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, instead 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
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Brave Kwame - Free Children's eBook

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

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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.

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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!


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The Rescuer - Free eBook

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How Jesus Wants to be Remembered - Free eBook

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The Whale's Tale - Free eBook

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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

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

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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! 

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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.

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Below are links to each chapter separately.

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4 Ways to Make Sabbath School Great Again



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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!

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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!

Daniel and the End Time - Get into the Word!

A Sabbath School Help

The Adult Sabbath School lesson this week is on the life of Daniel. I thought I'd give you a bit of a teaser for the third book in my "Adventures in the Bible" series. I find it a very effective Bible study skill to put myself in the character's shoes. If you enjoy inductive Bible study, you'd love this series!

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


The Kingdom Scroll (excerpt from chapter 7)


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

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

“And it’s meaning?” another added.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Yes sir,” the others said together.

....

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

The Cosmic Controversy - SS Discussion guide



This Bible study concludes this week's Sabbath School lesson with the goal of leading your group to a commitment to Christ's humility.

From my six part series:
Embracing God: Why I’m a Seventh-day Adventist

Study 1: Character - Pride Before the Fall  vs  Humility Before the Cross

Introduction: Two Kings – One Devil. In two different times and places, in the lives of two different kings, two Godly prophets show where prideful power comes from and where it leads.

The Prince of Tyre – and his guardian cherub

Ezekiel 28:1-10   
Who is this talking about?
What positive are revealed about the Prince of Tyre?
What does God have against the Prince of Tyre?
What character trait put this prince into God’s bad books? (pride)
What will happen to this prince, according to the prophet? (die)
How does this prove that the Prince of Tyre is not a god?

Ezekiel 28:11-19   
The prophet shifts focus from the Prince to the king of all prideful thinking. Who?
What positives are revealed about this ‘guardian cherub’ - Lucifer?
What does God have against Lucifer?
What character trait put Lucifer in God’s bad books?
What will happen to this ‘cherub’ according to the prophet? (death in ashes)
How does this prove that Lucifer is not like God?

The King of Babylon – and his shining star

Isaiah 14:3-21 records a song the prophet says the people of Israel will sing about the King of Babylon. Similar to Ezekiel’s prophecy about the King of Tyre, this King also has Lucifer embedded into his story – this time the beginning and end focus on the Earthly King, sandwiching the Devil in the middle. This passage reveals the true nature and agenda of Lucifer.

Isaiah 14:12-15
To what does the prophet compare Lucifer? (a falling star)
What prideful things did Lucifer say to himself?
What will be the ultimate result?
Why do you think prophets juxtaposed Lucifer with evil Kings?
What character traits did they share?
How does pride lead us into a downward spiral and ultimately a pit?

Two Humans – One God

Genesis 3:1-19
Do the words of the serpent sound familiar to the two “King” stories? How?
Who shows up in the middle of this story, just like the two “King” stories?
How did the serpent convince them to eat the fruit?
What does God have against the man? The woman? The serpent?
What results came from their actions?
Genesis 3:15 is called the “protoevangelion” – the first good news. How is this verse the first telling of the good news of what Jesus is going to do?

Pride vs… ?
Have you seen an example of “Pride before a fall” in your life or the lives around you?
What is the answer to pride? How can we defeat it?

James 4:10
How much of what happens in the universe is seen by God?
What does this text tell us about being exalted by God? What must we do?
How can we humble ourselves?

Philippians 2:5-11
How is this the opposite of what caused the Fall of both Lucifer, his angels and humanity?
When humans live God’s way who is revealed in their Character? Who shows up in their story?
What did Jesus do for us? Why?
What impact will our lives have when Jesus is in the middle of our story?

Conclusion and Call
The Protoevangelion – the first good news in Gen 3:15 – was that Satan’s head would be crushed. How did Jesus’ action crush Satan’s plan?

Pride - Fall - Humility:

     No God - Death (Judas)
                   vs
Know God - He lifts you up (Peter)

When pride shows up in this world – like in the stories of the two Kings – whose nature and plan is being revealed?
When humility shows up in this world – whose nature is being revealed?
Would you like the humility of Jesus to crush the pride of the Devil out of your life?
Let’s pray now and ask Jesus to fill us with His humility so pride and selfishness have no place in our lives!


Prayer

A.C.T.

A Compassionate Theology

Being a Christian doesn't mean you must be judgmental of others or yourself. We can strive to have a compassionate theology! Here's a few examples of what I mean:

The purpose of this series of six Bible studies is to explore the thematic reasons I find the Seventh-day Adventist understanding of Jesus and His mission for the church to be the most compelling option available to myself as a thinking and passionate Christian today.

Silent Scribbles - ACT: Forgiveness and Reconciliation
Bananas, Nuts and Living Art -- ACT: Being Story-Centred
The Tension of Being Seventh-day Adventist -- ACT: Adventist Identity
of Pizza and Apples -- ACT: The Bible
Kingdom Worldview -- ACT: God's People
The Living Word -- ACT: Growing in Christ
Aisle Seven    -- ACT : Sabbath
Two Dolls       -- ACT: Creation
He is Risen!    -- ACT: Holy Days

28 Stories - ACT: Adventist Fundamentals
In 2009, my eldest son Cyrus wanted to study for Baptism. Unsatisfied with the deterministic style of the various studies available, I wrote this series of Biblical story-based and experiential discussion-driven studies. I've now used them to prepare all three of my children for Baptism.
Click on the image to read the words
In 2012, Signs Publishing Company published the studies as a faith journal / Bible study guide called "28 Stories." If you want a greatly reduced bulk price for a box for your group, email me.

Each of the 28 studies in this journal follows the pattern of:
Bible Story – Rewritten to connect you to the Biblical character and to direct your thoughts toward a particular aspect of the doctrine in consideration.
My Reflection – Finding yourself in the Biblical narrative.
My Story – Finding the principles of the Biblical narrative in your experience.
My Assurance – Strengthening your faith by encouraging your heart.
My Commitment – Challenging your faith by considering what you can become.
My Outlook – Expanding your horizon of your God, your world or yourself.
My Response – Acknowledging the doctrine and considering it’s importance.

Each of these sections is to be savoured slowly. Read the story in the morning. Think on a question or two at various points during the day - morning break, lunch, sitting on random park benches. If you like journaling, write lengthy responses. Immerse yourself in your faith journey. You’ll be glad you did!

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  * 

SET 1: 1-8 --- Finding Faith (8) 

Setting the Stage


SET 4: 23-28 --- Finishing in Faith (6)

Gideon’s Story

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,...