Mum again. I feel a little like an orphan.  

I appreciated spending a bit of time with you after all these years, but I realised that I don’t have any real idea of who is in your family. You spoke of some of your children but I really don’t know much more. I have been compiling our family history and wondered if you would mind letting me know about your side. 

Your brother, 

Jacob (now Israel) 

___________________oOo_____________________ 

Hi Jacob, 

So, you’ve changed your name. Sorry, but you’ll always be Jacob to me (the deceiver). I’m not really into family histories and you might not like my tribe. My parents certainly didn’t. I married Canaanite wives, outside the family of faith. 

I called our tribe the tribe of Edom, partly because of my red skin colour at birth (Genesis 25:25) and partly to never forget the pot of red stew that I exchanged for my birthright. After you stole my blessing from my father, the name Edom fed my desire to kill you if I ever saw you again. But then time got in the way and it didn’t matter anymore. 

Esau  

___________________oOo_____________________ 

Hi Esau, 

I’m glad that we were able to reconcile our differences. You have certainly done well for yourself. I was wondering if I could come and visit you and perhaps further heal old wounds and get this family tree thing in order. 

Jacob 

___________________oOo_____________________ 

Jacob, 

I wouldn’t come here to visit if I were you. It not exactly a safe area for strangers. But it’s your call.  

I call the country where we live Edom, South East of the Dead Sea. It’s a mountainous area, good for hunting and we are starting to build a rock hewn city, unlike any you have ever seen.  

Seriously, I wouldn’t attempt coming here any time soon. You wouldn’t be welcome. My people don’t like strangers. They think I should have killed you when you returned to Canaan. We are an independent people with no need for God. I am building a nation that doesn’t need birthrights or blessings to survive. 

Keep writing, however, brother, and when I have time, I’ll give you a rundown of the black sheep side of the family. Your side of the family tree must be the white goat side. Do you still like wearing goat skins on your arms and neck (just joking Jacob. Relax). 

Esau 

___________________oOo_____________________ 

Esau is the firstborn of twins, a hunter, Isaac’s favorite son. He sells his birthright to Jacob for a pot of red stew, loses his father’s blessing through Jacob’s deception, marries Canaanite women to the displeasure of his parents.

An independent man, Esau hated Jacob for a time but then reconciled after 20 years of being apart. He is proud and rejects God. His success is temporary. 

Genesis 36 invites me to choose long-term commitment to God and His purposes for my life over short-term gain without Him. There will be a cost, but it is the cost of choosing to be patient for the promises of God to be fulfilled.

Pastor Ross 

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Photo by Anabel Litchfield (see http://anabel.com.au/about)

Psalm 5:8-11 – WHAT I LEARNED FROM A RECENT FAMILY CRISIS  

I’ve been reading Psalm 5 and have been trying to understand something of King David’s prayer, not expecting to see an example of it in my family.  

It takes faith to believe that God will grant us victory over everyday difficulties, but it takes greater faith to trust God when we go through suffering and loss. Victory comes, but often in ways we don’t expect. Our family recently reminded me that…. 

  1. WITH GREAT FAITH COMES GREAT SACRIFICE 

I know that God often answers our prayers in the ways we desire, but I know also that He allows that some of His people will suffer.  

David can’t put words to the crisis he faces when he says in Psalm 5:1 (NLT), “O Lord, … pay attention to my groaning…”  

Our daughter, Rachel (River) and Son-in-law, Joel, travelled home from Africa after preaching the gospel to countless crowds, only to discover that Joel’s Mum, Elaine, had collapsed and was now on life support. As they rushed to the hospital, their prayer was that she be restored to full health. I walked and talked with Joel at the hospital and he knew that it would take even greater faith to refine that prayer and make a decision to take her off life support.  

God invites us to have that kind of faith, to trust Him, even when we go through various trials. At first, not everything we might desire is in His purposes for us, but as we align our desires with His purposes, there is victory. 

  1. KEEP MOVING AND TRUSTING

As we spoke to Joel, he said he didn’t want to face his Mum’s funeral. It was all too big. But at the funeral, he spoke about how the Bennett family doesn’t back away from difficult situations.  

He has a path for us to take. We don’t stand still. Psalm 5:8,12 (NLT) invites God’s direction and protection in a crisis.  He finds a way where there is no way. It says “Lead me in the right path, O Lord, or my enemies will conquer me. Make Your way plain for me to follow …. For You bless the godly, O Lord; You surround them with Your shield of love.”  

King David, but also the Bennett family reminds me that in a crisis, it is not always easy to see the way ahead. Jesus directs us when all around is perilous. He’s there, ahead of us, encouraging us to keep moving and trusting.   

When my heart is following God then it may be difficult, and there are circumstances that may cause me pain, but He gives perspective and it will be plain, simple, straightforward for me to follow the right path. There is heartache but at least there is no confusion when God is leading.  

When I pull away from Him it can become very confusing and difficult and I am defeated. Life gets complicated when I am not in that place of relationship with God, dependent upon His guidance. My only responsibility is to move forward in dependence on His grace, not back away. 

  1. GRIEF IS THE PRICE OF LOVE. 

As members of the family and many of the Church family gathered around Elaine’s bed at the hospital, communion was shared. My Son-in-law and other family members spoke. Joel’s Dad said Elaine breathed her last breath just as the service concluded. The Pastor at the funeral service said that grief is the sacrifice we make when we love someone.  

The well-worn words of Romans 8:28 (NLT) come to mind, “… 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.”   

Later, at the funeral, Joel was the last member of the family to speak and he wrapped up all that needed to be said, simply and beautifully. Among other things, he said,  

  1. PRAISE GIVES YOU HOPE IN THE MIDST OF DIFFICULT CIRCUMSTANCES

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Photo by Anabel Litchfield

In the midst of a crisis, David was able to pray, “Because of Your unfailing love, I can enter Your house; I will worship at Your Temple with deepest awe” (Psalm 5:7 NLT).  

The funeral service was amazing. A celebration of life with beautiful praise music and worship. We were proud of Joel, of our daughter Rachel who stood beside him, and of our grandchildren who took part in the service.  

At the end of his tribute, Joel expressed how his Mum would have wanted, above all else, that people come to know Jesus.   

In the light of sadness and loss, I see such strength of character developing. Even in the midst of pain, there is a maturity that emerges.  

  1. THERE ARE STILL OPPORTUNITIES FOR JOY

I am reminded that for the Bennetts, and particularly my grandchildren, as they learn to navigate the paths of victory in the midst of pain, that the words of Romans 5:3-4 (NLT) will accompany them through life… “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.”  

Psalm 5:11 (NLT) says “But let all who take refuge in You rejoice; let them sing joyful praises forever. Spread Your protection over them, that all who love Your Name may be filled with joy.”  

I look back at the photos from the funeral, beautiful photos taken by a sensitive friend, Bel Litchfield, and I see Joel and his family singing and praising together.   

Julie and I have always encouraged Joel and our grandchildren to take refuge in God. In doing so, even in the midst of pain, the paradox is that they will find joy and natural praise will overflow.  

  1. LET GOD TAKE THE FORCE OF THE BLOW

 

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Photo by Anabel Litchfield

In some photos I see Joel and Rachel with their arms protectively around their family, shielding them but also helping them to face the challenges of grief.  

Psalm 5:12 (NLT) says “For You bless the godly, O Lord; You surround them with Your shield of love.” 

Once more I am reminded that Christ protects me and there is security and joy in Him. Challenges still come but I am in His hands. When I am dislocated from a relationship with God I am exposed to attack from the circumstances of life.   

When I face the battles of life, I am protected as I take refuge in God. He is my refuge, my shield, and He takes the force of the blows.

Bennetts, Julie and I are so proud of you. We love you. 

Pastor Ross

Genesis 32:21-24 – HOW TO HANDLE THE GREATEST CONFLICT OF ALL

Instructions in Diplomatic Integrity – Part 9

Jacob is preparing to come face to face with Esau. The meeting could be explosive. (see part 1-8).

The stress of conflict can easily consume us and have an impact on all our relationships. What can Jacob teach us about this?

  1. MINIMISE THE STRESS OF CONFLICT ON OTHERS

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© Battle Shield. Picture created by Ross Cochrane.

“So the gifts were sent on ahead, while Jacob himself spent that night in the camp. During the night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two servant wives, and his eleven sons and crossed the Jabbok River with them” (Genesis 32:21-22 NLT).

People are more important than profit. Family is more important than our personal battles. Sending his family over the brook in the cover of darkness, Jacob hopes they will be shielded and safe. “After taking them to the other side, he sent over all his possessions” (Genesis 32:23 NLT). 

Possessions are less important than protecting the people you love.

Jacob remains in camp. He is not a coward. He is not retreating. His servants are still moving forward with his gifts to Esau. He is not returning the birthright or blessing to Esau with these gifts, but making restitution for the sinful way in which they were obtained. He is not negating his birthright or blessing by his offering, but proving that God has indeed blessed him and he is able to give to Esau of the proceeds by way of reparation. Sooner or later they will meet.

Now Jacob is left alone. He has prayed, and offered restitution. What could possibly go wrong?

  1. BE WILLING TO FIGHT FOR WHAT YOU BELIEVE IN

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© Ready for Spiritual Battle. Image created by Ross Cochrane

“This left Jacob all alone in the camp, and a man came and wrestled with him until the dawn began to break” (Genesis 32:24 NLT). 

So it’s come to this. A fight behind the back shed. Hopefully, it won’t come to a literal wrestling match for us but Ephesians 6:10-20 tells us we can expect to be in a spiritual battle. We are told to put on God’s armour, to stay alert and be prepared so that we can stand firm against the schemes of the devil. But it seems that Jacob is in a spiritual battle of a very different nature.

Jacob is assaulted by someone waiting in the dark. So who is this man? Why does he want to wrestle with Jacob? Is this one of Esau’s Assassins trying to kill Jacob? No. A troll-like guardian of the river? (Let’s not get ridiculous). This would freak me out. Is this a dream?

It is just not acceptable for God’s diplomat to be rolling around on the ground fighting with an unknown assailant. He wanted to be alone and now there’s no-one to help him. Where are the angels when you need them? When he first arrived he had seen the angels. They seem to be up in the stands somewhere, unseen, but viewing the spiritual battle that is taking place.

The opponent is stated to be a man. Why he gets into a wrestling match, we don’t know. Jacob has always gained victory in his life through deceit. Now he is humbled by honest contest.

And Jacob is no spring chicken. He’s 97 years old. The adrenaline that rushed through his body because of this sudden assault enables him to hold his own. He’s a wiry old bloke. And he’s fighting for what he believes in.

But what happens when you fight for what you believe in and it doesn’t all go as you expected? (Find out in Part 10, coming soon).

Pastor Ross

40 YEARS OF MARRIAGE – RUBY WEDDING ANNIVERSARY

Dear Julie, 

Ruby - 40 Years of Marriage © Ross Cochrane

Ruby – 40 Years of Marriage © Ross Cochrane

I have been reading Job and thinking how much my ignorance gets in the way of my relationship with God. I want to know things that are not relevant to the passage of scripture I am studying or I want to know answers I don’t need to know about. God teaches me more and more to trust in Him each day despite the things I don’t know. 

I have been married 40 years to you and I am still astounded of how ignorant I am about marriage, except that I have come to know and love you. Much of our marriage works simply because you are the best person I know and I keep noticing more about you as the years go by that makes me appreciate and love you more. 

I cannot imagine life without my beautiful wife and family. We have grandchildren who reflect a lot of your character because of the time you invest into them. They will look back and cherish times when they have laughed and cried and shared with you about everything (including difficult questions about Jesus). Most of all they will recall a woman who lived out her faith and the example that you gave them. 

God makes Himself known in all kinds of ways through His creation but I am so privileged that our paths crossed because I constantly see God’s character reflected in you. 

Why did he link you up with me? I can only see God’s grace in allowing me to be your husband. I thought from the first time I saw you that you were out of my league. So when we began to go out together, I was humbled and wanted from the outset to treat you with as much love and respect that I could. I didn’t want to hurt you, but inevitably we went through all kinds of hurts and blessing and the things that can either tear people apart or bring them together. We stayed together because of God’s grace. 

You certainly gave me incentive to trust God in order to become a good husband and father to our children. I still don’t know how we have managed to end up with such wonderful people as those in our immediate family. Some things I am so grateful for but will never fully understand. 

I am pleased to be on a journey with you that started 40 years ago and has led us to this point. I am looking forward to the future. It has been quite a journey and who knows where it will lead.

I love you,

Ross

THAT WHICH GRACE RESTORES 

Our world is filled with the beauty of grace

It’s touch sweeps out, a soft cloud on a beach;

It beckons us to seek what is beyond our reach,

To shout and sing and worship face to Face.

Generations to come will take our place

And they in time will take their turn to teach.

For now we share our hearts and love to each

With footsteps in the sand they can retrace,

For timeless truths can never be removed

By waves that crash upon eternal shores,

But last to lead them to a life approved.

Now morning dawns and destiny explores

The path ahead, all obstacles removed.

Our world awakes to all that grace restores.

© Ross Cochrane

A RUBY – THE SYMBOL OF 40 YEARS OF MARRIAGE

A ruby is blood-red, speaking of the blood of Jesus shed for us and His grace in our marriage.

In Job 28:18 and Proverbs 3:15, wisdom is more valuable than rubies. In Proverbs 31:10, a wife of noble character is worth more than rubies. Certainly this is true of you. You are valued highly.

Some place rubies beneath the foundations of a building to symbolise a good foundation. Our marriage is based on a good foundation in Christ.

All natural rubies have imperfections in them, including color impurities. We may have our imperfections but we serve a perfect God and we share the colour of His perfect character.

Some rubies reflect a three-point or six-point “star”. This shows our connection to God who is 3 in one and to the Star of Bethlehem that led wise men to Jesus. We have always looked for Him in our marriage.

Imitation rubies exist but those with all their flaws are still considered the most valuable. We don’t look for the flaws but the value in our marriage. Despite our flaws we share a genuine love for eachother.

Improvements to rubies include heat which improves transparency by healing of fractures (cracks) or even completely filling them. Our marriage has been tested and approved for 40 years.

I praise God for the honor of being your husband. I love you.

Ross

Colin Malcolm Shedden - 1929-2013. The man I respected greatly - my Father-in-law. Man of Faith, Family and Fun.

Colin Malcolm Shedden – 1929-2013. The man I respected greatly – my Father-in-law. Man of Faith, Family and Fun. Oil Painting by Ross Cochrane

Fiinished version of Oil painting of Colin Malcolm Shedden by Ross Cochrane using glazing techniques

finished version of Oil painting of Colin Malcolm Shedden by Ross Cochrane using glazing techniques

Matthew 7:21-23 – THE HEART SHAPED KEY AND A USELESS LIMB

Cross = Love

Shirley has dementia and has real difficulty in understanding her world. She has also suffered a stroke which has paralysed half her body. With her good hand she lifts her paralysed hand to me and says “What is this? Here, take this away will you. I don’t want it!” She doesn’t recognise the useless limb anymore as being hers! It has the appearance of an arm but it’s power has been denied. Paul says in 2 Timothy 3:1-5 that there are some like that useless limb. They have a “FORM OF GODLINESS but DENY ITS POWER” (NIV).

Does God look at some of us like Shirley looks at her paralysed limb and say “Depart from Me! I NEVER KNEW YOU? You are not My hand, the instrument of My purposes! You are paralysed and useless even though you look as though you belong. You have a FORM OF GODLINESS but have DENIED IT’S POWER!” (Matthew 7:23, 2 Timothy 3:1-5)?

With the right key, HUGO, an orphan, in the movie by the same name, restores an intricate, robot-like automaton. Hugo was convinced that if he could make the automaton work, it would give him a message of hope to make sense of his life. In order to find purpose in life he fixes broken things, and reflects on the fact that machines don’t have any extra parts. Every part of the machine is necessary. At one point he says “I couldn’t be an extra part. I have to be here for some reason.” Not only does he find all the right parts including a HEART SHAPED KEY, but eventually he also finds the purpose and love he has been looking for as he is accepted into a new family.

So DENYING THE POWER OF GODLINESS IS NOT USING THE HEART SHAPED KEY! Without it life will not make sense. John 3:16 (NLT) says “For God LOVED the world so much that He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who BELIEVES IN HIM will not perish but have eternal life.” To have the key but not use it is to DENY IT’S POWER.

Denying the power of godliness is rejecting the power of Christ’s death and resurrection to impart forgiveness and connection with my heavenly Father. If I don’t turn the key by believing in Christ and coming under His authority I forfeit the purpose for which I was created, and no matter how good or religious I look, I will only have a FORM OF GODLINESS. I am a broken automaton, or a lifeless limb.

The invitation is to believe in Christ and what He has done for you, to turn the heart shaped key, to be free from the penalty of your sins (Romans 6:23), to see the cogs begin to whir and life begin to pulsate through you so that you can operate as your Creator intended. Far from being a lifeless limb, you will find healing grace through His love. Far from being a broken automaton, God says “I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.” (Ezekiel 36:26 NLT). Accepted into His family, born again, you will be no longer orphaned, but a child of God. (Galatians 3:26). Turn the key today.

Pastor Ross

Genesis 25:1-4 – HOW TO LEAVE A LIFECHANGING LEGACY?

Leaving a Lifechanging Legacy

The artwork and design of my wife’s book on her family tree is magnificent. The storyline is clear and so interesting. Hours and hours of work, a labour of love. I am so proud of her. A legacy for generations to come.

In the prologue of her book, Julie writes “It seems a strange thing, almost a disrespectful thing, to reduce the lifetime of one person to a page, a line or just a photo in a book. If only we could go back in time and spend an hour, a day, with each of our forebears, and listen to each one express their lives in their own words – the highs and lows, the challenges and accomplishments, the disappointments and surprises, the heartaches and celebrations – not only would we know more about them, we could appreciate more of the valuable contribution each made to following generations, and understand more about who we are ourselves.”

In Julie’s family tree we can trace back a history of ten generations and a history of faith in Christ for at least five generations. Who knows how many generations to come will seek to find a relationship with Jesus Christ as part of their family heritage? Others in the family tree we know very little about, however.

Everyone knows about Sarah and Hagar in the story of Abraham, but very few know that he also had another wife. In Genesis 25, Abraham Marries Keturah.

We all know he had trouble having children with Sarah. God healed both Sarah and Abraham in order for them to have children, so by the time he marries Keturah all those problems are long gone. Did you know that he had SIX MORE SONS, as well as Ishmael and Isaac?

Psalms 92:12-15 (NLT) says that “the godly will flourish like palm trees and grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon. For they are transplanted to the Lord’s own house. They flourish in the courts of our God. Even in old age they will still produce fruit; they will remain vital and green.” This is certainly true of Abraham.

What is the story with these other sons and grandsons of Abraham? They are given generous gifts and sent away. Strange names like Zimran, Ishbak, Ashur, (We named a cat Ashur. I wonder what ever happened to Ashur?) and Letush (great name for a market gardener), and Dedan (the trail goes dead with Dedan), and more. We never really find out? The line is followed only through Isaac, the promised son, not though these other sons.

It is strange to get a mention in Abraham’s family tree and then disappear into OBSCURITY. It seems they do nothing of any real significance worth mentioning. These other sons and grandsons made no real contribution to God’s purposes on the earth except to fulfil a promise made to Abraham of numerous descendents. Why are they mentioned by name at all? Perhaps God deliberately CONTRASTS them with those who follow the believing line which runs through Isaac. Will I leave a lasting Legacy or disappear into obscurity?

Abraham was a very wealthy man and at the time of his death Isaac inherits a huge fortune, everything Abraham has. But the HERITAGE OF FAITH that I give to my children is worth more than all my possessions. We have no idea of the difference we make when we believe in the promises of God and pass them on to our children. Genesis 25:11 (NLT) says “After Abraham’s death, God blessed his son Isaac” (see also Genesis 17:19).

The choices Abraham makes in his life give me an invitation to explore what it would look like if I believed in the promises of God. What if I, like Abraham, believed in the promise that one day through Abraham the nations of the world would be blessed. Isaac will continue the LINE OF FAITH that one day will lead to the Saviour of the world, Jesus Christ. What if I believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, who died for my sins?

Genesis 25 is not about Abraham’s death. It’s about LEAVING A LEGACY. I choose to believe in Christ and LEAVE A LIFECHANGING LEGACY of faith for generations to come. What about you?

Pastor Ross

THE CANVAS OF HER LIFE – ELSIE COCHRANE (1931-2011) 

My Beautiful Mum, Elsie CochranePete, my brother in law organises for her paintings to be in the Chapel half an hour before the time when we would celebrate the life of Elsie Cochrane, my Mum, and he hung them on the walls. Beautiful, large expressions of her life. 

Susan Boyle sings “How Great Thou Art” as people were still filling the chapel to overflowing. 

“Welcome to this ART GALLERY of our Mum’s works. We wanted to pay tribute to Elsie Cochrane’s CREATIVITY as a PROMINENT ARTIST as well as a loving Mother, Grandmother and Great Grandmother, and faithful friend to many of you here today.

It seems a bit strange that as a CHAPLAIN in an Aged Care Facility that I find myself leading the funeral of my own Mum. That seemed inconceivable a week ago. Still does. 

All of us are here because we have a connection with Elsie. She has touched our lives in various ways, and the COLOURS of her influence will remain with us. 

What can you say when your Mum dies? Death is a one way street into eternity.

Not even the most experienced of artists can adequately create with paint on canvas or poet can express in words on paper what we feel inside. The TUBES OF PAINT are squeezed dry. The words seem somehow hollow and empty. And yet we are here, with EMPTY CANVAS and unskilled hands ready to paint a portrait of our Mum, in bright and beautiful colours like the canvases around you. 

In order to do that we will need a bit of help, so we are going to ask the MASTER ARTIST to give us a hand. After all GOD painted the original portrait of Mum in eternity past and He knows her better than any of us. 

The Bible says in Psalms 46:1 (NLT) God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.” Psalms 103:13-14 (NLT) says, “The Lord is like a father to His children, tender and compassionate to those who fear Him. For He knows how weak we are; He remembers we are only dust. Our days on earth are like grass; like wildflowers, we bloom and die.” 

Elsie and her children, Ross, Toni and Lauren

This day is a time to CELEBRATE THE LIFE OF ELSIE COCHRANE. 

Don’t MISUNDERSTAND me. The last few days for my sisters and I has been a PALETTE filled with the DEEPER, SOMBER EARTH TONES OF GRIEF, …and WATERCOLOURS at that. So this is also a time to be impacted by the reality of eternity and realize that God is SENSITIVE to those of us who areHURTING. 

Psalms 34:18 (NLT) says that “The Lord is close to the BROKENHEARTED; He rescues those whose spirits are CRUSHED.” 

Psalms 90:1-12 (NIV) says “We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.”The length of our days is seventy years– or eighty, if we have the strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away. Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” 

My son Ben, comes to the front and reads from Psalm 139:13 

“For You (God) created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written inYour book before one of them came to be.” 

Elsie, her children and some of her grandchildren, Rachel, Ben and Hope.

We sing Amazing Grace and TONI and LAUREN, my sisters, take up a PAINTBRUSH, and paint a picture of our Mum, Elsie Cochrane.

First Toni picks up her palette and paints her part of the portrait.

FOR MY MUM

“Its 8am.  I sit down at the computer and call Mum on Skype.  “Hi Tone darling, I knew it would be you,” she’d say.  “How did you know that?”  “Because I’m psychic and who else would ring me at this ungodly hour of the morning!”  “Spot on,  me,  I’d say”.   

This is how we would open one of our marathon talkathons.  We could TALK  the pants off a kangaroo,  sometimes two and a half hours of intense ramblings would find us still in our P Jays coming up to lunch time.  “Well I guess we’d better get off this phone”, she’d say.   I’m going down town, I haven’t had a shower and Ken will be here to pick me up soon.   Just before you go though, did I tell you about”………..and a half hour later, Ken is asleep on the couch. 

My Mum was my true friend.  She loved me unconditionally and she gave me her time.  She made allowances for me.  She was understanding but would always tell me in no uncertain terms if she thought I was being ridiculous. 

We were Shopaholics whenever she came to Sydney.  We loved anything unusual and beautiful.  We’d drive up the mountains, park the car and Do Leura.  Zany little café’s were our forte.  We’d get “wired” on our decafe cappuccinos.  I will miss that. 

She was always encouraging and intensely proud of my achievements.  She strived for excellence in all that she did and was passionate for her art, her garden, music and her family.  She was my Rock in my darkest moments and I know I was her Rock likewise.  She is always my Mum and I will miss her terribly.”

Lauren my sister shares

My mum accepted all things that came before her and always made the best of every situation thinking not of herself but of her family. 

 I remember when i was 14 years old and wagga at the time was experiencing a shocking heat wave. After sweltering all day in a classroom at school, I was dreading the long miserable hot walk home from Mt Austin high school to Hunter Street. Back in the early 70’s we didn’t have luxuries of refrigerated cooling like we do today. Just the old stand alone water cooler on wheels, but back then it was a luxury and I planned on gluing myself in front of it when I got home.

 As I walked out of the front gate of school, to my surprise, I saw mum across the road sitting in her little grey two door Morris miner waiting for me with a bucket to full of cold water and wash cloth to cool me down. ” Don’t think I will be doing this for you every day Lauren”. It’s too bloody hot to be sitting here! But she did, she was there the next day and the day after that!

My mum had a wonderful sense of humour with an effervescent laugh. She could always make me laugh, even when I was in one of my horrid teenage moods.

When I was recovering from a burst appendix in hospital, she made me laugh so hard; I burst a few of my stitches. The doctor was not happy, either was I!

Mum was with me through the birth of my daughter Hope and played a huge roll in her up bringing. Being a single mum at times was difficult for me. My mum was always there for Hope and I. I could always rely on my mum particularly when it concerned Hope. She had a very special bond with her and I thank her from the bottom of my heart for being such a loving thortful caring generous nana to hope.

My mum was a very stylish woman right up to the end. She always looked beautiful and modern she always looked younger than she was. I was very proud of her and how she looked when I met up with her in the market place. I remember being so proud when ever I introduced her to my friends or work colleagues always hear them commenting afterwards “oh your mother is beautiful” or “Is  that your mum wow she is so pretty”.

I take comfort in the fact that my very last words I said to mum was “ I love you mumma” and waved her good bye.

I pray she is in heaven with god and she has been given her energetic artistic spirit back again. I’m going to look forward to magnificent sunsets from now on  ‘cos I know my mum will be painting them just for us. Love you mumma.xx

Hope, Lauren’s daughter, sings a beautiful song.

In my hand, a legacy of memories
I can hear you say my name
I can almost see your smile
Feel the warmth of your embrace

But there is nothing but silence now
Around the one I loved
Is this our farewell?

Sweet darling you worry too much
My child, see’s sadness in your eyes
You are not alone in life
Although you might think that you are

Never thought this day would come so soon
We had no time to say goodbye
How can the world just carry on?
I feel so lost when your not at my side

But there is nothing but silence now
Around the one I loved
Is this our farewell?

Sweet darling you worry too much
My child, see’s sadness in your eyes
You are not alone in life
Although you might think that you are

So sorry your world is tumbling down
I will watch you through these nights
Rest your head and go to sleep
Coz my child this is not our farewell
This is not our farewell

Another grandson, David, Toni’s son, shares.

“Hello everyone, I am David Macarthur-King second grandson of 4 to Elsie Cochrane. Most of my adult life l have been away however I’m sure Nan understands.

And that’s probably the greatest gift my Nan gave to me, was her unwavering understanding. Drawing picture’s and painting art as a boy, in between climbing the highest tree whenever l would visit, she understood that l didn’t understand any boundaries and that was okay. Nan was all about trusting that I could be more than what I was and that my limits were expandable. Nan knew that I would learn to be understanding of boundaries, one day.

I always felt loved and cared for in her presence and her home. Nan nurtured my mind and fed my heart, and always made the best scones because aside from Art, she understood that the way to my young heart was through an exceptional scone. She was very thoughtful — indeed she allowed me to wash the dishes quite a lot when l was little. We will all have special memories of Nan, or Mum, or Elsie, but for me Nan taught me the love of appreciation for all things in life and to never settle for anything but the very best scone.

These are the gifts Nan gave to me — to share time simply and with love. To appreciate that I can just be me, and that‘s good enough, and to accept that sometimes life may serve you bad art without understanding, but somewhere, someone is enjoying Nan’s. That comfort is lessened for us today, but Nan‘s passion, and love, lives on in us. lt’s up to us to love each other as she loved us, with quiet acceptance and understanding.

Thank you Nan, I love you and goodbye.”

My son Ben shares. 

A reflection in the form of a video slideshow of Mum’s life is shown. I originally went to have this professionally produced but the guy came back with something which fell far short of what I wanted to depict my Mum’s life. I made my own, just impressions painted on a screen of Mum’s life. 

I have been extremely busy for the last few weeks and I had thought “I must ring Mum” but I didn’t make the effort until Monday night, at about 9.15 pm, when Julie, my wife, handed me the phone and said “Why don’t you ring your Mum” So I did. 

We spoke for about 50 minutes that night and she seemed happy to talk about what was happening in her life, about her granddaughter Hope and Hope’s new boyfriend, about my sisters and about her health. 

She asked me about my work as a Chaplain and I told her about how I had conducted 3 funerals within 2 days recently and how difficult it was to make each one personal. 

I said that I wasn’t afraid to speak to people about ETERNITY and how many people are MORE than willing to talk about dying when they come to an AGED CARE FACILITY. As a Chaplain I always TRY to encourage people to PUT THEIR FAITH in Jesus Christ personally. I have found that faith in Him to be a great strength to me during this time. I think we all need His help today. 

Mum spoke about how good she was feeling of late. Her health was good and she was enjoying life. She asked me, as she often does, if I will ever take up painting again. I told her that I was writing and illustrating a book on the computer of late and that she would get a copy as a Christmas present this year. I guess I will dedicate it to her. 

When I asked her if SHE would ever paint again, she told me that she hadn’t given up painting. She just lacked motivation to get something started again. 

My Mum and Me, Ross

I didn’t realise that this would be the last conversation that I would ever have with my Mum. At the end of those 50 minutes I cut the conversation short because I was tired. The last thing I said to her was “I love you Mum”. I am so thankful that Julie, my wife, handed me the phone that night and suggested I ring my Mum. I think God arranged for me to have that conversation. 

Our Mum was a fine ARTIST, and it is my task to paint you a picture of her life. 

ELSIE SWAN was born in “Windooree” private hospital, 53 Gurwood Street on the 19th June 1931, one of 7 children. 

Some of you may know that Wagga was experiencing a huge flood in 1931. My grandfather Dave Swan had to drive his very pregnant wife Alice into town. He had to get out of the Sulky at Lake Albert to check the depth of the water to see if they could get through. Mum could have been born in that sulky.  

Of course Australia has just been through some more incredible flooding and there has been a terrible earthquake in New Zealand recently. It seems Mum’s entrance into and exit from the world was surrounded by CATACLYSMIC EVENTS. Perhaps that’s why Mum always liked to paint in such DRAMATIC colours. 

Let me first paint some BROAD BRUSHSTROKES of her life. 

Elsie lived on a dairy farm with her parents at Gregado. She rode a horse with her sister, Letty, to the Gregado School, that’s if Tommey, her horse, would let them stay on. He had a habit of shaking them off at the gate and they would have to catch him all over again. 

Mum used to laugh about Tommey. She was not the best horse rider and one day when she was supposed to round up some cows, one cow just refused to co-operate. Tommey just bucked her off and rounded up the cow for her. He figured he could do the job better himself. 

After finishing the Black Friars CORRESPONDENCE course Mum completed her INTERMEDIATE in Wagga. She loved the dances at Gregado and playing tennis and she worked as a telephonist in Gregado. 

On the 23rd of July 1949 in the Methodist Church, she married our Dad, Roy Cochrane. 

Our Mum was a wonderful cook and I remember most Sundays we would have a roast Chicken feast. Toni, my sister, says that Dad made the mistake of saying one Sunday that part of the chicken was still frozen. This didn’t go down well Mum and he received a roasting himself, and the next time she served chicken she placed a frozen chicken on his plate and said “Here, eat this!” 

We’ve been reading Mum’s diaries of those early years, filled with hard work, and good friends, tennis and camping and eventually 3 children, Toni, myself, Ross, and Lauren, arguably her most creative work.  

In the early years of her marriage she lived in a little lane called LAMPE AVENUE in what amounted to a 2 room house and kitchen area, with a lean-to out the back and a copper for hot water and bath. We had only one powerpoint in the house. I loved growing up there and missed it greatly when we moved to a housing commission home at 27 Hunter St in Wagga. Since then someone has had the hide to pull that little house down and build an apartment. Pat Davey, Mum’s lifelong friend, who is here today would remember many stories from those days. 

For many years Mum was a professional dressmaker. She also worked in the Plaza theatre for a time. 

Mum and I studied fine Arts together at the Riverina College of Advanced Education and she went on to get her degree. She taught fine art at the University and Tafe College. She also taught DISABLED STUDENTS as well as teaching numerous PRIVATE STUDENTS through the years, some of whom have gone on to be prominent artists themselves. Over the years Mum has exhibited her work in many places including a combined exhibition which she did with me here in Wagga. 

This is perhaps her FINAL EXHIBITION and she would be pleased to think that you have come to see her work. AND NO, THEY ARE NOT FOR SALE.  

In 1981 Mum and Dad divorced and she moved to Ashmont. She remained friends, however with Dad until his death. She has lived in Ashmont Avenue for 25 years. Her landlord loved driving by and seeing her beautiful garden, splashes of colour from roses and numerous other plants decorating the premises and inviting your eyes to pause and enjoy them. She loved her garden. 

She also loved a variety of music ranging from Neil Diamond, John Farnham, Susan Boyle, Andrei Reau TO PINK. Her granddaughter Hope introduced her to Pink, I’m sure. She loved listening to Hope sing the songs of today. 

Mum actually attended Hope’s birth. She has loved being a grandmother and great grandmother. She recently came to Sydney and we all got together for a great day where she got to meet Rachel and Ben’s children. She also loved being a DAUGHTER HERSELF to her own Mum who lived to 108. Mum, Letty, Nana, Ken and others loved spending time at the Wagga Market Place where they all became well known and loved by the shopkeepers. 

During her time in Ashmont she met Ken and he has been a faithful friend to Mum for many years. His friendship enriched her life. Thankyou Ken. 

Our Mum has been able to travel to a number of countries and these trips have been inspiration for many of her artworks. She traveled with Pat Davey to Europe. She traveled to America, and Lord Howe Island, and to Tasmania with Letty in a Holden Barina. Letty remembers that they laughed a lot. Many other places fill photo albums. Although we have numerous photographs of these trips there are very few of them with her in them. She was more interested in TEXTURES AND COLOURS AND SHAPES for series of paintings which followed. 

I came across some notes Mum wrote for an interview with RVN, the local TV station, she was going to have for an exhibition. She wrote “Comments for RVN interview (I guess I won’t say any of this)…. The longer one paints or the more experience one has, the more difficult painting becomes. Rather than whipping up a painting as the result of “inspiration”, it is more a battle of wits – painter versus paint, brush and canvas.

The most frequent comment I have (from people) is “so long as you enjoy what you’re doing.” Well yes at times I do but often I loathe the piece I’m working on to the extent that I would like to tear it to shreds. Only later when I’ve taken the work to its limits, when I’ve resolved the painting and put it away for a time, am I likely to grow to like it. The ones that cause the most trouble – those I’d like to hack to pieces, are often my better pieces when resolved. 

I very rarely feel so attached to a piece of work that I can’t part with it, canvases are ripped off frames or repainted if they remain in my workshop after an exhibition.  

I work very long hours. I live alone so I can work into the early hours of the morning in my workshop if I want to and often do. I sleep very soundly but should I wake in the night with an idea I keep my note book handy and I jot things down. Inserted later – I said none of this but the interview was the best I’ve had. It was shown at the exhibition several times.” 

Another time she wrote, “Broke my hand 30th Sept 1986. Chirp (my budgee) died during operation 4th Oct 1986. Hand in plaster from 16th October – 27th November. Completed 3 mixed media paintings while my hand was in plaster (with great difficulty). Unable to stretch canvas and begin work in earnest until after Christmas 86. 19th January. Completed 7 paintings, six floor pieces. Work flowing, enjoying freedom from other commitments. Money short for materials as I’m unemployed during holiday period.”  

Elsie had a heart condition called HYPERTROPIC CARDIO MYOPATHY and on Tuesday morning 22nd February, 2011, at the age of 79, God painted the last brushstroke of her life here on earth.  

I walked into her workshop a few days ago and was suddenly overwhelmed with grief for her loss and thankfulness for life. The canvases still stood against the wall ready to be painted. The tubes of paint, paintbrushes, pottery, and numerous tools of her trade silently stood as if saying “What do we do now?” and I cried for their loss and mine. 

Her garden and the quality of her works and all those who have felt the touch of her influence say “Well done.” We love you Mum. 

 

Elsie and some of the great grandchildren - Levi, Arielle, Zion and Rome.

Elsie Cochrane was a sister to John, Nell, Kath, Chick Letty, and Lilly. She leaves behind 3 children, Toni, Ross and Lauren. 6 grandchildren, Jeremy, David and Matthew, Hope, Ben and Rachel, and 8 great grandchildren. And of course all of YOU who have come to her exhibition today.

We would like to give you a memento of her work. We found some canvases which had been water damaged at the bottom, so we have cut them up in the size of a large bookmark to give to each of you. There is a picture of Mum on the back and Julie has written “In recognition of the colour and texture you have added to Elsie’s wonderful life, we would like you to have, as a keepsake, this portion of her artwork. This memento will also serve as a reminder of the beauty with which Elsie has touched all our lives, with love, Toni, Ross and Lauren and their families.”

Would you stand with me as I pray. “Lord we commit Elsie into Your hands. We thankyou for who she was and what she meant to us, and the privilege of knowing her and loving her.  

May the Lord bless you indeed abundantly beyond all you ask or think. May the Lord extend the sphere of your influence in positive ways as you grow to know Him more and more. May the Lords Hand be with you guiding your hand as you reach out to others. May He protect and keep you from evil that you may live a life that pleases Him.  May you honour Him more and more in your life. May you know His peace and forgiveness and the assurance of eternal life. In Jesus Name we pray, Amen. 

Neil Diamond sings “Yesterdays Songs”

The casket is carried to the gravesite by Peter, David, Jeremy and Matthew, Ben and Jim.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 says “There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:

a time to be born and a time to die, He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
 

We’re here today to LAY TO REST Elsie’s body and to say our final goodbyes. The Bible says that OUR BODIES are made of the DUST OF THE GROUND and to the dust of the ground we will all return. But we are MORE THAN DUST. God breathed life into these temporary bodies, and as I just read GOD HAS SET ETERNITY in the hearts of men. These bodies serve us only as the TEMPORARY DWELLING PLACE. It is all together fitting and right that we miss Elsie but now is the time to let her go, to give her into God’s hands. 

We take time to place some flowers on Elsie’s casket. Mum always said she wanted plenty of flowers.

Earth to earth, ashes to ashes and dust to dust,
knowing full well that Jesus is the resurrection and the life.

I sing the Benediction. 

The Lord Bless you and keep you. The Lord make His face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.

Part 17 – Matthew 12:46-50 – JESUS CELEBRATES MY BIRTHDAY!

 

Jesus Loves Me!

My daughter, Rachel, is pregnant! Woo Hoo! Another little boy will soon be born into our family. What a gift!

Christmas of course celebrates the gift God gave in the birth of a baby boy, our Saviour, Jesus. We gather around the manger or decorated Christmas trees to sing carols, and exchange gifts, laugh together, enjoy each others company, and express our love for eachother as a family, peace, goodwill to all mankind and all that.

I wonder if Jesus and His family celebrated His birthday (maybe not with a tree and star or Christmas angel on top, but you know, have a bit of a birthday party, special food etc?). Did He play with His other younger brothers and sisters or where they ESTRANGED from Him? (And yes, Jesus has brothers and sisters. Mary and Joseph had other children).

Once in the world did Jesus merely TOLERATE His Mum and his brothers and sisters? When He went into ministry did Jesus DISOWN them, acknowledging only that they were a necessary means to an end, a kick start in being human, increasingly DISASSOCIATING Himself from them as the years went on? Kind of like a step-Mum and step brothers but not a “REAL” family. Always an awkwardness in calling her Mum? Who is she really? Who were they really?

I have read some ridiculous comments concerning Matthew 12:46-50 this week about Jesus’ relationship with His family – His mother and brothers. They almost imply that Jesus comes from a dysfunctional family!

As Jesus is speaking to the crowd, His mother and brothers are standing outside, asking to speak to Him. Jesus takes the opportunity to use this as an illustration. He asks the crowd, “Who is My mother? Who are My brothers?” Then He pointed to His disciples and said, “Look, these are My mother and brothers. Anyone who does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother!”  

Now why is this mentioned? What is Jesus doing here? REJECTING His family? Brushing them off? Is Jesus trying to stop His family from speaking with Him because He thinks that secretly they are AGAINST Him (Matthew 12:30)?

I have read interpretations of this passage stating that Jesus family are INTERRUPTING His ministry and OPPOSING Him, and how His family has become a RIVAL to His ministry. Hang on a second. WHERE IS THAT?

Jesus wasn’t REJECTING His family! Jesus isn’t ASHAMED of His family. He isn’t ridiculing them, disowning them, disassociating Himself from them, or belittling them. He wasn’t ANNOYED that they were being too familiar with Him. To me, none of that is said or implied!

They just wanted to speak with Him! NO BIG DEAL! And I don’t see any great picture of UNBELIEF here! Jesus’ Mum and brothers aren’t in COMPETITION with Jesus, vying for attention. We aren’t told WHY his family wanted to talk to Him but why assume the worst. This isn’t an awkward moment for Jesus.

Jesus loved His family. He obviously loved His Mum. Even on the Cross He was concerned for her well being. She wasn’t an interruption to Him when He was being crucified. While He died on the Cross His concern was for her welfare. He wanted John to look after her (John 19:27). Why would He regard His Mum and brothers as an interruption now? Jesus died for His family too!

So what is this passage all about? Jesus is speaking of the priority of a FAMILY RELATIONSHIP with God. Jesus is using His loving family relationship as an ILLUSTRATION of how we can have a SPIRITUAL family relationship with God. It’s all to do with coming under God’s authority and doing His will.

In Luke 8:21 (NLT) Jesus says, “My mother and My brothers are all those who hear God’s word and obey it.” In John 14:23-24 (NLT) Jesus says, “All who love Me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and We will come and make Our home with each of them. Anyone who doesn’t love Me will not obey Me. And remember, My words are not My own. What I am telling you is from the Father who sent Me.” 

To have a family relationship with Jesus depends on being a disciple of Christ. It is based on an eternal relationship, a relationship with God Himself.

We will celebrate the BIRTH of Christ this Christmas as a family. He celebrates my NEW BIRTH (John 3:3) into His family. Luke 15:10 (NLT) says “…there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents.” JESUS CELEBRATES MY BIRTHDAY! John 1:12 (NLT) says “But to all who believed Him and accepted Him, He gave the right to become CHILDREN OF GOD.” What about you? Will Jesus celebrate your birthday this Christmas?

God bless you as you respond to the invitation Christ gives you today to become a CHILD OF GOD, born again, into the FAMILY of God.

Pastor Ross

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