Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Day of the Lord (Zephaniah)

Sabbath School - June 1 - Zephaniah
Check out the SS Hotspot Website for more Sabbath School Resources

Read through Zephaniah together as a group, stopping occasionally to discuss the following questions and other questions of your own.

Zephaniah 1:1-6 - Cleaning House
What seems to be God’s main concern in cleaning up the world? 
What is He most interested in eradicating in these verses? 
Why is false worship - it’s idols, practices and people - such a problem? What does it do to humanity?

Zephaniah 1:7 - A Prepared Sacrifice
Nearly all sacrifices offered in the Old Testament are offered by humans too God. This one is the opposite. 
Why? What is different this time? 
How do God’s people serve as a sacrifice during His judgment of the world?
On this day of the Lord’s Sacrifice, why do think he calls his people to be silent?

Zephaniah 1:8-18 - The Day of Judgment
What emotions did you feel as you read these ten verses of Judgment?
What did they make you want to do or say to those living in the world?
What did they make you want to do in your own life?

Zephaniah 2:1-3 - A Prepared Message
How does this short message call the “quiet follower” to take a stand? 
How does it challenge repentance and life-change?
What words stand out for you in this short warning? Why?
What do you feel called or led to do after considering the book of Zephaniah thus far?

Zephaniah 2:4-3-5 - The Wrath of God
In this long rant against the cities of Zephaniah’s day, what stands out about the final city?
Why is Jerusalem included in this judgment rant? What is God suggesting about his people as a nation?
What impact do you think this judgment declaration had on the people of Jerusalem when they first heart it?
What impact do you think God wanted it to have on them?

Zephaniah 3:6-8 - God’s Lament
What emotions did you perceive from God in these verses? 
What was He hoping? 
How was He let down?

Zephaniah 3:9-20 - God’s New Jerusalem
As you read this call to humility, purity, singing, rejoicing and healing - How did it make you feel?
Did you want to be there to see it? What kind of day will that be?
What words, phrases and thoughts in these final verses of Zephaniah are most meaningful to you? Why?
Can you put the message of Zephaniah into one sentence? What is the take-home message for you?

Reviewing Zephaniah
When you consider the constant yo-yo spirituality of God’s people - toward Him and away again - over and over, how does it make you feel for God? How long would you put up with such a people?
Prophet after prophet tell the same story. God always chases his wayward people. He does all he can to help them see their need for Him. Through all the stressful and shocking ways He goes about getting our attention, one constant remains - God’s love always wins! He always has a remnant that He reclaims, refines and rejoices over. How does this make you feel?

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Rachael's Adelaide Trip

I was invited to speak at Prescott Primary Southern.
It was Rachael's turn for a road trip!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Trusting God’s Goodness (Habakkuk)

Read through Habakkuk together, stopping occasionally to discuss the following questions and other questions of your own.

Intercessory Prayer (Habakkuk 1:2)

How long, Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, ‘Violence!’ but you do not save?”

When you come to God in prayer on behalf of someone else (intercessory prayer) what types of requests do you bring?
Do you tend to pray for the same kinds of things each time or are there a variety of requests on your list?
What kinds of people tend to be the focus of your prayers?

Challenging God (Habakkuk 1:3,4)

Why do you make me look at injustice? 
Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?
Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds.
Therefore the law is paralysed, and justice never prevails.
The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted.

When you pray, do you ever bring accusations to God about Him or challenge the nature of His character?
Why would someone pray like this?
What type of person is able or willing to confront God in this way?
What does challenging God accomplish?

God’s Answer (Habakkuk 1:5-11)

I am raising up the Babylonians,
    that ruthless and impetuous people,
who sweep across the whole earth
    to seize dwellings not their own.
Habakkuk 1:6

How would it make you feel to be told your enemies were succeeding because God was helping them thrive in their rebellious ways?
Why would God do this?
What positives could you take from this answer from God?
Are there ways that it is empowering to know that God is helping your enemies?

Clarifying things (Habakkuk 1:12-17)

You have made people like the fish in the sea,
    like the sea creatures that have no ruler.
The wicked foe pulls all of them up with hooks,
    he catches them in his net.
Habakkuk 1:14,15a

Have you ever reminded God of His glory? His nature? His Judgement? His purity? His Goodness?
What about explaining things to God, as if He is unaware of the current situation?
What does this type of prayer do for us? What does it do for God? Why is it important?
When things are happening which are directly in contradiction to the character of God, why is it important for us to pray boldly? What will it change?

God’s long-suffering plan (Habakkuk 2:2-20)

‘See, the enemy is puffed up; his desires are not upright –
    but the righteous person will live by his faithfulness. ...
The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him.
Habakkuk 2:4,20

Is it easy to comprehend the long-range nature of God’s plan?
Why do we always seen an immediate change in the world around us?
Why is God willing to wait a generation or two for the change to come?
How does our character each day make a difference in the longterm?
What is God looking for in the character of His people?

A Song of Praise (Habakkuk 3)

Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord.
Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy.
Habakkuk 3:2

How is this song about creation and re-creation?
What does it demonstrate about the nature of God?
What does this song teach about the nature and power of God?
What kind of tune do you think suits this song?

What does this song teach?
What would this song accomplish when sung by God’s people?
When would it be sung? When would it be most effective?
When do you most need a song like this?

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Question of Suffering - Job

Free eBook


The question levelled at God, by each of us at some point, is also the first question addressed in the Bible. An entire book, recounting a carefully-crafted story, explores this ever-present question of suffering.

Reading the Bible from cover to cover you might think the book of Genesis was written first and Revelation last. But, they weren’t. The 66 books of the Bible are arranged in a fashion that roughly fits the timeline of their collective story. But, if you place the books in the order they were written, you find Job in the lead. Why?

God meets people where they are. Suffering is a constant and devastating reality in this fallen world—a reality that seems senseless and unfair. So, God starts His Word with an epic story of suffering.

In Job, suffering’s story is told, human explanations of suffering are given and God is allowed to respond. As a microcosmic treatment of the universal question of suffering, Job may seem far too short—the suffering of planet Earth in a 42 chapter nutshell. But, the answer it gives to the question of suffering is both powerful and hope-filled.

In short, the story of Job is this: A man who has everything looses it all. His livestock die, property burns, children are crushed and his body is covered with boils. Those who remain, assigning blame for the suffering, provide no comfort or answers. Job is a Godly man and innocent of all charges against him. Through the entire drama, Job shouts questions and accusations into the darkened sky—targeting the God whom he loves. And, in the end, God responds. 

On the bookends of this tale of one man’s suffering, a greater debate—a much larger story—is revealed. God and Satan are discussing planet Earth. God sees His image revealed in it: There is still beauty, purity, justice—a love for Him and His ways—among Earth’s people. Satan sees only himself in the people of earth, except for those people God treats unfairly by blessing them and protecting them when they don’t deserve it. Job is chosen to embody the debate. This one man will provide an earthly answer to the celestial question of God’s image in humanity; present or absent.

Job receives advice from six councillors. The first is his wife, who having gone through the same loss of family and wealth, cries, “Curse God and die!” 

The next three are his friends. We know they are his friends because, firstly, they are described as such but, secondly, because the spend seven days listening to his laments, attending to his needs, and quietly being with him. An enemy would not have the respectful patience required to donate a week of silent compassion. 

When they finally speak, each friend bring accusations against Job. 

Elephaz, blames Job for the punishment befalling him. “Your suffering is a result of your own sin. Repent and be forgiven.” 

Bildad, blames Job’s children. “They were partying when they died and deserved it. But, more punishment is required for the sins of your children and thus God has reduced you to scraping your boils in misery. Repent for your children and be forgiven.”

Zophar, calls Job to rejoice. “You should be praising God! God has only given you a small portion of the suffering you actually deserve! Thank God for his mercies! Repent with songs of praise!” 

Job angrily debates each judgement cast by his friends and brazenly calls God to prove his innocence. He even resorts to blaming God because, in Job’s thinking, “If it’s not anyone’s fault down here - it’s your fault up there!”

A respectful time later, a young man named Elihu, perhaps a friend of one of Job’s children, speaks. He has been waiting for his elders to finish. He has been listening and he is not impressed. He accuses Job of being insolent toward God, he reprimands the others for their judgmental and insensitive words, and finally, Elihu gives his answer to the question of suffering, “All suffering is sent to draw us closer to God. In His wisdom, God has allowed you to suffer so you might love Him more!”

As you can imagine, Job is also unhappy with this counsel. At this point in the story—and seemingly the point altogether—no human wisdom is able to answer the question of suffering. Again, Job cries out to God.

Thundering from on high, God answers in gusts on a whirlwind. God isn’t pleased. “Stand up and face me like a man! You want to play question and answer? Fine! I’ll ask you a few questions and you answer. Do you understand Creation? Surely you must! Weren’t you there? Can you explain the sea? Humanity? The Sky? Light and Dark? Clouds? Snow? Hail? Rain? Dew? No? Why not? Can you explain birth, death and life? You choose to find fault with me and yet don’t understand even these simple things? He who argues with God, let him answer.”

Job is humbled. He places his hand over his mouth. But not before presenting a short self-defense, “Yeah, I’m a tiny little man. How could I ever answer you? I can’t answer your questions.”

God is not amused. He tells Job, again, to stand up and face Him like a man. This time, the voice from the whirlwind takes Job to the zoo. God parades a menagerie in front of Job and asks for a detailed explanation of each—from the skeletal/muscular structure to living environment of each creature. God doesn’t stop for answers, He just keeps the questions flying, until Job recognises his place.

“I know you can do all things,” Job finally says. “Who am I to question you without understanding who you are. Now that I have heard you and seen you, I repent in dust and ashes.”

The story wraps up quickly after Job’s confession.  God restores Job’s fortune. He straightens Job’s friends out with a few succinct verbal slaps. And, seemingly, the wager in Heaven is over. God wins. His image remains on Earth—alive and well in those who face suffering without silence. God find’s Himself in Job and Job finds himself in God. And we find the answer to the question of suffering.

It is revealed in actions, not words.

When you are suffering, it is not your fault. Eliphaz has the wrong answer.

When life falls apart, it is not your family’s fault. Bildad has the wrong answer.

When sickness strikes, repressed sin is not at fault. Zophar has the wrong answer.

When you fall, God didn’t cut the rope so you’d land on Him. Elihu has the wrong answer.

Following Job’s wife’s advice to “curse God and die” only punishes two innocent parties. She, definitely, has the wrong answer.

Each of these are attempts to answer the question of suffering from within the egocentric place of personal suffering. But, remember the bookends of the story. There is a war raging on our planet. Both sides are looking for themselves in you. Ultimately, the answer to the question of suffering is revealed in snapshots each time we participate in suffering. 

Job’s three friends demonstrated the answer before they spoke. They showed up. They were present during Job’s suffering.

God showed up, too. God was there all along but Job teased Him out of His silence by demanding a verdict—guilty or innocent—from the heavenly courts. And God let Job have it! We will all receive such a hearing. And we will all be humbled and healed if we have failed to be silent both in our suffering and the suffering of others. 

Suffering is all around us. The story of Job offers conclusions that, if put into practice, will ensure the image of God is seen in His people today. 

Primarily, as daily witnesses of suffering, we are challenged to demonstrate compassion without judgement. There will always be questions when facing suffering but, as God’s image bearers on earth, our questions will be: “How can I help? What can I do?”  

Secondarily, when we suffer, we are allowed (encouraged even!) to shake our fist at the heavens and demand answers. Suffering isn’t fair. And, when faced by God’s children, it shouldn’t be taken silently. It’s not your fault. It’s not the fault of those around you. Don’t curse God and die. In the depth of despair, it’s ok to ask questions—at whatever volume. God loves you. He will never abandon you. 

Know this—even in the darkness—God loves you.

Suffering is not meant to be. And it will end. 

Until then, remember there is an unseen battle raging around us—evil versus love—Satan versus God. Both sides seek their identity in you. One side brings suffering. The other brings compassion. Our actions declare our allegiance. 

Suffering will end! 

Love will win.

Friday, May 17, 2013

God’s Special People (Micah)

May 18 Sabbath School Lesson Helps

Beauty from Ashes
Have you had a time in your life when you hit rock bottom emotionally, physically or spiritually? While in the midst of these times, we do not treasure them, but they often result in deep meaningful maturing of our wisdom, lifestyle or faith. Has this been your experience? Share a story of beauty coming from the ashes in your life. 

Wisdom from Suffering

Micah was a prophet in one of the darkest periods of Israel’s history. From the depths of his struggle and despair, Micah shared some of the most beautifully simple pictures of faith, God’s Kingdom and God’s heart to be found anywhere in the Bible. What wisdom have you discovered in the depths of despair that you carry with you today?

Kingdom of Peace

In a world raging with war, famine and sinfulness (much like today) Micah painted a peaceful picture of God’s Kingdom: “He will judge between many peoples and will settle disputes for strong nations far and wide. They will beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war any more” Micah 4:3. If you were going to write a statement about the New Earth which contrasted with the suffering world around you today, what would you write?

People of Compassion

Micah articulated one of the best ‘nutshell statements’ of God’s desired lifestyle for and worship from his people. “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8). If you had to put into a few words a mission statement for the people of the church today - what would be included? What would you leave out? How would you word it?

A God Worth Sharing

At the end of his book, Micah finishes with a statement about God’s nature which places Him above all other concepts of God. From the darkness of the Godless world around Him, Micah seeks after and praises God for His ‘otherness’ to the world of sinfulness.

Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea. You will be faithful to Jacob, and show love to Abraham, as you pledged on oath to our ancestors in days long ago.    Micah 7:18-20

Micah is deeply impressed by God’s forgiveness, mercy, compassion and faithfulness. What attributes of God impress you today as those which the world needs to learn about? Which characteristics of His nature would cause people in the world to draw near and worship our God? How might we, as a Sabbath School class, best communicate these realities of God’s nature to our local community so they will see God, desire Him, and be changed by Him?

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Adult/Youth Sabbath School Lesson Discussion Guides

Are you looking for creative ways to bring your Sabbath School lesson discussion to life?
Looking for study guides, creative thoughts, video clips, teaching tips and more?

The Sabbath School Hotspot that I update each week is the place!

Check it every Friday!

Eager to Forgive (Jonah)

Sabbath School - May 11 - Jonah
A Sabbath School resource from the Victoria Conference of the Adventist Church in Australia

What aspect of the book of Jonah most appeals to you?

What about the Prophet Jonah, are you attracted to him or repelled? Why?
Which part of his spiritual journey do you relate best to?

What impresses you most about the sailors?
Jonah's presence on the boat led to them worshiping his God. While this is poetically ironic, could it also have been part of God's plan?

For a godless city, the Ninevites repent quickly. What does this teach us? 
The king proclaims a time of mourning in both action and decree. What does this teach us about spiritual leadership?

What picture of God is revealed in this story? 

After examining all the characters - Jonah, sailors, the king, Ninevites and God - which do you most resonate with right now? At which point in your life have you related most with each character/group?

In the Vegetales movie "Jonah" the worm (which eats the bush) is the character the story is built around. The worm has the key teaching lines after eating the bush. Which character would you use to teach the story of Jonah? In your view, what is the key point?
Discuss the lessons we would learn if the story was to be told by:
The Sailors
The King

Discuss the lesson taught by Jonah’s actions in each setting:
Jonah on the boat
Jonah in the big fish
Jonah preaching in Ninevah
Jonah sitting under the bush
Jonah after the bush is gone

God is as quick to forgive as we are to repent. 
Consider this statement in relation to:
The Sailors
The Ninevites

What is the take home point for you today?

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

4 Ways to Make Sabbath School Great Again


Sabbath School was the backbone of the early Adventist church. As a people of the Book at study, we matured as a people of faith. Today, unfortunately, a vibrant Sabbath School experience is missing from many of our local churches due primarily to two factors.
Firstly, during the 20th century, a global cultural shift toward lecture-style learning has eclipsed discussion as the primary form of learning. This is due to both our education system and society buying into the scientific method. The “expert teacher” and the “student learner” have replaced the “group at study” in both defining and disseminating the truth.

Secondly, Sabbath Schools flounder because the members of local churches (and perhaps the church at large) have forgotten the four purposes of Sabbath School. It has been said that “without a vision, the people perish.” Nowhere is the truth of this maxim as evident as in the empty pews during Sabbath School each week.

It is the purpose of this blog post to address the four purposes of Sabbath School. In strengthening the understanding and integration, at the local level, of the purpose of Sabbath School our churches will be blessed by health and growth.

Vision - The Four Purposes of Sabbath School

In Ministry of Healing, Ellen G White writes: “Christ's method alone will give true success in reaching the people. The Saviour mingled with [people] as one who desired their good.  He showed His sympathy for them, ministered to their needs, and won their confidence.  Then He bade them, ‘Follow Me’ ” (Ellen G. White, Ministry of Healing, p. 143:3). This quote demonstrates, quite well, the purpose of Sabbath School. Sabbath School meets to fulfil a four-fold purpose: To nurture the class members, to organise compassionate ministry to the local community, to support the global ministry of the Gospel and to worship God through the study the His Word. A church that operates by the great commission given by Jesus will model all four of these key aspects.

“The Sabbath school was developed to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ in response to the command of Jesus, and in the setting of the three angels’ messages. In loyalty to this original purpose, the Sabbath school continues to communicate the good news with the objective to win, hold, and train for Jesus Christ, men and women, youth, boys and girls, in the entire world. This objective is carried forward through the following four areas: faith emphasis, fellowship emphasis, community emphasis, and world emphasis” (Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia, p. 1258).

Let us now explore each of the four purposes of Sabbath School.

Bible Study

Bible study is the one purpose of Sabbath School that has not been forgotten. As Adventists, we love the Word of God and enjoy hearing it presented again and again. This is a wonderful thing and keeps us grounded in the Scriptures.

“The Sabbath school, if rightly conducted, is one of God’s great instrumentality to bring souls to a knowledge of the truth” (Counsels on Sabbath School Work, p. 115).

Not only are few church members informed of the four-fold ministry purpose of Sabbath School but very few Sabbath School teachers have been trained in how to teach a lesson.  Far too often the lesson study turns into another sermon because both teacher and student decide that jug-to-mug is “good enough” for their Sabbath School. Training in both Bible study methods and discussion leading are needed to empower Sabbath Schools to become the primary source of teaching they once were in Adventist churches.

Due to church growth, only 20% of world church members have any Adventist heritage. The rest are new. By 2020 only about 12% will have any Adventist heritage. While this is a good thing, because it means we are growing, it also means we need to tell our story well and often. Our Sabbath Schools are meant to be our teaching time - defining in the mind of new members and believers what it means to be an Adventist and how the Bible teaches the beliefs we know to be true.

“The Sabbath school is an important branch of the missionary work, not only because it gives to young and old a knowledge of God’s Word, but also because it awakens in them a love for its sacred truth, and a desire to study them for themselves; above all, it teaches them to regulate their lives by its holy teachings” (Counsels on Sabbath School Work, pp. 10,11).


Probably the most important aspect of church life, in the creation and maintenance of healthy relationships with our brothers and sisters in Christ, is a faithful commitment to fellowship. Sabbath School is meant to be a time when we nurture each other. Through testimony, prayer and conversation the body of Christ is strengthened.

As fellow followers of Jesus and students of the Bible, the more time we spend getting to know each other, the better. We teach our children that “we become like those we socialise with” and thus we should endeavor to socialise regularly with those who are as passionately committed to the justice, mercy and teaching of Jesus as we are.

“Nothing is more needed in our work than the practical results of communion with God. . . . His peace in the heart will shine forth in the countenance. It will give to the voice a persuasive power. Communion with God will ennoble the character and the life. Men will take knowledge of us, as the first disciples, that we have been with Jesus. This will impart to the worker a power that nothing else can give” (Ministry of Healing, p. 512).

Our time with God will be greatly emboldened as we spend time with each other. We will hear the life stories of other people in our Sabbath School class and bless them with our stories of faith. We will also have a spiritually safe place to share our suffering and receive prayer and compassion. Sabbath School is meant to strengthen both our faith and our heart. God’s ministry to the heart both in us and through us is an important part of Sabbath School.

“There is need of coming close to the people by personal effort. If less time were given to sermonizing, and more time were spent in personal ministry, greater results would be seen. The poor are to be relieved, the sick cared for, the sorrowing and bereaved comforted, the ignorant instructed, the inexperienced counseled. We are to weep with those that weep, and rejoice with those that rejoice” (Counsels on Diet and Foods, p. 458).

Local Outreach

The most commonly overlooked purpose of Sabbath School is local outreach. In the past, we were asked during Sabbath School preliminaries to signify the number of “Acts of Service” we had done in the previous week. While many church members continue to do these charitable acts, we rarely report or discuss them in Sabbath School. This is unfortunate as the sharing of our activities strengthens both the person participating in them and those listening. Having a commitment to increasing the presence of Jesus in our local community should be a focus each week of every Sabbath School class. Time should be provided for the telling of these stories. 

“The Lord upholds the cause of the oppressed, comes to their defense, he gives food to the hungry, he sets the prisoner free, he lifts those who are bowed down, he watches over the alien, he sustains the fatherless and widows” (Psalm 146:7-9).

“Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did” (1 John 2:6).

“Jesus went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with Him” (Acts 10:38).

These verses and many more demonstrate that God describes himself as God of the poor, Friend of the weak, Father of the fatherless, Defender of widows, Judge of the oppressed, Protector of the refugee. If this is the kind of God we worship, this is the kind of people we should be. We must imitate God in God’s divine care for the poor and the powerless.

Each and every Sabbath School class should have a local outreach plan that addresses the needs of their local community and demonstrates their interest, intention and progress in meeting these needs.

World Mission

The final purpose of Sabbath School is world mission. The Adventist church is blessed to have a global corporate structure that allows us to share teaching, planning and funding quickly and effectively right around the world. The 13th Sabbath offering is a wonderful example of this. Congregational churches typically choose one part of the world to help. The Adventist church is able to direct attention and funds to new areas of need each quarter. This is done in Sabbath School.

“God could have reached His object in saving sinners without our aid; but in order for us to develop a character like Christ’s, we must share in His work.  In order to enter into His joy, the joy of seeing souls redeemed by His sacrifice, we must participate in His labors for their redemption”  (The Desire of Ages, p. 142).

As we focus on the needs of our extended global community we develop a love for all humanity. Sabbath Schools that focus regularly, on the global mission of our church, are helping their church members to love those beyond their borders. Sabbath School is meant to extend the family of God and strengthen the corporate body of Christ through our commitment to world mission.


 A healthy Sabbath School creates a healthy church. When fully understood, these four purposes will once again become the backbone of our local churches. Each Sabbath School class (8-12 members) should have a trained leader responsible for the four key areas of Sabbath School - Bible Study, Fellowship, Local Outreach and World Mission.

Sabbath School is the heart of a healthy vibrant Seventh-day Adventist church. By making Sabbath School intentional in these four areas we will ensure the holistic health and growth of the Adventist church both locally and globally. 

Sunday, May 05, 2013

ebook of The Perfect Lamb!

Now Available as an ebook!

John Cleese on Being Creative

We've all enjoyed the creativity of John Cleese. He created and acted in both Monty Python and Faulty Towers and has been in more than 60 movies! The man knows what he's doing! And what he is doing is being creative as a lifestyle.

He's been doing it for 50 years, so - clearly - he knows how to generate creative material. Here he is teaching how to create the environment for effectively creativity.

In a nutshell, here are his five points:

1. Space: Have a place you go where you are both comfortable and uninterrupted.
2. Time: Book it in your diary. Know that it is coming. Defer creative decisions to this time.
3. Time: 90 minutes is perfect. It takes 30 minutes to quiet down. After an hour of creative thinking you need a break. More than 90 minutes leads to time wasting and tired thinking.
4. Confidence: There are no "wrong" answers. No negativity allowed! 
5. Humour: Laughter brings relaxation. Humour makes us playful. Use them to open creative thought.

I really like this idea! For me, two 90 minute blocks a week would be perfect. One Tuesday morning and one Thursday afternoon. It will give me time to work on the creative concepts that pop up and get filed in the "later" folder in my brain. Once the creative direction of a project, article, or story are established that project can be finished on it's own time. This 90 minute time is just for hashing out the creative details. Projects can be brought back here for more creative thought whenever they need it.

To remember these fives steps, use the acronym "STiTCH" because "A stitch in time saves nine" and creative thinking leads to better decisions, better material and therefore a more successful life. The "i" in the middle of it all is you - coming up with great creative material. 

What would your life look like in a year if you set aside 90 minutes each week to do your creative thinking? 

Let's find out!

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Sabbath Ideas for Families

Is Sabbath the best day of the week for your kids?
Do you want to ensure it always will be? 
There's an APP for that!

It's always a humbling day when you discover one of your friends is smarter - much smarter - than you. Well, my good mate and former workmate Scott Wegener is a website and app designer and this week he released his latest project. It's awesome. It's for Adventist families. And it's free - because it's Sabbathware! 

Thanks Scott. You smart man you!

If you have kids, you know the struggle to keep Sabbath enjoyable for their creative busy little minds. The good news is, there are so many ideas here you can do a new one every 15 minutes for the next 200 Sabbaths. And there are more ideas coming with every new user - Scott is counting on you! 

So, explore the website. Or grab the APP and take "SabbathIdeas" with you wherever you go this Sabbath!

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Seek the Lord and Live! (Amos)

Sabbath School - May 4 - Amos
A Sabbath School resource from the Victoria Conference of the Adventist Church in Australia

Inspired by Matthew: 25, this sculpture is a representation that suggests Christ is with the most marginalized in our society. The Christ figure is shrouded in a blanket the only indication that it is Jesus is the visible wounds on the feet. The life-size version of the work has enough room that someone is able to sit on the bench.

Memory Text: “Seek good and not evil, that you may live; and thus may the Lord God of hosts be with you, just as you have said!” (Amos 5:14, NASB).

Compare the Memory text to the fifth commandment: 
“Honour your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” Exodus 20:12
If we dishonour our parents and drive them away from us, our life is negatively impacted. How could dishonouring our parents shorten our life? 
Now consider the Memory text: How could dishonouring God shorten our life?
Consider: People say “God be with you”... If He is truly omnipresent, as we believe He is, can He be anything else? And, if God is truly with all people, then shouldn’t our hearts break for those whom His heart breaks for?

Shock and Awe
In Sunday’s lesson it says: “The purpose of the funeral song in Amos 5:1-15 was to shock the people into facing reality.” 
In Amos, the shock tactics are used to impact the wayward people of God. How are shock tactics used similarly by Christian leaders and teachers today? 
Do shock tactics work? What are the positive and negative results of shock tactics? 
What other strategies can be employed to wake people up?

Of Heart and Hands
A change of “heart” leads to lasting change in “hands.” Action follows attitude. How can we impact people at a heart level insuring the change in their action is from the right motives?
Read Isaiah 5:20-24 — Misleading words result in dishonour for the speaker of those words. How can we be sure our words are not just smoke and mirrors?

Broken, Bruised and Battered
Read Psalm 51:17
What kind of people hit rock bottom and beg for help?
What does it take to result in a broken spirit?
Read Amos 5:23, 24; Hosea 6:6; Matthew 9:13
What is your general feeling about:
the homeless person asking for money?
the neighbour parking in your yard?
the teenage mother pushing a pram?
the man raging through traffic?
the homosexual seeking equality?
the child throwing a tantrum?
the adulterer holding a new hand?
the teenager defying their parents?
the elderly person waiting for a family visitor?
the parent of a playground bully?
the skateboarders with spray paint cans?
the man washing your car window at the intersection?
What does “I desire mercy” mean? Why is God so passionate about acts of mercy?
Where, within us, do those acts come from? What does this tell others about our God?

Movement of the Holy Spirit
In chapter 3 of Steps to Christ, Ellen G White writes: 
"The Bible does not teach that the sinner must repent before he can heed the invitation of Christ, 'Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.' Matthew 11:28. It is the virtue that goes forth from Christ, that leads to genuine repentance. ... We can no more repent without the Spirit of Christ to awaken the conscience than we can be pardoned without Christ.
Christ is the source of every right impulse. He is the only one that can implant in the heart enmity against sin. Every desire for truth and purity, every conviction of our own sinfulness, is an evidence that His Spirit is moving upon our hearts."

Why is the message of this quote so important? How does it challenge you?
What happens if we demand lifestyle change of people before the meet Jesus?

Mercy’s Mute Recluses
Read Amos 8:4-12
What happens if God’s people hide away and only emerge to buy/sell/work and then quickly retreat to the safety of their sanctuaries?
If God’s People — His hands and feet — are not doing acts of mercy for those who do not know God, how will such spiritual silence impact the world?
What famine will attack the world and the church alike if we are mute in mercy?
In what ways is it possible to silence the voice of God in our lives? However scary that thought, dwell on the implications. How can we make utterly sure that never happens to us?
A People of Mercy
Amos 9:13-15 describes the utopian Kingdom of God. Only by God’s mercy in our lives will that day come and only in our mercy toward the world around us will God’s plan toward that day progress. 

How would a “people of mercy” impact the expedience of the Second Coming?

A recent quote doing the rounds on Facebook says: 
HOPE = Hang On, Pain Ends
Challenge your class to think of an acronym for HOPE that focuses on the positive rather than the negative.

Here are a few I came up with:
Help Other People Everyday
Handing Other People Eternity
Hands Offering Peace Eternal

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,...