Sunday, December 18, 2011

Blood of the Lamb

“Is it really necessary for us to kill something just because we make a mistake?” Enosh asked as he walked next to Father.

“It is the way of forgiveness,” his father responded. “It is what God asks of us.”

“How did it start?” Enosh asked, stepping quickly to keep up with Father’s long stride. “I mean, I know who made the first sacrifice, but why does it have to be like this?”

Father shifted the position of the lamb he carried on his shoulders. “You know this, Enosh! You tell me why?”

“Because God said so.” Enosh stated.

“Yes, but why?” Father asked.

“Because Adam and Eve broke the rules.” Enosh said.

“The first sin,” Father said. “And the first sacrifice.”

“But why?” Enosh asked again. “Look! The city!”

They had just come around a corner on the mountain trail and now the city of Jerusalem lay in the clearing below them.

“Look at the temple!” Father said, pointing to the middle of the city. The temple’s white marbled splendour was hard to miss. It was like a pile of fresh snow in a dirty city.

Father gave Enosh a gentle shove and headed down the trail. “Come on, let’s get down there!”

Enosh took one last look at the city. Coming up behind Father, Enosh studied the lamb draped across Father’s shoulders. The lamb’s little head peered over the edge of the precipice, down at the city.

“He has no idea,” Enosh said as he fell into step with his father.

“Hmmm?” Father said.

“The lamb,” Enosh said, looking at the small legs father was holding loosely against his chest. “He has no idea that his throat is about to be slit from ear to ear.”

“That’s a bit gruesome,” Father said.

“But it’s true,” Enosh said. “Isn’t it? The priest is gonna hold him down on the altar and pull a knife against his little neck and all his blood will spurt out and he’ll die.” Enosh said all of this with a matter-of-fact seriousness, trying to act like it didn’t bother him.

“True enough,” Father said. “That is what will happen.”

“I still don’t get it,” Enosh said. “Why does our lamb have to die?” His voice betrayed him, cracking, as he spoke. “Or any lamb? They didn’t do anything wrong.”

Father stopped on the side of the trail and squatted down. He lifted the lamb off his shoulders and placed it in front of himself. Enosh came around the other side of the lamb and ran his fingers through its soft coat.

“Enosh,” Father said.

Enosh looked up and blinked against the tears. He looked across the lamb into his father’s eyes. “Yes, Father?”

“Offering a sacrifice teaches us three things,” Father explained. “First, we give one of our own animals, not a stray or a wild animal, so we feel the loss. By giving up something we value, we take ownership of what is about to happen.”

Enosh looked down at the lamb and slowly back up to his father. “But it’s sad. It hurts in here,” Enosh pushed his fist into his stomach. “It’s hard to breath.”

“That’s what sin should do to us,” Father said, “every time.”

Enosh nodded.

“The second thing we learn,” Father continued, “when we offer a sacrifice, is that God wants to forgive us. But it’s a difficult thing. Sin is like death. It takes God’s breath away, too. Only through a blood sacrifice can sin be forgiven. I don’t think I understand it any better than you do, really. But God said it, and so we do it. One day we will all understand.”

Enosh was surprised to hear his father say he didn’t understand. He thought his Dad knew everything! He explored his father’s face. “So, you mean, it hurts God when we sin, just like it hurts us when we make a sacrifice?”

Father nodded.

“That makes me like God a bit more,” Enosh said. “I mean, a lot more than when I thought He just wanted us killing animals all the time.”

Father smiled. “And that, my son, is the third thing every sacrifice teaches us. God wants us as close as possible. By forgiving us, God is able to invite us closer. And we are able to approach Him.”

Enosh and Father tussled the lambs fur awhile longer and then father lifted it onto his shoulders and stood. Silently he walked toward Jerusalem. Enosh followed.

When they arrived at the temple, Father left Enosh by one of the courtyard gates. He was only ten, too young to go in. From where he stood, he could clearly see the altar.

It wasn’t long before it was Father’s turn. He lifted the lamb off his shoulders and handed it to the priest. The priest laid the lamb on its side and held it down firmly with one hand. With the other hand he drew a knife quickly and deeply across the little lamb’s throat.

Enosh saw blood gush out, into a bowl, and past the bowl onto the ground. The lamb twitched and jerked before going deathly still. The priest dipped his fingers into the bowl and applied blood on the horns of the altar. Then he poured the rest of the blood across the top of the altar.

Enosh shook his head sadly and a shiver ran up his spine.

Father nodded at the priest and walked toward the gate. Enosh quickly spun, putting his back against the wall outside the gate. Soon father emerged.

“Come along, Enosh,” father said, “All done.” Then after a pause, Father added, “Well, until next time.”

Saving Hamsters

When I was in Year 7 I decided to raise a little money. I bought two hamsters. A boy hamster. And a girl hamster. When they were old enough the girl hamster had babies. I had talked to the local pet store and they had assured me that they would buy the babies from me once they had hair.

The morning after the first litter of hairless baby hamsters were born I carefully added food to the dish and water to the bottle on the side of the cage. As I was leaving my room to head off to school I realized that it was quite cold on my desk in the corner where the aquarium with the little family in it was resting. So, I quickly picked up their home and moved it over to the window where the morning sun could warm the babies and parents.

When I returned from school I was heartbroken to find that the sun had mercilessly cooked all of the baby hamsters. The mum and dad were fine. But the heat had been too much for the fragile newborns. They were all dead. All seven of them. I felt horrible. It was my fault. If only I would have left them on the desk. If only. I knew they needed sun. But they also needed protection from the sun.

When the next litter was born I devised a plan. I arranged the aquarium so that only half of it would get sun. Then they could get some sun, but still have the freedom to move away from the sun. But the little babies didn’t get the point. They didn’t see the grand plan and they just sat there in the sun. And cooked.

So, with litter three I added a new phase to my plan. I went to the fridge and got a small piece of cheese. Then I went to the spice rack and got the black pepper, some coriander and a pinch of salt. I rubbed each spice into the cheese. It was perfect. I went and arranged myself so that I was leaning over their aquarium. And then I ate the cheese. It worked. Slowly… But it worked. The mixture was perfect and I began to shrink. Soon I was only the size of one of the parent hamsters and I was sitting on the edge of the aquarium swinging my legs. I dropped into the aquarium, making sure not to land on any of the third litter. I curled into a ball and the final phase of my incarnation medication kicked in. I grew fur, four little pink feet and a really cute wiggly nose. I was a hamster! Yes! But I still had all my human super smarts. I had a plan and it was in full swing.

I went to the little baby pinkies and said, “Hey guys, spend a bit of time in the sun and then move over into the shady side. Don’t get cooked like those who have gone before you.” They just stared back at me – with closed eyes and wiggling noses. I tried again, “The sun is hot! The sun – that big round thing out the window – it gets real hot. It’ll warm you up. But, then you’ve got to move! Ok?” They squeeked in my general direction. Had they understood? I couldn’t tell.

By this time their parents had come to check out the new hamster that had dropped from above. They waddled up to me and nuzzled me for a bit. Suddenly I had a thought, These are the parents! The guardians of the little ones. I’ll tell them! So, I did. They didn’t seem impressed. Their response baffled me. They said, “Nope. That’s not why the babies die. They just die. The have all died. Death is inevitable. Nothing we can do about it. And we reckon, why not die warm. So, we put them in the sun while they die.” I was dumbfounded. I tried to correct their misconceptions. It’s the sun that’s killing them! They didn’t like my ideas. Who was I to correct them anyhow?

I went and began picking the babies up in my little bucktoothed mouth and carrying them to the cool corner. The parents began squeaking uncontrollably. After I dropped a baby in the shade and headed back to pick up the next one, the mother would grab the one I’d just dropped and move it back into the sun. It was useless, but I kept trying. And trying. And they kept ruining every attempt I made.

Then I had another idea. I began furiously pulling out all of my hair. The two adult hamsters stopped scurrying and watched me in fascinated horror. I ripped out every bit of hair that I could reach with my teeth. Then I explained, “You are adults. You have hair. Your hair protects you from the sun. Watch.” Then I went over and laid down in the sunny corner. On top of the babies. Protecting them from the sun that was bearing down on us. I began to get hot. Very hot. My breath started to speed up. My back stung where the sun seared my hairless skin. My breath became like breathing fire. Finally it was too much and my little hamster body died. The parents saw me stop breathing. They approached carefully and sniffed. I was dead. They pushed their noses against me and rolled me off of their little ones. Then they buried me with the sawdust that covered the floor of their home.

Moments later my dead body began to pulse. It began to swell. Life returned to me. But I was stretching out of my hamster shape. I was back to the shape of a boy. As I grew tall enough I grabbed the side of the aquarium and climbed over onto the desk. I continued to grow until I was back to my normal size. I hopped off the desk and knelt down to look through the glass. What effect had my example had. Had my death accomplished anything? I watched in overwhelmed happiness as the father and mother hamster gently picked up their babies and moved them into the shade. It had worked. My death had given life to my little creatures. And my example had changed the worldview of two little furry parents.

When did you stop believing my story? How much of it was true? I did raise hamsters when I was in year 7. I did cook a cage full of them in my window. But, I had to solve the problem in a different way. Every day I had to move the aquarium into the sun for an hour and then back to the shade. The parents didn’t understand. And I wasn’t able to become one of them to teach them, to die for them, to show them how much I loved them.

But Jesus did. He had that power. He became one of us. He, the God of the universe – our Creator – took on our broken form and allowed himself to be crucified so that we could live. This is foolishness. Foolishness to the world. But it is life to us who are being saved.

I would rather be a fool for Christ – praising his name, exposing my faith and inviting the world to him. I would rather be a fool for Christ, than the wisest man on this fireball waiting to happen. I choose life. I choose Jesus. What about you? Will you be a fool for Christ? Your story will be unbelievable. And people will tell you so. They will call you a fool and your story a pack of fairytales and lies. But, the more you tell it and the more the Holy Spirit works on the hearts of your listeners the more fruit you will see. People will come to Jesus. They will come out of the fiery future that awaits them without Christ and they will live. If…. If… If you are willing to be a fool for Christ.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Men Like Jesus

I recently wrote this while waiting for my kids to get out of school. I put it up on facebook and was amazed at the amount of conversation it generated. What are your thoughts?


Do you know any men like Jesus?
He was never home (he said he didn't even have one). He was always out with his mates.
He had long chats with prostitutes and ignored his mother. He had so few personal boundaries that he had to pray when everyone else was asleep.
He chose the wrong crowd. When he needed them, his friends failed him. They fell asleep while he was crying and ran away when he was being beaten up.
Jesus fought and died for a cause only he understood.
Know any men like Jesus? Why not tell them you love them just the way they are? Jesus does — because he understands them. He's been there, done that.
Jesus is just one of the guys. Gotta love Him!

Friday, December 02, 2011

Telling in the Park

I recently went to preach in the lovely town of Echuca.
A couple of days before I came, one of the church elders called me with an idea.
"We've been letterboxing a commission housing area," he said. "There are lots of kids that play in the park situated in the middle of the houses. I know how much you love to tell stories. What would you think of telling stories to the kids in the park?"
I thought it was a great idea!
"How will you get the kids there at the right time?" I asked.
"We can make a flyer and letterbox the area the day before."
And they did.

These are the kids that showed up. We had great fun.
I told a few values-based stories and we had a few laughs.

I've always thought it would be fun to stop at random parks when kids are playing and put up a shingle - "Storyteller - 10 mins!" and see what happens.

Now I am more tempted!

Dave Edgren ~ Story: Teller, Author, Trainer ~

BOOK DAVE NOW! Dave Edgren is passionate about creating a values-based storytelling culture. In his engaging and often hilarious way,...