Location:Devonport SDA Camp
Monday, December 13, 2010
Friday, December 10, 2010
- What areas of my life would benefit from more evaluation?
- We have all been guilty of inflating, exaggerating or blurring the truth. What can we do to ensure we are more honest in the future?
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
I recently met Moses in the outback.
I spent a week in Western Australia at the Karalundi Aboriginal Education Community telling faith stories to the students. Moses is a tiny five year old student who has the uncanny ability to appear in front of you at the slightest wiggle of a lens cap. I now have a sizable collection of photos of Moses’ amazing smile! What he lacks in stature, he makes up for in joy!
Meeting Moses was not the only inspirational thing I experienced at Karalundi. There were so many beautiful people with wonderful hearts. Students who love life. Teachers who exude a clarity of purpose. Staff members who care deeply. Karalundi, an oasis in the desert, truly nourished my heart and soul.
The Aboriginal people are a storytelling people. I spent hours sitting at a picnic table or in a conversation-circle on the ground with students. I learned so much and laughed a lot. And I answered a lot of questions: “Pasta, where ya from? Who ya mum? Who ya wife? Who ya kids? Where ya been? Where ya go?”
I was particularly blessed by one special questioner. At the Friday night program, I invited anyone who wanted to pray or to know more about Jesus to come forward and sit next to me on the stage after the meeting. After nearly everyone had left, nine year old Kelly sat next to me and wiggled her head under my arm so that it draped over her shoulder. She looked up at me for some time before asking two deeply beautiful questions.
“How Jesus be up in Heaven and be here too, one like us?” This question still brings tears to my eyes (even now as I write, I’m dabbing my eyes!). One like us... Me and Kelly. Us. How do you explain the all embracing love of a child? I squeezed my arm tightly around her little shoulders.
“How God be way far up there and still He hear us when we pray?” I’m not sure if it’s the questions (they were good ones!) that bring the tears or if it’s the memory of the truly pure heart I was so privileged to sit next to. The questions were easy. I answered them with one word each: “Incarnation. Omnipresence. Run along now!”
Not even close. Kelly and I sat there for a long time as I told her stories about a God big enough for both of us and more all-embracing than we can hope to imagine or begin to imitate. She was gracious and listened. Then she rushed out to get the evening snack from the kitchen. Did I mention the cooks? Wow!
I suppose, the desert experiences in life are meant to teach us. But I was caught by surprise. When I landed in Perth and began the eight hour drive, I knew I was going to the desert. But instead, I found the promised land, or at least a brief snapshot of it. Thanks, Moses. Thanks, Kelly. And thanks God, for Karalundi.
Monday, October 11, 2010
Friday, September 10, 2010
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
When the story was finished Dad asked, “What do you think we can learn from this story?”
Rachael’s two brothers were older than her. One of them said, “If we ask God for help, He will help us!”
“Yeah,” said her other brother, “we can ask God for anything and He will give it to us.”
“If it’s good for us,” Dad said. “God answers every prayer. Sometimes He says, ‘yes’ sometimes ‘no’ and sometimes ‘wait’.”
Her brothers were both smiling, but Rachael didn’t feel happy. After saying their prayers, Rachael hugged Dad and climbed off her brother’s bed. She went to her room and climbed under her blankets.
Rachael thought for a long time, trying to remember when she had got an answer to prayer. She thought and thought. She couldn’t think of one time. Not once.
Later that night, still awake, Rachael heard Dad walk past.
“Dad?” she called.
The footsteps stopped and the door creaked open. A stream of light cut through the darkness of the room.
“Yes, Rach?” Dad said as he came into the room.
“Does God really answer our prayers?” Rachael asked.
“Yep!” Dad said in a happy voice. “He’s pretty good that way!”
Rachael didn’t say anything. Dad realized something big was going on in Rachael’s head. He sat down next to Rachael on the bed.
“Why do you ask?” Dad asked carefully.
“Well,” Rachael whispered, “God never gives me anything I pray for.”
“Really?” Dad asked.
“Yeah,” Rachael said. If the lights had been on, Dad would have seen a little tear trickle down Rachael’s cheek. She wiped it away.
“Well,” Dad continued cautiously, “what have you asked for that God hasn’t given you?”
“I dunno,” Rachael said.
“But this seems pretty serious,” Dad said. “Surely there must be something you are wanting from God that He isn’t giving you.”
“Not really,” Rachael answered. “I just can’t remember any time I prayed and God gave me what I prayed for.”
“Hmmm...” Dad said thoughtfully. “Well, what would you like right now?”
“Nothing,” Rachael said. “I’ve got everything I want.”
“Surely, there must be something you would like to ask God for?”
“nuh uh,” Rachael said.
“Nothing?” Dad asked again.
“Nothing.” Rachael stated.
“Ok,” Dad said, finding Rachael’s hands in the dark. “Quick, close your eyes!” Dad folded his big hands around Rachael’s little hands.
“Why?” Rachael asked in confusion.
“Just close ‘em,” Dad said. “We’re gonna pray!”
“Dear Jesus,” Dad started praying. Rachael quickly closed her eyes. “Rachael wants nothing. So, when we open our eyes, please give Rachael lots and lots of nothing! Amen.”
As Dad said amen, he reached over and flipped on the light switch. The room filled with light as Dad shouted, “Look! Look at it all, Rachael!”
Rachael was laughing. “Look at what, Dad?”
“Nothing!” Dad said, overjoyed. “Lots and lots of nothing! It’s just what we prayed for!”
Rachael knew what Dad meant. He was often a bit silly, but she understood him. If she asked for nothing, she’d get it! Rachael thought to herself, From now on, I’m going to pray about things all the time, so God can answer my prayers!
Rachael hugged her dad. “I guess I need to pray about more things, right Dad?” she asked.
“Yup,” Dad answered. “Give God a chance to answer!”
A few weeks later, Rachael and Dad were in a beautiful place called Mt Gambier in South Australia.
Dad had been asked to speak to the youth at a camp-meeting and it was Rachael’s turn to tag along. Dad let Rachael choose something she would like to see on the way home. She chose the Blue lake in Mt Gambier. Rachael and Dad had walked all the way around the lake that afternoon.
After dinner, Rachael and Dad went to the sinkhole to see the possums. The sinkhole is a collapsed limestone cave. A river, flowing under the ground, had eaten away the limestone over the years and the ground fell into the river. Now there is a big round hole. Someone built a staircase and planted gardens in the large sinkhole. People can go down into the sinkhole, see the gardens and the water, and feed the possums that come out at night.
It was still light when they arrived. Dad sat on a bench to wait for the possums. Rachael ran around the various paths in the sinkhole exploring ever nook and crevice. It was a very cool place. Finally, the sun went down and the possums came out. Rachael and Dad fed them grapes and Dad took some photos of the little furry creatures. They were really cute.
An hour or so later, Rachael was fast asleep in the motel.
“Rachael,” Dad shook her gently to wake her up. “I can’t find my wallet anywhere. I have cleaned out the car, looked through every bag and turned this motel room upside down! It’s not here. We can’t make it home without my wallet.”
“What are we going to do?” Rachael asked.
“I think it fell out of my pocket when I sat on that bench in the sinkhole,” Dad said. “It’s the only place left that I haven’t looked! Hop into the car, we’ve gotta go look.”
They were nearly finished with the 10 minute drive to the sinkhole when Dad said, “Rachael, I have an idea. You know how you said God never gives you anything you ask for because you don’t have anything you need?”
“Yeah,” Rachael answered.
“Well, I really need that wallet,” Dad said seriously. “We should pray and ask God to help us find it. Would you please pray, now?”
Rachael was surprised by her dad’s request. But not for the reason you may be thinking!
“Dad,” Rachael said as they pulled into the parking lot at the sinkhole, “I can pray again if you want. But, I’ve already prayed about it twice while you were driving.”
Dad turned off the car and turned to look at Rachael in the gentle light coming from the street lamps.
“Really, Rach?” he asked. “You’ve already been praying about it?”
“Yep,” Rachael said. “But I can pray again, out loud, for you.” And then she did.
When Rachael opened her eyes after the prayer, Dad was staring at her.
“What?” she said.
“I love you,” Dad said, smiling.
“I love you too, Dad,” Rachael said. “Let’s go look for the wallet!”
Rachael and Dad jumped out of the car, went down the long staircase into the sinkhole and, with their flashlight, found Dad’s wallet under the bench.
When they got back to the car, Dad said, “Rach, Could you pray and thank Jesus for helping us.”
“Ok,” Rachael said. “Dear Jesus, thank you so much for helping us find Dad’s wallet. And thank you for giving me something to pray about. Amen!”
Kwame didn’t play with the other kids at recess. He couldn’t speak the language they were using and the games were all different from home. The teacher would tell students to ask Kwame to play, but he always shook his head. He didn’t want to play.
Because he struggled to read English, Kwame participated very little during class. The teacher tried to help Kwame as much as she could, but she had 24 other students as well. Kwame would open his books and try to read for most of the morning. But by lunch he was tired of English and would sit in the reading corner looking at picture books or just staring out the window for the rest of the day.
During the next few weeks, the teacher became more and more worried about Kwame. Would he ever start talking? Would he learn English? How long before he would read his books and do his work in class? She knew he could understand most of what she said to him because he had responded with a few words from time to time. The only way he was going to become comfortable speaking, reading and writing English was if he tried.
The teacher talked to Kwame’s mother one day after school. “Kwame needs to try,” she said. “He is a good boy, but he is shy. What can I do to help him?”
Kwame’s mother said, “Kwame is very talkative and lively at home. He just needs to be brave.”
Kwame was listening to the conversation and agreed that he would try to be brave. But, as the days went by, the teacher could see nothing was changing. Kwame needed help.
Then one warm afternoon, something completely unexpected happened. The students were sitting at their desks and Kwame was sitting quietly in the reading corner when a small bird flew into the room through an open window. It was a little brown sparrow. As the sparrow fluttered around the room looking for somewhere to land, the students all screamed and hid under their desks.
The little bird finally landed on a high bookshelf where it panted in distress. The teacher told the kids to be quiet. Then, just as everything was calming down, a sparrow hawk—much bigger than the little sparrow—flew in through the window!
This time it wasn’t just the kids that screamed. The teacher let out a yelp and dove under her desk.
The Hawk landed on a low bookcase between the reading area and the classroom. It scanned the room full of frightened kids, one scared teacher and one terrified sparrow. Clearly, the sparrow hawk had been chasing the sparrow and the little bird had panicked and flown through the open window on accident. The hawk had followed without considering what might be on the other side of the window.
No one noticed Kwame. He hadn’t screamed when the birds flew in. He hadn’t hidden under a desk. Instead, he had watched calmly. And now, as the sparrow hawk stared toward the sparrow across the room, Kwame stood up. He was directly behind the hawk.
The other kids stuck their heads out from their hiding places to see the hawk and were surprised to see quiet little Kwame sneaking up behind the sparrow hawk. The teacher peered out from underneath her desk. The entire class watched Kwame as he inched closer and closer to the hawk.
“Miss,” one of the students whispered. “Miss, make him stop! He will get bitten!”
Kwame took another step toward the sparrow hawk. His little hands were coming up behind the bird.
The teacher responded, “Shhhhh, I think Kwame knows what he is doing!”
And she was right! Kwame took one more step toward the sparrow hawk and with a lighting quick move wrapped his little hands around the wings of the hawk. The bird tried to bite his hands, but Kwame had grabbed just the right place and the hawk was unable to get at Kwame's little fingers.
Kwame walked to the window, held the hawk outside, and let go. His hands were back inside in another lightning quick move and the sparrow hawk flew away.
In the next few minutes, the students and teacher watched as Kwame coaxed the little sparrow down from the shelf and caught it, too. Five minutes after the two birds had flown into the classroom, they were both safely outside again.
Kwame had saved the day!
When Kwame turned back from the window, after releasing the little sparrow, he was the centre of attention. The students had a thousand questions for little Kwame. How did you do that? Have you done that before? Where did you learn to catch birds? Was it scary? What did the hawk feel like? Did it bite you?
Kwame listened to each of the questions and answered them in slow broken English. The students gave him time to form his answers. The words came slowly, and then faster and faster as Kwame became more confident. The teacher watched in amazement as little Kwame went from being a shy quiet boy to the talkative and lively boy his mother said he was at home.
Something had just happened that the teacher could have never planned. Little Kwame had been brave.
In fact, Kwame had been a brave boy all along. He just needed a couple of birds to help him prove it to everyone else. And once he did, no one ever let him be shy again. After school, Kwame’s classmates told their brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers the amazing story of brave Kwame. The next day at school everyone wanted to talk to Kwame. And they all listened as he answered their questions.
Later that week, when Kwame was shopping with his family, he saw one of his classmates. The other little boy tugged on his mom’s coat, “Mom, that’s him! That’s Kwame—the boy who catches hawks! He’s the bravest boy in our whole school!”
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Wednesday, July 07, 2010
Thursday, April 08, 2010
During recess something amazing happened on the playground.
Just as the students were getting ready to choose teams for a friendly game of basketball, Timothy grabbed the ball, walked to the middle of the court, and shouted, “I should be captain. Always! It should never be questioned that I am always one of the captains in every sport on every day! I am the biggest kid. And my Dad was the biggest kid at this school when he was here! My family should always be in charge!”
The other boys looked at each other in confusion. No one had ever seen or heard anything like this. Finally they nodded and said, “Fair enough. You are the biggest. You can be boss.”
Jotham had been watching from the swings and heard the whole thing. He climbed to the top of the playground slide and shouted,
“Listen to me, fellow classmates!
Once upon a time the trees decided to pick a king.
First they said to the olive tree, ‘Be our king!’
But the olive tree refused, saying,
‘Should I quit producing delicious olive oil
that makes cooking taste so good,
just to wave back and forth over the trees?’
“Then they said to the fig tree,
‘You be our king!’
But the fig tree also refused, saying,
‘Should I quit producing my sweet fruit
just to wave back and forth over the trees?’
“Then they said to the grapevine,
‘You be our king!’
But the grapevine also refused, saying,
‘Should I quit producing grapes, sultanas and juice,
just to wave back and forth over the trees?’
“Then all the trees finally turned to the thornbush and said,
‘Come, you be our king!’
And the thornbush replied to the trees,
‘If you truly want to make me your king,
come and take shelter in my shade.
If I am king you must do what I want,
or I will set all the trees on fire!’”
When Jotham stopped talking, every kid on the playground stared up at him in silence. They were waiting for something.
Finally Timothy spoke, “And? What’s the end of the story?”
“I don’t know,” Jotham said. “It hasn’t happened yet!”
Another boy shouted, “You’re weird. We don’t have a clue what you’re talking about.”
Jotham stood tall, on top of the slide. He confidently placed his hands on his hips. “Just think about it. Choose a leader because he is a good leader, not because he demands it!”
“Wait just a minute,” Timothy thought he might be understanding Jotham’s little story. “Are you saying I am a thorn bush?”
One of the boys sniggered.
Jotham smiled, “No, of course not. Thornbushes are prickly and grab at things hurting everyone they touch.”
“Yeah,” one of the other boys said, “He’s just telling a story. Let’s play ball.”
Jotham climbed down from the slide and returned to the swing set.
Timothy turned and handed the ball to one of the other boys. He looked down to hide the tears pooling in his eyes.
“Aren’t you going to play basketball?” the boy who had received the ball asked Timothy.
“No,” Timothy said bravely, “I’m gonna go on the swings.”
Timothy walked to an empty swing and sat down. He looked over at Jotham and asked quietly, “Could you please tell me more about the thornbush?”
“Sure,” Jotham said with a kind smile. And as the sound of basketball filled the air around them, a thornbush died and a giant oak was born.
Jotham’s story of the trees wanting a king
Lorrie and her 5th grade class were at a local beach for a biology excursion.
The students spent the morning exploring tide pools to see what they could find. Lorrie had seen lots of algae, a few jellyfish and the occasional little fish. Her friend showed her a starfish in a lonely pool stranded about 100 metres from the rest of the pools. A few of the boys caught crabs and tried to scare the girls with them.
Mr Wegener, a nature expert who joined them for the day, walked to each tide pool explaining to the groups what was in the pool. It was amazing what you could find, if you knew what you were looking for. He showed them sea snail eggs packed so tightly they looked like a jellyfish, funny kelp called sea grapes that popped if you squeezed them really hard and a sea cucumber that had been hiding under a shelf in the biggest tide pool.
Having finished lunch about 20 minutes ago, it was sandcastle-building time. Most of the kids were working in groups. It was interesting watching the different strategies the groups were using. A couple groups built huge piles of sand with their buckets and shovels before forming a castle out of it. The rest of the groups, except for Lorrie and her friend Grace, were building their castles one handful of sand at a time.
Lorrie and Grace had plenty of opportunity to see what the other groups were doing as they carried their buckets back and forth between the wet sand and the huge rock where they were dumping the sand in a large pile. They had decided to build their sandcastle on the flat surface on the top of a rock near the car park. It was a lot of work carrying the sand back and forth, but finally they had enough to build their castle.
The two girls spent about thirty minutes shaping their castle and then gathered some kelp from around the beach to make a cool border around it. Just as they were finishing they heard their teacher calling them to join together in a group. Lorrie and Grace jumped down from their rock into the sand and ran to the group.
As they approached, the teacher said, “We are now going to look at each sandcastle and allow the groups to tell the story of their castle.” The kids enjoyed this create your story game. It was how they presented projects they had done at home or in groups.
The wandered from castle to castle hearing the story of each. Some of the stories were very creative, some very factual. Finally they turned toward the car park and walked toward Lorrie and Grace’s castle.
As they approached the final castle the teacher asked, “What is the story of this castle?”
Lorrie and Grace climbed up behind the castle. Lorrie said, “This is Castle-Rock and this is the Forever Castle!”
Grace pointed back toward the beach and said, “All of your castles will soon be gone as the tide comes in. The Forever Castle will last into eternity!”
The teacher smiled and turned to the group. “That reminds me of a Bible story,” the teacher said. She turned and pointed to the car park, “Everyone back on the bus, I’ll tell you the story on the way back to school.”
A wise man builds on Rock & a fool on sand
Matt 7:24-27, Luke 6:47-49
Joel and Jeremy were the best of friends and the worst of enemies—typical brothers. Jeremy was seven years old and thought his 12 year-old big brother was really cool. And Joel liked Jeremy because he laughed at all of his jokes.
Today Joel had the boy from next door, Reuben, over for the afternoon. They had been playing games outside and Jeremy had been following them around. Joel and Reuben didn’t really mind. They even let Jeremy play with them. When they played soccer, Joel said Jeremy could be the ball. Everyone laughed and then they let him referee.
Now they were in Joel’s bedroom playing with his toys. Jeremy had crawled under Joel’s bed and was pretending he was spying on the bigger boys. Joel and Reuben ignored Jeremy, which was perfect because it made him think his spying was working.
Then Reuben saw Joel’s fish tank. “Wow!” Reuben said, “You have heaps of fish!”
“Yeah,” Joel replied. “They are fun to watch, especially at night when their light is on and the room is dark.”
Reuben went over to the tank and knelt down to watch the fish. He watched one fish after the other as it zipped around the tank or floated quietly in place.
“They are all so different,” Reuben said.
“I know,” Joel answered. “Each of them has it’s own name.”
“Really?” Reuben asked, “Do they come when you call them?”
The boys both laughed. They watched the fish in silence for a little while and then Reuben asked, “Hey, would I be able to have one fish?”
Joel thought about it for a moment and then smiled, “Sure! I’ll just go get a plastic bag and a net.”
“That’s awesome, Joel!” Reuben was very excited. “You are so generous.”
Reuben watched the fish zipping around; trying to choose which one he would ask for when Joel returned.
After what seemed like an eternity, Joel came back with a bag full of water and a net. “Here ya go,” Joel said offering the bag to Reuben. There was a rubber band tied tightly around the bag holding the water in. And there was something inside.
“Hey,” Reuben said. “There’s already a fish in the bag!”
“Yup, you can have that one,” Joel said happily.
“I didn’t know you had other fish tanks in your house,” Reuben said.
“Just one!” Joel said with a laugh.
Jeremy shot out from under the bed. He knew where that other fish tank was.
“That’s my fish!” Jeremy shouted as he leapt toward Reuben.
Reuben pulled the bag close to his chest. “Be careful!” Reuben shouted, “You’ll pop the bag.”
Joel wrapped his arms tightly around Jeremy from behind, putting one hand firmly over his mouth. “Quick, take the fish home,” Joel said. “I’ll come over to your house in a bit.”
Reuben looked from Joel to Jeremy and then back, “Are you sure?”
“Yes,” Joel said as he forced Jeremy to nod his head.
Reuben shrugged his shoulders and left the room. Moments later the front door squeaked open and then closed. Reuben was gone. And so was Jeremy’s fish—his only fish.
Nathan’s story of the Pet Lamb
2 Samuel 12:1-13
Monday, February 15, 2010
His friends pedalled as fast as they could, attempting to match Nathan’s speed on their own bikes.
“Please, Nathan,” Max shouted breathlessly. “Just stop for a second! We need to talk to you.”
Nathan was the fastest rider in his group of friends. He knew they could never catch him or make him stop. But there was something anxious in Max’s voice. Nathan grabbed the back break ferociously and started a skid. Then, applying the front break carefully and lifting his weight off the back tire, Nathan spun his bike in a 180 and stopped in a cloud of dust facing his pursuers.
The two friends grabbed their brakes in a panic and managed to stop before smashing into Nathan. He fixed them with an angry stare, “What?” he said gruffly. “Don’t expect me to change my mind!”
Max stood astride his bike, and spread his hands in a wide-open gesture. “Come-on Nath! Just do it.”
“No!” Nathan growled, crossing his arms across his bare muscled chest.
The other friend, Garth, spoke, “It’s too easy, isn’t it?”
“What?” Nathan replied. “What does ‘easy’ have to do with it?”
“Well,” Garth continued, “if Old-Eli had asked you to do something hard, you would have taken the challenge. Right?”
Nathan thought about that for a moment. “Hmmmm…” A smile crossed his face, “Yes. I probably would have.”
Max took over, “But what if it works?”
“How can it work?” Nathan demanded. “I have these stupid blackberry cuts and scratches all over my legs.” He turned and looked at the dirty river they had been riding their bikes along. “How can that dirty river make the cuts go away?”
“We don’t know!” Garth said.
“But what if it works?” Max asked again.
“It won’t!” Nathan said angrily. “I went to see Old-Eli because he knows God and about nature and stuff. I thought he would make some magic potion to rub on my cuts to make them stop itching and heal quickly.”
“But he didn’t,” Garth stated. “He said to wash in the river and you would be healed.”
“It’s just dumb!” Nathan blurted.
“But what if it works?” Max and Garth chanted in unison.
Nathan examined the water again, staring at the slow moving stream.
“You need to stop being so obstinate,” Max said pleadingly.
“Yeah,” Garth said, looking down at Nathan’s cut-up legs. “Just humble out a bit!”
Nathan hadn’t thought about it like that before. Was he being prideful? Was he missing out on his own healing because he was arrogant?
“Well,” Nathan said, leaning his bike against a tree, “I guess it won’t hurt to try.” Slowly Nathan walked into the murky water. Seven times he dunked himself in the river.
When he walked out of the water, to everyone’s amazement, his legs were perfect—not a scratch or cut to be found.
All three friends shouted as one, “IT WORKED!”
“Let’s go back and thank Old-Eli,” Nathan said as he got back on his bike. “He really knows what he’s talking about!”
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