Tassie Mens Retreat

In November I spent a peaceful weekend leading a handful of men on a spiritual retreat. We looked at issues of faith - love, parenting, authenticity. I was inspired and rejuvenated!

Location:Devonport SDA Camp

Evangelising the Truth

Written for CQ Sabbath School Lesson

Introduction
In a small group discussion, I heard a church member say, “I wish our conference office would just tell the truth. I don’t like it when our leaders evangelise the facts.”
I almost corrected her, saying, “You mean “ ‘exaggerate' the facts, right?” Then I realised her mistaken word choice actually said far more than she intended. As a people focused on winning souls and seeing baptisms, have we become so adept at inflating the results that we are redefining evangelism? Do we want the next generation of young Adventists to use the word ‘evangelise’ interchangeably with ‘exaggerate’ when talking to their friends?

A Worthy Report
Revelation 14:6-7 challenges God’s people to call the world to worship the glorious Creator God and proclaim Him as the soon coming Judge. In this passage, God is a God of evaluation. He will judge what has taken place on Earth – both the good and the bad. It stands to reason that we should do likewise as we share our faith – be it individually or corporately. Without examining the results of our effort, we cannot recognize our successes or refine our strategies. A worthy report can only be given if the work is reviewed.

Faith at Heart
With God as Judge, we do not need to worry ourselves by considering the holiness or sinfulness of others. God alone is the Judge. We have been called to fix our eyes on Jesus who is both author and finisher of our faith. 2 Corinthians 13:5-6 says: “Jesus Christ is among you; if not you have failed the test of genuine faith.” Our faith can be examined by asking ourselves, “Is Jesus among us?” No doubt, you’ve heard the question “What would Jesus do.” This is an action-based question. Actions can be forced and do not always reveal the true person. The question posed to the Church in Corinth is a heart-based question: “Does Jesus live here?”

Live to Love Him
Many of us carry a burdensome list around with us – a list of all the things we believe we are supposed to do to be a “real Christian.” Deuteronomy 10:12-13 tells us our primary focal point is to be God and our love for Him. Out of that heartfelt, soul-deep love for God will flow service, obedience and a life that pleases God. If we live to love the list giver, the list will loose it’s hold over us and love will permeate our every thought and deed. At the end of each day, rather than checking the list, we can evaluate our witness by saying, “Do I love Him more?”

Strength in Numbers
Leadership expert John Maxwell says you know you’re a leader by looking behind you. If there are people following you, you’re a leader. If there’s nobody behind you, you’re just going for a walk. Hebrews 10:24-25 shows us one of the many benefits of being part of a church. When we have people behind us, we can motivate them to do acts of love and good works. When we have a leader in front of us, we have someone to motivate the best in us. When we are alone, we lack the empowerment and encouragement that come from working with likeminded people. We need each other. We do better together.

Evangelise the Truth (Matthew 23:15)
While awaiting my 2 minute reporting timeslot at a camp meeting, I listened with dismay as a well known public evangelist used his two minutes to explain why he would need at least 10. “I’m an evangelist,” he said. “I can’t say anything in just two minutes.” He then proceeded to take quarter of an hour, so valuing himself and his words that he sacrificed the time allotted to others.
I was frustrated and dismayed by the repeated comment made by each following presenter: “I’m not an evangelist, but…” Then they gave their two-minute report. When it was finally my turn, although I was fired up, I decided to use my two minutes as requested – to report – not to comment. But, as I approached the microphone, the host said, “Dave, don’t tell us you’re not an evangelist!” I paused, reconsidered, and then, sweeping my hand from left to right across the audience, said, “You are all evangelists. If you have accepted Jesus as your Saviour, He has given you a great commission to go and make disciples.” Nodding heads and a chorus of “Amen” filled the tent.
The end-time work of God’s church has been given to each and every one of us. Let’s do the work allotted to us. And when the work is finished, let’s be honest. At the end of the day, we do have something to report – the truth! Telling the truth doesn’t take long. The truth doesn’t need flowery adjectives or inflated numbers and it doesn’t need to be hidden behind that ‘one good story’ that came out of the recent evangelistic endeavour. If there was one saved, celebrate the one, fully.
As today’s witnesses for Christ, we have a responsibility to evangelise, not to exaggerate. Let’s be an example to those who will follow us. And when they take the mantle on their shoulders may they say, “Let us evangelise the truth” and mean it, in all honesty.

React:
  1. What areas of my life would benefit from more evaluation?
  2. 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?

Meeting Moses in the Desert

Origionally published in Record Magazine (on Dec 4, 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.





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Rachael Prays

Six year old Rachael listened as Dad told a bedtime story. It was a Bible story about a lady who obeyed God’s prophet, Elijah, by filling lots of jars with oil. It was a miracle story.
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!”

Brave Kwame

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Little Kwame was a new student in 2nd grade. Nearly everything was new to Kwame. His family were refugees from Ghana in West Africa. They had just arrived in Australia and were sent to live in Tasmania—a little island below the Australian mainland.

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!”

Food Fight

“Sit down, both of you,” Mum said, pointing at the couch.
Candice sat, with a plop, in the middle of the couch. Abigail sat on the cushion next to her sister.
“Ew!” Candice squealed. “Don’t sit so close to me!” Candice bounced over to the far end of the couch.
Mum had her arms folded across her chest watching her daughters with dismay. They went quiet under her intense gaze. “Ok girls,” Mum said, “tell me what happened.”
Abigail said, “Well I,”
Candice cut her off, “You love Abby more that me!”
“Candy,” Mum said, “That’s crazy! I love you both equally.”
“Yeah right!” Candice argued, “That’s not what it looks like from here!”
Mum turned to Abigail, “Abby, why have you and your sister been fighting all morning?”
“I dunno,” Abigail answered. “She just hates me. I’m just trying to be good and she keeps bothering me: hitting me, chasing me and whatever else she can think of.”
“You asked for it,” Candice said.
“Did not,” Abigail blocked.
“Did so,” Candice flung back.
“Ok. Ok.” Mum took over. “What’s this all about? Candy, why are you tormenting your sister.”
“Because you always like everything she does better than what I do!” Candice said, almost crying.
“Candy,” Mum comforted, “You know that’s not true!”
“Then,” Candice sniffled, “why did you put her veges in the lasagna last night and mine went into the fridge?”
Mum was surprised by Candice’s answer. “Well, honey, I sent the two of you out to the garden. I clearly said I was making a vegetable lasagna and needed some veges.”
“Yeah,” Candice said, “And I got heaps. And Abby got just a few. And you used hers!”
“Candy,” Mum said, “You brought three heads of lettuce, two cauliflowers and a huge bunch of radishes. None of those go in a lasagna. I will use them, but in something else. That’s why I put them in the fridge—to save them for later!”
“You should just listen,” Abigail added. “Or learn how to make a lasagna!”
Candice jumped across the couch and swung her arm to slap Abigail. Mum reached out and caught her hand.
“You two,” Mum said, “be nice to each other.” Mum helped Candice back to her cushion with a little tug. “Now,” Mum continued, “How are we going to change? There’s no reason to react so strongly to a misunderstanding.”
Mum stared at the girls. They had no idea what she was waiting for.
“Well,” Mum repeated, “What can we do next time to avoid getting angry?”
“I guess I could listen more carefully,” Candice answered. Mum nodded and looked at Abigail.
“I guess I could try not to tease,” Abigail said.
Mum smiled. “And I will give clearer instructions,” Mum added. “Now, who wants to help me make lunch? I was thinking we could have a fresh salad and some cauliflower soup.”
The two girls looked at each other and laughed.
“Sounds yummy,” Abigail said. “I love Cauliflower soup!”
“Me too,” Candice agreed. She looked over at her sister and silently mouthed the words, “I’m sorry.”
Abigail hugged her sister and whispered in her ear, “I’m sorry, too.”
“Let’s cook girls,” Mum shouted from the kitchen. “Lunch isn’t going to make itself!”

(There’s a story in the Bible about two brothers who had a similar problem but it didn’t finish so nicely. You can find it in Genesis 4.)

Josh goes Home

Josh pulled his feet out of the river and dried them off as best he could before putting his socks and shoes on.
“Going somewhere?” Lance asked.
“Yeah,” I think I better go home,” Josh said.
Lance stared at Josh, “I thought you said your brother wants to kill you?”
“He did yesterday,” Josh answered.
“You can stay at my house again,” Lance said. “You can stay as long as you want!”
“Yeah, I know.” Josh said, “but sooner or later I’ll need to face reality.”
The two boys started to walk away from the swimming hole.
“Hey, where are you guys going?” a friend shouted from the water.
Lance answered, “Josh wants to get thrashed by his brother. He’s going home!”
“We’ll come with you,” the friend answered. “Common guys, let’s go protect Josh” All 14 grade 5 boys were at the waterhole. They joined Lance and Josh.
Lance laughed, “You’ll be safe now. You’re brother may be bigger than you. But he isn’t bigger than all of us!”
The crowd of boys started walking to Josh’s house. With each step, Josh got more nervous. Finally he turned to Lance and said, “Maybe we should send someone ahead to see if Eric is still angry.”
“Good idea,” Lance said. “Hey Joel, come here.” A scrawny boy joined them.
“Yeah?” Joel asked.
“You’re the fastest runner in our class,” Lance said. “Run to Josh’s house and see if Eric is still mad. Tell him Josh is coming home and see how he reacts. If he looks threatening, just run—he’ll never catch you!”
Joel laughed, “Yep. I’ll be right back!” And with that he sprinted away.
It what seemed only minutes, Joel was back.
“That’s some seriously low flying, mate!” Lance laughed.
“What did he say?” Josh asked.
“There’s a huge group of high school guys watching football with him,” Joel panted. “Eric said they will all come meet you.”
Josh’s face fell in horror. “I know those guys,” he said, trembling. “I’m dead if I don’t change Eric’s mind.” Josh stood still thinking. His group of friends gathered around. “Does anyone have any money?” Josh asked.
The boys pooled their pocket money. “Here’s $22.45,” Lance said as he handed a hat, filled with money, to Josh. “If it keeps you alive, you can have it!”
Josh turned and gave the hat to Joel, “Here. Run! Take it to Eric. Tell him I’m sorry and I have more in the bank!”
Joel took off sprinting again. The group of boys could see Eric’s mob just across the park. They watched as Joel made it to Eric. The could hear the laughter of Eric and his friends as the hat was handed over.
As Joel ran back, Eric followed, nearly keeping up. Eric’s group jogged behind. Josh started walking forward to face his fate.
Josh walked ahead and met Eric in the clearing between the two groups. As they reached each other Eric held out the hat full of money. “What’s this?”
Josh hung his head, “I didn’t want you to kill me.”
Eric hugged his little brother, “Mate, I’m sorry for getting mad at you yesterday. Mum and Dad are worried sick!” He turned to his group of friends as they approached, “He’s fine!”
The group whooped with joy. “Let’s get back to the football,” one of them laughed.
Eric wrapped his arm around Josh, “I’m so glad you came home.”

(Jacob and Esau is the comparison story. See Genesis 33.)

28 Stories - Fundamental Bible Studies for Post-Moderns

I've been working on a series (of 28) Bible studies called 28 Stories which uses an imaginative Bible story to introduce the topic and then the questions lead the reader/group through a series of personal application questions. These are followed by open ended questions that explore the Biblical topic using Bible verse quotes. It finishes with the Fundamental statement as worded by the Adventist Church and then asks for a response.

I've been using them for a few weeks now and getting positive responses. Since they have been designed in a weekly journal format (7 sections which work nicely as a daily study on the topic) I have been giving one as homework to my students and studying one in our weekly small group as well.

I've also made them available online and advertised them around the online Adventist world and am getting positive feedback from around the globe.

Have a look and let me know what you think!

The Good Classmate


Samantha put her lunchbox back in her school bag. She was always the last person in their 5th grade class to finish lunch. She was slow at a lot of things, but it didn’t really bother her.
Sam squinted in the bright sunlight as she came out of the school building and down the stairs onto the oval. As her eyes adjusted, she could see a big group of kids midfield.
As she approached the group, Sam noticed a soccer ball resting between her and the cluster of kids. Why aren’t they playing? Sam wondered.
“Don’t touch him!” someone said forcefully.
“Henry ran into him real hard!” another voice said.
“I did not!” Henry’s voice came from the middle of the group.
Sam pushed her way through the crowd. She could just make out the body of a boy lyingon the ground. His legs were twitching.
“Somebody help him!” Henry said.
“I’m not touching him,” someone else said.
“Henry, you should help him,” James demanded. “You hurt him!”
“I didn’t run into him,” Henry argued. “He was coming toward me and then he just fell over!”
Sam pushed her way into the middle of the circle. Ignoring the argument, she knelt next to the shaking boy. It was Nigel, the new student from overseas, lying flat on his back, one leg bent uncomfortably underneath him, foamy saliva oozing from his mouth.
The other kids stopped their argument and stared as Sam took hold of Nigel’s shoulder and hip and rolled him onto his side. She sat behind him holding him in position. Only then did she notice her staring classmates.
Sam was calm because she knew what she was doing. She had been listening carefully in first aid class. Nigel was having a seizure. He needed care until he stopped fitting.
“James,” Sam said with confidence, “run and tell a teacher that Nigel is having a fit.”James pushed his way out of the crowd and ran toward a group of teachers.
“Henry,” Sam said, looking up at the accused boy, “You didn’t hurt Nigel. He will be fine in a minute.”
Henry looked very relieved, “Is there anything I can do?”
“Yes,” Sam said. “Keep the sun off his face.” Henry knelt above Nigel’s head blocking the hot midday son. Nigel had stopped shaking and was breathing quietly.
Just then Mr Perry broke through the crowd, breathing hard. Quickly, he knelt in front of Nigel, just as the boy opened his eyes.
“Hello, Nigel,” Mr Perry said gently. “How do you feel?”
“I’m ok,” Nigel said quietly.
“You’ve got some very good friends here,” Mr Perry said.
Nigel turned his head and looked at Sam and then Henry. Tears filled his eyes.
Henry spoke, “Samantha knew what to do. We were scared.”
“Thanks Sam,” Nigel said.
Sam smiled and rested her hand on Nigel’s shoulder, “You would have done the same for me, I’m sure.”
“Well done, Samantha,” Mr Perry smiled. “Our school is blessed to have you!”

Jotham’s Story

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
Judges 9:1-15

Forever Castle

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

Brother’s Fish

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

Cuts and Scratches

“No, I’m not gonna stop!” Nathan shouted over his shoulder as he propelled his bike along the river trail.

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!”

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,...