I have been drowning my sorrows at the Bar of Hell. Consumed by my own inadequacy and self-loathing. Even Jesus seems to have abandoned me. But just when I think I am completely, utterly, eternally alone, I hear a voice.
“Have a drink.”
Me: You?! Here!?
Father: Yes. I AM.
M. I thought Jesus Himself couldn’t stand to be around me.
F. No, He couldn’t sit there doing nothing. So He cleared the room so I could come.
I am throughly bewildered. The place still looks like Hell. I still feel like Hell. But my Father…
He looks like He owns the place. And even more shocking… like He’s happy to see me!
M. Um, uh, I, er, wasn’t exactly expecting to see You here. Sorry, to, ah, drag You down here.
F. Not at all! In fact, this is one of My favorite places to meet My kids.
M. Say what?!
F. What do you think I want most?
M. Um, a relationship with Your kids?
F. Close enough. And what do you think is the greatest barrier to that?
This answer I knew.
M. Sin! Sex. Drunkeness. Orgies. Worldly indulgence. Carnal attitudes.
F. Oh sure, those things grieve my heart, because they can corrode your spirit. But frankly, they often do as much good as harm.
M. Come again?
F. Most people pursue those things because they are hungry for connection. And frankly, when My children try them — and find they don’t satisfy — they are often far more ready to turn to Me.
M. My head hurts. You’re not making any sense. I think I’ve had too much to drink.
F. Actuality, you haven’t had enough.
He gestured to the wooden cup He had placed in front of me when He first spoke. I had been so shocked at His arrival I hadn’t even noticed.
M. Um, is that what I think it is?
F. You guessed it. The Holy Grail. The New Covenant. The Last Supper. The Final Cup.
M. But… I thought that was for the pure of heart. The ascetic. The devoted. The ones who gave up all worldly pleasures out of love for you.
F. Not even close. To be sure, there is a place of honor in My Kingdom for such as those. But worthy as they are, they are not able to drink this cup.
M. I’m sorry, are you saying I am? You have got to be kidding me. Don’t you know where we are? What I did to get here? What I’ve been doing since I got here?
F. Yes. Practicing!
M. Practicing what? Abusing my body? Destroying my liver? Corroding my soul? Avoiding my pain?
F. Drinking a bitter cup.
I stare at Him in horror.
M. You don’t mean…
F. Yes. This the cup of suffering that Jesus Himself asked that I take away from Him in the Garden of Gethsemane. I offer it to you now.
M. But… why… how?
F. Because you have been foolish enough to drink from every cup this world has to offer. Pleasure. Power. Prestige. Purity. Pride. And yet wise enough to realize that none of them satisfy. In fact, they make you thirstier than ever.
M. But… this? How can I possibly…
F. Here. Let me show you.
He slides His hand over the cup, looking for all the world like a street hustler hiding a coin. When He is done, I am astonished to see an enormous bucket, and a tiny thimble.
As I watch in horror, the Lord of the Universe begins to chug a bucket of all the world’s agony, like a fraternity pledge guzzling beer on Spring Break. It’s like I can see all the cruelty and selfishness and evil that ever happened — including my own — pouring down His throat.
It is obvious that the pain must be indescribable. Yet He never stops. In fact, the gleam in His eyes glows ever brighter. Despite the unspeakable awfulness of the experience, I see a joy emerging from deep within Him.
Joy beyond anything I ever imagined.
Joy that is worth risking everything for.
Joy I would do anything to share.
If I have a Father who is willing to do that for me…
M. Wait for me!
Seized with a sudden resolve, I grab the tiny cup and hurl its contents down my throat.
Historically, the Body of Christ has relied on three interdependent roles: • Infants, who receive what they are taught • Mystics, who seek their own truth • Paternalists, who create the context for Infants
In Which Jesus Sends the Comforter, and We Are Convicted By Him
This week we move from the Father and the Son to the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. This also continues our theme of God restoring His Image by saving us from our rebellion. And as usual, there is a heavy price to be paid…
[NOTE: the official syllabus is now on the “Lead” page; this post is obsolete, but kept for the sake of historical continuity].
[Yes, I should probably have written this before the first lesson, but better late than never…]
In thinking about it, I ought to take my Curriculum one step further, and actually identify the passages and key learnings for each lesson. Not only will this help ensure I’m on the same page as my pastor, but it would enable others to write some of the lessons (since class starts on September 4th!).
I’ve also cross-referenced these lessons against two common systematic theology books:
Still, it only takes me about four hours per class, which is two late night waiting-to-feed-Rohan sessions (assuming he behaves), so I should be able to keep up.
The real problem is that my lesson topics have gone in a completely different direction that originally envisioned. More, my pastor has a slightly different vision for how things should fit together. Given the time timeframes, it is essential we get on the same page (and stick to it, if possible).
Here’s my current vision for what is now being called “Theological Foundations”. Hopefully my pastor and I can converge on this syllabus soon (once he’s no longer busy with his new grandson 🙂
As a counterpart (or even prequel) to my previous article about “safety skills“, I wanted to identify those theological topics essential for lay leaders to understand. In particular, I believe lay leaders need a more concise and practical “boot camp”, in contrast to the multi-year “officer’s training school” provided in seminaries.
Another difference in focus is that I believe (along with the writer of Proverbs) that the goal of theological education is wisdom, not mere knowledge. That is, the goal is to cover a small number of essential issue in sufficient depth to enable people to make more godly decisions — not simply provide an intellectual overview of traditional topics.
Given all that, here is my best attempt at a minimal 12-week course that covers the heart issues of contemporary theology. What are your thoughts and suggestions?
This song was inspired by the narrative idea of “creation-corruption-redemption” as illustrated in The Grace Cycle. I awoke that Sunday with a heart full of praise, but didn’t have the words to express how I felt. The word “GraceFather” (a la GodFather) came to mind, but it was intertwined with my increasing appreciation for God’s law. The final progression looks like this:
O Precious Lord Reveal to us Your Law For You’re the one Who gave to us Your Law O Precious Lord Who saves us from Your Law O GraceFather You will fulfill Your Law
As usual, I’m lying on the couch reading, with our dog Rajee by my side. Probably a Hardy Boys or Tom Swift Jr. novel; maybe an Isaac Asimov sci-fi story. I rarely play outside or have friends over. It must be before dinner, since afterwards I’m almost always watching TV, unless my brother Larry and I are having one of our periodic Monopoly marathons with his friends. At least, I did until high school when I got immersed in theater and broke my TV habit; so, I must be around twelve, in eighth grade (1979).
Dad’s not around, but that’s hardly unusual, as he always gets home late.
Just then I hear a pounding on the door; which is quite unusual, since most people just ring the doorbell. Mom jumps a little; she’s been a little edgy all day, almost as if she were expecting something like this. Rajee barks, gets up, and runs towards the door. Which is also unusual, at least the barking; she’s still young enough to run, but ordinarily she just ‘whuffles’ softly when we have a visitor.