Sex 206. Loving Father

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Continued from Sex 205. Loving Death

Prologue

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.”

Father

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. Nope!

M. Huh?

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.

“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.

F. The big one is mine. Just watch me, and do what I do.

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’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.

Continued in Sex 207. Loving Life

Poem: Fishy Calling

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Tis a dangerous thing
When our praises we sing
For the role that we play
When we stand up to pray

Tis a good thing to preach
And on Sundays we teach
Don’t you muzzle that ox
He’s worth gold from Fort Knox!

Yet we still must beware
Of putting on airs
When our jobs on the line
Representing divine

Jesus said to not bother
Calling anyone father
Have we screwed up our soul
By playing that role?

Or maybe the curse
Took a turn for the worse
When I paid one to be
The job He gave me

I must be the priest
To reach for the least
I must be the saint
Who goes where God ain’t

The jobs in the church
Are just so much merch
The real game is played
Where souls need be saved

The calling is real
He calls me to heel
And fish where He goes
In a world full of woes

So let’s pay the cost
To be one with the lost
Is it not worth the price
To share footsteps with Christ?

Dream: Exterminate!

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Finally, the day has arrived!

Our garden has been infested with poke-lizards at least as long as my son has been alive.
A few years ago we decided to get rid of them.

First haphazardly, then more methodically, we have been trapping them, sealing up the boundaries of our yard, and destroying the warrens they live in.

Now there is only one place left for them to hide.
Time to set off the lizard-bomb.

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Unsolicited Fatherly Advice

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Based on everything I have learned over the last several years, here is my current practice for how to confront someone I love that I am concerned about.

It reflects many painful learnings about what I have found to be counterproductive, but I am sure there is still room for improvement. Let me know your thoughts!

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DADS Confrontational Devotion

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Dedicated to my Father.

DECLARE Truth

  1. God is in control.
  2. We are absolutely on track for the future He has for us and our loved ones.
  3. How quickly and thoroughly we yield to Him determines how fast and painful it will be to reach that future

ASK Better Questions

a) What in Ernie needs to change?
b) What in me needs to change?

DOCUMENT Listening

  1. Set a time to seek the Holy Spirit for answers
  2. Write down whatever you hear

SHARE Results

  1. Present it to me as “This is what I think I heard,”
  2. Not “This is what I think you should do.”
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TGR-S5E6: Questionable Authority

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This week on The Great Reset, Ernie argues that his apparent incompetence and immaturity is actually part of a brilliant plan to demonstrate the need for more Christ-like models of authority.

TED Summary

In this document, Ernie:

  • Claims the authority structures he grew up with were built around the Law
  • Acknowledges that they were (and are) necessary
  • Believes those same structures hinder us from becoming mature in Christ
  • Redefines The Great Reset in terms of searching for more robust authority structures built around Grace,
  • Hopes that Season 5 shows us what that should look like
  • Welcomes pointers, examples, suggestions, and corrections
  • Apologizes to anyone he has confused, misled, or offended along the way

Draft 1, 14 Nov 2020

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LEAD! Syllabus for “Theological Foundations”

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[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:

In addition to providing a sort index to the topics covered, this allows students and teachers to use those as supplementary textbooks.

  • Draft 1 – Sunday, 24th August
  • Draft 2 – Tuesday, 26th August: Added “Doctrine” “Essentials” chapters for each lesson
  • Draft 3 – Friday, 29th August: Added “Doctrines” chapters for each lesson

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LEAD! Curriculum Reset for “Theological Foundations”

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So, the good news is that our church is gearing up to start LEAD! on September 4th, and already taking applications! That’s also the bad news, since I’ve only finished three classes. 😦

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 🙂

[Updated and ratified 8/19 with John Isaacs]

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TELL: Theological Essentials for Lay Leaders

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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?

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Song: GraceFather

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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

[Read more] for the plaintext lyrics, or go to my site for the “microformat” lyrics to GraceFather. I’m still working with a friend to find the music to match this message.

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Calling Out (Rite of Passage 1/2)

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March 20, 2005

[Inspired by Chapter 3 of Healing the Masculine Soul]

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.

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