Monday, September 30, 2013

The Kingdom Scroll (from Chapter 7)

Just then they heard footsteps in the darkness. There were a few people walking together from the sound of their feet. When they got closer, the kids could make out whispering voices.

“You really saw the dream?” one voice said.

“And it’s meaning?” another added.

“Yes!” a third voice answered. “We must find Arioch.”

“That’s Daniel!” James said jumping toward the voices. “Let’s follow them!”

“Yes!” Paul said excitedly. “It must be the next morning. Come on, Hannah!” Paul grabbed his sister’s hand and they hurried after James, following the voices in the dark.

Soon they were right behind the group of men. There were four of them. They walked briskly across the terrace and into another wing of the palace. There were lots of doors to the right and left. 

“Which one is Arioch’s room?” one voice asked.

“The one on the very end,” Daniel answered. “The corner room. It has the best view of the city streets. Arioch is always looking for ways to keep his finger on the pulse of Babylon.”

Suddenly the men stopped walking. “This is it,” Daniel said as he raised his hand and knocked firmly three times.

A scuffling noise came toward the door. A bar was lifted from the other side and the door swung into the room. Arioch stepped out, fully dressed, holding a torch that blazed into the darkness. “Yes?” 

“I have seen the king’s dream,” Daniel said quickly.

“And the meaning?” Arioch asked seriously, his face lit by the torch.

Daniel and the three men with him all answered together, “Yes!”

“Come with me,” Arioch said taking Daniel by the arm. Then pushing the torch toward the other men he examined their faces. “You lot, go home. No need for a fan club.”

“Yes sir,” the others said together.


For the rest of the story, order a copy today!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Family Times

When we look back over our lives, we remember most fondly the time we spent with our loved ones. Here are the blog entries, over the years, that recount the Edgren family in action!

My Health
The Tumour Saga

My Family

One on One 

Stories about the Kids

Edgren Creativity

Pics from Dave's Journeys

Melbourne Aquarium - Family Trip

We went to the Melbourne Aquarium yesterday. We were very impressed!

Friday, September 27, 2013

28 Stories - Study 3: Reflected in the River

Fundamental: The Godhead

Bible Story  
Day after day the people came to see the man standing in the river. He stood there every day. And yet, it wasn’t his standing in the river that drew the crowds. It wasn’t the way he was dressed—a camel hair cloak held together by a leather belt. It wasn’t even his diet—honey, locust and water from the river—which drew the crowds. It was his words. 
“John,” someone shouted, “Are you the Messiah we are searching for?”
“Messiah?” John shouted back with a laugh, “I am certainly no Messiah. I am just a voice. A voice shouting in the wilderness, calling you to get ready!”
“Ready for what?” another voice asked.
“Prepare ye the way of the Lord!” John shouted, “Make his paths straight.” 
“Are you saying the Messiah is coming soon?” 
“Soon!” John shouted with gusto, “All flesh shall see the salvation of God!”
A finely dressed man stepped forward, placing a tentative foot in the water, “Since the days of Abraham we Pharisees have been maintaining readiness!”
“Oh, you!” John pointed a boney finger at the plump fellow, “You swarm of snakes! To be ready is to be repentant. Don’t sing, ‘Father Abraham has many sons, and I am one of them!’ Stop your self-righteous singing and start saying sorry for your sins! Prepare ye the way!”
The man looked truly offended. “I say!” he turned to the audience and shouted, “How rude!” Turning back to John he continued, “Know this, pond scum, when the Messiah comes he will come to Abraham’s descendants!”
John stuck his face and hands into the river, coming up moments later with two fist sized stones. The religious leader squealed and ran into the crowd, clearly believing John meant to throw the stones at him.
He lifted the stones high in the air. “From these stones,” John shouted, shaking the water from his bearded face, “God is able to raise children of Abraham. Don’t think you are so precious! The axe is swinging my friends! The trees not showing fruit will be cut down!”
“What should we do?” a young man at the front of the crowd shouted.
“If you have two coats,” John lowered his hands, showing the stones to the crowd. Then he threw one into the middle of the river, “Give one to someone who needs it. Do the same thing with food. Share. Have you been guilty of hoarding? Change. Be baptized today for the repentance of your sins!” A few people stepped forward and John baptized them.
A well-known tax collector stepped into the water. People hushed. “I wish to be baptized, what must I do?” 
John placed his hand on the man’s shoulder and said, “Only take what is allotted to you. Do not steal.” Then he lowered the man into the water. 
Vast hoards of people flocked to John, being baptized. Each asked what they must do and each left the water repentant, cleansed and challenged. 
John addressed the crowd again, “There is one coming whose sandals I am unfit to remove! I baptize with water, He will baptize with the Spirit of God!”
A young man in a plain robe stepped into the water. John’s voice wavered and cut off. Everyone watched in silent wonder as the man waded out to John.
“I wish to be baptized,” the man said. 
“I need to be baptized by you!” John whispered.
“This is right, all must be fulfilled,” the man said.
John nodded, placed his hand on the man’s head and lowered him into the water. As the man came up from the water a voice boomed through the air, “You are my Son! I love you and am deeply pleased by you!” A dove swooped down from the sky and rested on his head. A gasp of recognition rippled through the crowd. 
John turned to the people, “Behold, the Lamb who comes to take away the sins of the world.”
Jesus smiled and walked into the crowd.

My Reflection
What if you had been there that day? What would John’s call to repentance have changed in you? How might you have responded? 

What about when Jesus was revealed? What would it have been like to witness that amazing moment? Let your imagination run wild as you relive that day. 

My Story
At Jesus’ baptism, He was identified by His Father and empowered by the Spirit (in the form of a dove). Jesus’ baptism and ministry was so important to God’s plan that every part of the Trinity showed up to participate in the event! Reflect on a event when the significant people in your life were all present to support you.

My Assurance
The work of saving us is something that God gets fully involved in. What promises are made about the character of God in the verses below? What does he have planned for us? 

1 Peter 1:2 ~ God the Father knew you and chose you long ago, and his Spirit has made you holy. As a result, you have obeyed him and have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ. May God give you more and more grace and peace.

2 Corinthians 13:14 ~ May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

My Commitment
God wants us to join in the task of taking salvation to the world. What commitment do these verses challenge you to make? 

Matthew 28:19 ~ Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Revelation 14:7 ~ “Fear God,” he shouted. “Give glory to him. For the time has come when he will sit as judge. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and all the springs of water.”

My Outlook
God loves the world so much that the Father sent his Son to save it and the Spirit continues working on people’s hearts today. What do these verses reveal about God and His desire for the World? How does this affect the way you interact with the world?

1 Timothy 1:17 ~ All honor and glory to God forever and ever! He is the eternal King, the unseen one who never dies; he alone is God. Amen.

Ephesians 4:4-6 ~ For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father, who is over all and in all and living through all.

My Response
The following statement is the 2nd of the 28 fundamental beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Review the doctrine and then write a personal response. What difference does this make to your life?

The Godhead
There is one God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, a unity of three co-eternal Persons. God is immortal, all-powerful, all knowing, above all, and ever present. He is infinite and beyond human comprehension, yet known through His self-revelation. He is forever worthy of worship, adoration, and service by the whole creation.


Bible Story
The story at the beginning of this lesson is based on Luke 4, Matthew 3 and Mark 1.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Food

The key to sticking to my One Year Lifestyle Commitment for the long haul is - I’ve got to like the food. I love spicy food —more than I like cheese — and that’s saying a lot! So, I added chilli to my stew each day. For the first month, I ate 5 pieces of fruit for breaky, one bowl of stew (that I made, recipe forthcoming) for lunch and another bowl of stew for tea. After the first month, I no longer craved chili (or cheese) and have reduced the heat. I still enjoy an occasional hit of fire on my tongue! 

Over the past month (month 2) I have created a new favourite food. My daughter, Rachael, calls them my ProOatTeen Patties. I make a weeks worth each time and have been refining the recipe. I made a batch this morning and we (Rachael and I) agree we’ve found the final recipe. Yum! They are great because I use them as a bread substitute and top them with flavoured tuna, oven-roasted chicken breast fingers (Recipe? really? Ok, I’ll pop that up, too), or turkey breast slices. I have also moved from fruit to fruit juice. Not exclusively - I still love grabbing a piece of fruit and tucking into it! I know fruit juice isn’t as good, but I love apple/cranberry juice! Just make sure it’s real juice not ‘juice drink’...

I have some general rules for when I’m planning new things to cook or go out to eat:

1. If it’s processed, it’s worse for my body. My body wants to do the processing. So, I avoid:
  • Anything packaged (yes I know carrots come in a bag - be serious! You know what I mean!)
  • Any bread or pasta (whole wheat is better, but processed wheat is like the black stuff that glugged up the engine of our Camry. It was so bad, the mechanic said it would be harder to clean it than replace it. We got a new engine. ‘nuff said.)
  • Milk Products (I still have a drop of milk in my coffee, but I stay away from the cheese, yogurt, milk chocolate [I have one row-off-the-block of dark chilli-chocolate three or four times a week as a nitecap - little mercies!], milk drinks, and sour cream.)
  • Fast Food is bad, bad, bad! If you want a burger, make it yourself - it's much better for you (Use a lean cut of meat. Mince is not typically healthy meat.) If you want chicken, cook it yourself - it's actually great for you! Bake don't fry. 
  • Processed vegetarian products. If you want beans, eat beans. If you want a big slab of gluggy gluten in your gut... why would you want that? lol (I have occasional vege-products when they are served to me, but I do not seek them out. And, in all fairness, Gluten is high in protein, and low in bad stuff.  But gluten-flour is highly processed. So, it's a sometimes food.)
  • Desert (It’s not necessary. It doesn’t make me feel better. There’s nothing healthy in it. I prefer a savoury flavour remaining after a meal, so this rule is a lot easier for me than most people!)

The One Year Lifestyle Commitment

The day after I woke up from the surgery, the Neurosurgeons came to visit me. They asked if I was in any pain. I told them my head was fine, but my right hip was in agony. The lead doctor said, “You were laying on your right side for the nine hours of the surgery. It is normal to have some soreness. In your case, the pain will be worse than most people.” He paused, looked at the other doctor (as though they had considered saying something) and then back at me. “You’re a very large man, Dave. For your health, you really need to loose a fair amount of weight.” I agreed with them and was thrilled when a week of hospital food resulted in a 5 kilogram loss. I was on my way!

I told my GP this when I went to my next checkup and he said, “Yes you do. But you know that. We have talked about it before.” True... It’s their job, they tell you what you need to do to get healthy. I agreed that I would take care in my diet and get more exercise. At the next GP visit I had gained the five kilo’s back. He told me I would need to see a Dietician (he wrote me a note for the Dietician) and he sent me to get blood work done. The next GP visit (these are around 3 weeks apart) I hadn’t seen the dietician and the bloods were back. My GP was not happy. “You’re cholesterol has gone way up since last year. Can you think of anything you have done differently?” 

Uh... Brain surgery? lol 

But, excuses get you nowhere! So, I said, “I’ve been sitting around trying to get up more. I’m getting better every day.” He shook his head. “What did the dietician say?” Ummm... “You are going to the dietician!” He interpreted my lack of attendance at the dietician as a need for financial help and he solved the problem, doing some paperwork that gave me four free meetings, or some such thing. That was July 23.

I decided that all the doctors couldn’t be wrong. I need to loose weight. Time to get serious. Nobody can change me but me. 

Over the past few years, I have noticed a few very clear signs that my body was not healthy. I couldn’t go on long walks. Hills were tough and stairs were killers! Then there are the lifestyle things. Very few shops sell clothes that fit me and the sizes are clearly generated randomly - a 2X in one brand can be the same size as a 5X in another. Some small cars are made for small butts - finding out which cars is hit and squish. When on a flight, there is no ‘convenient time’ to ask a stewardess for a seatbelt extender (yes such things exist!) and you wont know you need one until you try to put the belt on, as they are different lengths in every seat. Household chairs need to be studied before sat on - some are too weak, others are too narrow (narrow chairs with armrests are made by evil skinny people!)... If you have never been large, you’re probably surprised by some of this. I’m actually glad I got to experience the world of the beautiful people I used to make judgmental comments about. “If I ever get that big, shoot me for meat.”  “Anyone who looks like that just doesn’t care about what they look like.”  “Fat people are lazy!”  

The next visit to my GP was August 13. As I walked in, he asked, “How are you today?” I answered “5 kilo’s lighter than last time.” He looked like he’d just won the lottery. “You went to see the Dietician!”

“No,” I said, “I just decided it was time to get serious about loosing weight.” Then I told him the truth. “I am a Seventh-day Adventist Pastor. I know everything a dietician is going to tell me because I have researched, read and presented most of it in health lectures." It’s been about 10 years since I have talked on health because I didn’t feel I represented the content! I explained to him that Adventists are passionate about health and health reform. But some of us are know-it-alls who don’t do-it-all... So, I’ve decided to put into practice what I know.

I don’t enjoy challenges or competitions. I am not a competitive person. Never have been. We all excel in areas that we enjoy. I enjoy stage performance (storytelling/preaching), creative writing, eclectic reading. riding my motorcycle, and learning new things. I am an explorer, not a politician. I am a creative, not a systems thinker. So... loosing weight — for me needs to be creative and effective. If it doesn’t work, I’ll get bored. If it isn’t creative, I’ll get bored. And for me, boredom is a death sentence.

So, here’s how I see it. The body is a machine. If you put diesel in a petrol engine it will die. Our bodies, amazingly, can take something as foreign as diesel to a petrol engine and run smoothly. Our bodies are extremely robust and efficient. You can eat offal processed in toxic chemicals, deep fried in oil and served in a white-cardboard bun and your body will pull it to bits, send the good bits out to be used for energy, store the sort-of good bits for later energy and plop out the bad bits it couldn’t use. Imagine if your car did that! We’d be filling our petrol-tanks with rubbish! Just like many of us do to our bodies.

I decided to figure out, through knowledge combined with trial over time, what my engine actually needs to run at optimum efficiency while burning fuel reserves that have been processed earlier and set aside for a rainy day. My rainy day is here. And, from looking at the number of Kilo’s I need to loose, we can expect a year of rain in these parts! 

This entry marks the end of Month 2. 

11 Kilograms gone!

The Promised Revival: God’s Mission Completed


How do laziness and patience differ?
What differentiates those who wait with anticipation and those who wait with boredom?
Have we been given a purpose during our patience? What is it? How are we to do it?

Discussion Guide

Read Matthew 28:18-20
How does Christ’s authority (in Heaven and Earth) make a difference to our attitude in waiting?

The lesson states (Sunday) that “the gospel was preached to every creature under heaven in just a few short years (Col 1:23).” While today, much of the world has never heard the name of Jesus, how might this have been true in Paul’s day? 

When Jesus spoke about the Kingdom of Heaven (or “Kingdom of God” - they are interchangeable phrases), He, like Paul, talked about it being a present reality. In Matthew 21:31 Jesus says, “the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the Kingdom of God ahead of you.” Notice he doesn’t say they will enter but that they are entering God’s Kingdom. Jesus also said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19:14). Belongs, not will belong. With this ‘present Kingdom’ in mind, consider Matthew 19:23. How does this bring new light to the reason wealth excludes some from the Kingdom of God? 

Consider also Matthew 6:24. Two Kingdoms with distinctly different rulers are revealed in this text - Heaven and Earth, God and Money. How can our extreme wealth (we are all rich on compared to the rest of the world) be used to fund lazy waiting? How can it be used to fund the Kingdom of God as we wait? 

How should our submission to Jesus’ authority over both Kingdoms (Heaven and Earth, Matthew 28:18) impact the way we wait for God’s Mission to be Completed?

Compare this to Paul’s statement above. If we grasp what Paul and Jesus are talking about, what difference does it make to our activity as we await “God’s Mission Completed”? How might this attitude and approach to the Kingdom of God bring about “The Promised Revival”?

Read Acts 4:31 and John 6:63. What role does The Holy Spirit play in us being a people of purposeful patience?
When you are baptised in water, you come up all wet. What happens to those baptised in fire? What impact does one branch, baptised in fire, make on a pile of dry sticks when introduced to them? How is the baptism of the Holy Spirit like this? How is it different?

Consider a few attributes of God’s character, what are the results, both immediate and long term, if we reveal each attribute of God to the world around us? When we are baptised in the Holy Spirit, what is the primary affect we have on those who do not know God? What aspect of God’s Character is most likely to reveal the contrast between Kingdoms - Heaven and Earth?

To be believable in the world today, you must be living what you are believing. There is so much information, available at the click of a mouse, that proof is not enough. The world needs people who are living the message they are sharing. 

How can you and I begin, continue and complete living the Good News of the Kingdom of God that we so passionately want the world to hear?

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Kingdom Scroll (from Chapter 2)

Hannah pulled them back to the topic. “Dad, how does this Great Controversy help us understand the word ‘kingdom’?”

“Well,” Dad looked down at the Bible and skimmed the 12th chapter of Revelation. “Right after the dragon is kicked out of heaven and lands on the Earth, it says the Kingdom of God starts and the authority of Christ.”

“Before the dragon chases the woman in the desert?” Paul asked, leaning over to look at the passage. “That means, we are already living in the kingdom it is talking about.”

“We are already in Heaven?” Hannah asked.

“I don’t think so!” James said waving his arms around. “This world is nothing like Heaven!”

“It must be talking about something else,” Paul said. “What do you think, Dad?”

Dad folded his arms and leaned back in his chair, a huge smile growing on his face. “I think, you three have another Bible adventure to go on!”

“Yeah,” James jumped up, “Let’s take the Bible back to the room and go in!”

“Wait,” Paul said studying Dad’s face. “You know something. Tell us!”

Dad’s smile got even bigger. “I know that I want to hear your story when you get back! So, get into the Bible!”

Hannah joined the fight now, “Dad, come-on! If you know something, you have to tell us!”

“Do I?” Dad laughed. “I know what some of your Christmas presents are. Should I tell you that?”

“There are already Christmas presents in the house?” James asked, incredulous.

“I didn’t say that,” Dad explained. “I said, I know what they are. They could still be in the store or they could be here. But that’s not the point. Christmas would be ruined if I told you all your presents.”

“Ah,” Paul said, finally understanding. “So, you’re saying if you told us what you know, it would ruin our ‘kingdom’ Bible adventure.”

“Uh huh,” Dad said confidently. “Some things are best discovered on the journey rather than beforehand.”

“Ok,” James said, still standing, “Let’s go!”


For the rest of the story, order a copy today!

Friday, September 20, 2013

28 Stories - Study 2: The Mark of Protection

Fundamental: The Nature of Man

Bible Story 
The young man enjoyed the wind rushing past his cheeks as he ran through the densely packed scrub surrounding the clearing where his family lived. He laughed at the occasional whip-sting of branches that slapped his arms and chest as he dodged through the brush. He made sure his laugh carried well enough to be heard by his brother whom he was chasing, and who was releasing the well timed branches. It was one of their games from childhood.
It felt great to play again. It had been so long since his brother had treated him like a friend. As they matured into men they had become rivals and, at times, enemies. But, today was different. His brother had visited the sheep pens and thrown out the old challenge, “Bet you can’t catch me!”
And the chase was on.
They broke out of scrub-brush and entered one of his brother’s fields. Tall heads of grain waved over their heads as they sprinted through the crop. As they neared the middle of the vast field, everything went horribly wrong.
His brother crouched, spun on his heel and, instead of heading in a new direction, put the full momentum of his spin behind his clenched fist and drove it forward and upward into the face of his younger brother who plummeted toward him.
It was a well-timed attack. Abel had no way of stopping. Cain had the upper hand. Cain’s fist met Abel’s nose with such force that it lifted him high off the ground. Abel’s vision went crazy—stars, rings, pulsing lights. Every blood vessel in his nose burst and a river of blood sprayed in a crescent of red, up and back, following the trajectory of his head and body.
Abel hit the ground hard. The wind rushed from his lungs as his back slammed into the rocky soil. He gasped for air. He tried to see but the blood from his nose filled his eye sockets and flowed down his cheeks. Moments later he heard, more than felt, a resounding crack which seemed to come from inside his own head. Then he heard no more.
Cain fell back on his haunches. The deed was done. The plan had worked perfectly. The gullible whelp fell for it! He actually gave chase, as if they were still children! Ha!
Cain looked down at the stone in his hands, which he had placed at this exact location in the field. It was, indeed, the right tool for the job. Abel was dead. He dropped the stone with a thud next to Abel’s crushed head.
Cain quickly buried the stone and his brother. He stood and ran to the river to wash himself. No one would go looking in the field. He was sure of it. The cool water felt good against his hot skin. The blood washed off easily.
“Cain, where is your brother?”
Cain spun around quickly—guiltily. He knew that voice. God stood on the edge of the river. Cain’s heart skipped a beat. He stammered.
“Where is Abel?” God asked again.
His composure regained, Cain taunted, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
“What have you done, Cain?” God knelt and took a handful of soil, offering it to Cain. “Listen! Abel’s blood cries out to me from the earth! Now you are cursed and banished from the ground, which has swallowed your brother’s blood. No longer will the earth yield good crops for you, no matter how hard you work! From now on you will be a homeless wanderer.”
Cain had thought his secret was safe in the ground. Now his deed hit him with full force. He was caught. And he was cursed! “It’s too much!” He cried to the Lord, “Surely I’ll be killed by anyone who finds me!”
Then God did something that Cain did not deserve. God put a mark across the forehead of the young murderer—a mark that labeled him, not as criminal but as claimed. It was God’s mark of protection. “I will give a sevenfold punishment to anyone who kills you,” God promised.
Cain brushed his fingers across the new mark on his forehead. Then he turned and ran from the Lord’s presence—as far away as he could get.

My Reflection
Have you ever been so mad at someone that you wished them harm? How would you respond, if after planning an evil end for your hated enemy and carrying it out, God protected you? What impact would that have on your treatment of people who wronged you in the future?

My Story
Read Genesis 3 carefully through two or three times. Take note of the key themes and characters. Rewrite the story in your own words.

My Assurance
While sin has created a chasm between God and humanity, God has a plan. What do these verses tell us about God’s involvement in our lives? Write your response in the space below.

Acts 17:24-28 ~ “He is the God who made the world and everything in it. Since he is Lord of heaven and earth, he doesn’t live in man-made temples, and human hands can’t serve his needs—for he has no needs. He himself gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need. From one man he created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall, and he determined their boundaries. His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us. For in him we live and move and exist. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’

2 Corinthians 5:19-20 ~ For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal.

My Commitment
Being created in the image of God comes with responsibility. This call to demonstrate love for each other and the planet is one of the most recurring themes in the Bible. How are you challenged by these verses?

Genesis 1:26-28 ~ So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.”

1 John 4:7-8, 11, 20 ~ Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love. . . . Since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. . . . If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see?

My Outlook
When we see ourselves and the value of our lives through God’s eyes we begin to see others differently. How do these verses help you understand your value? What do you learn about God’s desire for all people?

Romans 5:15-17 ~ But there is a great difference between Adam’s sin and God’s gracious gift. For the sin of this one man, Adam, brought death to many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of forgiveness to many through this other man, Jesus Christ. And the result of God’s gracious gift is very different from the result of that one man’s sin. For Adam’s sin led to condemnation, but God’s free gift leads to our being made right with God, even though we are guilty of many sins. For the sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ.

Psalm 51:10 ~ Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me.

My Response
The following statement is the 7th of the 28 fundamental beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Review the doctrine and then write a personal response. What difference does this make to your life?

The Nature of Man
Man and woman were made in the image of God with individuality, the power and freedom to think and to do. Though created free beings, each is an indivisible unity of body, mind, and spirit, dependent upon God for life and breath and all else. When our first parents disobeyed God, they denied their dependence upon Him and fell from their high position under God. The image of God in them was marred and they became subject to death. Their descendants share this fallen nature and its consequences. They are born with weaknesses and tendencies to evil. But God in Christ reconciled the world to Him and by His Spirit restores in penitent mortals the image of their Maker. Created for the glory of God, they are called to love Him and one another, and to care for their environment.


Bible Story
The story at the beginning of this lesson is based on Genesis 4.

Reformation: Healing Broken Relationships

There is no clearer statement of purpose for Christ's time on Earth than the title of this week's lesson: Healing Broken Relationships

This week, questions will scream from silence. Look around your Sabbath School circle. Wash feet. Apologise. Seek forgiveness. Be the hands, feet, heart, mind and soul of Jesus.

Jesus came to heal the rift between ourselves and our God.
He was one of us. And He was God.
He prayed that we would be one
as He and the Father are one.

Wrap your head around that and you've got the Gospel:

  • Working it's way into your heart like a burr into the paw of a lion. It will make itself known with every step. Until you stop, heartsick, and begin to lick the world's wounds — like Him.
  • Boring a tunnel into your brain like a needle tapping a vein. It will both feed you and feed on you at the rhythm of your pulse. Until you become, one heartbeat at a time, a world changer — like Him.
  • Beating your soul to a pulp like a prize-fighter driving his fists into your very nature. It will bring to the surface, like a bruise needing care, the character that becomes the Kingdom — like Him.

Consider the Gospel. Good news.
Consider forgiveness. God knows.
They are one.

Until forgiveness pours from us, His forgiveness pours over us — pooling on the ground — unable to be soaked up by us, like a tropical cyclone flooding our church's carpark, oil-spoted from cars once loved. It rains. It pours. It runs off unreceived.

Wake up. Forgive. Heal. Receive forgiveness. Rejoice.

Then go. Make disciples. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

From Tumour to Health

Final Words

It's time for a final chapter on the Tumour-Saga... And an intro to a new Saga. The Health-Saga.

So many friends have asked why I stopped writing Tumour-Saga updates in February. I haven't had anything new to say. At least, not about the Tumour - the healing, the waiting, the family time, working again - it just kept rolling, like life does! But, I have had plenty to say on other topics, as my blog has demonstrated in a swelling bursting sort of way. I have done lots of writing and reworking of the blog. I hope you like it - and use it in your life and ministry.

But, seven months later, there are a few things to mention:

The six months to two years of recommended healing time has, mercifully, been a lot closer to the short end of the scale. I am much better - almost 100 per cent now! I still get tired easier and need more down time. But, that's healthier, anyway! I've become convinced the word "busy" is the worst four-letter word in our world today. Not because it's dirty but because it is destructive to families and devastating to personal spiritual, emotional and physical wellness.

I started working again in April. My employer, the Victorian Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Australia, has been gracious beyond all expectation. They started me with a 50 per cent workload. I retained my role as Sabbath School Director and was asked to oversee the ministries happening at the Croydon Church. I had this workload until last month. In August, I was asked if I felt up to full-time work. I said yes and they asked me to assist Loren Pratt at Northpoint Church. My first day at Northpoint Church was amazing. Each of these three responsibilities has been enjoyable and inspiring.

Last October, when I went on sick-leave, I asked the Conference to employ Katherine Darroch to look after the Children's Ministry Department while I was away. Katherine is passionate about Children's Ministry at a local church and regional level and has willingly assisted me for years in many projects as a volunteer. Needless to say, Katherine did an amazing job for the six months of my absence. I knew she would SHINE!
I believe it is the primary task of every Christian leader to find, train and empower someone to replace them. For the last couple of years, I have been telling Katherine I would love to see her be the next Children’s Ministry Director in Victoria. She always laughed and said, “No Way!” Then I needed to take sick leave. God’s truly works in mysterious ways!
In April, when I began working again, I resigned my role as the Director of the Children's Ministry Department and recommended the Conference employ Katherine permanently, which they did – until the constituency meeting which meets this coming Sunday when all Conference leadership appointments come under review.

I do not believe God sends evil into our lives. however, I do believe He can use anything to expand the territory of His Kingdom if we are willing to participate in His work and allow Him to be glorified. His ways are beyond measure or understanding!

While I wouldn’t wish a brain tumour on anyone, it has been a blessing and an honour to go through this experience with you. I have come to know myself, my family and my God so much better as I journeyed through mountains and valleys over the past year. I wouldn't give it back for anything!

Saga Transition

Over the past two months, I have transitioned the Tumour Saga to the next phase. My doctor has advised and challenged me that to become truly healthy, I need to loose a substantial amount of weight. So, I have started. Nearly two months ago, I commenced my One Year Lifestyle Commitment.

During the next 10 months, I am going to tell you all about it. Blogging my way through the Tumour Saga was cathartic and created camaraderie. While it was hard at first, it became a task I truly enjoyed. Funnily enough, this next year is going to be quite a bit harder for me to talk/blog about. But, having received so much positive feedback from my previous transparency, I will try!

Since the final week of July, when I made my one-year lifestyle commitment, I have lost 10 kilograms. I am aiming to loose a lot more before the year is over.

More on ‘the one-year lifestyle commitment’ in my next post.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A Good/Bad Example of Storytelling


Want to know how to be a better storyteller (and funnier)?
Lead in. Savour the set-up.

Notice what Ken Davis does with the final story in this clip.
1. Introduces the idea of "the in-car backswing" with a long, fairly boring story about himself trying to reach the kids. (you actually want to help him make the story work. He's working you!)
2. He introduces the old man
3. He appeals to like-minded people (pastors/parents)
4. He sets up the "expected ending" of an old guy wagging his finger at you - It's never good.
5. He draws it out (in your imagionation) by saying it took 5 minutes for the old guy to get down the aisle. It doesn't literally take five minutes but you're in story-mode and you feel the five minutes.
6. The old guy gets to the stage and retells the "in-car backswing" story (briefly) - drawing out the "aha" moment even more.
7. The old guy provides the humour (funnier - and more believable - than if Ken was the 'wise' one) by reversing the expected ending - taking the side of the "in-car backswinger".


While this clip does demonstrate storytelling skills it also demonstrates the responsibility we have as storytellers to choose our stories with care. I do not agree with Ken's chosen topic and would never use it as a vehicle for storytelling or humour. Parental discipline should be proactive not reactive, planned not random. Parental discipline should model the "thought becoming action" decision process we want our children to grow into.

Because story accesses the imagination and emotional centres of the brain, story is as effective a teacher as actual experience. Would you want your child to experience your uncontrolled rage as you backswing violently hoping to make contact with their head? I hope not!

The stories we tell inform and reinforce our beliefs and the beliefs of our listeners. I wouldn't tell this story to an audience because it glorifies parental violence - and even treats it as funny. Hurting others is never a joke.

Especially us Dad's - which is who Ken is talking about - as those who represent our "Father" in Heaven, we are meant to love and protect those God has given us! Our goal, in every story told, should be to strengthen, encourage and empower those around us.

In good storytelling, humour is the vehicle - not the destination. Just because it's funny doesn't mean it's worth saying. As a values-based storyteller, I always ask first, "What am I teaching?" We teach through our stories, our actions and or chosen topics. Choose to glorify good values rather than speak against bad ones. People remember the story, not the point. Model the positive - Tell the story that builds others up.

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Lamb Scroll (from Chapter 21)

The children listened with rapt attention as Philip told his own story of Jesus. He told of when he first met Jesus. He told many stories from the life and teachings of Jesus. And finally he told of the horrible death Jesus suffered and the amazing resurrection that brought Him back to life.
The eunuch, like the children, hung on Philip’s every word.
Finally, Philip finished by unrolling the scroll to the same passage and reading it again, “He was led as a sheep to the slaughter. And as a lamb is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth. He was humiliated and received no justice. Who can speak of his descendants? For his life was taken from the earth.”
“That,” Philip said, “is Jesus. He went willingly to His death—to our death, really—taking our penalty. He did not cry out or condemn those who nailed Him to the cross. He was judged falsely, whipped mercilessly, laughed at, spat upon and taunted with horrible words from many witnesses. And, indeed, He was taken from the earth. He returned to His Father in Heaven where He now prepares a place for us!”
“You are a fantastic storyteller,” The eunuch said, respectfully. “Thank you for sharing what only you could share.”
“Now it is your story,” Philip said opening his hands to reveal his palms, “if you wish to accept it. Jesus took your place too on that cross. If you choose to accept His gift of life, you can begin living your life with and for Him today!”
“And, you begin this life by being baptized?” The eunuch asked.
“That’s right,” Philip said.
“We are coming to a bridge,” the eunuch said. “Would you baptize me, now?”
“Do you accept Jesus’ death in your place and desire His gift of eternal life?” Philip asked.
“Yes, yes!” the eunuch shouted. “Oh, yes I do!”
“Then stop the chariot!” Philip said excitedly.
For the rest of the story, order a copy today!

Friday, September 13, 2013

28 Stories - Study 1: The Law Finds a King

Fundamental: The Word of God 

Bible Story
The pillar stood, as it had for more than 300 years, supporting the marbled splendor of Solomon’s Temple. The people, from the least to the greatest, crowded as close as they could. They leaned in to hear the words that would be spoken by the regal man standing next to the pillar—their King. Only the most serious proclamations included both an open invitation to the Temple and a public declaration of the King.
Josiah, King of God’s people for the past 18 years, reverently unrolled the scroll that had radically changed his heart in the last few days—the scroll that would provide the defining direction of his reign as God’s King. Considering his words carefully, he peered over the top of the parchment and spoke to his gathered subjects: “Today, I bring to you, in this ancient and holy place, ancient and holy words; words found in this very temple just days ago, words lost in this temple many ages ago; words, we as a people, have failed to heed for generation upon generation. I hold in my hands, the Book of the Law.”
A collective gasp was followed by murmuring from person to person as the identity of the scroll was made clear. Josiah’s steady voice regained control of the pillared colonnade, “Our High Priest Hilkiah, while cleaning out the Temple of God, found this Word of the Lord, and thus has provided to us an ancient transcript of God’s Character. It is a most precious, most beautiful and most challenging Word. I have torn my robes. I have wept long and hard over this scroll. I have consulted Huldah, God’s Prophetess. I have been convicted by her words: this scroll must be heeded. God’s Word must be obeyed. It is now my intention to read it—every word of it—to you, so that you too might be challenged as I have been challenged.”
The King’s eyes, weary from much weeping, lowered to the top of the unfurled scroll. The courtyard of Solomon’s Temple was quieter than seemed possible for the number of people filling it’s bounds. Each man, woman and child leaned forward to hear the Book of the Law as spoken by their king.
An hour later the pinnacle of silent anticipation had tumbled chaotically into cries of sorrow and repentance. The eyes of Israel now mirrored those of their King. The Book of the Law had provided for God’s people a clear statement of who God wished for them to be. A picture had been painted of the people to whom God promised to fully reveal Himself and with whom He promised to make His eternal dwelling. And the picture was drastically different from who they were when they looked around themselves and within themselves. They were not God’s people. And yet they were. And how deeply they wished to be.
The ripples created when the Book of the Law first reached the eyes and ears of King Josiah now became a wave of action and reaction that took the cleaning of the Temple to the very borders of Israel. Idols were destroyed. False worship was eradicated. The Temple of the Lord was purified of anything relating to pagan deities. Priests of Pagan gods were put to death. Every high and holy place used in false worship was desecrated with human bones. Then, only when the land was free of all impurity of false worship, King Josiah ordered, “Celebrate the Passover to the Lord your God, as it is written in this Book of the Covenant.” And they did.

My Reflection
Imagine you are one of the people in the crowd listening to King Josiah as he reads the rediscovered Law of God. What would you be feeling?

How would you react to his command to change the entire worship culture of your country?

My Story
Take some time to think of a time when you found something you had lost long ago. Or perhaps you found something that was from before your time - something from your family history.

How did the discovery affect you? What did you do with the discovered item? Did it have any long lasting impact on your life? Write the story below.

My Assurance
These verses speak of the impact God’s Word can have on our lives. Read them and then write a response in the space below. God invites you to rely on His Word. What promises does He make?

John 17:17 ~ Make them pure and holy by teaching them your words of truth.

Psalms 119:105 ~ Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light for my path.

2 Timothy 3:16, 17 ~ All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right. It is God’s way of preparing us in every way, fully equipped for every good thing God wants us to do.

My Commitment
These verses challenge us to use the Bible carefully and live it with integrity.  God expects those who rely on His Word to respect them. What does this mean? How are you challenged by these verses?

Proverbs 30:5, 6 ~ Every word of God proves true. He defends all who come to him for protection. Do not add to his words, or he may rebuke you, and you will be found a liar.

Isaiah 8:20 ~ “Check their predictions against my testimony,” says the Lord. “If their predictions are different from mine, it is because there is no light or truth in them.

Hebrews 4:12 ~ For the word of God is full of living power. It is sharper than the sharpest knife, cutting deep into our innermost thoughts and desires. It exposes us for what we really are.

My Outlook
These verses help us see the Bible through God’s eyes. Not only is the Bible holy, but the words spoken on God’s behalf by those who love Him are holy. How does this make you feel about the Bible? What does this mean about the words you say about God and the Bible?

2 Peter 1:20, 21 ~ Above all, you must understand that no prophecy in Scripture ever came from the prophets themselves or because they wanted to prophesy. It was the Holy Spirit who moved the prophets to speak from God.

1 Thessalonians 2:13 ~ And we will never stop thanking God that when we preached his message to you, you didn’t think of the words we spoke as being just our own. You accepted what we said as the very word of God–which, of course, it was. And this word continues to work in you who believe.

My Response
The following statement is the 1st of the 28 fundamental beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Review the doctrine and then write a personal response. What difference does this make to your life?

The Word of God
The Holy Scriptures, Old and New Testaments, are the written Word of God, given by divine inspiration through holy men of God who spoke and wrote as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. In this Word, God has committed to people the knowledge necessary for salvation. The Holy Scriptures are the infallible revelation of His will. They are the standard of character, the test of experience, the authoritative revealer of doctrines, and the trustworthy record of God’s acts in history.


Bible Story
The story at the beginning of this lesson is based on 2 Kings 21, 22 and 23. An intriguing story that demonstrates the importance of Josiah to the Jewish people can be found in 1 Kings 13.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Reformation: Thinking New Thoughts

A Sabbath School resource from the Victorian Conference of the Adventist Church in Australia

Discussion Guide

Read Proverbs 23
Ask each group member, what is your favourite verse and why?
If you had to put it in a quick sentence, what is this chapter telling us?
If our thoughts have the ability to determine what we become, what type of thinking in your life do you want to change?

Read Philippians 4:6–8
How does this verse apply to your thought life?
Do you want a life of peace? What are the promises, conditions and choices you must make in order to live a life free of anxious thoughts?

Read Genesis 3:1–6
How is Satan described in verse 1?
What was the first question Satan asked which caused Eve to have doubts?
What lie did Satan speak?
How is Satan using the same lies and tactics today?

Read 1 John 2:15–17
What four things are we warned to guard our minds against?
What is the condition of the world?
What is the promise for the one who does the will of the Father?

Read Romans 8:5–6 
Where do you set your mind when you are walking in the Spirit?
What is the result of setting your mind on things of the Spirit?
What contrast does this passage show us?
What is the result of setting your mind on the things of the flesh?

Read Galatians 5:16–26
What will walking by the Spirit enable you to do?
Make a list of the fruit that is manifested when we walk in the flesh.
Now make a list of the fruit that is manifested by walking by the Spirit.
As you review these lists, what do you hear God telling you?
Does this passage tell us how we can know if we’re walking in the Spirit or in the flesh?


Do you think it is possible to go back and forth, walking in the Spirit and in the flesh? Explain why or why not.

Right thinking is a vital necessity for every believer. Our thoughts—right or wrong—bear fruit. We need the power of the Holy Spirit if we are going to live a Spirit-controlled life and fulfil God’s purposes for our lives. We cannot do the work of the Spirit in the energy of the flesh. We will burn out trying. Zechariah 4:6 says, “...‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts.” Seek the Holy Spirit. He is your helper. With Him, you’re never alone.

Monday, September 09, 2013

The Lamb Scroll (from Chapter 14)

“Why is everyone crying?” Hannah asked.
“Because,” Paul answered, “many people have died tonight.”
“Even Pharaoh’s own son died in the palace!” James exclaimed.
As his words filled the space around them they bounced off marble walls, massive columns and beautiful candles that lit the large cathedral-like room they were standing in. The three children spun in circles looking at Pharaoh’s palace.
The sound of footsteps came from a long hallway that entered from the left side of the room. Another sound mixed with the steps. It was a kind of thumping or tapping that seemed to be working in rhythm with the footfalls. Tap—step, step. Tap—step, step.
A man with a long grey beard, wearing a dirty-brown robe that billowed around him walked into view. He was holding a large walking stick in his right hand. It thudded against the marble floor as he walked forward. Tap—step, step. Tap—step, step.
Behind him came another man. He was dressed much the same but carried no staff.
A deep voice bellowed into the night, “MOSES!” The children were startled by the voice. Where had it come from? They walked around the huge column they were standing next too and saw, at the far right of the palace hall, a huge throne with a beautifully dressed man sitting on it.
“It’s Pharaoh!” As James said the words all the air expelled from his lungs in shock.
“He looks so important!” Hannah said.
“He is—or was—until this night,” Paul added.
The man with the staff stopped at the far edge of the hall.
“That’s Moses,” Paul said, “and Aaron, his brother.”
“They look tired,” Hannah said.
“They have been through a lot,” Paul said. “They have been waiting for tonight for a long time.”
 “Moses,” Pharaoh thundered again. “Leave us!” Pharaoh took a ragged breath. He seemed to be struggling to speak.
“Is he crying?” Hannah asked.
“I think so,” Paul answered.
Pharaoh swept his hand from one side of the room to the other as he shouted, “Go away, all of you!” Another sob shook Pharaoh’s frame and then, defeated, he said, “Go and serve the Lord as you have requested. Take your flocks and herds, and be gone.”
For the rest of the story, order a copy today!

Friday, September 06, 2013

Reformation: The Willingness to Grow and Change

A Sabbath School resource from the Victorian Conference of the Adventist Church in Australia

Recently, someone said to me, “God be with you.” I don’t know where it came from but an answer just popped into my mind and out of my mouth. “I’m not sure He has a choice,” I said. “He’s omnipresent!” 
While it doesn’t always feel like it, God never leaves us. It is we who move. We get distracted. We walk away. Consider the two disciples on the Road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-33). They were walking away from everything - away from the other disciples, away from Jerusalem, away from the cross, away from the tomb - away from Jesus. And He chased them. Once he caught them, He taught them. Next week, we will explore this story more as we study about Thinking New Thoughts. 

Compare Jesus chasing the two disciples down the road to Emmaus with Jesus’ breakfast conversation with Peter in John 21:15-17. 
How are they similar? 
What does Jesus say in each encounter that needs to be heard? 
Why does Jesus say different things to the different disciples? 
Where does each conversation lead?

Do you know anyone who has never made a mistake?
Why do we try to pretend we don’t make mistakes? 
Often our errors and mistakes lead to our greatest breakthroughs and result in our most significant life changes.  Tell the story of an poor decision and a wise decision that lead you to maturity. How have your mistakes shaped you?

The lesson this week focuses on the spiritual growth that comes from a willingness to grow and change. This cannot be accomplished without first making and recognising your mistakes. The book of Mark is a great illustration of this point. Everyone fails Jesus in Mark’s Gospel. There is an interesting twist in the book of Mark, however. 

Read Mark’s Heroines as a group (unless you won’t have time, then read it as the leader and present some of the main points).

Read Mark 16:1-8
What would in have been like to hear that Jesus was alive?
Why had it been difficult to see Him for who He really was until this point?
Would you have reacted like the women?

In the early church, the primary use of the Gospels (much like the letters of Paul) was in public reading. People gathered together to hear the letters read aloud. Then they would discuss what they had heard. If Mark 16:8 was the only available ending to the book of Mark, what discussion would have naturally occurred when they got finished at 16:8?

Three alternate endings have been written to Mark well after it was sent around and read to the early church. Why? 

How does the failure of the women in Mark strengthen the resolve of the hearer of the Gospel?

How does the failure of the Disciples all through Mark (and the other Gospels) give you hope? 
How does it challenge you?
How could you use your failings to bring hope to others on their spiritual journey? Does this seem like a strange way to glorify God? Or not?

Wednesday’s lesson focuses on the Prodigal Son’s Father - the true point of this parable. Whenever we come back to God it is ultimately because we realise not who we are but who He is. Such a loving Father draws all men, women and children to Himself through His love. 

Read and compare 1 John 4:7-8 and John 13:34-35.
How has the Love of God been revealed to you recently?
How has the Love of God been revealed in you recently?

Is there anything we can improve about ourselves that would have a greater effect on the world around us, than our ability to love? 

How can we become more loving loveable people?

How would this lead to reformation and revival?

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,...