Saturday, May 26, 2012

Motorcycle Princess Hwy Coastal Trip

Heading to a speaking gig - FLAG Week at Macquarie College - I took the road less travelled by — on the motorcycle I love!

The Shadow - Honda VT750

Cann River, Vic

The Direction the water flows in Cann River

The high water mark in Cann River

A tree waiting for her boy (a fort waiting to be found!) in Cann River

Green pond in Cann River

Morning Light in Cann River

"Sometimes I sits and thinks. Sometimes I just sits."
A pondering point in Eden, NSW

Jutting coastline in Eden

Another view in Eden

A Tiny Beach in Bermagui, NSW

A view of town in Bermagui

Evening comes in Ulladulla, NSW

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Rescuer

Free eBook

Once upon a time, in a town not so very far from here, there lived a young woman; broken, abandoned and forgotten. Or so she thought.
One dark day she walked a lonely path and noticed, in a ray of sunshine, a man sitting on a rock. He was staring at her, smiling. The moment they saw each other, making eye contact, he beckoned her to come and sit for a while. Despite herself and her fears she was compelled toward him and soon realized the hours had turned into years.
The story he told her that first day, on that rocky sunlit bend in the path, was a love story. And the time they had spent together since was also the same love story. She had been found, claimed and renewed.
The love story she now knew so well was beyond her. It was beyond her town. It was, in fact, beyond her world. But it was perfectly hers and she could imagine no greater joy than, moment by moment, walking the path with her Rescuer.
As they walked together, he pointed to gems alongside the path. They were beautiful. They were pure. As she studied them she began to understand her Rescuer in new ways. Not only were the gems gifts from him, they were insights into his very nature and character - they told his story again to her, each gem in its own colourful way.
Soon she had collected more gems than she could hold in her hands. She made a special carry bag for the gems. She so treasured the gems that she became fixated upon them. The gem bag never left her sight. In truth, she struggled to set the bag aside at night while she slept, often wearing it to bed.
During the day, where once she had passionately told others of her Rescuer and introduced them to him, now she held out the gems compelling people to look upon and love the gems. She even demanded that others must gather and proclaim the value of the gems.
The gems were, of course, innocent of all this. They were still of and from the Rescuer. But they shone less and less as she focused upon them. She feared she was loosing her ability to fully appreciate the gems. The only remedy for their fading glory, that she could fathom, was to show them to more people — louder, bolder, braver in her presentation of the gems.
People quickly became wary of the gems and the gem woman. Some tried to talk her out of her gem collecting. But, she knew the gems were of and from the Rescuer and she would not be swayed. It was lonely work but she continued with the resolve of a martyr. She was whole-hearted in her daily work.
One overcast day, as she stood on the town's busiest street corner presenting and proclaiming the gems, she noticed a man watching her. While the townspeople bustled past, the man sat beyond the crowd, under a tree. She thought she recognised him from her past life, before the gems.
As they locked eyes, the sun came out and he smiled. He beckoned to her in a way she remembered fondly. Tears ran down her cheeks as she ran through the crowd and into his embrace.
They sat under the tree, in the sun, and talked for hours. He told her the story of the universe. She told him the story of the gems. She told him of the many rejections, the broken friendships, the scoffers on the street. His eyes filled with tears at her remembered pain. And then she showed him the bag.
The Rescuer leaned forward from the tree, his eyebrows arched. The bag had his undivided interest. She poured the gems out on the ground between them. The Rescuer's hands involuntarily went to his face in dismay. He asked how the gems came to be here, in her bag.
She explained that in her bliss, as she followed him on the path, she had seen them and collected each gem to have and to hold - and to show to others so they too might admire them.
The Rescuer picked up the now empty bag and sighed. He told the woman he had wondered where she had gone, what she had busied herself with. And then he embraced her again, telling her he was so glad she was back.
"The gems," he told her, "are not meant to be collected. They are meant to be discovered and enjoyed as we travel the path together. They should never be bagged and flogged like common wares."
The woman's brow furrowed, trying to understand. "How," she asked, "are others to discover the gems if they are not gathered and proclaimed?"
The Rescuer took one of the gems between thumb and finger, blew off the dust, and held it up in the sunlight. The woman gasped as the gem glowed as it had the first day she found it, but not since.
The Rescuer smiled. "Every person who receives my smile and story walks the path," he explained. "And the gems are there, along the path, to remind and renew their faith. The gems are effective only on the path, as the traveller walks alongside me. Away from the path, they are ever dimming reminders of sunnier days."
The Rescuer quickly gathered the gems and returned them to the bag. He stood and dusted himself off before offering his hand to the woman, helping her to her feet. He handed her the gem bag and they walked — hand in hand — away from the busy city street corners, down a sunlit path, dropping gems right and left as they went.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Believing Grown-ups

By David Edgren

Truth, naked and cold, had been turned away from every door in the village. Her nakedness frightened the people. When Parable found her she was huddled in a corner, shivering and hungry. Taking pity on her, Parable gathered her up and took her home. There, she dressed Truth in story, warmed her and sent her out again. Clothed in story, Truth knocked again at the doors and was readily welcomed into the villagers' houses. They invited her to eat at their tables and warm herself by their fires.    
-- Jewish Teaching Story

Adults engage with truth and belief in much the same way as children do, it just takes longer for the truth to have its way with us.

In a previous article entitled “Good Soil Storytelling” we explored the way that children engage with the Kingdom of God. Kids just get God. They take very little time to go from hearing the story to believing it to be true. We saw that those who believe most authentically make believe most authentically.

The scientific method has so overpowered our thought world that, even in the church, we have become convinced that empirical proof is required to prove truth. Can it be tested? Has it been tested? Can I redo the test and get the same results? Then it is true. This is the Scientific Method.

Stories of faith operate on a different level of thinking. And truth of a belief nature does not typically do well on the empirical tests of scientific thinking.
So, do stories still live in the hearts of people today? Or, is story-based-truth dead? Is there anywhere in our world where we can go to find myths to build our character stories to shape our identity and our passion for living? Is there somewhere we can go today to hear stories of things beyond-belief and yet grasp them as believable? Does such a place exist in our modern world? Absolutely!

We do not scientifically believe that a boy bitten by a spider can then shoot webs out of his wrists and scale buildings with his bare hands. And yet, globally, we sit for 90 minutes, enthralled as Peter Parker dons his Spiderman suit and fights evil - and we leave thinking, "I too believe that great power must be accompanied by great responsibility."

Yes, humanity is still very involved with the myth-making of superheroes, god's and goddesses. For well-told stories, our modern-day world goes to the movies. If we compare or equate theatres with churches, scriptwriters with theologians and actors with pastors, we become very antagonistic and uncomfortable. And, we run the risk of missing what is really happening.

People are not going to the movies to find their gods. They are going to the movies to find themselves their values, their identity and their purpose. They are looking for a good story to hang their life on. The church has, unfortunately, slowed in telling the story in all its compelling glory and fallen in the scientific method mind-trap.

 We do not scientifically believe that a child was quietly sent here from a distant part of the universe, raised by human parents, that he walked among us as a man, looked like us, acted like us and yet when the moment of need arose he was revealed to be very unlike us as he emerged from a nearby telephone booth wearing his red cape and blue suit with the Letter S emblazoned on his chest.

 Perhaps you were thinking of someone else. Someone who was sent from above as a baby, lived with unassuming human parents, grew up incognito in a nondescript village and revealed his true identity and purpose as an adult miraculously healing people, saving people, raising the dead and ultimately emerging from death Himself. What would happen if this superhero - this Jesus of ours - was allowed the "suspension of disbelief" by the world today? What if His story was allowed into the hearts and minds of today's seekers of identity and purpose? What would today's myth-loving moviegoer do with Jesus if they really let Him in?

A few years ago, I took a youth group in Tasmania to see "The Passion of the Christ" on opening night. We were in the very first group to see the movie. Something amazing happened in the theatre that night.

Afterward, the theatre owner said to me, "In my 20 years of running this theatre, I've never seen anything like it. People just sat there." Through the entire scrolling of the credits we all just sat there. None of us left until the credits stopped and the lights came on. We all just sat there.

All except for one. A few minutes into the credits, a teenaged girl stumbled to the front, fell to her knees facing the screen, and wept. Another girl came and comforted her. Everyone else watched from their seats, staring into the screen or just closing their eyes in silence. No one wanted the lights to come on. No one wanted to go back to reality. No one wanted the suspension of disbelief to end. They wanted the story to be true.

As Christians we work so hard to get people to this point. We hope, pray and struggle to convince people, hoping they will realise their dire need for the story to be true.

Because, we know the Story is true.

And when a friend or family member reaches the point of desiring the story of Jesus accepting that this story is true and is worth building their life upon we have a wonderful opportunity.

We must tell them the Truth in all its glory. And it is here that we blunder. Far too often, in our desire to tell them the truth of Jesus, we as products of the scientific era try to prove it to them. We pull out our charts, our historical data, our proof texts. And in so doing we suck the air out of the room and the door slams closed. Their suspension of disbelief their openness crashes back to reality. The good soil grows thorns and becomes rocky once again. Their search for values, identity and purpose is hijacked by a science lesson. They were looking for a hero. Not a proof text. They were seeking a Saviour. Not a formula. They were hoping for a new reality. Not a refresher course on this one.

Tell the Jesus Story in a way that gives the world what it needs. Give them a story to hang their faith on. Jesus always used stories and illustrations like these when speaking to the crowds. In fact, he never spoke to them without using such parables (Matthew 13:34 NLT). Help people transition their suspension of disbelief into recognition of truth by sharing truth, not naked and cold but wrapped in story. Bring them to the reality of Jesus the way that the Master Storyteller would have in a story.

Because you have listened to their story over the months or years before they came to this point of readiness, you also will be ready with a story. Knowing them, you will know which story will most resonate with their own. Perhaps it will be Peters story, Esthers story, Thomas story, Ruths story, Pauls story, Dorcas story, Josephs story, Hagars story, or even your own story. Each is a telling of an encounter between the God of Love and a person who realised their need of Him. And each leads into the story of Jesus and His amazing gift for each of us.

Providing facts without story leaves too much to chance. Be patient enough to tell a story the right one that brings truth to life. Be wise enough to save the story until the moment when it can be savoured. People don't need new facts, they need a new story. Its easy to tell the truth. But to have the truth welcomed, embraced and embodied that takes a story.

Adventure for Prophet

By David Edgren

Long, long ago, back before your Mum or Dad were born – even before your Grandma and Grandpa were born, there lived a lady who had a very adventurous life. She travelled around the world telling people about the special messages Jesus gave to her in visions and dreams! Her name was Ellen.
When Ellen Harmon was a teenager, her parents took her to church meetings where people talked about Jesus coming very soon. They said He was coming in less than a year. They said they knew the exact day Jesus would come. And, sadly, when the day passed, they found out they were very wrong.
Many people who had been coming to the church meetings, stopped coming after they were so greatly disappointed. Some thought the dates were wrong. Others thought the people setting the dates were wrong. But, no matter what they thought, they were all sad.
During that very dark and sad time, something amazing happened. Ellen had a dream that showed the very people who had been disappointed walking on a high path toward heaven! At first, she was scared to tell people about the dream because she thought they would laugh at her. But, once she worked up the courage to tell her friends, they encouraged her to tell more people. And this is where her life of adventure began.
When Ellen started having more visions, a young preacher named Joseph White was convinced her visions were from God. He began spending more time with Ellen and telling people about her visions. Soon, he fell in love with Ellen. Joseph wanted to get married quickly because they could both feel God calling them to go tell the world their wonderful messages. Joseph was afraid if he went one direction and Ellen went another, they might never get married. On August 30, 1846 they were married and Ellen became Mrs White.
Mr and Mrs White had four children – all boys. Henry, Edson, William and John. Their youngest boy John died as a baby. For the three months of his short life he suffered from a skin infection, which caused blisters, fever and very sore skin. Ellen said, “My dear babe was a great sufferer. Twenty-four days and nights we anxiously watched over him, using all the remedies we could for his recovery, and earnestly presenting his case to the Lord. At times I could not control my feelings as I witnessed his sufferings. Much of my time was spent in tears and humble supplication to God” (spiritual gifts v2 p 296).
Their first born, Henry, died of pneumonia when he was 16 years old. It started with a simple cold. Life was very tough for people before modern medicine.
Mrs White’s travels often took her far away from her family. Sometimes she felt lonely. She wrote to her husband Joseph: “Although I miss you very, very much, and love you, yet I feel at present I belong to God to wait for and do His will. … It has been hard, so hard.”
On land, Mrs White travelled in carriages, on trains and by horse. After one mountain ride in Colorado, she wrote: “It looked fearful so high, and below was a fearful precipice of rocks. If the horses had stepped over to one side we should have fallen hundreds of feet.” (Letter 12, 1872). When she was in her late 80’s Mrs White’s twin grandsons Herbert and Henry took her for her first ride in an automobile. She said, “It is the easiest machine that I have ever ridden in” (letter 11, 1913).
While on a long sea voyage to Australia, Mrs White was travelling with her Son’s wife and granddaughter. The ship stopped near an island in Samoa. Because big ships can only get so close to land, they had to stop in shallow water. Mrs White and the other ladies were wearing the long dresses of the day and could not walk in the water as the men did. So, two big Samoan men carried the women to land. On their first trip, the two men clasped hands making a chair and carried Mrs White to shore where she sat on a large rock.
Ethel May, Mrs White’s Daughter in law, later wrote: “Another man took my 4-month-old daughter in his arms and held an umbrella over her to shelter her from the sun. Then he motioned for me to get on his back. So I scrambled onto his back and wrapped my arms and legs around him, and off we went. Mother White laughed so hard at the sight that she couldn’t stop. She laughed until she fell off the rock” (Adventist Review July 7 1983).
When she was home, Mrs White loved gardening. At nearly 70, she wrote in her diary: “I arose at half past four a.m. At five I was at work spading up ground and preparing to set out my flowers.”
What an amazing life Ellen White had because she chose to follow her dreams and share her visions. God has great plans for your life, too. Say yes to Jesus, and your life will be a grand adventure!

Special thanks to Jeff Crocombe for his online presentation, “Meet Ellen White – wife, mother, friend” at

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Good Soil Storytelling

By David Edgren

One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could touch and bless them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him. When Jesus saw what was happening, he was angry with his disciples. He said to them, Let the children come to me. Dont stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children.  I tell you the truth, anyone who doesnt receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.  Then he took the children in his arms and placed his hands on their heads and blessed them. (Mark 10:13-16 NLT)

What would it have been like to be a child in the above story? Imagine the emotional rollercoaster you would have ridden. I am sure the children wanted to see Jesus more than their parents did. But, for a very different reason.

The parents wanted a blessing for their children. They wanted the right to claim, My child was touched by Jesus. We received his blessing!

Children arent that concerned with the name and fame game. They live in the moment, enjoying life one experience at a time. Children just wanted to be with Jesus. Because he told great stories. Because he cuddled them. Because he laughed when they did. Because his smile was as sincere and kind as his eyes. Children wanted to be with Jesus because he loved them and they could feel it.

In one of his many stories, Jesus suggested people have four responses to his teaching. Some, like a rocky footpath, barely take notice nothing sinks in. Others, like shallow soil, burst into action with new life but fizzle when things heat up. A third kind of hearer, surrounded by thorns, is choked to death before they can mature. And finally, there is a forth listener who, like good soil, is healthy and ready for the Word and becomes both blessed and a blessing as the harvest multiplies in them and through them. This is who we, as parents, want to be good soil growing the Word in our lives and in our children.

While he held children on his lap, Jesus said, "The Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesnt receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it. Why? What intuitive receptivity or ability does a child have that adults lack? Somehow, kids 'get' the Kingdom of God. The story gets through. Children are good soil. What attribute of childlikeness must we have to enter the Kingdom of God?

In 2007 Oxford University initiated a focused anthropological study entitled, the “Cognition, Religion, & Theology Project”. Their goal was to understand why humans, across the globe and through time, have faith. Every culture has religion. Why? What is it about humanity that results in us having belief in a higher power?

Coming from our Christian perspective, these questions may seem strange. But, they make perfect sense when detachedly studying people as creatures. Where does the reality of God or gods come from and why do humans, across the cultures, believe?
In July 2010, Oxford University held a Cognitive Science of Religion convention to reveal their findings. 41 papers were presented on various aspects of human faith and religion.* Intriguingly, much of the research focused on children and their faith. It seems, the scientists discovered, to understand human faith we must first understand a child’s faith.

Various findings suggested that in imaginative play all children include a "God" figure - higher power, omniscient being, superpowers - even children from non-faith backgrounds. Their invisible friends are more likely to be immortal than natural. One paper memorably quipped that invented playmates tend to be more godlike than doglike. Childrens imaginations do not create pets to play with, but instead wonder toward God.

Another interesting finding about the faith of children was that children understand God's immortality before they understand human mortality. Eternal life makes more sense than human death. Scientists were amazed by this finding. To Christians, it is perfectly reasonable because we know Gods original plan for life did not include death. Childlike faith understands this intuitively.

It would seem, those who believe most authentically, make-believe most authentically. Jesus calls us toward an experience of faith in which the imagination is fully engaged like a child. Notice what Jesus did not say: he did not say the Kingdom of God belongs to children. He did say, "The Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesnt receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.

In storytelling, a story becomes effective when the listener exercises the “suspension of disbelief. This is the ability to enter the story-world to let go of "reality" while enjoying the story. You have undoubtedly experienced this during a movie or while reading a book when your mind stops saying, this is just a story and starts allowing the story to come to life allowing it, in effect, to be true.

Most children are able to suspend disbelief as quickly as you can say, “once upon a time”. Adults take a bit longer. This ability to fully enter a story and forget the cares of the world, for a time, is part of what it is to be human. It exists in all cultures when stories are told.

One Christmas season I was acting in a walk-through Christmas pageant. Each group of people would come through our scene for a matter of minutes and then continue the story by walking to the next scene. As Herod, it was my job to exude a selfish arrogance that betrayed my words that I too wished to “go and worship the child.” Once the audience had moved away, I would leave the stage. But, in one group, a little boy did not stand and leave with his group. Instead he remained seated on the grass and stared at me as I sat on my throne. As his group entered the next scene, the boy’s sister rushed back and grabbed his shoulder, “Come-on! We’ve gotta go!” The boy jolted back to reality. Confused, he looked at his sister and, in a startled voice, said, “He’s not the real – ” then his head snapped back to me and he proclaimed, “You’re not the real Herod!”

This is the suspension of disbelief done as only a child can do it. He was so lost in the story that it took a shake and a shout from his sister to get him back to reality. Those who believe most authentically, make-believe most authentically. Good soil brings the story to life. And this is the childlike reality that we are called to imitate. We are to be engaged with the story like a child. Childlike faith - the faith required to get into the Kingdom of God - is a faith that gets lost in the story.

If God truly wants us to get lost in the story of His presence, power and provision then there should be somewhere we can turn to engage in the story. And there is. The Bible is full of stories. Eighty percent of the Bible is story! Why so many stories? Because God knows we need stories to hang our faith on. He made us as creatures of story. I know I am on the right track when I find myself lost in the epic story of God and His Kingdom.

So, how can we engage with the Bible in a way that disciples our children and us? Perhaps the easiest way is to ask your children to tell the stories with you. They will need paper, pens, paths, paint, seeds, songs, waves, sunshine, noise, trees, rain, pictures, fruit, fields and time lots of time. Because kids really get Gods Kingdom and to tell Kingdom stories takes time. As adults we get too easily caught in the trap of explaining and proving. Children, on the other hand, get lost in exploring and playing.

Make-believe your way through the Bible with your children. In every family and at every stage of childhood, this retelling and reenacting of the story will look, feel and truly be different. That is ok. In fact, that is important. The story of Gods Kingdom is one that builds layer by layer with each telling.

Let your imagination come back to life become good soil, once again. Enjoy the Bible as the storybook of the ages. Let it speak to you and through you in a way that is beyond belief. Tell the Story. Tell it with your life and with your lips. Tell the Story well. And it will make belief.

* A Project Summary of Oxford’s CSR Convention can be found at:

Sunday, May 06, 2012

The Perfect Lamb

The Perfect Lamb is being printed this week.

It tells the story of Jesus' substitutionary death is a way that makes sense to kids.

You and the children in your life will love it!

Illustrated with more than a dozen beautiful drawings, and told in a compelling narrative about a boy and his little lamb, this book will keep kids glued to every page.

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,...