How do you do life?

There is no such thing as a self-made man. Or woman. Each person on Earth is a unique individual shaped by the culture, subculture, family and faith they live and breathe within.


As a Christian, I became aware that I was different at an early age. As a Seventh-day Adventist Christian, it was in my teens when I realised just how different. I went to a Seventh-day Adventist boarding school and had friends there who were not Adventist or even Christian. They were there to reform while I was there for the music. The Rio Lindo Academy choir and band visited my church a few times in my childhood and I knew I wanted to go there to play the saxophone in the band and sing in the choir.

While a student at Rio Lindo, along with music, I learned all kinds of things that weren’t on the school curriculum. I learned you didn’t need to be 21 to drink alcohol - you just needed alcohol. I learned cigarettes were not just something my Grandma kept in the top of her kitchen cupboard, they were available from a guy at the back door of the gym. I learned sometimes boys got girls pregnant and those girls left school while the boy got pats on the back and special privileges from the boys dean. And I learned, in all of the above and more, everything you become later in life starts with the choices you make now.

In the summer before my Senior year, I went to live and work in Maui, Hawaii. I found a job on Front Street in Lahaina encouraging people to get their photos taken with macaws. They were beautiful birds and tourists flocked to see them. The trick was getting people over their fear of the claws and beaks. Once they allowed the bird on their arm, they always wanted a Polaroid. That was the job and I loved it.

When my shift finished at 4pm, Mike’s shift would begin. During the transition time, we became friends. Mike came from a very different world than I did.  He saw as normal and desirable all the things I was raised to avoid. And he quickly became more and more sure that I was from a different planet.

Mike had one primary goal in life and he kept a list. Mike was attempting to have sex with a woman from every country on Earth. He was serious about it. He’d been travelling for a few years, from country to country, ticking nations off his list. Until he arrived in Maui and realised it was a traveller's Mecca and if he stayed put the ladies of the world would come to him. One night, Mike asked me if I wanted to join him on a Catamaran with ‘some ladies’. I declined. After a few questions, Mike came to a startling realisation and asked what was to him a deeply troubling question, “You’re not a virgin, are you?” When I said I was, he promised, “We will change that!” I laughed and explained it wasn’t something I wanted to be changed.

A week or two later, Mike invited me to a bar for drinks after work. It was Friday night and the the entire staff from the bird stand would be there sharing laughs and liquor. I explained that I didn’t drink. He assumed this was due to my age and said he knew the bartender and it would be no problem. I explained my choice not to drink and he said, “Ok, well just have a glass of milk or something.” Then I explained the Sabbath to him. As a Seventh-day Adventist, I choose to give 24 hours - from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday - to God each week. I spend these hours with God, my church family and friends. Mike shook his head in wonder.

The next week the owner of the birds, Casey, happened to stop by while Mike and I were chatting. Casey was a hippie. He drove a combi-van, had long hair and talked in long drawn out syllables even for short words. Mike started teasing Casey about his hippie diet. “Dave, did you know Casey only eats rabbit food?” I smiled and said, “Mike, I’m a vegetarian, just like Casey!” Again, Mike shook his head.

A few days later, as we were chatting, Mike pointed out a friend walking on the beach. “Oh, I want to introduce you to someone.” The beach was across the busy street and past a wooden dividing fence. Mike stood on a chair, cupped his hands, and shouted over the crowd, “DUUUDE!” His friend blocked the sun from his eyes and squinting, looked at Mike - as did everyone else in the busy outdoor shopping area. “DUDE! This is the guy I was telling you about!” Mike gestured to me as he continued shouting, “THE VEGETARIAN VIRGIN WHO DOESN’T DRINK!!”

Time stopped. I looked for a hole to climb into or a tree to hide behind. Everyone was staring. At. Me.

Mike’s friend ran up the beach, jumped the fence, crossed the road and sprinted toward me. As he got close he raised a hand above his head like he was going to hit me. Instead, he brought it down, palm up, and said, “Put her there!” I warily slapped at his hand in the way cool guys do. He accepted my low-five, put his hands on his hips and rocked back on his heels. “Dude, is it true?”

“Um, is what true?”

“Do you really refuse alcohol, meat and the ladies?”

My eyes shifted around the courtyard to see who else was looking. Mercifully, people had moved on with their lives. I looked down at the ground, embarrassed, “Yeah, it’s true.”

The next words out of his mouth were completely unexpected. “Dude, how do you do it?”

All my life I’d had to explain why I don’t do these things. Never had anyone framed the question in the reverse. “Do what? I don’t do anything!”

He laughed. “No way, man. Respect! I could never be that strong. How can you be so strong?”

I told him about my family. “I’ve been raised this way. I’ve never thought of it as strength. It’s just the way we are.”

“Dude, it’s strength.” He put his hand out and I shook it, “I’ve got nothing but respect for you.”


Character and Resilience

Over the 30+ years since that perception altering conversation, I have been studying the development of character and resilience. Both are products of our culture and values. We are truly unique - each and every one of us - shaped by the environment we grew up in and the choices we made in our formative years. Most of what we are as adults was shaped and set-in-stone before we left home.
I spend a lot of time talking to kids and parents about how to define and develop both character and resilience. Here’s my take, in a nutshell:

Resilience comes from relationships. Every child needs a minimum of five significant adults with whom they have experiences and share stories. Believed stories are stored in the same part of the mind as personal experiences. So, the more stories our children hear from significant adults, the more resilience material they have for life’s difficult patches.

Character - a combination of our thoughts and feelings - is formed by boundaries and routines. Like the wall around a building, our character is stable when we know and trust the boundaries. Everyone is comfortable leaning against a solid wall, no matter how far the fall is on the other side of it. Likewise, we trust ourselves when we have well-tested boundaries. Those boundaries are designed and defined by our routines and rituals. Every time an athlete runs around a track, they increase their ability and belief to succeed in their sport. When they ritualise that run around the track - doing it day in and day out - they create permanence of strength and character. Every time a person of faith practices their faith  - every prayer, every time of worship - they increase their trust and reliance in the foundation of their faith. Every time a child lifts their arms up to their parent and is lifted up, their trust and reliance on that parent is encouraged and empowered. Our boundaries and routines provide the foundations and building blocks for our character.


Our identity is formed by three boundaries we live with and within every day of our lives. These boundaries are shaped in our childhood and never questioned by most people. They form our identity. Imagine a target with three rings. The bullseye is your identity. It is encompassed by three rings. The first ring has “person” written in it. The next ring has “world” written in it. And the final ring has “universe” written in it.


World-view

Because we are all aware of the concept of “worldview” let’s start with the middle ring. Our worldview is shaped by the world in which we grow up. In the west, success is reached by the person who aspires, focuses, trains and achieves their goals. To someone embedded in a western worldview, it may come as a shock to hear that in the past all of humanity and still today, most of the world, live by a different rule of success.

Community, to those outside the western worldview, is where success is decided and defined. A community rises or falls based on the interactivity of the people within. One person’s success or failure means little overall as long as the family, the village, the culture is maintained. I call these two worldviews: Me vs We.

“Me” says “I made this. It’s mine.” Selfishness is ingrained. Sharing is praised as an act of personal altruism.
“We” says “We made this. It’s ours.” Sharing is ingrained. Selfishness demeans the community and is shunned.

“Me” says “I am created in God’s Image.” Being like God means self-control and self-esteem.
“We” says “We are created in God’s Image.” Being like God means working together to empower others and create a better world.

The Biblical worldview, the one to which Christians are called, is contrary to the self-focused western worldview. Community is more important than the individual. Our purpose in “image-bearing” God to the world is accomplished in and through relationships rather than personal achievement.

Your worldview creates a boundary within which your identity and character form.

If you live within the “Me” boundary, your routines and rituals will focus on your need to achieve, improve, acquire and increase wealth and experience. You will find meaning in owning more than you need and using your worth to build more worth, even negative-gearing it to allow you to wrap your tail around an even bigger pile of treasure. You will feel completely justified behaving in selfish and self-righteous ways because you’ve earned it yourself and clearly, you know best!

If you build your life within the “We” boundary, you will seek first to build relationships. Your time and energy will focus on giving and accepting love. You will see others as your investment portfolio. As you mentor people your community will strengthen and mature. As you focus on your relationship with God - growing to love and treasure Him as you are loved and treasured by Him - you will become more loving and lovable. God’s Kingdom is a place of family, future-proofed through meaningful conversation, friendships and acts of compassion.

Resilience, which comes through relationships and shared story, can be developed in both worldviews. In the “We” worldview, resilience is a natural byproduct of spending time in community. In the “Me” worldview, resilience is a gained through family, team sports, the educational system and paid mentoring.


Person-view

What does it mean to be human? What is a person?

The modern world has sold us a concept of human nature that is broken and incomplete. We are taught by the media, movies, superstars and science books that we are, at  our very foundation, sexual beings. Our identity is built on our physical attractiveness. We are valued by others and thus value ourselves if we are sexy. We spend our lives building bodies that are sexually attractive or layering ourselves with flattering clothing - or both. We find our place in life, where we belong, with people like ourselves. The law of fitness governs our survival as individuals and as a species.

The truest and purest view of the person is that we are spiritual beings. The Bible starts by saying we were created in the Image of God. A person is a spiritual being. God is Love. You are designed to be loved and to give love. I say this is the truest and purest person-view because as those who have been truly loved know, at its foundation, love is not a sexual thing. Humans who have experienced true love know there is no greater joy than being unconditionally loved. When we love and are loved with a heart love - in our spirit - we are truly living as we were created to live. We are spiritual beings.

If your person-view boundary is of humans as sexual beings, you will have routines and rituals which focus on beautifying and perfecting your body, objectifying yourself to earn respect as a worthwhile person. You will spend time and energy participating in pursuits that value others for their success at sexualising themselves. Your children will learn from your words and actions that they are most valuable when they are physically attractive.

If your person-view boundary is of humans as spiritual beings, you will have routines and rituals which are internal. You will practice and participate in reading books, spending time in prayer and meditation, attend religious services, and do acts of service. Your time and energy will be spent on heartfelt activities. Your children will learn from your words and actions that they are most whole when they are growing in spirit and involved in service to others.

Resilience, which comes through relationships and shared story, can be developed in both person-views. Other people and their stories will be taken on board, reinforcing your particular view. These mentors and their stories will lead you deeper into this way of thinking.


Universe-view

What is the Universe? Where did it come from? How did it get here?

The question of origins has interested us for as long as recorded history goes back. Religions formed around the question. Science attempts to answer it. It is the primary human question. Starting with the middle-ground in which we live, the world we can see and experience, the focus of the question zooms out and in, both approaching infinity. The bigger questions start with our solar system, reach beyond our galaxy and grasp at the edges of the known universe. The smaller questions zoom in and parse us - our cells, atoms, protons, quarts and quirks. But, overall, the question remains: What is it all and where did it come from?

The modern scientific world we live in has thrown a red herring into the approach we use in explaining the universe. This red herring swims not just in secular camps but religious ones as well. It is a product of modernity and in this sense, universal. Our ever-present passionate interest in nature has become an impassioned plea toward the saving of nature. Just as in days-of-old, our society has turned it’s universal question into a religion. Save the planet. Our nature to love and be loved draws us inexplicable toward loving the planet. If you ask most people caught up in saving the world why they think this way, they will argue that they are not in it for themselves. Saying things like, “We don’t need to save the planet just for our own needs, it’s just the right thing to do. We’ve done this damage and we should undo it.” They are expressing their inbuilt unexplainable desire to love that which is greater than themselves.

Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with caring for our planet. It is a good thing to clean up our mess. But, the red herring remains. And Christians are just as guilty of it as the scientific world. We preach green sermons. We organise outreach programs for our youth in which we better and beautify nature. And we argue about the Earth like it’s the end of the world. We even call it science, Creation Science. Many Christians feel they need to defend the planet - it’s age and birth - from those with different origin beliefs. So much so that many Christians make a passion of it and some make a living at it. Arguing about creation.

And here is the universal problem. The red herring is the focus on the created rather than the Creator. I believe we have a God who created everything, created us in His Image and then called us to love and be loved. At the foundation of this belief is God - our Loving Creator. I worship Him. Not the stars. Not the Earth. Never does the Bible try to prove God’s existence. It assumes it. Never does the Bible try to prove God’s creative power or process. It assumes it. When we take our mission or method from anywhere other than our Creator and His Love, we become part of the problem rather than the solution.

If your universe-view comes from creation, you will have routines and rituals focused on the wellbeing of planet Earth. You will spend your time and energy discussing and defending a theory of origins or saving the planet. You will be passionate about saving the planet. You may also be driven to decry those who believe differently.

If your universe-view is based on the Creator, you will routines and rituals which lift Him up in worship and draw yourself and others closer to Him. You will spend your time and energy glorifying and glorying in his presence and purpose for life - to love and be loved. Your views of God and his Word will inform your desire to care for others and the planet. You will, by the nature of love, embrace and engage others in compassionate conversation.

Resilience, which comes through relationships and shared story, can be developed in both worldviews. There are many groups of creation-focused people who are deeply engaged in common purpose and meaning. They are not, however, necessarily connecting to God or through God to others in Love. Shared experiences and stories are present within both universe-view boundaries. One ensures God alone is worshipped lifted up as the Creator of life and love.


Conclusion

Thinking back on that handshake and passionate plea, “How do you do it? Where do you get your strength?” I now have some answers which I understand. I was right that my family was the source of my views. But, now I am more able to explain it.

A follower of Jesus lives and breathes within a different reality than someone who doesn’t know Him. Not because reality is inherently different but because it is perceived differently.

God is love. His love compels his followers to love those around them. Not because its our job but because it's our response to His love. Being loved by our Creator in whose image we are created we connect as spiritual beings in loving, creative relationships with the rest of humanity. All in the desire to see God fully known for all that He is.

God’s people are those who recognise where they have come from. Or, more importantly, who they have come from. Created lovingly in the Image of God by the God of Love, we are formed by Him to be in relationship with Him and the other people He created. When we show love to Him it is called worship. When we show love to each other it is called compassion.

Building our character within boundaries that speak of His love for us will shape us more rightly in His image. Viewing the person as spiritual, the world as relational, and the universe as a gift from the Creator we can build routines and rituals that embed these truths more deeply within us. Spending time with like-minded people in community and worship will give both us and our children resilience that relies on the experiences and stories which grew out of God’s love.

That is how we do it.

By building on the firm foundation of the God of Love.
By flourishing within boundaries created by His Love.

That is where we get our strength.

Towering Resilience - Jenga question based game




What’s the best thing that ever happened to you?

What is one goal you have right now?

What do people say they like about you?

What makes someone a good friend?

What 3 things are you good at?

How do you feel right now?

Where are your ancestors from?

What is your nickname?

Who do you look like?

The best gift you’ve been given?

3 things that upset you?

Are you clean or messy?

3 things I love…

What does listening look like?

What is your biggest fear?

3 things that upset you?

How do you show you care about your friends?

Tell something funny that happened?

What does angry body language look like?

The farthest you’ve been from home?

What are your pets names?

What is your favourite place?

What makes you happy?

Your favourite food?

Who named you?

Who is your hero?

Favourite fast food?

What do you collect?

Your favourite clothes?

Who do you act like?

People like me because…

What do you really want?

How many languages do you speak?

What is the best holiday you’ve been on?

What are you proud of about yourself?

What’s your favourite thing to play with?

What is your favourite animal?

The bravest thing you’ve done?

What is the best thing this week?

Who knows you best?

What makes you laugh?

What is your favourite game?

Tell a joke…

What is your favourite sport?

Do you like surprises?

Who is your best friend?

Tell a dream you had…

How many siblings do you have?

My favourite song is…

What makes you cry?

The best family activity you’ve done?

What makes you angry?


The Do You Know Resilience Scale

Click here for a Workbook for Kids based on the DYK Scale (below)


The Do You Know Scale

Please answer the following questions by circling “Y” for “yes” or “N” for “no.” Even if you know the information we are asking about, you don’t need to write it down. We just wish to know if you know the information.

Y     N    Do you know how your parents met?
Y     N    Do you know where your mother grew up?
Y     N    Do you know where your father grew up?
Y     N    Do you know where some of your grandparents grew up?
Y     N    Do you know where some of your grandparents met?
Y     N    Do you know where your parents were married?
Y     N    Do you know what went on when you were being born?
Y     N    Do you know who chose your name?
Y     N    Do you know some things about what happened when your brothers or sisters were being born?
Y     N    Do you know which person in your family you look most like?
Y     N    Do you know which person in the family you act most like?
Y     N    Do you know some of the illnesses and injuries that your parents experienced when they were younger?
Y     N    Do you know some of the lessons that your parents learned from good or bad experiences?
Y     N    Do you know some things that happened to your mom or dad when they were in school?
Y     N    Do you know the national background of your family (such as English, German, Russian, etc)?
Y     N    Do you know some of the jobs that your parents had when they were young?
Y     N    Do you know some awards that your parents received when they were young?
Y     N    Do you know the names of the schools that your mom went to?
Y     N    Do you know the names of the schools that your dad went to?
Y     N    Do you know of a relative whose face “froze” in a grumpy position because they did not smile enough?



Score: Total number answered Y.

More than 10 "Y" answers correlates positively with a resilient person. 

Important Note: (from website below) About that last question! Fifteen per cent of our sample answered “Yes!” This is because the stories that families tell are not always “true.” Often, they are told in order to teach a lesson or help with a physical or emotional hurt. As such, they may be modified as needed. The accuracy of the stories is not critical. In fact, there are often disagreements among family members about what really happened! These disagreements then become part of the family narrative. Not to worry!

From: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/marshall-p-duke/the-stories-that-bind-us-_b_2918975.html


PFC #5 - Life at the Waterhole

Intro: A Non-Event at the Waterhole



Spiritual Applications: The Holy Spirit is like the Water buffalo – sees the enemy, defends us – often without our awareness.
Problem: What about the times this doesn’t Happen? Sometimes bad stuff happens to good people. What then?

Stories
Angelo – born to an unwed mother, his father paid to have a midwife poison him. The poison caused him to have seizures but didn’t kill him. His mother, shamed and embarrassed by her sick child, sold him to a rich man who used him to look after his livestock while his own kids went to boarding school. From 2 years old, Angelo lived outside with the sheep, goats and cattle. Joseph’s “ladies under the ground” called him. Angelo was nearly 5 years old now and living like a wild animal. … Used Giraffe to get to him… Angelo said, “I am free here. I suck milk from the cows whenever I want. I eat berries off any bush I want.” It took two weeks to convince little Angelo there was a better life waiting for him. Now, he is an amazing young man… although he still eats grasshoppers as a quick snack whenever he can catch one!

Lekini (13) was asleep in bed next to his two brothers when seven men broke the door down and hacked his brothers to death. They left Lekini with three huge knife cuts on his head and a gash on the top of his forearm from wrist to elbow. Thinking the three boys were dead, the men went outside the house and sang a victory song before disappearing into the night.
Joseph was called and he carried the dying boy on his lap for the next 10 hours as they tried to find an open hospital which could help with such severe wounds. “Most of the skin on top of his head was hanging off the side,” Joseph said. “This boy is a miracle. He bled so much. But he is alive because of God.”
“We are taking this boy,” Carole said. “No matter what. He needs hope. We will find a sponsor. What is his English name?”
His uncle had been listening through Joseph’s translation to the meeting that afternoon. “His uncle says,” Joseph translated, “He wants his English name to be David, like you.” The old man’s sad eyes smiled at me.

Joseph
“I receive a call about a child in need of rescue nearly every day,” Joseph told me. “I have 15 children in the program right now. They are fully sponsored to go to school. They have food, clothes, education and most important - they are safe.” Joseph paused and then asked, “Do you want to know how many children are on my list, right now? Children that I have verified their stories and they need safety?”
“How many?” I asked.

“One hundred and sixty-one. THAT MANY need the safety to be on the program.” Joseph studied me with his powerful Maasai stare. “Can you help me to get these sponsors, David? Is this something you can do?”
“I will try, Joseph,” I said with tears in my eyes. “I will tell your story. When western people’s hearts are touched, they are very loving, kind and generous. But, in the west, everyone is asking for money. So, we need to hear real stories to believe the money will actually help.”
“Thank you, David. Thank you, so much!”

Carole: If the Devil was defeated at the Cross, why are there such horrible things still happening? Why doesn’t God act? He knows who is evil and who is good. Why wait? If God is all powerful, why doesn’t he use that power to act now?
Me: God’s followers have a habit of getting God’s nature wrong – and teaching wrong thing about God to our children.
In OT times, a few Millennia after leaving Eden, they had warped the promise of a Messiah to mean God would send a Deliverer who would defeat the oppressors and rule with an iron rod. A Warrior King.
Now, a couple of millennia after Jesus’ return to Heaven, we are convinced Jesus came to show God’s power. If this is true – God has ultimate power - all that happens on Earth is, ultimately, His fault – part of His plan. This is a wrong view of God’s nature. This is not what Jesus came to show us about God. POWER is not God’s defining attribute. If it was, He would take control.
Carole: I see. Jesus came to show God’s love. God’s defining attribute: “God is Love!”
Me: Yes. And within the bounds of God’s perfect Love, His power lives. Love gives freedom. Freedom of choice is the ultimate expression of God’s Love. The Perfect love of God allows choices to be made and then honours those choices. But, ultimately, Love will win. God’s Love is patient. It is long-suffering. And it can be seen everywhere, while we wait.
"God is love" is written upon every opening bud, upon every spire of springing grass. The lovely birds making the air vocal with their happy songs, the delicately tinted flowers in their perfection perfuming the air, the lofty trees of the forest with their rich foliage of living green -- all testify to the tender, fatherly care of our God and to His desire to make His children happy. (Steps to Christ 10.1)
John made a wonderful proclamation when he said, “God is love” (1 John 4:8). This means that God creates and sustains all things in love. Love is the very essence of God. No one could possibly be described as being “love” itself. Only God is completely loving because love is His very entity, nature, and character. When John writes, “God is love,” he is giving the reader the clearest, briefest, most comprehensive expression possible of the nature of God. This divine love motivated God to give His Son to this world to die for our sins. God loves and as a natural consequence of this love, He gives us: His Son, forgiveness, salvation, fellowship, and eternal life. Believers can see the love of God most clearly in the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. (Holman Treasury of Key Bible Words)

The Disciples all had the wrong idea about Jesus – even though they knew Him well. When they came to the waterhole with Jesus, the Disciples knew about the Devil and his angels. They knew about the lion and the crocodiles. But, they thought Jesus’ POWER would dominate. They thought Jesus – the Deliverer, Warrior King - would walk unscathed through this world. Like an elephant at a waterhole, Jesus would be unable to be touched and would set up His Kingdom. And so they looked for POWER in the life of Jesus. And they saw it. But what they didn’t realise was that Jesus’ POWER was confined in a greater reality – GOD’S LOVE. So, they watched what they thought was an Elephant walking through the streets of Jerusalem and wondered how other’s could miss it – and asking when – WHEN WILL HE DEMONSTRATE HIS POWER? But, they were looking for the wrong animal at the waterhole.


The Blind Men and the Elephant
John Godfrey Saxe (1816-1887)

It was six men of Indostan

To learning much inclined,

Who went to see the Elephant

(Though all of them were blind),

That each by observation

Might satisfy his mind.



The First approached the Elephant,

And happening to fall

Against his broad and sturdy side,

At once began to bawl:

"God bless me! but the Elephant

Is very like a WALL!"



The Second, feeling of the tusk,

Cried, "Ho, what have we here,

So very round and smooth and sharp?

To me 'tis mighty clear

This wonder of an Elephant

Is very like a SPEAR!"



The Third approached the animal,

And happening to take

The squirming trunk within his hands,

Thus boldly up and spake:

"I see," said he, "the Elephant

Is very like a SNAKE!"



The Fourth reached out an eager hand,

And felt about the knee

"What most this wondrous beast is like

Is mighty plain," said he:

"Tis clear enough the Elephant

Is very like a TREE!"



The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear,

Said: "Even the blindest man

Can tell what this resembles most;

Deny the fact who can,

This marvel of an Elephant

Is very like a FAN!"



The Sixth no sooner had begun

About the beast to grope,

Than seizing on the swinging tail

That fell within his scope,

"I see," said he, "the Elephant

Is very like a ROPE!"



And so these men of Indostan

Disputed loud and long,

Each in his own opinion

Exceeding stiff and strong,

Though each was partly in the right,

And all were in the wrong!


All 12 disciples had a wrong understanding of Jesus – and thus of God’s nature. Jesus had said, “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father.” And yet, the disciples were still looking for Jesus to swing his massive tusks – call 10,000 angels – and set the world to rights. Judas and Peter both took a step in this direction. Judas sold the location of the praying Jesus, hoping to startle Him into defensive action. Peter drew his sword and took the first swing. Jesus, on the other hand, picked up the ear Peter had removed and replaced it – healing the head of the man who came to take him prisoner.
Peter and Judas both fled the scene – each when the heat got too much. Judas couldn’t live with what he’d done. Peter couldn’t see where he’d gone wrong. Both men acted out the doubt and confusion of the twelve.
Jesus was supposed to win. Wasn’t He?
But they had misunderstood the nature of Jesus. He hadn’t come to show POWER but LOVE.
He hadn’t come to fulfil the wishes of the disciples but to reveal the nature of His Father.
He hadn’t come to the waterhole as an elephant – stomping his way to victory.
He hadn’t come to the waterhole as a buffalo – sniffing out and scaring off the devil.

Jesus said, “If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father.”
He hadn’t come to show God’s POWER but God’s LOVE.
And Jesus showed God’s LOVE by entering the waterhole as a wildebeest.
Like many others before Him, Jesus was lifted up and nailed to a cross. Rome had crucified thousands.
Even on that day, there were three.
Jesus entered our waterhole like any of the millions before him.
The roaring lion, looking for someone to devour, leapt upon Jesus – driving his clawed nails into hands and feet.
The crocodile, Leviathan, roused from despair’s depths - took hold of his side – and beginning the death roll, pulled Jesus under -  into murky darkness.
And Jesus died.
“If you’ve seen me,” Jesus said, “you’ve seen the Father.” (John 14:9)
“I give you a new command:” Jesus said, “Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)

There are thousands of children - like wildebeest heading into the waterhole. It is a rare person who can live among them like Jesus. This is a very special calling. Very few of us are Saviours. But all of us are disciples.
And like the Disciple Peter, we are still alive because – now that we understand it – we have accepted the rescue Jesus offered on the cross and the eternal life He promised by conquering the grave. We have hope because we know the rest of the story. May we make this hope of a better life a reality for as many of God’s children as possible.

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Non-PCF Questions
(Something to chew on) 

Jesus suffers with us. 
Who do I need to tell this?
How and when will I do it?

PFC #4 - Look to Jesus

Jesus is our example of how to live. 1 John 2:6 tells us “Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did.” In order for us to act and react as we should in our lives we need to set our eyes on the perfect example. We need to look to Jesus. Today we are going to take a look at one day in the life of Jesus. We are going to look at the problems and situations that faced Jesus in that day and we are going to see how He dealt with them. We are then going to apply the actions and reactions of Jesus to our lives so that we may be better representatives for His Kingdom. In order to live as God would have us live, we must look to Jesus.

Today we are going to look at one day in the life of Jesus. It is not the day of His death or the day of His resurrection. Yet it is such an important day that it is recorded in each of the four gospels. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John found this day so important that not one of them left it out of their telling of the life of Christ. Why did this one-day hold so much weight in the eyes of the apostles? Perhaps it is because it is a day that shows both Christ’s humble humanity as well as His divine deity. Perhaps it is because it is a day that shows Christ as both comforter and comforted. Perhaps it is because it is a day that shows Christ both worshipping and being worshipped. It is the only recorded time, prior to the resurrection, that the disciples actually worshipped Jesus. What kind of day would it take to bring 12 headstrong men to their knees at the feet of their humble Lord? Let’s take a look. Turn to Matthews telling of this most important day.

Matthew 14: 1-12
            Story: John the Baptist is beheaded by request of king’s stepdaughter

Matthew 14: 13-14
            Morning: Jesus hears about John's death. Jesus gets in a boat with the disciples and heads to a private place to mourn. The people see the direction of the boat and run on ahead of it. As the people pass through villages they tell everyone to come see Jesus. When the boat docks, there are 5000 men plus women and children waiting for Jesus. Jesus "Has compassion on them and heals their sick and wounded."

Every one of us has a bad day once in a while. When a catastrophe strikes it is our first impulse to pull away from everything and spend time dealing with the hurt. But what are we to do when our need for solitude clashes with the needs of those around us? We are to look to Jesus. We are to take His example and follow it. What did he do when His need for a time of reflection clashed with the people’s need for a time of healing? Verse 14 tells us that “He had compassion on them and healed their sick.” As Christians - following the example of Christ - we should do the same. If our time of sorrow is interrupted, we are to have compassion on those who are interrupting and do our best to fill their needs.

Matthew 14: 15-21
            Aren’t we very often like the disciples? People are starving around us every day for spiritual bread. They are gorging themselves on the world’s low nutrition, high entertainment, processed food. And we can see their need. Yet we pray, “These people need food, Lord. Send them to a church, or an evangelistic crusade, or have them accidentally tune into a Christian radio or television station.” And in Verse 16 Jesus responds to us, “They don’t need to go away. You give them something to eat.”  “But Lord I don’t have anything to feed them.  I only have an hour a day to spend with you. I only have five loaves and two fish. I don’t have enough for anyone else. What am I supposed to do?” The answer is given in verse 18 where Jesus says, “Bring your loaves and fish to me first. Then watch what you can do with it!”

Verses 19-21 give us an example of what will happen when we bring our spiritual food to Jesus. When we have our morning devotions we need to bring our few minutes, our five loaves and 2 fish, to Jesus. Every morning we must look to Jesus. And when Jesus takes the spiritual morsels that we have found, blesses them and breaks them, he will hand the bits back to us, His disciples, and say, “Give them to the people.” And when we do, thousands will be fed and His blessings will return to us overflowing so that if we were able to find and pick up all the discarded pieces it would take 12 baskets to hold our findings. The spreading of His word will be greatly successful if we will but look to Jesus and ask Him to bless our devotional meal before we begin our study each day.

Matthew 14: 22-31
            Evening: at dusk, the boat was in the middle of the lake. The waters were rough. Mark tells us that Jesus could see the disciples struggling at the oars. Jesus prayed for 7 or 8 hours. Went out on the lake between 3 and 6 AM - the forth watch. Disciples thought he was a ghost. Jesus said, "Don't be afraid, it is me!" Peter says, "If it's really you then tell me to come to you on the water." Jesus calls Peter.

Peter walks on water: The Bible does not say that Peter turned to his friends to make sure they were watching. The Bible says Peter saw the wind. Have you ever seen the wind? Me neither. We only see the effects of the wind. And I think that is what Peter saw. Peter saw a wave looming over him. So he braced himself. If the wave came in high Peter would hip-and-shoulder his way through it. If the wave came in low he would jump over it and land on whatever he was standing on before the wave hit. He was ready for the problem coming his way. He had it all figured out. Then Peter’s problems began to get deeper than he expected. He began to sink. What was Peter's first reaction when he started sinking? He knew he had lost his focus so he looked back to Jesus. What did Peter say to Jesus? Did he say, "Lord, teach me to swim!” No! He said, "Lord, save me!" And Jesus did. Peter's reaction was not to ask for a swimming lesson but for a lifeguard.

Matthew 14: 32-33
God sees you in your sea of troubles. He sees a huge wave about to pound you and He wants to save you. So he turns to the nearest angel and says, "See my Son down there? He's about to be crushed by one of the enemies waves. Can you go save him?"
 The Angel replies, "Yes Lord, I'll leave right now!"
God says, "How long will it take you?"
"You made us all fast, Lord, so we could deliver your answers to prayer! I'll be there in thirty seconds!"
"TOO LONG!!" God shouts. So God turns to Gabriel, his number one angel. "Gabe, do you see my daughter down there? She’s about to be crushed by one of the enemy’s waves. Can you go save her?"
"Yes, Lord."
"How long will it take you to get there?"
"You gave me six wings! I can fly at the speed of light! I'll be there in 15 seconds!"
"TOO LONG!" God turns to his Son, "Son, Do you see our child down there—about to be crushed by one of the enemies waves? Can you go save them?"
Jesus responds, "Yes Father."
"How long will it take you?"
"I'm already there Father! I'm already there!” He’s already here!


Jesus is standing on the water right in front of you waiting for you to look back to Him. When you are mourning a great loss and feel others pulling you to pieces with their wants and needs- look to Jesus. Each day before you enter the world of spiritually starving people, get ready - Look to Jesus. And when you are sinking in the sea of your problems look to the solution. Lift your eyes from your own inability and focus on His capability. Release the death grip that you have on this world and throw your hands to the heavens. Then, like Peter, cry out, “Lord, save me!” and when he does, you too will worship Him.

PFC Bible Study 2 - Group Discussion

The Christian life is not always easy, but it is never lived alone. The following verses make some amazing statements about things Jesus has done, is doing and will do in our lives. How do these verses encourage you?

Colossians 1:13, 14 ~ For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.

Colossians 2:14, 15 ~ He cancelled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross.

Psalm 34:4 ~ Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.

John 20:21 ~ Again he said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.”

Romans 8:38, 39 ~ And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

PFC #3 - Forgiven by Love

Review Spiritual Resilience
"ReStorying your Faith"

Spiritual Resilience Sources
Stories: Me, We, Our
Mentors: 5 Significant Adults

Story Building for Resilience
Get Story - Live it / Hear it
Restory - Give it meaning
Tell it & Retell it - lock it in

RQ#1 Biggest risk you've taken?

Forgiven by Love
King David & Bathsheba

RQ#2 Hardest "Sorry" you've said?

Story: I'm a sorry person.

The brain tumour & the affair
Jenny: What are WE going to do? 

Falling at the Foot of the Cross 
"There, but for" the GRACE of God, go I.
 - vs -
"Here, for" the GRACE of God, go I.

God's Reconcilers: 
"Have you talked to them, yet?"

Restorying Moment for me:
"What are WE going to do?"


Non-PCF Question:
(Something to chew on!)

Jesus made all things right between you and God.
God calls us our reconcilers. 
To you, God says: "Make things right!" 
Who do you need to talk with?
Have you talked to them, yet? When will you?

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,...