Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Aug 3 - Obedience: The Fruit of Revival

Sabbath School - Aug 5 - Obedience: The Fruit of Revival
A Sabbath School resource from the Victorian Conference of the Adventist Church in Australia

What is the difference between obedience to tradition and obedience that leads revival?  

Stand in a circle facing each other, holding hands. Describe what you see. 
Now spin around, face the other direction, and rejoin hands. It’s the same circle of people, but what do you see now? 
Sit in a circle and discuss: Imagine you did this exercise in a public place full of people. The first time (facing inward) you would see and focus on each other. What would be different about the second circle? What might a circle facing outward see? What effects would the things your group members saw have on your group? 

When someone says their church needs to experience a revival, what do they mean? Describe what revival in your church would look like. What would it feel like? What kinds of things would people be saying and doing?

Read Isaiah 58. Pick a favorite verse. Go around the circle, allowing each person to share their favorite verse and why it stands out for them.
What are the key attributes of the people in Isaiah 58 before and after they experience revival? Compare the revival you described in question 1 to the revival in Isaiah 58. What are the similarities? What are the differences?

Read: The prophet Amos described the people of his day as those who “trample the needy and do away with the poor of the land” (Amos 8:4). He imagined their anxiousness to be done with worship in the form of Sabbath and the New Moon festival so they could reopen the market and get back to their dishonest trade, “buying the poor with silver and the needy for a pair of sandals” (Amos 8:6). 

Why bother with this form of religion, Amos said to these merchants, if it only gets in the way of the exploitation and profit that is your real focus in life?
While we might not run a business, deny paying wages to our employees, or seem to actively oppress others, do we take the opportunities we do have to care for, help, and encourage those who are hurting, disadvantaged, lonely, unwell, or forgotten? 
What would be noticeable about people from a church like this? (Consider Micah 6:8). 

Reflect on a church experiencing a revival like the one described in Isaiah 58.What would worship be like? What would Sabbath be like? Ellen White commented, “upon those who keep the Sabbath of the Lord is laid the responsibility of doing a work of mercy and benevolence” (Welfare Ministry, page 121). What do you think Sister White meant? What would this kind of Sabbath-keeping look like?Have you ever thought about doing justice and loving mercy as acts of worship?

What does the typical Sabbath look like in your church? How could you and your church family be using Sabbath to face outward rather than inward? What positive changes could an outward focus cause in the mission and purpose of your church?
A final note: If we are serious about following Jesus, we will also focus on others. If we are serious about Sabbath keeping, we will allow its grace to benefit everyone through us. If we are serious about revival, we will be serious about service.

If you’d like to read an in-depth article on the topic addressed in this study click here to read ‘Revival that Counts’.

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Serpent Scroll (from Chapter 14)

“You are one of the teachers of God’s Word,” the first voice said, “and you don’t understand this simple idea? Unless a person is born again—by water and Spirit—they can’t go to Heaven!”
James looked with big eyes at Paul and Hannah. He grabbed them both by the sleeves and tugged. “I know this story,” he hissed. “That is Jesus talking to Nicodemus!”
“Why are they talking in whispers? And at night?” Hannah asked. “I thought Jesus always had his disciples around him.”
“Nicodemus didn’t want people to know he was talking to Jesus because he could loose his job!” James said. “So, he asked Jesus to meet him at night in a secret place.”
“That’s right,” Paul said, remembering. “Jesus is talking about baptism. Let’s keep listening.”
The three peered around the corner and saw the two men with a candle between them. “There is only one way to Heaven,” Jesus said. “You have to see the Son of Man lifted up.”
“Lifted up? You mean praised?” Nicodemus asked. “Like a king is ‘lifted up, high and mighty’?”
“Not like that at all,” Jesus replied. “Moses lifted up a bronze snake on a pole to save the people in the desert from death. That kind of ‘lifted up’.”
“I don’t understand,” Nicodemus shook his head. “These are hard teachings.”
“The Son of Man must be lifted up,” Jesus said, “so that all people who see His sacrifice can be saved. God loves the world a lot. So much, in fact, that He sent His only son to be lifted up. Everyone who believes in His Son will not end their lives in death, but in eternal life!”
 “Why is this ‘Son’ so important?” Nicodemus asked.
“He is God’s one and only Son,” Jesus said. “And He brings light to the world. Darkness ends in death, light in life. It’s that simple!”
“That simple, huh?” Nicodemus shook his head. “I will think on these things.”
Jesus clasped Nicodemus’ shoulders with His hands, “I know you will, my friend. Thank you for setting aside this time for me.”

“You’re welcome, Rabbi. Goodbye for now.”
For the rest of the story, order a copy today!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Kingdom Clowning

Graeme Frauenfelder is one of my favourite people on the planet.

Every time I see Graeme, I leave the encounter feeling like he has just invested in me. Graeme is a beautiful and inspirational person. He travels the world bringing deep-hearted joy to everyone he encounters.

Thanks Graeme! Thanks for being you.

Recently, infocus caught up with Graeme and interviewed him. Watch it. It's worth your time!

Sad clown, happy clown: MyStory – 26.07.13 from InFocus on Vimeo.

If you are running a church, school or camp program and looking for something your children, youth, parents and grandparents will be inspired by and remember forever, I highly recommend Graeme Frauenfelder.

Invite him today.

And pay him twice.
He's worth it!

Find Graeme on Facebook

Small Mercies

There are small joys in most moments. 
It's just easier to focus on the screaming noise of the "busy life" all around us.

Once upon a time, a man was being chased through the jungle by a tiger.

As he ran he came to dead end, a sheer rock face loomed up in front of him.

As the tiger emerged from the jungle the man quickly climbed the wall. Moments later, the tiger was at the bottom of the wall and the man was stuck a few metres above with no way to go further up the mountain.

He looked down and saw the tiger pacing back and forth.
He looked up and saw the impassable sheer rock face.
He was in trouble! No way up. No way he was going down.

Then he noticed a strawberry growing in a crack of the wall next to him.

It was plump, red and full of life.

With his free hand, the man gleefully picked the strawberry, thanked God for small mercies, and ate the strawberry.

It was the most delicious strawberry he had ever eaten.

...  There are strawberries everywhere  ....

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Telling a story in Pakistan

Today I had the privilege of telling a story to an orphanage school in Pakistan!

One of the ministers there has been chatting with me on Facebook for a few weeks and asked if I would be willing to tell the kids a Bible story on Skype.

We planned it and today was the day!

The kids learned a song in English just for me! I asked them to sing it again at the end of the story.


Isn't the world an amazingly connected place!?!

July 27 - Witness and Service

Sabbath School - July 27 - Witness and Service: The Fruit of Revival
A Sabbath School resource from the Victorian Conference of the Adventist Church in Australia

Note: Earlier this year Nathan Brown and I worked together to produce the 2013 Youth Week of Prayer Guide. He wrote the Youth readings and I wrote an extended discussion guide to accompany the reading. I also wrote a Junior story-based version of each day’s reading. It was titled “Revival that counts” and therefore speaks to many of the same issues as this quarters lesson. The final reading of the YWOP focused on the 3 angels messages in Revelation. They beautifully mirror this week’s lesson. Enjoy the Reading and then use this discussion guide to have a unique discussion on “Witness and Service: The Fruit of Revival”. 

The Three Angels’ Story

Icebreaker: We live in an information saturated world and thus apply little of what we learn. Knowing something is good for us doesn’t necessarily mean we put it into practice. What information has changed your life? What was the process of turning information into transformation? What caused you to turn your knowledge into action? Share your story.


The Bible is 75 percent story. Why? What is God trying to accomplish in our lives by giving us the Bible? How do stories help us reach God’s goals for our lives? 

Understanding that when God wants to reach our heart He sends us a story, read Revelation 14:6-12. What is the story being told? Why angels? Why three angels? What is the overall theme or message of the story? What are the individual messages of each angel? What information does this story give us? What transformation is it calling for?

Angel 1: Revelation 14:6,7

Read: If all creation, redemption, and recreation emanates from God and, according to the Bible, God spends the whole of human history trying to get that through to us, why does God seem to be so preoccupied with us telling that back to Him? If God is who He says He is, why is He seemingly so focused on us worshipping Him?
What does worship do in us as a person? What does worship do for us as a people? What does worship do through us for the world?

Angel 2: Revelation 14:8

Read: It is to this reality (the wreck evil has made of God’s creation) that the message of Revelation 14’s second angel calls our attention. All is not right with the world. In fact, something is desperately, dangerously, and diabolically wrong. The story began with a world created wonderfully good by a great and loving God, but evil entered the story. We live among the fallout from that story. And the inevitable result of this trajectory is utter hopelessness and self-destruction.
Babylon (the world without God) is utterly fallen and corrupt. What transformation does this message call to existence within you? Who does it make you want to become? There are many people who do not recognise the fallen world for what it is. What does this second angel’s message compel you to do for them? 

Angel 3: Revelation 14:9-12

Read: The story of the first and second angel’s succinctly draws a stark distinction between the claims and call of God and the brokenness of this world and its systems of power—between good and evil. The third part of this story presents an unambiguous choice. Do we give our allegiance to the kingdom of God or the kingdoms of this world? Are we part of the problem or are we part of God’s solution?

How is this final message a call to servanthood? What role does patience play in dealing with evil? How do God’s wrath and His love go hand in hand? 

What do you believe are the most important things about what it means to live as people of God in your community today? 

A final note: For God’s people—and for all people and places they can influence—the future kingdom of God starts now. Of course, it will only be completed when the world is recreated ultimately by God Himself (see Revelation 21:1-5). But we are called to be agents of restoration and recreation here and now—and by so doing to alert others to the eternal choice they must make.
In the context of the “eternal gospel” and God’s promise of judgment, in light of the assurance of the gospel and the warnings against complacency and the many other temptations of evil, we are called to seek and stand for goodness—and to serve as Jesus did (see Luke 4:18, 19). 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Interruptability - A talk on Discernment

I spent Friday morning (July 19, 2013) with the primary kids at Gilson College. They have two primary school chapels due to the size of their school. The first group is the grade 4-6 kids. The littles are second.
Every time I go to Gilson College I am impressed with the attention they give to the “Value of the Week” as they give out awards to kids who have excelled in that area. This week the value was “Discernment.” 
(Note: I have now done this talk at other schools, as a Pathfinder rally sermon and as a church sermon. It is well received by all. Stories are powerful. Jesus' stories are absolutely powerful!)


The first thing I said, when I took the stage, was:
Let’s learn a Bible verse together. It’s a long one, but it’s easy. I’ll teach you how. Listen as I say it once myself:
“MY FRIENDS, love one another.
EVERYONE, who loves is born of God and knows God.
ANYONE, who does not love, does not know God.
Because, GOD IS LOVE!”
1 JOHN 4:7,8 

I explained how the verse could be remembered easily by breaking it up into sub groups and saying the loud (capitalised) bits loudly.

Then we practiced it together a few times. 

With the littles, I abbreviated it:
“MY FRIENDS, love one another.
Because, GOD IS LOVE!”

The Value for the Week

Discernment is a pretty big word for kids! 

I asked the kids, “Who can tell me: What is discernment?” They gave me some great examples (being kind, being helpful, telling the truth, etc) but not a definition. So, I changed the question, “Who can give me a dictionary definition for Discernment?” That got them thinking. After a bit, someone said, “Making good choices.” 

“YES! Very good!” I said with a smile. Then I gave them an example. 
“Is there anything wrong with crossing the road?”
“No!” The kids shouted back.
“Is there a wrong time to cross the road?”
“YES!” They shouted as I mimed getting squashed by a car. Kids love over-acting... I pulled an explosive face and a leaped backward like I’d just caught a car to the gut. 
Over the kids laughter, I asked, “Is there a right time to cross the road?”
“YES!” They shouted. 
I walked to the edge of the stage looking both ways once saying, “STOP! Looking left. Looking right. No cars. Hmmm. I’ll just look again. Looking left. Looking right. And cross the road.” I mimed taking a few steps.
“So, crossing the road is neither good or bad, but choosing the right time to cross with care - that takes Discernment!” 
Lots of nods from the kids. (and of course a few hands go up. Stories to tell? Road crossing escapades to divulge? Too bad!) Time to move on!

Introducing a New Word

Next I asked them if anyone had ever heard the word “Interruptability”. No one had. So I asked them to guess what it might mean. With the big kids, the first guess was hilarious. In a very serious voice, a girl said, “The ability to interrupt people!” 

I laughed. “If that’s the answer, kids are experts! Nope. Try again, turn it the other way around.”

A boy said, “The ability to be interrupted?” 

“Yes!” I said. “That’s it, exactly! Is it easy to have the ability to be interrupted and like it?” 

The kids all shouted no. 

“What would a person who was interruptable be like?” I asked.
And from this question I went into story number one.

Illustration Joke

With the little kids, I did a bit more explaining. “Interrupt” is a big word all by itself, without attaching “ability” to it as well. So, I told them a joke.
“Do you guys know how to tell ‘knock knock’ jokes?”

They did.

“Knock Knock” I said slowly.

“WHO’S THERE?” the entire room full of tiny people shouted. It was an impressive sound!

“ANNOYING” (I said the words slowly) “INTERRUPTING” (spacing them out) “COW.”

“ANNOYING” (they copied my pace) “INTERRUPTING” (kids mimic well) “C—”

I interrupted, putting the mic right to my mouth, “MOOOOO!!!!”

The laughter was precious! They didn’t all get it at the same time. The humour of it rippled through the kids, laugher peeling like thunder. There’s nothing quite as joyous as children laughing.

After quieting them down, I explained that I had just interrupted them and they had enjoyed it, which meant they had shown interruptability. So, it’s not hard. It’s just something you have to decide to do and that takes Discernment.

Story One - Jesus and the Children

Mark 10 starts and finishes with mirror stories. After a few words about divorce Jesus is interrupted by mothers with their children - wanting a blessing. Jesus was the master of interruptability. He defends the right of these mums and bubs and welcomes them to himself. 

Imagine that when you got up this morning, your mum said, “We’re not going to school today. I’ve just found out that Jesus is going to be at the shops down the street at lunchtime. We’re going to go see Jesus!” 

Kids get right into this type of storytelling. They love imagining a story happening to themselves. And that’s the whole point of Jesus’ stories. They happen to normal people like us. We are drawn to Jesus as we are drawn into each story like a child.

I built up the morning at home, filled with chores and helping Mum. 
Finally, Mum says it’s time to go and you walk, hand-in-hand down the footpath to the shops. You know you are supposed to hold Mum’s hand, but you are just so excited you keep running ahead. Mum calls you back. You come back. Hold Mum’s hand. You run ahead. Mum calls you back. You come back. Hold Mum’s hand. You run ahead... 

In telling this part I make a show of running forward, stopping (shoulders slumped), taking a few steps in reverse, holding my hand up higher than my head (taking Mum’s hand) and then running, stopping, reversing, hand up high, running, stopping reversing, hand up high, etc. Kids love it. They laugh because they see themselves in it. That’s how I believe Jesus would have told stories to kids — with his whole being!

Finally you get to the shops. The place is packed. Everybody is here to see Jesus. Then you hear a man say, “Sorry ladies, Jesus is busy with important people. He doesn’t have time to kiss babies.” 
You look up at Mum. She’s got tears in her eyes. But she keeps pushing into the crowd. “At least we can see Jesus from a distance,” Mum says. There are so many people. So many other kids with their mums. You hear another man tell another group of women to go away. 
Your lip starts to stick out. 

I make a real play out of my lip having a mind of it’s own. Trying to cry. 

“It’s not fair,” you think. And your lip comes out further. It starts to shake. Then it pops out all the way. Your lip is not happy and he’s called the sniffles to come join him. It’s time to cry! 

I mime the beginning of a fit - lip out, shaking, eyes tearing up, nose sniffling, taking ragged breaths. 

Then you hear another voice, loud and demanding. “Let the children come see me! I love kids!” Kids start rushing through the gaps, squeezing through knees and rushing to Jesus. Mum squeezes your hand and says, “Go! Go see Jesus!” You push to the front and Jesus picks you up and sits you on his knee.
“What can I do for you, little one?” Jesus asks.
“I just want a hug,” you say. And he hugs you with such a big warm hug. It’s perfect!

As Jesus hugs you, he looks over your head at the onlooking adults. "Don't ever stop one of these little ones from running to me!" Jesus says this, almost like he's angry. He looks down at your face for a moment and then back at the crowd. "In fact, no one can get into the Kingdom of God unless they run to me, like a child. So, run to me. Let other's run to me! And the Kingdom will be alive in you!"

Jesus give you one final squeeze and sends you back to your mum. 

I then explain there was a day just like this story in the Bible. 

Heaps of people wanted to see Jesus. His disciples told the kids and mums to go away. And Jesus heard it. So, Jesus did the three things that interruptability makes you do.

I get the kids to say these three things with me.

Jesus shouted, “STOP!” And he invited the children to come.
Then he LISTENED to the kids.
Then he did what he could to HELP them. He blessed them. He prayed for them. He hugged them. 

Story Two - Blind Bartimaeus

The final story in Mark 10 is also about Jesus’ Interruptability. 

There is a blind man named Bartimaeus sitting on the side of the road just inside the gates of Jericho. He’s been sitting there every day for years. He knows the sounds of people. One person sounds like “plop plop” (mime footsteps). A small group is a bit noisier. And a crowd is a loud very busy sort of sound. 
Today, the crowd is big. REALLY BIG. And Bartimaeus knows something big is happening. 
“What’s going on?” Bartimaeus shouts. (I say this loudly in the mic)
Nobody answers. 
“What’s going on?” Bartimaeus shouts again, louder.
“Be quiet!” Someone shouts back.
“What’s going on?” Bartimaeus shouts again, even louder.
“Be quiet!” The crown shouts back. The Bible actually says the people actually shouted at Bartimaeus! He must have been making a lot of noise for the crowd to respond at full volume. Usually people ignore the blind, disabled — different — people. But they shouted at Bartimaeus and told him to be quiet.
But he didn’t listen. He kept asking what was going on.
Finally someone said, “Jesus is coming.”

Suddenly Bartimaeus’ shout changed, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.”
He continued shouting this as the crowd moved past him.
“Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.”
“Be quiet!”
“Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.”
“Be quiet!”
“Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.”
“Be quiet!!!!” 
“JESUS!! SON!! OF!! DAVID !!” (the kids love this escalating back-n-forth shouting match!)
Finally Jesus hears Bartimaeus.
“STOP!” Jesus commands.
Everyone goes quiet.
Except Bartimaeus, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
Jesus heard Bartimaeus that time! Jesus walked through the crowd to the blind man.
“What do you want?” Jesus asked and then LISTENED.
Bartimaeus answered without pausing for a breath, “I want to see!”
The Jesus HELPED. “Go. Your faith has made you well.”
Bartimaeus stood up and followed Jesus.


To have interruptability is to be like Jesus.

Jesus had plans. He was busy. He was on a mission.
But Jesus always had time to STOP, LISTEN and HELP.
Jesus was a master of interruptibility.

Imagine how would your day be different if you practiced interruptability.
Someone falls on the playground. STOP. LISTEN. HELP.
Someone forgets their lunch. STOP. LISTEN. HELP.
Someone is crying. STOP. LISTEN. HELP.

Be Interruptable. 
Be like Jesus!

Join with me in saying 1 John 4:7,8
“MY FRIENDS, love one another.
EVERYONE, who loves is born of God and knows God.
ANYONE, who does not love, does not know God.
Because, GOD IS LOVE!”

Let’s pray:
Dear Jesus,
Help us to be like you.
Help us to love each other. 
Help us to have interruptability.
Help us to STOP, LISTEN and HELP.

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Serpent Scroll (from Chapter 10)

James, feeling he had made a connection, asked a question that had been niggling at him ever since the Lord’s large hand touched on his shoulder. “What is your name? I mean, are you just ‘God’ or do you have a name like us?”
“Hmmmm. . . .” God rumbled. “That, my little friend, is a very good question!” And then he began to laugh—really laugh! The ground shook. The trees seemed to be reaching toward His laughter. Never had the children felt such joy. They began to laugh too, though they didn’t know why.
Finally, God wiped his eyes, “Aaahhhh, that felt good. Nothing like a belly laugh to clear the head and heart,” He said.
“What was so funny?” James asked.
“Well, James,” God replied, “I am rarely asked to introduce myself! It just caught my funny bone! Yes, I do have a name—I have many. But my favorite is Michael.”
“Michael?” all three children asked as one.
“Yes, that was my name before . . .” He paused, looking sadly at the now empty tree, “before death. And it speaks most clearly of my true nature.”
The three children stared into the timeless eyes of God. He seemed like a friend they had always known, and a superhero beyond imagination. Michael, Paul thought to himself, He’s in Daniel and Revelation. He’s a dragon-slayer! Paul looked up to see those eyes staring deep into his. Michael nodded his head ever so slightly and raised an eyebrow. One corner of his mouth lifted in a half-smile and his eyes twinkled.
Hannah broke the silence, “Michael, do you know how we can get home? Or, I mean, how can we get back out of the Bible and into the bedroom again?”

For the rest of the story, order a copy today!

A humorous thought, with a twist

God worked for 6 days creating the Earth and rested on the 7th day. He therefore blessed the 7th day and set it aside as a day of rest - the Sabbath.

The Jews rest on the 7th day, Saturday, as established at the beginning of their faith. Christians, on the other hand, worship on the 1st day of the week, Sunday, because Jesus came out of the tomb on Sunday, thus sealing the promise of salvation with physical proof.

Thus there are two philosophies of life:
  1. A holiday (holy day) is something you take after you work hard.
  2. A holiday is something you take first, before you work hard.
This explains why Jews make more money than Christians and why many Christians never get around to doing much. 


For those Adventists that read my blog... 

Where do we fit in? 
What is a healthy relationship between work and rest?
Do our good works earn us anything? 
So, if the Sabbath is neither a reward for hard work, nor a holiday, what is it?
How can we ensure the Sabbath is a joyful day of worship which inspires hearts young and old?

PS. If you didn't laugh because you're frustrated by the second paragraph and want to sit me down for a Bible study — relax — I was just setting up the joke. Yes, the Sabbath is the 7th day for some Christians, too! Now, get to work! lol

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

July 20 - The Word: The Foundation of Revival

A Sabbath School resource from the Victoria Conference of the Adventist Church in Australia

Study Guide:

Personal Revival and the Word
Do a life sketch of a few of the “heroes of faith” listed in Hebrews 11. Consider, particularly: Abraham, Moses and David. What were the high and low points of their faith journey? How did the Word of God play a role in their spiritual revivals? What impact did their decisions have on those around them?

Think back over the times in your life when you have experienced personal revival. When were your times of personal spiritual revival? At high points? Low points? What was the story behind your renewal of spiritual interest and activity? What role did the Word of God play in your times of personal spiritual reformation? What verses or stories were key in your journey? What impact did your personal revival have on those around you?

Corporate Revival and the Word
Spend some time reflecting on a few historical revivals. Explore and discuss the revivals involved in: The Reformation, The early church in Acts, the early Adventists, the NT/OT expected and revealed Messiah. Were they generated at high points or low points? How did the Word of God play a role? What impact did the decisions of the group have on those around them?

Think back over the times in your life when you have been part of corporate revival. When were these times? At high points? Low points? What was the story behind the corporate renewal of spiritual interest and activity? What role did the Word of God play in these revivals? What impact did your corporate revival have on those around you?

For Teachers: Discovering the Word again for the first time
In your preparation, read the following articles and take note of the personal excitement that builds within you as you explore new views of scripture. Each of these articles reveals a new way of seeing an old question. Depending on your experience with these topics, you may have already encountered both the old and new view. But, perhaps, one of the articles will invigorate you with a new view of the Word of God. Revival is an outflowing of this spiritual excitement into your life until it becomes action.

Remembering Jesus

While these articles are too long for use in your discussion time, you may wish to recommend this exercise to your Sabbath School group. Distribute this study guide to them after your Sabbath School discussion. As a Sabbath School teacher, it is your distinct  privilege to encourage personal and corporate revival by helping your class see the Word again for the first time! 

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,...