Travelling with Resilience

It’s Wednesday morning and my daughter and I are sitting in the Melbourne Airport waiting for a flight to London. Early this year, I was asked to go to London and speak to teenagers about spiritual resilience.

Last night, I talked to our host. There are 140 teenagers (aged 14 and 16) booked in for the four-day conference. In the daytime, the teens will be engaged in various kinds of high-octane fun. The mornings and evenings will be when I speak to them. I’ve thought a lot about what I will say.

I’ve talked to British friends who work with teens and asked them for advice. What are the teens in London able and ready to hear? Excellent communication is not about talking but about being heard.

The day is finally here. Sitting, waiting for the flight, a plan is forming of what I might say.
Resilience is about knowing who you are, who you can trust, and where you’ve come from. It’s about the experiences and people who shaped you. Those stories become your story when you truly hear them.

Spiritual resilience is about knowing the deep history behind your story. Where did your ancestors come from? Where did your understanding of life come from? Where did your values come from? Our spiritual self is a deeper and wider gathering of stories than our personal self. These historical stories are important.

All stories are important for building resilience. Your story. Your family stories. Your ancestral story. Your faith and values stories. Finding yourself and your place in the world comes alongside the stories you hear and take on board about yourself. This creates resilience.

So, I’m going to tell stories from my life, my family and my faith. Then I’m going to challenge the teens to find and tell their story. Again and again. Until they travel with resilience. 

Sin separates. Love Unites. (Q4 SS Lesson Intro)

My Mom serves as the chaplain for the local chapter of the Veterans Association in her area of California. This week two people in her care asked for Bible studies. She said they don’t want to be led to a denomination but just to understand the Bible.

I told her to lead them to Jesus. That’s what He asks us to do!

She then said, “They want to know what the Bible says about Evolution VS Creation.”

“The Bible doesn’t talk about that,” I said. “Western Christians talk about that. The Bible assumes a Creator and goes from there.”

I then led her to a number of non-denominational studies exploring the primary themes of the Bible. You can find a heap of them at

This Quarter in our Bible study time, we are studying the overarching storyline of the Bible – Sin separates, Love unites – unity.

The Bible is the story of God’s interaction with His people. It is not a story of perfect people. There is only one who lived a perfect life – God in the flesh, Jesus Christ. The rest fail. The storyline is one of sin separating people from people and people from God and God’s Love calling those people out of the darkness of sin and into unity.

When God’s people call for unity, they are working in the loving mission of their Creator.

When God’s people cause disunity, they are working against the will of God.

Sin separates. God unites.

The Bible repeats this theme over and over. Sin separates. God unites. The Bible is not a science book but a book of reconciliation. When we ask, “Did that really happen?” We are not asking a Biblical question. The question the Bible answers – over and over again – is, “Does this really happen?” And the answer is yes. Sin separates. Love unifies.

At the beginning of the Bible, God creates order out of chaos. Then He keeps doing it, over and over. First with the world, then with His people. He commissions Adam and Eve to govern His Creation – creating and recreating order from the chaos of life. Sin destroys. Love creates.

Throughout the Bible, the theme is repeated. Sin separates, God unites. Ultimately by allowing Himself to be placed on a Cross where He provided ultimate unity between His people and Himself by taking their place in punishment. Sin separates, Love unites.

The cross is the ultimate example of sin’s destructive power to separate. It is also the ultimate example of God’s loving power to create unity.

Sin separates. God unites.

God is Love.

Sin separates. Love unites.

Join the cause of God.

Create unity!

Hope SS Guides - Q4 2018 - Lessons 1 & 2 (hotlinked texts)

Lesson 1 - Creation and Fall
Today, we begin an important series of studies on Oneness in Christ.

1. Love—the foundation for unity
  • a) Genesis 1:26-27 What does this inspired record teach us both about our Creator and His intention for our human family? 
  • b) 1 John 4:7, 8, 16 What is the clearest evidence of our unity with our Creator? 
  • c) Genesis 2:7, 21-25 How do you see love and oneness revealed in the inspired accounts of the creation of man and woman? 

2. The tragic story of disobedience and its consequences
  • a) Genesis 3:1-6 – the tragic story of disobedience 
  • b) Consequences of disobedience 
    • i) Genesis 3:7 – consequence #1 
    • ii) Genesis 3:8 – consequence #2 
    • iii) Genesis 3:12 – consequence #3 
    • iv) Genesis 3:17-19 – consequence #4 
    • v) Genesis 4:8 – consequence #5 
    • vi) What other negative consequences do you see as a result of rebellion against our loving Creator? 

3. Ongoing disunity and separation
  • a) Genesis 11:1-9 What does the construction of the Tower of Babel tell us about its builders? I, therefore, beseech you (Ephesians 4:1–3) Scripture Song: Galatians 2:20–21 
  • b) If our loving Creator desires us to experience oneness with Himself and with each other, why did He bring confusion at the Tower of Babel?
  • c) What evidences do you see of disunity and separation today? 
  • d) How can we assist in the process of bringing God’s creation back together in loving unity with Him and with each other? 

4. The journey towards oneness with God
  • a) Hebrews 11:8-19 What lessons can we learn from the patriarch Abraham about the journey towards oneness with God? (see also Genesis 22:1-14) 
  • b) Think of some other Bible characters who were called to leave that which was familiar to them in order to experience a closer relationship with God. 
  • c) Share a time when God called you out of your comfort zone in order to draw you closer to Him. 

5. Blessed to bless
  • a) Genesis 12:1-3 Why did the LORD God promise such abundant blessings for Abram and his descendants? (see also Deuteronomy 7:6-11 and Galatians 3:29) 
  • b) What special blessings are promised to Christians and what blessing are we called to share with others? 1 Peter 2:9
  • c) Share an experience where you were blessed when you told someone else what God has done for you.

Lesson 2 - Causes of Disunity
1. Disobedience
  • a) Deuteronomy 28:1-14 What blessings did the LORD promise His people if they lived in harmony with His commandments? 
  • b) Deuteronomy 28:15-20 What negative consequences would result from disobedience? 
  • c) When God’s people wandered away from Him in disobedience, what was His desire for them? Jeremiah 3:12-18 
  • d) What is the root cause of disobedience? 
  • e) Share an example from your own life of how disobedience to God’s Word resulted in disunity. 

2. Pride of personal opinion
  • a) Judges 17:6, 21:25 
  • b) What was the disastrous result of proudly trusting in personal opinion? Judges 2:11-13, 3:5-7 
  • c) What warnings does Solomon give regarding the danger of a proud attitude? Proverbs 13:10, 16:18, 6:16-19 
  • d) What story in the Bible illustrates the damaging results of a proud attitude? 

3. Following ungodly counsel
  • a) 1 Kings 12:1-7, 8-16 How can we be certain that we are listening to godly counsel? I, therefore, beseech you (Ephesians 4:1–3) Scripture Song: Galatians 2:20–21 
  • b) What promises in God’s Word assure us of His desire to provide wise counsel for us? Psalm 32:8, James 1:5 
  • c) What appeal does Solomon make to each one of us? Proverbs 19:20 d) Share a time when following godly counsel brought healing and restoration to a broken relationship. 

4. Following people rather than following God
  • a) 1 Corinthians 1:10-17 Why does the apostle Paul plead so earnestly with the Corinthian believers? 
  • b) What is the danger of following a person, even if he or she is walking closely with the Lord? Why is Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 11:1 an important reminder when learning from another believer? 
  • c) What habit of the Berean believers was affirmed by Paul? Acts 17:11 

5. Attacks from without and within
  • a) Acts 20:28-30 (also Matthew 7:15) – savage wolves 
  • b) Numbers 12:1-2 - Miriam and Aaron (envy) 
  • c) 2 Timothy 2:15-18 - Hymenaeus and Philetus
  • d) 2 Timothy 3:12-17 What counsel does Paul give to the young preacher Timothy regarding those who would seek to bring disunity to the church? 
  • e) What Bible promise gives you hope and courage when you are under attack?

Future-Proofing your Kids

Pause: Think about this question for 30 seconds before continuing. 
How is empowerment different from encouragement? 

Pulling the words apart is a great way to understand en-courage-ment and em-power-ment. We develop courage in our children when we encourage them. We develop personal power in our children when we empower them.

Courage comes from doing something well and knowing we can do it again. Sometimes we know we did a good job. Sometimes we need someone to tell us. Encouragement is when we tell others we have seen what they have done and we believe they did a great job. An encouraging parent says, based on what we know of our child, we believe they can do this – even if it is harder or different than what they have done in the past. Our words and actions give our children courage.

Power comes from making choices and seeing the results of those choices. Decisions are always followed by consequences – good or bad. While we hope for positive results from our decisions, we learn from both positive and negative outcomes – if we think about it afterwards. Empowerment is when we allow others to make decisions that impact the future. A big part of being an empowering parent comes after our children make decisions and we ask good questions to help our child reflect and learn from the consequences of their choices. This gives them power to face tough choices and make wise decisions in the future. Allowing our children to choose their own words and actions gives them power.

Both encouragement and empowerment help us to become all that we can be. Hearing, “Well done!” and “You can do this!” build courage. Hearing, “What will you do next?” and “What have you learned?” develop personal power. The difficulties in the future will be easier to face if we have self-trusting courage and decision-making power. These skills come from being encouraged and empowered throughout childhood.

Are you more natural at encouraging or empowering your kids? Both are important and both build resilient kids. How will you encourage your kids today? How will you empower them for tomorrow?

Hope SS Q3#12 - Confinement in Ceaserea (with Hotlinked Bible verses)

1. Trial before Felix, governor of Judea
a) Acts 24:1–9, were any of these accusations against Paul true?
b) Acts 24:10–19, what impresses you about Paul’s response?
c) Acts 24:22–26, what do these verses reveal about governor Felix?
d) What is the danger of waiting for a convenient time to make a commitment to Jesus?
e) How long was Paul confined at Herod’s Praetorium in Caesarea? Acts 24:27
f) How do you handle times when God seems slow to hear and answer your prayers?

2. Appearance before governor Festus
a) Acts 25:1–5, what appeal did the Jewish leaders make to Festus, the newly appointed governor of Judea? Why?
b) What was Festus’ conclusion after interviewing Paul? Acts 25:25–27
c) Acts 25:6–12, after making his appeal before Festus, why did Paul appeal to Caesar?
d) Was this appeal to Caesar directed by God or was Paul following his own plan at this point? Might he rather have said, “I appeal to God”? Acts 26:32
e) What promise can we claim when we sense we might have made a poor decision? (see Romans 8:28; 2 Corinthians 12:9–10)

3. Appearance before King Herod Agrippa II
a) Acts 25:13–22, great-grandson of Herod the Great
b) Acts 25:23–27, the confession of Festus
c) Acts 26:1–3, why did Paul begin his defence before King Agrippa with words of affirmation?
d) Acts 26:4–23, why did Paul share his life story, including his conversion, before King Agrippa? What new information is added, not found in Acts 9?
e) Why did Paul recount this additional revelation to King Agrippa? (see Acts 26:28)
f) Share a time when you were studying the Bible with someone and they were almost persuaded to become a Christian. How did the
story end?

4. Staying calm under attack
a) What accusation did Festus make against Paul? Acts 26:24
b) How had Jesus counselled His followers to respond in such situations? Matthew 5:11–12
c) How did Paul respond to the comment of governor Festus? Acts 26:25
d) Share a time when God enabled you to stay calm even when you were under attack as a Christian.

Growing Resilience

I talk about resilience a lot.

Every time my 17-year-old daughter hears the word resilience, she says, “There’s your word, Dad!” So, in a nutshell, here what I know about building resilience in ourselves and our children.
Resilience is built in Relationships
Relationships are shaped by Reconciliation
Reconciliation is the skill of making things right
by saying “I’m sorry” and “I forgive you”
It is much easier to say: “I’m sorry” and mean it than it is to say: “I forgive you” and mean it. And yet, without forgiveness, our world stops. A lack of forgiveness stops countries sharing resources, families sharing Christmas and partners sharing a bed. Being sorry people is natural. Being forgiving people is enlightened!

So, start by saying the words “I forgive you” more often. Squeeze them into as many conversations as possible. Let people know they are loved by embracing them with forgiveness. Welcome them home.

Alongside forgiveness, offer apologies more often. It’s much better to apologise and hear, “You don’t need to apologise!” than not to apologise and risk the other person harbouring a niggle that grows into hatred. Two families in a small town hadn’t spoken to each other for generations. When a new police chief was posted to the town, he couldn’t understand the hatred and searched for an explanation. He asked everyone, including the members of the two families and no one knew the reason. The same explanation came from both camps: “We never talk to them! Our families don’t mix! They are dishonest, hurtful, horrible people!” No one knew the reason, but everyone lived the hate.

Apologise early. Apologise often. It hurts no one. In fact, it makes you the bigger person because you are willing to own your actions and admit you make mistakes. Children struggle with both sides of forgiveness unless it is modelled to them regularly. Reconciliation is a constant choice of conscience.

Once you’ve put reconciliation into full swing, your relationships will become healthy, happy and numerous. People who treat others kindly have more friends. It’s like magic. Well, not really. Everyone loves being loved!

Friendships built on forgiveness and kindness turn into deeply trusting relationships. And that’s where resilience comes from. Social researchers say people who bounce back quickly from unexpected difficulties (resilient people) have at least five significant adult relationships. That’s five emotionally healthy adults you know you can trust to eat with you, listen to you and care for you.

Resilience is a team sport. We build it together as we do life together. Invest more in your relationships, practice reconciliation, and watch your resilience — and the resilience of your children — grow, grow, grow!

“Are you busy?”

We’ve all answered this question a thousand times. In our hectic world, it’s a badge of honour to say, “Yes, very busy!”

“Busy” tops my list of least favourite four-letter words. Five years ago, I nearly destroyed my marriage and family. As we recovered, I recognised I had to prioritise relationships as the most important thing in my life. To actually put my wife and children first wasn’t easy. It meant I had to leave my busyness mindset behind. I had to change my purpose and my focus.

Now, I want people to know I am available to them – never too busy to listen or care. Of course, there are times when I have things to do. But, relationships lead to happiness and resilience. I want to be available to myself and others– even when I’ve got things to do. Pop your head into my office and no matter how ‘busy’ I may be, I remind myself that relationships come first, mentally press pause on my to-do list and invite you to come in, sit and chat for a spell.

Like busyness, availability is a state of mind. It takes a serious brain-retrain in our rush-around world to choose to be available rather than busy. But, it is possible – and highly rewarding!

Seek to be in a state of availability to self and others. Being available to others means being attentive to their needs when they show us those needs – not when we get around to it. Being available to ourselves means having awareness of our own needs and being willing to address those needs as they arise. A lack of self-awareness leads to anger, disinterest and disengagement. A lack of attentiveness to others leads to selfishness, loneliness and fragmented relationships.

When asked if I’m busy, I quickly answer, “Nope. I’m never busy.” While it isn’t always true – the quick answer reminds me of who I want to be. Then, if I’m living it that day, I offer my availability and say, “How can I help?”

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,...