Thursday, May 31, 2018

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)

Sunday, May 20, 2018

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!

Friday, May 04, 2018

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

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,...