Friday, December 27, 2013

28 Stories - Study 16: Eden's Wedding

Fundamental: Marriage and Family

Bible Story   

“Will you and I always be together in this beautiful garden?” Adam asked.
“The garden is your home, Adam.” Jesus answered, “But, I will come and visit.”
“I will be lonely,” Adam looked at the ground, thinking aloud. “I need someone like me. I cannot laugh, plan, love or fully enjoy nature’s beauty by myself.”
“It is not good for man to be alone,” Jesus said.
Adam’s head snapped up and he looked into Jesus’ eyes, “You were already aware of this?”
“Yes,” Jesus smiled. “I was just waiting for you to ask! Follow me.” The Creator led Adam back to the patch of clay where the day had begun. He gestured at the remaining clay, “My shadow is only half finished. Lay down.”
Adam returned to the clay he had risen from at daybreak. Lying down, he closed his eyes and was soon asleep. Jesus knelt between Adam and the remainder of the lanky clay man. He quickly gathered the clay into a pile.
Jesus reached over and pulled away a chunk of Adam’s side. He pushed the chunk of Adam into the pile of clay. It turned into clay and become one with the pile. He spoke to the sleeping Adam, “The woman is both my shadow and your desire. You are part of each other, forever.”
The Creator closed the wound on Adam’s side with a rubbing motion and then turned to forming a new body—a woman—smaller than Adam. After some time, Jesus sat back on his heals. He had finished. He reached over and shook Adam. Adam’s eyes fluttered open and he sat up. He looked over at the clay form next to him. He turned his head sideways, not understanding.
“She’s not alive,” Adam said. “Can you give her life?”
Jesus nodded and leaned over the clay woman’s face. He took a deep breath and spoke life into her. The woman’s eyes fluttered open and looked into God’s. She smiled. Jesus put a hand under her back and lifted her into a sitting position.
Adam was speechless. He had never seen anything so beautiful! He tried a number of times to speak, but couldn’t get words to form on his dry lips. His tongue seemed to be stuck to the roof of his mouth. He swallowed a couple of times and then startled everyone as he began to sing:
Bone of my bones, flesh of my flesh.
Without you beside me, I would be less.
I named the beasts of the land and the birds of the air,
but the name you deserve must suit beauty most fair.
I’ll call you ‘woman.’ For from ‘man’ you were made.
I’ll name you ‘Eve.’ You emerged from God’s shade.
From shadow and breath, we both have been born.
Of all Creation, we’re God’s most adored.
As he sang, Adam faced the same direction as Eve, looking into the Garden of Eden. His voice was rich, deep and beautiful. When he got to the part where he named his wife, Adam stood to his feet, faced Eve and held his hands out to her. She grasped them and stood. The couple faced each other, holding hands, until the end of Adam’s song. As Adam sang the last word, they embraced and turned their faces toward their Creator.
Jesus wiped a tear from his eye. He stood silently in front of His two children. Adam and Eve faced their God, waiting for Him to speak.
“Adam,” Jesus said, “Will you take this woman, Eve, to complete you?”
Adam smiled the widest smile his face could handle. “Yes! She is everything I was hoping for, and more!”
“And you, Eve,” the Creator continued, facing His newest creation, “Is Adam acceptable to you?”
Eve blinked her eyes a few times—startled—she had never fathomed such a question could even exist. She spoke, “My heart is so full of love for this man, there is barely room for a thought of anything else!”
“From this moment forward,” Jesus said with an air of eternal authority, “You are one. One in heart. One in mind. One in body.” The Creator took a huge breath—just as he had when breathing life into each of them—and breathed humanity’s first marriage into being. “What I have joined, let nothing separate!”
Jesus stepped forward and embraced the happy couple. Then turning toward the Garden, He said, “Follow me, I have so much to show you!”

My Reflection

What would it have been like to be there that day? Imagine that you were part of a select group of people taken back in time to be the wedding party for Adam and Eve. Use your imagination and describe the experience in detail. What would have stood out as unique? What would have seemed familiar? What would you talk about at the reception?

My Story

Have you ever had someone who made a fuss over you because they loved you? How did it feel? What do you remember most about that occasion?

Have you ever made something special for someone? What was it? How did you give it to them? How did they respond?

My Assurance

God has a holy plan for couples and families. What promises do you see in these verses? How do our relationships affect these promises?

Genesis 2: 18, 21-22 ~ Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.” So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep. While the man slept, the Lord God took out one of the man’s ribs and closed up the opening. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib, and he brought her to the man.

Exodus 20:12 ~ Honor your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

1 Corinthians 7:10-11 ~ But for those who are married, I have a command that comes not from me, but from the Lord. A wife must not leave her husband. But if she does leave him, let her remain single or else be reconciled to him. And the husband must not leave his wife.

My Commitment

Marriages and families are very precious to God. Relationships are so important, that God has given clear advice on how to maintain them. What commitments do these verses challenge you to make?

Ephesians 6:1-4 ~ Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord, for this is the right thing to do. “Honor your father and mother.” This is the first commandment with a promise: If you honor your father and mother, “things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth”. Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.

Genesis 2: 24 ~ This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.

2 Corinthians 6:14 ~ Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers. How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness?

Matthew 19:8-9 ~ Jesus replied, “Moses permitted divorce only as a concession to your hard hearts, but it was not what God had originally intended. And I tell you this, whoever divorces his wife and marries someone else commits adultery—unless his wife has been unfaithful.

My Outlook

The world is a very distracting and potentially destructive place. If we see our relationships through God’s eyes, we realise how special they are. How do these verses help you see the plan God has for His people and the way they will live their lives?

Deuteronomy 6:5-9 ~ And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Ephesians 5:31-33 ~ As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.” This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one. So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

Proverbs 22:6 ~ Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.

My Response

The following statement is the 23rd 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?

Marriage and Family

Marriage was divinely established in Eden and affirmed by Jesus to be a lifelong union between a man and a woman in loving companionship. For the Christian a marriage commitment is to God as well as to the spouse, and should be entered into only between partners who share a common faith. Mutual love, honour, respect, and responsibility are the fabric of this relationship, which is to reflect the love, sanctity, closeness, and permanence of the relationship between Christ and His church. Regarding divorce, Jesus taught that the person who divorces a spouse, except for fornication, and marries another, commits adultery. Although some family relationships may fall short of the ideal, marriage partners who fully commit themselves to each other in Christ may achieve loving unity through the guidance of the Spirit and the nurture of the church. God blesses the family and intends that its members shall assist each other toward complete maturity. Parents are to bring up their children to love and obey the Lord. By their example and their words they are to teach them that Christ is a loving disciplinarian, ever tender and caring, who wants them to become members of His body, the family of God. Increasing family closeness is one of the earmarks of the final gospel message.

Bible Story

You can find the Creation story in Genesis 1-3.

Further Reading

John 2; Ephesians 5:21-33; Malachi 4:5-6.

Friday, December 20, 2013

28 Stories - Study 15: Very Good

Fundamental: Creation

Bible Story   

The sixth day of Creation week emerged as a beautiful cool morning. The sun, rising in the east, shone on the Creator’s back forming a long wispy shadow in front of Him. He seemed to be studying His shadow with a concerted effort. The corners of His mouth turned up in a gentle smile. As the smile spread across the Creator’s face, the area where His shadow fell and a border area around His shadow, turned to reddish dirt. It was as if the grass had parted to allow the soil to see the sun.
The part of the new patch of red dirt covered by God’s shadow began to bulge. It was as if His shadow were taking shape. The red earth was rising to meet the shadow of its Maker. Soon there was a very long, stretched out form on the ground—a three dimensional copy of the Creator’s elongated shadow.
God’s smile slowly faded and the soil stopped rising. Walking to the far side of the dirt figure, he knelt next to it. He pointed His right finger and pushed it gently into the dirt—at the spot where the belly button would be if the man on the ground were real. His finger sunk into the dirt, turning it to clay.
From where His finger had created the navel, the Creator drew a line up the middle of the clay body—proceeding to the top of the figure’s head. There was now a line dividing the clay man in half. The Creator dug his hands into the line and pulled half of the clay away. Now there were two piles of clay—one that looked like half of a very tall, very skinny person—and the pile now being formed into something new.
The hands of God formed a new clay man, this one smaller and proportioned more like a normal person. As a final touch, He pushed his finger into the figure’s middle, making a belly button. When He finished, the Creator sat back on His heals and admired His work. He smiled, happy with His creation.
Then He took a breath. Of course, He had been breathing all along but this was a very deep, very long and very special breath. The Creator—the giver of life—leaned forward and put His mouth above the clay man’s mouth. Then He breathed out. As He exhaled, His lips moved, forming a word. It was a long drawn out word, taking the entire breath. It was the word ‘Spirit’ and it did something amazing to the clay man.
The red clay went shiny. The shininess changed to a soft skin-like substance. Then the reddish color deepened to reveal a tanned muscular human. The man sat up. The first thing he saw was the face of God.
Jesus smiled a winning smile and said, “Adam, my son, you were formed by my hands and brought to life by my Spirit, which I give to you in every breath.”
Adam opened his mouth; speech came easily to him, “Thank you, my Creator. You are my everything!”
Jesus extended a hand to Adam and helped him to his feet. Then draping His arm across the shoulders of His new creation, the two of them looked out over the glorious Garden of Eden. The sun shone full from behind them causing the river and everything beyond to shimmer and shine in it’s reflected brilliance.
The Creator spoke, turning to place His free hand on the man’s chest, “Adam, you are but shadow and breath,” and then with a sweeping gesture taking in all that was before them, He finished, “And yet, for you the universe was made!”
Jesus and Adam walked through the Garden. Jesus explained to Adam the amazing things that had taken place in the last six days. The entire world around them had taken shape—light, land, sea, sun, moon, rivers, trees, day and night.
Then Jesus said, “But today is special, Adam! Today I created and named you.”
“And I thank you,” Adam said. “I am greatly honoured to live in your paradise and care for your Creation.”
“And I am honoured to have you as my servant,” Jesus answered. “Serve me faithfully—with all your heart, all your mind and all your soul—and you will be fulfilled and happy.”

My Reflection

Imagine what it would have been like to be Adam on the day of his creation. What questions would you have asked God?

What would you have been most interested in: the garden, animals, yourself, God’s creative power, something else?

My Story

Have you ever made something from scratch? What was it? What resources did you need? What tools were necessary? Did you succeed? Was it difficult?

Imagine being able to create anything by just speaking. What would you speak into existence?

Why do you think God used His hands to make Adam? What does this act tell us about God?  What does it tell us about ourselves?

My Assurance

The Bible reveals where this world and everything on it came from. What promises do the following verses make to us and our understanding of God’s involvement in our lives?

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

Genesis 2: 7 ~ Then the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person.

Psalm 33:6 ~ The Lord merely spoke, and the heavens were created. He breathed the word, and all the stars were born.

My Commitment

Just as God used His power to create us and His grace to save us, he has a role for us to play in the life and well-being of planet Earth and its inhabitants. How do these verses challenge you to treat all that God has made?

Genesis 1:27-18 ~ 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.”

Hebrews 11:3 ~ By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen.

Exodus 20:11 ~ For in six days the Lord made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and everything in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy.

My Outlook

What do these verses reveal about God’s connection to his Creation? How does God feel about us? How does He feel about the Earth He created? How does this impact the way we see the world and interact with it?

Genesis 1:31 ~ Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good!

Psalm 19:1-4 ~ The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known. They speak without a sound or word; their voice is never heard. Yet their message has gone throughout the earth, and their words to all the world.

My Response

The following statement is the 6th 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 is Creator of all things, and has revealed in Scripture the authentic account of His creative activity. In six days the Lord made “the heaven and the earth” and all living things upon the earth, and rested on the seventh day of that first week. Thus He established the Sabbath as a perpetual memorial of His completed creative work. The first man and woman were made in the image of God as the crowning work of Creation, given dominion over the world, and charged with responsibility to care for it. When the world was finished it was “very good,” declaring the glory of God.

Bible Story

You can find the Creation story in Genesis 1-3.

Further Reading

Genesis 1, Genesis 2

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Toy Extravaganza - Northpoint Church

On Sunday afternoon, December 8, volunteers at the Northpoint Church ran a Toy Extravaganza which provided toys for 170 community children from families who receive food parcels throughout the year. Over 400 people enjoyed the carnival atmosphere with petting zoo, craft, jumping castle, balloons, face-painting, carols, storytelling, BBQ dinner and, for each child, a visit to the toy room where they were able to choose a toy that suited them. Every child was guided to the area of toys for their age by a child volunteer from Northpoint.

Approximately two thousand dollars worth of toys were donated for the event to ensure every child had something for Christmas. Each child was also given a lolly bag so the joy of the event would last longer in their memory. Event coordinator Avril Duncan said, “It was a truly amazing experience to see Northpoint along with the community having fun. We have received a lot of feedback and it has all been good.”

This year’s Toy Extravaganza follows the inaugural one last year and sets a tradition that Northpoint intends to continue into the future.  Avril said, “I don’t know what we are going to do next year to make it better than this year. This year was so wonderfully successful!” Avril is very appreciative of the 30 adults and 10 children from Northpoint Church who volunteered, making the day possible.

Every food parcel, Bible study, church program, community event and relationship formed at Northpoint Church is part of a process of bringing people one step closer to God’s intention for their life. The day before the event this year, Sussan Nguyen, a food parcel recipient who first visited Northpoint Church at last year’s Toy Extravaganza, was baptised into Northpoint Church. Near the end of this year’s event, a community member asked how he could become a volunteer involved at Northpoint.

Many of the people in the 43 suburbs around Melbourne who receive food parcels are refugees from war torn countries. Pastor Daron Pratt, balloon man for the day, reflected on the pain evident in the faces of many refugees who attended the event. “It was a blessing to bring a smile to the faces of people who had gone through such suffering,” he said. 

When asked why Northpoint Church ran the Toy Extravaganza, Pastor Loren Pratt said, “While there is even one sad and lonely child who is going to miss the joy of Christmas we have to keep dreaming bigger and better Toy Extravaganzas.”

Carol’s singer Kini Salavuki said, “I am proud to be a Northpointer and also happy that I belong to the church that touches people’s lives. Now that’s Heaven on earth.” 

Pastor Daron Pratt, brother of the Northpoint Church Pastor, reflected on the event saying, “Today I saw Jesus...The NorthPoint Centre adults and children who gave their all to bring a little bit of joy to 170 children and their parents was amazing to witness. I have never in my whole ministry seen any evangelistic effort work as well as this!”

Friday, December 13, 2013

28 Stories - Study 14: On Holy Ground

Fundamental: The Lord’s Supper

Bible Story   

Ecstatic, the new Naaman put on his clothes and armour, mounted his horse and headed back to the Prophet’s house at a full gallop. This time Elisha came out of his house and was very welcoming and friendly. Naaman stood before Elisha, and said, “Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel. So please accept a gift from your servant.” He gestured to the wagons which held the payment for his healing—750 pounds of silver, 150 pounds of gold, and ten sets of clothing. Elisha’s answer was beyond understanding, “As surely as the Lord lives, whom I serve, I will not accept any gifts.”
Naaman tried everything to change the Prophet’s mind, but Elisha refused saying, “What are you paying me for? I have done nothing!”
“But you healed me of Leprosy!” Naaman argued.
“No I didn’t,” Elisha quipped. “I’ve never seen you before in my life! If you’ve been healed it’s because God saw fit to heal you!”
“But I came to your door,” Naaman replied. “And your servant gave me a message from you, that I was to wash in the river and be healed!”
Elisha crossed his arms and said, “That was a message from the Lord, not me! I can’t heal anyone from anything. Only God can do such things!”
 Slowly Naaman began to get the picture.  Elisha wanted no reward because he hadn’t done anything—other than deliver a message from the God “whom he served.”
God had healed Naaman. This God—the God of his slave girl—truly was the one true God and had an honest-to-goodness prophet! Naaman understood. It was God who was worthy of thanks.
But how? His chariots loaded with treasure looked insignificant now. How do you thank a God that has everything? Perhaps by thinking outside the box.
Naaman’s next statement, a request of Elisha, was very odd indeed. “Please allow me to load two of my mules with earth from this place, and I will take it back home with me.”
Imagine the confusion that now settled on Elisha, and all the servants. Dirt? Naaman wants to dig up a pile of dirt from the prophet’s front yard and take it home? Has he gone mad? What is he going to do with two mules worth of dirt?
Naaman answered their unspoken question. “From now on I will never again offer burnt offerings or sacrifices to any other god except the Lord.”  How do you thank a true God for His providence? Naaman had discovered the answer—worship.
Elisha realised the beauty and innocence of the request. It was a beautiful thing that Naaman was suggesting. He would take a bit of Israel home with him and worship Israel’s God on the prophet’s land, every day. Elisha nodded his agreement and Naaman’s servants loaded up the mules. Then, with many thank-you’s and well wishes, Naaman headed home.
Imagine the scene as they ride back into Naaman’s property in Aram. His wife and servant girl are longing to see if the master is healed. They run out to meet him. They embrace his perfectly healthy arms and legs. They rejoice. But they can see that something else is on his mind.
“Make a pile over there,” Naaman says to his men pointing at a central spot in the front yard. They take the bags off the mules and pour out the dirt. Imagine the thoughts of his wife and servant girl. Naaman has been healed of leprosy and he is excited about a gardening project? He took time to bring home a huge pile of dirt?
 “Dirt from the Prophet’s front yard!” he excitedly explains to his wife and slave girl. Then he forms the Prophet’s dirt, now in his own front yard, into a flat area and builds an altar—like he’s seen in Israel—to the one true God. Not only has Naaman been healed, he has found a God worth taking home.
Every day he brings his offerings to the altar. He sacrifices to the God of Israel. Neighbours walk by and stare. Naaman explains again, “It’s dirt from the Prophet of the one true God—Israel’s God—who healed me from leprosy!”
And everyday, as he makes his sacrifices—as he kneels in worship—he is not alone. He is joined by someone very special to him, someone who saved his life, a servant girl who taught him humility. She kneels too—on home soil—and worships the God she has always loved.

My Reflection

Imagine you were Naaman’s little servant girl. A few days ago you found out he was dying. You said he should go see the prophet and he listened to you. And now, here he is, completely healed! What would you be feeling?

Imagine watching him build the altar and hearing him say that this soil was holy ground from the Prophet’s yard. Then he invites you to worship his new God—your God—with him! What would be going through your heart and mind?

My Story

Have you ever been in a place where you felt it was holy ground or a holy time? Perhaps it was a worship service. Or a quiet walk in nature. Where were you? What was the holy ground experience?

What events in Biblical history are holy times or places that we still honour today? What events or activities can we be involved in to transport us back to those special times of worship?

My Assurance

Jesus left us with a symbolic meal to remember Him by. He left us a way to go on to holy ground and worship the memory of His presence on Earth. What do these verses tell you about that meal and what it means to believers?

Revelation 3:20 ~ Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.

Matthew 26:26-29 ~ As they were eating, Jesus took some bread and blessed it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “Take this and eat it, for this is my body.” And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them and said, “Each of you drink from it, for this is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice to forgive the sins of many. Mark my words—I will not drink wine again until the day I drink it new with you in my Father’s Kingdom.”

John 6:48-51 ~ Yes, I am the bread of life! Your ancestors ate manna in the wilderness, but they all died. Anyone who eats the bread from heaven, however, will never die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and this bread, which I will offer so the world may live, is my flesh.”

My Commitment

Communion, also called The Lord’s Supper, is a time when we restate our commitment to follow Jesus. According to these verses, how does this recommitment impact our life in real ways?

1 Corinthians 10:16-17 ~ When we bless the cup at the Lord’s Table, aren’t we sharing in the blood of Christ? And when we break the bread, aren’t we sharing in the body of Christ? And though we are many, we all eat from one loaf of bread, showing that we are one body.

1 Corinthians 11:27-29 ~ So anyone who eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord unworthily is guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. That is why you should examine yourself before eating the bread and drinking the cup. For if you eat the bread or drink the cup without honoring the body of Christ, you are eating and drinking God’s judgment upon yourself.

John 13:3-5, 14, 15 ~ Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him. . . . since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you.

My Outlook

The Last Supper gives us a consistent reminder of where we are headed and who is coming to get us. How do these verses give you a hope for the future and a reason for living for Christ until He comes?

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

John 6:54 ~ Anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise that person at the last day.

John 13:17 ~ Now that you know these things, God will bless you for doing them.

My Response

The following statement is the 16th 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 Lord’s Supper

The Lord’s Supper is a participation in the emblems of the body and blood of Jesus as an expression of faith in Him, our Lord and Saviour. In this experience of communion Christ is present to meet and strengthen His people. As we partake, we joyfully proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes again. Preparation for the Supper includes self-examination, repentance, and confession. The Master ordained the service of foot washing to signify renewed cleansing, to express a willingness to serve one another in Christlike humility, and to unite our hearts in love. The communion service is open to all believing Christians.

Bible Story

The Biblical story of Naaman can be found in 2 Kings 5.

Further Reading

Matthew 26:17-30, John 13:1-17

Sunday, December 08, 2013

The truth behind the diet guru's claims

Wow, it's been awhile since I've given a health update. Just looked at the date of the last post - Oct 11. Well, sorry! Here I am, back for an update.

I've only lost one kilogram.... this week. And one the last. And one before that. One kilo a week for 19 weeks! I'm in the middle of my 19th week and on track to loose another kilo by Wednesday, my weigh in/record it day.

You know those diet guru's that say, "Loose all the weight you want by eating what you want!" and then dance around like skinny show ponies proclaiming their amazing program in a hoarse throaty voice? Well, I've discovered the truth in their claim. And, I'm going to give it to you now, for free.

When you eat to fuel your body, rather than to please your cravings, for long enough — you no longer desire food that doesn't help you be healthy.

Right now, it's the "end of year party" season. I've been to quite a few parties celebrating the year — and there are plenty of unhealthy options. My eyes skip right over them now. In a subconscious way, my mind looks for what it needs. Good fuel. And when it finds it, my hand reaches out and puts a small portion on my plate. I am eating what I want whenever I want and loosing a kilo a week. 

Here's the key: Feed your body what it needs for 6 weeks. The first 3 will be hard. The second 3 will be a bit easier because you see the effects of the healthy lifestyle and because your mind and body are appreciating the fuel they are getting. Your thinking will become clearer. Your energy level will become heightened. Your sleep patterns will regulate. Your moods will become balanced. These things work together to increase your self-control to levels you've never experienced.

And then, one day, you'll realise you are not thinking about the way you eat. You're just eating what you want when you want. And getting healthy. Because, you have retrained your mind and body to treat food as fuel rather than rewards. That's what has happened to me. I do not plan my meals for the day or week anymore. I do not consider - where will I find the option, today? I just don't see the unhealthy options as food. They are not what I want, at all.

Health benefits I have noticed:

I can walk up stairs or a steep hill and not be puffed at the top. My body is able to carry it's weight with pleasure rather than struggle. This also means I am more willing to walk which again increases my fitness. People who have never been obese will never understand this: Fat people do not avoid exercise because they are lazy. I was exercising just getting out of a chair, walking from the car to the shops/office, standing for a long time or walking a stage during a performance. Being fat is hard work! It is taxing for both mind and body. Loosing weight is a blessing in so many more ways that just 'looking good'.

I love doing physical work. I used to avoid too much exertion when I was around other people because it made me sweat, pant and look flushed. It also took my pulse, breathing and body a long time to recover. So, a little hard work and I would look like I'd run a marathon. I hated that. So, I only did physical labour around the house, occasionally. Not good for health! Now, I love loading crates of food in the van for Northpoint, carrying boxes of food to people's doors (which often includes carrying it up a flight of steep/narrow stairs to people in budget apartments), mowing the lawn, going for walks, and even working out with weights. I have rediscovered the Davy of my youth who loved being active.

I can perform on stage for 30 minutes without pouring sweat. For years, I have been trying various ways to calm myself before and during stage performances (preaching, storytelling, etc) because I always look like I've just come up from under water. I'm a sweater, always have been. So is my Dad and he is fit and healthy. But, he sweats when he's exercising, not when he's telling a story! And now the same is true for me!

I am sleeping much better. I do not toss and turn during the night. When I do need to turn over, I do it with ease rather than struggling to turn over because of my bulk. I require much less sleep now that I'm not snoring the fat-man snore or needing to get up for the toilet at 3am (because of overeating in the evenings).  I go to bed between 10 and 11 each night and am up between 6 and 7.

My motorcycle loves me. I rode to Ringwood and Revive churches yesterday. 19 kilo's less, means faster acceleration, better flexibility for getting on and off the bike, better control of the cornering and start/stop/accelerating when the body needs to be tight and ready, and a better profile for the all important long stares of awe and respect from passersby.  lol

As a side effect of not being an unhealthy fuel provider, my family is getting fitter too! They are all lean, fit and energetic.

And, as an added bonus, people are noticing and affirming my success. Work mates who only see me once a month or less are surprised and comment "Wow, who are you?" My kids are proud of me. They are always talking about how good I am doing. Rachael hugs me and overlaps her hands, grabbing her wrists, then she says, "WOW Dad! I can remember when I couldn't touch hands around you!" And Jenny shakes her head and says, "You are amazing! You are really doing it. You look great!"

Friday, December 06, 2013

28 Stories - Study 13: Humble Thyself

Fundamental: Baptism

Bible Story 

When Naaman arrived at the prophet’s door—a moment he had been imagining and anticipating with every step of the journey—he was devastated by the brazen reception he received. The prophet refused to come to the door. He wouldn’t even speak to Naaman through the door. Clearly, Naaman thought, I am too unclean to even be spoken too by this holy man.
His disappointment turned to anger when a servant came out with a message from Elisha: “Go and wash yourself seven times in the Jordan River. Then your skin will be restored, and you will be healed of your leprosy.”  
Naaman’s ultimate moment of testing had arrived. He was a man of protocol and procedure. He was respectable and expected to be treated as such. Naaman was irate. He began to lash out, “I thought he would certainly come out to meet me! I expected him to wave his hand over the leprosy and call on the name of the Lord his God and heal me!” 
Naaman took the Prophet’s message and abrupt dismissal as a direct insult. Of all the things he had imagined about meeting a miracle-working prophet, he had never considered he would be refused an audience and told to go take a bath. 
He got on his horse, turned toward home, and whipped his steed into a frenzy, galloping away from the most embarrassing situation he had ever faced. As he furiously rode, he may have escaped the prophet’s land he couldn’t escape the prophet’s words. Do I look like I need a bath? Am I dirty? Naaman fumed to himself. How many rivers do we have at home that put this muddy Jordan to shame?!? If I want to wash, I’ll wash in a clean river!
Finally, as his horse began to tire, Naaman slowed. His men caught up and rode along side him. Hardened men of war, they had fought many battles together. They loved their commander but were uncomfortable with his decision to flee from the prophet’s command. Naaman’s men challenged him to consider the possibility of what the Prophet had said—what if it works? Why not wash and see? “Sir, if the prophet had told you to do something very difficult, wouldn’t you have done it? So you should certainly obey him when he says simply, ‘Go and wash and be cured!’” 
They were right. If Elisha had asked Naaman to bring him the heads of 100 enemies of Israel, he would have willingly done it. Such a task is befitting of a great general. But to wash? It was so menial. It wasn’t as if Naaman hadn’t tried to wash the spots off. He had spent countless hours furiously picking, scraping and washing his sores—hoping. But to no avail. Could the prophet’s promise really be possible? Elisha’s message had been, “Go and wash yourself seven times in the Jordan River. Then your skin will be restored . . .” 
What if? What if his men were right? What if he was just being proud and obstinate? What if the prophet’s words were true? What if he washed and it worked?
 It sounded so simple—too simple, in fact. The words of his men exposed to him the truth of his feelings. He was offended by the Prophet, not so much by the treatment at the door, but by the treatment of his pride. He was a man of substance. Not a dirty vagabond. He may have leprosy, but he wasn’t about to act dirty. He came to pay for a proper healing, not be told to go have a bath. It was unthinkable. Or, was it?
Naaman, broken by the realisation of his pride, rode off the path to the river’s edge. During his angry tirade, he had been riding along the river, forcing himself to ignore its presence. Only now, in his humbled state, did he consider it for what it really was—a baptismal font able to purify him from his leprosy and perhaps even more. 
At the water’s edge, Naaman slowly removed his armor, his clothes and his pride. His men were shocked to see the extent of his illness—he was covered in the marks of leprosy. Naaman walked into the deepest part of the river and lowered himself completely under. Immediately he stood to his full height, examining the sores on his body. They were still there. Again he lowered himself. Again no change. 
When he came up the seventh time, the glimmer of healthy white skin captured his gaze. He ran his hands over his entire body, searching for any remnant of the hated disease. There was none. He was spotless! Naaman whooped with joy, and shouted to his men, “It worked! I am healed!” 

My Reflection

Put yourself in Naaman’s place. How would you have been feeling when Elisha refused to see you and told you to go wash seven times in the river?

How would you have felt when your men told you they thought it would be easy to do what the prophet said? What was making it difficult? What would make it easy?

How would you have felt when you came up out of the water the first time and nothing had changed?

What about the 5th and 6th time?

How would you have felt when you realised you were actually healed?

My Story

Have you ever been too proud to listen to someone’s advice? How did that story in your life finish? 

Can you think of a time when you gave in, humbled yourself, and saw good things happen because of your decision? How did that experience shape you? 

Is there something in your life that you changed even though it was hard? Describe the struggle. What were the results?

My Assurance

While baptism is a public symbol of the personal commitment we have made to Jesus, it is also much more. Have a look at these verses. What blessings come with baptism? How does baptism change a person’s nature?

Acts 2:38 ~ Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

Romans 6:5, 6 ~ Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was. We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin.

Acts 22:16 ~ What are you waiting for? Get up and be baptized. Have your sins washed away by calling on the name of the Lord.

My Commitment
Baptism is the first public step in God “creating a clean heart” in His people. Read these verses. How do they challenge you to live a different life? What does life “in Christ” look like?

Romans 6:1-4 ~ Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.

Colossians 2:12-13 ~ For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead. You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins.

My Outlook

Baptism is only the beginning. The rest of the Christian life is about seeing the world as Christ sees it and ministering to the needs revealed to you. What do these verses say about the lifestyle and activity of a fully committed Christian? 

Acts 16:30-33 ~ Then he brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, along with everyone in your household.” And they shared the word of the Lord with him and with all who lived in his household. Even at that hour of the night, the jailer cared for them and washed their wounds. Then he and everyone in his household were immediately baptized.

Matthew 29:19-20 ~ Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

My Response

The following statement is the 15th 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?


By baptism we confess our faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and testify of our death to sin and of our purpose to walk in newness of life. Thus we acknowledge Christ as Lord and Saviour, become His people, and are received as members by His church. Baptism is a symbol of our union with Christ, the forgiveness of our sins, and our reception of the Holy Spirit. It is by immersion in water and is contingent on an affirmation of faith in Jesus and evidence of repentance of sin. It follows instruction in the Holy Scriptures and acceptance of their teachings.

Bible Story

The Biblical story of Naaman can be found in 2 Kings 5.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Revelation for Children

I recently received an email from a parent which made me think again about Children and the book of Revelation. I get asked similar questions quite regularly and thought it might be of benefit to share the short discussion here:

Hi Pr Edgren,

I have an 8 year old son who has read each of your scroll books and really wishes you could write another! My son is always reading revelation in his spare time and wants bible studies, not necessarily for baptism but to study God's Word. He often finds that because he is younger it isn't considered that he is old enough for bible studies. So I guess why I'm emailing you is to see if you have any suggestions on any materials or more books about revelation that he can read or that I can read with him. 

Thank you for the using the gifts God gave you in such an awesome and inspiring way especially for kids.

*name supplied


How exciting! Thanks for telling me about your son enjoying my books! I love to hear such things. :)

A few years ago, I was talking with Jon Pauline about a good strategy for writing a series of books about Revelation for children. Jon is a one of the best Revelation scholars I know and a wonderful Adventist Christian. 

I had said, “Jon, I want to make a version of Revelation for Children.” 

Jon said something that has stuck with me for years. “Dave,” he said, “tell them to read the book of John. John is Revelation for young Christians. John comes first! Then Revelation.”

He didn’t say kids couldn’t understand Revelation. And I know they can because the Serpent Scroll is loved by children and has a big section from Revelation. But, his point is well made. John is filled with stories about Jesus and leads beautifully into a study of Revelation. 

What about reading the book of John together, first?



~ ~ ~ restorying faith & values ~ ~ ~

                  Dave Edgren
     Story: teller, author & trainer

My website filled with stories, videos and more:

Jon Pauline’s website:             

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,...