Today, Tomorrow, Forever - Discipling Through Story



Imagine you are holding a footlong undecorated cardboard-brown tube. Along the length of the cardboard tube you have hand printed in big bold letters: “G O S P E L”. You hold the tube in front of yourself so the group of five year olds can see the word.

“What does that spell?” You ask. 

Glancing to a parent and then back to you, one bright youngster shouts “GOSPEL!” 

“And what is the Gospel?” You ask. 

A moment of silence and then a questioning answer: “The Bible?” You nod and gesture that you want more answers. “Jesus?” another kid hazards. You smile, still holding the tube so they can read the world G O S P E L.

“You are both right,” you say. “The Gospel is the story of Jesus in the Bible. The Gospel is everything that Jesus did for us and will do for us. The Gospel means God loves us and that’s what the Bible is all about.” You pause and look down at the cardboard tube, surprised. “What’s this?” you ask. “Does anyone know what’s in my hand?”

“The GOSPEL!” the kids shout in unison. 

“True,” you laugh. Then you spin the tube in various directions so the kids can see it’s shape. “But, what is this thing that says GOSPEL on it?” 

“It’s a toilet paper roll,” one kid says. “It’s too long for that,” another kid corrects. “It’s a paper-towel roll.” 

“Good answers,” you say, “but let me show you something.” You hold it longways again, the word “GOSPEL” facing the kids. “This way it’s a rectangle,” you draw a rectangle tracing the two dimensional shape facing them. Then you turn it end out, “But this way, it’s a circle, isn’t it?”

The kids all nod. “That’s because it’s a tube!” one future-scientist exclaims. 

“Yes,” you laugh, “it is a tube. But this tube never had paper of any kind wrapped around it. In fact, my GOSPEL tube may look plain and boring but that’s only because you haven’t looked inside it. Who want’s look look into my GOSPEL tube?”

Pandemonium breaks loose in the church as the kids raise their hands and beg for you to call them. “I’m only going to show one of you,” you say. You choose a little boy who comes forward. You stand him side-on to the audience and ask him to close one eye. Resting the tube gently against the open eye, you point it up toward the light, slowly rotating it as he looks through. “What do you see in my GOSPEL tube?” you ask him, holding the mic to his mouth as he looks through the kaleidoscope. 

“It’s, it’s...” Awed by the beautiful fractal patterns of light and colour the boy searches for the right words. He goes quiet for a moment as he stares upward. Finally he whispers, “It’s beautiful!” 

Helpers appear and stand at the edge of the stage, each holding a large box. 

“The Gospel is beautiful and it can only be truly understood when you look for yourself!” you say, “As you go back to your seats, take a GOSPEL tube from one of my friends and enjoy looking through them!” 


How do you tell the Gospel story? Do you tell it differently when telling it the first time to a five year-old and a fifty year-old? Of course you do! Why?

Each of us has had a different experience of discovering the GOSPEL kaleidoscope. Most of us hear the Good News of the Gospel explained early in our faith journey. The first explanation may have seemed as boring as a cardboard tube. Someone held it up, showed you the word GOSPEL, and explained it as a rectangle. Then you met people who held it up and proclaimed its circle nature. And occasionally, some deep thinker who pondered things in three dimensions, proclaimed it was a tube (often to the chagrin of many others in the room). 

Do you remember the day when you picked up the GOSPEL tube and put it to your eye for the first time? How do you explain what you saw? The rectangle, circle, tube thing you had seen so many times, came to life. Colours collided and colluded in patterns of randomly shifting shapes. Perhaps you quickly pulled it away from your eye, wondering if you were doing something wrong. “Why has no-one told me about this before?” You wondered. 

The Gospel is like that. It is something that can only be truly understood when it is encountered personally. The Good News is not a TV show, it’s a friend at a Cafe. It’s not is not web-page, it’s a chat window. The Gospel is something between you and Jesus. And it’s beautiful.

Looking through the GOSPEL kaleidoscope can happen in various ways. It can happen in a conversation with a friend, while you are reading God’s Word, in a song, in something you see, in a sermon, in silence, in nature, in prayer, in a book, or in some other way God chooses to use. The kaleidoscope touches our eye, usually fleetingly, in many wonderful ways. And the Good News becomes richer to us with each kaleidoscopic view we experience. 

Your salvation-testimony is powerful because it is what you saw when you peered through the GOSPEL kaleidoscope for the first time. And each further gaze into the light of Jesus is another story worth telling. This is why the Bible is full of stories - it is a cafe full of people who each have another telling, their own story, of what God means and who God is to them. The Bible, is a library of personal testimonies. It’s meant to show us fractal images of broken people who the light of God shines through. And that light, shining upon us, shapes us. 

Likewise each personal testimony of friends and family is another fresh and beautifully unique view of the nature, power and presence of God. If we are staring into the light of God’s glory, we are GOSPEL kaleidoscopes to the world around us - to those who are ready to see. People can see the Good News in you and through you. There is phenomenal spiritual power at the table, between friends. Your testimony is a view of Jesus that only you can give. When you tell it, you are His personal GOSPEL kaleidoscope. 

This is why Jesus called us to be disciple makers. He wants us to tell the story — both the story of the ancient faith and the story of today’s faith — to those who are seeking Him. Who are you? Who are we? What is truth? These questions are meant to be asked and answered in conversation. God wants to be viewed by those seeking Him through the kaleidoscope of you. 

When He revealed His character to the Israelites in the desert, God said their primary job was to love Him with all their heart, soul and strength so they would speak of Him and His Law — when at home, when on the road, when resting, when rising — revealing their passionate love for Him. 

You are not the only Jesus some people will ever see but you may be the only window they see Him through. Our view of God, as the kaleidoscope turns, is the view of Himself which He wants others to see. Yes, this is ridiculous and amazing. But it is also true. The way God wants to be seen is through you. 

Because of this amazing desire of God, to be seen through us, we should strive to know Him with as much clarity as possible. We need to know Him with our head, heart, hands and horizon. With our heads we study His Word and consider all that He has taught us. With our hearts we express our love for Him in worship and compassion to others. With our hands we extend His mercy to the world around us in acts of selfless service. And in all this we continue to grow the horizons of His Kingdom by constantly striving to welcome new people and ideas. 

At each step of our journey we tell a new story. It is new because we are reaching new horizons through the work of our head, heart and hands. Each new thought, new deed, new song is a small turn of the kaleidoscope causing the coloured fractal we see of Jesus and His Kingdom to shift, giving us a new story to tell. And it is through these stories, these living moments in the Gospel, that God wants to be seen and known. We are called to revel in and reveal the Good News of all Jesus has done, is doing and will do in us and for us. 

If we want a church today, tomorrow and forever we need a story today, tomorrow and forever. We need to tell the eternally relevant Gospel story of God’s Kingdom now and new every day! This isn't easy. It takes humility. It takes fresh eyes and a heart willing — even longing — for the kaleidoscope to turn. It takes relationships carefully and lovingly cultivated beyond small talk. It takes a personal challenge to our head, heart, hands and horizons. Ultimately, it takes the desire to see each generation become well discipled disciple-makers. and this happens only through shared story. So let us share our faith story — as we sit, walk, rest and rise — one turn of the kaleidoscope at a time.

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Implied Biblical references: Deuteronomy 5:1-6:4-8, Matthew 28:16-20

A Compassionate Theology

Being a Christian doesn't mean you must be judgmental of others or yourself. We can strive to have a compassionate theology! Here's a few examples of what I mean:

The purpose of this series of six Bible studies is to explore the thematic reasons I find the Seventh-day Adventist understanding of Jesus and His mission for the church to be the most compelling option available to myself as a thinking and passionate Christian today.

Silent Scribbles - ACT: Forgiveness and Reconciliation
Bananas, Nuts and Living Art -- ACT: Being Story-Centred
The Tension of Being Seventh-day Adventist -- ACT: Adventist Identity
of Pizza and Apples -- ACT: The Bible
Kingdom Worldview -- ACT: God's People
The Living Word -- ACT: Growing in Christ
Aisle Seven    -- ACT : Sabbath
Two Dolls       -- ACT: Creation
He is Risen!    -- ACT: Holy Days

28 Stories - ACT: Adventist Fundamentals

Free eBook



In 2009, my eldest son Cyrus wanted to study for Baptism. Unsatisfied with the deterministic style of the various studies available, I wrote this series of Biblical story-based and experiential discussion-driven studies. I've now used them to prepare all three of my children for Baptism.

Click on the image to read the words
In 2012, Signs Publishing Company published the studies as a faith journal / Bible study guide called "28 Stories." If you want a reduced bulk price for a box for your group, email me.

Each of the 28 studies in this journal follows the pattern of:
Bible Story – Rewritten to connect you to the Biblical character and to direct your thoughts toward a particular aspect of the doctrine in consideration.
My Reflection – Finding yourself in the Biblical narrative.
My Story – Finding the principles of the Biblical narrative in your experience.
My Assurance – Strengthening your faith by encouraging your heart.
My Commitment – Challenging your faith by considering what you can become.
My Outlook – Expanding your horizon of your God, your world or yourself.
My Response – Acknowledging the doctrine and considering it’s importance.

Each of these sections is to be savoured slowly. Read the story in the morning. Think on a question or two at various points during the day - morning break, lunch, sitting on random park benches. If you like journaling, write lengthy responses. Immerse yourself in your faith journey. You’ll be glad you did!

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  * 

SET 1: 1-8 --- Finding Faith (8) 

Setting the Stage


SET 4: 23-28 --- Finishing in Faith (6)

Gideon’s Story

Remembering Jesus (short version)

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The RECORD asked me to get this article down to 1300 words.
I'm going to leave both on the blog because there are 500 words that make them very different! 
 Compare this with the longer oneWhich is your favourite?

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There is a powerful story, recorded in Luke 24:13-33, of two disciples walking, ahead of Jesus, on the road to Emmaus. In verse 16, it is revealed that Jesus, the Divine Storyteller, is doing something intriguingly creative. The men do not recognise Jesus. The Bible explains why. It is not because Jesus was wearing a mask, or because His post-resurrection body was markedly different. Verse 16 tells us, exactly, why they don’t recognise Jesus. “God kept them from recognizing him.” 

The Storyteller is crafting something special. He starts with the end in mind. This verse reveals the goal of this story, from the Teller’s perspective. The Author’s goal for the characters in the story is to recognise Jesus. At what point will the Divine Storyteller reveal the third man to be Jesus? 

Interestingly, the characters’ goal is not the same as the Author’s goal. Their goal is one which we often join with them in seeing as the primary goal of the story, most-likely because we so often relate to the men on the path — doubting their faith, their Saviour and their changing reality. They want to understand why: Why did Jesus die? Why had they believed a lie? Why had the meaning and purpose been sucked out of their lives? Why? 

Have you ever asked “Why?” Why do bad things happen? Why doesn’t God intervene? Why am I broken, used up and wasted? Why? Why? Why? God’s goal for us in our story is the same as the goal He set for the characters of this story — that we may see Jesus. This story is for those who are walking away. It is for those who are searching. It is for those who are asking. God sends you a companion for the journey — so that you might see Jesus.

As listeners, participating in the story, we want to know: When will these two men see Jesus as Jesus? What will it take? What needs to happen for people to recognise Jesus for who He really is?

Jesus knew them. He knew their struggles. He knew their thoughts. He knew their story. But Jesus had a plan and it started with them telling their own story. So He asked a question. He could have asked why they were walking away — away from the suffering followers of Jesus in Jerusalem, away from the crucified and resurrected Messiah. When Jesus sees His followers walking away He chases them, not to belittle them but to join them on their journey and in their conversation, and starting where they are, He asks, “What are you discussing so intently as you walk along?”

One of them, Cleopas, replied, “You must be the only person in Jerusalem who hasn’t heard about all the things that have happened there the last few days.”
“What things?” Jesus asked (Luke 24:17-19).

This is such a powerful question, coming from Jesus. “What things?” He is not asking what happened to Him in Jerusalem this weekend. He is asking what happened to them in Jerusalem this weekend. He is not asking what happened on the cross. He is asking what happened inside of them when they witnessed the cross. He is not asking for a factual recounting of the resurrection. He is asking for their view of the resurrection. Jesus want’s to know what His story means to them, where it has been misunderstood and what it is becoming within them. Because seeing Jesus through our eyes and seeing Jesus through God’s eyes are often very different things. And we become that which we behold.

After hearing their story — their story of seeing Him — Jesus has the chance to explain Himself. He opens Scripture, from memory, and pours the Word of God into their hearts and minds. When Jesus joined them on the path, they didn’t recognise Him. When He joined their conversation, they didn’t recognise Him. When they told their Jesus story, they didn’t reconise Him. Finally Jesus has a chance to explain things. Surely He will reveal Himself. Surely they will recognise Him when the Living Word explains “from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” 

But they didn’t. It is so important, at this point, to remember the Author’s goal — Jesus will be seen when He intends to be. He is shaping the story of a people. He is teaching them and us the way He wants to be seen and remembered.

Jesus has journeyed with us, joined our conversation and heard our story. Finally He speaks. He reminds us of the Old Testament teachings. He unpacks all that Moses and the prophets said about the nature of the true Messiah. In their own words, He causes “our hearts to burn within us.”

Now both we and the two men understand who the Messiah was and is. You and I have heard the same sermon from a hundred pulpits. We know who Jesus is. On the road to Emmaus, the characters have reached their goal — they understand what has happened this weekend. But do they recognise Jesus? No, not yet.

The Great Storyteller is still with them. Jesus has yet to reach His goal in their story. What is the Great Author doing? What is God waiting for? 

As they sat down to eat, he took the bread and blessed it. Then he broke it and gave it to them. Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognized him (Luke 24:30-31).

Only four days before, Jesus did the same thing in a different room. 

On the night when he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and said, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this to remember me.” In the same way, he took the cup of wine after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood. Do this to remember me as often as you drink it” For every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are announcing the Lord’s death until he comes again (1 Corinthians 11:23-26).

Like the upper room, Jesus enters the house in Emmaus misunderstood and surprises everyone with his words and actions. And in this, He is recognised.

How does the Great Author want us to see Jesus? How does Jesus want to be remembered? In what act did the Divine Storyteller reveal Jesus and tell us to announce “the Lord’s death until he comes again”? 

The two men on the road to Emmaus knew Jesus. They had walked with Him before His death. They knew all about Jesus. He had explained the meaning His death from the Scriptures. But they didn’t recognise Him in their midst. 

Until they ate together. 

Jesus is to be remembered through the catalyst of communion. Bread and wine. Food and drink. Together. In the upper room, Jesus redefined the Exodus memory event — the traditional passover meal — into a commemorative meal of the New Covenant. Then in Emmaus, Jesus redefined every meal into a memory moment — the moment when we recognise Him among us. 

Whenever we eat together — at home, at church, at the park, in the office, at restaurants, on the road — we recognise Jesus among us. We must eat with our family. We must eat with our leaders. And we must impress upon all followers of Jesus that to eat together, in remembrance of Him, is more important than we can ever hope to understand. 

We must take every opportunity to eat together. And when no opportunity presents itself, we need to create one. 

We must eat together.

It’s how Jesus wanted to be remembered.


Remembering Jesus


When Jesus takes the time to craft a story in which He walks, as both the Author and the Lead Character, it is worth remembering and retelling. Many stories in the Bible are told in a fleeting glance, almost as if the penman is flying past the stories as they happen. Then there are other stories, written in detail but from a distance. It is rare to see a story like this one in the Bible. This story was planned, as a living parable, before it was enacted. Then, it was told, as it was lived, at a walking pace. And it is remembered, as it was walked, by and with Jesus. 

Jesus often used current events to inform His storytelling. He was also quick to draw lessons from things that happened to Him or those around Him. But in this amazing story, it is clear upon reflection, that Jesus planned the entire event and it’s meaning before it was walked, talked and taught. 

Recorded in Luke 24:13-33, this story starts with two disciples of Jesus walking, ahead of Him, on the road. Imagine that, followers walking ahead of the leader. Surely, we would never do that! The two men do not know Jesus’ destination but they do know He started from Jerusalem like them because they are headed the same direction on the road to Emmaus. 

In Luke 24:16, it is revealed that the Storyteller Jesus, the Great Author of life and the Gospel, is doing something intriguingly creative. The men do not recognise Jesus. The Bible explains why. It is not because Jesus was wearing a mask, or because His post-resurrection body and face were markedly different, or because Jesus was hiding in shadows or sunlight — or any such thing. Verse 16 tells us, exactly, why they don’t recognise Jesus. “God kept them from recognizing him.” 

The Storyteller is crafting something special. In this verse, we are given the core purpose of this story, from the Teller’s perspective. The Author’s goal for the characters in the story is to recognise Jesus. What will it take to reveal the true identity of Jesus? At what point will the Divine Author reveal the third man to be Jesus? 

Adding conflict to the story, the goal of the Characters for themselves is a different goal. It is one which we often join with them in seeing as the primary goal of the story, most-likely because we so often relate to the men on the path — doubting their faith, their Saviour and their changing reality. They want to understand why: Why did Jesus die? Why had they believed a lie? Why had the meaning and purpose been sucked out of their lives? Why? Jesus joins them on the path, not to answer their questions, but to redefine the parameters. 

Have you ever asked “Why?” Why do bad things happen? Why didn’t God intervene? Why am I broken, used up and wasted? Why? Why? Why? God’s goal for us in our story is the same as the goal He sets in verse 16 for the characters of this story — that we may recognise Jesus. More than anything, it is God’s greatest hope that we will see Jesus. This story is for those who are walking away. It is for those who are searching. It is for those who are asking. God sends you a companion for the journey — so that you might see Jesus.

From this point on, in the story, the hearer is challenged: When will these two men see Jesus as Jesus? What will it take? What needs to happen for people to recognise Jesus for who He really is?

When Jesus catches up with them He asks a question. 

Jesus knew them. He knew their struggles. He knew their thoughts. He knew their story. But Jesus had a plan and it started with them telling their own story. So He asked a question. He could have asked why they were walking away — away from the believers in Jerusalem, away from the suffering followers of Jesus, away from the crucified and resurrected Messiah. When Jesus sees His followers walking away He chases them, not to belittle them but to join them on their journey and in their conversation, and starting where they are, He asks, “What are you discussing so intently as you walk along?”

They stopped short, sadness written across their faces. Then one of them, Cleopas, replied, “You must be the only person in Jerusalem who hasn’t heard about all the things that have happened there the last few days.”
“What things?” Jesus asked (Luke 24:17-19).

“What things?” This is such a powerful question, coming from Jesus. He is not asking what happened to Him in Jerusalem this weekend. He is asking what happened to them in Jerusalem this weekend. He is not asking what happened on the cross. He is asking what happened inside of them when they witnessed the cross. He is not asking for a factual recounting of the resurrection. He is asking for their view of the resurrection. Jesus want’s to know what His story means to them, where it has been misunderstood and what it is becoming within them. Because seeing Jesus through our eyes and seeing Jesus through God’s eyes are often very different things. And we become that which we behold.

After hearing their story — their story of seeing Him — Jesus has the chance to explain Himself. He opens scripture, from memory, and pours the Word of God into their hearts and minds. When Jesus joined them on the path, they didn’t recognise Him. When He joined their conversation, they didn’t recognise Him. When they told their Jesus story, they didn’t reconise Him. Finally Jesus has a chance to talk, to explain things. Surely He will reveal Himself. Surely they will recognise Him when the Living Word explains “from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” 

But they didn’t. It is so important, at this point, to remember the beginning of the story — Luke 24:16 — Jesus will be seen when He intends to be seen. He is shaping the story of a people. He is teaching them and us the way He wants to be remembered.

Jesus has journeyed with us, joined our conversation and heard our story. Finally He speaks. He reminds us of the Old Testament teachings. He unpacks all that Moses and the prophets said about the nature of the true Messiah. In their own words, he causes “our hearts to burn within us” as he talks with us on the road and explains the Scriptures to us. 

Now both we and the two men understand who the Messiah was and is. You and I have heard the same sermon from a hundred pulpits. We know who Jesus is. In the story of this walk, the characters have reached their goal — they understand what has happened this weekend. But do they recognise Jesus yet?

The Great Storyteller is still with them. The story continues. He has yet to reach His goal in the story. What is the Great Author doing? What is God waiting for? 
As they sat down to eat, he took the bread and blessed it. Then he broke it and gave it to them. Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognized him (Luke 24:30-31).

How would you react to a guest who did this? You’ve only just met him, he sits at your table, and when the food arrives he says, “I’ll pray!” Then he grabs the bread and blesses it.

Jesus doesn’t ask. He takes over. And Jesus does something very memorable. Something they should remember well, because it’s only been four days since He did the same thing, in a different room, in front of them. He reawakens a recent memory by reenacting the upper room experience. Much like the upper room, He enters this house misunderstood and surprises them by his words and actions. 


On the night when he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and said, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this to remember me.” In the same way, he took the cup of wine after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood. Do this to remember me as often as you drink it” For every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are announcing the Lord’s death until he comes again (1 Corinthians 11:23-26).


A new covenant points to an old one — one revealed by Moses and the Prophets. The new covenant is confirmed by the cross and the empty tomb. How will we keep from forgetting the old and new and all they mean? By remembering Jesus. 

And how does the Great Author want us to remember Jesus? How does He want to be remembered? In what act did the Divine Storyteller reveal Jesus and tell us to announce “the Lord’s death until he comes again”? 

The two men on the road to Emmaus have been to Sabbath School and shared the story of their week and what they’ve experienced. They’ve been to church and heard the Word explained in perfection and completion — Jesus was the preacher! But Jesus waits. They still do not recognise Him. These things were not enough for the Great Author to fully revealed Jesus. 

They knew Jesus. They had walked with Him before His death. They knew all about Jesus. He had explained His death from the Scriptures. But they didn’t recognise Him in their midst. 

Until they ate together. 

Jesus is to be remembered through the catalyst of communion. Bread and wine. Food and drink. Together. In the upper room, Jesus redefined the Exodus memory event — the traditional passover meal — into a commemorative meal of the New Covenant. Then in Emmaus, Jesus redefined every meal into a memory moment — the moment when we recognise Him among us. 

Whenever we eat together — at home, at church, at the park, in the office, at restaurants, on the road — we recognise Jesus is among us. We must eat with our family. We must eat with our leaders. And we must impress upon all followers of Jesus that to eat together, in remembrance of Him, is more important than we can ever hope to understand. 

We must eat together.

It’s how Jesus wanted to be remembered.

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,...