Advent Calendar

A joyful little girl ran into my office yesterday. "We're making Advent Calendars!" She said as she clapped with excitement.

“Wow! That sound like fun!” I smiled. “Do you know what Advent means?”

“No.” she said, “Maybe ‘surprise’ or ‘count down’?”

“Because of all the little surprises in each window counting down to Christmas!” I laughed, “Good guesses. But it means something even better. Got another guess?”

Baffled she shrugged her shoulders.

“Advent means,” I said, “someone very special is coming.”

She clapped her hands again. “SANTA!” She shouted as she ran out of my office to get back to work on an Advent Calendar filled with 24 surprises counting down the nights until the day humanity pauses to remember the birth of a baby.

Advent. God arrives on Earth. A baby born to a teenage mum. Jesus.

You know the story.

At hundreds of Carols by Candlelight programs right around Australia, Aussies will sing of the ‘Holy Night’ when ‘Hark! The Herald Angels Sing’ in the ‘Little Town of Bethlehem’ that ‘Joy to the World’ arrived ‘Away in a Manger’ answering the call of humanity to ‘Come, O come Emmanuel.” That first Advent of God on Earth was something to sing about. So much so that we are still singing about it two thousand years later!

Emmanuel means ‘God with us.’ And He is. You have a friend closer than a brother. A Father who loves you more than you can imagine. Jesus arrived as a helpless baby to show that God was willing to be vulnerable for us. He loves us enough to become one of us. We needed Him. So, He came. Emmanuel.

Please, don’t let Christmas be hijacked by the story of an old guy in a red hoodie who delivers Kmart kitsch. Tell the story of Jesus to your children. It’s part of your story. You’re already singing about it. That first Christmas is a surprise worth remembering with a month-long count down. It’s the joyful chapter in the story of a God who loves His children. It’s the Advent that rebooted humanity’s Calendar.


We see ourselves as the centre of the universe because we are the ones with the questions and we are selfish. It's all about us. The Bible is about us. Salvation is about us. Eternal life is about us. Sadly, we need it to be about us to value the discussion.

God, however, is love. He is the embodiment of love and He embues the universe with His love. When creation steps away from God's love disunity ensues.

Humanity is a prodigal son, rocky soil, Israel, Cain, Eve. We need God's love. Jesus is God's love incarnate. He became like us so we could see what God was up to. So we could see His love with our disbelieving eyes and touch his wounded side.

God became man so that man could see God. God knew (knows) sinful humanity can only see Him if He dresses like us, walks like us and dies like us - because we are so self focused. He became one of us so that we could become one with Him.

We are selfish. God is love.

Jesus showed we can live unselfish lives only when we know God is Love.  Knowing yourself is not the key to a full human life. Knowing God is. The self-centred life leads us to psychosis. The God-centred life leads us to love others.

God's "Plan A" is love. It always has been and always will be. It was our choice that made His love look like death. Not His. It's our inability to comprehend His love that makes us think he had any other choice.

The Suffering Sabbath

God's love is, of course, beyond comparison but we humans require comparison for understanding; the combining of things we understand in order to comprehend something new. There are very few truly new ideas. When they crop up they are shot down until they are comparable or combinable with something we already understand. God used our feeble and faulty love for our children to setup a paradigm of his Love for us. Both the Father and Son are merely metaphors we can understand through comparison. Abraham and Isaac is one such manifestation of this metaphor of comparison.

Understanding the Love of God is the end-goal of the Great Controversy. Lucifer sought this understanding and lacked it. We, likewise but with lesser ability - sin bound as we are - wish to understand God in all His glory. So, the Father begat a Son and sent Him to live among us as one of us and to die for us as One beyond us. “Father make them one as we are one,” Jesus prayed. It is a revelation of divine love in dusty sandals. He walked our roads as one of us, and calls us to walk His road as one with Him. Since that life, that death and that re-life, God calls us to the life liveable only when we enter His love, although we barely understand it.

I do not think we dwell often enough in the darkness between death and resurrection. And yet, this is where we live. We want the forgiveness He offered by taking our place. We want the life He promised by returning to life. But, what of the dark days of that fearful trial living between the call to death and the gift of life? How long did Abraham walk alongside his son believing he was about to lose him? For the disciples it was a sabbath. What a dark Sabbath indeed. A Sabbath without a Saviour. A day without understanding.
Then the Son rose. A new day dawns. Oneness reveals. The story deepens. Love lives. The metaphor thickens. Death dies. Father and Son are one. Revelation in resurrection.

The great cosmic conflict - life and death - were explained on the Road to Emmaus (See Luke 24:13-35). That must have been the most invigorating conversation humans have ever had with God. Does not your heart burn within you just considering that day, that walk, that conversation? Until the breaking of bread reveals, again, oneness. More inclusive. More reaching. More embracing. “Take eat, this is my body broken for you.”

Forever after, the cry of God on Abraham's mountain "It is enough" is completed by the Cry of God on ours "It is finished."

Kanye West - JESUS IS KING

I preached at a youth church in Melbourne a couple of weeks ago. Before the sermon, one of the fit blokes interviewing me said, "Last question, what do you think of Kanye West's new album JESUS IS KING?"

I spent the next few minutes telling them a few of the best things about Kanye's new album and his new found faith in Jesus.

1. People are talking about Jesus - Get on that ride!

2. Kanye reaches millions - pray for him.

3. Kanye is a baby Christian - be gentle with him. The lyrics in the album are simple, direct and passionate - just like a new Christian. It's not advanced theology but new faith. He's talking in his language about his experience. Just like we did when we first met Jesus.

4. Kanye has plans - Just like we did when we were new Christians. We know what we did with them. Some successes. Some failures. In the future, however his plans pan out, treat Kanye as you want to be treated.

5. We should not be among the naysayers - Christians should be 100 percent possitively engaged in the lives and ministry of other Christians. We are the body of Christ. Kanye is a huge set of hands for Jesus right now. He is a supersized mouth for Jesus (as are most new Christians!) and also like other baby Christians, Kanye is a sensitive body part that needs extra care.

6. Jesus is King - Follow Him.

7. Jesus is Judge - He just asks us to love people.

Reading the Book of the Law

Read Nehemiah 8:1-12

Was this a new idea when the people asked Ezra to read the Book of the Law? (Deut 31:12)
No, it was part of their culture, faith and national identity. The people wanted to be who their ancestors were. They wanted the old Jerusalem back, the Old Israel, The Old God who went before them.

What was in the Book of the Law that was read? What was it?
Their story of God’s interaction with the nation of Israel. Identity and Faith.

Do you think they read the 5 books of Moses and explained it before lunch?
No, they would have had featured texts and teachings each day.
Continue reading (Nehemiah 8:13-19) to see this in action (and to see a great reason for yearly campmeeting!)

Who was invited to this 7th month reading ritual? Deut 31:12
Men, women, kids, visitors, neighbours.
“Those who could understand.”

Who is missing in Neh 8:2? Where is the alien?
Driven out during the building phase. What does this suggest about their seperation from their neighbours? (It was likely a tribal response rather than a God commissioned act)

What was the result of this day of reading the Book of the Law? (Neh 8:8)
They heard their own story and what it meant to be the people of God. True Israel’s identity.

The origional purpose of the 7th month reading was to bring the story of God to people. It would tell the visitor who these people were. Jewish children would hear the source material for how their parents lived and lead. The parents would receive reinforcement and renewal in their purpose and identity. Israel’s identity would be clarified and recommissioned.

Done regularly, this Reading of the Law would create and maintain a people of God ready to serve Him and trained up to parent the next generation. What had the century without Jerusalem and a temple done to the Israelite community?
Left them without understanding, identity or purpose.

In Neh 8, what was the reason the people wanted the Book of the Law read to them?
They want to know their own story. The people want to know who they were meant to be. There are no ‘informed parents’ in this scenario. They are asking for guidance.

What type of reading are we needing today?
Have we forgotten our story?
Are we parenting with purpose?
Are there people among us who are new to the faith?
Do we need to tell our story more intentionally?

When we hear the Book of the Law read and explained into our lives, what is a proper/expected/reasonable response to hearing the old story and realising your place and identity in God’s Kingdom? (Neh 8:9-12)
Hearing the Law brings conviction
Weeping brings change
Rejoicing brings community

The Spiritual leaders (Nehemiah, Ezra, Levites) instructed the people in three areas. What were they?
Head – Understanding the Law (leads to conviction and weeping. Clear reading and intentional interpretation is foundational in the Kingdom of God.)
Heart – Joy as a response to Conviction (many people will not do this on their own. They will look for the next area that needs change and continue weeping as they see their own endless sinfulness. A spirutal leader commands celebration of the wins - both small and large.)
Home – Celebrate at Home (Making our homes centres of celebration, sharing, eating and joyfulness will strengthen the core of God’s kingdom – our families)

Do our spiritual leaders do this? Where are we strong? Where are we weak?

Hands - After Head/Heart (hearing and being convicted by God's word being expounded to us) experiences we take them Home where we celebrate in our comfort zone. This creates conversation about the convictions of the Head and Heart which we experienced. These conversations among friends and family generate choices which are applied in our daily lives. 

A regular cycle of communial Head/Heart teaching and Home/Hand application creates a growing group of Kingdom dwellers who are becoming more like their King each day. This is why it is so important to participate regularly in a Bible reading/teaching church and ensure your home celebrates the joy of the Lord by eating together and applying your Biblical convictions. 

Adventist Thought Question:
How does this Bible study impact your understanding of Sabbath and Campmeeting? 

Resilience Resources

This post is intended to be found and used by the chaplains attending the Korus Connect resource sharing days. Anyone else who finds it – More POWER to ya!

I’ve created these two resources to provide opportunities for students to share their own story. Every time we restory our lives, we build resilience!

I use these every day.

20 Resilience Questions and Workbook

This resource set targets stories from home. Our primary resilience givers are the significant adults in our lives. The more stories we know from their lives, the more options we have available to us when we face tough times. Resilience researches say these 20 questions predict resilience. What could be more useful than encouraging kids to learn these stories. Lots of parents have commented how much they enjoyed going through the workbook as a family.

The “Do You Know” Resilience Scale

Resilience “All About Me” Workbook

Getting to Know You Jenga

These questions are targeting stories from the lives of the students. Grab yourself a Jenga game from a 2nd hand store or spend a bit more ($8 at Big W) and stick these questions on the blocks. This is every kids favourite game in my office because it’s all about them! And it’s safe danger. Knocking the tower over is stressful and then hilarious! A good game of high-stress Jenga can lead to a fantastic conversation about how we handle stress in our lives.

“Towering Resilience” DIY Jenga Questions

Disciples are Mentors

The Christian life is about being a disciple making disciples. That means you are following someone and leading someone at the same time.

The apostle Paul said, "Follow me as I follow Jesus." He had enough grip on his faith that he could 'see' Jesus even though Jesus was no longer walking the earth. Paul never saw Jesus in the flesh. He met him on the road to Damascus and, after a bit of straightening out, followed Jesus from that day forward.

If you want to be great disciplemaker, it helps to think of yourself as a mentor. A good mentor has someone in front of him, alongside him and behind him. Three people to hold you accountable for your direction and momentum.

If you would like to be a mentor and are looking for a free and useful guide, I recommend Max7's Mentoring Booklet free to anyone and everyone. In the booklet you will find steps to take to become a great mentor and strategies to apply to ensure your mentoring is godly.

Jesus said, "Go therefore making disciples." That's a call to mentoring!

So, get to it. Find someone to mentor you and someone you can mentor in the principles of the Kingdom of God.

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,...