Posts Tagged ‘Identity’

Identity Theft - Photo by Rachel Bennett and Ross Cochrane

IDENTITY THEFT – Photo by Rachel Bennett and adjusted by Ross Cochrane

Psalm 3 – HOW CAN I EXPERIENCE PEACE IN TIMES OF PRESSURE? – Part 5

Identity Shield

He needs an Identity Shield, a service that will provide him with total protection to keep his name and identity safe. He needs lost wallet protection and a $1 million plus insurance policy to cover costs incurred due to loss. For David, it needs to be a mobile service because he is presently on the run. Well, maybe David doesn’t need all those optional extra’s but his identity is certainly being threatened by a malicious source.

Well, maybe King David in Psalm 3 doesn’t need all those optional extra’s but his identity is certainly being threatened by a malicious source.

Absalom, David’s own son, is wanting to take over his father’s identity as King; the lot. If he lived today he’d want his private phone number, social security number, address and credit card information, bank account information and medical insurance. He wants to be King, live in the palace, change the photograph and signature on the official passport and have it all; a whole kingdom; wine, women, wealth and worth.

Absalom’s scam was subtle but effective. He began Phishing for information about David’s kingdom, winning people’s hearts and allegiance. He Shoulder Surfed the crowd with deceitful charm, looking to undermine David’s security codes and Skimmed for information useful in orchestrating a successful rebellion and takeover.

Is David grieving over identity theft when He writes Psalm 3?

In Psalm 3:3 (NLT) David He prays and says to God, “You are my glory, the One who holds my head high.” The glory of being King of Israel had been ripped away from David when he fled from Jerusalem. His cultural identity had been questioned big time. He feels the grief of his loss deeply.

2 Samuel 15:30 (NLT) says “David walked up the road to the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went. His head was covered and his feet were bare as a sign of mourning. And the people who were with him covered their heads and wept as they climbed the hill.” 

That doesn’t seem to be much hope. How can he be grieving and then say, “But You, O Lord, are my shield; You are my glory, the One who holds my head high”? (Psalm 3:3).

How can you have peace in times of pressure? 

It seems David has peace despite the loss of the trappings of power and the discouragement of having to leave Jerusalem.

3. REMIND YOURSELF OF WHAT YOU KNOW ABOUT GOD

It seems that God is all the glory David needs. There is a spiritual battle to be won and God is his shield. He worships the King of glory and he will reign as King by allowing that glory to flow through him, despite his circumstances. It is enough to have Him in his life. His spiritual identity is untouched.

a. God Is My Shield – He takes the blows in the midst of my spiritual battles.

b. God Is My Identity – I find my identity in Christ. He lifts up my head when I lose perspective.

Absalom may look like him, talk like him and masquerade as him but he does not have the identity found in God of a king; the calling of a king, the anointing of a king, the heart of a king. His own identity is blurred and marred by his sin. God lifts David’s head up high when all seems lost outwardly.

When I am cowered by my regrets, worries, difficult circumstances, opposing voices of culture and individuals who seek to devalue my faith in Christ, I remind myself that God lifts up my head. He not only encourages me but He personifies encouragement in me. He not only forgives me. He is my forgiveness. He not only identifies with me. He is my identity.

Absalom tries to masquerade with David’s identity. David may have temporarily been dethroned but God is still on the throne and sovereign. While God is still on the throne then David is still King. While God is still on the throne of my life, then my identity is found in Him.

When I face the pressures of life and my identity is threatened, the invitation of Psalm 3 is to allow God to be the lifter of my head and I am reminded that He knows who I am better than I know myself. Since my identity is found in Christ I can be at peace.

Pastor Ross

P.S By the way, speaking of identity theft, I’ve said before that I’ve been searching through Christ’s mail to source His ID; His statements, offers, distinguishing bits of information, etc. It’s there for all to see. After reading what He posts, I am able to get His personal data. It’s quite a revelation.

I remember that time in my own life when I first came to a knowledge of who Jesus was. I didn’t have to search through His trash. He had none, but I did have to search through mine. In doing so I found out about my own shortcomings and longed to change my identity. It happened on a Christmas day. It was an “Ah Ha!” moment. I discovered identifying evidence of who Jesus is. That revelation changed my life forever. Jeremiah 29:13 (NLT) says “If you look for Me wholeheartedly, you will find Me.”

An exchange took place that day as I surrendered my old life to Him. I was born again and I took on a new identity. I exchanged my sin for His righteousness. I didn’t work for it, earn it or deserve it in any way. But it was credited to my account. I was living on His credit card.

My malicious software (sin) stole His life when He died on the Cross and grace gave me mine. He paid the price for me. He picked up the tab at the Cross. 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NIV) says “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” Galatians 2:20 (NLT) says “… It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” “… the person who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.” (1 Corinthians 6:17 NLT).

Ephesians 2:10 (NLT) says “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has CREATED US ANEW in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.”  1 John 5:11 (NLT) says “… this life is in His Son.” 2 Corinthians 5:13-15 (NLT) says“…He died for everyone so that those who receive HIS NEW LIFE will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.” 

Barabbas wasn’t the only one who was exchanged for Jesus on the day of His crucifixion. I was too! Jesus paid the punishment for my sin. The innocent Son of God was indicted on my behalf. Jesus died but the exciting thing is that He invites us to exchange His righteousness for our sin. He has given us freely His identity and we have the resources of heaven at our disposal. Ephesians 1:3-5 (NLT) says that God “…has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are UNITED WITH CHRIST.” Philippians 1:20-21 (NIV) says “… For to me, TO LIVE IS CHRIST and to die is gain.” IDENTITY THEFT? Not really. Identity exchange. He freely offers us the identity for which we are created. 

Pastor Ross

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

What to do when love hurts

What to do when love hurts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pastor Ross

Matthew 16:13-20 – THE DNA PROFILE OF JESUS 

The DNA OF JESUS - Image Created by Ross Cochrane

The DNA OF JESUS – Image Created by Ross Cochrane

A work colleague I was speaking with yesterday is an African-American. She has been trying to trace her family history to see if her ancestors were slaves? DNA confirms that her lineage extends back to West Africa where many Africans were taken. Somewhere down the line she has been given a European name. When she discovers the roots of her family tree she will change her name to more accurately reflect who she is.

DNA PROFILING is a scientific “genetic fingerprinting” technique used to help identify people by their DNA. Human DNA sequences distinguish one person from another, but are very similar if you are related to someone.

Peter gives us the DNA profiling results of Jesus. “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God”; the Anointed One; the promised Messiah; Prophet, Priest, and King, who is of the same essence and nature with God Himself. It is the DNA profile of Jesus that led to His arrest and conviction. It is His DNA that ultimately led to a death sentence on the Cross. All over the world those related to Jesus bear His DNA because His Church bears His identity.

A BIRTHDAY CARD TO MY DAUGHTER

“Dear Rachel, 

… So who are you? What is your identity. To have Jesus reveal to us who we are in Him is often a quest for life. We see it come together – a daughter, a wife, a mother, artist, photographer, graphic designer, entrepreneur, but Jesus sees you as one who has responded personally to who He is and what He has done for you and through you. 

We love what we see God doing in your life. Your creativity, your willingness to try anything, no matter how impossible or overwhelming it may be, and most of all we love who you are in Christ, the person you are, the one who listens to His voice and gains her identity from Him as she stands in that still place, there in that place from which His Church is built, that stable place of rest where all our senses are alert to what He says and does. 

And we pray this birthday will be another one of those defining moments where you have opportunity to spend time in Gods’ presence and let Him speak more to you about who you are, who you were uniquely created to be. We love you. We are so proud of you. 

Love Mum and Dad XXXOOO”

The invitation He gives is to trust Jesus as the Christ, Son of the Living God. As I do this I see who God intends me to be. I can only “do all things through Christ who strengthens me” when I have identified Him as the Christ, Son of the living God. It is in Him that I find my being. It is who He is that determines who I am in Him. John 20:31 (NLT) says of the Bible “…these are written so that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in Him you will have life by the power of His name.” As I trust Him to be who He says He is, I am entrusted by Him to be all that He intends me to be. My DNA shows that I am related. I was once a slave but I have a new name that reflects that I belong to a new family entirely. 1 John 5:1 (NLT) says “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has become a child of God.”

Pastor Ross

IDENTITY THEFT - Photo  by Rachel Bennett and adjusted by Ross Cochrane

IDENTITY THEFT – Photo by Rachel Bennett and adjusted by Ross Cochrane

Is He worried about identity theft when He tells His friends not to let anyone know who He really is? (Matthew 16:20). If so, He’s wise. He should be concerned. Phishing is a problem today. We all get pop-up advertisements and spam emails trying to get our personal information. Is He just playing it safe; watching for Shoulder Surfers trying to steal His pin codes? Is it that He doesn’t want others Skimming His personally identifying information, His full name or credit card number, without His permission? Is He afraid they might try to use His identity to commit a crime against Him? In the light of the crucifixion that makes sense.

It’s obvious that Jesus is a good target for identity theft. He has unlimited resources at His disposal, but unless I get to know Him personally my database will not give me enough information to use practically. I will still not know Him. An identity thief must have accurate information. Lately, I’ve been searching through His mail to source His ID info; His statements, offers, distinguishing bits of information, etc. It’s there for all to see. After reading what He posts, I am able to get His personal data. It’s quite a revelation.

I remember that time in my own life when I first came to a knowledge of who Jesus was. I didn’t have to search through His trash. He had none, but I did have to search through mine. In doing so I found out about my own shortcomings and longed to change my identity. It happened on a Christmas day. It was an “Ah Ha!” moment. I discovered identifying evidence of who Jesus is. That revelation changed my life forever. Jeremiah 29:13 (NLT) says “If you look for Me wholeheartedly, you will find Me.”

An exchange took place that day as I surrendered my old life to Him. I was born again and I took on a new identity. I exchanged my sin for His righteousness. I didn’t work for it, earn it or deserve it in any way. But it was credited to my account. I was living on His credit card. My malicious software (sin) stole His life and grace gave me mine. He paid the price for me. He picked up the tab at the Cross. 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NIV) says “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” Galatians 2:20 (NLT) says “… It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” “… the person who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.” (1 Corinthians 6:17 NLT).

When Jesus asks His disciples “Who do others say that I am?” He thinks it is important for them to know what people like me say about Him? Not so they can judge me, and force their beliefs on me. Their task is to recognise false beliefs about Christ and share God’s Word so that faith could be stirred; give His perspective, enabling me the opportunity to respond to what God is saying; to come to my own conclusions based upon what God is revealing to me. God’s Holy Spirit leads me into His Truth and brings me from an inadequate understanding of Christ to that exciting discovery of my new identity in Him.

Ephesians 2:10 (NLT) says “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has CREATED US ANEW in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.” 1 Peter 1:23 (NLT) says “For you have been BORN AGAIN, but not to a life that will quickly end. Your new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word of God.” 1 John 5:11 (NLT) says “… this life is in His Son.” 2 Corinthians 5:13-15 (NLT) says “…He died for everyone so that those who receive HIS NEW LIFE will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.”  

The invitation Jesus gives you today is to come to a knowledge of Him, not by His followers hammering away at you, but by revelation from God Himself and His Truth as you respond personally to Christ in faith. You can only come to this point as the Holy Spirit opens up your understanding to the truth of who He is (John 16:13). When Peter gave voice to Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the Living God, Jesus said “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because My Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being” (Matthew 16:17 NLT).

Barabbas wasn’t the only one who was exchanged for Jesus on the day of His crucifixion. I was too! Jesus paid the punishment for my sin. The innocent Son of God was indicted on my behalf. Jesus died but the exciting thing is that He invites us to exchange His righteousness for our sin. He has given us freely His identity and we have the resources of heaven at our disposal. Ephesians 1:3-5 (NLT) says that God “…has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are UNITED WITH CHRIST.” Philippians 1:20-21 (NIV) says “… For to me, TO LIVE IS CHRIST and to die is gain.” IDENTITY THEFT? Not really. Identity exchange. He freely offers us the identity for which we are created. 

Pastor Ross

Ephesians 2:10 – THE AUSSIE BLOKES SHED

Old shed, still in use after all these years

At home, Jack was a hoarder and he loved his shed. Like the footy game and the meat pie with sauce, the AUSSIE BLOKES SHED has an important place in Australian culture. Someone said a man’s shed “stands as a symbol of the Aussie male′s ingenuity, a testimony to his ability to fix anything with a length of fencing wire, a hammer and a piece of 4″ x 2″”

It’s a place to wear old clothes and be yourself. There’s pride in the corrugated iron, the tools, the shelves overflowing with all kinds of imaginative, half-finished projects and interesting bits and pieces that might be used one day to fix something.

It’s really the LAST refuge in a world dominated by oestrogen. Every Aussie male dreams to own a shed. It’s part of who we are. It’s in our heritage left over from when we lived on the land.

Going into a man’s shed is a little like going into a time-warp for an era gone by. Jack’s shed is like this. It is well-organized to the discerning eye but has a chaotic charm to the uninitiated. It is for fixing things and for having fun and is definitely hands-on.

Someone described it as “The Institute for Backyard Studies” where you keep ancient treasures that have been passed down from generation to generation which tell a story of your birthright.

There’s something easy-going and undisturbed about a BLOKES SHED. It’s a place to just be. Someone said a blokes shed “… is almost a spiritual thing for some people. A place where you develop your own identity… a calm spot, isolated from the rest of the world.” A place to go to listen to the footy or the cricket or spend time with your son on bike projects and broken toys. My grandchildren think that Pa can fix anything.

I’m sure HEAVEN is a little like a blokes shed. It’s a place where you spend time with your heavenly Father working on new projects, a place of peace, a refuge where you feel complete. Jesus once said “I came that you might have life and have it to the full.” (John 10:10). He could easily have been talking about a blokes shed.

Jesus speaks about a MANSION in heaven. I’m sure He’ll include a shed made of CORRUGATED GOLD out on the back lawn, because He said “I am going there to prepare a place for you” (John 14:1-3 NIV).

The Bible says Heaven is offered as a free gift. A place to go to be with our heavenly father. “Absent from the Body and Face to face with the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 5:8)

A blokes shed is strewn with projects that didn’t quite get there. Ever had one of those shed projects where things just don’t go as you expected. And there’s nothing you can do to change it. I have. Some projects just don’t go right.

Life is a little like that. Not everything goes as expected. Jack didn’t get to know his dad because he died when he was young. He went through a WORLD WAR and the DEPRESSION. He knew some TOUGH TIMES when life didn’t work out as expected. He had his share of difficulties in his old age with his health. Life, like a man’s shed has the evidence of all kinds of memories and cluttered regrets of things that go wrong.

Our SPIRITUAL LIVES are also like a project that has gone wrong too. The Bible says we have all MISSED THE MARK. Romans 3:23 says “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” No one gets it right. The shed speaks of how we have chosen to do things our own way and our sins have caused a separation between us and our heavenly Father. Something inside us has died and lies broken on the floor, sins and regrets, guilt and unrealised dreams and it could have remained like a broken project if Jesus hadn’t stepped in. God the Father sent His Son to get things right again, to get the project back on track, to get things done, to fix it.

A blokes shed is where things get fixed. If my grandson asks me to fix something, I can come out of my shed within minutes with something that will get the job done. OUR SPIRITUAL LIVES ARE NO DIFFERENT. Jesus was a CARPENTER in the early days so I’m sure He had a SHED. The Bible speaks of Him building our lives on a FIRM FOUNDATION. Ephesians 2:10 (NIV) says “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” He has the RIGHT TOOLS to get the job done. DIY. He Died In Your place, for your sins. He offers forgiveness to those who entrust their lives to Him.

As a Chaplain working in an overtly Christian organisation, I always encourage people to PUT THEIR FAITH in Jesus Christ personally. I shared this message with Jack once again as I prayed with Him for the last time before he died.

Jesus is the only One who can get the job done perfectly. He said “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No man comes to the Father but by Me”

I conducted Jack’s funeral. I will miss his quiet, reserved character. It was as if he invited us into the sanctity of his shed as we gathered in the Chapel where we celebrated His life. The blokes shed that day was cluttered with the collective memories of his life, ready to be used when needed in our own lives. His legacy remains like tools passed down to the next generation, ancient treasures, tested and true, from an Aussie blokes shed.

Pastor Ross