Ponchenello

"He deserves lots of dots," the wooden people would agree with one another. 
"He's not a good wooden person."
...   ...   ...

I now know how Ponchello felt in Max Lucado's children's book "You Are Special."

I went to get my MRI and they said, you can go home today as long as you can be here Wednesday at 7am sharp and keep all the dots on your head!"

So now I'm sitting in the car while Jenny gets some shopping. "I've got dots! I'm not going in there!"  lol

The MRI went perfectly. Getting the dots to stick was another story. I actually said to the nurse, "Other people's dots don't stick to me very easily." She laughed and said, "That's good, I guess."

They tried everything to draw on my skin with their special pen (felt more like an ice pick that a pen) and to get the dots to stick. Finally they gave me some alcohol based "pre-surgery" shampoo and asked me to go wash my hair. I could feel the dots starting to stick. Ok, I have oily skin.

I showered and washed my hair one blog entry ago! Geeeeesh!

After the oil-be-gone head wash, the dots stuck. And so they should! But I still wouldn't be drawn! They used a Sharpie in the end.

So, now I'm not allowed to get sweaty or the dots will fall off and the ink will run. The nurse actually said, "Please try not to sweat. Just think about not sweating."

Yes dear, shall do.

An A/C in the face works wonders!



The Call

Wow! Just got "the call" and it was more than expected!

An hour ago I received a call from the hospital. I'm heading into the city now on the train. MRI today (and a head-shave!) and surgery on Wednesday.

Doctor Smith asked them to "move it along" and they did so.
I'm happy! I want to get on the recovery track rather than the waiting track. So, this is good news.

But it's also a bit of a shock! Zoom boom! Edgren, you're up!

I was in the hot tub when I got the call. After hanging up I went in to have a shower and got the shakes. I said to Jenny, "I'm shaking but I'm not cold." She said, "It's shock!"

Isn't adrenalin a wonderful thing!?  lol

So, I'm showered, not shaking and at the station. Train in 10 mins.

Living Under the Umbrella

So, here we are on the eve of a new year and I on the eve of a new life. As I approach the surgery I am more excited than worried. I am excited about what will be different after the tumour is out. Will I feel different? (Acoustic Neuromas can have all kinds of physical, emotional and sensational effects on their host). Maybe I will be more serious and driven. Maybe I’ll be less tired. Maybe I’ll be more adventurous. Maybe I’ll be able to taste food on the left side of my mouth again. Maybe I’ll be more funny and can take up a career as a comedian. Maybe the ringing in my left ear will stop (or maybe it will get louder!). Maybe I’ll be able to ride my motorcycle backward. That would be cool!  

There is very little I can control in this surgery. I can be well rested on my way in. I can be patient with myself afterward. I can enjoy my health and family as much as possible before the surgery. I cannot tell you what a joy it has been to spend so much time with them during the past few months. I have gone out for meals and day trips with each of my children (multiple times) and taken partial and whole family trips here and there. 

These vast hours of special family time are possible because of the amazing generosity and compassion of my employer. When I told them about the tumour in September, the leadership at the Victoria Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church (for whom I work!) told me that they would like me to go onto a “sick-leave umbrella” which means I am on sick-leave but can report as many hours as I work each week. General Secretary Pr Darren Croft said they want me to be as well rested and emotionally healthy before the surgery as possible. Human Resources Director Karina Gurban said she had chased my sick leave backward through all previous church employers (something only possible for serious illness) and had found 5.5 Months of sick-leave which are available to me during this time. So, since October I have been living under the umbrella! Some weeks I work a full week, sometimes I work and hour or two a week. The only stipulation Pr Darren set was, “Please don’t do anything which stresses you - just do the parts of ministry which you enjoy and which bless you.” 

Every Sabbath I minister away from my family is stressful. So, I have spent every Sabbath possible with them. We have gone to church together. We have wagged church and gone bush together. We have had opening Sabbath, Sabbath lunch and closing Sabbath together. And I have sat, in a pew during numerous sermons, next to them. This may all sound mundane to most people but every church pastor with a young family will be aching with jealousy. I’m starting to think we do Sabbath wrong as Pastors. I don’t know how to fix it but I know we are not discipling our children in the joy and the rest of the Sabbath when we work on Sabbath while having family fun and rest on another day or, God forbid, work 7 days a week.

Yesterday, after running JETS Sabbath School at Ringwood church (with my wife and for all three of our children plus a bunch more awesome kids) we had Sabbath lunch with Grandma and Grandpa. Then Cyrus, Rachael and I went to Healesville Sanctuary together. It’s really wonderful to spend such moments together. This preparation time is really challenging me to rethink family, Sabbath, pastoring, ministry and life in general. I want to continue living a life of disciple-making when I emerge from under the umbrella.

Neurosurgeon Dr Paul Smith


On the Saturday afternoon before Christmas I received a phone call from my surgeon! I have not met Dr Smith and this was the first time we talked to each other. I had, however heard a lot about him from the other workers in the hospital during my various visits.

I think I surprised him when I greeted him like an old friend. He said, “Hello David, This is Dr Paul Smith. I am the neurosurgeon who will be doing your surgery.”

I said, “Good afternoon, Sir! How are you?”

I could hear his smile as he replied, “I’m good. I don’t believe we have met. You seem to know me!”

I laughed. “Well, no, we’ve never met but I have learned your name and heard a lot about you from the other fine people at St Vincents.”

“I see. Well, I just wanted to call and talk to you.”

And we talked! Dr Paul Smith came across as very professional, helpful and friendly. He let me know that I am approaching the top of his surgery list. He asked if I would be able to meet a mid-January surgery date. I assured him I would.

Dr Smith asked a lot of questions about my symptoms and allowed me to ask questions as well. One thing he said, which I actually appreciated greatly, was that this is a very serious surgery. I don’t know why but it was comforting to hear my surgeon say this. I guess it let me know that He is confident, qualified for the task and will give me the very best care possible. He talked me through the risks (“although unlikely David, it’s still important that you are fully aware”) which include hearing loss, facial paralysis, and death. He explained that all surgeries of this magnitude include a risk of death however slight.

After quite a lengthy chat, he said the hospital would contact me with a date. Now that he has talked to me, he will talk to them. And they will call me.

So, once New Years Day passes, I’ll be expecting a call from my friendly first-name crew at St Vincents Hospital. Did I mention how reassuring it was that Dr Smith didn’t introduce himself, “Hey, it’s Paul, the guy whose gonna rid ya of that tumour!” but rather as “Dr Paul Smith, the neurosurgeon.” After getting off the phone I commented to Jenny, “It’s nice to know he takes his job seriously!” 

You can check out Dr Paul Smith and his creds at http://www.paulsmithneurosurgeon.com.au

The Story of the Olive Tree

In the middle of an ancient olive orchard there lived a regal and perfect olive tree. While many of the other olive trees in the orchard had nice olives, none could compare to this grand-daddy of all trees. The olives from the ancient tree in the midst of the garden had rich texture and powerful flavor.

Occasionally the gardener would come to check on his trees. One day, as he approached the mighty tree at the heart of the orchard he drew a machete and chopped off one of the strongest braches, right where it connected to the tree. He then lopped a branch off a small scrawny tree from the edge of the orchard and grafted it into the open wound he had created on the strong vibrant tree. As the strong tree and the miserable branch bonded a remarkable thing happened. The rich sap from the grand tree began oozing into the newly attached branch and the weak branch began to pulse with life.

As time went by the gardener grafted in a few more branches from other lesser trees throughout the orchard. Each time lopping off a perfectly strong and healthy branch to make room for the weaker branch. One day as the farmer approached the patriarch of the orchard he stooped and picked up one of the discarded branches that used to be so glorious. It was now withered and nearly dead as it had been disconnected from the trees’ deeply nourishing sap for quite some time. The gardener then did something that he had not done before. He cut a wedge out of a fleshy area on the side of the tree. Then he cut off the first few inches of the disconnected branch and shaped it to match the wedge in the trunk of the tree. Carefully he grafted the wasted branch into the new hole. The sap began to flow deeply into the branch and soon life returned to the limb that had nearly been dead.

Paul, in concluding this story comments, “Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off. And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to your nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!" (Romans 11:22-24)

Why I don't do drugs!






The Victorian Government is getting serious about drug and alcohol awareness for teens. I am excited about this focus and hope they get the message out! I have been a passionate advocate for a drugfree life since I was a child!

Please click on the graphic above to get the fullsize file. Then print it out and give it to leaders who work with teens.


Serpent Scroll inspired drawings


These pics were drawn by Heritage Christian College Primary School students in 2009.

Well done, kids!










Oppa Kingdom Style

Yesterday, as I was waiting for the light to change from red to green, two primary-school aged boys walked across the pedestrian crossing directly in front of my car. Well, “walked” might be the wrong word choice. They pranced. With one hand holding imaginary reigns and the other spinning a mock-lasso, they shuffled sideways across the road. If you’ve been alive in the past few months, you’ve heard the hit song, “Oppa Gangnam Style” and probably seen kids, teens and adults doing the dance. 

With amazing energy and a catchy tune, this Korean song has topped the charts in 33 countries. It has swept the world. Kids, particularly, are singing the chorus and doing the horse-riding dance with gusto. Kids live to imitate, and Oppa Gangnam Style is fun, funny and fully engaging. Kids are loving it!

This success of this song is amazing, not only because it is in Korean, but because the actual words tell the story of an “oppa” (a Korean term of respect for ‘older brother’) who is cool even though he is not muscle-bound, drug taking or time wasting. He is a hard working city dweller. He works in an office all day and enjoys hanging out with his friends at night. And his girlfriend is just like him. They are normal people. The music video starts with in a playground full of children where Psy (the singer) is trying to get some sun, suggesting he’s babysitting his nieces and nephews. This is the kind of guy we all wish we had as an older brother! 


Gangnam is the wealthiest part of Korea. To live there is desirable but requires wealth, which requires hard work and higher education. “Oppa Gangnam Style” means, in effect, “I’m the respectable older brother who lives in Gangnam and I am who you should want to be when you grow up.” In today’s wealth and prestige focused world, Oppa Gangnam Style is presenting a much better message than many other popular songs which promote unhealthy lifestyles and unbalanced relationships. Oppa Psy is family we’d like to have.

In church circles, we hear a lot of talk about family. At a baptism, people say, “Welcome to God’s family, brother.” At church we might hear, “Good morning sister, isn’t it good to be part of the family of God?” And we pray, as Jesus taught us, “Our Father . . . ” 

But, when Jesus talked about the people of God, He called them a kingdom. He said the “kingdom of heaven” belongs to the poor, the persecuted and those who realize they need God. He said we should want the “kingdom of God” above everything else because God gives every need to those who seek His Kingdom. 

So why “kingdom” rather than “family”? What does this mean to you and me? For one thing—a pretty awesome “one thing”—it means our “Father” is the King! And that means we are princes and princesses—we’re royalty! 

But there is so much more to the kingdom of God than making us feel good about being part of the in crowd. As we explore the kingdom Jesus talked about, we find a place where the poor are cared for, the sick are healed, the rich share, children are included, sinners repent, and outsiders are welcomed. 

Jesus said this kingdom—the kingdom of God—is very near. For Jesus, the goal wasn’t so much about getting yourself into the kingdom, but letting the kingdom get into you. And once that happens, the kingdom becomes like a little yeast in a lot of dough. It spreads in you and through you and you rise, as someone new—a citizen of the kingdom of heaven, more commonly known as a Christian. Jesus calls us, in effect, to live “Kingdom Style.”

Another important reason Jesus called His people a kingdom is because a kingdom is built, maintained, beautified, and expanded by the citizens, not the King. The King defines the kingdom, sets the laws and governs the people. Living “Kingdom Style” means each of us is busy bringing the kingdom to life in every word and action. The kingdom of God is created anew each and every day by each and every one of us. 

And we do it together. To put the principles of the kingdom into practice is to become the ‘big brother’ who draws others to live “Oppa Kingdom Style.” This is discipleship. The kingdom of Heaven is all about community. Perhaps this is why we like the family metaphor so much. God’s kingdom feels like a big happy family. We become stronger in our faith and more effective in our mission when we work together. Living “Kingdom Style” cannot be done alone. True kingdom citizens—true Christians—live “Oppa Kingdom Style” recognising that we walk in someone’s footprints as someone else walks in ours. Together, we are the kingdom of God.

As you walk—whether it be across the road at a red light, at the park with your family, or to serve the needs of a suffering world—may you walk, hand in hand, Oppa Kingdom Style.

The Health Saga  - the new story (from September 2013)

From Tumour to Health
The One Year Lifestyle Commitment 
The Food
ProOatTeen Patties
The Hybrid Engine
Daily Meal
The truth behind the diet guru's claims


The Tumour Saga - the old story (from September 2012)

These are the entries I made from September 2012 to May 5 -  as the story and experience of my brain tumour unfolded.

Acoustic Neuroma

2013 Junior WOP Readings (General Conference Youth Week of Prayer)

I wrote this series of eight stories to engage Juniors and Teens with the Week of Prayer topics for the General Conference 2013 Youth Week of Prayer. The Youth Director from that era gave me permission to use these studies wherever I saw an opportunity to increase the Kingdom of God.

Free eBook

Below are links to each chapter separately.

Click on the pictures below to be taken to each story.

Get a group together for YWOP this year and enjoy the study time together!

Introduction and Cast of Characters


Day 1. Revival That Counts



Day 2. The God Who Sees, Hears—and Cares



Day 3. The God Who Stoops



Day 4. For God So Loved



Day 5. The Greater Commission



Day 6. Agents of Justice and Beauty



Day 7. The Future Now



Day 8. Three Angels

2013 GCY-JWoP - Day 8 - Three Angels (9/9)


Junior/Teen Study Guide

Day 8 - Three Angels

“Welcome back,” Mr. Malku said. “I’m glad you could all make it to the Change Agents Group meeting tonight. How was your week?”

Melissa nearly leapt out of her chair. “Look!” she said, “My plaster-cast is gone!”

“That’s great!” Mr. Malku said. “How’s your arm now?”

“The muscles are a bit weak,” Melissa said, “but the bone is strong again.”

“That’s good.” Mr. Malku said. “It looks straight enough!”

A few people laughed. “Dad joke,” Nic said.

“What about the rest of you?” Mr. Malku asked. “Did you bring God’s kingdom to life in the world around you? Did you do anything to declare your identity as one of Jesus’ sheep?”

“Sabbath afternoon,” Chloe said, “a group of us kids went to a retirement home and sang for the people.”

“I checked on the homeless man at Dad’s office,” Stephen said. “I took him a pillow and some marshmallows.”

“Marshmallows?” the group laughed.

“I just thought he probably hadn’t had marshmallows for a long time!” Stephen said. “And I was right. He was all smiles and invited me to sit and share the bag. His name is Norm.”

“That’s great stuff,” Mr. Malku said. “Does anyone else have a kingdom story to tell?”

Drake was staring at the floor, studying his shoes. Mr. Malku noticed. “What’s up, Drake? Do you have a story to tell?”

“I guess,” Drake said. “I’m just not used to getting excited about God stuff. It’s been awhile.”

Stephen reached over and patted Drake’s leg, “Tell us what you did,” he said, “I really want to hear it!”

“That first Bible story last week,” Drake said, “about the women with their lamps, really bothered me. The only difference between the two groups of women was one kept their lamps full. I just know I haven’t been keeping my lamp full.”

“What do you mean?” Melissa asked.

“I don’t like Sabbath school, I don’t listen to my dad’s sermons, and I certainly don’t read the Bible or pray on my own,” Drake said. “Well, I didn’t for a long time. This last week, I did—early every morning, so nobody would catch me. I read all the verses we’ve looked at over the past few weeks. I really love this ‘Change Agent’ stuff. It has changed the way I see Christianity. I didn’t think it was for me, but I’ve been thinking. And I prayed about it this week.”

“That’s awesome!” Nic said.

“Very cool,” Liam said.

Shane stared quietly at his brother. He was smiling, but his eyes were wet with tears. “I didn’t know that, Drake,” he said. “That is really awesome. I’m so proud.”

“Of me?” Drake said.

“Yeah,” Shane said. “You are my big brother, after all!”

“Seven minutes,” Drake said. “What’s seven minutes, really?”

“It’s everything,” Shane said. “You’re #1 to me.” Drake shook his head, smiling.

Mrs. Malku stood in the kitchen doorway, wiping her eyes. “Dinner is served,” she said.

“And the Kingdom is growing,” the group chanted as they bounded into the dining room.

“Who would like to bless the meal?” Mr. Malku asked.

“I will,” Mrs. Malku said, “Dear Father in Heaven, we thank you for this meal and we also thank you for these wonderful young people who are here to enjoy it. Please bless them and keep blessing the world through them. Amen.”

“Amen!”

The group made a quick dent in the pile of food on the table. Soon they were happily chatting with each other as they kept eating.

Mr. Malku said, “How much screen time do you all have each day?”

The entire group looked sheepishly back at him.

“Too much, probably” Stephen said.

“I didn’t mean it to be a guilt question,” Mr. Malku said. “I was just thinking, we live in an information saturated world.”

“That’s for sure,” Chloe said.

“There’s way more on TV and the Internet than we could ever see,” Melissa said.

“How much of the stuff you see makes a difference in your life?” Mr. Malku asked.

“None,” Chloe said.

“Lots,” Liam said.

They all laughed. “You’re both right, I guess,” Mr. Malku said. “With so much information at our finger tips, knowing something doesn’t mean we will do anything with the information. Have you ever had something you learned actually cause you to change your life?”

“Not from commercials,” Drake said. “And that’s what they make them for.”

“That’s true,” Liam said, “But I have learned lots of stuff from the Internet about boat building and I have applied most of it.”

“Yeah,” Chloe said, “I watch cooking shows on TV and have made some yummy things!”

“I watch videos online of people playing games,” Nic said, “and now I am a better gamer.”

“Hmmmm...” Mr. Malku said, “Not sure I like that one!”

They all laughed.

“Well,” Mr. Malku said, “those are some good examples. What is the difference between the information that changes you and the rest of the information?”

“The information that is useful,” Liam said, “is useful because I want to learn from it. I watch and then go try it.”

“Good answer,” Mr. Malku said. “Do you think God wants us to apply what we read in the Bible? Do you think He wants it to change us?”

Everyone nodded.

“The Bible is a revolutionary book meant to transform lives and continue transforming them until Jesus returns,” Mr. Malku said. “So let me tell you something that might surprise you.”

The eating stopped. Everyone stared at Mr. Malku.

“If God took the stories out of the Bible,” Mr. Malku said, “we would only have a quarter of it left.”

“There are that many stories in the Bible?” Drake asked.

Mr. Malku nodded his head as he put a fork full of food in his mouth.

“Why are stories so important?” Stephen asked.

“Maybe a better question,” Shane said, “is why are stories so important to God?”

“I like the stories in the Bible,” Chloe said.

“Yeah,” Melissa added, “I remember the stories better than anything else!”

Mr. Malku’s eyebrows went up like he was surprised. He took another mouthful of food.

“So that’s the answer,” Stephen said.

“What’s the answer?” Nic asked.

“God put lots of stories in the Bible,” Stephen said, “because we like stories and remember them. That’s what Chloe and Melissa just said.”

“Out of the mouths of babes,” Nic said.

“Hey!” The girls shouted in unison.

“They are right,” Mr. Malku said. “God created us as creatures of story and He knows how to speak to us! Tonight we are going to explore one of the Bible’s most important stories. Let’s clear the table and head into the lounge room.”



Group Interaction Time—Revelation 14:6-12


Angel 1: Read—Revelation 14:6,7
      What does worship do in us as individuals? What does worship do for us as a people of faith? What does worship do through us for the world?

Angel 2: Read—Revelation 14:8
      Babylon (the world without God) is utterly fallen and corrupt. How does this affect you? Who does it make you want to become? There are many people who do not recognize the fallen world for what it is. What does this second angel’s message compel you to do for them?

Angel 3: Read—Revelation 14:9-12
      How is this final message a call to serving others? What role does patience play in dealing with evil? How do God’s wrath and His love go hand in hand?


Story Conclusion

“That’s an awesome story,” Nic said. “Imagine if three angels came and spoke to us.”

“They just did,” Mr. Malku said.

“I mean for real,” Nic said. “What if three angels appeared now in the lounge room?”

“I see what Dad means,” Liam said. “The story makes it feel real.”

“Yeah,” Stephen said. “After reading that story and talking about it, I feel like Jesus could come at any moment.”

“What is the overall theme or message of the story?” Mr. Malku asked.

“The world is falling apart and we should worship God because He has a plan,” Shane said.

“God always seems to have a plan,” Stephen said.

“What makes you say that?” Mr. Malku asked.

“Every story about God we’ve ever looked at,” Stephen said, “always includes His plan for a better future.”

“There is always hope,” Drake said. “In God’s stories, there is always hope.”

“That is inspired,” Mr. Malku said. “In my heart, I just heard God say, ‘I have a future and a hope for the Change Agents Group.’ God has big plans for this group.”

The group clapped and cheered.

How can we take this hope, this future, to the world around us?” Mr. Malku asked.

“We can tell other people about God,” Nic said.

“We can show people the Bible is true,” Stephen said, “by reading it and living its principles.”

“We can write poetry about God and His love, and share it with people,” Melissa said.

“We can create beautiful gardens for people to experience God in,” Drake said.

“We can use our influence to bring change,” Liam said.

“We can sing music that glorifies God,” Chloe said.

“We can take a stand for goodness, and serve like Jesus did,” Shane said.

“Until next week,” Mr. Malku said, “what are we?”

Everyone said, “We’re Change Agents!”

“And why are we Change Agents?”

“Because we’re changing the world for Jesus Christ!”

“Very good!” Mr. Malku said, “I’ll see you at Sabbath School. Who wants to pray?”

“I’ll pray,” Shane said. “Dear Jesus, help us to take the Three Angels’ Messages to the world. Help us to take you seriously enough to change the world one act of service at a time. Amen.”

“Amen!”

------
Want to read the rest of this series?
The rest can be found here.

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,...