Sonshift study – Chapter Two

sonshift_3dThis is the second week of our discussion on my book, Sonshift: Everything Changes in the Father’s Embrace” today. We’ll be looking at chapter two titled, “Father Shift.”

Each week (usually Monday), I give a brief overview of a chapter from my book, followed by a series of questions. I invite you to respond to some or all of these questions, or give additional comments on the chapter that my questions don’t address.

My only rules are that you’ve actually read the chapter before you answer the questions, and that you state your comments briefly (as if you only had a small space to write in a workbook). I will number the questions so that you can simply use the numbers for reference. Our interaction with the comments will make for some good discussion! When I’m done, I will also make the finished manual available for download (PDF) free of charge.

So…here we go…chapter two!

Chapter Two: Father Shift

In this chapter I use the story of Pinocchio to start the discussion on understanding God as a Father. I talk about how a religious orphan views God as a Father (my view for many years as a Christian), I talk about my own personal encounter with the Father that changed everything!

“When God the Father reveals Himself to you in a personal way, not only do you see Him for who He really is, you begin to see yourself as who you really are in Him.” (p.50; Kindle loc. 688)

In the subsection, “What Would Jesus Do?” I outline Jesus’ final discourse in John’s gospel (John 13:31-17:26) and how I think it’s been misunderstood. What Jesus was talking about is giving us the Holy Spirit so that we could have the same relationship with His Father that He has had from eternity. God’s eternal purpose for us to be His adopted sons and daughters participating in the Trinitarian life of God is accomplished in Christ (John 17:21-26; Eph.1:4-7).  This is what “Father Shift” is all about:

“This Father Shift deals with why the He made you and why His Eternal Son had to step into time and space and become human in order to accomplish His dream for us.” (p.60; Kindle loc. 898)

Discussion Questions:

  1. When you close your eyes and try to picture your heavenly Father what do you see? Is it positive, negative, absent? Do you see Him smiling over you? Has this view changed? How did it change?
  2. Do you think your view of your biological father has affected your relationship with your heavenly Father? If so, how so?
  3. Can you relate to “dancing at the door with Jesus” but never going in? If so, please explain briefly.
  4. Can you relate to how the author views Jesus’ final discourse in John (13:31-17:26)? Is this different than what you were taught? Does it help to see the whole discourse in one context?  Please explain briefly.
  5. The author states that Jesus’ ultimate purpose was not for forgiveness of sins but for divine fellowship (“Participating in the divine nature –2 Pet.1:4)  How might this change your understanding of salvation? Of being “in Christ?”
  6. Does the concept of “eternal life” meaning entering into “God’s very own life” and having Jesus’ relationship with the Father make sense to you? How would you describe it?

coffee_commentsIf these questions didn’t address something you think is important, please add it in your comments. If you would like to make any comments offline, please email me at mwild@ceuturytel.net.  Thank you!

Now, it’s your turn!

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About Mel Wild

God's favorite (and so are you), a son and a father, happily married to the same beautiful woman for 36 years. We have three incredible adult children. My passion is pursuing the Father's heart in Christ and giving it away to others. My favorite pastime is being iconoclastic and trailblazing the depths of God's grace. I'm also senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in Wisconsin.
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7 Responses to Sonshift study – Chapter Two

  1. paulfg says:

    1. I recall the exact moment I “stepped through the door”. It was a more powerful moment than being “saved”. Being saved (with hindsight) was a lifebelt. Stepping through the doorway was living again. For me it was the moment God was “the why” – when Jesus was “the doorway” – but God was the why. And having stepped through – all the “names” we use (God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, etc) have become irrelevant. The “names” are just names for a map. And now I don’t need the map.

    2. Yes. But I was fortunate enough to see my own father as another wonderful human being (that “names thing” again). In his case cancer was the “way to my father”. But cancer was my doorway not his. I could have seen a scary doorway or a door opening to something new. I chose to be safe enough to walk through and embrace the human being I had named “dad” all my life. I have just realised that my spiritual doorway came some years after this physical doorway.

    3. My father was “dad” – all my life. Just dad. Never someone like me – always “dad” – always had been – always would be. And when walked through the door of his cancer, I saw some of my own siblings dance at the doorway still. He remained “dad” to them. Whereas I found he became me and I became him – we just “were” – and it was “cancer” that allowed me to allow that in me and him.

    4. Yes and yes. Teaching = being a Christian = Plan B = the cross = salvation = saved = heaven (equals burden = sacrifice = no fun = saying no to loads of stuff = investment for my after-life).
    Personal “doorway walk through” = intimacy = relationship = family = unconditional love = that is love = heaven Is now = indwelling is now = how can I not love all when I am all loved = dogma and denomination as “doorway dancing”.

    5. All of these questions are this one. All of the answers are this answer.

    6. Label-less. No language that makes sense (to doorway dancers). No need to be right (for others). No must and must not. No law – for none is needed. Law is another label. Love is. That’s all. Love is – and that drives all through love.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Thanks Paul! I like how you equated being saved as the lifebelt; walking through the door to the Father was living. That’s exactly it! In #3, I love how you relate dancing at the door with when your biological father was just “dad,” but going through the door was when he became you and you became him. That’s intimacy! That’s divine fellowship. While we don’t lose who we are, we become who we really are in this mutual exchange.
      Dogma and denomination as “doorway dancing.” Again, another good definition!

      We need a sign, “No more doorway dancing!” 🙂

      Thanks again for taking the time to answer these questions. Blessings.

  2. AfroScot says:

    1. I see an awesome Father! It is very positive and I see Him smiling over me and beckoning me to live a fulfilling life. It has not always been like this for me and this view changed when the truth of “Do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven” came to light.

    2. My parents were divorced at an early age and went through a bitter custody battle. I grew up with my Mum and was told to run away from my Dad each time he came visiting me in school so he couldn’t take me away. I related to God this way in trying to find love in other places than in Him.

    3. I was pretty much engaged in performance based religion. I went to church frequently and read the bible religiously but I was very empty. I challenged Jesus one time that he lived 33 years here on earth and didn’t see any reason why I should live any longer than that. I felt he was asking me to do something he couldn’t do himself because the pain of living was unbearable. Thinking of it now, my reasoning was really appalling but that shows the state of my mind then.

    4. I was taught that my identity on earth should always be a sinner saved by grace. I was taught that God was too holy to look at sin and I reaped whatever I had sown. I now understand that I am a slave to righteousness and sin no longer has dominion over me. I no longer hide myself with fig leaves but walk with Him in the cool of the day. I have reaped all that Jesus has sown.

    5. It has given me a lot of confidence and boosted my self-esteem knowing that Christ is in me. I also feel free for it is for freedom that Christ has set us free.

    6. This concept makes sense and I used to worry and get afraid a lot. I can actually say I now know how to rest in Him. I am having such a wonderful time and for the first time, I am enjoying my life more than sinners.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Thanks AfroScot. Awesome answers! It’s wonderful that you can see your heavenly Father this way after being in the middle of such a custody mess growing up, and in spite of bad theology. Unfortunately, a lot of religion makes our heavenly Father scary like your mom tried to do with your dad.
      And, on #4, this is too typical, even applauded. If God’s too holy to look at sin, and we’re perpetual sinners (“snow covered dung” as Martin Luther said), then we have a Father who can’t stand to look at us! He will never look our way and smile at us. He must have His Jesus’ glasses on. He only loves Jesus then. That’s pretty sad! That sounds more like Scrooge’s father than Jesus’ Father! Shows you just how ugly religion can be!
      But, again, I’m so glad you have broken free from that and can enjoy your life in Him. Praise God! Sounds like good news! 🙂

  3. bullroarin says:

    1. This may sound weird but I have never pictured the heavenly Father. I’ve never really had a desire to know what he looks like. When I pray, or close my eyes, I just have a sense of His presence…its like he is everywhere and not just conformed to a body or likeness like a human might have. Rather than seeing the Father smiling over me, its been more a sense of friendship or acceptance. Of course I didn’t give my life to the Lord in a church so any religious expectations would not have been on the front burner…if you know what I mean.
    2. I’ve always considered my relationship with my dad as a good one, although he was seldom home in my formative years (he was a police & fireman) due to shift work we still had a good relationship later on in life. It seems to me that just as we were beginning to make up for lost time, from those early years, that he passed away. My dad was a bit of an enigma in that I rarely got a straight answer from him on anything. On many occasions he would answer a question with a question in the hope that I might dig for the answer myself…not that he never offered guidance mind you, but it was rarely the first response. Great for building character and endurance perhaps, but frustrating at times never knowing for sure if I was on the right track. I find my heavenly Father similar at times in that an answer is not always as forthcoming as and uncomplicated as I would like…but then again I’m not sure it should be, after all, it is a relationship and I know He has my best interests in mind…and when I finally “get it,” I really get it!
    3. Yes…my dance was like going through the “revolving door,” in and then out……and then back in! I can see the look in your eye, Mel…let me explain. I was saved at home, no religious pomp and ceremony! (I entered the room) Months later I started attending church where I was indoctrinated in all things religious. (I left the room) Got sick of religion and the law…entered God’s grace and…..came back into the room!
    4. Yes…was never taught this. I think religion just teaches how to act like a christian. Living in relationship with Father, Son, & Holy Spirit is becoming like they are in every part of my being.
    5. I had to break free of the modern religious mindset to understand that my sin only kept me from relationship with God. Jesus dealt with the sin issue in order to restore fellowship…its always been about relationship…the Father never took His eyes off me, and His heart has always been my return to His embrace. Being in Christ allows me to be where He is.
    6. Yes…it makes perfect sense to me. I would say that it is like going into the depths of the ocean. It is an environment that I could not live in without help. Putting on scuba equipment (Christ) allows me to enjoy a place I would not otherwise enjoy.
    Thanks Mel.
    ~ Dave

    • Mel Wild says:

      Thanks for your thoughtful response, Dave! I really appreciate it.
      On #1, it could be one of two things. One, you’re not a visual-type person, more perception than vision, as you said. Or, it could be because your father wasn’t around (absent Father). That’s the way it was for me at first. I neither saw or felt anything. Either way, it doesn’t really matter if you have a strong positive feeling of His presence. It’s just something to be aware of and talk to God about. 🙂
      I totally understand the “revolving door!” Religion does that. When your relationship with God is transactional, it will be unstable (and harmed by bad religious experiences).
      I also like your scuba diving /ocean depths analogy. Yes, we can go to wondrous places where we could never otherwise go in His bottomless Ocean! Hallelujah!
      Thanks again for taking the time to answer these. Blessings.

  4. Hey, Mel, missed this due to illness; only going to answer #1, 4 and 5 today.
    1. It’s funny, my “picture” of the Father changes and shifts (which is why, btw, I have no trouble with The Shack). I used to picture Him as the “old man with the white beard.” Sometimes, I picture Him as a laughing Buddha. Most times, though, I don’t have a definite picture; it’s more of a feeling of someone enfolding me in His arms – a loving embrace, a comforting hand on my face, and the safety of His strong arms around me.
    4. Brilliant – it is all about love. And rereading it, it became beautifully obvious. Thank you.
    5. Again, not being raised a Christian, it didn’t change my perspective. I was strengthened in my own perspective as I began to look at “traditional” Christianity and why sin matters so much. And I now understand and accept more every day God’s love and grace, which allows me to give it away.

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