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While I may not be able to make it to far flung places around the planet to tell stories, I can coach people online and the poster may challenge parents and grand parents to read more to the kids! 

The Kingdom Scroll (from Chapter 20)


Jesus stood. “You have all heard of Rabbi Hillel, who used to teach at the synagogue in Jerusalem?”

The disciples nodded. Rabbi Hillel was a well know scholar who died while the disciples were children.

“Rabbi Hillel was once challenged by a young sceptic,” Jesus said. “The young man said, ‘You want me to believe in your God? Fine. I will believe, if you can recite the entire Torah while standing on one foot!”

A few of the disciples snickered.

“The entire Torah?” Bart questioned. “That’s: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy — five books!”

John said, “There’s no way anyone could stand on one foot that long, even if he did have the entire Torah memorized.”

“Well, Rabbi Hillel wasn’t just anyone!” Jesus said as he lifted one foot in the air and rested it on his knee. Balancing on one foot, Jesus said, “Rabbi Hillel lifted his foot off the ground and said, ‘Whatever is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. This is the whole Torah. The rest is just details. Go and study it for yourself!” Jesus stomped his foot, as if crushing a bug.

The disciples broke into rowdy applause.

“That was an awesome answer,” Paul said during the cheering.

James nodded, “It sure was!”

Hannah took the hands of both of her brothers. “This is so much fun!” she whispered as the cheering died down.

Sitting again on his pillow, Jesus said, “I hope each of you always remembers the value God places on each and every person. Rabbi Hillel may have said not to do what is hateful, but people who seek the Kingdom of God will go even further.”

“What more is there?” John asked.

“Do,” Jesus said. “Don’t just ‘not do’ things that hurt others. DO! Imagine the best thing that could ever happen to you, then go do that thing for your neighbor! Do to others what you wish they would do to you.”

The disciples nodded. “That makes a lot of sense, Jesus,” Bart said. “To live in the Kingdom of God we must treat people the way God would treat them.”

“Yes,” Jesus said, clapping his hands together. “Yes! Be the hands and feet of God. Be God’s mouthpiece. Live with God’s heart inside of you. Take God’s Kingdom to the world!”


....


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

Children's Literacy - Story Reading Session

Yesterday, I got to do one of my favourite things in the entire world:
Read to Children!

Each year, The Yarra Ranges Council runs a Children's Week and I was privileged to play the part of storyteller this year. Loved every minute of it!



We read & sang:
The Hungry Caterpillar
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
The Very Cranky Bear
Puff the Magic Dragon
The Gruffalo
Hairy McClarry

I hope you are reading to the children around you.
It is such a gift to them and it is SOOO much fun!

28 Stories - Study 7: Like Father, Like Son


Fundamental: God the Father


Bible Story 
Jesus slowly scanned the faces of those in the room. He’d been speaking for quite awhile and His words had silenced the disciples. He finished, “I will do what the Father requires of me, so that the world will know that I love the Father.” Jesus stood up from the table, walked to the door and, with an air of finality, spoke over his shoulder, “Come, let’s get going.”
The disciples looked at each other in frustration. They could hear the footsteps of Jesus heading down the stairs but they struggled to follow.
“What just happened?” James asked.
“You were here, James,” Peter blurted. “First He washed our feet and then it was all downhill from there.”
“What do you mean, ‘downhill’?” John questioned. “He was talking about Love—His love for us. And His love for His Father.”
“And His Father’s love for us,” Peter finished. “Why did He wash our feet? And what did He mean, ‘Wash each others feet?’ Isn’t that why we have servants?”
“What just happened?” James asked again. “Where did Jesus go?”
“Maybe he’s going to find Judas,” Peter answered.
“But, where did Judas go?” James asked. “And why did he leave in the middle of the meal?”
Peter had an answer for that one, “I told John to ask about that, remember? He left because Jesus said Judas was going to betray him.”
“Yeah, but he said the same thing about you,” John retorted.
“Did not!” Peter snapped, “He said I would deny him.”
“Three times,” John said. “Isn’t that betrayal?”
Peter’s crossed his arms and let his face fall slowly to the table. He was fighting tears. “I said I would die for him,” Peter mumbled.
“That’s what I mean,” James repeated. “What just happened? This was supposed to be a Passover meal. Then he washed our feet.”
“And everything went downhill from there,” Peter repeated into the table. “I should have just let him wash my feet and not argued.” His shoulders shook involuntarily as he tried to mask his gentle sobs.
“And then,” James continued, “He said the bread was His flesh!”
“And the wine was His blood,” John added, shaking his head.
“What just happened?” James asked yet again.
“Jesus is going away,” Philip spoke for the first time. “And He said we can’t go with Him.”
“But He just said, ‘come’ as He went out the door,” James stated.
“He’s talking about something bigger.” John said, “Much bigger. He talked about His Father. I think he’s going to see his Father—I mean ‘God’.”
“That’s why I asked him to show us the Father,” Philip answered. “He said He had shown us the Father. I can’t remember meeting Him. Can you?”
“If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father,” John almost whispered. “That’s what he said. He and the Father are one and the same.”
“Is He really that close to God?” Peter lifted his head off the table and finished his thought, “Is he really so close to the Father in Heaven that their thoughts are one?”
“He said He would give us a gift,” John cut in, “peace of mind and heart.”
“I feel anything but peace!” Peter argued. “He said, if we really loved Him we would be happy he was going to the Father. Do you think he’s going to die?”
Everyone turned to look at Peter. He was staring out the open door.
They left the table as one and rushed into the night to find Jesus.


My Reflection
What would it have been like to hear Jesus talk about His Father? What did He mean when He said “We are one”?

What would you have said to the disciples if you were in the room that night?


My Story
Read John 13 and 14 and then reread the story at the beginning of this study. What stands out for you in John’s telling of this night in the life of the Disciples?

As a follower of Jesus, you are one of His Disciples; you are one with Jesus and the Father. What does this mean to you?


My Assurance
God’s identity and role in the universe is clearly established in the Bible. What assurances and promises about God are clear to you in the verses below?

Genesis 1:1 ~ In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Revelation 4:11 ~ “You are worthy, O Lord our God, to receive glory and honor and power. For you created all things, and they exist because you created what you pleased.”

John 3:16 ~ “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.


My Commitment
God the Father has been consistently involved in our salvation. What choices do the following verses about the Father encourage you to make in your life?

1 John 4:8 ~ But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

Exodus 34:6 ~ The Lord passed in front of Moses, calling out, “Yahweh! The Lord! The God of compassion and mercy! I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.”

John 14:9 ~ Jesus replied, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and yet you still don’t know who I am? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father! So why are you asking me to show him to you?


My Outlook
God the Father has always been and always will be involved in the lives of humanity. How do the following verses show God’s involvement in the world around us in the past, present and future?

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.

Exodus 34:7 ~ I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations. I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin. But I do not excuse the guilty. I lay the sins of the parents upon their children and grandchildren; the entire family is affected—even children in the third and fourth generations.”

1 Corinthians 15:28 ~ Then, when all things are under his authority, the Son will put himself under God’s authority, so that God, who gave his Son authority over all things, will be utterly supreme over everything everywhere.


My Response
The following statement is the 3rd 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?

God the Father
God the eternal Father is the Creator, Source, Sustainer, and Sovereign of all creation. He is just and holy, merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. The qualities and powers exhibited in the Son and the Holy Spirit are also revelations of the Father.

*****

Bible Story
The story at the beginning of this lesson is based on John 13 and 14.

Lessons from the Sanctuary

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

Introduction


This week’s lesson takes a look at various physical and cultural aspects of the Sanctuary and how they shaped the people who participated in worshipping the God revealed within it's walls. Consider and compare the ancient Sanctuary, today’s temple of the Human heart and the Kingdom on which they are based. The example is both revealing, inspiring and challenging.


Place of Presence

In the Old Testament world, god’s were present to their people through the temple build to honour them. The God of the Hebrews, to reach the people where they were, commissioned a temple - a sanctuary - where He, the omnipresent One, could “live”. How does this temple-building process and final product reveal the nature of the God who wished to ‘know’ His people?

In the New Testament world, God lives in the Heart of his people. How is God’s presence revealed in the heart of the Seventh-day Adventist people? Give some examples of how God is revealed daily in the people sitting in your Sabbath School class. How are we each, like the various emblems in the Sanctuary, revealing the nature and nurture of Jesus?

In the Kingdom of God, “the One who is, who was and who is still to come” is eternally present. How does this definition (from Revelation 1:8) reveal the nature of God? How does it inspire you?


Set Apart

When we finish building a church, we have a “dedication” service. Why? What does this accomplish and for whom? How does it affect the church building? How does it affect the church community?

Compare baptism, dedication of elders, ordination of pastors, dedication of babies and investiture of pathfinders.... How are they similar? How are they different?

What is the benefit in being “set apart” in a public way?
How is this similar to our daily dedication of ourselves to Christ? How is it different?


Tools of the Trade

Last week, a young (in faith) woman asked me, “When you are sick, and you are anointed like the Bible says, what is really happening? What is the oil? What does it do?” How would you answer simply while also answering completely?


The Ark of the Covenant sat in the most prestigious place in the Sanctuary - the place reserved, in every temple of foreign gods, for the image of that particular God. And yet, the Ark held symbols of God’s people - not of God. How did each ingredient in the Ark remind the people of their role as God’s image-bearers? How did the Ark remind them that God was not to be replicated or reflected in objects of metal, wood or stone? How did the Ark challenge them to be true representatives of the One True God to the nations around them?

In the Old Testament Sanctuary, each object had it’s specific purpose. Today, each of us are tools of God’s trade. We are uniquely gifted and blessed to do the work of His hands and feet. What specific functions are served through the individuals in your Sabbath School class - in the church, in the local community, in global mission?


United we Kneel

Apply Solomon’s seven temple prayers (1 Kings 8:31-53) to the life of your Sabbath School as a community of believers. How is your Sabbath School a place of:
 - forgiveness (Do group members forgive each other and seek God’s forgiveness?)
 - accountability (Do group members trust each other with their personal journey?)
 - healing (Do you pray for the healing of past weakness and strength for the future?)
 - blessing (Do you care for others needs and pray for blessing in the lives and livelihoods of your group?)
 - refuge (Do you provide and encourage trust in God when life is bleak?)
 - prayer (Does your Sabbath School invite others to bring their hearts God in prayer?)
 - victory (Do you seek and celebrate victory in the personal and group life of your Sabbath School?)


The Kingdom View

In Psalm 73 we get a picture of the seeming unfairness of blessing to the wicked and suffering to the righteous. Verse 17, at the heart of the chapter, says that once he went into the Sanctuary, things began to make sense. How does understanding the full process of sin and salvation help us deal with the inequalities in the world?

As the living temple today, how do we reveal the truth of the beginning, middle and end of the great controversy raging around us? How does our life, hope, actions speak to others of God’s Kingdom past, present and future?

The Kingdom Scroll (from Chapter 19)


A disciple, fighting his way through the crowd, shouted, “Get away! Come-on you useless lot! Jesus has better things to do than cuddle babies!”

A few mothers, holding their babies out over the top of the crowd of kids pulled their little ones back to them, saddened.

Jesus got angry with his disciples. He grabbed the one who had just fought his way through the crowd and, under his breath, said very sternly, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children.”

Jesus wrapped his arms around Hannah and the boy on the other knee. “I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.”

As if to make his point, Jesus kissed Hannah on the top of her head and then did the same to the little boy on on his other knee and then set them back on the ground and took another child into his arms to bless. Hearing His words, all the kids rushed in and embraced Jesus. One by one He blessed each of them with a cuddle. He took babies from their mothers and blessed them, too.

Hannah and her brothers worked their way out of the crowd and watched as Jesus blessed child after child. He was having a wonderful time.

“He said, the Kingdom of God belongs to children,” Hannah said. “What does that mean?”

“It means, kids rock!” James said. “Jesus loves kids.”

“He sure does,” Paul said. “But what Jesus actually said is that the Kingdom of God belongs to people who are like those children.”

“What does that mean?” Hannah asked.

“I think it means people need to want Jesus the way kids do,” Paul said.

“And they need to believe in him like kids do too,” James said.

Paul turned to look at James, “That’s a better answer, I think. Kids just get Jesus. They love Him without question.”

“Yeah,” James agreed.

....


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

28 Stories - Study 6: A Savior’s Sabbath


Fundamental: The Sabbath


Bible Story
The group of men, led by Jesus, sang as they walked along a narrow path through a grain field ready for harvest.
Jesus was enjoying the song and the fresh morning air so much that it took some time for him to notice the disciples were falling behind. Suddenly, he realized he was singing a solo. Reaching a clearing, he spun around and watched the twelve gradually approach. He saw immediately what was slowing their progress. They were breaking the heads off the wheat and eating the grain.
“Come on guys,” Jesus shouted to them, “we’ll be late for worship at the synagogue if we keep going this slowly.”
Andrew got to Jesus first. He had a handful of harvested grain. Jesus held out his hand and Andrew gave him some. Jesus studied the grain until the rest of the group gathered around. He held up the wheat, “Unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels.” He swung his hand across the wheat fields in the distance, reinforcing his point: “a plentiful harvest of new lives.”
The disciples nodded, waiting for the punch line. Jesus loved these teaching moments. He continued, “Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it—for eternity.”
“That’s exactly what we’ve done!” Peter said proudly. “We’ve left our normal everyday lives to follow you.”
Jesus patted Peter on the shoulder and finished, “Anyone who wants to be my disciple must follow me, because my servants must be where I am. And the Father will honor anyone who serves me.”
The disciples all nodded and smiled. They liked these stories that gave them hope for the future. They started to walk again, following Jesus. The harvesting of grain continued.
At the next clearing their progress was blocked by a group of religious leaders. They were whispering to themselves. Then one of them stepped forward and pointed at Peter as he stuffed a big handful of grain into his mouth. “Look, your disciples are breaking the law by harvesting grain on the Sabbath.”
Peter spun Jesus around by the shoulder, blowing a mouthful of dry grain onto Jesus’ tunic, “Tell them the dying wheat story!”
Jesus laughed, wiping the wheat chaff off his clothes. He turned, showed his empty palms to the Pharisees and asked, “Haven’t you read in the Scriptures what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He went into the house of God, and he and his companions broke the law by eating the sacred loaves of bread that only the priests are allowed to eat.”
The men looked shocked. Their spokesman opened his mouth to speak but Jesus continued, “And haven’t you read in the Law of Moses that the priests on duty in the Temple may work on the Sabbath? I tell you, there is one here who is even greater than the Temple! But you would not have condemned my innocent disciples if you knew the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For the Son of Man is Lord, even over the Sabbath!”
The Pharisees shook their heads and rushed off huffing and puffing through the wheat field, heading to the Synagogue. Jesus walked through the wake of waving wheat, then through the city gates and to the steps of the synagogue.
As Jesus and his Disciples entered the synagogue, some Pharisees approached. One of them pointed to a man with a shriveled hand, The Pharisees asked Jesus, “Does the law permit a person to work by healing on the Sabbath?”
Matthew spoke over Jesus’ shoulder, “It’s a trap, Jesus! There’s some trick.”
“Of course there is,” Jesus whispered. “They would never allow a deformed person in their precious temple. I’m tired of them using people!”
Jesus turned to the Pharisees and answered, “If you had a sheep that fell into a well on the Sabbath, wouldn’t you work to pull it out? Of course you would. And how much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Yes, the law permits a person to do good on the Sabbath.”
Jesus spoke to the crippled man, “Stretch your hand toward me.” The man reached out to Jesus and watched in amazement as his fingers unfurled for the first time in his life. He was whole! He was healed! Oh, glorious Sabbath!


My Reflection
Imagine you were one of Jesus’ disciples who walked and talked with him on the day in this story. What would have been your favorite part of the day? Why?


My Story
What is the best Sabbath you can remember in your life? Who was with you? Where was it? What made it a special Sabbath?


My Assurance
The Sabbath is a promise given to humanity from God during creation week. What do the following verses tell us the Sabbath assures us of? What does this mean to you?

Exodus 20:8-11 ~ So the creation of the heavens and the earth and everything in them was completed. On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he rested from all his work of creation.

Isaiah 56:5-6 ~ I will give them—within the walls of my house—a memorial and a name far greater than sons and daughters could give. For the name I give them is an everlasting one. It will never disappear! “I will also bless the foreigners who commit themselves to the Lord, who serve him and love his name, who worship him and do not desecrate the Sabbath day of rest, and who hold fast to my covenant.

Ezekiel 20:12 ~ And I gave them my Sabbath days of rest as a sign between them and me. It was to remind them that I am the Lord, who had set them apart to be holy.


My Commitment
Just as the Sabbath is a day reminding us of God’s presence and promise in our lives, it is also a day that speaks to the world around us through the way we honour it as special and unique. What special treatment are God’s people to give the Sabbath?

Isaiah 58:13 ~ “Keep the Sabbath day holy. Don’t pursue your own interests on that day, but enjoy the Sabbath and speak of it with delight as the Lord’s holy day. Honor the Sabbath in everything you do on that day, and don’t follow your own desires or talk idly.

Luke 4:16 ~ When he came to the village of Nazareth, his boyhood home, he went as usual to the synagogue on the Sabbath and stood up to read the Scriptures.

Ezekiel 20:20 ~Keep my Sabbath days holy, for they are a sign to remind you that I am the Lord your God.


My Outlook
At the end of a job well done, God took a day off. More than that, He set up the Sabbath as a memorial of His creative power. Those who participate in this memorial day will experience His recreative power in their lives. Consider the following verses. What effect might the consistent lifestyle of taking a Sabbath rest have on the world around God’s obedient people?

Genesis 2:1-3 ~ So the creation of the heavens and the earth and everything in them was completed. On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he rested from all his work of creation.

Exodus 31:13, 16-17 ~ “Tell the people of Israel: ‘Be careful to keep my Sabbath day, for the Sabbath is a sign of the covenant between me and you from generation to generation. It is given so you may know that I am the Lord, who makes you holy. . . . The people of Israel must keep the Sabbath day by observing it from generation to generation. This is a covenant obligation for all time. It is a permanent sign of my covenant with the people of Israel. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, but on the seventh day he stopped working and was refreshed.’”


My Response
The following statement is the 20th 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 Sabbath
The beneficent Creator, after the six days of Creation, rested on the seventh day and instituted the Sabbath for all people as a memorial of Creation. The fourth commandment of God’s unchangeable law requires the observance of this seventh-day Sabbath as the day of rest, worship, and ministry in harmony with the teaching and practice of Jesus, the Lord of the Sabbath. The Sabbath is a day of delightful communion with God and one another. It is a symbol of our redemption in Christ, a sign of our sanctification, a token of our allegiance, and a foretaste of our eternal future in God’s kingdom. The Sabbath is God’s perpetual sign of His eternal covenant between Him and His people. Joyful observance of this holy time from evening to evening, sunset to sunset, is a celebration of God’s creative and redemptive acts.

*****

Bible Story
The story of Jesus on the Sabbath can be found in Matthew 12.

Further Reading
Hebrews 4:1-11; Mark 1:32

Sacrifice

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

The Garden Promise

Read Genesis 2:25-3:11
Through God’s action because of the first sin of Eden’s couple, we learn that sin clothes itself in death while righteousness clothes itself in life. How is this evident in our lives?
Before sin, Adam and Eve were ‘naked’ and didn’t mind. The same is true with us in our innocence and sin. 
A child, taken from a hot bath, will run - stark naked - through the house in absolute rapture. An adult attempting this, is most likely pursued by a posse of orderlies. What changes as we age? Why do innocents become reticent? How does joy become shame?
When we sin, we feel naked and ashamed. Why? What changes about us when we sin?
Have you ever had a time when you have felt “naked and unashamed” before God? Tell that story? What transpired to lead to this moment?


Three Trees

What ‘tree’ reduces us to ‘naked and ashamed’?
What ‘tree’ lifted for us held ‘naked and unashamed’ our freedom from death?
What ‘tree’ - many fruited - is promised to us? 
Which tree defines you? How? Why?


Worship Differently

While religions all around them were caught up in temple prostitution, self-harm and human sacrifice; the Israelite God required sacrifices of grain, animals and drink. 
How do you think this affected the Israelites view of their God? 
How might it have increased their willingness to be involved in Yahweh Worship? 
What impact do you think this difference in sacrifice had on the nations around Israel? 

Read Genesis 22:1-19
When God asked him to offer his son, Abraham went along with it because this was a normal thing for “a god” to ask for in that time. This story is often misunderstood today because we do not live in an age of sacrifice, much less human sacrifice. When God stopped Abraham, moments before the death of Isaac, what was God teaching about Himself? 
What was God teaching about the worship He required?
What did the story teach, to nearby nations, about the willpower of Yahweh’s people?
What is hinted at by the thrice-repeated phrase “Only son” in this passage?
How does this phrase “only son” link back to Genesis 3:15?
To what image does a ram, his head locked in a thicket, link forward?
What did Abraham call this place? Why? 
How did this event and story, retold through the ages, shape the religion of Israel? 
How has this story served to define, even today, our God as a God of the people, a God who loves?


Conclusion

A God Worth Obeying: This week, I was talking with a friend who comes from an eastern background. She is not a Christian and often asks questions...

A God Worth Obeying

This week, I was talking with a friend who comes from an eastern background. She is not a Christian and often asks questions, trying to make sense of us and our God. Yesterday, she said, “Your God is not fair!”

I asked what she meant and she explained, “Your God forgives people for everything.”

“That’s true,” I said. “God is all about forgiveness. Why does that bother you?”

She said, “When you do something wrong, you should be punished. When you do something right, you should be rewarded. This teaches you to be a better person.”

I said, “That is Karma.”

She gestured excitedly, “Yes! You know Karma? Then you know it is the best way. We must learn from our actions and the results of our actions! How can a God who forgives everybody teach people to be good?”

I laughed and said, “Good question. Imagine you are driving in an 80km zone but are traveling at 120km. You hear a siren, look in your mirror and see a police car. What will happen?”

“You will be punished!” she said, triumphantly.

“Yes,” I continued. “You will have to pay a huge fine and loose your license for a year. How will you feel when you pay the fine?”

“Bad,” she said.

“Yes, and after a year of feeling bad, many people feel they have paid their penalty. Some may even hate the police. Will they ever speed again?”

She looked sheepish. “Yes, probably.”

“Now imagine the scene again,” I said. “Imagine you are driving in an 80km zone but are traveling at 120km. You hear a siren, look in your mirror and feel a horrible thump on the front of your car. You stop and look. You have hit and killed a child.”

My friend looked devastated, her hand even went up to her mouth. “Oh, no!”

“What will happen to you this time?” I asked.

“I will go to jail,” she said.

“Yes, along with the fine and loss of license,” I said. “Now, imagine that while you are in jail, the mother of the child you killed comes to see you. What do you think she will say?”

“She will yell at me,” my friend said. “She will cry!”

“What if she doesn’t yell?” I said, “What if she says, ‘I forgive you. I believe in a God who forgives us for the things we do wrong when we are sorry. I know you are sorry because I saw you crying while you gave your testimony in court. I forgive you.”

My friend looked both relieved and yet, still stressed. “I would be sad because I can’t bring her child back to life.”

“True,” I said. “Would you ever speed again?”

She shook her head, “I would be so careful, forever.”

“So it is with God,” I said. “Because we have a God who forgives us, we DO become better people. Not because we have learned our lesson through punishment and reward, but because we have learned the meaning of love. We obey God because He has forgiven us. We love him and don’t want to ever hurt him again.”

“So,” she realised, “forgive is better than fair.”

“This is the difference between Karma and Jesus,” I explained. “You are right, God is not fair. And I am so glad He isn’t. Jesus forgives us because, as he once said, ‘God is love’.”

Father's Fortnight - Reading with Primary School Children


Another morning living the dream! My wife made a caterpillar and five pieces of fruit for kids to play with while I read this story. Here's a snippet of the story and the toys.


During father's fortnight at my daughter’s school (Billanook PS), I spent 30 minutes doing a story set with the three prep classes (All combined for a big-group story time!) and 30 minutes in my daughter’s year 6 class talking to them about literacy. My daughter and I sang Puff the Magic Dragon to her class. There were lots of awwws and oohhhs around the room. It's so good to see a classroom that appreciates each other.


I told the older kids I had just been reading stories to the little kids. After a few questions and the discussion about literacy, one of the girls asked, "Can you read us a story?"
"A STORY?!" I said incredulously, "You're too old for stories, aren't you?"
"Were still kids," she said. "We love stories."
Aren't we all. ... I thought ... And, don't we all!
So, we read “The Gruffalo”. They laughed at every page even though they knew it well.
(Or perhaps, because they knew it so well!)

At the end, I challenged them to take every chance they get to read to little kids.
"You change the future," I said, "every time you read to a child."

*****

Thanks to Mrs Sperring at Billanook for filming the clip above.
Check it out on their prep@billanook blog

Puff the Magic Dragon

I had a bit of fun today singing this song to a room full of kids.
I thought I should put it online so more kids (of all ages) can enjoy it!

The Kingdom Scroll (from Chapter 17)


“It looks just like the statue in the King’s dream,” Hannah said.

“Yeah,” James agreed. “It’s arms are folded across it’s chest and it looks like a royal leader.”

“It looks like King Nebuchaddnezar,” Paul said pointing at the King standing center-stage not far from the statue, “and there is one major difference between that statue and the one in the dream.”

“What?” James blurted.

“It’s gold from head to foot!” Paul said. 

“Hey,” James said, “you’re right! Why would he do that?”

“Maybe it was too hard to build it out of lots of different metals,” Hannah said.

“No,” Paul said. “I don’t think Nebucadnezzar liked the idea of his kingdom coming to an end, so he is trying to rewrite the prophecy by making an all gold statue!”

“As if that’s gonna work!” James laughed. “God is not going to change his plans because a selfish king wants to be eternal.”

“True!” Paul said.

Just then a chorus of horns blasted three short pulses. The crowd went quiet. A herald stepped toward a massive cone-like megaphone and shouted, “People of all races and nations and languages, listen to the king’s command! When you hear the sound of the musical instruments, bow to the ground to worship King Nebuchadnezzar’s gold statue. Anyone who refuses to obey will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace.”

“Oh, I know this story,” James said, almost to himself. 

“The fiery furnace,” Hannah said. 

“Yup,” the boys said together. On the left side of the stage the huge metal smelting furnace used to make the statue burned it’s warning to the people, ‘bow or burn.’ 

Suddenly a swell of sound came from the various instruments on the stage. Like a wave, the thousands of people gathered for this great event all bowed to the great statue. All except Daniel’s three friends.

....


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

Road Trip - Jindabyne to Bairnsdale

The is my drive home (some highlights, anyway) from Jindabyne to Bairnsdale after doing a wedding.





The Daily Meal

My daily meal is based on my weekly schedule. And often it a sizeable plate of food. I try to keep it as heathy as possible - being honest with people I love and careful with people I serve.

In environments where I can control the food, I do. I don't eat deserts or sweets. When I do, I keep the portion very small.

I do my best to eat for health.

Monday I have lunch with the boy’s at Men’s Shed. They usually have meat and three veg. I had to opt out once when they had meat pies and chips - nothing good in it! 

Tuesday I have a BBQ tea on my way home from Northpoint. I stop at Coles 1/2 way home (around 3pm) grab some chicken tenderloins, a bottle of fruit juice, and a flavour sachet and drive to a little park with a BBQ. (For those non-aussies reading this, free gas BBQ’s are a common feature in Australian roadside picnic areas! It’s an amazing lifestyle!) I BBQ the meat, enjoy the great outdoors and then eat while I’m finishing the drive home. 

Wednesday afternoons my mother in law spends an hour teaching cooking skills to Cyrus, our oldest son, and they cook dinner for our family. They always cook something healthy and delicious. We eat around 6pm.

Thursday night I volunteer at Vive Cafe where they serve a three course meal to needy people. I have the main course. Sometimes, if soup is the first course, I’ll have that, too. I always skip the desert. There’s nothing good in it! That meal is consumed at about 6:30.

Friday night we have soup, bread and fruit juice as a family. I usually make a cauliflower/broccoli soup (You don’t need a recipe! Just boil a head of broccoli and a head of cauliflower until soft. Then add some soup stock (Vegeta) and blend it all up - in the same water. Soup’s On!) and garlic bread. I skip the bread. 

Saturday Lunch is at Grandma’s house. Usually about 1:30pm. Always delicious!

Sunday, I often make myself a steak and Veg plate (I love broccoli!) for an early dinner around 3pm. 

Because I am keeping System 1 of my Hybrid Engine running out often, these meals get processed very effectively. When I feel full, I feel sad - so long until System 1 goes off again! 

Have fun with it.

I am!

The Hybrid Engine

It has been 11 weeks since I started my One Year Lifestyle Commitment. Every Wednesday I record my weight as a diary entry in my phone. It is interesting how weight fluctuates every day, confusingly, but the week by week results are very consistent. For the past 11 weeks, I have lost an average of 1.2 kilograms (2.6 pounds) a week. The first two weeks I lost 2 kilos a week. Then it slowed down to a steady kilo or so. I’ve now lost 13 kilos!

My daughter, Rachael, told me - at the rate I’m going, I’ll reach my goal by Easter next year. How cool is that? I gave some of my biggest shirts away last night at Vive Cafe. There is a big guy there who asks for updates on my success every week. Last Thursday he asked if he could have my shirts when I got too small for them. So, last night I gave him my largest three! Yippee! Feels great to be shrinking. 

I’ve explained part of my strategy in past posts, but here’s a bit more of my thinking about steady weight loss. 

The body is a hybrid engine. 
We have two main systems of fuel consumption:
System 1 - food 
System 2 - body fat
Our body stores fat so that it has a reserve when we don’t get enough food to meet our daily fuel needs. The difficulty is that the body is a very thrifty and selfish system and conserves energy much better than it uses it. It thanks us for System 1 surplus by showing it off to the world - as a layer of fat stored on our most prominent areas. Our body is bragging! “Look how good I am at conserving energy! Thank you for giving me so much to store! I’m ready for a rainy day - or 300. Eat more! Store more. Let’s build bigger barns!”

I don’t want to be a bigger barn!

So, the key is - keep System 1 kicking on and off with great fuel in small doses. That will cause System 2 to kick in more often when it needs something to keep chewing on. When your body is in fuel burning mode, it wants to burn fuel. When it is in fuel storing mode - it wants to store fuel. When it’s in starvation mode, it wants to conserve fuel. Eating one or two huge meals at the beginning or end of the day is a great way to jump between storing mode and starvation mode. Not good!

We want our body to be in fuel burning mode - and running out of System 1 fuel as often as possible. So, graze don’t gorge. Sample don’t starve. Find some healthy fuel that you enjoy and then find a way to eat it in small doses.

There are basically three kinds of System 1 fuel. Carbs, Fats, and Protein. Most foods are a combination of two or all three. 
Fats are longterm fuel - they provide for System 2 by storing up until you don’t have carbs or protein in System 1. There is way too much fat in our modern diet therefore we store way more than we will ever use. 
Carbs are slow burning fuel - they keep you feeling full and your System 1 working longer before getting hungry again. Carbs are great for when you are planning on using your muscles - before a long walk, swim or bike ride. If we don't exercise, carbs ensure we make it from one meal to the next without turning on System 2.
Protein is the System 1 turbo-booster - it burns hot and fast. Protein makes your body switch on System 2 quicker and more often. Protein makes your body believe the grass is greener RIGHT NOW. So, burn baby! 

The current obesity epidemic around the world is due to the modern high fat/carb diet. Fat and carbs are in nearly every packaged product. Most processed fat is bad for us. And our need to use carb energy has gone down (due to vehicles and desk jobs). Very few of us are walking (up hill both ways!) to school, harvesting grain with a scythe, climbing a mountain to buy milk, etc. We just get our food handed through our car window as we drive to our destination. 

There are a few things we can do to get our bodies working right while not going back to 1850. First, for those of us who are overweight, we need to get system 2 working overtime, we need to get our body believing it needs to chew the fat. The best way to do that is to keep System 1 running and then running out - over and over - all day long. Put food in your mouth every couple of hours. That’s a great idea, isn’t it? Sounds yummy. And it can be! 

By putting food into our engine - the right kind of food, in the right quantity - we can get our Engine CoSystem Regulator (metabolism) working at it’s peak. When we starve ourselves our metabolism goes into starvation mode - even if we are obese! The system believes we are going to die because the food has stopped coming. So, it hordes every molecule it can salvage, converts it to fat, and sticks it to the wall. It burns slower, saves energy wherever it can and often even stops asking for food. It just goes to sleep. This is NOT what we want. 

Every couple of hours, have a piece of fruit, a ProOatTeen Patty with something yummy (preferably protein) on it (flavoured tuna, chicken breast finger, marmite, poached/fried egg), another piece of fruit, or a small meal. I eat three patties (with something on them) each day, two or three pieces of fruit and a small meal - each an hour or two apart. Each day is a little different - this is also important. My body is happy because it get’s bits of food often but I’m not bored or sick of a labourious routine. Once a week or so, I replace a patty with a trip to the nearest sushi place. 

I take a lunch box with me each day. In it is the patties, toppings and fruit for the day.

During the day, randomly, I have between one and four coffees (with a drop of milk, no sugar), many glasses of water and occasional fruit juice (100 per cent real fruit juice - no fruit drink! Yuck!)

Other than that, I try not to eat after 7 in the evening. Except for my nitecap piece of Chili Chocolate! :)

28 Stories - Study 5: A Changed Woman


Fundamental: The Experience of Salvation


Bible Story
Jesus made His way through the pre-dawn streets of Jerusalem. Having spent the night praying on the Mount of Olives, He was rejuvenated and ready for the day. He anticipated his early morning teaching session, hoping He would draw a significant crowd before sunrise.
The streets hummed with the low murmur of a city waking up. Candles, visible through the windows of many of the homes, revealed busy families.
Jesus arrived at Solomon’s Temple and sat in a visible place half way up the staircase. Two large white-marble columns towered behind Him. He looked at the Mount of Olives in the distance. It was the perfect location for today’s lesson.
People began to gather, greeting Jesus, “Shalom, Rabbi.”
“Good morning!” Jesus repeated many times as the people, ranging from the homeless to the pious, arrived and found places on the landing below.
Jesus lifted his eyes to the crowd. He paused for a moment, ensuring that all were listening, “Where does light come from?” He asked slowly, “And what does it reveal?”
The people loved a good question. They mulled it over. A Pharisee in the back hazarded an answer, “Light is God’s gift to us, revealing His perfect will.”
Jesus smiled and opened his mouth to respond but was interrupted by a raucous group emerging from the darkness. Rather than passing by, the unruly bunch headed toward the temple stairs, forcefully dragging a woman. She fought, screaming. The men, firmly grasping her wrists, brought her between the crowd and Jesus. It was clear to all; she was naked.
“This woman,” one of the men spat, “was caught, just now, with another woman’s husband—in the very act of adultery!” Jesus stood to face the men. “The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”
Jesus waved the men’s grasping hands away from the woman. Her arms were released and she quickly covered herself. He leaned over and scrawled something in the dust on the step nearest the man who had made the accusation. The man adjusted his gaze, lining his head up with the ambient morning light so he could make out the words. His head snapped up, more jerkily than he intended. Jesus made eye contact with him. “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!”
The man, so aggressive just moments before, submissively eyed Jesus with wonder and fear. He glanced again at the dusty scrawl, turned and exited through the crowd.
Jesus looked at the remaining group and then began furiously scribbling in the dust. Word after word, man after man, the unspoken rebuke continued until the woman stood alone between Jesus and the crowd, her gaze still firmly fixed on the ground at her feet.
After all of the men had fled from their secrets, Jesus lifted the woman’s chin so their eyes met, “Where are your accusers?” She peered at the space where the rude and rough men had stood just moments before. She looked confused. Jesus continued, “Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”
“No, Lord,” She said with visible relief.
Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”
The remorse, rage and fear that coursed through her escaped with one ragged breath. Her energy gone, the woman slumped to the ground. Clinging to Jesus’ feet, she began to cry. Jesus removed his overcoat and rested it on the woman. He sat on the step just above her.
The early morning crowd looked on with mixed emotions. Many of them couldn’t help thinking to themselves, Oh that I might be thrown at His feet and watch my accusers and my sin vanquished so effectively!
Just then the sun rose from behind the Mount of Olives and poured it’s penetrating light into the colonnade of Solomon’s temple. The sun illuminated Jesus’ face. Behind Jesus, the white marble steps, walls and columns shone with such ferocity that the people shaded their eyes.
Jesus had been waiting for this very moment. With the sun blazing into the eyes of his listeners, Jesus spoke to their hearts, “I am the light of the world.” Reaching down He lifted the face of the young woman, still clinging to his feet, “If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”


My Reflection
Imagine you were the woman in this story: caught, accused, forgiven, covered and called—how would you have felt at each stage?


My Story
Have you ever been forgiven for something that you knew deserved much more punishment? How did you respond?

Have you ever forgiven someone for something they deserved to be punished for? How did it feel to offer forgiveness?


My Assurance
There are many promises for those who have been saved by Jesus. Jot down the key thoughts in each passage below and write a one sentence “thank you” to God under each.

Titus 3:3-7 ~ Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient. We were misled and became slaves to many lusts and pleasures. Our lives were full of evil and envy, and we hated each other. But—“When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. Because of his grace he declared us righteous and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.”

Romans 5:6-10 ~ You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!

John 3:16 ~ For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

Romans 8:14-16 ~ For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children.


My Commitment
Every healthy relationship has two active participants. Jesus’ gift of salvation causes us to respond actively. Read the verses below and then write down the commitment each calls you to make. How might these commitments change your life?

Mark 9:23, 24 ~ “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.” The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”

1 Peter 2:21, 22 ~ For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.

2 Corinthians 5:18-21 ~ God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. 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 through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.


My Outlook
Kingdom dwellers in God’s Kingdom see this world — it’s people and problems — differently. How do ‘Saved’ people change? What impact should those who have been ‘Saved’ be having on this ‘Lost’ world?

Colossians 1:13 ~ For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.

John 3:4-7 ~ “What do you mean?” exclaimed Nicodemus. “How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?” Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.’

Ephesians 2:8-10 ~ God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

Romans 12:2 ~ Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.


My Response
The following statement is the 10th 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 Experience of Salvation
In infinite love and mercy God made Christ, who knew no sin, to be sin for us, so that in Him we might be made the righteousness of God. Led by the Holy Spirit we sense our need, acknowledge our sinfulness, repent of our transgressions, and exercise faith in Jesus as Lord and Christ, as Substitute and Example. This faith which receives salvation comes through the divine power of the Word and is the gift of God’s grace. Through Christ we are justified, adopted as God’s sons and daughters, and delivered from the lordship of sin. Through the Spirit we are born again and sanctified; the Spirit renews our minds, writes God’s law of love in our hearts, and we are given the power to live a holy life. Abiding in Him we become partakers of the divine nature and have the assurance of salvation now and in the judgment.

*****

Bible Story
The story at the beginning of this lesson is based on John 8.

Further Reading
Galatians 4:4-7; Hebrews 8:7-12; Romans 3:21-6; Romans 8:1-4; 2 Peter 1:3-4; Galatians 1:4; Ezekiel 36:25-27; Romans 10:17

“Heaven” on Earth



The Garden Temple

What do you think of the idea that the Garden of Eden fits the pattern of God’s Sanctuary? How does it increase the beauty of the Garden of Eden?

Let’s think about it in detail. Review Sunday’s lesson — what is your favourite parallel between Eden and the Temple? Why?

Can you think of any other parallels that aren’t mentioned in Sunday’s lesson?

Before sin, God planned Eden to be His Temple — His place of interaction with humankind. The Sanctuary in Heaven will exist for eternity, long after sin is wiped out. Without Sin, what is the purpose of the Sanctuary or Temple?

To ancient ears listening to the people of God telling the Creation story to the nations around them, the “building of a temple” motif in Genesis’ Creation story would have been obvious. There was a multiplicity of god’s in the faiths around Israel. Every god had their unique temple and story — and those stories followed a pattern.
The temple of each god told the story of that god. By going to the temple of their god (or, for those who lived a long ways away, even telling the story of that temple) people were able to remember their gods and worship them because each temple was filled with reminders of the god’s story.
At the heart of each ancient temple (and thus the heart of each god’s story) was the image of that god — an idol. The worshippers knew the image was not the god but a reminder of the god. The idol was enshrined in the midst of their temple to provide an ultimate representation of their god.
The Creation story in Genesis is a work of evangelistic genius, telling the people of antiquity not only that this was the One true God — the Creator of all that is living — but that humanity, created as the crowning act and placed in the heart of the Garden Temple was created in the image of God. Therefore humans cannot worship any other image because they are, in effect, at the heart of a temple to God and in seeing themselves they are witnessing the Creative power and presence of the One true God.
How does this idea sit with you? Pull it apart, explore it.

To the ancient hearer, how would a living Garden Temple stand out from other temples they had heard about or experienced?
In the Genesis account, to what lengths did God go to insure the creation of “His image” stood out as a unique creation event?
To the ancient hearer, how would a living image stand out from the other images they had heard about or seen? What would it mean to them to recognise, that to this One true God, they, male and female, were created as His image?
When the Garden Temple was finished, how did God celebrate?
To the ancient hearer, what impact would the idea of a living temple housing a living image of the Living God have on their opinion of other gods?
How does the idea of the Garden Temple and all that it signifies, bring new purpose to your weekly Sabbath observance?
How can we use the great evangelistic message of Creation week to draw people to the God of the Garden?


God Made Flesh 

Monday’s Lesson makes a mistake that is often made. Type and antitype are confused (in the printed edition, corrected online). Type is always the copy because it is “a type” of the real thing. Antitype means “not a type” but the original. How often we as followers of Christ make the same mistake in our lives, beliefs and relationships. Continuing the Garden Temple theme, how can we ensure that we do not selfishly confuse the type (The image) — ourselves — with our Creator God, thus giving ourselves the glory for our creativity and giftedness? What other types do we over-value to the point of worshiping the image rather that the Source?

When considering the Sanctuary pattern, how might the Garden of Eden’s sinless reflection of the Sanctuary be different than the Mosaic Temple? How does Sin change the purpose of the Temple? What might the Temple in Heaven look like?

When Jesus tabernacled among us, type (humanity) intertwined with antitype (God). The image and the Source merged providing a glorious revelation of the reality of God. With this in mind, what is revealed by the following:
That Jesus, God made flesh, was a human who had “no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him” (Isaiah 53:2). Why become an average human? Why not a beautiful, majestic, shining example of perfect humanity?
That Jesus, God made flesh, said He had come to “proclaim good news to the poor. ... to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour” (Luke 4:18-19. Isaiah 61:1-2). Why did Jesus choose this text to exemplify the purpose of type meeting antitype? How does focusing ministry on the “least of these” increase the beauty of God’s image in mankind?
That Jesus, God made flesh, provided himself as the ultimate example of successfully living “in the image of God” and explained his actions, “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant [type] is greater than his master [antitype], nor is a messenger [image] greater than the one [God] who sent him” (John 13:14-16). Why should Jesus establish this act of humility be the highest declaration of image-bearing? Why not another, more glorious, act?


Imagine Heaven, image Jesus

How can the church be more “image” bearing?
It is often said, “You may be the only Jesus some people ever see.” If this is true, then you haven’t finished the work given to you! We are the type, not the anti-type. How can we ensure that the church is “Heaven on Earth” while NOT letting it become the only Heaven people ever see?
How can we balance the mission of Jesus for the healing of the individual human with the mission of God for the healing of humanity?

The Kingdom Scroll (from Chapter 13)



James sprinted behind David, putting every bit of energy he could muster into keeping up. He saw the sling start to spin. Then he saw David lunge forward, the sling cracking loudly as it whipped toward the giant and launched the stone. David put the full force of his strength and every bit of his momentum into the action. The stone flew like a rocket, directly toward the giant. David took two or three stuttered steps and then stopped, panting heavily as he watched the trajectory of the stone.

James caught up with David and fell to the ground, trying to regain his breath. He had never run that fast in his entire life. From the ground, where he lay on his back, James looked up at David just in time to see him pump his fist in the air and let out a whoop of triumph. James flipped over and jumped to his feet.

The giant was staggering backward and forward, to the left and right, drunkenly. His shield-bearer had spun around when he heard the wet thud of the stone striking Goliath’s skull and watched in horror as the behemoth of a man stumbled and fell on his face. The shield-bearer turned his gaze back to David.

David locked eyes with the shield-bearer and reached into his satchel. He shouted, menacingly, “I’ve got a little present for you, too!” His hand came out of the satchel holding a stone. He placed the stone in the sling. The huge shield fell and warbled to the ground as the man who had been holding it ran for dear life.


David laughed and put the stone back in his satchel as he walked toward the fallen giant. James walked alongside David. He could feel the energy and charisma coming from the young shepherd. This moment was the beginning of a great warrior!

....


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


28 Stories - Study 4: The Heart of the Law


Fundamental: The Law of God


Bible Story
Jesus lifted a piece of bread to his mouth as he laughed at Bartholomew’s joke. “Yes, Bart,” Jesus said, “Martha’s food has many stories to tell.”
“If it lasts long enough!” Peter said as he stuffed two pieces into his mouth at once, one with each hand. The group of disciples laughed uproariously.
“Where’s the main course?” John quipped, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone!”
Martha spoke up from the kitchen, “Well John, You’re too young to be called a man—you can’t even grow a beard! So you can live on bread alone, boy!”
Guffaws, giggles and snorts of merriment swept around the room.
“Oh, Johnny boy, she got you!” Bart said.
John shook his head, smiling. What comeback could there be to such a well-timed quip? The room quieted as the men enjoyed the bread and water.
“Jesus,” John said after washing down another piece of bread, “Why are people always trying to catch you out? I mean, it’s one thing to have humorous stabs at each other in good fun. But, it seems you get attacked from every angle by people who don’t even know you.”
“People mock what they don’t understand,” Jesus replied.
“Like today,” John continued, “That law expert came out of his dungeon of scrolls and thought he was going to nail you to the wall with his question.”
“Ah yes,” Jesus answered, “He already knew the answer. They often do. It’s the unfaced questions of the heart which really need asking.”
“That’s why you like to answer with stories, isn’t it?” Bart interjected.
Jesus nodded but Peter answered, “That story today—about the Samaritan who outdid the Jewish leaders—you really sent that scholar running back to the safety of his books!”
Everyone laughed again. “It’s true!” Bart shouted over the din, “Jesus’ stories and questions put his critics on unsure footing! They either stumble away thunderstruck or just fade back into the crowd.”
“And hopefully they have been challenged to look at their hearts,” Jesus said seriously.
The disciples focused on their Master. They had learned to recognize a teaching moment as it approached.
“They all want to minimize their effort and maximize their results,” Jesus said. “And they are wise to do so. Life’s purpose can only be achieved if we remove that which hinders and focus on that which draws the Kingdom of God closer.”
Silence filled the room as the disciples chewed on this spiritual wisdom. Finally John spoke, “You told the expert in the Law to be like the Samaritan. Is that the one thing we all must do?”
“Love your neighbor,” Jesus said. “Yes, love wastefully. Sacrifice whatever it is that stands between you and your ability to help without hesitation.”
Bart said, “Is that why, last week, you challenged that rich kid to sell all his stuff, and give the money to the poor?”
“Yes,” Jesus said. “Imagine the lives he could bless by giving generously!”
We’ve left everything behind to follow you,” Peter said. “What reward is waiting for us in the Kingdom?”
“Peter, you can have a throne,” Jesus said with a laugh, “You all can.” He lifted a mug of water, toasting the roomful of disciples, “Thrones all round.”
The disciples laughed and cheered rowdily.
“But, that’s not the point,” John said thoughtfully, “Is it?”
Jesus’ was sipping from his cup. He raised His eyebrows in agreement. The room stilled, awaiting his response.
“What is written in the Law?” Jesus replied. “How do you read it?”


My Reflection
Imagine you were a disciple sitting in the room that day. How would you have responded to Jesus’ question?

How does Jesus’ teaching about the law challenge you?


My Story
Reflect on a time in your life when someone has loved you wastefully.

Consider a time when you had the opportunity to give generously to someone. Tell that story. What feelings went through you at each point in the encounter?


My Assurance
God longs to love you wastefully. He wants other people to know you are His. What promises do these verses make regarding God’s plan for those who choose to follow Him and His law?

Deuteronomy 28:9 ~ “If you obey the commands of the Lord your God and walk in his ways, the Lord will establish you as his holy people as he swore he would do. Then all the nations of the world will see that you are a people claimed by the Lord, and they will stand in awe of you.

Hebrews 8:8-10 ~ But when God found fault with the people, he said:
“The day is coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah. This covenant will not be like the one I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand and led them out of the land of Egypt. They did not remain faithful to my covenant, so I turned my back on them,” says the Lord.
“But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day, says the Lord: I will put my laws in their minds, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.”


My Commitment
God loves you and invites you to live deeply embedded in His love. How do these verses challenge you? What do they invite you to do?

Psalm 48:8 ~ I take joy in doing your will, my God, for your instructions are written on my heart.

John 15:7-10 ~ But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father. “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.

1 John 5:3 ~ Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome.


My Outlook
God has a purpose for His Law in our hearts and our lives. What do these verses tell you about the interplay God expects between His law and His people? How does this cause you to see the world, the church and your place in both?

Matthew 5:17-19 ~ “Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved. So if you ignore the least commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God’s laws and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Ephesians 2:8-10 ~ God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.


My Response
The following statement is the 19th 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 Law of God
The great principles of God’s law are embodied in the Ten Commandments and exemplified in the life of Christ. They express God’s love, will, and purposes concerning human conduct and relationships and are binding upon all people in every age. These precepts are the basis of God’s covenant with His people and the standard in God’s judgment. Through the agency of the Holy Spirit they point out sin and awaken a sense of need for a Savior. Salvation is all of grace and not of works, but its fruitage is obedience to the Commandments. This obedience develops Christian character and results in a sense of well-being. It is an evidence of our love for the Lord and our concern for our fellow men. The obedience of faith demonstrates the power of Christ to transform lives, and therefore strengthens Christian witness.

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Bible Story
The story at the beginning of this lesson is based on Luke 10:25-42.

The Heavenly Sanctuary

As we commence studying the sanctuary for the next 13 weeks it is fitting that we spend the introductory week exploring the One on whom the Sanctuary in Heaven and on Earth is based.

How many different ways can you see Jesus in the Sanctuary?

Ask class members to recall various objects, services, materials, colours, days, people, actions and more that happened in the earthly Sanctuary. Ask how Jesus can be seen in each. The Sanctuary is a place where we can truly see and say, “Jesus All!”

While there are many, here is one website that will help you in exploring the theme of Jesus in the Sanctuary: http://www.bethelnz.co.nz/jesus_index_page.htm 

Why all the reminders of Jesus? What purpose does it serve to have this ancient memory device? Other than a memory device, what other purpose(s) does the Sanctuary, and all it entails, serve for us today?

How is the Heavenly Sanctuary important for us today?
What does the Bible teach us about Jesus’ activity in the Heavenly Sanctuary?
Every aspect of the Earthly Sanctuary was symbolic of Jesus, pointing humanity toward the expected Messiah. What direction is the Heavenly Sanctuary “facing” in it’s purpose and action? What is it leading toward? Why is this important? 

When we say, “Remember the Cross” of what are we reminding ourselves? 
How might the Heavenly Sanctuary serve to challenge us to “Remember the Second Coming”? Is it possible to remember something that has yet to happen? 

What one could define the nature of someone living with the anticipation of constantly remembering that which has yet to happen? 

Read through (or sing!) Hymn 214. What word is used here? How is this mental state one of both readiness and joy? How does the reality of the Heavenly Sanctuary provide this attitude in those who await the return of Jesus?


Listen Then Tell

As storytellers, when we enter a new telling-environment, our first job is to listen, to watch – to learn who we are speaking to. Then, once our hearers are known to us, we will know the right story to tell.

That’s the theory, any way — the best case scenario. But...

Have you ever had a student who refused to be known? 
Have you ever struggled to find the right story, the right activity, the right way to connect with a student?

I’d like share a story with you about a friend of mine who is a teacher in Tasmania. She tried for weeks to break through to a new refugee boy from Africa named was Kwami. 

I call this story: Brave Kwami.

STORY - Brave Kwame

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Read the story, then come back here for the conclusion...

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Conclusion:

To feel safe in a new environment, most people need to hear a story, not from a book, but from deep within themselves. A story that teaches both them and those around them that they are ok — more than ok, that they are amazing. It is our job, as storytellers, to listen carefully until we hear their story and then tell it back to them.

ProOatTeen Patties

Oats are a fantastic source of protein. Top these patties with a flavourful protein (like spiced chicken or flavoured tuna) and you will feel full as you watch the Kilo's fall away!
I eat two or three patties a day, an hour or two between each. Some times I break them in half, cut a chicken tender in half and have a smaller meal - this gives more small meals during the day. Keep the machine running!


Ingredients:
750 grams rolled oats
2 cups hot water
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Chilli Packet (Old El Paso brand)

Prepare

Blend oats into flour — food processor
Mix all ingredients — wooden spoon

Cover and allow to sit for 30 mins — tea towel

Cook:
Take a golfball sized handful of the dough, knead it for awhile, flatten it into a round patty
place the patty on a baking rack
When the rack is full put it in the oven 

Cook for 10 minutes at 200 degrees Celsius
Remove and rest patties
Store in an airtight container in the fridge
 

Result:
16 patties

Calories:
210 Calories per patty

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,...