Resilience Reservoirs are Filled by Sharing Your Story-Well


Stories from the story-well of your own life and the lives of others fill your resilience reservoir. The stories you pour into your children’s story-well will be drawn from for the rest of their lives.

Here are four categories of stories about yourself that are guaranteed to help your kids:

Success Stories — Your achievements from childhood, teenage years and adulthood.

Failure Stories — Things you tried, failed and learned from.

Unexpected Surprises — Unplanned things that shaped you. People. Events.

Unexpected Crises — Unfortunate events that shaped you. Accidents. Illness. Loss.


Along with these stories, make sure to include how that event shaped you for better or worse. Stories of both wins and losses are important. They show our kids that real people have real lives, just like them.

Next, expand the circle of influence to include your parents and siblings (your kid’s grandparents, aunts and uncles) and tell the same four kinds of stories from their lives. Better even, ask your extended family to tell the stories from their own perspective. You may want to prepare some key questions based on stories you know your parents and siblings are willing to tell. Prompt them for their stories with a few of your memories.

All the life-stories your children hear flow into their story-well and fill their resilience reservoir. Emotional strength comes from these stories being available when we need them.

Ask your kids to tell their stories, too. Help them to develop positive lessons from the many stories in their lives.

A deep story-well leads to a life of strength, love and joy.

The Best Way to Build Resilience in Your Children



Resilience is the ability to bounce back after a setback.

Some setbacks can be overcome easily, others take time. Why do some people bounce back quickly from an unexpected setback while others seem to get swallowed up?

Heaps of research has been done on what builds resilience. In short, the answer is - the more experience, the more resilience. But here's where things get interesting. It doesn't need to be your own experience. The people around you grow your resilience if you know their stories.

Amazingly, our brains do the same thing with stories we are told as they do with our own experiences. First, we receive the story. Then, we interpret the story. Finally, the interpreted story is stored with hundreds of emotional tags - good, bad, funny, angry, success, failure, happy, sad, lesson learned, random occurrence, etc.

Experience. Relationships. Stories. These three things combine to provide numerous memories of hitting bottom and getting back up. Sometimes quickly. Sometimes slowly. Resilience comes when a person encounters a setback and digs back in their memory - into their story satchel: "Is there a story that relates to this setback?" Our subconscious scans through the tags and says, "Aha! This is like that!" And we begin to make sense of this new struggle. Or, a storyless subconscious sends back, "Nope. Nothing to work with. This is a new low." This is when resilience is hardest.

As parents, it is important to tell stories of both successes and failures. When we share success stories, the point is implied: "I tried, I won!" When we tell struggle stories, the point (resilience) is made in the way we tell the story. It gives little hope to a child to hear, "I failed high school Maths because it was too hard." A resilient telling of the same occasion could be, "I failed high school maths because I was still learning. I had to get some help and practice lots. But then, when the next exam came, I was ready for it!" Or, in my case, I shift the focus (because maths and my brain are from different planets) and say, "Maths is really hard for me. But I love to write. When I was in high school, I did my best on the maths classes I had to take but I took lots of extra English classes because I love writing. I was even the yearbook editor in year 12!"

The important thing is to tell lots of stories. Failure is important. It shows our kids they can make it because we did. Kids who believe their parents are perfect believe their parents expect perfection from them.

Life is not about perfection, it's about connection. Build resilience in your children by blanketing them in story.

Significant Adults: Surround your children with well-storied people. Explain your goal to build resilient kids to these significant adults. Ask them to share stories with your children. Thank them for helping!

Storytelling Parents: Tell your children stories of your own. Your setbacks, struggles and successes will empower them to make wise decisions and to bounce back from whatever life throws at them.

Resilient Kids: Finally challenge your kids to build stories of their own. Overcoming small setbacks gets us ready to overcome big ones later in life.

The best way to build resilience in your kids? Surround them with stories. Their own, yours and the stories of people they love.

Solving the Loneliness Epidemic by Opting Out

Values, identity and resilience once came from our Church Community and our Family Faith. Now, both church and family are relics of the past for most westerners.


Secular Primary/Secondary Schools are facing this head on. Governments (at least the one here in Australia) know intrinsic values result in extrinsic behaviour. Due to the lack of values coming from the historical sources — healthy nuclear families and community creating churches — schools are being challenged to run ‘values programs’ and teach positive identity and emotional resilience to students. Many schools have creedal statements centring around their desired values. The clear hope is that the next generation of adults will be less self-centred, disrespectful and lawless.

It is often said that ‘It takes a village to raise a child’… But the villages are empty. People are flocking to the cities. In cities, community gets swallowed up by cacophony. Without healthy relationships at the core of cohesive communities, we will not see other-centredness in the village square.

More people need to decide the relationships they are in are worth saving and savouring. Throwing a person or an organisation away because your views have changed is sending you down the path of loneliness with the rest of the west.

Right now, the default is to join the cubicle conglomeration: a collection of secluded self-actualised humans living in tiny cardboard boxes jammed-up against other boxes of other success-driven self-made men and women.

Buck the system. Leave the conglomeration and join a congregation. Find a spouse and get married. Then stick around through thick and thin. Build a family. Join a church. Face life together. Create something together today worth living in together tomorrow.

What is The Gospel of Jesus Christ?



Wikipedia summarises the Gospel this way:
In Christianity, the gospel (Greek: εὐαγγέλιον euangélion; Old English: gospel), or the Good News, is the news of the coming of the Kingdom of God, and of Jesus's death on the cross and resurrection to restore people's relationship with God.

What is the ultimate purpose of the coming of Jesus?

Why is this Good News?


The Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia summarises the Gospel this way:
The central truth of the gospel is that God has provided a way of salvation for men through the gift of His son to the world. He suffered as a sacrifice for sin, overcame death, and now offers a share in His triumph to all who will accept it. The gospel is good news because it is a gift of God, not something that must be earned by penance or by self-improvement.

How did the gift of God’s Son provide salvation? (3 points)

Why is this Good News?


Salvation for a Doomed World - John 3:16-18
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

What is the default position of humanity?

How did God’s Love solve this problem without forcing people to accept it?

What must we do to be saved?

Why is this Good News?


Paul’s Declaration – Romans 1:16
“I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes.”

What is the point of the Gospel?


Paul’s Explanation - 1 Corinthians 15:1-11
Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, . . . the twelve . . . five hundred . . . James . . . the apostles; and . . . me also. For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I laboured even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.

What is of “First Importance” in understanding the Gospel?

1. Jesus _ _ _ _ for our _ _ _ _ (according to scripture)

2. Jesus was _ _ _ _ _ _ on the Third day (according to Scripture)

Paul tells the Jesus story, the impact it had on others and then the way it changed his life. How is Jesus’ death for your sins and his defeat of death Good News for you?


Group 1
Read Acts 16:25-34

Spend time in your group writing out what you think was said in Verse 32.
Prepare to share this as a story.

Why did the Gospel mean so much to the jailer?


Group 2
Read Acts 8:26-38

Spend time in your group writing out what you think was said in Verse 35.

Prepare to share this as a story.

Why did the Gospel mean so much to the eunuch?


Personal Sharing of the Good News of Jesus Death and Resurrection
What would your answer be to a friend who says:

Why do you follow Jesus?

Why should I follow Him?








Being the Body of Jesus


Why Everyone IS Leaving the Church and Why They SHOULD BE


The reason the church is emptying through the back door, front door, windows and floorboards is simple. But it isn’t obvious. It’s simple because it’s just a matter of knowing Jesus. It lacks clarity, however, because there are more versions of Jesus than denominations. No wonder Jesus prayed for his followers to be one as He and his Father are One!


The Purpose of the Church

Contrary to the bumper sticker:
The church is not meant to be a hospital, but it often is.

Contrary to the record keepers:
The church is not meant to be an institution, but it often is.

According to Jesus:
The church is a body — one body. Well, it’s meant to be.
The church — the body of Christ — is Jesus’ chosen way to be active in today’s world.

The easiest place to see Jesus’ purpose is in his own actions. Understanding Jesus’ purpose then will help us understand the role of the church now.


Jesus’ Body

When Jesus was living on earth, he bodily served and savoured marginalised people and called religious people to drop the act.

When he was dying, Jesus’ body was broken for the lost — those besmudged and buried in sin. If you’ve hung with him, you’ve heard Jesus say, “You will be with me in Paradise.”

When his body died, everyone lost hope. Some left town.

When Jesus rose, his body walked through walls into places he wasn’t expected, a hint of things to come. Every meal — in every house — became a statement about his act of salvation. A reminder to some. An invitation to all.

When Jesus ascended, his body disappeared. Like the disciples then, we often need to hear, “Why do you stare into the sky? He will return. Now go — be His body.”

When the Spirit came, his body — the church — was in Jerusalem, praying in a small room. Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus’ body spoke in many languages and baptised thousands on the first day of the Way.

In Jerusalem, his body brushed up against the religious leaders and told them to drop the act. Then leaving Jerusalem, his body was sent to serve and savour the marginalised.

The first outside convert was an outlier in every regard — a foreigner, a slave, a eunuch. The Spirit found him reading aloud from the Holy Scriptures in a chariot. This may not strike you across the face as firmly it should.

So, let’s reverse through it slowly: (In first-century Jewish understanding, this story is one blasphemy after another.)

Location: This Scripture reading was not in a synagogue but a chariot.
Reader: This Scroll was not being held by a Jewish Rabbi but an unwashed foreigner.
Learning: It was not being read with historical knowledge but scriptural ignorance.
Purity: This man was a eunuch. Eunuchs were not allowed in the Temple. Not allowed to be included in Jewish worship. Certainly not allowed to touch Holy Scripture. And yet, here he is — a gender-reassigned slave, touching and reading Scripture while bouncing along in his foreign queen’s chariot.

The Clincher: The Holy Spirit — knowing all this — sent Philip to catch this precise chariot. Not to tell the foreign eunuch he shouldn’t be touching, reading or questioning Holy Scripture but to tell him the rest of the story — the whole story starting with the passage he was reading. To tell him Jesus died to remove his record of sinfullness and make him — just the way he was — right with the Almighty God. Eternal life and freedom from sin was his, if he wanted it. The telling of this Good News — by the church, the body of Jesus — outside Jerusalem, throughout Judea and into all the world starts here. With a conversation. And it ends with a baptism. All in one day.

The Church: In this mission launching event, the Holy Spirit blew out the religious cobwebs and threw open the church doors. Peter’s night-time struggle with a sheet full of meat pales in comparison with this first conversion! This is what the Body of Jesus is all about. There are no limits to where the story of Jesus can reach. Jesus came to earth to save you and me while we were still sinners, and now he sends us to tell everyone His story.

Good news for the lost in a broken world.
The dying outsiders with real need.
Those who have yet to hear.
The whole story.

This is what the Body of Jesus does.
This is what the true church does.


Why They Leave

When people leave the church, it is because they have not experienced the body of Jesus. They’ve been a victim of mistaken identity — people playing church while outsiders cry out for something to make sense of the senseless pain, suffering and brokenness of life.


Why They Come

The Good News shared in the chariot that day still works. It is still needed. God loves by nature. God forgave you before you asked. Right now, God is holding His hand out calling — and His call is heard when the body of Jesus, his church, knows their purpose. Then hand in hand, two walk into the church where one walked out.


More Good News

You don’t need a degree, a Bible study training course, a script or a secret prayer to get started. Those doing the caring and sharing aren’t perfect. You’re ready right now. All you need is your story of how you met Jesus.

Just like the eleven staring into the sky, some of us still doubt. Like Peter denying; we question our own worthiness and readiness. Like Thomas doubting; we question the nature and nurture of Jesus Himself.

Like the Apostles, we question the meat in the sheet. The worthiness of the hands holding Scripture, the untrained voice reading aloud. The readiness of the eunuch in the river, the sincerity of the baptiser.

Some of us, looking at the ascending body of Jesus, still doubt. His solution? Get us busy. Give us a mission. Go — be His body. Baptising. Teaching. Obeying. Until he comes.

Such an embodiment of Jesus today is a hard place to find but an impossible place to abandon. So, let’s build it. Let’s be it.

Eat everything in the sheet. Drop the act!
Chase a chariot for the Holy Spirit! Tell Jesus’ whole story.
Then come home and testify to the glory of God sweeping the world.

One by one, we’ll shake the saints out of the pews and into the true work of the body of Jesus.

The goal of the church isn’t to stop people from leaving but to set them firmly in Jesus’ mission before they go. Then, they will go tell Jesus’ story. And return with a new friend. Go. Return. Go. Return. Winning the world for Jesus — one chariot conversation at a time!

change your habits without obsessing about them


Forming Healthy Habits

You can change your habits without obsessing about them by focusing on your environment and rituals. Let me explain.


Habits

Life is all about habits. Both success and failure are formed by our habits. Repetition is the primary way we learn. We become the things we do repetitively — these are our habits.

Growth: We build habits to achieve goals. This is how we get better at anything — try, try, try again. The more we practise, the more our success. How many times has your favourite AFL player kicked a footy? hundreds of thousands of times, no doubt. Likewise: catching, bouncing, passing and running. That’s why they are professionals!

Stagnation: We also form habits of ease or comfort. They make us feel safe. If it makes me happy, I do it. If it relaxes me, I do it. If I do it repeatedly, a habit forms and can be hard to change. Selfish habits can lead to poor relationships or poor health.


Environment

The easiest way to change a bad habit is to form a new one to replace it.
The easiest way to form a new habit is to change your environment.

Take Footy/Xbox for example: If you want to spend more time practising footy skills, spend more time on an oval with friends and a ball. It’s hard to play Xbox or watch TV on an oval. So, spending more time on an oval changes two habits — replacing one with the other — by changing the environment.


Rituals

Another way to successfully change a habit is to combine it with a ritual you enjoy. Time with a friend/partner/child. A trip to the shops. Going out for coffee. Driving.

Use your rituals to build better habits:
What more exercise? Park further from the shops — or walk from home.
Want to read more? Take a book to a coffee house and switch your phone off.
Want to learn something new? Listen to an audiobook while driving.
Want to run/walk regularly? Ask your friend/partner/child to join you.


Change

Mythologist Joseph Campbell is best known for his statement: ‘follow your bliss’ — an invitation taken to heart by many young people seeking life’s purpose. Near the end of his life, Campbell quipped, ‘I wish I’d said follow your blisters.’ He’d learned, as we all do, that our time-worn habits are what shape our greatest attributes.

Most people hate changing habits. Focusing on the habit itself can be overwhelming and disheartening. But, choosing our environment and strengthening our rituals can be fun and will cause habits to fall into place without hardly thinking about them.

Defeating the Deceptions - SS Lesson Guide for Week 9

The Messiah vs the Deceiver

Read Matthew 4:1–11

How did Jesus defeat the deceptions of Satan? (By knowing and quoting Scripture)

The Bible gives us glimpses of the deceptions that will come our way in the end times. Yet we need not fear these deceptions. Why? (We have the Bible and more than just quotable truths, we have the Truth Himself!)

What does knowing and believing in Jesus the True Messiah do for us in these End Times? (give us hope and freedom from all kinds of fears, pains and deceptions)

The evidence from Scripture is clear: Jesus is real. And So it the enemy. Satan is real. Yet many do not believe he exists. Why?

What does the above story show us about Satan's existence and purpose? (He's out to destroy Jesus)
How does Satan continue his attack today? (Revelation 12:17)

What warning does Jesus give in Matthew 24:4? It is relevant today? Why?

What is the only way to recognise the deceptions of Matthew 24:24? (Know the true Messiah!)

How do we "know Jesus" as the true Messiah? (relationship, testimony, prayer and study)


The Work of Satan

What does Satan’s deceptive work look like? 2 Thessalonians 2:9–10, Revelation 12:9, Matthew 24:4-5

Just as Jesus faced the Devil's deceptions with scripture, so can we. What scriptural truths can you think of that prepare us to face these things? (have the people who read the above texts skim them again and see if the rest of the group can come up with scriptural concepts to defeat them.)

While knowing these things is useful, what do we have that is even greater and cannot be defeated? (Jesus! The Truth shall set you free indeed!)


Worship, Work and Image Bearing

Read Mark 12:13-17
When Jesus says, "Give God what is Gods" the jaws of his listeners hit the floor. Why? Where is he expecting the minds of his questioners to be drawn? When was an image 'stamped' on humanity?

Read Genesis 1:26-27
How important is it that we are created "in God's image"? (It's repeated three times!)

What happens when we forget whose image we were created in? What two extremes can it lead to? (self-righteousness, godlessness)

What does the first Creation story (Genesis 1:1) tell us about the Source of life on Earth? (We have a Creator! We are not alone.)

Why is the Sabbath such an important reminder in a world where many have abandoned the idea of a Creator God? Genesis 2:1–3

Humanity's first full day was a day of worship. In the lives of God's image-bearers, work follows worship. What impact does a Sabbath spent in worship have on the work week which follows? (During our work, God is our focus. We act like Him: love, justice, mercy, compassion, forgiveness).

Sabbath is a day of image-renewal. With the image of God renewed within us, what impact will we have for Him during the week? (our love for God will radiate in the world as we work, drawing others to Jesus)

Click here for a more in-depth article on Genesis 1 and what it teaches us about our image-bearing purpose.


Switching on the Light in a Dark World

In many areas of life, it is true that: "It's now what you know but who you know that counts." How does this apply to defeating the Devil's deceptions? (More than we can ever know!)

Read 2 Corinthians 4:4-6
Where would we be without the glory revealed in Jesus' face? (lost, in our sin)

When Jesus' face shines upon us, the Lights come on! The image in which we were created is revitalised within us. How does this impact our interactions with others?

How does Paul use the Creation story to empower believers? (2 Cor 4:6)

Based on 2 Cor 4:4, people who do not know the Gospel are blind, how do you treat blind people when they are nearby? (with compassion)
What if you know the blind person walking past, do you expect them to recognise you and start a conversation? How might this apply to the way we treat those who do not yet know the Good news of Jesus? (Let them know you are standing there, in the darkness. Start conversations!)

How can we best help others who are being deceived? (by knowing and loving Jesus)



A careful look at the pointy end of Genesis 1


After five ‘good’ days, God’s Creation became ‘very good’ as He shaped His Image-bearers. During this first Creation narrative, things increase in meaning and purpose. On the first three days, environments were created. The next three were spent filling those environs with life. Midday on day six, God finished the filling of the earth, paused, and “saw that it was good” (Gen 1:25). Following this pregnant pause, God began His final work. He conceived of, created and commissioned humanity.

We were created in His Image.

But then God throws in another day, seemingly as a bonus. A day ‘set-apart’ where we, His ‘set apart’ Image-bearing creation, worship Him. In honouring this day of Image-recreation humanity recognises the Sabbath is not a bonus for a week well spent but the beginning of a week well focused. Eyes fixed on our Creator, His Image is renewed in us. Our identity is formed, reformed and we are empowered for a week of work. Worship alone forms our identity.

Good and very good things are not what we were created to worship.

Good and very good things define our work. Not our worship.

Day 7 was not good or very good. It was ‘set-apart’ from all the good and very good things of Creation. Sabbath is set apart from the days of work. It is a day set apart from Creation week as we are set apart as unique in Creation. Day 6 was a very good day that followed the good days of the rest of Creation. But the day 7 was especially marked — not as good or very good — but as ‘holy’. And we, His Image-bearers, are made new as we glorify and glory in Him on this 7th day.

Our work is not our purpose.

Worship is our purpose.

Sabbath was created immediately after humanity. The stage was set. The set was filled. And then, as the final creative act of Day 6, “God created mankind in his own image” (Gen 1:27). Then the sun set, and the Sabbath began.

We were created in God’s Image and that Image was of utmost importance to God when He created the world. Everything in Creation points us toward our day together with God.

The first full day of life for humanity was day 7 — the Sabbath.

Worship came the first. Work came second. Put the other way around, we become workaholics worshiping our own achievements. We were made to worship God and to gain our identity from that worship. We become that which we behold most passionately — this is worship.

After a Sabbath-day of worship, with the Image of God renewed and revitalised, we are sent out to work for the next six days. Our glory comes from His glory. Our purpose comes from His purpose. Our identity comes from His love for us and in us.

In New Testament lingo, Jesus was Lord of the Sabbath before He was Lord of the Harvest. But He is Lord of both.

Renewed in Image-identity we are sent forth to be blessed as we work. God is not absent during the week but present in each act of generosity, kindness, mercy and justice that His Love brings forth in us and through us. Some Jewish scholars say, this ever-present nature of God is the reason that, unlike the other six days of Creation, day seven is not finished with “and God saw that it was…” This day, they suggest, introduced God to mankind and He is forever with them, from one Sabbath to the next. For God’s Image-bearers, the six days of work are as much a God-thing as the day of rest.

God’s work results in rest, our worship results in work. In our worship His Image is renewed within us, in our work His Image is revealed through us. This is the point of the first Creation story: The Image of God was created in us and the work of God is revealed through us.

Commenting on the image stamped on a Roman coin, Jesus said, “Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar.” Then, looking deep into the eyes of the Jewish scholars who posited the question, Jesus said, “And give to God what belongs to God” (Matthew 22:21).

When Jesus directed people back to Creation, His intent was the same as the original intent — to renew the Image of God in His people and to send them into the world to reveal God through their work and how they interact with others.

When we reach back to the Creation story, we need to ensure we conclude what God concluded — that the day ‘set apart’ from the good and very good days around it is a day for Image-recreation. Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27). Sabbath is a day for making and remaking mankind.

The purpose of the first Creation story (Genesis 1:1–2:3) is to remind the people of God of their Creator in whose Image they are made and to remind us to renew our Image-identity through a Sabbath of rest and worship. Grounded in any other way, we lead away from God.

We make Genesis 1 say less — far less — when we make it say other than this:

So God created mankind in his own image,
 in the image of God he created them;
 male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27)

God’s Eternal Story

I was once corrected by a participant in a storytelling workshop (something I’m passionate about running!) when I said we will be telling our Salvation story throughout eternity — the story of what God did for us on the Cross.

He said we will not be telling stories in the Kingdom of God because stories require resolution, from dark to light, from sin to salvation, from hate to love, from broken to healed. Stories, he said, require a foundation of evil. When we get to Heaven there will be no negatives. No darkness. No sin. No death. No hate. No brokenness. Therefore, stories will not work. Instead of telling stories, we will worship. That was his punchline.

I believe we will always remember where we were and who we were when God saved us from death through His Son Christ Jesus. “I once was lost but now am found. I once was blind but now I see.” And we will tell that story, as we do now, to others — to glorify God. God’s people share the darkness-to-light story over and over, forever glorifying the love-defeats-hate storyline of sinful planet Earth.

But, when sin and suffering end and we are in the Earth made new, will we no longer have new stories to tell? At the core, do stories (and thus storytellers!) rely on the existence of evil to do their work? If so, will the greatest storyteller who ever walked the Earth — Jesus — be a non-storyteller in the Kingdom of God?

I think not!

We will forever be building stories from the encounters we have with others. Rather than being built on foundations of evil, darkness or brokenness, Kingdom Stories take their hearers from glory to glory.

In the Kingdom of God, God’s storytellers tell stories of God’s love as it has been revealed to them. And each story is gloriously unique and beautiful.

We bring each other closer to God — From where we were in Christ before meeting this person and hearing their experience of God’s love to where we are now that their story and our story have combined into a greater knowing of God and His story.

We will always be growing closer to the nature of Jesus — for eternity.

And that was and is and will be our story from now until forever!

Resilience Research Workbook - Free PDF

Resilience studies have shown that the resilience of a child (of any person, actually) can be readily demonstrated through two indicators.

1. How well they know their story and stories about their family
2. How many significant adults they participate with regularly

This booklet combines the 20 questions researchers ask kids to assess their family knowledge and a list of five significant adults and why they are significant. 

When I give this booklet to a student, we spend the session filling in all the answers they know personally. I watch carefully, asking questions as we go along, and at the end of this session I have a strong assessment of their resilience. So far, I have found it to be very accurate to my previous assessment of the student. 

I then send the workbook home with the child to complete with help from their family. This gets the family talking and, in time, will raise the wellbeing and resilience of the child.

The booklet is formatted to print double-sided and fold in half. Please print and use this booklet as you see fit. 

Please feel free to share this booklet. In the future, send me an email and let me know how it has helped the children in your life!


Resilience Research Workbook
Free Workbook PDF - USA Spelling


Resilience Research Workbook
British / Australian version

Brave Kwame - Free Children's eBook

This amazing true refugee story teaches the power of including others and telling our story!

Free eBook


For the original post click here

Jimmy and The Black Dot - Free Children's eBook

I wrote this children's book to encourage us all to see the needs of others.

Enjoy this free eBook


So far, no publisher has taken me up on this story.

If you are a publisher who'd like to see it illustrated and published, please email me!

The Forgotten Path - Free Children's eBook

I wrote this children's book to encourage respect for the elderly.

Enjoy this free eBook of an adventurous story with an important message!


So far, no publisher has taken me up on this story.

If you are a publisher who'd like to see it illustrated and published, please email me

The Rescuer - Free eBook

Free eBook


For the original post Click Here

How Jesus Wants to be Remembered - Free eBook

Free eBook


For the original post Click Here

The Question of Suffering in Job - Free eBook

Free eBook


 

For the original post Click Here

The Whale's Tale - Free eBook

Free eBook



Once upon a time in a land far deeper than most, there lived a family of oysters. These oysters had some very odd beliefs, as did most of the other sea creatures. The strangest of these beliefs was that the Great Levitating Ocean God would return soon. The oysters and their cousins, the octopuses and squids, affectionately called this God "GLOG," which was merely an acronym for His full name. They were quite sure he would not be offended if he knew.

The oldest of the elders were not alive the last time that GLOG passed over their home. Therefore they had only the legends and stories of recent sightings elsewhere to hold on to. Occasionally GLOG would pass near enough that the entire ocean floor would resonate from his singing. It was at these times that reverence for GLOG would return to the oyster community and some of the adolescent oysters would come back to the religious meetings.

There were a number of reasons that the molluscs worshiped GLOG. First of all, he was huge. There was no form of measurement known to the oysters or their cousins by which one could measure the length, or even the width of GLOG. One legend said that if all the oysters lined up on the ocean floor they would not be able to match the length of GLOG.

Secondly, GLOG was not bound to the ocean floor. He mysteriously hovered far above. Some of the octopuses even claimed to have seen GLOG completely leave the water and return moments later with a terrific crash. This was unimaginable to the oysters. In fact, many lifetimes ago, a GLOGian octopus philosopher had been privileged to attach all eight of his suction cup covered legs to GLOG for a brief period of time. During this time GLOG launched himself out of the water and Octoposious (the philosopher) was torn loose on re-entry to the ocean. It was because of this experience that Octoposious later wrote the immortal words, "A fish does not realize that he is in water, until he is in air." This, of course, was beyond comprehension for the oysters. But they were sure it was a great truth.

Thirdly, GLOG lived forever. As far as oysterian history as well as collective molluscan history went back, there have always been records of GLOG. GLOG was past, present, and future. He was eternal.

It was the religion of the oysters to be as GLOGlike as possible. They knew that they were incapable of leaving the ocean floor on their own. The oysters also knew that they could never be as big as GLOG. But this was okay, because only GLOG was worthy of his supreme size.  Molluscs have very short lifespans and so eternal life on the ocean floor was out of the question.

The fundamental truth of GLOGery was that soon GLOG would return, take the worthy molluscs to his home, give them the ability to levitate, and give them eternal life. This was the dream of every religious mollusc. So they spent their days learning to sing GLOGerian chants, did their best to treat each other nicely, and spent a lot of time listening to the elders pontificate on the finer intricacies of GLOG.

One day music could be felt on the ocean floor. All of the oysters came out from under their rocks and began looking up through the murky mass of water. Soon the massive body of GLOG could be seen above them. Some of the wayward oysters ran back under their rocks and begged the others to crush them.

Slowly, some of the oysters began to rise off of the ocean floor. Most of those ascending to the surface were the elders and the very young. The elders, who had been tormented by nonGLOGerian molluscs and called "spineless fools" by other sea creatures, now felt elated. Their days of asking, "When will the evil in this land be stopped?" were over. The day of vindication had finally arrived. The young, who still had unspoiled faith, giggled with glee because they knew this was going to happen all along. The entire group formed a circle and joined GLOG in singing the song of absolution as they continued floating to the surface.

The others, hiding under the rocks, knew it was their own fault they weren't on their way to GLOG's home. They all had plenty of time to change and were warned of GLOG's soon return repeatedly. Now they closed their shells in shame.

It was for those oysters who failed to believe, as well as for us in comparison, that Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, "I suppose you could never prove to the mind of the most ingenious mollusc that such a creature as a whale was possible."

Zeek the Leper - Free eBook

Free eBook


For the original post Click Here

The Dragon's Bane: God's Storytellers - Free eBook

Free eBook


For the original post Click Here

Jesus Comes to Sabbath School - Free eBook

Free eBook


For the original post Click Here

The Secret of our Strength - Free eBook

Free eBook

  

For the original post Click Here

Daniel and the End Time - The Fall of Babylon

A Sabbath School Help

The Adult Sabbath School lesson this week is on the life of Daniel. King Cyrus is the historical king of Media-Persia who makes a number of appearances in the Bible. His story is one of the strongest proofs that the Bible is a book that can be trusted - both for its historical content and its story of a God who loves us all and holds the hand even of an unbelieving king. God truly uses whom he chooses! 

Free eBook


Cyrus the Great

In October, 539 BC, in one of the most intriguing overthrows ever recorded, Cyrus the Great conquered Babylon. It is a story of siege, military genius, attack by night and even treason. We are fortunate that two separate historians, Herodotus and Xenophon, recorded remnants of the story. We are also indebted to cuneiform records that both Cyrus and Babylonian scholars engraved in stone and to the biblical records in the books of 2 Chronicles, Daniel and Ezra. Bit by bit, a grand conquest is pieced together to reveal a most fascinating tale. A tale of a conqueror selected by the gods. A tale of a Babylonian king who dared to mock Yahweh, the one true God. A tale of a city of indescribable strength falling without a battle. A tale of God’s people set free. Join me as we witness the fall of Babylon.


The selection of a conqueror

Cyrus was a new kind of conqueror. Never had the world witnessed a victor who did not glory in violation. He didn’t rape, pillage or destroy. Instead, he released the commoners from the tyranny of their overlords, allowed them to worship their own gods and return to their chosen way of life. Because of this unique kindness, Cyrus was known as the “friendly conqueror.”

More than a century before Cyrus was born the prophet Isaiah received a prophecy that named Cyrus as conqueror: “Who says of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd and will accomplish all that I please; he will say of Jerusalem, “Let it be rebuilt,” and of the temple, “Let its foundations be laid.”’ This is what the Lord says to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I take hold of to subdue nations before him and to strip kings of their armour, to open doors before him so that gates will not be shut” (Isaiah 44:28–45:1).

Cyrus was chosen by God, to set the Israelites free from bondage in Babylon, years before they were even taken captive. Yet, oddly enough, Yahweh is not the only god that is given credit for Cyrus’ conquest of Babylon. The priests of Marduk, the god of gods in the Babylonian pantheon, also wrote statements pertaining to Cyrus.

An inscription on the Cyrus Cylinder states that Nabonidus’ conduct offended Marduk and that the god searched through all the lands for a righteous ruler and, having found him,“Pronounced the name of Cyrus and declared him ruler of the world” (Larue, 72).

The selection process was complete. Cyrus was the one chosen to overthrow Babylon. But, how would the mighty walled city be taken?


Strategy of attack

After conquering numerous other enemies, Cyrus faced his greatest challenge—the huge walled city, 24 square kilometres of Babylon. Xenophon records the following surmising of Cyrus, “But I am sure I cannot see how anyone could take by storm, walls so massive and so high.”

Both Herodotus and Xenophon record that Cyrus resolved to lay siege on Babylon and wait until the people within the walls ran out of food. He was informed (perhaps by Gadatas and Gobryas—two defectors from Babylon) that the great city had more than 20 years of food supplies. Cyrus became frustrated, but then a plan came to him, perhaps from one of his advisers or perhaps from his own design. The walls were too thick to break. The gates were too strong. There was only one fathomable way to get in—the Euphrates River, which went through the middle of the city.

Years earlier, Babylon had been ruled by a queen named Nitocris. Because the city was bisected by the Euphrates River she wished to build a bridge from one side to the other in the middle of the city. In order to accomplish this goal, she first had to reduce the water level of the Euphrates enough to allow workmen to build the bridge. She devised a massive plan that would do the trick—an artificial lake far upriver into which the Euphrates could be diverted. It was done and the workmen were able to set the bridge’s foundation stones in the bed of the river.

The plan that came to Cyrus included a similar feat. The lake, now a marsh, having been closed off, would be reopened and the Persian army would wade into the city under the massive walls of Babylon. So Cyrus deployed half of his regiment to where the Euphrates entered the city and half to where it exited. He then took a small number of men to where the trench to the lake had, over the previous few weeks, been excavated and had them open the mouth of the trench into the Euphrates.

There was one fatal flaw in Cyrus’ plan. The walls of Babylon extended far upstream along the banks of the river. If the Babylonians witnessed the water level diminishing and saw the Persian army entering the river, they would gather along the walls and annihilate the Persians with a barrage of ammunition. Cyrus’ way of alleviating this problem was to wait for two important factors—darkness and drunkenness.


The night of attack

In the biblical book of Daniel an amazing story is recorded. Belshazzar threw a huge banquet for 1000 of his leading lords. Huge amounts of food and wine were consumed and the entire city was caught up in the celebration.

To demonstrate his power and security, despite the siege outside the city walls, Belshazzar called for the confiscated goblets from Yahweh’s temple in Jerusalem, had them filled with wine and joined with his lords, wives and concubines in drinking wine from these sacred vessels. Moments later a hand appeared and wrote on the wall. The message, “Mene, Mene, Tekel, Parsin,” was unintelligible to the leading scholars and astrologers in Babylon. The queen remembered Daniel and the way he had helped previous kings and she told Belshazzar. Daniel was called in and, after berating Belshazzar for his blatant misuse of holy relics, he translated the handwriting on the wall:

“This is what these words mean: Mene: God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end. Tekel: You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting. Peres: Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians” (Daniel 5:26-28).

Moments later, perhaps even while Daniel was explaining the divine message to the king, the Persian army waded under the walls and climbed the riverbank into the heart of Babylon. Thus, Cyrus’ men had no challenge to overcome in entering the great city.

Cyrus had given direct orders that none of the city folk were to be unduly harmed. The Babylonian traitors—Gadatas and Gobryas—led the army to the palace because they knew the city well. When they arrived, Belshazzar was killed while trying to defend himself.

A few days later, having completed the journey back from the lake, Cyrus entered Babylon and was greeted with open arms and much rejoicing by the Babylonian people. Liberation had arrived!
Every record referring to Cyrus’ interaction with subjected nations reveals a benevolent leader who held high the concerns of his new people.

And, as prophesied by Isaiah, Cyrus sent many Israelites back to Jerusalem with funds to rebuild the temple that had been decimated by Nebuchadnezzar. He also sent back the holy relics that had been stolen.


The fulfilment

“However, in the first year of Cyrus king of Babylon, King Cyrus issued a decree to rebuild this house of God. He even removed from the temple of Babylon the gold and silver articles of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple in Jerusalem and brought to the temple in Babylon. Then King Cyrus gave them to a man named Sheshbazzar, whom he had appointed governor, and he told him, ‘Take these articles and go and deposit them in the temple in Jerusalem. And rebuild the house of God on its site.’ So this Sheshbazzar came and laid the foundations of the house of God in Jerusalem. From that day to the present it has been under construction but is not yet finished” (Ezra 5:13-16).

Babylon fell at the hand of Cyrus and his military cunning. Surely there is more to the story than we have access to today. Numerous records hold bits of the great conquest. While not all of the little details match up perfectly when comparing accounts, the major thrust is accurate: There was a Persian king named Cyrus and he overthrew Babylon without a fight.

From these various sources, a great story is told. It is a story that reveals a man led by gods that he did not even claim to believe in—particularly the true God, Yahweh. It is a story that shows a king who thought differently from any leader before his time and saw the possibility of a kingdom of peace and freedom. It is a story that shows the fall of evil and the victory of good.

Babylon fell to an Old Testament parallel of the coming Conqueror—Jesus Christ. Much like Cyrus, Jesus has vanquished spiritual Babylon. Through His death, we are set free.

Jesus allows His subjects to choose their own life path. He allows the rain to fall on the just and the unjust. He sets the captives free and rebuilds His holy temple in their hearts. He prepares for them a kingdom of peace and freedom. And one day, when Jesus enters today’s Babylon, those who are expecting Him will rejoice that their Liberator has come!

References:
Herodotus, The Histories, Penguin Books, 1963.
Gerald A Larue, Babylon and the Bible, Baker Book House Company, 1969.
Xenophon, Cyropaedia, Vol 7, Harvard University Press, 1984. Translator: E C Marchant.

Change Agents - 8 Bible studies for Teens

I wrote this series of eight stories to engage Juniors and Teens with the Week of Prayer topics for the General Conference 2013 Youth Week of Prayer. The Youth Director from that era gave me permission to use these studies wherever I saw an opportunity to increase the Kingdom of God.

Free eBook

Below are links to each chapter separately.

Click here to be taken to the origional blogpost.

4 Ways to Make Sabbath School Great Again



Free eBook

Introduction

Sabbath School was the backbone of the early Adventist church. As a people of the Book at study, we matured as a people of faith. Today, unfortunately, a vibrant Sabbath School experience is missing from many of our local churches due primarily to two factors.

Firstly, during the 20th century a global cultural shift toward lecture-style learning has eclipsed the discussion as the primary form of learning. This is due to both our education system and society buying into the scientific method. The “expert teacher” and the “student learner” have replaced the “group at study” in both defining and disseminating truth.

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

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


Vision - The Four Purposes of Sabbath School

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

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

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


Bible Study

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

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

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

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

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


Fellowship

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

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

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

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

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


Local Outreach

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

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

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

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

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

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


World Mission

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

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

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


Conclusion

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

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

Daniel and the End Time - Fiery Furnace!

A Sabbath School Help

The Adult Sabbath School lesson this week is on the life of Daniel. Here's another bit from the third book in my "Adventures in the Bible" series. A large number of chapters in The Kingdom Scroll focus on the life of Daniel. He is a great example for us - whatever age we are!

You can download a copy and read it NOW on your computer, smartphone, tablet or Kindle.


The Kingdom Scroll (excerpt from chapter 17)

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


“Yeah,” James agreed. “Its arms are folded across its chest and it looks like a royal leader.”

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

“What?” James blurted.

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

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

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

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

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

“True!” Paul said.

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

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

“The fiery furnace,” Hannah said. 

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

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

....




For the rest of the story, head down to your local Adventist Book Centre or order a copy 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,...