Archives For relationship

Blogpost 18th May 2016Here’s my two cents, in response to some current events.

Human identity is not found in what the world, the oppressor, flag or economic status allows us to define ourselves as. Nor is it in the what that world, that oppressor, flag, or economic status defines for us.

If it is to be full human identity, it begins with Jesus Christ. That means that we are called to self-identify with [Yahweh] God who made humanity in His own image. The God who chose to create man as man, and woman as woman.

The one who chose to raise humanity up, then speak and walk with both, in a garden of His making. Providing for both, even when both chose to entertain the subtleties of evil and its sly use of God’s own words to incite human rejection of Him.

Defined by their Creator, man is to be fully man, woman is to be fully woman. Unique, different, reconciled, enabled to be together in a joy-filled, committed relationship with each other. Both free for each other and free for God.

New life begins here. This is real freedom. Real identity. All of which is based on the call to relationship within a new covenant. One called into being by the God who acts in freedom.

Choosing to decisively grasp humanity one final time, in His physical appearing and dwelling in history through His son, Jesus Christ. Choosing to once again to make Himself the painful reminder to humanity of its real identity; of its real home and ultimate place of rest.

Offering humanity a path to freedom from it’s oppressors, it’s soulless routines; freedom from the false security of its alliances, the injustice of empty promises and the smoke and mirrors used to buy and sell our hearts allegiances.

Our freedom was brought at a great price. We are instructed to be responsible with how we choose to invest it. May future generations look back with reverence, gratitude and humility towards those who stood against the currency of shares, likes and comments. Who stood firm against the tide of over indulgence, abdication of responsibility, blame and selfish self-fulfillment.

Related reading:

When a Man Loves a Woman: Barth’s Freedom in Fellowship

31st May 2015_Rod Lampard

In spite of my mother’s disapproval, as kids, my father would chase us around while wearing a witch’s mask. He gave himself away by his laughter, but in utter fear, my young sister and I would hide all around the house. Once we started attending school, his use of the mask had withered down to a threat, used only as a tool to pull us into line.

My family was dysfunctional.

Whenever we visited other families who had kids, my sister and I were forced to sit and not make a sound. It was rare that we’d be allowed to play. It was understandable, the environments weren’t all that great and my mother knew it.

We were a family stuck on welfare, living in government housing, growing up in a government housing estate.

It’s evident to most that my father had some minor emotional and mental health issues he never could shake free from. He wasn’t always there, shutting himself off in a world of his own, dragging us as a family into it. We were never quite sure when or where we’d land.

At one time he considered himself to be a private detective, proudly displaying his suspect, distance-education, mail-to-order qualifications on the lounge room wall.

These sat alongside mug shots and fingerprinted profiles of my sister and me, there “for our own protection.”

To our chagrin, he became the local neighbourhood watch co-ordinator, setting us all at odds with the demographic of every street other than our own.Sometime later he joined the Royal Australian Army Reserve. By this time my parent’s relationship had hit the rocks.

My father soon met and then married another woman, with whom he later had three amazing children. My parents divorced and a whole new dance with dysfunction began. My father and stepmother would have continual problems within their relationship, themselves divorcing sooner than some had predicted they would.

After living with my dad for a few years, our relationship became more and more strained. This ended abruptly, with me moving back to live with my mother. She arrived at his house to find my clothes in bags on the lawn. He choose to keep the CD stereo, he’d given me a year earlier.

A couple of years later, my father and step-mother’s infant son died. The day this happened my father rang my mother and we went over. Unable to revive the little man, my little brother was pronounced dead by the paramedics. His death later determined to have been caused by SIDs.

Before the ambulance took him away, my father wanted photos taken of us with him. This was hard to do, but the photos were taken anyway.

Situations like this one had a major impact on me. Other events such as link } or being dragged into court  before a magistrate, for eating food from the fridge, after my father accused me of stealing. Although his relatives tell me, he loved us. None of his actions prove this and no manner of excuse is factually adequate enough to dismiss or justify my fathers abuse or his absence.

We’ve shared a rough road.

In March of 2015, after an eight-hour road trip,  I saw my father for the first time in eight years. Having had extended my hand of friendship to him for the past ten, we had put in place boundaries and were on relatively good terms.

But, my father was dying. He had been sick for some time and finding the right time to make the eight-hour trip was always difficult.

After our visit, we were told that he was the best he’d been in two weeks. He was vibrant, talkative and pleased to see us. God’s quiet provision in this difficult situation was evident. When our meeting ended I prayed with him and said our goodbyes.

He’d hoped that he would have had more time, but five days later he passed away.

Over the years, it’s been difficult to process all that took place. It’s been even harder working out the right way to communicate it, without bulldozing people over with too much information, all at once. I admit I stumble over this more often than not.

Any forgiveness towards my father is made more complicated by the ongoing struggle to navigate and reconcile the consequences left in the wake of his decisions. He was unapologetic and felt entitled to forgiveness, without any real attempt to take responsibility for his decisions.

Even now, without him and more so because of the absence of apology, we wrestle because of the lack of his repentance. My extended family still struggles to relate to one another. In many cases the cycle of abuse continues and therefore, so does the need for tough boundaries.

I believe, however, that through Jesus Christ and His example of forgiveness we are enabled to forgive. Enabled to forgive the absence of apology. Enabled to grasp the fact that we are firmly held by grace above the abyss, for

‘Grace is that which holds humanity over the abyss of nothingness.’ (Dietrich Bonhoeffer) [i]

Only through grace can the ‘creative power of forgiveness’ [ii] breathe, reconstruct, transform and free us.

In line with what Reinhold Niebuhr said, Christian forgiveness, like Christian prayer, is not stoic detachment.[iii] The past is far from forgotten, but I am able to forgive and as a result move forward in that forgiveness.

The evidence of God’s presence and guidance in this situation is real.

His forgiveness became mine as I was lead to befriend and establish boundaries with my father ten years ago. That same forgiveness enabled me to meet with my dying father at the right time, crack a joke, have his grandkids talk to him about school, give him a hug, pray with him, and say my goodbye.

‘For you, the Lord my God lighten my darkness. For by you I can run against a troop, and by my God I can leap over a wall. This God—his way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.’
– (Psalm 18:28-30, ESV)

Set your eyes towards Christ. Inhaled grace ignites.


[i] Bonhoeffer, D. Creation & Fall, DBW Vol.3

[ii] Bloesch, D. 2006 Essentials of Evangelical theology Hendrickson Publishers 2006:62

[ii] Niebuhr, R. 1945, Discerning the Signs of The Times

Five Two

March 20, 2015 — 5 Comments

Fish photo_RLampard2015Two weeks ago my father passed away. He was not an easy man to connect with. So, we weren’t close.

Anything I write about it will inevitably fail to convey the reality of what would be justifiably labelled as a “failed” relationship.

No words I choose to use can adequately describe what kind of person he was. Nor can they fairly present the two-sides of the damaged legacy that informed and followed a lot of the choices he made.

I’ve looked for ways to write about it and have nothing. Hence the simple reflective posts over the past month.

My words seem to stubbornly sit in a void. It’s not like I have nothing to say, it’s just that there isn’t a lot that could be said.

Then there’s the added complication of a what should be said, but needs to be said carefully, at the right time and to the right people.

What I can say is that although grace redefined our relationship as father and son, one-sided relationships are hard to maintain. As a result it never was what it should, or could have been. I lament that. What I see, however, and am thankful for is how grace moved through forgiveness to empower me to work with what I could do instead of what he or others expected and demanded that I should do.

Subsequently, we were able to connect in a healthy way, establishing and asserting boundaries; speaking on the phone almost every month for the past ten years, interacting with him online, sending him care packages, driving to speak and pray with him the week that he died.

As much as I would like to take the credit for this. With the dysfunction that existed there, such contact was and remains an act of God.

It’s what recently attracted me to an event that Luke mentions.

The people who had come out to hear Jesus preach needed to eat and the disciples were getting antsy. Jesus steps up and works with what he has. No magic. No fairy dust. Just an incomprehensible act of grace that apprehends us.

Challenging us to see and understand that He can make possible that which otherwise seems to be impossible.

‘Jesus directed the disciples saying, ”Sit them down in groups of about fifty.” They did what he said, and soon had everyone seated. He took the five loaves and two fish, lifted his face to heaven in prayer, blessed, broke, and gave the bread and fish to the disciples to hand out to the crowd.’
– (Luke 9:14-17, The Message)

Photo credit: Mine. It is cropped from a larger photo that features a sculpture tucked away into a wall near the Manning River in Taree, NSW.