Written by Dave Carl, Family Ministry Pastor at Stonebriar Community Church
Some people learn by looking at pictures, while others learn by reading and understanding data and facts. Others learn best through stories. Those of you who learn through stories—we encourage you to meet King Cretin of the West, blessed with dark wisdom and an unnaturally long life.
There once was a kingdom that was powerful and vast. Rich in resources and treasures, it was the envy of every kingdom in the east. Because it was protected by nature and design, it was therefore impenetrable from attack. The castle was surrounded by stone walls both thick and tall to keep all enemies at bay. The castle gate was enormously wide, welcoming everyone else to enter. A mile farther out, there was a river that curved around the castle, protecting from attack on three sides. Its army was unmatched in both number and training. There was no safer, more powerful kingdom in the land.
To the west, beyond the snowy mountains was a kingdom ruled by King Cretin. This realm was small, and its resources had been ravaged and depleted by Cretin for his personal pleasure. King Cretin burned with envy and lust for the kingdom of the east. There could be no military attack—that would be folly. There could be no negotiations, for there was nothing King Cretin had to offer. There were just two things Cretin had that were valuable and unique. Sometime long back in years, he had been given two gifts from his wizard father. They were: dark wisdom and unnaturally long life. Rumor had it that these gifts were actually stolen, moments before Cretin murdered his father. Because of these gifts, Cretin had a patience that was inhuman. He formed a plan that no one else could have conceived and no single king could wait for. He would bring down the Eastern Kingdom without sword or battle. His plan was so dark and simple that it would alarm no one even if they heard it spoken out loud. King Cretin would collapse the Eastern Kingdom by robbing their young of their “True Purpose”.
No spell need be cast, and no demons were set loose. They were not necessary. The terrible power of Cretin’s plan was subtlety and patience. Patience that would quietly work and wait for four generations. The first generation was untouchable, as they came of age fighting to win territory and building walls necessary for protection. In that generation, the eastern King’s purpose through the war had been to rescue and protect those in his kingdom. Every subject in the kingdom knew this of their King, and they loved him for it. It was not payment in return to the King, for no treasure could match what they had been given. It was not a duty, for to serve one you love is a joy. The purpose of this blessed kingdom was to be loved by the King and to love Him in return. As a result, the subjects of this good place were perfectly happy to sacrifice in order to rescue and protect each other.
Cretin knew he would not be able to tell lies about their purpose (as clear and active as it was), so instead he lurked in the shops and alleys whispering the lie that this good work and devotion to the King would naturally trickle down to their children without effort or fuss. No need to tell stories of past battles and victories won. Telling children the tales of past miracles, villains vanquished, and heroes who suffered and fought for their King—these stories began to fall out of fashion. Cretin lied to parents about their purpose. He seduced them, telling them they should only worry about important things like the personal safety of their kids and the comfortable prosperity for their children’s future. “There is no need to make too much of this rescue and protect business.” Cretin would whisper, “Your children will pick that up naturally and on their own”. The lie soaked in deeply. The devastating but nearly invisible erosion began.
The second generation came of age amidst safety and prosperity. Armies and vigilance against enemies were a drain on resources, threatening plans to build centers of entertainment and business. Cretin and his spies whispered to them in their schools and celebrations that safety and prosperity were their purpose and birthright. The new lie for a new generation stated that to rescue and protect others was both primitive and passé. To love and serve the King was nothing less than slavery, and this would not be tolerated by a smart and self-reliant generation. Safety and prosperity were the new purpose, the greater purpose. Nothing else was as important, and there was nothing these new parents would not do to obtain these for their children.
There were voices that tried to remind the youth about loving the King with devotion as their first purpose and secondly to rescue and protect each other, but it seemed so unnecessary in this modern age. It seemed backward and even a bit primitive. Cretin twisted the purpose of the past and retold it in a sick and perverse way. He told the Eastern Kingdom that they were free now to rescue and protect themselves—a small but devastating difference from the purpose of their grandparents. It was a lie they drank of deeply and long.
The third generation came of age bored and restless. The stone walls built by past generations were falling into disrepair, but the people were no longer interested in boundaries. The purpose of this third generation was to obtain pleasure and freedom above all else. Cretin was no longer spreading lies—the narcissistic and rebellious youth of this third generation were doing that for him. They did it creatively and with flourish. They did it much better than Cretin ever had. They were little more than “appetites with legs.” The irony was that these young people actually had an over-abundance of both pleasure and freedom. As a result, they were the most surly and unhappy generation the kingdom had ever known. They did not want to work for anything but pleasure, and this they slaved for at the expense of every good thing they had. In this blind and furious devotion to pleasure, they did not take care of anyone—including themselves. All this pleasure-seeking left their souls famished, sick, and weak. As is true for those in the process of slipping away from reality, there was no fear of actual dangers, but they lived in constant dread of phantoms they themselves had created. There was no concern at all for their own souls while they dreaded more than death—the prospect that they might not be happy tomorrow.
Cretin was now a member of the senate, and he was gaining power every day. He arose in the ranks because he promised happiness and assured people that things would get even better without effort on their part—a promise this generation was unable to resist.
The fourth generation was born into a culture that was self-obsessed and weak. The stone walls had long crumbled, the military was in shambles, and enemy hordes were moving in from all directions. The deceived people refused to be distracted from their pleasure-seeking by a crisis, so they begged Senator Cretin to take control. They demanded that he keep them safe and happy like he had long promised. Finally, and with great reluctance, Cretin agreed to be their new king. Cretin feasted on the Eastern Kingdom until a new youth, born into an era of chaos, fear, and total corruption, came to realize their homeland had fallen into enemy hands. They began to long for a great King as their great, great grandparents had. They also came to believe that their purpose was once again to rescue the hurting and protect the weak. A long and costly battle was about to begin.
Dave Carl is the Family Ministry Pastor at Stonebriar Community Church and is responsible for the ministry focusing on children birth through high school graduation and the parents who love them. With a ministry philosophy based on Luke 10:27, his primary focus is to give parents the skills to raise kids who truly love Jesus and want to serve others. Dave has a passion for ministering to families in crisis in our community. He has spent several years pouring into fathers and husbands and helping them learn that they need community, were designed to guard and protect, and that they really can be the spiritual leaders of their family.
Dave and his wife of 30 plus years, Cathy, have two adult children and one in high school and recently became grandparents for the first time. They are completely in love with this new member of their family. Dave is an avid woodworker and loves to write. He sees all stories in the form of pictures, and he would love to connect with you!