DJD331 - Silent Scribbles

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Scripture: 

Matthew 13:10-15

Starting Question:

When was a time you had to learn something the hard way?

Silent Scribbles

In the past two years and three months, I have gained a new and deeper understanding of the stories Jesus directed at religious leaders. When I was a pastor, I believed these stories were speaking of other people - not me. Now, after a season of deep repentance, I see how blind I was to Jesus’ view of my spiritual identity. 

Due to my failings, I’ve been able to see these stories from a different perspective. And, in a way, I’m glad for the experience. Because of my sin, I lost my ordination and job and was required to spend a year in spiritual exile. I was allowed no form of leadership: public speaking, Sabbath School, worship, etc. - I could attend, but not lead. This caused a total spiritual realignment. Rather than letting my giftedness go stale, I invested my leadership and spiritual energy into my family. This was a very good thing!

During my year of censure, we experienced love and compassion at church week-to-week from local members and online daily from Christians globally. Our local church embraced and included my family. They were gentle with me in my wounded state. In short, they loved us.  Juxtaposing this outflowing of love with the overwhelming stony silence I experienced from previous mentors and friends in ministry made the difference all the more dramatic. 

In January 2015 my censure ended. I spent this second year investing in Sabbath School and Worship at church. The denominational leadership maintained their silence except to require a partial continuance of my censure - five years of ‘no preaching during the divine hour.’

At the beginning of 2016, having become a still pond rather than a flowing stream, I was in need of a spiritual outlet. Still engaged in personal Bible reading and study, I was becoming like the Dead Sea - stagnant and toxic. To become fresh and flowing again, like the Sea of Galilee, I began writing the Daily Jesus Devotional. I sent out a bulk email - to friends and family asking them to read and share the posts that touched them. In response, the church family again shone brightly, sponsoring and encouraging the project. Previous workmates however, seeing my hand reaching out for help, broke their silence in a completely unexpected way.

I started to understand, in full living colour, Jesus’ story about the beaten man on the side of the road. The previously silent priests and Levites began whispering as they stepped around me, "Someone else will help you, Dave. I can't be seen to be seen with you." One called because, he said, he didn’t want to put it into print. Another risked an email to say that a time when I would be worthy of positive public mention was outside the scope of his imagination. 

All hope is not lost - there are many good Samaritans. Alongside the Christian camp, the mixed multitude - my new workmates, employers and friends - have picked me up without even knowing it. Just because that’s what they would want done for them.

In all fairness, I have received kind words from the occasional pastor. Thanks for your thoughtfulness. These conversations usually reflect regret that the Seventh-day Adventist Church has no strategy for reconciling fallen pastors. Perhaps Jesus spent so much time haranguing religious leaders so they would see that policy and procedure are pointless when dealing with confessed sin. Indeed, His constant niggling kept their attention focused on Him until the moment they saw that the pathway to reconciliation is always cross-shaped. This counter-intuitive recognition comes soaked in the tears of those crumpled beneath the Cross. 

I've gained a deeper understanding of another of Jesus’ parables - that of the returned prodigal. I am he. I did wrong. Desperate wrong. I wasted the resources and gifts the Father gave me. And, when I came home dirty and empty handed, the Father embraced me - faster and more fervently than I expected! As did my family and church family. But, the older brother - returning from his work in the field - shakes his head at the Father’s foolish love for a wayward child and the wild celebration happening in the House. 

I remember shaking my head at such things, not so long ago. 

There is another story - not told by Jesus but lived by Him - about a person caught in sin by religious leaders, dragged to Jesus and thrown in front of Him for judgment. Our Lord drove those self-righteous men away and whispered to the broken one, “You’ll get no condemnation from me. Now go live, leaving sin behind!” Jesus has lived this story again and again with every one of His disciples between then and now. 

Perhaps, the absence of my accusers is due to silent words scribbled by Jesus in dusty places. I really don’t know. But, what I do know is that I am deeply grateful to our Lord for His love and His ever-present handwriting on my softening heart.

If you are part of the body of Christ - thank you for loving us as you would want to be loved if thrown at Jesus’ feet. You know, there is no better place to be thrown!

And if you are one of the religious leaders, an older brother, thanks for stopping alongside the path for a quiet chat. It felt good to be noticed. I'll be in the House, if you're looking for me.


Reflection Question:
Story is always biased by the teller. What is told and what is left out is up to the one sharing. How do you feel about the telling of this testimony? Does it seem bitter or sweet? Arrogant or humble? Loving or angry? Does it bring anything to mind from your life? Write me an email. I'd love to hear your story.

Prayer time:
Before you pray together, ask: What would you like to say to Jesus today?

DJD330 - Light of the World

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Scripture: 

John 8:12

Starting Questions:
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?

Light of the World

** Continued from Caught in the Act yesterday **

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.”

Reflection Question:
The children's chant says, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." Is this true? How do we stone people with our words? How does Jesus reply when someone is brought to Him for judgment and punishment? 

Prayer time:
Before you pray together, ask: What would you like to say to Jesus today?

DJD329 - Caught In the Act

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Scripture: 

2 Corinthians 4:18

Starting Question:

Have you ever been caught doing something you knew was wrong? How did it feel to be found out?

Caught In the Act

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?”

** Continued in Light of the World tomorrow **

Reflection Question:
Imagine being the woman in this story. What do you think she expected? How does today's text give a hint as to what, knowing Jesus, we can expect when caught in sin and thrown at the feet of Jesus?

Prayer time:
Before you pray together, ask: What would you like to say to Jesus today?


DJD328 - John's Baptism

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Scripture: 

Ephesians 4:4-6

Starting Question:

What does this verse reveal about God and His desire for the World? What can we do to make it a reality?

John's Baptism

** Continued from John's Message yesterday **

“What should we do?” a young man at the front of the crowd shouted.

“If you have two coats,” John lowered his hands, showing the stones to the crowd. Then he threw one into the middle of the river, “Give one to someone who needs it. Do the same thing with food. Share. Have you been guilty of hoarding? Change. Be baptized today for the repentance of your sins!” A few people stepped forward and John baptized them.

A well-known tax collector stepped into the water. People hushed. “I wish to be baptized, what must I do?” 

John placed his hand on the man’s shoulder and said, “Only take what is allotted to you. Do not steal.” Then he lowered the man into the water. 

Vast hoards of people flocked to John, being baptized. Each asked what they must do and each left the water repentant, cleansed and challenged. 

John addressed the crowd again, “There is one coming whose sandals I am unfit to remove! I baptize with water, He will baptize with the Spirit of God!”

A young man in a plain robe stepped into the water. John’s voice wavered and cut off. Everyone watched in silent wonder as the man waded out to John.

“I wish to be baptized,” the man said. 

“I need to be baptized by you!” John whispered.

“This is right, all must be fulfilled,” the man said.

John nodded, placed his hand on the man’s head and lowered him into the water. As the man came up from the water a voice boomed through the air, “You are my Son! I love you and am deeply pleased by you!” A dove swooped down from the sky and rested on his head. A gasp of recognition rippled through the crowd. 

John turned to the people, “Behold, the Lamb who comes to take away the sins of the world.”
Jesus smiled and walked into the crowd.

Reflection Question:
God loves the world so much that the Father sent his Son to save it and the Spirit continues working on people’s hearts today. How does this affect the way you interact with the world?


Prayer time:
Before you pray together, ask: What would you like to say to Jesus today?

DJD327 - John's Message

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Scripture: 

Matthew 28:19

Starting Question:

God wants us to join in the task of taking salvation to the world. What commitment does this verse challenge you to make? 


John's Message

Day after day the people came to see the man standing in the river. He stood there every day. And yet, it wasn’t his standing in the river that drew the crowds. It wasn’t the way he was dressed—a camel hair cloak held together by a leather belt. It wasn’t even his diet—honey, locust and water from the river—which drew the crowds. It was his words. 

“John,” someone shouted, “Are you the Messiah we are searching for?”

“Messiah?” John shouted back with a laugh, “I am certainly no Messiah. I am just a voice. A voice shouting in the wilderness, calling you to get ready!”

“Ready for what?” another voice asked.

“Prepare ye the way of the Lord!” John shouted, “Make his paths straight.” 

“Are you saying the Messiah is coming soon?” 

“Soon!” John shouted with gusto, “All flesh shall see the salvation of God!”

A finely dressed man stepped forward, placing a tentative foot in the water, “Since the days of Abraham we Pharisees have been maintaining readiness!”

“Oh, you!” John pointed a bony finger at the plump fellow, “You swarm of snakes! To be ready is to be repentant. Don’t sing, ‘Father Abraham has many sons, and I am one of them!’ Stop your self-righteous singing and start saying sorry for your sins! Prepare ye the way!”

The man looked truly offended. “I say!” he turned to the audience and shouted, “How rude!” Turning back to John he continued, “Know this, pond scum, when the Messiah comes he will come to Abraham’s descendants!”

John stuck his face and hands into the river, coming up moments later with two fist sized stones. The religious leader squealed and ran into the crowd, clearly believing John meant to throw the stones at him.

He lifted the stones high in the air. “From these stones,” John shouted, shaking the water from his bearded face, “God is able to raise children of Abraham. Don’t think you are so precious! The axe is swinging my friends! The trees not showing fruit will be cut down!”

** Continued in John's Baptism tomorrow **

Reflection Question:
What do you think it would have been like to listen to John the Baptist? Would it be a joyful time? Scary? 

Prayer time:
Before you pray together, ask: What would you like to say to Jesus today?

DJD326 - The Cross

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Scripture: 

Matthew 27:39-42

Starting Question:

What does the Cross of Jesus mean to you?

The Cross

Symbols are important for identity and community. They tell me who I am and us who we are. Such is a flag and such is the cross. The flag connects us to our nation and the cross joins us to our King — a king who was lifted up on a cross to separate us from death. Thus the cross became the Christian symbol for victory. Death was swallowed up in the cross. The grave has lost its sting because Jesus absorbed sin's penalty upon the cross of Calvary.

So crosses were placed on top of churches — where Christians meet; and at the front of sanctuaries — where Christians kneel. But, due to the symbol being overused and misunderstood — to the point of worshiping the cross instead of the resurrected Saviour — some Christians removed the cross from public display but not from their hearts. The heart-to-heart connection to Jesus due to the victory on the cross is deep within the heart of every Jesus follower.

The symbol of the cross was taken over by armies as they emblazoned it on their shields, swords and helmets.

It became a fighting standard rather than a standard of freedom. Millions died facing the cross on an approaching enemy soldier. Ironically, the entire point of the cross was that only one need die — God for humankind. The cross became a feared symbol, rather than a cherished one.

Today, the cross is again misrepresented as it is laced with diamonds, placed with pearls and worn as jewelery.

The cross is the symbol of Christ's victory, not the prize itself. As many pay a high price for a cross to wear around their neck, they pass by the invitation to shoulder the cross of Christ. “Take up your cross and follow Me,” He says. His is wooden. His is bloodstained.

The symbol of the cross holds no power in and of itself. The cross was a device of torture and death, and was used by ancient governments to kill thousands of people. But Jesus, the God of the universe, willingly died upon a cross so we mortal creatures might be free once again to choose to follow Him. And thus the cross became a symbol of freedom rather than fear.

Jesus turned death on its head, turned fear on its face and turned you and I toward Him. All on a cross.

Christians love, honour and cherish Jesus. He is our Creator and our Re-creator. He created us as His friends and designed this planet as our home.

Then, when sin marred both the planet and the people, He returned to reclaim both. He died on a cross to pay fully the wages of sin — death is no longer our master. And He returned to life to guarantee us life eternal with Him — the way He originally planned.

The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are the foundation of all that Christians believe. Without them, our faith is nothing. 


Reflection Question:
How can we 'wear the cross' in our words and actions?

Prayer time:
Before you pray together, ask: What would you like to say to Jesus today?

DJD325 - Two Sides of the Same Mountain (SS Bonus)

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More Sabbath School Resources
Preparation Day Bonus

 * - Teaching a great Sabbath School lesson - *

Scripture: 

1 Corinthians 15:51-52

Starting Question:

Have you ever known someone who has a humble passionate faith in the goodness and righteousness of God? What was that person like? What impact did that person have on others?


Two Sides of the Same Mountain

** Continued from Seer's Mountain yesterday **

“Yes,” Moses said, matter-of-factly, “God has made it very clear to me that I will not enter the Promised Land. That’s why He sent me up here to look into and throughout the land.”

Joshua folded his arms across his broad chest, “But, forty years ago you sent 12 spies into this very land,” Joshua waved one arm at the land beyond the Jordan. “Are you saying that God would have stopped you at that time?”

“Much has happened since that fateful day,” Moses said. “I have failed many times and I have learned many things.”

“As have we all,” Joshua retorted. He was getting angry. “What’s wrong with God? Why is He so mad at you that He is withholding the land which He promised?”

“It is right that it happens this way, Joshua.”

“How?” Joshua was pacing the mountaintop. “How could it possibly be right that you lead us through that despicable dessert and then, at the doorway of the Promised Land, you are denied entry? How is that right?”

Moses reached out and caught Joshua as he stomped past. He turned the younger man to face him and gripped both shoulders. “Because God has said it, Joshua!” Tears came to the old man’s eyes. “If there is anything you can learn from me, it is this: God alone is God and He is always right. Accept that and all will go well with you.”

Joshua studied the face of the man who had been his spiritual father for four decades. In that face he read so much. There was pain. There was trust. And, most evident of all, there was the presence of God.

“I wish to be as humble as you,” Joshua whispered. “How is it that you can be so at peace with God’s will when it is directed against you?”

“I choose to believe God has something better in mind for me,” Moses said.

“Better than the Promised Land?” Joshua explored Moses’ face.

“Yes,” Moses said. “Better than anything this dying world can offer an old man like me.”

“Have you been shown this?” Joshua leaned in, excited.

Moses shook his head from side to side, “No, not this time. The last thing I saw with a seer’s eyes was the land which you will now enter. But, I believe that God has a land awaiting us all where sin, sorrow and death are no longer at work.”

“A place like Eden?” Joshua asked, recalling the stories of their ancestors. “A place where the lamb nestles into the chest of the lion for a mid-day nap?”

Moses’ eyes filled with tears of joy, “Yes, my boy! A place where one’s lifetime makes my 120 years like a mere blink of an eye.”

“And this place comes after death?” Joshua asked.

Moses nodded and then gestured to the river. “Lead God’s people into the Promised land.” Then after a pause, he added, “I’ll see you on the other side.”

Joshua smiled at the thought.

The two men embraced and then walked down different sides of the same mountain.

Reflection Question:
How does the hope of life beyond the grave help you in your daily life?


Prayer time:
Before you pray together, ask: What would you like to say to Jesus today?

DJD324 - Seer's Mountain

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Scripture: 

Psalm 146:3-4

Starting Question:

Have you ever spent time with someone as they neared the end of their life? What emotions did you go through during that time? What impact did their view of the afterlife have on them and on you? 

Seer's Mountain

“Well,” Moses said, “This is it. God has told me to look at the Promised Land from atop this mountain peak. I have seen it.”

Joshua’s eyebrows furrowed. “What you are hinting at?”

“Hinting?” Moses said. “It’s not a hint. I will obey God. He said to come to this place and look across to the Promised Land. He said this is as close to it as I will get.”

“But, you can barely see anything from here,” Joshua argued. “All I can make out is the outline of walls of a city in the distance.”

“Jericho,” Moses said. “And beyond the Jordan Valley with Jericho, I can see as far as Zoar. I can see from Gilead as far as Dan, and all the land of Naphtali.”

Joshua interrupted, “You can see all that?”

Moses nodded in silence.

“How?”

Moses laughed. “Wait, I’m not done. My old eyes can see the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah, extending to the Mediterranean Sea, the Negev, and more!”

“How?” Joshua asked again. “I mean, I know you’ve got great eyes for someone 120 years old, but what you are describing is impossible for human eyes!”

“I am a seer, Joshua. God shows me what he wants me to see,” Moses said. “Up until now, God has shown me things I will experience with His people. But this time...” Moses’ voice faded away.

Joshua had been suspicious of this journey to the mountain top. Over the past few days Moses had been blessing people left, right and center. He had blessed the people of Israel finishing with:  “How blessed you are, O Israel! Who else is like you, a people saved by the Lord? He is your protecting shield and your triumphant sword! Your enemies will cringe before you, and you will stomp on their backs!”

The people had cheered at the finish. How could you do anything else? God was truly going to bless His people.

Then, in front of all Israel, Moses laid his hands on Joshua and ordained him as the new leader of God’s People. He blessed Joshua and handed leadership into his hands. Again the people cheered. It seems they had been expecting it as much as Joshua had been fearing it.

“This time,” Moses continued, “I have seen a vision of the future of God’s people without me. They are your people now, Joshua.”

“What are you saying?” Joshua asked, confused.

“You are going back down the mountain to the people, as their leader,” Moses explained. “I will head down the other side of the mountain into the valley of Beth-peor where I will die.”

Joshua stared at his mentor and friend. The words would not come. Finally he managed a squeak, “Die?”


** Continued in Two Sides of the Same Mountain tomorrow **


Reflection Question:
Imagine being Moses and seeing the Promised Land but knowing that you would not be allowed to enter it. How would you feel? Could you be as humble as Moses?

Prayer time:
Before you pray together, ask: What would you like to say to Jesus today?

DJD323 - Promise Land - Take 2

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Scripture: 

Isaiah 65:17-18

Starting Question:

How would you encourage someone (maybe yourself?) who says, “There is so much I still want to do before Jesus comes”?

Promise Land - Take 2

40 years later, Joshua and Caleb stood together on the shore of the Jordan River peering across to Promised Land again. The silence deepened as they both remembered the unfortunate result all those years ago.

They had spied out the land. They had brought back a glowing report. They carried back samples of the land’s bounty to win the hearts of the people of Israel. But, the other 10 spies had nothing good to say about Canaan. The Giants were too big. The walls were too strong. The land God had promised was a horrible land, they said.

And God had become enraged. He threatened to destroy every last one of the Israelites. It was only the brave heart and words of Moses that saved them. He reminded God of how much He loved the people he had called out of Egypt. He had set them free not because they were worthy but because He was gracious. God listened to Moses. And forgave the people.

But they didn’t go into the Promised Land. God let them wander throughout the desert on the wrong side of Jordan for 40 more years. He allowed Israel time to recognise their mistake.

God’s promise to give His people the land “flowing with milk and honey” still stood. And now, all these years later, they had returned to the Jordan River, this time fully intending on taking the land promised to them.

They were not the same people they had been 40 years before. As a nation, they were older and wiser. And a new crop of young families now lived among them that did not remember Egypt -— they only knew what they heard in the stories told by parents and grandparents. All, old and young alike, were tired of the desert and ready to accept God’s promise.

“It seems like a lifetime ago,” Joshua said peering across the river.

“Yes,” Caleb replied. “But I’m still excited about it! It really is a glorious land.”

“True,” Joshua said. “Do you realise, of the twelve who spied out the land, we are the only two who will enter it?”

“Oh my,” Caleb said, “Have they all died? All ten of them?”

Joshua nodded his head, “Living with such bitterness and negativity clearly shortens one’s lifespan.”

Caleb gave a little laugh in response. “Indeed. And a complainer’s life is not much of a life, anyway.”
Joshua nodded. “I’m not sorry for them. They were nothing but trouble since that trip into Canaan. But I am sorry for Moses. He would have crossed over with us.”

Caleb placed a comforting hand on his friend’s shoulder, “He is at peace now. No more leadership stresses for him. They are all yours now!”

“Oh thanks,” Joshua said, turning to look at Caleb. “And just like always, you will be my right-hand man!”

“Lead on, fearless leader!” Caleb said with a smile. “Take us into the promised land!”

Reflection Question:
Imagine the different emotions that would have gone through the minds of people as they re-approached the Jordan River — 40 years after their first visit. Consider what thoughts and emotions would have been going through the mind of Moses, Joshua, Caleb?

Prayer time:
Before you pray together, ask: What would you like to say to Jesus today?

DJD322 - Promised Land - Take 1

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Scripture: 

2 Peter 3:13

Starting Question:

If you could imagine a perfect world, what would it look like?

Promised Land - Take 1

Joshua and Caleb headed to the rendezvous point at the edge of the Jordan River. They walked at a fast pace, talking as they went.

“I can’t believe we were both selected!” Joshua said.

“I know,” Caleb answered, “all of our hint dropping must have worked!” Both young men laughed.

They had been chosen to represent their tribe on a special mission. The people of Israel were just a stone’s throw away from Canaan and the elders had decided to send a party of fit men to spy out the land. Each of Israel’s 12 tribes provided one man for the mission.

“It’s going to be so much fun!” Caleb continued.

“Yeah,” Joshua replied, “but it will be dangerous, too. We are going to need to be very careful.”

“To be honest,” Caleb’s voice quieted to a whisper as they walked through the rows of tents, “I don’t really understand why this mission is happening.”

Joshua glanced over at his friend to see if he was serious. “Because the elders want to know the strengths and weaknesses of the land before we go in. It’s a smart military move. Know your enemy!” Joshua answered, studying the face of his friend, intrigued. “You don’t want to take our wives and children across the river if there’s a huge army just inside the walls of Jericho, do you?”

“Well,” Caleb chose his words carefully, “God led us here from Egypt. And Moses keeps calling the land across the Jordan “the promised land” because God has promised to give it to us. Why are we questioning what God has promised?”

Joshua stopped walking. Caleb slowed to a stand still and then turned to face his friend. The look on Joshua’s face was a combination of respect and wonder. “You are amazing, Caleb,” Joshua said. “Your faith is unlike anyone I have ever met. And, I think you make a very good point! Do you think we should talk to the elders and ask them to reconsider the mission?”

“No,” Caleb shook his head seriously, “They are God’s chosen leaders and this mission is where their prayers and planning have led them. Let’s go on the mission with the intention of finding every blessing the land has to offer. Let the other 10 worry about the power of the enemy. We’ll focus on the promise and power of God!”

“Genius!” Joshua laughed and playfully punched Caleb in the shoulder. “You’ve got a sanctified devious streak, my friend. That will make the entire mission great fun! God is good!”

“All the time!” Caleb continued the familiar phrase loved by the children and then added, “All the time!”

“God is good!” Joshua finished.

Reflection Question:
It is easy to think, “What was wrong with those Israelites? They were in a barren desert and thought the Promised Land wasn’t worth the effort!” How are we like them in our thoughts about the land God has promised us?


Prayer time:
Before you pray together, ask: What would you like to say to Jesus today?

Bananas, Nuts and Living Art


Free eBook


Sermons on Evolution send me bananas. I have heard my fair share of sermons on evolution and read a number of articles on the topic. I’ve even written one. And I apologise. Why am I sorry? Why do they bother me?

Because you can’t find Evolution in the Bible. You have to preach it from somewhere else. Every evolution sermon I’ve heard spends the majority of its time building a case against evolution using science. That’s like helping a drowning person by giving them a drink.

Using the scientific method to pull apart something built using the scientific method is forgetting who we are as Christians. As Biblical teachers, we are not meant to be scientifically proving or disproving anything. As Christians, we are not naturalists but theists. It makes as much sense to ‘borrow’ your neighbour’s lottery tickets to see if you won as it does to borrow his worldview and teaching method to prove your faith.

We are meant to be teaching the themes of Scripture using Scripture. We have been given a story that comes with its own worldview and its own teaching strategy. This worldview is not based on logic and this teaching strategy is not the scientific method. We have been given a story - THE story - of Divine interaction with humanity. We are meant to be telling this epic story from within Scripture’s pages.

God speaks through story. That’s why the Bible is 75 percent story. If God wanted us to have a big list of logic proofs, He would have filled the Bible with lists. Instead His Book is filled with stories of truth. The only lists are names - lots and lots of names - each part of a greater story. And yet, steeped in the scientific method, we pull those stories apart and create proof texts. Shame on us!

The worldview given by God’s Word is one based on Logos, not logic. It is the product of God’s mind and hands, not ours. We need to get out of our heads and into God’s - by reading, praying, teaching and living His Word.

Why do we feel compelled to prove things? Why do we use the scientific method in church? Why do we feel it is right to do so? Because we are steeped in naturalism and a scientific worldview - so deeply we don’t realise how embedded we are - in today’s culture, thinking and way of being. It’s a worldview which has been developing for hundreds - even thousands - of years.

There is a theistic worldview which reaches back to before time began. It comes not from the mind of mankind, but from the mind and heart of God. We were created to live, think, teach and love His way. Our worldview should not be natural but supernatural. As believers in God, our worldview should be theistic; founded on allowing the spiritual to explain all things. Not naturalistic - which demands that things explain the spiritual. That's a quick recipe for a Godless universe - in your head, anyway.


Turning Inward
For much the same reason that sermons about evolution send me bananas, many sermons about morality drive me nuts. It has been said that anything that can be put in a nutshell, belongs there. I feel this way about a lot of sermons I hear and articles I read about Christian character development. Not because they are bad, just because they come from a different worldview than the Bible.

There are lots of books that teach strategies for being a better person. And there are lots of sermons being preached from those books. But, to a large extent, those books are built on a naturalistic worldview rather than the theistic worldview of the Bible. Let me show you what I mean.

I recently received a letter from a pastor who stated that good Christian leaders need to have ethos, pathos and logos to earn respect. Because these words are in Greek, we stroke our chins and say, “Ah, yes. Greek! The New Testament is written in Greek. This must be Biblical.” But, it’s not. These three things, which basically mean ethics, emotions and logic are strategies for building persuasion by reason - called “the three artistic proofs” by their creator, Aristotle. They are the foundation for presenting a good version of you in which you compare yourself with other people and your previous self - growing ever more persuasive as you increase in moral virtue.

The journey from the mind of Aristotle to the pen of a pastor is one of nearly 2500 years. Aristotle was a student of Plato. Plato was a student of Socrates. All three were the founders of the worldview whose rule we live under today - naturalism. In short, these three philosophers described the foundational rules on which are built mathematics “of two things, each is one and both are two”, science “the matter of knowledge is existence” and philosophy "I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing.” From there, two thousand years later, naturalism and her bedfellow the scientific method evolved.

A handful of centuries after these three men started spinning natural answers for supernatural questions, the Christian church began to form, and with it, her first apologist, Paul. The Apostle Paul was a Jewish thinker. He was also a Greek thinker. And he knew the teachings of these three men - teachings being developed and taught in The School of Athens for generations. Paul saw how the society around him was being shaped by these ways of thinking. And he said a lot to counter naturalism with supernaturalism.

In Greek thought, you are the hero in your own story.

In Biblical thought, you are a single player in the storyline of God’s epic narrative in which He is the Hero.

Paul worked hard to rescue the Christian worldview from the Greek worldview permeating the world around them. He wrote many letters (and preached many sermons) explaining that God’s people are to build their lives on God’s thoughts, not their own. Christian character development is not about making yourself more persuasive - through developing ethics, emotions or logic - but about showing God and His Truth as more persuasive through faith, hope and love.

Faith - looks back.

Hope - looks forward.

Love - looks everywhere.

All are outward focused. None are self-centred.

All three are from God, for God and in God.

If you spend your days becoming a better version of yourself, your story starts and finishes with you. But if we spend our lives focusing on Jesus, His story, which has neither beginning nor end, will increase and embrace - leading others toward Jesus and into the Kingdom of God.

Stop looking at yourself.

Look to Jesus.

He will shine through you into the world.

And He will change you, from (your) glory to (His) glory - to the glory of God the Father.


Living Art
Imagine you’re living on a painting of a sunset. For years no-one knew it was a painting. It was just life. Then, people started chipping little bits of paint off the ground and anylsing it. These scientists come back after many years of research and declare “It’s pigment, resin, solvent and additives - That’s what the world is made of!" Everyone nods and agrees. Clearly, they are right.

Then, one day, someone fastens a little plastic bag to their back and, using a rubber-band found in the easel tray at the bottom of the world, they launch themself off the top. And, look back at the world.

“IT’S A SUNSET!” They say when they come back to Earth.

“What’s a sunset?” everyone asks.

“The painting we are living on,” the parachutist says.

“No,” the people say, “What is A SUNSET?”

“I don’t know,” he says, “I just read the title above the painting.”

This is how the scientific method works. We chip away at the natural world around us and slowly explain it. We think we are reaching deeper knowledge and greater understanding. But, we are just reading the signs.

There are questions that can never be answered with paint chips.

“What is a sunset, really?”

“Who is the artist of the painting in which we live?”

John, in his gospel, had a bit to say regarding how the Biblical worldview of the Christians really was very different to the naturalistic worldview all around them. Once we realise how pervasive the Greek culture was becoming, we begin to understand why John wrote what he did.

“In the beginning was the Word! The Word was with God! The Word was God!”

He’s arguing against the dominant worldview of the day: “Logic is king. Logic explains everything. I think, therefore I am.”

John says, in effect, “Not Logic - LOGOS!”

“In the beginning was the Logos! The Logos was with God! The Logos was God!”

In his usage of the Greek word Logos, John is talking about a “Holy Word,” a “Divine Speaker,” an “Eternal Storyteller.” Logic starts in your mind and ends in your mind. If you trace logical thought back, it goes to the mind of Plato. Then it stops.

Not so with the Holy, Divine, Eternal Logos. It is from before time. And, amazingly, John goes on, “The Logos became flesh, and lived here with us!” The supernatural became natural and tented in our campground. He tabernacled among us and then empowered us to tabernacle in the world. We are his Temple and His priesthood. That's epic. That's our God in action through us!

Without this amazing Biblical narrative, we have nothing as believers in Jesus. Without His life, death, resurrection and power over creation - over every chip of paint on the canvas - we are just telling stories. But with it - we can change the world - one story at a time.

It is saddening and desperately destructive that Aristotelian logical thought has so informed our worldview that we believe such a phrase as “just a story” is a reasonable one. We are a storytelling creature - given the most powerful story in the universe - and empowered to live it.

The wonderful thing is that today, a new worldview has emerged - yes it has its issues - which takes stories very seriously. A true Post-Modern thinker hears a story and says, “Is that true? Does it work for you?” If we answer yes that it is true for us it is given a chance to be true for them, as well.

I’m ashamed that I used logic to present this article to you. But, I wanted you to hear it. I wanted you to see it. I want you to shake free from the compulsion to prove truth and embrace the call to proclaim it - through story.

If I had written this article using a Biblical worldview, I would have told a story from beginning to end. I think I might have started it, “In the beginning God…”

I’ll leave the rest for you to tell.

DJD321 - Living Art

Read More Daily Jesus
Scripture: 

Isaiah 55:6-9

Starting Question:

What is your favourite way to finish this sentence: "The Kingdom of God is like..."?
Why?

Living Art

Imagine you’re living on a painting of a sunset. For years no-one knew it was a painting. It was just life. Then, people started chipping little bits of paint off the ground and anylsing it. These scientists come back after many years of research and declare “It’s pigment, resin, solvent and additives - That’s what the world is made of!" Everyone nods and agrees. Clearly, they are right. 

Then, one day, someone fastens a little plastic bag to their back and, using a rubber-band found in the easel tray at the bottom of the world, they launch themself off the top. And, look back at the world. 

“IT’S A SUNSET!” They say when they come back to Earth. 

 “What’s a sunset?” everyone asks. 

 “The painting we are living on,” the parachutist says. 

 “No,” the people say, “What is A SUNSET?”

 “I don’t know,” he says, “I just read the title above the painting.”

This is how the scientific method works. We chip away at the natural world around us and slowly explain it. We think we are reaching deeper knowledge and greater understanding. But, we are just reading the signs.

There are questions that can never be answered with paint chips. 

 “What is a sunset, really?” 

“Who is the artist of the painting in which we live?”

John, in his gospel, had a bit to say regarding how the Biblical worldview of the Christians really was very different to the naturalistic worldview all around them. Once we realise how pervasive the Greek culture was becoming, we begin to understand why John wrote what he did.

“In the beginning was the Word! The Word was with God! The Word was God!”

He’s arguing against the dominant worldview of the day: “Logic is king. Logic explains everything. I think, therefore I am.” 

John says, in effect, “Not Logic - LOGOS!” 

“In the beginning was the Logos! The Logos was with God! The Logos was God!”

In his usage of the Greek word Logos, John is talking about a “Holy Word,” a “Divine Speaker,” an “Eternal Storyteller.” Logic starts in your mind and ends in your mind. If you trace logical thought back, it goes to the mind of Plato. Then it stops.

Not so with the Holy, Divine, Eternal Logos. It is from before time. And, amazingly, John goes on, “The Logos became flesh, and lived here with us!” The supernatural became natural and tented in our campground. He tabernacled among us and then empowered us to tabernacle in the world. We are his Temple and His priesthood. That's epic. That's our God in action through us!

Without this amazing Biblical narrative, we have nothing as believers in Jesus. Without His life, death, resurrection and power over creation - over every chip of paint on the canvas - we are just telling stories. But with it - we can change the world - one story at a time.

It is saddening and desperately destructive that Aristotelian logical thought has so informed our worldview that we believe such a phrase as “just a story” is a reasonable one. We are a storytelling creature - given the most powerful story in the universe - and empowered to live it. 

The wonderful thing is that today, a new worldview has emerged - yes it has its issues - which takes stories very seriously. A true Post-Modern thinker hears a story and says, “Is that true? Does it work for you?” If we answer yes that it is true for us it is given a chance to be true for them, as well.

I’m ashamed that I used logic to present the past three days thoughts. But, I wanted you to hear it. I wanted you to see it. I want you to shake free from the compulsion to prove truth and embrace the call to proclaim it - through story.

If I had written this series using a Biblical worldview, I would have told a story from beginning to end. I think I might have started it, “In the beginning God…”

I’ll leave the rest for you to tell.


Reflection Question:
How will you tell God's story today?

Prayer time:
Before you pray together, ask: What would you like to say to Jesus today?

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,...